Last week on the AC we were honoured to host – in one room, and almost at the same time – some of the greatest musicians we have had the the privilege of meeting in our Radio Lifetime. Central to everything was The Song. It’s a funny art form. One of my producer pals mother used to wonder at how he could spend so long working in a studio ‘How long is a song..3 minutes? How many times do you have to listen to it?” She had a point. Although I’ve moaned about the fact we’ve all added a minute or so onto the popular song since the sixties I’m still convinced I work with the perfect art form. To break someone’s heart, open their minds or make them realise their whole life needs changed within that precious time frame and on a distant transistor seems to me a fairly noble achievement. This is what we do – celebrate the song.
This Friday we do a lot of that again but we turn the screw a little tighter.Four sets of song writers, one room, a live audience and each artist plays in front of their peers. Intimidating stuff. Beth Nielson Chapman mentioned the hushed reverence of The Bluebird in Nashville last week. This Friday we will try to emulate that sacred space relocating it to Sauchiehall Street. From The CCA in Glasgow we’ll bring you Another Country in The Round live from Celtic Connections.
I believe we have THE best line-up we’ve ever had for this show and I think you are going to love this if you’re in the room or sitting at home by the wireless. So let me introduce you to our guests:
My Darling Clementine are keepers of the country flame. Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish have based their act on the tortuous on off relationships of George and Tammy, Porter and Dolly and Loretta and Mooney. They sing brilliantly crafted country songs and Michael, in particular, has written for many other artist not least, Townes Van Zandt. Stories and songs to break your heart brilliantly.
Blue Rose Code is really one man. Ross Wilson is originally from Edinburgh but has been based down in London over recent years. We’ve been playing tracks from his debut album all last year and frankly , we’re not going to stop. It’s called North 10 and it really is one of the most charming records of 2013.
Aoife O’Donovan until now has been better know as the singer from Folk String Band Crooked Still. She hasn’t always considered herself as either a guitarist or a song writer but the last two years have changed that. Her debut as a songwriter came suddenly and spectacularly on Alison Krauss’s last album with Lay Your Burden Down. We might get to hear Aoife’s own version on the show this Friday. Her own album Fossils is out now and is another AC favourite.
Which brings us to the final act on this year’s bill. Zervas and Pepper are a Welsh duo who we’ve been playing ever since we first heard tracks from their second album, Lifebringer. They’ve already been at Celtic Connections to play at Roaming Roots Laurel Canyon night.When you hear their harmonies and brilliant songs you’ll know why.
I fear two hours is not going to be enough but join us to see how we get all of this in. All live on BBC Radio Scotland this Friday at five past eight.
On Sunday I’ll be talking to actor Deirdre Davis better known to many as Eileen from River City. She has a fascinating story and she will be my first hour guest this week.
As it’s Holocaust Memorial Day we will also be hearing from Zdenka Fantlova. She was 17 when the war began. Her story has been adapted into a play called The Tin Ring, and the ring of the title was given to her by her first love, Arno. Last year our reporter Carol Purcell met Zdenka in Edinburgh to hear her story. You can hear the fruits of that conversation in the second hour of the programme.
We will discuss the morals of Twitter in the light of online abuse. Where do we draw the line and how do we set standards? We talk to some people who may have some suggestions on how to deal with ‘the trolls.’
Last year we heard about Belfast’s 4 Corners Festival. Born to celebrate the diversity of the City and include all sides it’s now in its second year. We speak to two of the people from across the religious divide who have made this remarkable event happen.
We’ll have music from Julie Fowlis, Nick Drake, Dick Gaughan and Ray Chales and we’ll start everything at five past seven this Sunday morning.
I’m completely with you regarding The Song. (It’s an argument I can recall having with music teachers at school, and only wish I had more courage in my convictions at the time.) I have a love of stories and storytelling, and that’s something that is clearly universal. (To get a little sci-fi and quote The Doctor for a moment: “We’re all stories in the end.”) And that universality is clearly also true of songs, and only heightened further by the mystical power of music over our hearts and souls. I write a little (not nearly as much as I would like of late) but, if I could have any one skill in any craft, it would be songwriting.
That’s quite a line-up you have there. I’m only sorry to miss the show in person—I’m thrilled to en route back to Glasgow right now and to be visiting Celtic Connections for the first time, but will be up the street at the Royal Concert Hall—although I will be sure to catch it on the train journey home. I’m sure it will be a great night all round.