The AC audience are an eclectic bunch with healthy catholic taste in music. But occasionally we’ll get a digital upturned eyebrow pointed in our direction based around music we’ve chosen to play. (Sometimes I think we should get more!) If this happens it always revolves around the theme of what country music is and isn’t. That, of course, has never defined what we are as we were always ‘Another’ country – leaving us plenty scope for doing that Neil Young thing of driving the car closer to the ditch than the middle of the road. Neil’s brilliant logic in the 70’s was that he met more interesting people there. We would have to agree with that.

Last week’s C Duncan session drew a rather puzzled tweet from a loyal listener. It made us think too. C Duncan’s music was certainly not country by his, ours or anyone else’s imagination. And yet….The previous night Richard and I had spent an enjoyable night at the Armadillo taking in the Lady Antebellum show where, on many songs, the same accusation could have been made. How ‘country’ is ‘Stardust,’ ‘American Recordings’ or even more controversially some of the solo recordings of Chet Atkins? You can add your own brilliant exceptions to the rules here. When Rab Noakes was with us last year he put it perfectly. When he started Brand New Opry on BBC Radio Scotland he wanted to make a programme for people who imagined they didn’t like country music and include in it the music that clearly had been touched by country music in some way.

People’s interpretation of how this is played out is different, but in my head I still see the song as king and whenever I can I like to think it’s the songs that matter in the two hours we get on air. I’ve always thought of virtuosity as an optional extra and where it appears in the absence of a song it is almost pointless. But give me a song, an authentic voice with a story to impart and leave in the spaces and I’ll buy it every time.


To that end we celebrate a great of country song-writing whose own albums often veer wildly away from the perceived sound of country music. Mickey Newbury was the subject of a conversation we had a few weeks ago with Rodney Crowell. We thought we should play some of his songs and hear his voice too this week.

We’ll have some great new music from Houndmouth, BC Lamplight, Lindsay Lou and The Flatbellys and Blue Rose Code. We’ll play Vinyl, old and new, from My Darling Clementine and George and Tammy. Oh the joy. It’s our last ever Friday evening show as we’re moving to Tuesday evenings from now on. Join us from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.

I’m back for a few weeks on Sundays too.


This week my special guest is Stuart Cosgrove who will be talking to me about his comprehensive book about Detroit in 1967. Bringing together the story of modern Soul, The Vietnam War, Civil Rights and the counter culture it’s a month by month comprehensive to a city in its pomp as it begins a process of self destruction.

We’ll find out why Catholics John Ogilvie‘s martyrdom 400 years ago is still important for Scottish Roman Catholics.

Children from the age of 11 are to be taught about sexual consent under new government plans. The government said it wanted to give young people a “better understanding of the society around them” so they could “make informed choices and stay safe”. We’ll be joined by Sue Palmer and Dr Claire Cassidy  to help us understand how we can do this and why we might need it.

A we celebrate Detroit and Mothers Day it gives us a great excuse to play some great music. We’re on air from seven this Sunday morning on BBC Radio Scotland do join us if you can.