When we started out we didn’t do many gigs and the one we did commit to were all spaced apart enough to ensure that new songs and new members would be involved on any live occasion. The gigs usually stated after 11 at night and the sound check would be late afternoon (if the bloke with the PA turned up on time.) I would walk into town from my southside flat so I could find something new to wear for the gig out of Flip then spend the rest of the day worrying about the show. On my way in I’d always pass the same pub which advertised the fact that on certain nights you could enjoy a pint to the sounds of ‘Ken Manners, singer of songs.’
I often wonder what became of Ken, though I suspect his songs go on. I often thought then and still reflect now how bad I am at the business of remembering and reciting songs. It takes me all my time to remember my own and I really can’t, for the life of me, ever get it together to learn other people’s even though I admire greatly those who do.
One of the great things of learning other songs is the awakening it gives you to new paths and structures. How did they do that? Why did they say that and not this and how did they manage to break my heart there? Sometimes I find myself looking back at other people’s catalogues and I realise how little there is on which I have declared my undying love. Often we’re talking three songs which have managed to infect me in such a way that they will always travel with me for the rest of my life. However that doesn’t mean I’ll sit down and learn them…Oh no.
Perhaps that’s why my ‘cover versions’ have always involved sitting a pal down and saying ..’Listen to this record’ On Tuesday I’ll do that once again and, for those who’ve not being paying attention, I’ll introduce you to this woman.
Joan Shelley a folk singer whose music has been delicately brushed by the mountain music she heard while growing up in Kentucky. She sings beautiful, vulnerable songs and her current album Over and Even is one of my favourites of the last 12 months. On this Tuesday night’s show we will broadcast the great session she performed for us a few weeks back on her way through Scotland. If you don’t know Joan’s work just check out ‘Stay On My Shore,’ her duet with Will Oldham from that album, ‘Over and Even.’ It will change your life for the better.
On Tuesday night we’ll also feature music by Cale Tyson, Phil Cook, Sarah Jarosz, Laura Cantrell and Randy Travis. Don’t be too surprised if Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson make an appearance too. Join me live if you can on BBC Radio Scotland from five past nine this Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday I’ll host my first ever show (under my own name) on BBC Radio 2. From 10 p.m. I’ll be bringing you my new tradition. Playing you wonderful new records and searching out some influences that may well have played some part in suggesting how the artist came to sound the way they did. I could tell you more but I’d be spoiling the surprise…. Safe to say I’ll be playing a wide range of great music that I don’t get a chance to play on the AC. For those of you in Ireland, Wales and England it will be great to get a chance to broadcast live. Find me on twitter @rickyaross and let me know what you think about any new songs you hear for the first time. You can tune your dial to BBC Radio 2 from 10 this Wednesday.