A RISING Alloa blues star is hoping to become a self-sufficient artist by enhancing his creative skills at college.

Iain Donald, who previously featured in the Advertiser and performs as The Gator, is hoping to progress to a graphic design course at Forth Valley College once his Newstart subject taster course ends this year.

The 37-year-old, who has been raising funds to play at an iconic festival in Mississippi later this year after organisers invited him, hopes the creative insight he has gained on the course with enable him to become self-sufficient as a musician, artist and performer.

Iain, a former butcher, said: “I think being a musician is what I was made to do.

“I was a butcher for 20 years, but even though I have less money now than I ever had, I am a lot happier being a professional musician.

“I am glad I followed my dream.

“The Newstart course has been really good for me as it gives you a taster of a lot of subject areas and has helped me to focus on graphic design.

“I think pursuing a course in this will help me become self-sufficient as an artist and allow me to be even more creative.

“The facilities and the lecturers at the college are really good and I would really recommend it to anyone.”

Along with his partner Fiona Gault who he presents a show with on Dunoon Community Radio, Iain has also been invited to the Alice Mae Festival in the USA, in November 2023.

He recently featured in the Advertiser after he teamed up with Missouri-based singer Candice Ivory to release a special tribute to his late mum Karen Ann Donald on Mother's Day.

She died at the age of just 56 in 2018 with Iain playing the guitar for a cover of See That My Grave is Kept Clean, a song originally recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in the 1920s.

The Gator is hoping to attend and play at the Alice Mae Festival in November, along with his partner Fiona Gault, also known as Gaulty, who presents a show on Dunoon Community Radio.

“Through the radio show on Dunoon County Radio, we were invited along by the son of one of my blues heroes, RL Burnside,” Iain continued.

“We interviewed his son Gary on the show and he invited us both to come across to play.

“I love Delta Blues and Hill Country Blues and there is a following in Scotland, but I believe it is part of my job to keep it alive.”

Kirsteen Wright, creative industries lecturer, added: “Iain has thrown himself into the Newstart course and is learning new skills every week that will follow him through to his next course in NC Graphic Design.

“He is a very enthusiastic student and with his music skills it’s going to be brilliant to see what Iain comes up with next creatively.”

Visit bit.ly/3y8HZWb to support The Gator's fundraiser.