When next in Lower Manhattan a “must see” is the South Street Seaport Museum – and we encourage you to take time to wander around the Seaport which is one New York’s most historic areas.
The restoration and development of such historic places does not just happen and the story behind South Street Seaport Museum is just that. There would be no South Street Seaport Museum were it not for two visionaries – Jakob Isbrandtsen, founding chairman of the South Street Seaport Museum and founding president Peter Standford, together they envisioned so much of what is today’s wonderful South Street Seaport Museum.
The sad news of Isbrandsten’s passing last week brough to the ASF’s attention not only what he did for Lower Manhattan and New York – but for Scotland too.
One of Isbrandtsen’s great loves was the restoration of the windjammer Wavertree which was has deep roots to Scotland and the Jute trade.
As Captain Boulware, CEO of the South Street Seaport Museum notes… “He financed the purchase of the ship when she might have otherwise gone to scrap, bringing to New York a windjammer of the age of sail suitable for the task of representing her thousands of sisters.”.
The Wavertree was built in Southampton, England in 1885 and was one of the last large sailing ships built of wrought iron. She was built for the Liverpool company R.W. Leyland & Company, and is named after the Wavertree district of that city.
The ship was first used to carry jute between eastern India and Scotland. In 1947 Wavertree was converted into a sand barge at Buenos Aires, Argentina, This ship was discovered in 1967 by an American working on a sand barge and acquired by the South Street Seaport Museum in 1968.
After restoration at the the Arsenal Naval Buenos Aires the ship was towed to New York in 1969.
As well as being a visionary, Isbrandtsen was a tireless volunteer, inspiring others as Capt. Boulware continues …. “After his career in commercial shipping, he shifted to volunteerism and led by example, mucking bilges in the hold of Wavertree and all manner of dirty, difficult, and dangerous tasks. He was the first person aboard the ship in the morning and the last to leave. It was all for the ship and all for the people in her. His advertisement for volunteers: “Long hours, dirty work, no pay” was just the right way to engage people in the ship, and the work done under his leadership kept Wavertree afloat for decades, allowing the restoration and care that continues today.”
The Wagner Garden Carpet – a late 17th-century Persian carpet never before seen in the United States – will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art now through October 7, 2018.Staff from Glasgow Museums with the Wagner Garden Carpet. The Burrell Collection. © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.
Titled Eternal Springtime: A Persian Garden Carpet from the Burrell Collection, the collaboration between the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, and The Metropolitan Museum, New York, will provide a rare opportunity for members of the public to see the earliest example of a garden carpet outside of Asia.
Detail of the Wagner Garden Carpet. The Burrell Collection. © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.
The Wagner Garden Carpet is considered to be one of only three early surviving Persian garden carpets in the world. The design of this particular carpet is unique and no other examples resembling it or using part of its base-pattern have yet been identified. Measuring 5309 mm (17.5 ft) in height and 4318 mm (14.2 ft) in width, Wagner Garden has rarely been seen on display and has spent most of its time in storage at the Burrell Collection, Glasgow.
Named after an early 20th century owner, the carpet is a 17th century Persian Kirman pile carpet with a formal garden layout. Unusual for this type of garden carpet, it almost invokes a heavenly walled menagerie that immerses the person sitting on it in its natural but well-ordered world. The design was inspired by both the pre-Islamic Persian Paradise and the descriptions of the Garden of Heaven in the Qur’an.
Eternal Springtime will be displayed in the Metropolitans suite of 15 galleries and takes place whilst the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, undergoes an estimated £66 million refurbishment of its building and redisplay of its extensive Collection.
When the Burrell Collection reopens in late 2020, The Wagner Garden Carpet will be focal object of a three-carpet display that explores heavenly gardens in Islamic art as depicted on Persian carpets.
Director of Burrell Renaissance, James Robinson, says, “Expanding our international reach, reputation and impact is core to the Burrell Collection’s vision that will enable the Collection to engage with the world in new and more meaningful ways. Our collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum demonstrates the Burrell’s reach, in geography and material culture, which will see the collection regarded rightly as a global resource.”
June 7th marks the 150th Anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
At Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum a temporary exhibit is on show through to August 14th showing Mackintosh’s work in the context of Glasgow, his predecessors, influences and contemporaries.
The exhibit features work from Glasgow’s civic collections, alongside key loans from Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, The Glasgow School of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum and a number of private lenders.
As the Daily Mail notes – the exhibit …. “It features more than 250 objects including stained glass, ceramics, mosaic, furniture, textiles, interior and tearoom design and architectural drawings, most of which have not been shown in Glasgow for more than 30 years.”
“The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Making the Glasgow Style exhibition is one of the highlights in the Mackintosh 150 programme, a year long celebration of events throughout 2018.”
In New York on June 7th a talk & reception will take place hosted by General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York together with The American-Scottish Foundation® & The National Trust for Scotland, on the influence of Mackintosh on New York architecture – presented by John Kinnear, Architect, Historian & Director, and on the power of Mackintosh’s design and threstoration of Hill House. To read more about the Scots Who Built New York visit the American-Scottish Foundation project page HERE. For more information surrounding the National Trust for Scotland restoration of Hill House visit the NTS USA project page linked HERE Tickets are from $10 for ASF, NTS USA, GSMT, ROS, NYCC and $15 for Guests and Friends and are available directly on line here To learn more of the exhibit visit Glasgow Life Museum website and rad the full Daily Mail article linked here
We take a moment here to look back at the 20th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade which took place on April 7th, the highlight to a week of events… so much to report on, so many to thank – and we have to mention how we were under the threat of snow – and it didnt happen – brisk but clear.
ASF presented several events during the week in addition to a series of lunchtime concerts at Bryant Park. A thank you to all those who helped with the programming which included
– Tea with a Highlander, a talk with celebrated author The Hon. Sarah Fraser of Lovat introducing us to ‘The Prince who would Be King’, co-hosted by Clans & Castles , Walkers Shortbread, Harper Collins and Harneys Teas
– an opportunity to learn more around the discovering of your Scottish roots with Dr Bruce Durie
– ‘A Taste of Scotland’ with a menu prepared by Scotland’s National Chef Gary MacLean, co-hosted with City of Glasgow College
– ASF Members & Friends Post Parade Reception at which we were joined by many guests from Scotland including the Archie Foundation, Clans & Castles, The Convenyor of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs Donald MacLeod of MacLeod, members of VisitScotland, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Office.
Thank you to all who joined the The American-Scottish Foundation® contingenet and marched with us in the 20th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade – AND to all those who cheered us on.
KT Tunstall was a fabulous Grand Marshal – the first woman to lead the Parade. AND Congratulations to all the volunteers and our fellow NYC Tartan Week committee members – EVERYONE did a great
We have discovered a few highlights of Parade Day captured in a video on You Tube. – from the Pipes and Drums on the Fountain Terrace presented by The American-Scottish Foundation® at Bryant Park and onward to the Parade.
A thank you to The Accrington Pipe Band, The Pipes and Drums of the Atlantic Watch, Shamrock and Thistle Pipes and Drums, The Highland Divas, Shot of Scotch – NYC’s Premier Scottish Highland Dancers and Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Bandl for being part of the pre Parade Bryant Park concert, https://youtu.be/W-cPpsj2wBQ
Prior to the Parade the young band of pipers from Sgoli Lionacleit had an opportunity to meet Keith Brown MSP for Clackmannanshire & Dunblane who could not resist the opportunity to try out a snare drum which he is pictured “carrying” below.
The Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band performed twice at Bryant Park – and for their second performance they were joined by 18 year old Lisa Kowalski who is winning recognition throughout the UK – this was her first visit to New York and the Parade. The involvement of the young performers is something ASF fully embraces within our ongoing bursary program – and reflects Scotland’s message of the Year of Young People.
Also taking part in the lunchtime concerts were Craig Weir and the multi talented Hannah Read – who left the following day for a month long tour in support of her latest album. Both Craig and Hannah have helped us in the development of the lunchtime concerts, a Thank you to everyone who took part.
Great performances from all
The Daily News carried a great report on the day which we link to below… “Scots of all ages proudly celebrated their homeland during the 2018 Tartan Day Parade in Manhattan on April 7, 2018.
The annual march, now in its 20th year, was led by Scottish singer KT Tunstall and included pipers playing traditional Scottish songs, dancers, flag twirlers, aplenty of dogs for the cheering crowd of spectators.” New York Daily News:
When WWI American soldiers died off the coast of Isle of Islay, Scotland, a group of villagers brought honor to their memory with a handmade American flag.
Smithsonian Magazine this week spotlights the loss of over 200 Americans aboard the SS Tuscania, On February 5th 1918, seven miles southwest of Islay, Tuscania was struck mid-ship by a 2,000-pound torpedo launched by the German submarine UB-77.
Over 2200 young Americans were aboard. The British frigates accompanying them rescued many but 200 were lost, over 180 rescued from the seas by the people of Islay.
The flag is housed in the Smithsonian, but will travel back to Islay for the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.
“Islay’s populace, still mourning the deaths of more than 100 of its own men killed in war, felt deeply the tragic toll upon the U.S. soldiers who had come to help the Allied cause. The islanders resolved to bury the American dead with honor. For them this meant interring them under an American flag. But there was no such flag on the island. So, before the funerals began, they made a decision to fabricate one.
Using the encyclopedia as their guide, a group of four Islay women (Jessie McLellan, Mary Cunningham, Catherine McGregor, and Mary Armour) and one man (John McDougall) worked through the night at Hugh Morrison’s Islay House, gathering cloth, roughly cutting out 96 five-pointed stars (48 for each side) plus seven red and six white bars, and respectfully stitching together a rectangular Stars and Stripes 67 inches long by 37 inches wide.”
Read more from Smithsonian Magazine:
The count down is on to Saturday May 19th and the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince Harry of Wales (Harry) and Megan Markle
We are delighted to learn that two of The American-ScottishFoundation® favorite restaurants are opening early and hosting live broadcast viewing parties of all the Royal Wedding Festivities.
– The Shakespeare at 24 East 39th St. NYC – from 6.30am –
or the sister restaurant
– Jones Wood Foundry at 401 East 76th St. NYC – from 6.30am
Reservations for either the Shakespeare or Jones Wood are $70.
The Wedding Breakfast menu has been developed by the restaurants Chef/Owner Jason Hicks, and is inspired by the couple’s favorite foods, as well as British and American traditional breakfast favorites
Upon arrival you will be greeted with a Mimosa – there will be a Champagne Toast to the Newlyweds, with same British bubbly – Chapel Down Brut – that Prince Charles will reportedly serve at his reception for the couple
There will of course be Wedding Cake and mementos of the occassion…!!
The menus mirror each other AND both events will conclude with Chapel Down Wine Tastings
– at the Shakespeare on their Terrace,
– and at Jones Wood in the Courtyard Garden
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Steve Grozier is a singer-songwriter and musician from Glasgow, Scotland. Scottish though he may be, his sound is at home in America, with acoustic, alt-country instrumentals to back his warm, buttery voice. His songs settle over you like the southern heat of a Tennessee summer night.
Steve, who sings and plays acoustic guitar, is his band’s frontman. He wrote all of the music and lyrics of their debut EP, “Take My Leave.” Roscoe Wilson sings backing vocals and plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and the lap steel guitar, while John Dunlop plays the bass. Dillon Haldane played drums and percussion the EP, but left the band shortly after, and Pete Colquhoun is now the bands drummer.
Steve and his band recorded their country-tinged debut EP “Take My Leave” in September 2016, and are currently busy recording the follow up EP “A Place We Called Home.”
In one of the tracks from their debut EP, “Drink Before Dawn,” Steve describes stopping for a cup of diner coffee to stay awake while he’s on the road. Listening to the country ballad, you can picture the open highway stretching before your headlights. Although this experience is not unique to American drivers, it is a theme that crops up time and again in Americana.
“Ringing of the Bells” is another track from the debut EP that really invokes a Southern feeling. What with the singer’s slight twang, and his use of small-town imagery, you might have just happened upon Steve in a Nashville bar.
We wanted to learn more about the man behind the music! In our interview with Steve, below, we learned just what it was that drew him to Americana, and inspired his country sound and imagery.
First, could you tell us a bit about where you’re from and how you started getting into music?
I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was only there for a few years before my family moved to Bishopbriggs, a small suburb with a population of around 20,000, just north of Glasgow, Scotland. I lived there until I was 18 and old enough to move to the city for University.
The house I grew up in was filled with music. My dad had a vinyl and cassette deck that was always on. And, when we’d take rides in the car on weekends or school holidays there was always music playing. I remember thinking even then that music was this magical thing.
Then when I was around 15 or 16 I found my dad’s semi-acoustic guitar. A cheap Encore. It was horrible to play. The action was so high and it sounded dreadful. But, it was the first guitar I’d ever held and that was it. I knew I had to learn to play.
What about your band, how did you get together? Are you all Scots?
Yes, we’re all Scots. We’re all from the country’s central belt. I actually met both Roscoe and Pete via the internet. And I met John via Roscoe. I’ve known Roscoe for over ten years. When I was starting to play open mic nights and gigs in bars I placed an advert on Myspace or Gumtree, I can’t recall which, looking for a pedal steel player. Now, the chances of finding someone who can play that instrument well in Scotland are pretty rare, especially back then. Roscoe could and we’ve been friends ever since.
When 2016 rolled around and I was looking to put a new band together Roscoe was first on my list to call. He was playing with a band and John was the bass player. I put a post-up on Facebook looking for a drummer and Pete got in touch. The rest as they say is history.
Because we’re an organization that serves as a bridge between Scotland and the US, the fact that you’re a Scottish Americana artist is something we really love! What does Americana mean to you?
I think the term Americana is a relatively new one. When I first started writing and playing it didn’t exist, or it wasn’t widely used. They’d call the style of music folk, country or alternative country. The AMA defines Americana as contemporary music that incorporates elements of American roots music styles. For me, it isn’t a conscious decision to write in a particular style and I’m not that interested in what label is used. I think where the term Americana is useful is in fostering a sense of community and helping bringing attention or exposure to independent artists.
American music obviously inspires your work! Who are some artists that inspire you? Any Scottish artists?
Unsurprisingly, I listen to a lot of American music. Growing up my dad had records by Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Byrds, The Grateful Dead, Creedence, and a lot of acoustic blues. So, I was immersed in American music and culture from a young age. When I got around to buying and exploring records for myself I gravitated towards artists and bands that sounded like those I’d heard at home.
I mean, I listen to music from across the spectrum. The colour of the music isn’t as important as how it speaks to me or makes me feel. The music from Scotland that interests me the most are bands like Teenage Fanclub, Arab Strap, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Mogwai, and The Vaselines.
A lot of Americana music has themes of travel and wayfaring- would you say that plays a part in your music?
Absolutely, I lived and travelled around Canada and the US for two years. One year on the east coast and one on the west. During that period I wrote a lot. Books full of prose, poetry and songs. Most of which will never be published or recorded. I was always interested in the writings of Jack Kerouac and the peripatetic lifestyle that he describes. When you’re travelling it’s a different way to be in the world. I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to Americana music is because the songs are often narrative driven. They’re stories that take you on a journey to a different place or time.
What do you think about what music means for American-Scottish relations- or just in terms of connecting people in general?
For me, my closest friendships have been formed through music. Be that playing in a band, going to shows, listening and discussing records. I think a shared passion for music can really enrich a relationship. There’s this great Hold Steady song called Stay Positive and it’s about music’s power to bring people together. The make the analogy of music being like religion when they sing “And the sing along songs will be our scriptures.”
Then there’s this great lineage of Scots and Irish who settled in the Canadian North East, the Appalachians and even North Carolina and Alabama in the 18th century. The Celtic folk songs from Scotland and Ireland would form the basis of what we now call bluegrass, country and Americana music. An interesting thing is now happening in the UK where we’re seeing British artists finding inspiration in American country music.
Do you hope to bring your music to the states?
I would love to. I don’t see it happening in the foreseeable future, but it’s definitely a longer term ambition.
Scotland is famous for its dynamic landscape, which serves as home to many different creatures. If you are interested in seeing wildlife, Scotland is the perfect place to visit! All sorts of different animals roam Scotland’s hills and fields, while various species of birds take flight through the skies, and sea-creatures dance through the waves!
The American-Scottish Foundation has compiled a list of ten different Scottish creatures to spot in Scotland. Keep your eyes peeled for these wee beasties!
1. Scottish Wildcat
The Scottish Wildcat is the only wild, native forest cat in Britain. These cats are very elusive, hunting during the night and hiding among trees and rocky cairns. Although it is uncommon to see one of these majestic cats, they may be spotted in the Highlands and in the far North and West of Scotland. Scottish wildcats are now one of Britain’s rarest mammals, as their species is sadly endangered. Spotting one would truly be a magical experience.
2. Highland Cow
Highland cattle are a Scottish cattle breed famous for their long horns and shaggy coats. Although these coats come in many colors, red highland cows are probably the most iconic. These cows originated in the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, and have been around since before the 6th century AD. As they are native to the rough Highlands of Scotland, these cows are sturdy, able to withstand the harsh Scottish winters. No trip to the Highlands is complete without a glance of one of these shaggy “coos.”
3. Pine Marten
Pine Martens are difficult to spot, and are mostly found in the North of Britain. They tend to live in wooded areas, as they climb and live in trees. These brown and yellow critters are part of the weasel family. They are about the size of a cat, with a long, bushy tail and round ears. They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to preserve the species. They may be found throughout wooded areas in Scotland, including the Ballachuan Hazelwood and Balnaguard Glen Reserves.
4. Bottlenose Dolphin
Out of all the Bottlenose Dolphins in the world, Scottish ones are the largest. There is a large resident group of these beautiful mammals in the North Sea, as well as smaller groups around the Hebrides. These sleek, grey animals are extremely intelligent, powerful creatures. The Moray Firth is one of the best places to look for them, particularly in the warmer summer months. Dolphin and Wildlife Watching boat trips are easy to find in Scotland, so don’t miss out!
Scottish otters are often hard to spot, even though there is a thriving population. This is due to the animal’s shy nature. These semi-aquatic creatures live by water, as they mainly hunt for food in lochs, rivers, or the sea. The thick-furred mammals are able to survive in water by closing their ears and nose while they swim with their powerful webbed feet. Otters may be found along much of Scotland’s coast, particularly on the west coast, as well as the islands. Although otters are elusive, if you keep a look out by the waterside, you may see more than one!
6. Red Squirrel
The red squirrel is the only species of squirrel native to the UK. Scotland is the home to about 80 percent of the UK’s population. As their name would suggest, these squirrels have bright, reddish coats of fur. They are smaller and sleeker than American grey squirrels, with large tufts of fur on their ears. They may be spotted throughout Scotland’s wooded areas, but they are most likely to be seen in the Highlands and around the Caingorms. If you are determined to see these iconic Scottish critters, there is a Red Squirrel Walk through Dalbeattie Forest in Dumfries & Galloway.
7. Golden Eagle
The magnificent golden eagle is a large bird of prey with a wingspan of over six feet. The majority of the UK’s golden eagle population lives in Scotland, as the birds prefer to live in areas with open, treeless land. Golden eagles can be recognized by the golden plumage on their head, neck and shoulders. Scotland’s landscape is ideal for golden eagles to hunt, and you just might spot one searching for prey over moorland and peat bogs, or swooping over the open land around the Highlands and Northern Isles.
8. Atlantic Grey Seal
Atlantic grey seals are one of the easiest animals to find in Scotland. You may spot groups of these seals in many places along Scotland’s coast. The biggest grey seal colonies are on remote islands such as the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, and the Monach Isles. The seals go to these islands to breed, but outside of breeding season you may see them lounging on beaches and rocks all along the sea. If you are visiting the Scottish seaside on your trip you are likely to spot a seal. And if you’re really lucky you may even see a fluffy seal pup!
9. Shetland Pony
Shetland ponies might be small in size, but they are hugely famous! These charming ponies grow to be about 42 inches tall, and their soft coats come in many different colors. Their coats change by season- in the summer their coat is short and silky, while in the winter it grows twice as thick. These thick winter coats repel water and keep the ponies warm, even in the harsh island winters. You can still see herds of these sturdy little ponies roaming the hills of Shetland, where they have lived for over 4000 years. Visit Shetland to meet some of these adorable creatures!
Puffins, often referred to as “the clowns of the coast,” are instantly recognizable by their bright bills and signature waddle. Puffins live by the sea, usually in burrows on the top of cliffs. They hunt for fish in the water, diving from the cliffs and swimming beneath the waves. Puffin nests can be found on cliffs and islands around the coast of Scotland, as well as in England and Wales. The best places to see these funny little seabirds in Scotland are Handa Island, the Isle of Eigg, and the Longhaven Cliffs and the Seaton Cliffs reserves.