MORE than 200 years after his death, the spirit of Robert Burns is alive and well among Scottish musicians and entertainers.Many heading for Dumfries to take part in Big Burns Supper 2014, the world’s largest Burns Night festival celebrations, say the poet is a powerful influence.Derek Forbes, bassist for headline act Big Country, said: “I am really looking forward to the Dumfries gig, which is doubling as a Burns Night event. I have a long association with Dumfries, having played Loreburn Hall in the early 70s, and the Stagecoach with Simple Minds in 1978.“I am also an aficionado of the Bard, brother Robert Burns, and have played parts in many a Burns Night. Address to a Haggis and Tam O'Shanter, and a few songs ...“It’s good to be returning to Dumfries with Big Country for a fantastic night at the Spiegeltent.”Comedian Alan Anderson will be appearing in his own hugely popular show, Whisky for Dafties, and is also bringing a batch of top talent for The Best of Scottish Comedian of the Year.This includes winners, runners-up and finalists from Glasgow’s annual Scottish Comedian of the Year awards Jellybean Martinez, Susan McCabe, Graham Mackie and Jamie Dalgleish.According to Alan, who was born in Dalbeattie in Dumfries and Galloway, it’s fitting for an event inspired by Robert Burns to have a strong element of comedy.He said: “Stand-up is the quickest and most immediate way to respond to what’s happening in society and politics. For authors and playwrights it can take months, but that speed and immediacy was something Burns had with his poetry.“My own show is comedy with whisky tasting, and he was an exciseman and a humourist who liked a drink – if we could add in some beautiful women it would have everything Burns loved.”Whisky for Dafties has been a sell-out success across the world from Edinburgh to Adelaide and takes an irreverent look at the drink, its history, production and traditions.
Like many Scots Colin MacIntyre, the multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter behind the Mull Historical Society, found Burns at an early age – and his influence stuck.He said: “My grandfather, Angus Macintyre, was a poet and bank manager on Mull when I was growing up. Many a night was spent above the bank, where he and my grandmother lived, reciting Burns and many others, usually over ever-increasing tumblers of whisky.“I liked the swear words then, but as I've got older I appreciate Burns' words and verse, and global impact more and more.“His contribution to modern Scotland is immense. He is part of the country's DNA and one of our greatest exports. I spend a lot of time in the US and only this Christmas I went to an open air screening of It's A Wonderful Life and there he was again, at the end, with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.”Colin says it is exciting to be part of a programme that celebrates Burns, especially in Dumfries, which is so closely associated with his life and work.The show will see Colin play his debut album Loss in its entirety for the first time. He said: “That will be special for me. There are so many emotions and melodies on it that are part of my own DNA which I haven't tapped into for a while. I'm not sure how that will make me feel, but I'm looking forward to finding out.“It was my breakthrough album so it is exciting to revisit in this way, exactly as it is on the record, in such a unique setting.”