Dan Willson (AKA Withered Hand)’s AAA Edinburgh

Withered Hand, aka Dan Willson, is a jewel in the crown of Edinburgh’s music scene. A great lyricist who can effortlessly tell a story, he’s frequently compared to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Conor Oberst and, perhaps most often, Daniel Johnston. Truth told, there are myriad ways to describe this talented troubadour, but we think music writer Nicola Meighan’s description sums him up best, so we’ll go with that: “Willson is a curious pop disciple: a deadpan bard eternally vexed by the doctrines of God, the inconsequence of life, and the transparent nature of modern swimwear.”

  • Most memorable Capital event?

The night of the [Scottish independence] referendum was pretty memorable. Such a strange feeling in the Capital. People out chatting on street corners.

  • Who would you choose to headline Edinburgh’s Hogmanay?

Frightened Rabbit. They would be great for it. Anthems to fit the weather.

  • Favourite old-fashioned boozer?

The Waverley Bar. It’s the best and worst bar in the city, at the same time. Terrible choice [of drinks] but who can argue with free crisps and that atmosphere. I love the old posters from Edinburgh festivals past all over the walls, and the eccentric staff.


  • Favourite style bar?

Does Sophi’s in Leith count as a style bar? If so, that.

  • Favourite restaurant?

First Coast is a great neighbourhood bistro for a romantic meal, but the whole family like the new China Red buffet restaurant up near the Corn Exchange – it is hard to fault if you are hungry.

  • Do you love or loathe the Festival?

Generally love it, as long as I’m not trying to get across town in a hurry. I’m glad it only lasts a month though.

  • Favourite art gallery?

Collective on Calton Hill is looking interesting in its new site for contemporary art. I also love the Belford Road National Gallery of Modern Art.

  • Favourite cinema?

Dominion or Cameo – too hard to choose between them.

  • Favourite live music venue?

Queen’s Hall.

  • Favourite walk in or around the city?

Up Arthur’s Seat and the along the [Salisbury] Crags as the sun sets. Never fails.

  • Favourite shopping area?

Stockbridge, for the charity shops.

  • Favourite piecehand2 of architecture?

The Castle – what a centrepiece for the city. It still catches me by surprise sometimes.

  • What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the city?

The explosion in the number of new luxury developments, when we need more affordable housing as well.

  • Favourite festival?

The Fringe – it has something for everyone.

  • Favourite Edinburgh band ever?

Desc (formerly Khaya) – that’s an obscure one. Criminally overlooked, but a big part of my Edinburgh musical education.

  • Favourite local hero?

Richard Holloway. Sometimes I see him walking his dog in Morningside. A great thinker and writer.

  • Sell Edinburgh to a tourist in no more than ten words…

Edinburgh: cold, grey, magical place, city of ghosts and lovers.

To find out more about Withered Hand, visit www.witheredhand.com
Meanwhile, check out a couple of tracks from Withered Hand’s stupidly good 2014 album, New Gods