Monday, March 4, 2013

My Fifteen(ish) Minutes of Fame

Until about five years ago, the closest I'd come to being famous was being interviewed by a local TV news reporter during a community health fair.  I think she asked me about the importance of childhood vaccinations.  Not terribly exciting.  So what happened five years ago, you ask?  Scottish folk music happened.  Obviously.

There used to be a program on BBC Radio Scotland called The Reel Blend (get it--reel, as in jigs and reels?), which was a two hour show on Sundays that featured Scottish folk and traditional music, as well as some Scottish dance music.  The host was a guy named Robbie Shepherd.  I listened to it on the internet, usually after it had already aired, because it was on at 7:00 AM or something here (early in the afternoon in Scotland, WAY too early in the morning in Houston) and it was available on the web site for a week after it had aired.  I forget how I originally found it--I know for a while, before I had internet at home and when we still had dial-up at my office (yeah, I know), I would go to the office to listen to it, and it would buffer, and buffer, and buffer...Dial-up sucks.  But I digress.  Anyway, I somehow knew about it, and I listened to it most weeks.  From time to time they would have "theme" shows, about a certain topic or a particular artist, and they'd ask for suggestions--"send us an email with your favorite songs about animals" or something like that.  Anyway, I would periodically write in with suggestions or requests. 

So, in January of 2009, they were doing a special show about Robert Burns, in honor of the 250th anniversary of his birth, which was January 25th.  (If you can't remember the date, there is, of course, a song that will tell you--"Rantin' Rovin' Robin", which has the line "Our monarch's hindmost year but ane, was five and twenty days begun...", which I suppose really only helps with the January 25th part, and not the 1759 part, unless you know, and can remember, what year "our monarch's hindmost year" is [and then subtract a year, I guess???])  Anyway, they asked for suggestions for Burns songs.  At that time my favorite Burns song was, and probably still is, A Man's A Man for A' That, and my favorite version of it is this one, by Jim Malcolm.  So, I sent an email to The Reel Blend suggesting it.  They replied, and asked if I'd like to be on the radio with Robbie Shepherd, talking about my request.  Uh, YEAH.  They were pre-recording that show on a weekday, so they phoned me at 5:00 AM and I had a brief conversation with Robbie about why I liked the song ("it has a great message") and why I specifically liked Jim's version ("it's a more upbeat version, and I really like the harmonica") and whether there were any Burns Night celebrations in my neck of the woods ("there was a big one last night, which I'm told is the biggest in Texas, but I didn't go to it.")  It was super cool (because I am super geeky), so I put the link on Facebook and figured that was that.

Over the next nine months or so, I continued to request songs from time to time, usually by Jim Malcolm and sometimes by Ed Miller.  For my nephew's first birthday, I wrote in and requested a song I used to sing to him (Coulter's Candy, which up to that point I had only ever heard sung by Ed), and Robbie read my email on the air, wished Andrew happy birthday, and then played the song.  It was really neat, for me at least--I don't think Andrew especially cared.  Then, one time Jim Malcolm was being interviewed on the show, and Robbie said something like, "You know you have a really big fan in Houston", and at the same time he was saying my name, Jim was saying someone else's name.  Then there was an awkward pause, while Jim tried unsuccessfully to figure out who the hell I was.  (I'd like to think it wouldn't be quite as long a pause now, because I've seen the guy in concert in intimate venues ten or twelve times in two different countries, and have had several conversations with him, but you never know.)

Then, the following fall, The Reel Blend did another theme show, about seasons.  This time, I sent in three choices--The First Cold Day (Jim Malcolm), Yellow on the Broom (I like Ed Miller's version best but this one is performed by the songwriter, Adam McNaughtan--he's the guy without the crazy eyebrows), and Festival Lights (this last one is because I mistakenly thought it was called Autumn in Edinburgh.)  And, lo and behold, they invited me on the show again.  I decided I must have been their token American.  They chose The First Cold Day, and Robbie chatted with me for a couple of minutes about how I got interested in Scotland and Scottish music.  This time it was live, and when I listened to it later, I realized I was talking ridiculously fast, about kind of irrelevant things--such as, Robbie said something like, "Well, you're American, so how did you get interested in Scotland?" and I felt the need to explain that I was born in Canada but am a naturalized American.  Why I thought anyone needed to know that, I couldn't tell you. 

A few months after that show, The Reel Blend went off the air, thus ending my budding career as a professional Robbie Shepherd guest.  He still does another show, called Take the Floor, which is almost completely Scottish dance music, but I never really got into it.

I guess that was my fifteen minutes of fame--although, while looking at the stats for my blog (like how many pageviews and from what countries), I discovered that at least one person in Australia has seen my blog, so I figure that pretty much makes me an international celebrity.  I'm sure the paparazzi will be coming after me any day now.

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