Album to launch spotlight on Forth Valley music scene

As far as marks for a university projects go, this one should get an A-plus.

Sound student Tamara Laird, with a little help from her friends, has produced an album featuring local bands as part of her course work at the University of the West of Scotland.

(l-r) Connie McCafferty, Frank Donnelly, Gillian Noble, Sean McNally and Tamara Laird. Picture: Alan Murray

(l-r) Connie McCafferty, Frank Donnelly, Gillian Noble, Sean McNally and Tamara Laird. Picture: Alan Murray

She’s brought together five raw and upcoming acts for the Independent Central record that will feature 10 original songs to be launched next Friday at The Warehouse (the old Martell) in Bainsford, Falkirk.

Frank Donnelly, Commercial Break, The Nickajack Men, Adam Fulton and Ronan Lang have all recorded two songs each for the production which Tamara hopes , as well earning her good marks from her tutors, will help publicise the music scene in the Forth Valley.

Tamara (20), from Stirling, who studies commercial sound production at UWS in Cumbernauld College, said: “I think the local live music scene needs something to give it a lift.

“There’s loads of talented musicians, singers and bands in the Forth Valley, but it’s nothing like what it is in the likes of Glasgow or Edinburgh. I think it could be so much more.

“I wanted to put the album together to showcase just some of the brilliant artists we have and I’ve known a lot of these guys since school. It’s all different genres of rock and all original songs.

“I’m slightly nervous about the launch night, but can’t wait.”

Friend and web guru Gillian Noble (21), from Clackmannan, also studies at UWS and is on board on the promotion side by designing a website,, which is now live on the net, to help acts arrange and manage their gigs and events in the Forth Valley.

Gillian said: “The website gives you information on local venues, where you can hire equipment if you need it, prices and a step by step guide on the process of how to organise an event.

Lewis White and Michael Garner of The Nickajack Men. Picture: Alan Murray

Lewis White and Michael Garner of The Nickajack Men. Picture: Alan Murray

“The aim is to promote the local venues and artists to help create a bigger music scene like in the larger cities.

We caught up with three of the acts – Frank Donnelly, Commercial Break and The Nickajack Men – in The Songbird in Denny for a preview of their work ahead of next week’s launch night which has them all “buzzing”.

Singer songwriter Frank (24), from Banknock, who works in a bar, has been performing for around two years and gave us an acoustic rendition of his track What If?. He’s a good lad who seemed a bit shy at first. You could tell there was some mischief and adventure in there, however, and put a guitar in his hands and he’s more than comfortable in the spotlight on his own.

It’s a superb modern love song with good vocals and an awesome melody. It would be interesting to hear it live with a sound system behind it.

Independent Central organiser Tamara Laird. Picture: Alan Murray

Independent Central organiser Tamara Laird. Picture: Alan Murray

Commercial Break are made up of music student and singer Connie McCafferty (19), from Denny, guitarist Sean McNally (19), from Stirling, another music student, Liam Zarebski (19), from Cowie, on bass and Michael McCabe (18), from Stirling, on drums.

They class themselves as a funk act but proved they are adaptable with an acoustic version of one of their album tracks, Fooled,??? which features the word b***s**t a few times.

That may seem a bit like a rock n’ roll cliche but Connie and Sean are quite laid back and the word isn’t used to offend or in an NWA protest style – it’s more about them proclaiming they know what the score is and they won’t take any BS.

Four-piece country rockers The Nickajack Men did Marilyn. Another brilliant song, confidently done.

They are Lewis White (21), from Denny, a heating and plumbing engineer on guitar and vocals, Michael Garner (18), who works for a furniture company on guitar and vocals, Jamie Burns (21), from Bonnybridge, a sales advisor for Top Shop and drummer Matthew McAllister (21), from Denny, a law student at Stirling university.

Multi-talented Barry Frame, owner of The Songbird in Denny, sound technician, musician, music teacher and ardent supporter of the local music scene, said: “I did my sound degree at the same university as Tamara so I am very supportive of what she is trying to achieve here. Some of the music projects students are coming up with these days are excellent.

“What it comes down to is that technology has moved on, you don’t get as much guitar players as you did back in the 1990s when I was growing up.

“What I always say to my students is get yourself in a band, but there are less musicians out there at the moment.

“Everyone wants to be the next Avicii or David Guetta using EDM technology.

“I think what she is doing is absolutely fantastic. The last 10 years live music has been on a downward spiral, especially for the age group that is putting this night on.

“The good thing about this it’s a chance for different musicians to meet and network which is really important.

“It’s a really good night for promoting live musicians and live music in Falkirk.”

The perfect 10

The Independent Central album will be launched on Friday, March 25 at The Warehouse, Burnbank Road, Falkirk.

Tickets for the event are £6 and can be purchased by texting 07800 636 880 or ordering online at

The track list is as follows:

1. Ronan Lang - Bringing Me Down

2. Frank Donnelly - My Best Disguise

3. Adam Fulton - Painted Hair

4. Commercial Break - Mr Solitude

5. The Nickajack men - Marilyn

6. Frank Donnelly - What If?

7. Ronan lang - Moving On Up

8. Adam Fulton - Anything

9. Commercial Break - Fooled

10. The Nickajack men - Was I Even Here?