Posts Tagged 'calamateur'


“I know what you’re gonna say when things don’t go my way.

You say “I don’t fault your faith.  I still think that it’s true”.

I know what you’re gonna do when faced with people like me.

You say “I don’t know what you want, but this is not what you need”.

And I want to know, I want to know.

Why everybody looks to the past to be their testimony?

When all that I can recall is I was bored and lonely.

Tell me what’s wrong with today?  Tell me what’s right about tomorrow?

And I can’t believe you when I know that you’re wrong.

Why can’t you wake up and see that we are not who we claimed we could be?

I know what you believe, but, you’re not the same as me,

 so don’t push me around and tell me the same old story.

When everybody looks to the past to be their testimony.

When all that I can recall is was I was bored and lonely.

Tell me what’s wrong with today?  Tell me what’s right about tomorrow?

From “Testimony” by calamateur.


We all love stories.  We identify with characters, root for the under-dog, look to the hero, get sucked into the story and anticipate the way it will play itself out.

What’s your story?  What’s mine – and how much of it would I willingly tell you if you asked me that question?

We have this tradition in Christian circles where people give their “testimony”.  I recall as a teenager that it was almost something that was expected in youth group circles.  It’s not something I’ve done in that sort of public speaking format since I was about 17.  There is something great about hearing people’s stories, but that sort of set-up isn’t the kind of thing that would ever naturally pop into my typical conversation. 

A couple of years ago myself and three other thirty-somethings decided to all write down our “testimonies” and email them to eachother.  It was interesting to realise that we’d all lost a bunch of dreams that we had held at 17.  Life looked very different now and involved a whole load of responsibilities that would have scared the living daylights out of our teenaged selves.  And yet, these were the places and situations we all found ourselves in.  It wasn’t a case that we had arrived, but that we were still journeying, still trying to make sense of things and figure stuff out.  Still trying to model Christ and make wise decisions whilst also living with the consequences of decisions we’d already made.

The older we get, the more stories we have and the harder I find it to draw out what the real life affirming or defining moments are.  They are numerous and they still occur fairly regularly.

It’s been good to chat with the little small group of folks who inhabit our home weekly about all our hang ups with “evangelism” and all our negative experiences of it.  So many of us have been fed a guilt trip about “making the most of every opportunity” and being so scared of seeming weird or thinking we need to have a different personality or a PhD in theology and apologetics to actually share our faith with someone.  As a result we stay silent all too often.

We’ve been chatting around some DVDs called “Just Walk Across The Room” and it’s been quite liberating to realise all we’re really meant to do is live our lives in a transparent way, to be real, to form genuine friendships with no ulterior motives – to preach the gospel and only when necessary to use words.

That said, I’m trying to figure out what my story actually IS?  How do I explain it in my own words, with brevity and clarity so that I always have an answer for the hope I have within?


The Bells

“Dad, I broke my promise to you,
if you’re wondering where I’ve been.
I thought I knew what I was doing,
But I was wrong again.
I understand, Son.
I understand, Son.
I understand”.

From “The Bells” by Pedro The Lion.


My good friend, Andrew, from calamateur tweeted about this refreshingly insightful and honest interview with the wonderful David Bazan that appeared recently in Paste magazine. 

It’s rare for an artist to wrestle so publicly with his inconsistencies, doubts and hopes.  It’s rarer still for a journalist to keep pressing the nub of an issue which has inspired their art when the issue at heart is so personal and not one that shifts magazine sales by and large…go read this link.

Son Of Everyone

“You are there and you are not silent.

So, say something useful.

Don’t say that sequence is not important

and that you live and move in slow motion.”

From “Son Of Everyone” by calamateur.

As our little experiment in facilitating a creative arts project nears an end we were treated to a truly special evening of music and comedy on Monday night.  Personally, it is one of those nights I will cherish and hold onto and remember with a huge sense of delight for years to come.

As well as the music, there was just joy in the little, seemingly invisible, things.  The happiness of just being able to buy some drinks for people I have held dearer than they know for most of my days in Edinburgh, the conversations and funny little connections of realising that somebody knows somebody who knows someone and the recognition of what a small world it is.  The sense of bringing together people from different ages and stages in life and different backgrounds and being captivated as the songs and stories unfolded. To witness authenticity rather than religion.  I’ve been chuckling to myself in recent days observing in real life some of the observations noted in Fiona Stewart’s stand up comedy slot.

A huge indebtedness is owed to everyone who gave up time and energy so willingly.  It was a joy to see DLDown for my first time.  The variation of arrangements and the noteworthy delivery of a Lies Damned Lies number accapella and the looped arrangements of “Icarus” were highlights for me.


As for Calamateur, I’d gladly pay money to see them play live every night of the week – so it was a huge pleasure to witness their set in a space where everyone was attentive.


If you were there and enjoyed the music (or if you weren’t but are intrigued), then you can download music at DLDown’s website or at calamateur’s site.  You can also download the exceptional “Jesus Is For Losers” album for free here.  There is an option to donate and I would strongly encourage you to do so given that this is essentially a livelihood – in exchange you’ll get some additional tracks and remixes that are worth having.

Thanks to everyone who has shown me something of the joy of art and the art of joy this past little while.

If you’ve not managed to see the art exhibition yet, then you can still do so by visiting the Bistro at The Lot, 2-4 Grassmarket, Edinburgh between now and Sunday afternoon.  30% of any sales proceeds from artwork will go directly to the Grassmarket Mission.

Perfect Moment

“This was your perfect moment.”

From “Perfect Moment” by calamateur.



If you follow my blog a tall, then you’ll know that a little group of friends have helped facilitate an art exhibition currently running in Edinburgh under the banner “The Art of Joy”.  Our little collective’s events include a therapeutic art workshop  on Tuesday and knitting and nattering night on Wednesday of this week.

We are also delighted to confirm that relatively fresh from performing 4 songs on the telly on BBC’s Rapal and securing four out of five for their latest album in The List this month, calamateur have agreed to play as part of our little project.  It will be their first gig in Edinburgh for three years and will take place at our closing event upstairs at The Lot, Grassmarket, Edinburgh on Monday 13th April.

Calamateur is the moniker used by singer / songwriter / general noise-maker Andrew Howie. Based near Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland, Andrew has been recording and releasing his own music since 2000.

He has released 1 single, 4 EP’s, 2 mini-album’s, 2 full length albums, a collaboration album and curated a compilation. He has been likened to artists as diverse as Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Damien Rice, Guided by Voices, Susuma Yokota and The Blue Nile.

His music has been played by John Peel, Radio 3’s Late Junction, the Scottish Evening Session on Radio 1, Beat 106’s The Beatscene and local radio / internet radio the length and breadth of the country. Here’s what some people have to say:

“…nothing short of brilliantly absorbing…”  – Is This Music?

“…stunning… a work of beauty…what took Snow Patrol’s 3 albums and 4 people to accomplish, Calamateur’s Andrew Howie manages straight off with songs of desolate beauty underpinned with a savage hope…”  – John Earls, Planet Sound

“…the aim is true and the heart is strong in this beautiful little record. 4/5.”  – The List

“…providing one of those moments where your head says nothing really out of the ordinary happening here but your heart suggests otherwise, trembling as if touched by something altogether magical….”   – Losing Today

For a flavour of things please click the following link

Calamateur will be accompanied on the night by local talent in the form of DLDown who have been described as follows: 

“Jo Wilson hushes the room with a minute or so of delicious loops that abruptly end whilst his songs of faith sweep through the room. Icarus doesn’t overtly retell the tragedy of Daedalus’ son, but hopes (over a breezy island strum pattern and cool chord progressions) that “maybe to Heaven I can break through.” “Lazarus” then asks us to step into the surprised man’s sandals and try to imagine the electricity of a human resurrection. Solid, beefy guitar set and enlightening lyrics, although the quick death of the brilliant loops and layers is a hard truth.” 

Our spirits should also be raised as Fiona Stewart brings some stand up comedy to add to the evening’s events.

If you can get yourself to Edinburgh on Monday then please let us bring some joy to the end of your Easter weekend.

The event starts at 7.30 and tickets will be available on the night at £5 per head.

Bad Architecture.

“Let’s take them apart, all of these old beliefs and go back to the plans.

Burn them down to be rebuilt to house the lonely and the damned.

Bad architecture will never last”.  

From “Bad Architecture” by calamateur.



I love the above song.  I love the lyrics, the picture language and the truth it conveys.

A structure can either be a vehicle or an obstacle.  We often say we love change, but settle for the comfort of what we know.  As a church community we are looking at restructuring things.  The current model works, but is it more than symbolic that we’ve outgrown our existing building and leased another building which has recently been sold which will leave us forced to look at relocating again?  We will be having to look afresh at buildings and structures physically and metaphorically. 

Existing properties can be functional, but outdated.  Better solutions can be found to the changing needs of those frequenting a building.  New ideas can transform things and a new design can make a positive impact upon its environment.  Good architecture can become something that attracts and is talked about positively.  It can become something cherished. 

I think it is proper to recognise the history of a church building and generations of community with thankfulness.  But, a vision received over 100 years ago may not be the same as the vision for the here and now or for the next 1, 10, 50 or 100 years.

It is exciting, but unsettling.  Are we willing to demolish something we love and have a vested interest in in order to bring new life?  As we move from a structure focused around small groups of people doing life together to forming groups centred around people with a common passion (known as Missional Expressions) what will the church gathered and scattered look like even twelve months from now?  What legacy will our actions now make for future generations? 

P.S Calamateur will be playing in Edinburgh for the first time in 3 years at The Lot, Grassmarket, Edinburgh on Easter Monday.  Tickets £5 on the door from 7.30.  It is guaranteed to be fantastic.

A Beautiful Collision

“Here it comes,

a beautiful collision

is happening now”

From “A Beautiful Collision” by David Crowder* Band.


Our little small group collective talk a lot about “relevance”.  We talk a lot about “embracing and shaping culture”.  We talk a lot about what’s going on in our lives – the good things, the trying things and the things that wear us down.  We talk for hours and it rarely feels like it.  We laugh so hard at times.  So, I think we concluded that in the midst of whatever life throws at us we find faith, we find hope and we find love, albeit sometimes at varying degrees.  In a world of bad news, we have good news.  In the storms of life, if we look hard enough, we can find peace.  Despite our mood we can find joy.

How do we express or share that?  How do help others do that?

From 25th March until 17th April we are commandeering the bistro area of The Lot at Edinburgh’s Grassmarket.  We are facilitating an art exhibition – celebrating the work of artists and, hopefully, creating a form of sanctuary for those who enjoy the pieces whilst on display.  Instead of charging the artists any commission, we will take 30% of any sales proceeds and give it away to the Grassmarket Mission who work with the marginalised in our city. Some of our group are running some art workshops.  Some of our group are starting a group where they can knit and natter over a drink and socialise.  We’re putting on a live music night with DLDowncalamateur and some stand up comedy.  We’ve entitled our little venture “The Art Of Joy” and you can find out more here.

It’s been daunting and now we’re almost there it’s really quite exciting.  Hopefully, this will not just be our human efforts, but will serve to bring hope and joy to the city we love so much.  So here we will be, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, next to all the pubs and curios shops of the Grassmarket hoping for a beautiful collision of real life and faith.

New Year


“So this is the new year.
And I don’t feel any different.
The clanking of crystal
Explosions off in the distance (in the distance).

So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions”

From “New Year” by Death Cab For Cutie

New Year is a funny time of year.  A time for new starts or false dawns, happy memories or painful regrets.  Time to be with the ones we love or to feel alone in a crowd… Edinburgh holds a huge street party were a majority celebrate by getting drunk – possibly to forget the disappointment of the year gone by and to escape the fears of the year ahead or, possibly,  just because it is the expected norm.

So here we are, the 5th of January 2009 – the first day back to work.  The sense of childhood memories of the end of the long school holidays.  Maybe there’s something still wrapped up in the season of goodwill, but there is something nice about most of the country taking a holiday at the same time.  You come back to work without the dread of hundreds of unopened emails and phone messages. 

It’s a time of year when we look back.  We look forward and wonder.  Often we make lame promises to ourselves to do things differently – but for how long?

I love the time just to regain perspective.  Holidays usually do that for me.  But what will I/we commit to do differently in 2009?  Who will I/we determine to be?

Karl shared some thoughts at our little community gathering yesterday that really challenged and struck home.  He talked about the story of Caleb from Joshua ch 14.  He challenged us that the Bible doesn’t often tell the stories of half-way dwellers – the Bible tends to focus on folks who are on top of the mountain or down in the valley. 

The temptation with being neither up nor down, is that it somehow feels safer or less risky.  Maybe it’s like at the time of the transfiguration.  We are tempted to pitch a tent and enjoy the view rather than returning to the world into which we were sent (to paraphrase the excellent “White Light Unkown” by Calamateur)…

I can look back to New Year’s Day 1992 and know that I was in a place where I wanted to journey forward – not to set up camp or become spiritually stunted.  My whole life lay before me – I didn’t have a clue what I’d do career wise, all my friends had paired off and I felt like a gooseberry or left on the shelf.  I spent time in solitude putting it all before God.  I believe to this day that as I prayed about relationships and girlfriends, He showed me the person I would next go out with and gave me such a peace about it.  Nine months later we did start going out.  16 years later we have been married for over 11 years and have a beautiful daughter.

The challenge for me now, just as it was then, is not to get too comfortable and to settle for anything less than all He has for me.  That is a daily choice and the outworkings will have ramifications not just for me, but for those around me.  I need to live by my convictions and to know my intrinsic value to God.  That is not something pious, but something very humbling.  As the old hymnal goes, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…”

In a life full of busyness and noise, do I order my day in a way that looks like someone wanting to hear from God?

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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