I don’t know if the sign is still there but the pub certainly is. At Eglinton Toll in Glasgow’s south side the Star Bar still offers the cheapest three course lunch in town. For many years it also offered entertainment. On certain nights of the year you could catch Ken Manners ‘singer of songs.’ Sadly I never made it to see Ken perform a set there but I liked the idea of his act. A man who knew that songs were there for singing often gave me pause for thought as I made my way into town for one of those all or nothing gigs in the early days.
In those days every gig I did included at least one new song. As weeks passed between live shows it was incumbent to up the anti between these events. If the last show didn’t give you the break, it felt as if a song, a new song, that special song might take you to where you wanted to be. As it happened that proved to be the case.
A good Nashville friend who was my publisher when I first arrived there explained to me how far his house was from Music Row one day, ‘I’m four songs away,’ Dale told me knowingly. In those early days it felt as if my own music career was a few songs away. Every songwriter knows this. You open a notebook, pick up a guitar, lift open the piano lid or meet up for a writing date and by the end of that day your life could be changed by a simple melody, some chord changes and a lyric. It’s life changing, world beating, and can make people fall in love or change their plans for the future and yet….it’s simple stuff.
This week on BBC Radio Scotland you can hear me on The Quay Sessions announce the new BBC Radio Scotland Singer Songwriter award. If you are over 17 years of age you can become part of it. It’s an exciting new initiative which, hopefully, will not be exclusively just about winners and losers but about encouraging the huge well of talented songwriters in Scotland and offering a new opportunity to get their music to a wider audience.
This Tuesday on Another Country you can get a chance to hear the gold standard. Great new songs from Craig Finn, Bruce Springsteen and Rhiannon Giddens and some classics from Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson and Gretchen Peters. As well as all of this we welcome a first visit by UK Americana favourites, William The Conqueror.
Built around the crafted songwriting of Ruarri Joseph, this trio delivered their second album which they recorded with the great Ethan Johns and released earlier this year. Their draw on the great folk, roots traditions of sixties troubadours like Bob Dylan, Ray Davies and Leonard Cohen. They will be live in Studio One at Pacific Quay on this Tuesday’s Another Country and you can join us live from 9 p.m. on BBC Radio Scotland.