I’m writing this week’s blog from a hotel room overlooking the beautiful city of Bruges. It’s Sunday morning and I’ve spent the last couple of days here and before that in Utrecht. We have been performing the final Deacon Blue shows of this year. Last night’s gig was meant to happen a year ago and Utrecht in late 2020. We all know how those plans worked out.

Getting to this point allows me to reflect a little on what we have endured and what we have secured. When lockdown started we did wonder what would remain of the life we knew. As our little bus drove back from the show last night we allowed ourselves to remember how strange the early days of touring felt in the last few months of last year. Even a full eighteen months after lockdown the fear that, at any point, the tour would stop with one positive lateral flow test pervaded almost every second of our journey. Eventually, as you may already know, we had to come off the road and it took until Saturday to complete a tour which went on sale in late 2019! If you’re one of those who booked a ticket then, can I thank you for your patience.

The pandemic also changed the way we did radio. For a few Saturdays (on my Radio 2 shows) and every Tuesday evening Richard Murdoch, my faithful and only producer, and I came into a deserted BBC Pacific Quay and celebrated country music. However we still haven’t gone back to the frequency of Americana/Country artists coming through Glasgow that we enjoyed in pre Covid times. There has been the occasional session in Studio One but we’re still not back to where we were. We’ve made up for some of this by recording longer conversations down the line and some of these with Allison Russell, Lori McKenna, Eric Church and Luke Combs have been memorable, moving and life affirming. I’m grateful too that sometimes, with the help of seeing each other on screen, we’ve managed more honest conversations that may not have been possible when artists were in the middle of a busy touring schedule.

However, we still have a little more space on our weekly show that we would normally have been allowed. So I want to continue our country instruments journey by celebrating the key role played in some of our favourite records by the fiddle. This, you understand is not plural, there may well be a night given over to Countrypolitan strings in future weeks, but this is simply the lonesome fiddle as played on records by The Chicks, Stephen Stills, Hank Williams, Emmylou Harris and Bob Wills. You’ll hear Byron Berline, Joshua Hedley and on her original instrument the talent that is Rhiannon Giddens.

We will also have some fine new records from Amanda Shires, John Fullbright and Tenille Townes. You can hear us this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland from five past eight or at any time of your choosing on BBC Sounds. Do join me if you can.