A few years ago a friend came to see me about an idea she had. She was asking various chums what they thought about a new venture she been dreaming up. I remember her sitting at my kitchen table and outlining her vision for The Glad Cafe. A space where beautiful things might happen in a creative way and where all kinds of people could find a common meeting place. I remember thinking how great a vision it was but shaking my head quietly at the hurdles she’d have to clear to realise it.
Sitting at the bar in The Glad Cafe on Saturday night I thought about that conversation and where it led. For me the beautiful vision was brilliantly incarnate this weekend. A bar/cafe full of creative chat and a venue packed to the rafters to see one of my oldest, best friends. I’ve said this before about gigs and records where friends are involved; it’s a hard call to be objective. But on Saturday night when I went to hear The Pearlfishers perform there I didn’t even try. I was swept along by the energy emanating from that stage. To see the songs of Davie Scott re-imagined again with the barest of bands and a string section is to felt like being in the room before Turner added the varnish or the paint was barely dry. These songs were complete, yet fragile and brilliantly crafted in such a way that, like those vast Victorian seascapes, we were able to understand the way in which they’d been lovingly assembled.
Quite simply this was a night where we, the audience, felt so comfortable to be included in a song writing masterclass, by turn poignant, funny and brilliantly sentimental. At the heart of the night was the coming together of a band, audience and venue all united by a love of music. What that has got to do with Another Country I can’t honestly say but I know but for me, it seems a natural extension of all we love about the scope of the music we celebrate each Friday. That music, as our good friend Rab Noakes would point out, is often not just what we strictly might call ‘country’ but is part of a popular music tradition that has been nudged, bent and wholly informed by country music. Put simply, had it not been for Hank, Dottie, The Louvins, Stanleys and Dolly (add your own name here) it’s doubtful whether our world would sound as good as it does.
That’s why this Friday we will get a chance to play you a wide range of great music that is available to you right now. There will be The Pearlfishers and some beautiful new music from Neil Young’s Storytone album. Listen out for for a new song produced by Justin Vernon for this artist:
She’s called Pieta Brown…and we’re quite excited about a new song we’ve just heard.
There will be so much more but safe to say it all kicks off this Friday at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland
On Sunday…I’m back.
We’ll talk to Eric Kabera about a unique film festival he’s created in Rwanda as well as think about the ethical dilemmas of whistle-blowing in the light of a new documentary about Edward Snowden which comes out this weekend.
I’ll also be talking at length to John Boyne, author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas about his life and in particular his new novel, ‘A History of Loneliness.’
And we’ll be playing some great music choices from John and a few of mine too. It’s the place to be. So do join me this Sunday from five past seven if you can on BBC Radio Scotland.