A couple of years ago or so I got to trace my family’s roots. I wasn’t expecting Arctic explorers or even Jacobite renegades but I was slightly dismayed to find that the entire movement of my father’s side of the family had been between Dundee and Forfar for the best part of 150 years! Sharing the story the children took it on board with characteristic Scottish phlegm. ‘So Dad,’ my 12 year old said, ‘Nothing interesting has happened to your family?’

I couldn’t demur. I stood accused and accepted the admonishment fairly and squarely, half-hoping a cat-burglar or an animal-trainer might suddenly pop out of the woodwork. I dreamed of the helpful chap from the Library in Dundee calling me up; ‘We’ve overlooked the Friockheim side of your family, Mr Ross. It seems they drifted off to South America in the late 1800’s after their gypsy caravan was burned down in Kirriemuir……never came back. But there’s a lot of them in Patagonia!’

All of this is in sharp contrast to my special guest on this week’s Another Country, Dean Owens. This year’s excellent album which has a number of songs which look back into some untold stories opens with the brilliant tale of Dora, a circus performer and traveller, just another member of Dean’s lineage. Into The Sea is the name of the album and with some excellent help in Music City, Dean’s record has a great collection of stories. Live he’s ably supported by The Whisky Hearts who will be with him this coming Tuesday evening when they play for us in Studio One on Another Country. Expect great songs, some magical playing and singing and a few stories from ‘what’s up there in the family tree.’


Dean is playing soon and I recommend you go see him. Thinking back now his show at The Glad Cafe was one of the gems of the year. Another was last Saturday’s, frankly brilliant, concert by A New International at the CCA in Glasgow. I’ll play you some more from their album, Come To The Fabulon. We’ll have Neil Young on vinyl and we’ll preview some artists about to appear at Glasgow Americana starting this week including Tom Russell, Betty Soo and Sam Lewis.

It all starts on Tuesday evening from five past nine.

It’s my last Sunday until Christmas time

I’m delighted to say my special guest will be Fife’s very own Cora Bissett. Cora is musician, actor and director who has created some of the most demanding and critically acclaimed theatre in Scotland over the last few years. Now associate director of the National Theatre of Scotland her determination to tell stories of the new Scots has brought some brilliant new work to the theatre.


I’ll also be catching up with Gordon Aikman and his husband Joe Pike. As you probably know, Gordon has written about his fight with Motor Neuron Disease. Gordon has been very open (in his Sunday Times diary) about the travails of his illness so we thought it would be good to pay him a visit at his flat he shares with his new husband, Joe and ask them both to share how the illness has affected them. Their commitment and honesty makes for a very moving story.

Join me on Sunday from five past ten if you can. Both shows are on BBC Radio Scotland.

One final but important Radio appearance this week. On Thursday evening I will be joining Andrew Marr and others on National Poetry Day on BBCRadio 4. I’ll be singing a song and reading a very appropriate poem!

Here’s the link: