UNIQUE sellin pynts seem tae be the thing that wee touns an villages in evri airt are aye-an-oan tryin tae create in order tae bigg up their local economies an bring tourist siller an fuit fa tae their touns. The picturesque wee port o Portpatrick, that coories in amang the sea cliffs mangst the Rhins o Gallowa, is a place seekin tae tap intae this mercat. Tae that end the main local hotel, the muckle Portpatrick Hotel, that sits imperiously oan the cliff owerluikin the village, haes ower the past hauntle o years entert intae a symbiotic pairtnership wi the musician, sangwriter, an aa-round musical entrepreneur an guid guy, JJ Gilmour.

JJ “Jinky” Gilmour is a weel respeckit chiel in the Scottish an international music scene. He wis at ae time the front-man fir the iconic Scottish indie rock band The Silencers, wha Jinky toured an recorded wi fir seven years. Syne then he hus pleuched his ain furrow as an artiste an singer/sangwriter, plyin his tred aa roond the warld, warkin wi some o the biggest nems in the music warld.

Aboot six year ago he hud the braw norrie tae utilise the Portpatrick Hotel as an “oot o season” venue tae host Portfest – a unique an bespoke wee festival that heichlichts the talents o Scotland’s maist talented up an comin singer-sangwriters. The kindae acts an music ye hear oan Ian Anderson’s radio show.

Jinky hus his ain loyal fan base an follaers an they cam alang evri year tae Portpatrick tae support him an the ither acts. The hotel, likesay wi its stunnin location, manages tae sell oot aa its rooms at this deid time o year – an fir the weekend becams an indoors Glastonbury! Ye hae aathing ye need oan tap; meals, drinks, accommodation, an warld cless entertainment! Ah wis askt alang tae be their Poet/MC this year, an enjoyed evri meenit o it.

Oan the Friday Jinky an masel duin a braw sang-writin warkshoap in the music department at Stranraer Academy. We warked wi a talentit group o five young lassies tae write a sang celebratin the 400 years o Stranraer bein a Royal Burgh. Unner the enthusiastic ee o heid music teacher Andy Holland (an excellent brass player!) we teased oot a rap type sang frae the lassies that incorporated an eerie an dowf local myth/legend that the lassies – throu Jinky’s contacts – wull nou get tae record in a rael professional studio settin. Warkin wi sic a keen bunch o young anes wis a rael pleasuir.

Oan the Friday nicht we hud the first line-up fir this year’s Portfest. Gary Miller apened the nicht’s ongauns. He’s an experienced troubadour wha’s sangs hud a kindae warld-weary souch tae thaim; aamaist C&W tales o brucken hairts an life’s lanely losers. His sang Friday Night Cowboys is an instant modren classic! Then we hud Josh Fraser, an amazing new young talent; it wis haurd tae believe that sic mature sangs wir the product o a 20-year-auld, fresh frae music college. Nou thair wis a young man wi the warld at his feet! Ye’ll hear mair o him in years tae come! JJ Gilmour hissel headlined the first nicht. Confident, mature, sang-writin at its verra best, Jinky gien us a byordnar tour throu his back catalogue, interspersed wi anecdotes an tales frae his time oan the road as a “jobbing musician” – an whit tales they wir! His depiction o ae James Brown concert in Switzerland hud the audience – an masel – in stitches.

Follaein the Friday nicht show they then hud an Open Mic in the reception area whaur a wheen o the audience wir encouraged tae get up an gie us a sang or twa. Thair seemed tae be as mony talentit fowk in the audience as thair wir oan the stage! Liberally lubricated wi beer, wine an whisky this pairty rummelt oan ah’m telt tae abbot six in the morning!! Ah lasted till aboot three!

Oan the Setterday we hud a guided walk throu Portpatrick, led bi local warthie Freddie Alexander, a spry, lean aamaist-septugenarian wha defied his years! Freddie wis ane o nine weans in his faimily, born an raised in Portpatrick. A crood o aboot 40 o us daundert throu the village whilst Freddie pyntit oot evri pynt o interest – e’en the verra room he wis born in! He showed us the hoose whaur Napoleonic sodgers goat their “horizontal entertainment”, whiles it seemt twa hooses oot o evri three wis nou a holiday hame! We sodgered oan oorsels, in a howlin sou-wester gale comin in aff the sea, an sclimbt the coastal path tae the ruined Dunskey Castle. A formidable relic that hud mair as a souch o Game o Thrones aboot it! Drookit an drencht we reached the oasis o ane o the local caravan parks, whaur Jinky agane hud a PA set up an we dried wirsels oot, enjoyin a fine bar-meal an mair Open Mic entertainers.

Eftir a brief chill-oot at the hotel aabody packt the main hall agane fir Setterday’s concert. It kickt aff wi the talentit Glesga songwriter Riverieme (Louise Connell) wha’s delichtfu sangs an vyce enthrallt the audience. JJ Gilmour then performed his new CD Dix in its entirety, accompanied bi keyboard player Phil Kane an the superb string playin o Seonaid Aitken oan violin and Rachel Wilson oan cello. Pure musical magic! The evenin wis roundit aff bi Blue Rose Code, the singer/sangwriter Ross Wilson, a supremely talentit young guy whaes guitar style hus fir me mair than a souch o John Martyn aboot it. His songs wir superbly craftit, an delivered wi rael intense emotion.

As wi the Friday nicht the Open Mic kept the pairty gaun till ye wir tired!

Portfest jist gangs tae show hou wi a bit o drive, veesion, entrepreneurship an raw talent ye can cairve yer ain unique sellin pynt oot o naethin in Scotland. Mair pouer tae JJ “Jinky” Gilmour an the fowk like him in ither airts o this braw kintra o oors, wha promote, inspire, mentor an encourage ane o oor maist vibrant exports, the gift o sang, an gie sae much o theirsels tae bring it tae the people.