Forgive me if you’re not up to speed on this story. We announced last week we would perform an intimate acoustic show to help fund a new roof for a very special place on the Southside of Glasgow. It’s an expensive ticket as the venue only holds 120 standing. The Glad Cafe are facing a £40,000 bill and we hoped we might dent this figure a little by performing a small scale Deacon Blue evening there.
When we talked it over we always consider the pros and cons of such efforts. There is no shortage of worthy causes. Within a few seconds we could all name places and people who could use some help, so why did we plump for this one?
A few years ago one of my oldest friends popped round to tell me about a dream she had about opening a special place which would encourage the arts, be non-exclusive and become a community hub. It seemed like a great idea but it was beset with problems. They could never find the right location and the genesis of the project got off to a couple of false starts. Eventually they found their sweet spot on Pollokshaws Road and The Glad Cafe has become a fixture on the Glasgow live scene where the cafe and venue are a hub for art exhibitions, seminars, plots and celebrations. It’s run by Rachel Smillie with a little help from her husband Craig and the venue is imaginatively curated by her son Joe (sometime Modern Studies drummer).
What makes it special is what made the family special in the first place. The cafe is run along the same lines as The Smillie house. You’re always welcome…. even if they don’t share your views, music will never be far away and all serious business can be shelved at any point to make way for fun. As guiding principles go I can think of few better.
Since the Glad opened I’ve announced scores of interesting gigs of interest to the AC audience. As well as playing a couple of benefits there myself I’ve seen brilliant performances by Devon Sproule, Dean Owens, Anthony D’Amato and The Pearlfishers. It’s the perfect listening room which, for a long while, we’ve not been able to enjoy in Glasgow.
So here’s to Raising The Roof on The Glad Cafe. It’s not a matter of life and death as Elvis Costello once pointed out about The Hoover Factory’s inviting art deco lines, but what is?
On this week’s Another Country we will celebrate the kind of story tellers they love at The Glad. Craig Finn, Willy Vlautin sings songs about the forgotten and the misunderstood. We’ll play their songs as well as a few songs in that great narrative tradition. We’ll remind you there are only two days to go until Patty Griffin comes to Scotland, introduce you to the joy that is The Tallest Man on Earth and in the alphabet of country music we’ll declare that L is for The Louvin Brothers.
One final thought: Today the great Jean Vanier died aged 90. I had the joy of spending an hour with him once. He left ten rules for life. Today this one seems apt:
No.6. Ask people “What is your story?”
Vanier emphasises the importance of relating to people and listening to them. He says, “To meet is to listen: Tell me your story? Tell me where your pain is? Tell me where your heart is? What are the things you desire?” He adds, “I need to listen to you because your story is different to my story.”
For lots more stories. Join me on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday from five past nine.