A giant spider will be on the loose in Paisley town centre this Halloween, ready to pounce on anyone who dares approach its lair…

But don’t worry, it’s just one of the many attractions being lined up for Paisley Halloween Festival, which takes place next week.

The Future Paisley programme is helping fund its community participation and volunteering work, with a wide range of local groups helping design parts of the festival programme, and taking part in the event itself.

The free-to-attend Halloween event is on over three evenings from Thursday 27 to Saturday 29 October (6pm to 9pm each night). It has grown to be one of the biggest and best of its kind in the UK and tens of thousands are expected to join us in Paisley town centre for the event.

We are proud the festival can act as a platform for Renfrewshire’s creative groups to showcase their talents, and work with and learn from some of the professional performers who will feature.

Starlight Musical Theatre pose with giant spider puppet which will appear at Paisley Halloween Festival 2022

The photos in this article show the young people of Starlight Youth Music Theatre, based in Paisley’s west end, bringing to life one of the unique installations specially created for the festival – a giant spider puppet which will sit in its own lair in Abbey Close complete with luminous eggs.

The spider was inspired by the legendary story of Robert the Bruce and ‘try, try and try again’ – a nod to Paisley’s historic royal links, with his daughter Marjorie buried in the Abbey and his grandson – the future King James II of Scotland – having being born there.

Maria Wilson, of Starlight Youth Music Theatre, said: “The group for this are aged 14-20. They are all very excited about it. Working with a gigantic puppet has been a challenge because we’ve had to get all the puppeteers working together to make sure we move as realistically as possible and to be able to move together – so it’s been great for building teamwork.

“They’ve never worked with a puppet before – normally they do singing and dancing and everything is choreographed – but for this there’s not really a script so they’re going to have to improvise on the night, which will be fun.”

Artist Kelly Walsh at Paisley Halloween Festival 2022 community workshop

One of the other attractions will be a tarot-card-inspired installation, Superhero Spotlight: Everyday Heroes, created by local young people and celebrating the heroic acts of people in their everyday lives, as well as their own everyday heroic acts, supported by artist Ruby Pester.

Our photos also show some of the young people connected to Renfrewshire Carers’ Centre working with Ruby on their contribution to the artwork.

Young people connected to Renfrewshire Carers’ Centre working on designs for Paisley Halloween Festival 2022

Other groups who have been involved include: ArtBoss, Kibble, 33rd Gleniffer Scouts, Disability Resource Centre, Gateway Service at Spinners Gate, Create Paisley, PACE Youth Theatre, Right2Dance, Jennifer Scott Dance, and Community Circus Paisley, as well as several local primary and secondary schools from throughout Renfrewshire.

Find out more about Paisley Halloween Festival

In his final blog, local writer and Cam Procter leaves the bike at home and heads out on a walking microadventure exploring Johnstone’s Bluebell Woods and the Gleniffer Braes. 

If you’re in the mood to spend some time out in the woods, there are several distinct but connected woodlands in Johnstone that are great for exploring! Each of the separate woodlands has its own network of trails, but our route takes you up through each of these woods, and the trail is perfect for both walking and running.

Bardrain Woods Johnstone ©Cam Procter

The route starts at Johnstone train station, which is only a four-minute journey from Paisley Gilmour St. Exit the train station the back way (onto Springfield Park) and head south until you find yourself on Auchenlodment Road. About 400 yards down this road, you’ll notice a small, black sign on your right that reads ‘Bluebell Woods’. Cut in here to join the trail.

This section is easygoing and mostly wooded. As its bound on all sides by houses, it can be quite busy, but the route does get much quieter as you go. As you follow the trail along, you’ll start to head uphill; eventually, the trees give way to a field of ferns. A little trek through these ferns brings you to a road.

Bardrain Woods Path ©Cam Procter

Directly across the road, the Windy Hill segment begins. Although wooded at the start, the ferns soon return as you climb higher. You’ll soon notice a small river valley to your left, and if you look behind you, you’ll be treated to a nice view down this valley and over Paisley. However, the best view is yet to come, so press on!

Along this track, you’ll come to a short descent that leads to a bridge, which then takes you to the other side of the river. Once across, there’s a steep climb back up into the trees. This climb is quite long and contains a few switchbacks. However, it soon flattens out—and stays flat. Up here, the tree cover is sparser, providing some fantastic views over to the north. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Trossachs!

Bardrain Woods View ©Cam Procter

Follow the trail along until you come to a gate. There’s a thick forest ahead, and our route takes you up into these trees. However, if you’re enjoying the views, you can follow the trail straight ahead to skirt around them instead.

At the end of this path, you’ll come to the A737, just across from the Car Park in the Sky. This is where our route starts to head back, but if you’re in for a longer adventure, you can cross the road to enter the Gleniffer Braes Country Park. Whenever you do decide to head back, take care on the descent, as it can be quite slippery when wet.

Bardrain Woods Gleniffer Braes ©Cam Procter

Route notes:

Distance (from Johnstone train station): 7.5 miles / 12 kilometres

Time: Allow 3.5-5 hours if walking, including snack breaks

Terrain: Trail (not including the short segment near the train station)

Special kit: Grippy walking or trail running shoes; parts of this trail are steep and can be slippery when wet

Highlights: Bluebell Woods, Windy Hill, Bardrain Wood, Gleniffer Braes

More microadventures

In the second of three blogs, local writer and keen cyclist Cam Procter heads out on a cycling microadventure to explore Lochwinnoch and Barcraigs Reservoir. 

The hills to the south of Paisley provide some great views over the town and feature a network of quiet country roads that are pleasant to cycle on. I’ve shared a route here that is just one example of the numerous options that are available once up in these hills. At roughly 25 miles, with the choice to shorten or extend as you see fit, this area can be a fantastic choice for a day-ride.

Barcraigs ride lane ©Cam Procter

Our route starts in Paisley and follows National Cycle Route 7 to Lochwinnoch, turning off just after Castle Semple Loch. Take a left onto Newton of Barr and follow this road past the RSPB site and the Lochwinnoch train station.

At the end of Newton of Barr, you’ll come to a roundabout. This is connected to the A737, so the traffic can be quite heavy here, and we recommend using the off-road cycle crossing to get across.

Heading straight over the roundabout, you’ll see a narrow road that climbs straight up. This incline is about as steep as it looks, but it eases off a little bit when you come to the next junction, where you turn left. After this, take either the first or second right to head towards Barcraigs Reservoir; the second option is a little longer, but the views over the reservoir are much better!

Barcraigs Reservoir ©Cam Procter

From here, the road undulates a little as you follow a series of narrow, winding country lanes around the reservoir. These roads tend to be very quiet, but do keep an eye out for cars coming the other way! Once you’ve looped around the southern side of the reservoir, the route starts to head north again, back towards Paisley.

Having enjoyed these small, winding lanes, you’ll eventually come to Gleniffer Road, a flat, straight stretch that leads to the top of the Gleniffer Braes Country Park. The Car Park in the Sky can be a great place to take a rest (and take in the views!) before starting on the stunning descent back into town. Zipping past Stanley Reservoir and all the way into the centre of Paisley, this is a great road to end the ride on, and well worth the effort of getting into the hills in the first place!

Remember to follow the Outdoor Access Code and leave no trace!

Tip: This route can be done in either direction, but the climb up Gleniffer Road can be challenging, especially so early on in the ride. If you like to get the hard work out of the way early however, the opposite direction may be better for you!

Gleniffer Braes Carpark in the Sky©Cam Procter

Route notes:

Distance (from Gilmour St. Station): 25 miles / 40.25 kilometres

Time: Allow 3.5-5 hours in good weather, including pitstops and snack breaks

Terrain: Paved; traffic and traffic-free sections

Special kit: Don’t forget your raincoat!

Highlights: Lochwinnoch, Barcraigs Reservoir, Gleniffer Braes

More microadventures

Have you spotted the fantastic posters and photos for this year’s Paisley Halloween Festival?

Following our chat with Graeme Hewitson at Monument Photos, we also caught up with founder of Nik Makeup Artist, Nicola Keegan, about the make-up look she created for our five superheroes on this year’s branding.

Read Nicola’s blog below:

Profile photo of make up artist Nicola Keegan

Hi, I’m Nik, owner of Paisley-based makeup school and studio Nik Makeup Artist.

I’m a fully qualified, multi-award-winning makeup artist with over a decade of experience. I love everything about the industry and have a makeup school to help inspire and teach others who would like to join the industry too.

Working as a makeup artist and studio owner my life is always exciting and every day at work is different!

I always look forward to Halloween; we get to be super-creative and put together some crazy design looks for our clients.

Being born and raised in Paisley I have always supported and loved the town’s events, but Paisley Halloween Festival definitely has a special place in my family’s heart.

I was blown away when I was asked to work on the makeup artistry for Paisley Halloween Festival 2022. It was honestly a dream come true when Cirque Bijou (event producers) chose me!

It was a busy time of year for Nik Makeup Artist, with a fully booked diary, but after receiving the brief we got straight to work on some mood boards.

Make up mood board for Paisley Halloween Festival photoshoot

‘The branding for the event is bright, fun, and playful. The colouring is neon, glowing and full of depth, with swirling clouds, a full moon, and wisps of smoke.
A range of bright colours, performance/dancing/show outfits. Graphic shapes and patterns. Makeup will be bold and colourful, matching the branding.’

I scheduled in my assistant Kellyann Lappin to help get the models ready for the photoshoot. I had designs in mind and a running order in place and we arrived an hour before the models to get set up and ready to start.

We met all the team who were so helpful and went over the brief and any changes to it. After speaking to the photographer Graeme from Monument Photos we confirmed the looks and times.

Superhero makeup look for Paisley Halloween Festival

The makeup room was full of vibrancy and excitement. We chatted with everyone checking that the models were comfortable, happy and at their most confident to shoot. We also spoke to Cirque Bijou and the event team to get ongoing feedback as the shoot got underway.

It was a lovely day and we were so pleased with the results, and to be a part of our favourite Paisley festival.

What a day it was to see the final images of this outstanding shoot. A career high was seeing the images on the front and back cover of our favourite glossy, Mill Magazine!

It just makes me even more excited to take my two children and husband to this spectacular event. We can’t wait!

Find out more about Paisley Halloween Festival

In the first of three blogs, local writer Cam Procter heads out into Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park to see what cycling microadventures the wilderness has to offer. 

When it comes to active travel and getting around, National Cycle Routes 7 and 75 are indispensable paths that link Renfrewshire with other key locations around the Clyde. They also make for great days out on their own. However, these paths also are handy for getting to and from adventures that take you a little more off-the-beaten-track.

One such adventure, starting in Paisley, begins by following NCR 75 out towards Kilmacolm. About a mile after Bridge of Weir, a sign directs you away from the National Cycle Network and down towards Quarriers Village, which was originally built, in 1876, to serve as a large orphanage.

Once through the village, you’ll follow a series of small, unnamed country roads towards the eastern foothills of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. Although this section is on-road, these roads don’t see much motor traffic, so you can sit back and really appreciate the scenery around here!

Clyde Muirshiel Regional ParkGravel ©Cam Procter

Once you reach the boundary of the regional park, the asphalt gives way to a gravel track that leads up into the hills. There’s quite a big hill to climb here, and this section may be tricky, especially on tyres that don’t have much tread or grip. The path is well-defined in most places but can sometimes be difficult to follow in the open hill; these sections also tend to be quite boggy, which can make for challenging riding.

You’ll follow this path south until you pass Windy Hill. The summit of this hill can be reached by making a short diversion, but this is a popular walking route, so remember to take care here!

Having passed Windy Hill, you’ll come to the Muirshiel Visitor Centre. Here, the asphalt returns, and this road makes for a very enjoyable descent into Lochwinnoch. The road takes you past the impressive Calder Mill Waterfall before joining on with NCR 7 to head back towards Paisley.

Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park waterfall ©Cam Procter

At just over 30 miles, this route can be done in a few hours, but it can also make for a great overnighter. Although Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park is often exposed to the elements and can be boggy in places, it can be an ideal place to pitch a tent in the summer months! Why not bring the tent along and head out for a midweek 5-9 adventure?

Remember to follow the Outdoor Access Code and leave no trace!

Tip: Those looking for a shorter adventure can finish at Lochwinnoch station, where a 13-minute train can deliver you back to Paisley Gilmour Street.

Route notes:

Distance (from Gilmour St. Station): 32 miles / 51.5 kilometres

Time: Allow 4-6 hours in good weather, including pitstops and snack breaks

Terrain: A mix of paved surfaces, gravel, and unpaved trails; traffic and traffic-free sections

Special kit: For unpaved/gravel sections, wider tyres with tread are recommended

Highlights: Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, Calder Mill Waterfall

More microadventures

Have you spotted the fantastic posters and photos for this year’s Paisley Halloween Festival?

The cast of amazing superheroes were captured by photographer Graeme Hewitson of Monument Photos.

Here, Graeme gives you a behind the scenes look at the shoot and his process to create these stunning photos.

Read Graeme’s blog below:

Profile picture of photographer Graeme Hewitson

As a professional photographer with 20 years experience I have worked on many diverse and high profile projects.

However, when Renfrewshire Council hired my services for the Paisley Halloween Festival, I knew this would be one of the most exciting photoshoots I’ve been privileged to be a part of.

The theme of ‘heroes and mystical creatures’ instantly got my attention and I knew there was scope for unlimited creativity. I was shown high end imagery from previous year and was given the brief to create images that looked ‘neon’.

We arranged a day at Paisley Community Circus to capture images of local models that were provided. When I arrived I discovered my friend Nicola Blackstock was on makeup duty.  I’ve worked with her many times and we have won many awards together.

I opted to use a chromakey setup (green screen) which meant all the characters could be ‘cutout’ and placed on a background I would design later.

I used six high speed studio lights carefully positioned to capture dramatic light and shadow. I even brought a wind machine to blow hair and superhero capes!

A behind the scenes photograph of a superhero from the Paisley Halloween Festival 2022 photoshoot

Each of the characters were fantastic to work with and we captured three or four poses of each model to give options during post processing.

Back in the studio, I selected five favourite images and opened them in photoshop where I used digital art to add vibrancy and special effects. I wanted each individual character to stand alone but still look part of the set.

I was very excited to reveal my ideas to the team, and I’m glad to say there were delighted with the results.

As a final touch I photographed a couple of Paisley landmarks to drop in to the background and give a ‘Gotham City’ type feel.

It always brings satisfaction to see your work displayed on magazine covers and printed large format in shop windows. Having lived in Renfrewshire my whole life, this is a project I am really proud of.

I was blessed to win International Master Photographer of the Year 2022, and this project directly helped win that award!

Related Links

Find out more about Paisley Halloween Festival

We’ve been telling you all about the many ways you can have a great day out in Renfrewshire.

Now our friends Louis and Hannah would like to share some of the favourite places they enjoy exploring in their local area – and they think you would too.

They’ll tell you about where they like to visit in Bridge of Weir and some key sights to take in.

Read their stories below:   

Louis’ Great Day Out

I think Bridge of Weir is a lovely place to go for a walk. Actually, there’s loads of different walks you can do and during lockdown, when we could only go out to exercise once a day, I was glad we could walk around such a nice place. Also, my stepdad Andy grew up in Bridge of Weir and when we are walking around, he tells us lots of funny stories from when he was a kid and we can see the places where they happened.  

“Walking through The Glen is nice. It’s got a cool waterfall and then you come out at the top where there is a park and lots of space to kick a ball about.  

Louis and Hannah at the waterfall

Louis and Hannah at the waterfall

“I also like the wee ruins that used to be a castle – that must have been a long time ago, because there doesn’t seem to be much left! But it’s cool to stand inside and imagine what it used to be like.  

“There is also a big bridge that you can walk over the river. It’s on the cycle path and it’s a really nice view.”  

Louis and Hannah at the viaduct

Louis and Hannah at the viaduct

Hannah’s Great Day Out

“I love going for peaceful walks where there are lots of trees and I can hear the sound of stones under my feet and the birds chirping. I love the wee glen in Bridge of Weir because there is even a waterfall. It’s such a nice place and it smells so fresh! 

“After the glen we go to the playpark that is beside it. My favourite thing is to go on the swings and jump off.

Hannah on the swing in Bridge of Weir play park

Hannah enjoys the swings at the play park

“Then I love going up to the secret castle. It’s hidden in the forest and it’s like a special wee place that only some people can find. It’s amazing!

“I also love the big bridge where we I can look over at the river. It’s a good place to stop for a rest if you are going on a big walk or out cycling.” 

Louis and Hannah at Ranfurly Castle

Hannah at the ‘secret’ Ranfurly Castle

See more great days out here

The Spree festival is back in Paisley from Thursday 1 – Saturday 10 September 2022 – and that means the return of the fantastic ModStuff event.

Organised by LNP Promotions, the annual festival-within-a-festival celebrates all things Mod and Mod related culture.

This year’s ModStuff takes place on the opening Saturday (3 September). It begins with a free afternoon show from 12pm – 5pm, including the popular scooter ride-out. Then, there’s a ticketed evening event with great live music from 7pm.

We caught up with organiser Gary Kerr of LNP Promotions to tell us more about all things ModStuff.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of ModStuff and your involvement?

This is officially year 10 of ModStuff in Paisley – with the first event taking place at The Bungalow in Shuttle Street in 2013.

It all started when I met Tommy McGrory and thought about what I could do in my town and how I could help him. I love music and I wanted to get involved in events and contribute to Tommy’s youth music charity, Loud n Proud.

We created LNP Promotions to help the charity through promotion and participation in great live music and arts performance events. The purpose of LNP projects and activities is to promote Paisley as a live music destination, attract visitors, stimulate the local economy and to further our charitable aims and objectives.

The original idea for ModStuff came about when the Royal National Mod festival of Gaelic arts and culture was coming to the town that year – we thought about how a popular music event could tie-in in parallel with that, but in a different way. There’s a real legacy of Mod subculture in Paisley that still lingers today from the 1960’s and more particularly from the late 70’s and early 80’s Mod revival period. We had discussions with the Royal National Mod, so they didn’t think we were being disrespectful, took advice from some people we knew and ModStuff was born – a small festival celebrating Mod culture and the scene in a respectful and accessible way.

The first event took place at The Bungalow in Paisley and we tied in with Ewan Eadie. He runs March of the Mods, Glasgow and Paisley with his wife Annette. They raised funds for Teenage Cancer Trust at the Saturday afternoon show and scooter ride-out. The turnout was fantastic – and it was only then that we understood just how big a draw this event would be and how important it was to people. We learned a lot from our early mistakes and developed relationships which would help us to build towards our future events.

We worked in partnership with Renfrewshire Council on the evolution of the event, which would see ModStuff move into the Spiegeltent and be part of The Spree festival.

Now we have a fantastic mix of original, covers and tribute acts, our resident DJ, Gerry McGuire and the highly anticipated scooter ride-out, with people coming from all over to enjoy the ModStuff event each year.

(From left) Tommy McGrory, Ewan Eadie and Gary Kerr at the first ModStuff in 2013

(From left) Tommy McGrory, Ewan Eadie and Gary Kerr at the first ModStuff in 2013

What do you think makes ModStuff such a fantastic event?

We want people to come to Paisley and have a really positive experience. LNP gigs have become eagerly anticipated in the town, with lots of happy people reconnecting and feeling part of successful and vibrant events. We always have brilliant music acts, and this year is no different.

Charity fundraising is also embedded in ModStuff and people know they are raising funds for great causes by coming to the event. In partnership with the Paisley Vespa Scooter Club, we’ve more recently raised funds for Renfrewshire Carers and, from now on, we have decided to rotate fundraising year on year so that different charities are able to benefit at ModStuff. This year, fundraising will again be run and organised by Ewan and Annette Eadie with every pound raised going to March of the Mods, Paisley, in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.

There’s the scooter ride-out which will see scooters from around Scotland and further afield gather in Bridge Street, close to Paisley Abbey, before heading out and around the town. The ride out is run by the Paisley Vespa Scooter Club and has attracted over 100 individual scooters to take part in recent years.

We also have our annual awards – including the Special Recognition Award in memory and honour of Andy Irvine. It is awarded every year at ModStuff along with a number of other fantastic awards, including Furthest Travelled, Best Vespa and Best Lambretta.

I really believe that the event shows Paisley off as a great live music destination and a great place to be, in a wonderful setting right in the middle of the town.

ModStuff event in the Spiegeltent, Paisley

What can people enjoy at this year’s event?

ModStuff will see two fantastic Spiegeltent music shows on Saturday 3 September, as well as the spectacular scooter ride-out from 12pm.

The free afternoon show begins with Gerry McGuire, who has been our resident DJ since day one and is the glue that holds everything together. Then we’ve got afternoon entertainment from START! – a great local Mod band – and Berry Tweed & The Chasers, a super band fronted by the brilliant Laura Hunt from Lochwinnoch. We’ll be finishing off the afternoon with a rousing set from The Absolute Jam taking us right up to 5pm.

There’s a 2-hour break before our ticketed evening show begins at 7pm. We’re thrilled to have original artists at the evening show this year, and we’ll first be joined first by The Electric Stars – a brilliant band who are coming up from Salford. Then we’ll have the sensational singer-songwriter Emily Capell and her band, flying up from London – and we’re very lucky to have her join us. DJ Gerry will also be back with more great tunes to take us up to near enough midnight.

Tickets for the ModStuff evening show are on sale now and available from https://www.thespree.co.uk/event/modstuff-evening-show/


What would you say to encourage anyone thinking about coming to ModStuff at The Spree?

It’s such a fantastic day and it showcases everything that’s great about live music and socialising in a safe environment. If you want to see Paisley at its best, come to The Spree and come to ModStuff in the Spiegeltent.


Find out more about ModStuff and The Spree festival here.

See more great events at The Spree 2022

There’s nothing better than chips on the road home after a night out – and broadcaster Nicola Meighan rounds off her adventure in Paisley with a visit to legendary chip shop Castelvecchi, owned by the family of a certain Paolo Nutini.

Here, Nicola looks at the singer-songwriter’s rise to hero status in his hometown.

In 2006, a Paisley singer-songwriter released his debut single. The song was called ‘Last Request’, the artist was Paolo Nutini, and along with putting his name on the map, it drew attention to another beloved Paisley landmark: Castelvecchi, his family’s legendary chip shop, where the pop star worked shifts in his teens.

It’s a warm, nostalgic gem of a place – minutes on foot from Paisley Gilmour Street train station in the town centre – with a friendly welcome, superb fish and chips (extensive research was undertaken), and walls bedecked with café memorabilia, including an old-school pinball machine. And, often, Paolo’s charming dad behind the counter.

Nutini’s apprenticeship wasn’t just served in Castelvecchi: as a youngster, he attended Paisley’s PACE Youth Theatre, whose alumni also includes actors Richard Madden and James McAvoy and singer-songwriter David Sneddon, who has latterly written for Will Young, Olly Murs and Lana Del Rey.

Sneddon won reality TV competition Fame Academy in 2002, but he wasn’t the first performer from Paisley to top the UK charts on the back of a telly talent show: that accolade went to Kelly Marie, who appeared on Opportunity Knocks in the mid-70s, and subsequently had a disco smash with a track written by Ray Dorset from Mungo Jerry which was originally intended for Elvis Presley: the hurtling ‘Feels Like I’m In Love’.

In 2003, Paisley Town Hall hosted a homecoming gala for Sneddon, in the wake of his win and chart success. But legend has it that he was late, and the crowd were getting restless, so a hip young gunslinger jumped on the stage and grabbed the mic, and swaggered into the spotlight. It was Paolo Nutini. He worked wonders. The man who’d become his manager was in the crowd.

Paolo Nutini plays Paisley Abbey for The Spree

Three years later, Nutini’s soul-wracked, instant-classic debut album, These Streets, scaled the UK charts. Among its myriad charms, and hits like ‘New Shoes’ and ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’, were various Paisley signposts and memories – from the title track’s nod to Glenfield Road to the record’s swansong, ‘Alloway Grove’.

Nutini’s follow-up LPs – 2009’s Sunny Side Up and 2014’s Caustic Love – were both UK Number One hits, giving rise to favourites like ‘Pencil Full of Lead’, ‘Coming Up Easy’ and ‘Let Me Down Easy’, and bagging him a prestigious Ivor Novello songwriting award along the way.

He’s played several thrilling hometown shows since, including an impromptu karaoke session in Paisley’s Harvies Bar in 2019, where he belted out Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ with a party crowd – the footage is online, and joyous – and a roof-raising concert at Paisley Abbey in 2017.

Paolo Nutini performs with his band at Paisley Abbey in 2017

Nutini played lots of hits and favourites at that Paisley Abbey show, but he also performed an outstanding version of a song that’s become an unofficial anthem for the town, and he paid tribute to its writer, the local 18th Century weaver poet Robert Tannahill, whose Braes of Balquidder evolved into the much-loved (and much-performed) ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’.

All of the crowd sang along that night – a resounding, roof-raising celebration of Paisley’s architecture, history, poetry, music, awesome chips and brilliant songs. And we’ll all go together.

Nicola Meighan is a music and arts journalist and broadcaster (The Herald, STV, BBC Scotland). She presents the Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Scotland, every Friday, 2-4pm.

Find out more about Paisley’s rich music story with our film below.

These streets have too many names for me / I’m used to Glenfield Road and spending my time down in Orchy…

Paolo Nutini
Song - These Streets

More great blogs from Nicola

Broadcaster Nicola Meighan visits The Bungalow venue and traced its legacy back to Paisley’s punk explosion, and counter-cultural legacy – via Pam Hogg, Groucho Marxist records and more!

Punk might have been fired up by anarchy and sticking it to The Man, but we’ve got Glasgow’s last bastion of bureaucracy – the City Council – to thank for the DIY rock revolution that galvanised Paisley in the mid-late 1970s and beyond.

Panicked by a blaze of media hysteria – and some legendary rammies in local venues – Glasgow councillors effectively (if unofficially) prohibited punk gigs after a Stranglers concert at the City Halls in 1977, so bands – and fans – had to find an alternative stomping ground.

Taking punk’s touchstones of innovation, activism, and doing-it-yourself, promoters started booking Paisley gigs for bands who’d usually be Glasgow-bound, largely at the Silver Thread hotel (thanks to the righteously-named Disco Harry) and The Bungalow Bar, whose booker, Loudon Temple, has written a fab history of the local punk explosion.

Between them, they welcomed Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, Paul Young’s Q-Tips, the Boomtown Rats, Echo and the Bunnymen, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and countless others to the town, its bars, its stages and dance-floors – and offered a wealth of inspiration (and coveted support slots) for local music fans and bands.

It galvanised a grassroots scene that included Paisley upstarts Fire Exit, The Zips, XS Discharge, Liberty Bodice, The Sneex, The Fegs, Mentol Errors, Defiant Pose and more. Some of these acts released music on Paisley music co-operative / label Groucho Marxist records, which was helmed by Tommy Kayes via the local Socialist Workers’ Party and the TUC Club in Orr Square, which also gave rise to the town’s Rock Against Racism chapter, which held festivals in Ferguslie Park.

Record shops like Stereo One, The Record Market and Listen were also instrumental to supporting its music scene – as was one of Bruce Findlay’s legendary music joints: fans were ferried to Paisley from the city on buses that left from outside one of Bruce’s Records in Glasgow.

Punk, of course, extended way beyond music, and another Paisley counter-cultural legend would upturn the fashion landscape with her iconoclastic vision. Pam Hogg’s sonic adventures included late-‘70s band Rubbish (who often played with The Pogues), ‘80s Acid House outfit Garden of Eden, and ‘90s alternative rock act Doll (who supported Blondie among others), but she’s best known as one of the world’s most celebrated designers. Her punk-inspired outfits have been worn by Debbie Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Bjork and many more since the 1980s.

Paisley’s underground revolution thrived throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s too, thanks to pioneering artists like Drew McDowall (who played with Psychic TV and Coil, and formed the Poems with a pre-Strawberry Swtichblade Rose McDowall), indie-pop favourites the Close Lobsters, and cult-pop renaissance man Momus – not to mention a burgeoning rave scene thanks to Club 69, and record shops like The Record Factory and Apollo Music (which became Feel The Groove…)

These days, the Silver Thread’s a fond memory, and The Bungalow’s moved house – from its original Renfrew Road location to the town’s more central Shuttle Street. It may have changed addresses, but its spirit of nurturing upcoming voices, fresh sounds and rising stars prevails, with recent events including the Scottish Alternative Music Awards’ Paisley Takeover.

The Bungalow, Paisley

The town’s new sounds are as vibrant, eclectic and inventive as ever, thanks to students at the University of the West of Scotland, and acts like art-pop harmonists The Vegan Leather, rapper Washington, and jazz livewire Kitti. The beat goes on.

Nicola Meighan is a music and arts journalist and broadcaster (The Herald, STV, BBC Scotland). She presents the Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Scotland, every Friday, 2-4pm.

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