Accordionist flies the flag for Renfrewshire in Siberia
A Renfrewshire accordionist has been playing up the profile of his local area with a performance at a traditional music festival in Siberia.
Former British accordion champion, Gary Blair, was one of the main performers and judges at the festival at Centre Palace, Jeleznodorojnikov in Novosibirsk, which celebrates the life of Siberian accordionist Ivan Malanin.
Gary was invited to participate as the first UK accordionist at the festival and hosted famous guests from Scotland, Spain, France, Portugal, and Romania.
He was also among the guests who visited a local specialist music school and was left stunned by the level of musicianship shown by competitors - some as young as 10-years-old.
Gary was particularly touched by the performance of one young competitor, Roman, who is blind and had to borrow an accordion. As a result, he set up a crowd funding project to raise money so he could buy his own accordion.
And despite freezing temperatures of -28C during his visit to Siberia, Gary said the warmth of the locals made them feel right at home.
Gary said: "It was wonderful to see how music brings people together from all over the world. The fellowship and fun we enjoyed was second to none.
"The Russian people have a great affinity with Scotland and not only loved my performances, but they also loved the kilt!"
Gary’s performances in Siberia went down a storm and he has since been invited to perform and judge at a further three music festivals.
He will fly the flag for Renfrewshire in Romania, England and Catalonia, adding to a busy schedule which also sees him perform in Ireland, Holland, Portugal and Dallas, Texas.
To get involved in Gary’s crowdfunding project for Roman, click here.