Archive for January, 2012
Mr Murdoch and I sometimes spend time thinking aloud. What if we just did a radio show like we normally do?…(yes)…records, a guest or two..(yes) but we invite the audience along..? Yes! I know, it’s really not very clever at all but we never claimed to be at the cutting edge on the ideas front. We really like playing some country records and talking to some artists whose music we love. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do on Friday and we’re so grateful that the phenomenon that is Celtic Connections gives us the opportunity. So we’ll welcome a young man who has taken his music over to the USA and brought some good things back. Dean Owens has just recorded a new album which he recorded here and New York City. He was kind enough to let me hear some of it early and I’ve really been looking forward to its release. That day is coming soon and you can hear him play tracks from the album from our live foyer show this week. If you think don’t know Dean’s music then listen out for Radio Scotland’s trail for Celtic Connections based around Dean’s ‘Raining in Glasgow’ being spoken over by me!
Apart from Dean, some country records, a bar, a great location I hear you say, ‘What else have you got?’ In the other hour of the show we will welcome two of the other stars of the opening week at Celtic Connections, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. Essentially they are here to play at this week’s tribute to Woody at 100 tribute concert but we are delighted they are hanging around long enough to join us for our live broadcast down on the quay. I’ve already seen them perform this week at BBC’s Fruit Market show on Monday and I think it’s fair to say they won over the hearts of the audience there in a set including songs by Sarah Lee’s grandfather and some fine picks from their current album Bright Examples. Judge for yourselves on Friday but I’m sure you will be charmed.
On the subject of the Guthrie family, I went down on Wednesday to see the Woody at 100 night. This was a little mismatched. Johnny and Sarah lee were again on sparkling form as was the main headline act of Jay Farrar (Son Volt), Anders Parker (Gob Iron) and Will Johnson(Monsters of Folk). They played almost their entire album ‘New Multitudes’ which sets discovered Woody songs to new music. This was mostly really beautiful but I could tell that was really not quite the audience was expecting and the minimal indie mumbled intros really didn’t help engage the slightly bemused audience. A little bit of older Woody material would have gone a long way to making it a great night. So the challenge is there…..put a better one on. Here they are in full too-cool-for-school pose with Jim James (who wasn’t there last night)…Honestly guys, believe me…it may never happen!
As ever we will celebrate new music; First Aid Kit and Kathleen Edwards,(thanks Marek!) point you to some significant key records from the last ….oh eighty years or so and play something over the night you might just have forgotten about. If you haven’t yet got plans this Friday then it’s not too late. All the tickets have gone but we always keep a space for friends of the show…as for friends of the blog…..I think you know we have a special place in our hearts for you folks. In the flesh or on the air, join us this Friday at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.
My daughter just went out of the house for lunch……it’s nearly 4 o’clock. Kids huh.
On her way out I was trying to contain my excitement about the news she’d just shared. ‘Oh Dad, remember that band I told you about?’ (No….but I say …’Yes, sure.’ ‘I’m going to see them at King Tuts. I bought a ticket, it was only £9.’
You could have heard my heart beating faster a block away. Paying to go to see a new band….my children? What next, buying albums? Steady.
It’s a funny thing encouraging rock activities for your offspring. I find myself uttering absurd sentences like ‘ Why don’t you hook up your ipod to the stereo so it can play louder?’ Or ’Melt that ride cymbal a bit more so it comes through.’ Or even… ‘ Check The Strokes, they do it best.’ I don’t think they’ll remember it that way. The youngest was recently heard shouting at an older sibbling, ‘Ha ha – you’re going in dad’s car. You’ll have to listen to country music for two hours.’ True – but nevertheless hurtful.
I say all this because a few months ago I was lucky enough to feel young again myself; I’d been in London for the day, done some work and was heading up to Camden Town to see My Morning Jacket play at the Roundhouse. It was all so perfect…I missed the openers but managed to stash all my bags in the cloakroom, got myself a drink and stood in a fine spot on the floor ready to catch the band. I quite like going on my own occasionally too. There’s never that problem of looking round at your wife/pal/relative hoping they aren’t glazing over. Tonight this was particularly relevant. When the lead singer/guitarist performs a lengthy solo with a towel over his head you know it’s going to stretch the patience of all but the committed fans or those who have come to rock. It’s a while since I’ve enjoyed rock indulgence so much, but I was loving it. It was loud but equally blissful and until the unexpected drum solo it seemed as if time had flown. Drum solo? No, it wasn’t meant to be; it was the PA cutting out. This happens….I’ve been onstage when it’s happened and it’s odd but usually requires a quick re set and you’re off again. However this was a fire alarm. We were on the street for the best part of an hour and by the time the gig licked off again I really had to leave and catch my night train back home. Standing in the rain in Camden I did wish someone had said, ‘Take a warm coat and an umbrella with you, you never know.’
On Friday we’ll hear what happened earlier in the day when I met up with Jim James, head honcho, be-towelled guitarist and long haired and bearded commander in chief of My Morning Jacket. We’ll hear why he’s Jim James and sometimes Yim Yames and, if you’ve not yet discovered why babbling old fogies like me were breathlessly facebooking, ‘Are My Morning Jacket the best band in the world right now?’ Honestly, you’re going to love it all.
We’ll hear some new music from these guys….
They are called Howler, and frankly I think they are great. If you loved Avi Buffalo a couple of years ago your heart will explode for Howler. We have new things from the equally fine First Aid Kit, the great Tom Russell (who comes in to see us next week) and we will continue to remind you of the great legacy of songs beqeathed to us by the late Woody Guthrie. As I’m sure you know by now, there will be so much more too. All from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland this Friday evening.
January…what’s not to love? The lethargy of Christmas holidays is over, the days get longer and in Glasgow…..there’s Celtic Connections. It’s also about the possibility of things and beginning again. I’m basically an optimist and I always like mornings, Mondays and beginnings. All things are possible and all things may well happen.
For the last few weeks we’ve fed you a diet of Another Country Greatest Hits. It’s good so many people enjoyed hearing the Dylan specials again and I got great feedback from friends about the Gillian Welch special too. As ever these special nights are lovingly researched and compiled by my producer Richard Murdoch. Both he and I are glad to be back live this Friday bringing you a veritable terrabyte or two of new music. We’ll hear from The Punch Brothers, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Jonathan Wilson and Jack White and we’ll also spend some time with the music and words of this man:
Josh T Pearson is the original a son-of-a-preacher-man from Texas. Having made one album with Lift To Experience he quietly disappeared. Last year (around this time) I had a pile of albums to listen to. Now when that’s a pile of albums you’ve gone out and bought with your Christmas Record Tokens it can be a joy. In this case however I knew none of the artists and I was hoping that along the way something would jump out and make me (metaphorically) pick up the needle and drop it back. That moment came in the unexpected beauty of ‘The Last of The Country Gentlemen.’
One of the hardest things to do in any piece of art is to leave things out. They say you can tell a bad film by how much soundtrack is being used to pad it out….invariably true in my experience. In Josh’s case there’s so little there it would be difficult to know what to drop. The key is that the songs leave you mesmerised and inspired, the imagination is let loose and you are free to drift around in the debris of Josh’s aching laments. I think I enjoyed it in the way I first enjoyed the lonely nights I first spent round albums like On The Beach and Tonight’s The Night and as always with music we love at ACHQ there’s a hint of Hank….
You’ll hear Josh’s story on Friday – that is a moment to savour and you’ll hear him sing. He may make you cry but he will also certainly make you laugh. I don’t think we can broadcast the joke he told us involving Willie Nelson but if you catch me on a quiet moment at the Concert Hall over the next couple of weeks I’ll happily recall it for you.
And these next couple of weeks is when so many of our favourite artists come in to town. Celtic Connections is going to be a great blast and you can expect to see me out at the Woody Show, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Punch Brothers, Mary Gauthier, Laura Veirs and a whole load of things I’m forgetting about. You can join me live on Another Country, BBC Radio Scotland from five past eight this Friday evening.