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 Rain For Sale






Southside Scorcher


Well, the Southside Festival has fairly grown up! It can't be more than 5 years ago I stood with handful of others and a family of ducks on dreich and sodden Saturday afternoon to watch the band play on the back of a lorry in Queens Park.. well not anymore...

The 2012 festival followed hot on the heels of the Southside Film Festival and with it marked what hopefully is the start of the summer. The sweltering hear and blazing sunshine enhanced the colours and atmosphere that the procession of dancers, drummers, musicians. old buses and fire engines not to mention the bloke with his Alsatian, parker jacket and Lidl bag ( it wouldn't have been a true Glasgow festival without him!) brought to the southside of Glasgow at the weekend.

I couldn't help but notice a swarm of people frantically following the Tunnock's van as it ejected caramel wafers at passers by, some of whom were lucky enough to get hit with the fantastic Scottish treat.

The precession looped around Queen's Park and into the main park area, which was filled with live music, food stalls, bouncy castles and dodgems, fencing competitions, face painting.. and tons more. Enough to keep people out in the sun all day until an emergency visit to the Victoria Hospital for 3rd degree burn treatment was required, going by the amount of flesh on display.

Great to see a good turnout for the festival, highlighting the culture which is all too alive and well in the Southside, a far cry from my initial introduction to the festival.




Celtic Connections

As most of the country retreats indoors, bolts down the hatches and prepares for the onset of post new year blues that comes with the month of January, Glasgow promptly shakes of the hangover, comes alive and parties with Celtic Connections. Every year I say I'll take it easy, not stay out too late and every year I get carried away and and quickly forget my foolish resolution!

There are always some great collaborations of musicians performing different takes on well known songs - see the excellent Jack Bruce & Lau version of Sunshine of Your Love below. Unfortunately I missed the Tribute to Gerry Rafferty due to playing my own gig, but there were performances of his songs by the likes of Rab Noakes, The Proclaimers, Ron Sexsmith amongst others, I am told it was a thoroughly good night.

Paul Kelly was a rare treat for me as the Australian songwriter performed an acoustic set of well crafted songs to the crowd at Oran Mor, he is a huge name down under and deserving of a large following this side of the hemisphere.

View Farka Toure -  was unleashing some fine African rhythms in The Arches with elements of John Lee Hooker and Albert King from his piercing electric guitar, fantastic show.

Showcasing some local talent was the Hazy Recollections shows at the ABC. I managed to miss the start of the show due to the bouncer taking a dislike to my camera (blog to follow) but caught excellent performances from Doghouse Roses, Foy Vance & Finlay Napier & The Bar Room Mountaineers

I'll take it easy throughout February. for video clubs




Back from a great trip around the Netherlands. It nice to get out Amsterdam and see other parts of this great country.

All the gigs went well and everyone was really friendly and hospitable. Really enjoyed my visits to Middelberg and Groningen, lovely towns at opposite corners of the country. Den Bosch was a great place to chill for 2 days and gasp at the price of shoes in the shop windows.

There were only a few minor mishaps to report,  starting with my first night in Amsterdam. I got locked out the room in the Hostel on my first night at 4am as the security swipe card lock had broken, fortunately not many folks were about at that time to see me running about in my undies trying to get help. The night watchman was initially freaked out and once he stopped laughing and calmed down enough he took, a painfully slow 40minutes, to find a 'traditional' key. By the time the door was unlocked there were 3 of us all standing about in our undies in the hall way at 4.40am. This did not look good at all.

One great thing about travelling in Europe (or indeed anywhere outside the uk) is the fantastic efficiency of the train system. These trains turn up when they are meant to, have more seats upstairs, free wifi, travel fast and silently across all of Europe. The efficiency is such that trains often get split in two and the 1st few carriges go to where your meant to be going and the rear carriages go to PARIS!!. A heart attack jump and sprint onto the platform to the correct side of the train narrowly averted me eating a croque monsieur for lunch.

In Groningen I played a gig for Wishful Music with the guys from Broken Down Suitcase , a well named, and well performed Canadian/New Zealand old timey duo. However, there was a medical emergency towards the end of the gig where a girl went into anaphylactic shock from eating nuts and had to get rushed to hospital (pleased to report all was ok and she made a full and quick recovery) but at the time most folks thought she was just extremely moved by the music.

So all in all a successful trip, and big thanks to all those who helped out with accommodation food beers and chat - see you in 2012.




Zoo Station

As another August has been an gone it takes with it any chance of a decent summer and another Edinburgh Fringe.

I had another great time performing at the Fringe this year and very thankful to all those who came along on the nights.

Performing at the fringe requires a whole set of planning, organisation and marketing skills, the most important being transport to and from the venue.

Everyone will be aware that driving in Edinburgh is a no no, particularly during the Fringe, however when faced with the alternative of The Last Train Home, these 2 options are close contenders for which is the lesser nightmare.

This year i chanced both options.

My first attempt to visit Edinburgh for a comedy show this year failed due to inclement weather (flash floods on the railway lines). As a result trains were cancelled, roads were blocked and i missed the show.

so.. for my first gig i though it better safe than sorry and decided to take the car. However due to my planning expertise, I had chosen the date and time of my gig to coincide with Hearts biggest european game in decades - Hearts vs Tottenham at Tyncastle - only 500m from the venue. This resulted in huge traffic congestion, nowhere to park and 1hr 40mins journey time from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Major headache.

The following week having learned my lesson, I opted for the lottery of train travel.

I had to fight my way through hordes of zombies, not unusual for a Friday night in Glasgow, however this was due to the filming of the Brad Pitt film World War Z. Apart from that,  45 mins on the train, no bother!

Great gig, a few beers and it was time to head home. We decided to get an earlier train to avoid 'The Last Train Home' however this was soon to be regretted. It turns out that the 11pm train stops aeverywhere on  the way home!. 1hr 30mins, and 1 severely zombied escapee with a sore head who awoke on the train in Edinburgh (having fell asleep and missed his stop) meant that every single passenger was on a red alert for their own safety.

It seems the odds are stacked against you when trying to get back late at night to Glasgow, although traveling by public transport means there is no need to visit Edinburgh Zoo, or indeed watch Brad Pitts forthcoming zombie film.



A Nod to Bob


The music news is full of tributes to Bob Dylan as he turns 70 on this very day and with a current catalogue of over 500 songs, and 34 albums we have a lot of great songs to be thankful for over his 70 years.

You may not like his voice, or some of his live performances, but I am confident everyone will have a favourite Dylan song, if not sung by the man himself, a cover version by one of the thousands of artist who have interpreted his songs over the years.

One of my own favourite cover versions is by Eliza Gilkyson singing Love Minus Zero/No Limits and With God on Our Side, sung in French by Hart-Rouge both outstanding examples of the power of the Dylan cover song and both found on the Nod to Bob 60th Birthday tribute album. (A Nod to Bob 2 the 70th Tribute album is just out)

Whilst his songs are often attributed to a moment in time e.g 'Blowin in The Wind'  'The Times They Are a-Changing' they more often than not transcend time and can be equally poignant across the decades. This for me is what makes a great song.

I suspect it's every songwriter's dream to write a song that lasts forever (it is mine), and Bob Dylan certainly has given us fair number of those, now i just wonder what he wants for his birthday?