MUSIC fans, picture the scene.

It’s the mighty Lloyd Cole, live in concert, performing a set of his best-known songs to 200 lucky ticket-holders.

Are you thinking the Barrowland? Oran Mor, maybe? Then think again.

In fact, Lloyd is heading for a small-ish country house hotel in the rural Lanarkshire town of Strathaven, as part of a brand new series of gigs featuring leading Scottish singers, musicians and songwriters in off-the-beaten-track venues.

It’s almost too good to be true. Legendary performers such as Lloyd and Love and Money frontman James Grant – more names will be announced next year – performing stripped-back sets in intimate settings? But it is happening, and there is an extra-special twist.

As well as performing their own material, each musician will chat about a songwriter who has been influential in their career and play some of his or her songs in the set.

Frets Acoustic is the brainchild of lifelong friends and musicians Douglas MacIntyre and Derek Fleming.

“We wanted to do a series of gigs that was all about songwriting,” explains Douglas, who has performed with many bands over the last 30 years, including Lloyd Cole, The Bathers and Love & Money.

“So each artist will talk about someone who has really influenced them, and maybe explain a bit about the processes behind their songwriting. Lloyd is going to talk about Marc Bolan, and play a couple of his songs as part of the set. Derek and I will play an opening support set, which will also feature covers of songs by Bolan and T.Rex.”

The two men have worked professionally in the music industry in various capacities for several years.

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Douglas, who is also CEO of music rights company The Creeping Bent Organisation, and Derek, A&R at Kent Wells Production as part of its artist services company in Nashville, have been friends since their schooldays at Strathaven Academy.

“That’s where the name comes from – The Frets was our first band,” says Douglas, adding with a grin: “We used to spend every day after school at Derek’s parents’ house on Kirk Street learning the chords from a David Bowie songbook.”

Inspired by the DIY ethos of punk, they started writing their own songs, and the band’s stellar debut was at the Ballgreen Hall in Strathaven in 1978, playing a short set of their own work. Just last year, Derek and Douglas reformed The Frets – with Campbell Owens from Aztec Camera on bass, and Stephen Lironi from Altered Images on drums - for a charity concert in aid of Down Syndrome Scotland.

Douglas had organised the gig – Sandfest 2018 – by rallying friends and fellow musicians such as The Bluebells, Altered Images, Justin Currie, Grahame Skinner and James Grant – and it raised the fantastic sum of £50,000.

Frets Acoustic is just part of the story. Douglas and Derek are also setting up a new business called Frets Creative, aiming to bring a new creative hub to Strathaven, launching in early 2020.

“It is in the early stages, but Strathaven is a fantastic, dynamic place with lots of creative groups and businesses on the go,” says Douglas. “We’re hoping to bring it all together.”

The first Frets Acoustic gig, starring Lloyd Cole, takes place on Friday, October 4 at the Strathaven Hotel. It marks the beginning of Lloyd’s UK tour, following the release in July of his latest album, Guesswork.

Recorded (mostly) in his attic studio in Massachusetts, Guesswork was produced by Lloyd and mixed by maverick German producer Olaf Opal, and it features collaborations with two former bandmates guitarist Neil Clark and keyboard player Blair Cowan. It was the first time the three musicians had worked together since The Commotions’ swansong Mainstream in 1987.

Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had their first hit with Perfect Skin in 1984, and the band’s first album, Rattlesnakes, was an international success. Two more albums followed and the band split following a world tour.

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Douglas, who lectures in the creative industries for University of the West of Scotland, says he is over the moon to be kicking off Frets Acoustic with Lloyd and James, who will perform on November 29.

“It’s really exciting, to be able to bring really well-known, successful Scottish artists to a different kind of venue, for a different kind of gig,” he says. “To hear them talk about how they write songs and who has influenced them will be fantastic and we hope fans will love it.”

Tickets for the Lloyd Cole gig cost £25 and go on sale at 12 noon today. They are only available from Eventbrite – they will not be sold from the hotel. You can book ticket only through the Frets Acoustic website at

More details about the James Grant gig on November 29, and subsequent gigs in spring 2020, will be available later in the year.