25 years ago in New York City my wife and I went to see an Off-Broadway production of a one-man show. It had been recommended to us by a colleague who said – ‘You must go see this.’ It was called, ‘Only The Truth is Funny’ and now I can’t remember the actor/stand up performer whose story it was. I always imagined it was one of these shows which would run and run and eventually appear in Edinburgh at the Fringe or as a touring production. It never did. But that night the man who made that story took us on a journey of such emotional extremes it was only possible to conclude he had indeed been telling his own story. At the beginning of the evening he was at pains to point out to us that the show only works if we knew each detail to be completely true. There was no willing suspension here; this was simply belief.
As you may have gathered, this is a theme of mine which has been running through my head for a while now. Later this week you can here some of that put to song – but that’s for another day. I thought of all of this when listening to Danny and The Champions of The World in lieu of their recent visit to AC Towers. For Danny Wilson, lead singer of the London combo, all of life is up for inclusion. On (Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket, a wonderful song on their last but one record, Danny tells the story of a holiday road trip with his father to witness the magnificence of Fabulous Thunderbirds and each and every detail of that journey is all you need to know to love what Danny and the Champs do so well.
At this year’s inaugural UK Americana awards I presented Danny and The Champs with one award and they went on to pick up a couple more on a wonderful night which affirmed all they have been doing for these last few years. The Band were in Scotland earlier in the month and they came in to record some songs in session for us and I caught up on the whole Champs happy history in a long conversation with Danny Wilson himself. You can hear all of that on this week’s show.
To us, female country artists seem to have been around forever. But there was a time when they were as rare as royalties from Spotify. In the late 50’s Jean Shepard came along to add her name on to a growing list of women singers that included Kitty Wells and Patsy Montana. Last Sunday aged 82 she passed away after suffering from Parkinsons Disease in later life. Never a shrinking violet she continued to blossom in recent years when she challenged the blandness of Bro Country in a way only a legend could do. We’ll tell you more about her run in with Blake Shelton later on Tuesday’s show. Safe to say you’re always more likely to hear Jean than Blake on the AC.
All this and so much more: Thomas Earl Conley on vinyl, new records from Mandolin Orange and Brooke Sharkey and a dip into Pre E Street Bruce. If this is not enough we will, of course, enjoy another Merle moment. Join me from five past nine this Tuesday on BBC Radio Scotland.