Music fans in for a treat as guitarist returns to his Paisley roots

Renfrewshire’s music fans are in for a treat, as a long-lost Buddie star of the international music scene is set for a return.

Guitarist Tony McManus, who is renowned around the world having played some of the most prestigious venues in cities from Tokyo and Bogota to Sydney and New York, is heading home to his native Paisley and says he can’t wait.

The enforced separation has been tough on the local hero, who will make his long-awaited homecoming appearance in Paisley’s Bungalow Bar at the end of this month.

Set to be opened by up-and-coming virtuoso Liverpool guitarist Danny Bradley, the May 29 gig is expected to attract fans from far and wide.

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Multi-award-winning Tony, who now lives in Canada, normally tries to head for home to visit friends and relatives at least on an annual basis.

But, due to the pandemic, he has had a three-year absence, and so, this return to his roots will be more important to him than ever before.

“The pandemic has thrown the whole world for a loop, not least for touring musicians who suddenly found themselves all dressed up and nowhere to go,” he told the Paisley Daily Express.

“I managed to get through the trauma of it all, like so many more, living on Skype and Zoom.

“I’ve a wonderful network of students all over the world, some even in places I’ve never been – yes, there’s still a few!

“I’d normally be in Scotland at least once a year and that always involves a trip to Paisley to catch up with friends and family.

“I’ve missed that more than anything.”

Having grown up and gone to school in the town, he says he feels a deep connection “that needs to be regularly nurtured” – whether playing or not.

“There’s something comforting about standing at The Cross and seeing the town hall, the Abbey, Queen Vic in Dunn Square … memories of walking from Gallowhill to The Silver Thread Hotel to play at the folk club age 12, of learning my first chords in the school cloakroom, of staring at guitars I couldn’t afford in the window of Cuthbertson’s in Gilmour Street.

“I’m a very proud Buddie, and proud too of the contribution the town has made to the arts and culture in general.

“Paisley, for me, is friends, family, familiarity, joy. I’m grateful, and excited to be coming home.”

His latest playing partnership, say some critics, is a match made by the angels, the performance virtuoso and frequently breathtaking.

He first met Julia Toaspern at a gig in her native Berlin, chatted after the show, and found converging musical interests, though from very different starting points.

“Julia was classically trained – both voice and on violin,” he explained.

“We talked about Bach, which she can read at the drop of a hat, whereas I struggle with ‘dots’ and have always learned by ear.

“We kept in touch though and first performed at a concert of mine in Milan – it was a set of Irish reels.

“From there, it grew to me, learning much that was new to me and exciting – from some Brazilian jazz to Italian renaissance music.”

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Daily Record – Paisley