Dave Milligan


  • Release date: 2008-12-18
  • Label: Tob Records TRCD0025
  • Catalog #: TRCD0025

An album of original music commissioned by An Tobar, The Tobermory Arts Centre on the Isle of Mull. Shops is inspired by the life and identity of a small community, and the survival of its livelihood.

Dave Milligan (piano)
Tom Lyne (bass)
Tom Bancroft (drums)


1. Duncan’s
(Milligan) 4.24
Duncan Cattanach owns a few of the shops in Tobermory, and his parents used to run the sweetie shop there too. This tune was written for, and performed in Duncan’s Clothes Emporium.

2. If You Need A Painting In An Emergency
(Milligan) 5.21
Ronnie Leckie is a local artist who runs his own shop and gallery in Tobermory. This is titled after a sign in his shop window which provides a phone number to call “if you need a painting in an emergency.” We enjoyed imagining what kind of emergency you could possibly be in to need a painting.

3. Tobermory Story
(Milligan) 4.37
Tobermory Story was written as a kind of prelude to the whole Shops project, and was largely inspired by conversations with the shops’ owners and their staff. Each one has its own story, its own history and a valuable role in the community.

4. Browns
(Bancroft) 6.19
Browns is a hardware store that has been serving the people of Tobermory since 1830. But it is so much more than just a hardware store. You can buy almost anything there, most of which can, as Tom B demonstrated, be used to augment a drum kit. When we played this behind the counter in the store we weren’t sure if Olive Brown was all that happy about us being there, as she tried to serve customers until three quarters of the way through the song at which point she told a man buying a 50 pence bulb that he would have to wait.

5. Tackle & Books
(Bancroft) 5.56
In this shop, you can buy fishing tackle, and you can buy books. You can also buy a bewildering array of other items, but absolutely everything is either tackle or books. It’s a fundamental
categorisation of matter into tackle or books. Really.

6. Catriona’s
(Lyne) 3.18
Catriona’s Unisex Hair and Beauty Salon was where the first, and possibly the most surreal ‘in-shop’ performance took place. As the band played on, it was business as usual for Catriona and her customers.

7. Closing
(Lyne) 6.19
Tom Lyne wrote this tune as a finale to the project, and at the debut performance in An Tobar it just seemed to capture the powerful sense of community that surrounds the unique and beautiful wee town that is Tobermory.


• Recorded at An Tobar, Tobermory Isle of Mull. Engineered by Gordon Maclean.

Dave Milligan is one of the Scottish jazz world’s modest stars, an almost carelessly-gifted eclectic – but his roots are as deep in folk music as jazz, and this trio album lets his resourcefulness out on a suite devoted to the Isle of Mull’s Tobermory and its … well, shops. This music is anything but fey, folksy or self-consciously quirky, however. Milligan’s crisp and urgent left-hand motif and its answering countermelody opens the set against Tom Bancroft’s snappily funky drum hustle, and expands into a mix of Latin- piano chording and flying double-time improv. He can be slow-building and intricately Jarrett-like (If You Need a Painting in an Emergency), amiably ironic (vocal chants, march-patterns, pushing piano riffs and free-jazz swirls on Browns), or surreal (abstract percussion noises against the baleful repetition of the wonderful word “lugworms” on Tackle and Books, before he starts clanging chords over straightahead time like Stan Tracey). Bassist Tom Lyne is formidable on the catchily Mehldau-like Catriona’s, and the interview material with the locals is imaginatively and wittily woven into the music. The themes are mostly terrific, and so is the playing. An eccentric miniature, but a memorable and unique one.


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