A young musician hopes a riveting performance of his song about a bridge really connects with competition judges tomorrow (Friday) night.
Calum Baird (20) has made it to the final four of the Academy of Music and Sound’s Forth Road Bridge Song competition and will try to drive home the point of his ‘By Hand and Brain’ number across to Jim Gellatly and the rest of the judging panel at the Roseberry Hall, South Queensferry.
The travelling troubadour is hauling his guitar case onto a north-bound bus for a gig in Inverness tonight (Thursday), then playing the competition final on Friday before heading back to Glasgow University to study philosophy and politics.
Calum started down the musical path three years ago with just his guitar and harmonica for company.
He said: “I started listening to Oasis and The Beatles then got into people like Bob Dylan, Donovan, Billy Bragg and Neil Young. I gig quite regularly around Glasgow and Edinburgh, playing covers that people know and a few of my own songs too.”
One of those songs is the aforementioned ‘By Hand and Brain’, which Calum specifically wrote for the Forth Road Bridge Song competition.
“I struggled with that,” he admitted. “I don’t usually sit down and write about a specific subject like that, I just tend to let things happen. I thought it would be better to focus on the people who built the bridge and the history of it.
“When I tried to write about the bridge itself, it always sounded like something Susan Boyle would sing.”
The song’s lyrics came to Calum on a bus journey and he quickly captured them on his phone. Later he grabbed his guitar and some of the melody from Neil Young’s ‘Cortez the Killer’ and realised he had a real cracker on his hands.
Calum will continue strumming his guitar and blowing his harp for the foreseeable future, whether fortune favours him on Friday or not.
“This is what I do for a living.” he said. “I hated my part-time job and packed it in when I realised I could make some money doing something I love.”