A COYLTON musician who has performed with one of the country’s best known folk bands has released a single inspired by the life of an East Ayrshire miner, who performed a handstand atop the Barony “A” Frame whilst helping a fear-struck colleague.

Seàn Gray’s debut solo single The Great Stariski was made in collaboration with Ayrshire poet Rab Wilson who has a shared passion for the area’s mining history, having worked at the Barony Colliery himself.

On this debut track, and adaptation of Rab’s poem by the same name, Seán’s vocals document the incredible story of local man Johnny Stariski, a miner with Polish origins, who worked at the Barony Colliery for much of his working life.

Rab worked alongside Johnny in the mid-late 70s and early 80s.

Johnny’s father and grandparents emigrated to Scotland just before the First World War.

Johnny was born in Scotland in 1928 and went on to marry a local Ochiltree girl.

A champion high board diver and bodybuilder, Johnny famously performed a handstand on the top girder of the Barony Colliery “A” frame.

Speaking of the inspiration his heritage gives him, Seán said: “The story of Johnny Stariski is legend where I come from and Rab’s fantastic poem captures the incredible feat beautifully so I really wanted to pay homage to the great endeavour and to Rab’s fantastic words with this debut release.

“Most of the poems I have used in my music are on the subject of Ayrshire mining and are all written in Lallans Scots.

“My Ayrshire upbringing is an incredibly important part of who I am as a person.

“I grew up in the village of Coylton speaking Lallans Scots and I have a long history of coal mining in my family.

“I also served an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer in a 100-year-old manufacturing factory that created equipment for mines, so the story and poem really spoke to me and I hope it will resonate with others too.”

A sought-after guitarist, flute player and singer, Seán has spent most of the past decade playing with the award-winning Paul McKenna Band who were cited by New York Times as “The best folk band to have come out of Scotland in the last twenty years”.

The debut single was recorded by Joe Rattray with additional recording by Seàn and mixed by Joe at Seán’s shared studio space in Shawlands.

The track was mastered by Chris Waite.

The Great Stariski was made available to download and stream last week on Wednesday (April 14).