One of the best programmes on radio is Desert Island Discs. Peter Ackroyd was on last week and chose The Kingsmen doing Louie Louie. It’s perfect pop on so many levels. I love the fact however that it never settles for hi-fi over raw excitement. It’s always an easy mistake to make. I remember asking Jon Kelly our Raintown producer if the noisy synth he was recording wouldn’t leave a lot of hiss on the tape.’ Have you got any records with hiss on them?’ he memorably asked? The reality is we have records with everything on them: hiss, static, bum notes and lots of hum. ‘That wurlitzer next door in the big room is making a really loud noise,’ I said to Bruce Robb in Cherokee one day. (In reality it sounded as if it was about to blow!) ‘I know’ smiled Bruce, ‘It’s beautiful isn’t it?’
So it’s with all that in mind that we’ll welcome Brittany Howard as our special guest this Friday. We caught up with Brittany at the start of a week which ended up with her band, The Alabama Shakes on the front of the NME. (I think that’s a first for us) She was polite and reasonably relaxed about the hullabaloo surrounding her. One of the greatest charms of their debut single – Hold On – is the fact the whole track crunches right into the red towards the end of the song. She confessed the mastering engineer had made a panicked phone call,’ You guys are either mad or geniuses’ You can decide for yourselves on Friday.
Over the few years we’ve been on air you may well have heard many artists talking about meeting other acts at Merle Fest. The festival itself was set up to commemorate the tragic death of Doc Watson‘s son Merle. After Merle’s death Doc was reluctant to get back to performance and the festival’s establishment is tribute in itself to the affection felt for Doc and Merle in the American roots community. On Wednesday Doc Watson died after a long illness aged 89. He was a remarkable character who cannot be claimed by any one music genre so it would seem only appropriate that on The AC (where we never say never when we love the music) we pay tribute to the man and the long shadow he has cast over blues, folk, bluegrass and country music.
If that’s not enough there will be many new and wonderful things to celebrate from Willie Nelson, Woodenbox, The Two Gentleman Band and of course, Neil Young and Crazy Horse. We’ll also get a chance to hear a little of this album which I have played in the house and in my car all week, heck I’ve even inflicted it on my children..it’s called So Long John Fante and it’s by these guys, The Lost Brothers.
It all starts at Five Past Eight on Friday evening on BBC Radio Scotland.