If I remember correctly it was the early 80s and we’d borrowed a car from a colleague so we could go and pick up a bouncy castle to put up in our school playground for a fun day for the pupils. In the Renault 5 we borrowed we immediately rejoiced at the cassette left in the machine. It was the debut album by Rickie Lee Jones. I recall, having never owned the album, how much I loved all of it for the brief journey through the north side of Glasgow. Cut to 2009 and I am in a small studio called Red Star Recording in Silverlake, Los Angeles. We’re there to work on our (so far only) McIntosh Ross album, ‘The Great Lakes’ with producer Mark Howard. The studio is owned by David Kalish some time producer and guitar player with Ms Jones. On the studio website a beautiful video of one of the recent projects where Rickie Lee Jones had re recorded one of her songs from that debut album. It was a a lovely retake of On Saturday Afternoons in 1963, undoubtedly one of the stand out tracks from that 1979 debut. To say we were honoured to be there on the basis of that re recording is to understate it hugely. But hearing those Satie intervals again felt like being reacquainted with of an great old friend and re-listening after so many years was a beautiful reminder of Rickie’s unique art. Many years later we’re delighted she’s at Celtic Connections and has extended her stay to appear at a very special song writing round on tonight’s Another Country.
At the CCA in Sauchiehall Street she’ll share the stage with Angaleena Presley and Noah Gundersen. Every year I seem to lapse into hyperbole at this event but I think I’m on fairly safe ground when I say we can’t quite believe the quality of our line up for this year’s round. Angaleena’s album ‘American Middle Class’ was one of the stand-out country records of last year. Her songs have echoes of Randy Newman, Bruce Springsteen, Loretta Lynn and her own back story has more than an echo of the latter’s Kentucky roots. Born not many miles from Butcher Holler, Angaleena’s family’s story too is intertwined with the coal mining tradition of that part of the world; after all she is also ‘Holler Annie’ from The Pistol Annies along with Ashley Munroe and Miranda Lambert. Tonight she will be armed only with her songs and we suggest to you you will rejoice in being in the company of her voice and her unique songs. On her visit to us last year she described her songs as her ‘diary spilled out into the radio,’
Finally we are very excited to meet up with Noah Gundersen. We first played Noah a couple of years back when his debut record, Ledges reached us. At that time we discovered an intimate story teller whose songs reminded us a little of the halcyon days of Laurel Canyon and fans of Jackson Browne will surely find familiar echoes in his new album, Carry The Ghost…listen to the gorgeous Jealous Love.
So that’s our CCA line up and I’m writing this aware that many of you might be in the audience but equally, we realise that many have been disappointed not to receive tickets. Fear not. It’s all live from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening.
On Sunday Morning I my very special guest will be International Health Expert, Diplomat and academic Mukesh Kapila. I’ll be talking to Dominic Johnson about his book, God Is Watching You and playing music from First Aid Kit, Otis Clay, School of Seven Bells and our own Robert Burns. Join me from five past ten this Sunday Morning if you can.