Alison Stephens :
Last Friday I travelled south from Glasgow with two of my mandolinista compatriots, Billy and Ian (and laughed all the way!) to the Borders town of Biggar to see and hear young Alison give a recital in "The Aroma" cafe as part of the Biggar Little Arts Festival. The cafe was packed and expectant for this young woman is credited as being one of the very best mandolin players in Britain, if not the world. And, you've guessed it, we were not dissappointed. She has an easy and personable manner gently interpersing history and facts about the mandolin with the most sublime pieces of real music you can ever hope to hear. This is the woman who played for the soundtrack of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and while many pieces were which she called "soft and fluffy", she also played what I would call "High Classical" with such dexterity and confidence, all from memory, I was mesmerised. I can never hope to achieve these dizzy heights in my playing since I know I've started far too auld but I was lost for an afternoon in the company of an attentive audience and wonderful live music.
Which all made up for the interminable traffic jams on the way there and on the way home.
Above is the sketch I made from many half-glimpses through the ears of the big chap who sat in front of me. Alison very graciously signed it for me.
Oh, and "The Beast" was the name she gave to her Octave Mandolin which was about the size of a full-scale guitar.
Wee lassie, big mandolin - rock on!