Adding Shine to the Lochaber Music Scene


WHEN Kinlochleven band The Shine’s Paul Martin sings, he’s got the kind of voice that makes everyone sit up and take notice.

It’s only his Tourette’s that takes a back seat.

In August, the five-piece band make their Edinburgh debut at the Acoustic Music Centre at St Bride’s as part of the festival fringe.

And though it’s a big moment for the band, it will follow a packed few months.

Last weekend they played the 10 Under The Ben endurance event and are on the bill with fellow local Bronco Fiasco for next Friday and Saturday’s Downhill Downtown music festival in Fort William.

They regularly play gigs for charity – pitching in to play at a recent Nevis radio transmitter fundraiser band night.

And at a recent gig, the band’s newest member – manager Lisa Donaldson – was pleased when she realised the packed-out Crofter’s Bar was singing the words of the songs back at the band.

Yet they’ve still to put out their first EP, recorded at Watercolour Studios and due for release in time for the Edinburgh gig.

The band’s first song You Said sprang from a two-man jam in a caravan back in 2006.

Then, it was just Paul and Jamie Donaghy, two guitars and eight cans of beer.

Early last year, the duo were joined by bassist Matt Cooper, who travels every weekend from Alness to join the band.

Add in Tom Jenkins on drums and Marc Comiskey on lead guitar.

It’s all shifted up a gear since they played the main stage of last year’s WestFest in Strontian and closed the event at the Strontian Hotel.

There was also their Rock the Fort main stage set following a packed-out fringe event.

Jamie said: "It’s been nearly seven years and we’ve kept going because we enjoy it and we’re mates.




Paul added: "The music is different enough to keep people interested and we have quite an original sound. I can’t think of too many bands who sound like us."

And having Tourette’s Syndrome hasn’t stopped his musical ambitions – quite the opposite.

He said: "The strange thing is that ever since I was diagnosed at seven, certain things will completely stop it. When I was about 16 or 17, I used to draw a lot and that was the same – it just used to go.

"I’m not sure why, but doing things I’m passionate about completely wipes it out.

"But it’s never held me back – I can’t let it. If I did, I would never do anything – it is not an option.

"The show must go on."

With more media attention on Tourette’s, Paul has found people are more likely to understand.

"The guy in Big Brother – Pete, he had a band and he said the same that when doing the band, it seemed to disappear.

"It does make life a lot easier for me. Less and less, there’s people just staring at me.

"I prefer people to ask me about it rather than sit and go ‘What the f***’s going on with him?’.

"Talking about it is a thearapeutic way for me to deal with it because there is nothing else - I don’t take medication.

"There’s nothing specific to Tourette’s, though there are drugs that help some of the side-effects.

"One mentioned that one of the side-effects was death, so maybe not!

"I’d rather be alive and let people get to like me!"

Jamie laughed: "There’s so much else they don’t like about you …"

Paul went to school in Millburn Academy in Inverness, the family moved to Ullapool, then Paul headed to Perth to start a band with his cousin. But spending some time with his uncle in Glencoe, he was introduced to Jamie.

Paul said: "He introduced me to his cousin Elaine and I never went home!"

The couple have a baby daughter, Amber, and her name is tattooed on his chest.

Jamie is looking forward to becoming a dad in a few months, and as well as playing football for one of the Ballachulish teams, working at the Ice Factor – where The Shine is resident band – he’s also a retained fireman.

They joke about how good Jamie might look in his fireman’s outfit.

"I’m not muscly enough, " he grinned. "I look like a match!"

Lisa – who had been studying event management at West Highland College – went to see The Shine last year.

"The first time I saw them, the chorus of one of the songs stuck in my head all week – so I went back."

Lisa offered her services to help move the band forward and along with Carol Hanna who does the band’s online promotion and photographer James Taylor, The Shine now has a loyal team of helpers.

Lisa said: "We’ve got a conversation on Facebook so anything we need to say or discuss we fire up there.

"She made us all get smartphones," Jamie said.

"And prises the whisky from my lips," Paul confessed.

Lisa also plays bass guitar, adding: "I keep my hand in in case someone can’t turn up."

Jamie summed up the all-for-one spirit of the band. He said: "Our rule of thumb is if all five of us can’t do a gig, we don’t do it.

"There’s not a guy in the area who can sing like Paul, so we just couldn’t do it."

The Shine open the second stage at Downhill Downtown, Fort William, next Saturday with more dates including the Ice Factor, Kinlochleven, on June 16, Mallaig Steam Inn on June 23 and the Edinburgh Fringe at the St Bride’s Acoustic Centre on August 26.




Margaret Chrystall