Live From Studio One…..A Month of Great, Scottish Musicians and Bands who we revere and consider as great friends of Another Country.
It’s going to be big, noisy and very exciting and it all starts this Friday with Woodenbox. Many of you will remember their session from a couple of years back and since then they’ve managed to lose a ‘fistful of fivers’ and keep things simple with a one word moikor. They’ve also given birth to a fab new album, tracks from which they will play this Friday as well as an interesting cover version which they’ve rustled up for us. Woodenbox embrace a great country tradition of putting horns on their records. There have been some old and new records with a similar vibe, Johnny Cash, The Mavericks and recently Phosphorescent and Iron and Wine. It’s a tradition we like very much and anyone who has ever seen The Last Waltz knows that sometimes you just need to create a big roots stew….we’ll broadcast this particular casserole in the second half of Friday’s show.
As ever though we’ll make sure you hear the best of the new things out there. I’m pleased to say we’ll continue to enjoy the new offering from Patty Griffin, we’ll reflect on a wonderful Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell concert in midweek and we’ll make some introductions too. Has anyone out there heard Valerie June yet? Believe me you will very soon. New things too from Houndmouth, Blue Rose Code and Kacey Musgraves. We’ll celebrate some wonderful country from Marty Robbins and Lee Ann Womack and heck I’d imagine we’ll surprise you with the odd thing or two too. It all kicks off at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.
…I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings. (Robert Louis Stevenson – a fine writer and Scotsman to boot)
I’ve had a wonderful few weeks and I did mean to send everyone a postcard from Brighton….
That’s why, having spent a number of weeks on the road, I’ll be very happy to be land-locked in studio 6 on Friday night with a pile of new records to share with you. This Friday, my friend, there are no guests, no session versions, only great new records. And boy, do we have some great new music for you.
Here’s what we have lined up so far: New records from the fab Phosphorescent, Ruth Moody and Holly Williams. New discoveries….we hear from Daniel Meade for the first time. Daniel’s from Scotland and we’ll also share some great new records from fellow Scottish artists Woodenbox and Peter Roe. We’ll introduce you to Brazos and we’ll hear some great vintage recordings from Hank Thompson, The Carter Family and Tom T Hall. Does that whet your appetite enough?
As I mentioned earlier I’ve been on the road these last few weeks. I’ve been pleased to have My Darling Clementine as my special guests each night and Michael and Lou have given me a sneak listen to their new record. Tomorrow night I’ll be able to share some of that with you. The album comes out in september and I hope we can catch up with them for all their news later this year.
One of the loveliest things about my road trip was meeting people who listen to the AC. (not just in Scotland either). Here’s my fellow blogger Adam and me enjoying an after show beer in London at The Union Chapel. Adam it was great to put a face to such a loyal and articulate listener.
I’ve been nearly everywhere man…..so tomorrow night I’ll be back in the saddle again……. It’s being with Gregor Philp – I can’t stop punning. I’ll have stopped by tomorrow when the old valves will start to glow just on five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland. Do join me if you can.
Maybe it’s just me but I sometimes wonder if music doesn’t just drive you mad. I was having a wee nap recently and dozed off to an ipod shuffle that kept throwing up gems. I wanted to smile beatifically – Bilko style – but kept waking myself up to check what the track was.
It’s the same in the pictures. I was fairly disappointed at my two cinema adventures last week but always curious to watch the credits so I could check out who sang what. It’s a curse I tell you…ask my wife.
On a lovely drive back through the hills of Galloway today I returned to some old playlists; in particular the songs of two years ago we loved on the AC. The annoying thing was hearing old friends but forgetting the artists name and the titles of the records. (Nathaniel Rateliff and Gregory Alan Isakov were two highlights!)The memory is the music I guess. It’s what we all want to happen when we hear music…we want to be taken somewhere. In so many cases – and often for me in my teens and early adulthood – I wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted to be in the place I heard that song taking place or I wanted to be the guy singing the song or often I wanted to imagine people waiting to hear what song I’d play next – a radio audience. I wrote a song I found recently about that very wish. It’s called Frank The Graveyard Man – about someone who loves being on the radio late at night and mixing it up a bit. His songs choices are so poignant that the listener can’t help but imagine what the heck is going on in his private life. It reminded me of a lecturer I once enjoyed listening to. Was he really telling us about Anthony and Cleopatra or was he revealing his own marital failings and foibles? I dare say you might concoct a strange picture if you tried this with the AC – so I’m bound to advise you against it. Nevertheless music sparks the imagination and none of us is immune to the tricks it can play. It changes the colour of our sky and makes the coldest and harshest of truths a little more bearable – and for that we are all grateful.
On Friday we will collectively imagine the worlds of Aoife O’Donovan, Steve Earle, Jim Jones, Ry Cooder and Beth Orton. We will inevitably remember again why we love country music and to that end we will have a star witness:
Caitlin Rose is that rarest of AC visitors – the third time returnee. Since she first charmed us with the Dead Flowers EP a couple of years back she has been a very busy young woman. Steeped in the ways and lore of Music Row she has, wisely in my opinion, decided not to fall to heavily under the spell of the charms of these fabled streets. She has instead set her own course, written her own songs and she is therefore a more rounded and original artist for all of that. She came in with some of her touring ensemble and cut some songs from her excellent new album, The Stand In. She also covered a brilliant song I first heard performed by Linda Ronstadt.
I should reassure you she is a stand-in for no one and her voice is strong clear and original. Join Caitlin, her band and me on the radio this Friday and let your own imaginations take flight. The very least we can offer you is a two hour trip to Another Country. It all starts at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.
He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer, and he pushed three buttons and the thing began to whirr and a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie and she said “Drink up now it’s gettin’ on time to close.”
“Richard, you haven’t really changed,” I said
Joni Mitchell: The Last time I Saw Richard
I’m sure you know the song ….but do you remember the jukebox?
I remember a chip shop in Carnoustie. Our family would all have been there having a fish-tea. There was a drunk man trying to put sixpence in a jukebox and failing miserably. Somehow, when I hear that James Taylor song (see blog title) I always think of that time. The great days of the jukebox were really before my time but I had enough of a student experience to know how great they could be. The importance of getting a choice in before some psychotic maniac from Kirkcaldy ruined a precious coffee break with a bad medley of metal music was all important. What significant jukebox records do I recall? Like A Rolling Stone/ Behind Closed Doors and Milk and Alcohol. Oh, I could go on….
I remember signing my first music publishing deal and my lawyer showing me his jukebox. He told me he had a single from every artist for whom he’d negotiated a record deal….How much I wanted to have a 45 on it. It was a couple of years later when I would stumble across our second single in pride of place on a Liverpool University jukebox waiting for someone to put in 10p.On Friday I get to bring you my stack of favourites. How wonderful it would be if I just had all these songs stored in my own machine – perhaps one day. There’s one half of the AC duo who does own one though…and you can see (above) just how proud he is.
What I can guarantee is you will hear some great Country songs. There will be songs from my past and a good few I have discovered since starting my shift on the AC. You will hear songs of heartbreak, songs of joy and songs to make you want to get on the road and drive. I can’t tell you how much joy compiling the list of songs gave me and sadly you won’t be able to see how much I’m smiling as the songs are playing on this Good Friday, but believe me I will be a very happy man. I hope I play a few gems that bring smiles to your own faces.
It’s my last Sunday for a while so I go out in style celebrating the most important day in the Christian calendar. It’s Easter Sunday and I’ll meet a man who’s own story is as remarkable as any of the amazing people I’ve met over the last few years. Mark Lowey is now a Church of Scotland minister in East Kilbride. A few years ago however his life had spiralled out of control and he ended up in prison with a serious drug problem. We’ll hear how his life has turned round and what kind of the advice he’d give to people who find themselves in similar positions.
How many Biblical Epics have you seen? The Ten Commandments, The Robe…Ben Hur? I have watched them all and view them as bygone cultural icons. But watch out. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cinema…they’re making a comeback. We discuss the new Holywood blockbusters and they’re all based on..The Bible.
We’ll also hear how a church in Aberdeen is being used by Christians and Muslims as a place of worship with both groups enjoying each others company.
We’ll have Easter music too….look out for Patty Griffin and The Impressions as well as Elvis.
It all starts on Sunday at seven (a.m!) on BBC Radio Scotland.
Where did you hear them first? I remember where i first heard the Band and it stopped me in my tracks. I was at my Grandpa’s house in Hawkhill, Dundee. I had been listening to Jonnie Walker on the lunchtime Radio One show he used to present in the early seventies, at least this is how I remember it. This voice came through the transistor radio and it was the voice of Levon Helm.
He was singing ‘I Shall be Released.’ Now at that time I didn’t know much but I did know that Bob Dylan song. Hearing it sung in such a strange falsetto and in such odd circumstances set me on a quest. Who are these guys? Within a short time I was to get hold of Before The Flood which was the record of the tour The Band and Bob Dylan performed around 73 – 74. I was enthralled. It was a second hand copy of a double album and it asked as many questions as it answered. Who was singing? Who was playing what? What were these songs about? It didn’t take too long to find out as The Band were to stop being The Band with a magnificent last hurrah. We (my generation of music lovers) would all go to the cinema to see The Last Waltz – still, in my opinion, the only film of a rock gig worth watching. We went to the Gaumont or The ABC in the Seagate and how we loved it; Joni Mitchell singing Black Crow, Neil…..Diamond and Young, Emmylou and Van. (Oh Van, that suit! Those high kicks! Perhaps the best band Van never had)
All very well Rick, I hear you sigh, but where is this leading us? On Friday’s show we welcome Amy Helm (the Late Levon’s daughter) who gives us an insight into the music of The Band, the Midnight Ramble and the loves of Levon. She also performs two songs – a beautiful cover of a fave Buddy miller song included – live in session exclusively for the show. Amy is charming, talented and a great credit to her father who has sung so much of the music I love.
Also Phosphorescent, The Louvins, Low and from Scotland State Broadcasters and Sienna. It all starts at five past seven on BBC Radio Scotland.
Another chance to hear about the visit I made to Brazil last year. Here’s my blog from that time:
In 1998 I was asked to visit Brazil and in particular, the work of MST in the state of Sao Paulo. This was a great experience for me then and the memories of that trip remain with me to this day. What did I learn?
I learned that, no matter how impoverished we perceive our own country to be, there is a deeper, sadder and more brutal poverty in the developing world than we can ever imagine.
Getting the opportunity to see this at first hand is wholly worthwhile. I also understood the real importance of fair land distribution: how can any society expect people to commit to their own betterment of they remove access to the places where this can happen? Finally I understood the reality of a theology of liberation that unites Salvation with true freedom. Seeing people celebrating mass after years of struggle was a wholly different experience of the eucharist than I had ever had before.
So next week I will return to Sao Paulo, to Promissao and see again what is happening to the people of MST. I will try to tell you as much as I can along the way. I hope to meet old friends, see some children who are now adults and meet some new friends. Till then, Ate´Logo.
It’s Tuesday morning in Sao Paulo and despite my luxury accommodation with my Scottish Brazilian hosts the mosquitos still love me.
We got here last night around rush hour and I discovered that rush hour lasts a good 3 hours in Sao Paulo. Mara, who is the main person at Christian Aid here in Brazil met us at the airport and on the journey in I peppered here with questions. In the gathering dark however it was difficult to make out much of what passed before us other than a sprawling mass of urban living. Estimates about the size of greater Sao Paulo vary but it seems a reasonably conservative estimate that 12 million people live here.
One of the projects I hope to see tomorrow is a recycling cooperative. This involves homeless people from the city centre who gather rubbish – cardboard, plastic etc.. and recycle it for profit. It seems it’s a job that gets left to them unofficially but the cooperative now run a small business supporting these people and we’ll see that tomorrow. On the way here a bedraggled man in full length plastic coat to keep out the daily tropical storms was piling cardboard and paper onto a precarious looking supermarket trolley. I suspect he is one of those I will meet tomorrow.
However right now I sit in Christiana’s serene garden interrupted by the nothing more than the drone of the gardening tools and the chirp of tropical birds. It is a gorgeous day (27º) and after yesterday’s very long journey I’m very grateful to be sitting here in this beautiful place.
It’s the end of a long day and we’re standing in a rubbish dump. When I say rubbish dump I should be much more accurate; where we are standing is right next to a rubbish dump and it is a recycle centre called ‘Coopere Centro’ and there is a very satisfied smile on Rene’s face. Rene´is one of the founding coordinators of Gasper Garcia a neighbourhood centre supported by Christian Aid here in Sao Paulo. Rene’s satisfaction is not misplaced. He’s been a fine guide on our tour round some of the work being carried out in the city and he’d be right to feel proud. However he’s also pointing to the roof of Coopere which he designed and built…and heck, it looks good too.
Coopere is a recycling cooperative which takes people who may would otherwise be eking out a living on the street and brings them into one of the earliest recycling waste centres in Sao Paulo. Support comes from Gasper Garcia and throughout the day we have been made aware of how important their work is. There is a movement abroad to cleanse this sprawling mass and the city centre is undergoing a huge change to show the world a new improved Sao Paulo in 2014 for the World Cup. However the cost of this is to move thousands of families out of their poor housing without offering them real alternatives. Many of these families will be squatting in old property or bits of land where they will live in one roomed houses with next to no sanitation and rather dangerous looking power supplies. For these families Gasper Garcia offers support and legal advice in either establishing permanent tenure of their dwellings or organising them against sudden expulsions organised to beatify the city in time for 2014.
If you want to gauge how serious a threat this is I asked Tito, a lawyer from the centre, if he now would prefer the World Cup not to happen he gravely nodded. had he known how bad the outcome would be for these families he said he wished it had never been planned for Brazil. From a football loving country that’s quite a statement.
Tomorrow I go to the countryside and return to meet some old friends who have made the land their own in Promissao.
Jen (my Christian Aid travelling companion) said to me yesterday, “What has been your favourite moment so far?”
it really wouldn’t have happened to me had a series of slight misadventures not taken place. Firstly we were delayed getting out of Sao Paulo on Thursday. Various items had been forgotten and so we were already getting near to the end of the daylight by the time the minibus broke down just outside Barrau. By the time a brilliant ‘Dunkirk’ like flotilla of
MST vehicles picked us up and whisked us on our way to Promissao the dark was falling and we could only hope we would catch the sights again tomorrow.
It was the gathering dark however that allowed me to witness one of the most amazing changes since I’d been here the last time. As we headed towards Promissao Mara pointed to both on both sides of the road where we could see little twinkling lights breaking through the night. This was the lights of Dandara, the encampment I had visited in 1998, now a settled community with houses and farms dottted all around. It went on for miles.
My thoughts turned back to having coffee and bread in the tents by the roadside and asking people if they had ever expected to see a day when they would be living on their own land. Seeing the task ahead of them I often wondered how possible it would be to achieve success, but on that long road at the end of a long journey I realised how completely the MST families had realised their dream.
The Way Home
And so I am nearly home. Amsterdam is a long way from home but you know
you can’t be too far away when the British tabloids are on sale at the newsstand.
It’s now that I think on some of the amazing people we met over the last week:
Rene – a selfless campaigner on Human Rights whose work to repsesent slum dwellers in and around the centre of Sao Paulo continues at the Gaspar Garcia Centre.
Claudia – whose joined us on our way to Promissao where she lived as a child of the settlements and is now a full time organiser in the area for MST.
Our hosts Luiz and Lourdes who gave us their beds at the settlement of Reiunidas and, having slept on sofas for the night serenaded us on their veranda with old folk songs in beautiful harmony before we left the next morning.
Gloria – a friend from 1998; then and now at the heart of the community, serving food growing vegetables, looking after children and organising the next phase of the struggle.
Gloria’s mother Argentina Maria was killed – some say murdered by vengeful farmers – coming off a bus outside the encampment of Dendara where she was visiting and helping families in 2002. A mural of Argentina Maria takes pride of place on the wall of the community centre at Reinidas.
Menerinho – a travelling organiser and singer with MST. His great spirit typifies so much of the movement. Perhaps most importantly he made everyone he met start to laugh – a real gift.
Luis – a communications organiser with MST who has joined the movement despite not growing up in an MST settlement and coming from the city.
Itelvina and Antonio Miranda at MST headquarters in Sao Paulo. Articulate, strong and considered in their understanding of rights for landless people. Having grown up on settlements themselves they are now full time with the movement, working to bring the promise the constitution of Brazil proclaims…that every person should have access to the land.
Before I go back to life in Scotland let me share one last story: On Friday afternoon we took a little trip along the road from Relneidas to Dandara.There we met Lucia who used to camp on the roadside near here. Now she and her husband live in a little house in the middle of their own farm. The house is by no means luxurious but it is a dream away from the tent in which she stayed for seven years. Behind her bright blue front door there hangs a story which explains so much about Lucia and MST – her front door keys. At the end of the day she locks her door; not because she fears crime in Dandara – it’s not that kind of place – it’s because she can. For many years nothing more than plywood, bamboo and plastic came between her and the elements and now she has a tiled roof, a brick house and a locking front door. From her kitchen window she can see her cattle in her own field. That is quite a change from when I saw her and many others all those years ago on the roadside.
As of now there isn’t a ‘Friends of MST’ website in Scotland. I think there are at least two people touching down in Glasgow today who would happily join it.
Finally I want to say a huge thanks to all of the staff at Christian Aid in Scotland especially my great companion Jennifer, Mara and Anna in Brazil who pulled so many things together to make this trip possible. I should also pay a huge tribute to Christiana and Eduardo who looked after me in Sao Paulo. Till the next time folks…
Have you ever busked? Ever passed someone and thought, ‘They’re good. I wonder if they’d make it.’ I do it and think to myself I may be passing the hottest talent ever and I’ve just made the wrong decision. However it is rare for buskers to ‘make it.’ I once came out of a rehearsal of Deacon Blue (early incarnation) to witness my future band mate and wife busking on Buchanan St. They were also performing a song I’d written which was a bit weird.
In a stupid impulse once I suggested (some years later) we all go on the streets and busk. We were rotten, or at least, I was. There was an A & R guy I once who knew who signed a busker who’d been playing outside his building and , although the album got made, I’m not sure what happened after that. It’s always a tricky transition so it is with all of that in mind we welcome ‘Old Crow Medicine Show’ to Another Country for the first time. They have the busking success story of all time and it’s perhaps that experience of testing themselves against the indifferent public that has made them such great performing artists.
They are now so well established on the bluegrass scene they are able to give us the wider view on everyone else they have worked with. They were here during Celtic Connections where Richard and I met up with them at their soundcheck before the show they performed at Barrowlands. By all accounts that night was a triumph. They will talk Merle Fest, Gillian Welch and the appeal and reach of the Avetts and Mumford in the second half of the show.
Before all of that we have some vital new music to play from artists who are due in Scotland soon. Look out for new things from John Fullbright, Beth Nielson Chapman and Billy Bragg. We’ll also have wonderful songs from John Murry and Iron and Wine as well as a fairly wide sprinkling of records you’ll wish you’d known about when they first came out. As well as all of that, something from the pen of this man in this special year.
It is 1219, the time of the Fifth Crusade, and Francis – the future saint of Assissi – and his brother Illuminato have crossed enemy lines to gain an audience with the Sultan of Egypt, Malik al-Kamil……The encounter was perfectly peaceful – no enraged and fulminating Muslim clerics had appeared, as it is claimed, to demand the Sultan behead the monk.
His post 9/11 story of two Pakistani step brothers’ misguided attempt to join the defence of Afghanistan against the invasion of Western forces is brilliant but brutal reminder of the gulf between the faiths of these two great historical figures. Apt too that we talk to him in a week which brings us a new Francis on whose shouldres the Roman Catholic community have placed great hope and expectation. We will talk to Jim Crampsie, a Scottish Jesuit, to gauge how the Society of Jesus is feeling about one of their own becoming the new Bishop of Rome.
We will also talk about Robots and their moral place in the theatres of war. We’ll be joined by Dr Philip O’Brien from the Scottish Centre for War Studies and Nadeem Aslam about all of that too. Plus we look at Africa’s Missionary legacy and ask what Dr Livingston ever did for them. Of course we’ll do all that to a brilliant soundtrack of William Bell, Jackie De Shannon and Nickel Creek and more. It all starts on Sunday Morning at 7 on BBC Radio Scotland.
Picture the scene: You are one half of a struggling alt folk act then you fiddle with your line up a little – strategically drafting in a bowed-crotale player – and the next album you make just takes off. Critics love it, audiences adore it and fellow musicians want in on the act. Songs are covered by legends…Emmylou Harris and Tom Jones and others invite you to sing on their projects. Life is, as Larry David would say, pretty pretty good.
As you may well have guessed by now the alt-folk singer is question is Ben Knox Miller from the Low Anthem who’s 2009 album ‘Oh My God, Charlie Darwin’ brought them a significant world-wide audience. He was in Glasgow a few weeks back and we caught up with him to hear his plans for a follow on to 2011′s Smart Flesh. The plans are less predictable than you might assume and it was a pleasure to catch up with the thinking of one of the most innovative singer songwriters we consider to be a friend of the show. He’ll also talk about these covers, collaborations and that night in Texas with BROOOOCE. We’ll play you lots of things by the Low Anthem as well as a few associated projects.
We’ll also remind you of the greatness of these guys:
It seems to me that almost everyone I talk to about music these days gets ten sentences in before they have to mention Don and Phil Everly. It’s no wonder as they took country into rock’n’ roll and back again channelling the best of the roots music they knew to make brilliant pop songs we all know and love. It’s good that Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie Prince Billie have also chosen to remind a new generation of the songs the brothers taught us.
We’ll have new music – at last – from The Avett Brothers, Anders and Kendall and Calexico plus some significant contributions from Bob Wills and Dwight Yoakam. It all starts at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday evening.
That’s not all…..For the month of March I’ll be back on Sundays.
This Sunday we’ll catch up with Peter Kearney. Peter is the outspoken public voice of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland who’s had a fairly busy couple of weeks. With the church facing huge questions on the future from outside and within Peter will reflect on the priorities he sees for the future. We will also get to know the private man who has had to face the most difficult test of all; the death of his beloved wife, Andrea and the mother of his five children. I think you’ll find Peter’s story compulsive listening. I also suspect that whoever you imagine Peter to be, you may well find yourself being surprised at how much you don’t know.
As part of BBC Radio Scotland’s series on Crime and Punishment we’ll look at what happens to sex offenders when they come out of prison and also consider the ethical challenges of creating support circles for them in the community. Our good friend Anne Ellis will join me to tell me all about the new exhibition by Glasgow artist, Peter Howson whose new exhibition From Death to Life features a mixture of dark subject matter and images of strength and hope that reflect on the artist’s life over the last year; a transformation from despair to recovery and joy.
Finally we’ll take a little trip to the Great White Way and to hear about this show…..
Yes, it’s finally happening Sunday Morning With goes to Broadway as Anna Magnusson tries and fails to get herself a ticket to see ‘The Book of Mormon’ but bumps into one or two people outside the theatre who give her the low down. We do all of this on a pretty tight budget you know!
It all starts at five past seven on Sunday Mornings on BBC Radio Scotland and you can download the podcast any time through your usual place.
If there had been no Emmylou Harris my record collection and, I dare say, yours would look rather different. The music we say we enjoy might also be considerably different and I’m guessing we would perhaps have that slightly compensated by some other artists we ought to know better. However if there was no Emmylou (God forbid) my country music knowledge would be greatly diminished. Would we all know so much about Gram Parsons and The Burritos? Almost certainly not. It was Emmylou’s mission statement in those early albums to Evangelise the world about Gram and his music. But let’s look through those early records to see what else I learned: The first person we’d have taken a long time to find was Rodney Crowell.
It was there on the first cut of Elite Hotel, Amarillo, a co write with Rodney and if that wasn’t proof enough we’d surely have had to stop in our tracks when we got to Till I Gain Control Again. It wasn’t till years later I finally heard this man…
When I realised Buck we was the guy who’d written, Together Again it all fitted into place. Later on I’d hear Emmylou singing ‘When I Stop Dreaming’ and it would be years later before I realised the significance of the Louvin Brothers. And of course none of us who listened to these early albums will ever forget the first time we say that very unusual form of proper nouns, Townes Van Zandt. It was Emmylou with Poncho and Lefty who single handedly drew the spotlight to the career of Townes.
Not long after this Emmylou and Rodney would cease to be band members. Rodney (the young prodigy) would leave the Hot Band and go on to make some amazing records of his own. He’d also start to have his songs cut by some of the top country singers of all time. In due time he’d also marry into the Carter Cash family and by extension enjoy his own gentle coronation and passage into the Palaces of Country Royalty. Emmylou would carry on making music with…everyone for the next 35 years or so. She’d become the duetist with Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler and she’d sing with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton as well as making ground breaking records with Daniel Lanois. I could go on…
Thankfully Emmylou and Rodney are still friends and have decided it was high time they made a record. On Friday we’ll play you a lot from their fine new album, ‘Big Yellow Moon,’ we’ll talk about the Hot Band, Brian Ahern – producer and the songs they’e chosen to sing on the record.
If all of that is not enough we’ll have some great new things from Bonnie Prince Billie and Dawn McCarthy, Phosphorescent, The Milk Carton Kids, Lindi Ortega as well as lovely old things from Doc Watson and Waylon Jennings. It all starts Friday evening at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.
Let’s avoid a history lesson here but let’s also acknowledge that what we love about popular music shares the same root. R ‘n’ B becomes Rockabilly meeting Western Swing and hey presto…….Rock n Roll. We look back to the 50′s with a fondness as there in Memphis one fine day in the middle of the decade the Million Dollar Quartet of Johnny Cash, Elvis,Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis gathered at Sun studios to share a love of music. The fact that the music they loved was a stew of rock n roll, gospel and country only makes the day seem more impalpable.
On Friday we celebrate all of that through the music of JD McPherson. JD’s excellent album Signs and Signifiers was a highlight of last year and it was a joy to hear it being played all across the airwaves. The good Sir Vic Galloway has chamioned JD and it was on Vic’s live Celtic Connections show that I saw and heard JD in concert. It was one of those 40 minute blasts of rock that do your soul good every now and again. At soundcheck that day we caught up with JD and his producer and bass player Jimmy Sutton. They chatted about Oklahoma, Chicago, Big Tiny Kennedy and all things rock n roll. It was an illuminating half hour and with the help of lots of music we will spin that out for you on Friday.
Lots of new things too. My particular favourite of late is the great new album from Caitlin Rose. We look forward to her coming to see her soon but we’ll play you something from the album in the meantime.
Also new songs from Grammy Stars The Alabama Shakes, Billy Bragg – as produced by Joe Henry and Mindy Smith. Old songs from artists we’ve mentioned over the last couple of weeks – Bobby Womack and Slim Whitlam (separately!) plus a reminder that Beth Nielson Chapman and Gretchen Peters are coming to town. We do all this in two hours you know, and it all starts at five past eight on Friday on BBC Radio Scotland. Join me if you can.
I’m old enough to remember lots of decades. Old enough to remember that the seventies took a long time to get back in fashion – but by when they did it seemed like they’d never been away. Shallow TV people always labelled the previous decade the ‘decade that taste forgot.’ It suited the 80’s to label the 70’s thus as in the eighties style, was for the first and only time, in danger of overshadowing content, especially in music.
For those of you who weren’t there let me paint a very sketchy picture. This was the decade where music had to fit into the lifestyle. I remember clearly a bedraggled Andy Kershaw taking some soho bimbo around the campsite in Glastonbury and trying to explain why this event was so important. She couldn’t see the wood for the Kensington Roof Garden. To her it was if he had brought something nasty in on his shoes and tried to clean it off on a copy of The Face. It was the time of Sade, of 12” mixes of ‘digitalisation.’ Who wanted their songs to sound dirty or distorted?(even though we’d fallen in love with rock and pop for precisely these reasons) Ironically we were all still listening to Radio 1 on MW even as late as 88. Remember the stereo sequence?…..So called because it only happened for a few hours on a Saturday.
It wasn’t enough to go and make a record. If you made a record you had to go somewhere and hire the talents of some esoteric genius who only worked at night and on a desk only Donald Trump could afford. How long did you take to make that? Not long enough then – go back and do it again. I remember it all reaching a personal nadir when a guy we worked with took 48 hours (count them) to complete a mix. The worst of it was we had no internet then so he couldn’t send you it at home. We had to hang around some God forsaken part of North London for the privilege of listening back. It lasted three and a half minutes…how long could it take?
Into that mix let’s throw in an album from Canada. It was called Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies. Rumour had it it wasn’t recorded in a studio at all, that it took less than a day to make and wait for it…..they did it on one microphone. Twenty Five years on the madness that decision looks like one of the smarter moves of the time. The album is still loved and the signals that sent out began a repositioning of music which led to lots of things we now expect and enjoy. Perhaps as strong as the recording style was the choice of covers. ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, ’ ‘Blue Moon’ and Walking After Midnight.’ Heck they even covered Waylon’s Dreaming My Dreams again! Here was a band who understood that Hank Williams was central to everything. It was time to listen.
Michael and Margo Timmins came into studio 1 recently and recorded a great session where they included a song from that album as well as some newer songs from the four albums they’ve recorded in the last 2 years. Again – it’s nice to see them breaking the rules. As it happens the rumours of that recording session were all true. The church in question was Trinity in downtown Toronto – picture above and the rest – well I’ll let them tell you themselves
That’s not all. We’ve got a new solo record from our old friend Jim James, great new singles from Lord Huron and JD McPherson, wonderful stuff from Rodney and Emmy, Iris Dement, Patty Loveless and some charming weirdness from Jason Lyttle and The Eels.
As ever the fun starts at five past eight on Friday evening on BBC Radio Scotland. Be there and learn to re love the eighties….we do.