Back O’ The North Wind
songs, images, histories..
Brian McNeill's ambitious stage venture is a show based on the histories of Scotland and America.
It's a unique audio-visual presentation which couples song, story, information and image. Called The Back o' the North Wind (the title comes from the European legend that Britain was the land behind the wind) it deals with the wanderlust that has been the single most enduring characteristic of Scotland's people over the centuries. Brian examines that phenomenon through the lives of individual Scots who have come to the American continent over the last two hundred and fifty years.
Stories, Songs, Tunes, Images, Brian....and Uncle Jim!
The rest of the list includes missionaries, environmentalists, and members of Brian's own family -remarkable people all. Each of their tales has inspired him to write a song, which will be presented along with their story. Slides and instrumental music from the relevant period are also used to put their lives and endeavours into their proper context. The first verse of the show's title song asks the question that ties it all together.
In the grey o' the gloamin' there sits an auld man,
Wi' a glint in his eye and a glass in his hand,
And he drinks tae the new day when the auld day is done,
Cryin' "Where are my daughters and where are my sons?"
The Back o' the North Wind is an attempt to answer that question, to examines the impact of America on Scottish lives -and the impact of Scottish lives upon America.
Scots who have come to the American continent over the last two hundred and fifty years:
-the poor Scots immigrant who became the Pittsburgh steel millionaire; a man with two reputations. Which was the real Carnegie, the robber baron or the philanthropist?
-who is remembered as the girl who helped the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, escape from his redcoat pursuers in the days after Culloden; but the rest of her life story, which ended in the Carolinas, is just as compelling.
-the man who found gold so far from his home, the remote Hebridean island of St. Kilda, but paid the highest of all prices for it.
The Gillies Family (Picture supplied by NTS archive)