Setting Sons , a brief history.


A lot of you that know me will know about the band we had together ... Setting Sons, don't confuse us with the wig wearing Jam only tribute band, we were going before they pinched our name.
Anyway , the band is now sadly finished and as the web sites etc were up for renewal , it seemed daft for me to pay to keep them up for a band that wasn't going anymore.
So I decided to dedicate a page on ScotScoot to a brief history of the band , and to good friend and brother-in-law Greig Hannan.

From the first ever Setting Sons gig ,
Barns Ness Hotel, 22nd March 2003
It was about the end of 2003 when an old mate from the band days of the 80's , Keith McCraw and Greig started jamming together, pumping out Jam & Clash songs etc in their houses. A few of us from the old band days started getting together for these nights , having a few beers and making a night of it, then it was decided to meet in a pub instead.
So Keith, Greig & myself met in the Dolphin in Dunbar and jammed away in the corner , with me joining in on some of the easier songs on a cheap acoustic bass I'd bought to join in the fun.
It became clear very quickly that this was going to be very popular , and within 2 months it had moved from a wee impromptu session in the Dolphin , to me and Keith being in Sound Control buying a PA system, and me getting a yucky Kramer bass offa Ebay.
We then set about looking for a drummer, the first name to mind was Shamey Cairns , an amazingly talented guy who drummed (very well) played guitar, bass , sang etc... talented bugger ! Being so talented though came with a price as Shamey was battling with a very personal illness. Nevertheless he joined our band and we set up shop in the back rooms of the West Barns Inn in Dunbar , where Tug, Kate & Joe let us have free reign whenever the room was free - we will always be indebted for that.
After one or two practice sessions , we'd decided to put on a gig... maybe just a one off , depending how it went, in the Barns Ness Hotel , as it had a wee room at the back to hold about 70 folk... that should be perfect we thought. We had to get a name, Shamey thought of Setting Sons as we were all getting on in our years, and it was a Jam album, and the gig was going to be a Jam tribute night... we could change the name after we thought.


The night of the first gig came and it was chockers, one or two people in the band getting a bit too carried away with the night and having a beer or 10 too many. For all we thought we'd played really bad, with the set coming to a juddery halt... everyone there was overjoyed at the idea and demanded another gig as soon as possible.

So we did that... at The West Barns Inn, which officially holds about 180.... but we crammed in around 300 ! What a night. We had no idea it would be this popular.
Things just seemed to happen very quickly from the first couple of gigs , leading up to us playing second last at Dunbar's open air Festival of Youth concert . We went down a storm , and funny as fuck to hear everyone still shouting for more from us as the last band played through their set :)
Sadly though, this turned out to be Shamey's last gig with the band due to personal problems , and we were left having to cancel our headlining slot at the up and coming Haddington Music Festival.
Still , that gig will always be remembered by me as one of my favourites, Barras etc were good , but that night just felt good, we were a real band, a great home crowd and we played very well , even through a lighting black out that was caused by folk throwing beer at Keith :) Punk rock eh !?

From the Dunbar Festival of Youth gig.


Ali with long hair , and a couple who became close friends & "fans" , traveling up often from Hartlepool... Shirley & Mark.
Shirley recently run for Cancer Charities in Greig's name.

The set for the festival of youth was to be...

Dunbar FOY – 7th Sept


1:  Next To You
2:  Town Called Malice
3:  Garageland
4:  Pretty Green
5:  Complete Control
6:  To Be Someone
7:  Death or Glory
8:  Teenage Kicks
9: Clampdown
10: Tin Soldiers
11: London Calling
12: Going Underground

But was slashed due to run on problems. In the end , with 5 minutes to go we had to re-write the set... starting with Complete Control and Keith's "Here's a bit of Clash for ya!"


So we were left to find a drummer again... enter Willy Ross a great drummer not afraid to stand up for himself who used to play with Greig years ago. So the line up was now Keith, Greig , Niffy & Willy Ross.
We had now started getting the top Saturday or Friday slot at Whistle Binkies in Edinburgh , with a few other pubs chasing us as well. And I'd got myself my first Rickenbacker bass... lovely.
The sets by now included Jam, Clash, Pistols, SLF, Stereophonics, Ash, Boomtown Rats... anything fast and rocky.
Then things got a bit heated at times. Set choices became a source of hours of arguments, until it got to a stage where it was 2 camps , me & Greig , and Willy & Keith... so sadly me & Greig sat down at my house and decided to quit the band, we couldn't take anymore of the arguments, we couldn't even remember why or how it had got to that stage.
We called round to Keith's that night, as we loved the guy that much we wanted to tell him in was tough, but we felt we had to do it as the band was stuttering nowhere.

With Willy on drums at Whistle Binkies.

An early set - from Shamey's days that we did at The Goldenstones ... now Cat's Rossborough Hotel

A typical Binkie's set. 2x 45 minutes , usually starting at 12 midnight. A long haul without a good bevvie. We'd usually blast through these sets so fast, we'd be left with time to fill and add lib :)
Me & Greig jammed with Shamey and local lad (and my OTHER brother-in-law) Barry Venables to keep ourselves entertained. Barry singing. This was just an experimental fuck about band , me now playing with a lovely white Fender Jazz, we had no idea that this line up was almost how the band ended in the closing years. Weird eh.

Ok , for the photo we all swapped instruments... anything for a laugh.
Anyhoos out of the blue Keith phoned... Setting Sons were wanted by Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms to support Stiff Little Fingers !
Shit... what do we do.... ?? Shamey wasn't ready to commit to a band, and things were still heated with Willy, so between Keith, Greig & Me , we decided to agree to the gig and find a new drummer again.
I remembered a lad emailing me through the Dunbar web site saying he was moving up from London to Dunbar , and drummed , are there any bands looking ? I got in touch with the guy I'd put him onto , asking if he was still playing with them , and as it turns out... they'd kinda quit too... so he gave me his address to go and see him... fuck me , did he not live 5 doors up from me on the same street !!!
Yip - it was our Gary Villiers.
But he was on holiday , so the next door neighbour told me. Time was running out , we had about 3 weeks to get a set ready to play with SLF and no drummer yet.
I tried his door every night until eventually they'd arrived home.." Hi , I'm Niffy , live over the street. I hear your a drummer?" , "Yeah" , "Not in a band then?" , "No mate" , "OK you are now , it's called Setting Sons and we play with SLF in 3 weeks".

In this pic ... can you spot some well kent faces in the crowd...

Like Minxxy looking at me with love in her eyes ? Mair like ... whaes that big galoot?

After the gig.

The set used for the first Liquid Rooms SLF support slot. Even down to the bit where we let Keith talk :)

That was basically how I met Gary, as a lot of you will know... turns out Gary had exactly the same (quality) music tastes as me (well maybe except I wasn't a huge King Kurt fan in the old days).

So... we played our first support slot with SLF, with the Liquid Rooms saying they'd be back in touch for more of the same , as we'd went down a storm.
So not bad for a wee fuck about band in it's first 18 months. What else could happen.... oh yeah , Regular Music called and booked us for the support to SLF again... this time at Glasgow's Barrowland.
Again , it went down brilliantly, we shared support with Combat Rock , a Clash tribute band.

Me & Gary backstage Barras, and the band afterwards.

Mic & an empty Barras , waiting on the action to happen.

One other highlight was getting The Jamm , the top Jam tribute band in the UK down to play at West Barns with us , the place was a sell out again, and a great night had by all.We played for free though , letting The Jamm keep all the cash. We were never into playing for money anyway , although it did cost us a bit to promote the gig and sell tickets.
I've organised gigs and do's for many a year , going way back to when I was about 16 , putting on band nights at the Vic Ballroom, The Goldenstones hotel etc. so I did do a lot of work on the Jamm night.
They phoned the next year, asking to do the same again. I agreed , but so long as we got our expenses back , or a small hand out. 200 folk , around £7 a ticket, we were after even just £100 for our efforts... they refused point blank. Magg their manager said they don't do that. I called Ray (Jamm bassist) and he said he'd have a word. Nothing was sorted so we refused to take part.
4 folk turned up on that night.
Lesson learned on their part I hope.
I still say they are the top Jam tribute , I'd see them over "From The Jam" anytime.
Must be around the same time that we'd been kinda booked to play at Lambretta club do in Stirling , but they took so long to confirm, that Keith booked 2 weeks in Spain for the same date ! We had to pull out.
Shit! I'd been desperate to play on the scooter circuit.

Being in a band can have big emotional strains , and it wasn't soon before we started arguing again. Me being mouthy as I am... saying what I think instead of keeping it in always gets me in bother. But things got heated once too often and Keith decided to quit. We tried to stop him, as without Keith it wasn't really the same band. He seemed to have made his mind up though, and that was that. I carried guilt for that one until the end of the band.
At least we had one final fling with Keith at another sell out West Barns Inn gig.

2 audio only clips , both recorded at Keith's final gig , at The West Barns Inn
Greig dedicating a song to Keith , me to all Hearts fans :)

Keith was then replaced by Barry (mentioned earlier). Barry made up for his lack of musical equipment knowledge & band set-up experience with an amazing energy and gutsy singing performances. The band lost it's second guitar though , so some songs had to get dropped, while we could add others in that suited Barry better.

The final Setting Sons.

We did more Whistle Binkies etc, and we got more enquiries from further afield, but for some reason , I found it hard to get the rest of the band to agree to any dates , then the same thing happened with song choice. Before we knew it , we'd spend the first hour at practice just arguing about what songs to do , even though we'd always end a practice saying ... "we'll do these ones next time". Ahhhh rock 'n roll again eh?
It was becoming a chore though and this time I was getting fed up.
So I quit.
I knew I'd regret it , and did , but the bad times were more regular than the good times. My place was taken by Tommy McGregor. And the guys went on and did another SLF Liquid Room support slot, and other dates.
It was at this time that the first news came out that Greig had cancer.
The band , and more importantly , the family were devastated. He'd been saying for a looooong time he always felt ill, but was constantly told by the docs it was nothing.
I went to see him and he assured me , like he did to everyone that it was treatable, and it was all going to be fine.
Greig was very positive about it all , and he gave everyone hope.

The set had transformed a bit in my absence , I was delighted to have some Stone Roses in at last, but some of the other stuff wasn't overly exciting.

Barry gies it his all at Binkies... March 2007, our one warm up gig before doing 2 dates with Stiff. I always like playing at Binkies.
So the band went on, except that after a year in the band , Tommy stopped appearing for practices... so to cut a medium length story short... I got the Rikki bass out again , and the line up for the band was now as it would finish... Barry (vocals) , Greig (guitar & backing vocals), Niffy (bass) & Gary (drums).
No sooner had we started rehearsing again , when we got confirmation of the Barras support again, and this time we were also to play with SLF in Inverness.
In Inverness, Greig "borrowed" as Greig used to do , a spare drum skin from Gary , and nipped to the dressing room next door to get Jake and the rest of SLF to sign it , for a raffle he was planning to have for Cancer Charities.
Cat, Skolar & Danger had came along for the trip , and we met up with Billy & Sharon Hardie up there, squeezing them all onto the guest list , Skolar having to blag it as a photographer at one point as he'd left all the gear in the dressing rooms when the bands were on.

Danger & Skolar enjoying our free beer rider.

Cat took this at Inverness, I've now got it blown up 3 feet long and on my living room wall.
Even the light on the tuning pegs are writing "G". Nice.

Again , we went down a storm there , could have played all night for the up-for-it crowd. Then on Saturday 17th March 2007 we did the Barras. I remember sitting in the bus outside Greig's house before we headed through to Glasgow and seeing him coming out of his house and down the path with his black leather bikers jacket on , white t-shirt... and thought... what a fuckin' guy . rock and roll to the last... he looked fantastic for as guy carrying so much pain inside.
Again , the set went down a storm. With the crowd demanding "One more" after finishing with the Pistols' Bodies. If we could have we would have , but you don't get a choice in those matters, still a great shout though.

A picture compilation, with The Barras copy of Tube Station,
playing live and getting a crowd going like that is one of the best things in the world.  

We'd also been booked for our first pucker scooter rally... Whiskey Galore in Wigtown , 2007, at last , on the scooter scene !

Practices were few and far between after the Barras , as Greig seemed to take a turn for the worse. He told us he'd slipped on a kerb stone and hurt his back. He now had to walk with sticks most of the time.
He'd still come round to see me most Sunday's for a chat , telling me and his wee sister Ali (my Ali) that it was just a bad back , and as soon as the pain was under control he'd be up and about ok, no problem.
The guys from The Lowlanders Scooter Club were kept informed whenever I seen them at a rally, they were great , telling me not to worry etc. But Greig got worse and there was nothing we could do except put out very late from playing at Wigtown.
I still went down for the weekend as planned , but hated it , it was mobbed and the band would have went down a storm.

You know , looking back , it was clear that things were way worse that Greig had us believing, no-one even knows how much he knew himself , but he went from his usual Sunday visits to all of a sudden rushed into the Western , then Marie Curie's hospice. Over that weekend he deteriorated that fast it caught everyone out.

The do at Wigtown on the Friday night , starting to fill up, braw stage & crowd , we would have fitted in very well here.

One of the posters used for the Greig benefit gig.

Me with Ben , one of Greig's lads handing over the cheque for over £4000 raised on the night.

Greig passed away in September, aged 40.
My wee pal , brother-in-law, we even shared birthdays (16th Feb), band mate... we were attached in so many ways, left us and is now free of pain. He left behind his partner Julie , sons Jamie & Ben and wee girl Emma.
Even just writing this now , I find extremely hard to do.

Thinking about it , the bad as it finished with Greig was really linked. I was brother-in-law with Greig & Barry , me and Gary stayed on the same street, my wee girl , Annie , and Gary's wee girl , Emily , were (still are) best pals, Greig's Emma was also the same age , so all 3 girls are in the same Primary year.

We let the months pass, and played a tribute night to Greig, with his 2 sons playing the guitar work with Setting Sons , Keith re-joining too. We raised over £4000 for Cancer Charities.

Here's some video clips of the band in action...

"Bodies" , the last song played live by Greig.

Greig singing Garageland ,
at the Festival of Youth Gig.

A tribute to our mate.

The band was put on ice , but then were were asked to play at my good friends' scooter rally in Peterhead. One last chance to play as Setting Sons , and at a scooter rally ?
Barry was not really up for it , but Gary was , Keith was more than happy to do it, so we decided to do a 3 piece band as Setting Sons , one last time. and we started rehearsing at The Groove Tunnel in Loanhead.
In between times we were also booked to do East Lothian Scooter Club's open day , and to headline this summer's 2008 Dunbar Music Festival.. both the ELSC and the Dunbar event on the Music Bus before the Peterhead do.
A nice way to end it , as Gary is leaving to move back down Saff this Autumn.

But another twist... on the way to Great Yarmouth Rally, I took a tumble offa my Lammie and broke my left arm and right hand.
Practices had to be put on hold (obviously) but I was recovering extremely quick , and determined to do the shows , especially Peterhead.
Just as I was ready to practice again, one of the guys dropped the bombshell that he couldn't do Peterhead , after me promising BJ, Marty etc over and over again I was ok. To say I was devastated is an understatement.
He offered to still do the other 2 shows , or stand back if we wanted to get a stand in.. no way that could happen in time.
I decided to calm down by making my first scooter outing with Shep down to Coldingham with the Coyotes to drown my sorrows , and low and behold fell and bust by arm again.
Maybe fate , who knows.
I never ever got to do a scooter rally gig.

But the way I see it , it wasn't ever for me , it was always for Greig. He'd been what Setting Sons was all about. Enjoying playing music for a crowd that were up for it. Say what you want about cover bands , but when you get hundreds, sometimes many hundreds of people totally enjoying themselves to a song your playing then nothing else matters , we were all about enjoying it for ourselves , and if others got a buzz from it , then bonus.
The band finished on March 17th 2007 with a rapturous cheering and clapping and demanding of more.

On a wee footnote, we were asked to support SLF again in October 2007, just after Greig had passed away , and for a second , we thought about doing it as a dedication to Greig. But we knew we couldn't pull it off.
Jake Burns made a lovely gesture by dedicating Johnny Was to him.
Here's the video...

Jake Burns dedicates "Johnny Was" to Greig.  

Was browing through music looking for something t'other day... found a wee batch of recordings that someone gave us from a Whistle Binkies gig, the last Edinburgh gig we did. Pretty rough, live recordings , but it brought back smiles to me hearing Greig play again.


She Bangs The Drums

To Be Someone

Tried my best to find the rare recording of me doing Guns Of Brixton... but thankfully, it wasn't anywhere to be found.. I thing the rest of the band deleted it, at least Mark & Shirley enjoyed it !

Was speaking to Shamey, the original drummer , and Keith this week , the three of us agreed it would be great to do a small set of covers someday in the near future, we did a 3 piece set before when Gary was t' drummer, playing at a busy night at Edinburgh's Corn Exchange... on first and on our 2nd last song, Gary put a hole in the bass drum skin... it was shared kit ! I slipped the Riki into it's case grabbed Ali's hand and buggered off... woooops :) The rest of the bands were shite anyway I heard.

So anyways, watch this space in case we do get together for a wee one off special.

So, to remind you of the band with Keith as singer... here's a blast ...

Tommy Gun

April 2009 , the last time we played in any form of Setting Sons was March 17th 2007... over 2 years ago... the last time we played with the original drummer was 2003 ! But when Shamey & Keith both asked if the three of us would play together again , we all thought we should give it a wee kick and see what happens... flukily enough Nige from East Lothian SC was looking for a band for Vivo Open day so what better way to try out a 3 piece Setting Sons with the remainder of the original line up.

It's been VERY strange rehearsing for the first time without the main man Greig, playing some songs we can still hear him, undoubtedly he's looking on and probably jamming with us as we thrashed out our 16 song set for Vivo over and over again in the wee practise room in East Linton.
We've met up just 3 times , with one more to go , such are work and scooter commitments but we're sounding OK I think anyway.

So if you're free , come along to Vivo Scooters (Musselburgh) Open Day on May 10th and see what you think. We have no idea what will happen next... maybe nothing... at least we gave it one more trip.

November 2007, a whirlwind few months. An old school chum and fellow punk rocker John Rutherford has joined the band, and been heartily welcomed by us and our wee band of followers. It's great to have 2 guitars again, been a long time...
Jock has brought a renewed enthusiasm to the group and we've already supported SLF again, we were booked to do the Barras in March with them as well, but eh, professional differences meant Jake Burns took a bit of a huff , and we won't be doing it any more.
Lots of gigs lined up so watch for news & videos.


Bit of a shock again in 2012 when original and current drummer Shamey passed away in an accident.
Just as things were picking up again... 2 great mates left us now.

Cannae see us continuing or replacing those 2 wonderful people, the hole they have left behind is too big to fill.