Please Be Upstanding For Sir Nick Lowe

If I remember correctly it was the summer of 1988. We had been recording over in the west coast of the USA for the first time and returned to the more prosaic duties of playing gigs and festivals up and down the land. I realised I never liked festivals. I still don’t really – though I had one of these strange moments at one this summer which made me realise why people occasionally love them; more on that later. On this particular Saturday our band played an afternoon slot at the Reading Festival. One of our guys pointed to the stage and said, “It’s a bit of a ritual here, but the first 5 minutes of any set the lads throw all their plastic beer bottles on stage. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone.” It happened to us, but as the urine filled bottle hit Graeme’s guitar for the nth time a strange clarity broke over the proceedings for me and I led our troupe offstage.

At the time it seemed as if we were the ones breaking social convention. However I realised that whatever I hoped the live experience might be it was never going to blossom in the mud/bear/beer pit of Reading Festival. In the middle of all this mayhem was an adjoining portacabin which was the makeshift dressing room to the turn on the next stage about to endure the same bottle dodging maelstrom. The turn in question was John Hiatt.He had made a favourite album of mine at the time, ‘Bring The Family.’ It was recorded in a few short days with a supergroup of Ry Cooder on guitar, Jim Keltner on Drums and Nick Lowe on bass. The bass player was sitting in the portacabin hanging with John.

I can’t remember much of the chat with John but I remember Nick vividly. He was charming, welcoming and friendly. I enjoyed John Hiatt’s set from the same vantage point as Nick and took comfort that he received as many missiles as we had. The next time I met Nick it was at a gathering to decide who should be worthy of a Q award ( I know!). After lunch he said to me, “I’ll give you my number – I think you should have it.” I was more than pleased to have Nick Lowe’s number in my diary even though I would never use it. It would be twenty two more years and some wonderful Nick Lowe albums later that I would have the joy of meeting Nick again.

To my delight he was the act on before us at the Glastonbury Festival 2011. It was ironic that it would be at a festival – perhaps the twenty three years had help me forget. To my joy and surprise the festival audience had grown up and changed into quite the most lovely audience in the world. As Nick and I  met again in the gloomy backstage marquee that passes as a green room I was curious to find out whether Nick had a new album coming out and was delighted to hear about ‘The Old Magic’ and immediately booked him for Another Country. The plan was for me to go to London to meet him but I couldn’t make the trip so we chatted down the line, and what an enjoyable chat it turned out to be. Nick talked about these wonderful songs on his great new album, about his old friend Elvis Costello (who he’s covered brilliantly on the new record) and about life round the Carter-Cash dinner table. It will all be on the AC this Friday. By a nice coincidence we’ll be playing new songs from Ry Cooder and John Hiatt too.

What else? The Avett Brothers and Ron Sexsmith on their favourite Bob Dylan album, ‘New Morning.’ Yes it’s 1970 in Bob Backwards.

Also wonderful new music from Lindi Ortega, Lindsey Buckingham, Devon Sproule, Ryan Adams and yes……Dirty Beggars. We’ll also mine the catalogues of Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash and Elvis Costello.

It all starts at 8 o’clock on Friday Evening on BBC Radio Scotland.



Sunday Morning With……

On Sunday I will be chatting to Mary Contini whose memoir  ‘Dear Olivia’ is essential reading for anyone wanting to know about the Scots Italians.

Mary’s family story is a great century-long adventure and it never moves too far away from the kitchen – which suits me perfectly. It’s only a shame the radio cannot give you the aromas which must have filled Mary’s childhood.

Aric Sigman is going to join us to talk about this book…

And we’ll hear from parents here in Scotland about how they go about letting their children learn about alcohol and its effects. We’ll also try to discover the best ways to allow teenagers to discover alcohol and see if anyone thinks we can do it better that we have up till now.For those of you wanting a more musical instruction on the perils of the demon drink feel free to learn the words of this Two Ronnies song.


We will talk to Doctor and Screen Writer Simon Stephenson about brothers.

His book on the loss of his own brother and sister-in-law in the Asian Tsunami makes powerful reading.

It’s 50 years since the founding of Amnesty. We hear some of the reasons why we need to keep listening to what they are saying.

Great music from Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall, Ennio Morricone, The Impressions and Michael Kiwanuka. All from seven on Sunday morning. Join me if you can.

4 thoughts on “Please Be Upstanding For Sir Nick Lowe

  1. Not a great festival goer myself, I have to say, and other than the exceptional showmanship from the likes of Muse or stadium type events from artists like Dolly Parton, it’s the quieter and more intimate gigs with audiences who are there to listen that leave a deeper impression on me. Acoustic gigs at the Union Chapel just down the road from me here and an appearance by yourself, Ricky, at the Troubadour near Earls Court several years back are amongst those highlights. Good to know that Glastonbury went so well this year, though.

    Look forward to hearing more from Nick Lowe, as that’s another ongoing journey of discovery for me. And it almost goes without saying that I love that Two Ronnies sketch!

  2. It surprises me that ‘at a certain age’ some folks seem to lose interest in Festivals. I remember my ‘first time’ … festival that is!! Fury Murrey’s on the Friday and then off to T in the Park on the Saturday am with a raging hangover on the Bus.
    A down and out lying at the ATM at Buchanan Street told me I looked worse than him…. and he had slept in the street all night!! My friends in Teenage Fanclub had got the gig. Norman, the lead singer, ‘insanely’ decided to invite all the Lanarkshire audience to “pop into his mum’s house for a cuppa tea”.. Giving his mum’s ‘actual’ address through the PA system. The Soup Dragon’s were also a super band at this time! (INdie Madchester meets Holytown!!) Funny I am now going to Glastonbury circa 46 years old instead (as my liver would not tolerate T in the Park now!) Glasto best ever? = Edwin Collins with support of ‘king of EK’ Roddy Frame and the boys from F Ferdinand.. happier to die that day than never to have lived!!

  3. I thought I didn’t like festivals too – all that mud and standing about all day, then your favourite band doesn’t even do a full set. Small intimate gigs are more my thing of late.

    That was until my first visit to Glastonbury this year. Because of the sheer scale of the festival site small intimate gigs are possible too! I was in the Acoustic Tent for Nick Lowe and Decaon Blue that day feeling 18 again. The next day saw triumpant shows by Ron Sexsmith and Caitlin Rose where the love in the room could have been bottled and…er labelled with love. Sunday brought The Low Anthem and a cry of ‘What a band!’ from a crowd who wanted to be nowhere else on Earth but right there on the fields of Worthy Farm.

    See you at Glasto 2013 Ricky…

    PS – So good to hear Nick Lowe is confirmed for the 8th Belfast Nashville Festival early next year. A warm Irish welcome awaits 🙂

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