Friday, 9 December 2016

Seoul - the Colonel Mustard Diaries

Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 have had an exceptional 2016. Their yellow movement philosophy is growing all the time, so are their live crowds. They are set to play a sold out ABC on 23rd December for their Yellow Xmas Party. Shame the Barrowland was already booked! 

One of many highlights for the band was an incredible trip to Seoul in Korea in October. Colonel John McMustard himself was kind enough to email me to see if I would be interested in publishing his tour diary. I was, and after reading it I certainly was!

For me this is a fantastic insight into how hard this band works, how seriously they take it, but also how much they place a huge emphasis on fun - for them, their fans, or to whoever comes to see them, wherever they play. They are a breath of fresh air - enjoy.

Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 
Seoul tour diary by Colonel John Thomas McMustard 

Myself and the Dijancer did a project on the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games when we were at Primary School and my Uncle Joe is the only guy I know that has been to North and South Korea, but I have to admit that I never thought about going to Korea and probably had a lot of unfounded ideas of what Korea and Seoul were like. 

What I discovered was a friendly , forward thinking country , embracing music and culture from all over the world with its own technology, music and ways of thinking truly, creating a Korean Wave of culture that is one of the best kept secrets in Asia. The people aren't frightened of their nuclear neighbour , I think there's a feeling that they are Brothers that will be united again one day, regardless of this the people in Seoul are just to busy enjoying life in a truly 24 hour city, that never sleeps, parties hard , and one at the cutting edge of technology , music and design. Seoul well and truly has soul. I'd like to think we got offered this trip as we bet Korean band  Dead Buttons at Table football in Liverpool, the truth is Dalse the mainman for Zandari was one of the 50 people there to see us open the mainstage at Soundcity, a wee lesson in always doing your best and performing to your optimum no matter how small the crowd, you never know who is watching you. 

day 1 - we touched down in Seoul, after an epic journey, I can sleep anywhere but some of the guys had no sleep, including big Moags our drummer who also has a hernia to contend with, the big man can be grumpy at the best of times; during the flight he apparently considered sleeping in the aisle of the plane, he was in that much pain. That's dedication for you and the big mans bravery sums up how much we wanted to perform in Korea. 

We got the train to Hongdae University to stay at the Pencil guesthouse which would be our home for the next few days. The reconnaissance party which had set off a full 24 hours earlier only got there 4 hours ahead of us after a delay in Amsterdam due to a dodgy landing, they looked comparatively fresh considering this. KLM had even tweeted the Dijancer, their apologies. I like big businesses using our pseudonyms. There's not enough of that in the world. We adjourned to the rooftop garden had a carryout and made plans to wear our kilts and go to the ZandariFesta opening party. Big Moags wasn't happy about kilting it on the first night, but the true Scotsman relief he would have got must have been a relief after 15 hours of economy class confinement. We turned up at the opening party and turned a few heads , it was a free bar and we watched some cracking Korean acts knock it out the Ji Sung Park. 

We went to a cracking rock club after and watched more Korean bands, it was the first time I'd seen synchronised dance moves to a rock band and I knew immediately we had a good chance of getting our crowd participation across when we played. We walked home through the Hongdae area which I believe is mainly under 30's, people were out in parks drinking, young lovers kissing and holding hands, a lovely vibe , where you can even sit outside a 7/11 and have a drink, probably keeps the under 16's away from asking you to buy them a carryout. People were in restaurants eating Korean barbecues or as the the Koreans call them barbecues, to all times in the morning or night. We were still all on Greenwich Mean Time so the 24 hour culture meant we didn't look out of place stoating about eating loads of street food. The food was out of this world , tasty , spicy and delicious. Our usually reserved trumpet player Kirstin Badges was the most Rock N Roll that night, enjoying all the delights Seoul had to offer and needing put to bed the earliest at 6am. This is a city for insomniacs. Time for 4 hours sleep. 

Day 2 - the next day we got up and most of us went a dos. We explored the area and went to club Steelface to watch a cracking Slovenian band I Wear Experiment followed by lovely experimental Korean outfit Ahndayoung, we again adjourned to the rooftop gardens, where we made fast friends with She Drew The Gun, mainly based in Liverpool, worthy winners of Glastonbury emerging talent competition. I'm looking forward to seeing them play my hometown of Glasgow on Thu 27th Oct in the Hug and Pint and they were kind enough to come to our showcase gig in the MUV hall that night. 

We all then went a trek across to the Kangol store where artists could get a free pair of trainers. I should have asked for a Reni hat, because as I suspected they don't do size 11's in Korea. I just picked my partner Donnas size instead. You can't laugh at a free present. I bought my son John a DC comic in Korean and went for my first Korean barbecue with a friend of a friend Eddie from Helensborough who can speak the language , but didn't know how to interpret Cross The Road, I sacked him as my translator but rehired him as my spirit guide as he dispelled a lot of myths and generally made me feel more comfortable about my attempts to use the language and not offend people. 

I changed into my mustard suit and headed back to club MUV , enroute we watched one of the best Rock N Roll bands about Wasted Johnnys, Anji their Korean lead singer personifies rock n roll, with a carefree, lack of confinement , bags of confidence and great stage presence. A lot for us to live up to. where we we were due to play our showcase. Before we played the excellent band Rock N Roll Radio had a massive crowd , who all seemed to disappear as soon as they finished. It's that horrible feeling you get when its your party and you're frightened no one will show up. We needn't have worried, by the time we took to the stage we had a big crowd , which seemed to get bigger, people just like to hang about outside until they hear something they like. 

The gig was great. The crowd went mental , despite the language barrier , our friend Marks local girlfriend translated Cross The Road for us and they crossed the road. The question everyone back home asked me before I went- aye , but do you think you'll be able to get them to cross the road? They did that and more , with spontaneous chanting and dancing. Dance Off was the song that brought it alive. That's the song where the audience become the stars and despite some trepidation, Anji from wasted Johnnys started getting down and one by one everyone had their moment on the dance floor, by the time it was finished the crowd were rabid. 

13 of us had travelled to Korea and our onstage party carried down and back up onto the stage all night, with a cosmopolitan mix of people and some of the Koreans even borrowing our discoball helmets. We had stage invaders , people of all nationalities high 5ing to the beat. It was beautiful and everything we had set out to do. We walked off stage buzzing. We then went to support our friends Sugarmen from Liverpool at the British Night as well as She Drew The Gun , Coquin Migale and I Set The Sea On Fire , all really varied bands , but all dynamite and doing what they do in a fresh way. 

We met Jenny from Sol Flare and her friend Anis who had been at our gig and hit it off with them , just on a flying visit they were cramming as much Korean culture as they could including going to a dog cafe , where you get to pet loads of dogs whilst having a cup of tea. The Dijon 5 by this time were well on our way and headed to the after ,after party in our favourite Korean pub Strange Fruit was something else. Dave Pichilingi Liverpool Soundcity mainman played one of the best DJ sets of all time. I got a little carried away when he played the Doors and Colin our keyboard player and Inflatable Ginger Party Vortex walked through the door I threw myself off of the table like my ICW brother DCT the international sex hero and ironically accidentally body slammed Colin through the front door, completely breaking it off its hinges. Colin was absolutely fine , jubilant, the door on the other hand was a write off. I've since apologised to the club owner and offered to pay for it.   Luckily he is a fan of the mustard and is even talking about putting the door up on his wall with a plaque. It was a wild night, to say the least. 

We also discovered the Korean national drink Soju, which has a similarity to vodka , but with a Buckfast type buzz, our mate Mark refused to drink it that night as he was due to meet his potential in laws 2 days later, this gives you an idea of the strength and potential for wildness the Soju brings to the party. Dave played a 6 hour set of tune after tune, from the Beastie Boys to the Happy Mondays. It was glorious! 

We've asked Dave to come up to Glasgow on the 23rd December for our ABC gig and spin a few tunes.  Some of the guys went to a local park where folk were still out jamming and enjoying themselves , with some hiphop artists doing their thing, the stamina the Koreans have, put some hardened Glasgow party people to shame. It was an 8am bedtime that morning, the door was smashed, we were all smashed, but we planned to do some sightseeing the same/next day. Some of the guys attempted to get a taxi to the Jimjilbang an amazing communal Korean Sauna that is the ultimate in relaxation and destressing, most Koreans go once a month, at this time in the morning no taxi was stopping for any yellow clad Dijoners.

Day 3- I got up feeling highly rough dragged myself out the digs. It was the first and only day of rain, but it was a welcome part of my hangover cure. We went to Dongdaemun palace , which was nice and peaceful , but not very action packed. We reenacted singing in the rain and did some filming for our song Cross The Road. I was getting some right funny looks with my discoball helmet on, we went to the City Hall where we looked at some amazing building designs and were treated to a choir singing. 

We all met back up and we discovered Full Fathom Five one of our singers had some bad bites and taken a reaction to the same and went between a couple of hospitals. The staff there had never seen anything like it. She was well looked after and the fire brigade even at one point took her to a hospital as they could see she was to weak to travel. True international chivalry. We were meant to take it easy as we had more sightseeing to do and then we were playing the closing party the next day. 

We went to French night and seen a dynamite 2 piece band called KO KO MO, as we are the Dijon 5 we even got invited back to the French after party, we walked there with Danish journalist Mika who had a massive knowledge of Scottish bands and was amazed that I'd played football with Stuart from Belle and Sebastian. When we got to the bar the Stone Roses were blasting from the speakers , we made friends with a couple of folk. The band J and The 9's and Frank from Ooberfuse, we attempted to get an early night , getting up the road at 4am, but found the rest of the band partying hard in Vanilla Johnson our trombone players room. The Soju was flowing. Another 7am bedtime, it was to late to trick our minds into changing time zones. 

Day 4- up again. Honey Grain went down to check out the Korean Hendrix with a Keytar Blue Turtle Land, who were by all accounts sensational. A few of us including DJ5 and Bobby Snoobin decided to climb to the top of the Seoul Tower, climbing up a big hill when you're hungover is always a guaranteed cure! Chinley Biggins and Jurassic Ant had made it to the Jimjilbang and got a cracking massage of an old boy and spent the day trying out all the different saunas and ways of relaxing. Definitely something I want to try next time I'm over. 

We all got kilted up again for our final gig. The kings of Korean indie Crying Nut played before us, again big shoes to fill, one of the tightest bands I've ever seen. We looked out into an even bigger crowd than first time, playing the closing party to  all our new friends were there, along with loads of new Korean fans and people from all over the world was incredible. The noise levels nearly topped our biggest festival gig at Belladrum this year. The crowd gave the Peace, Love and Mustard signs and danced themselves into ecstasy. We all came off stage speechless at the reaction we'd got, just making noises to each other. Shaking our heads in disbelief, if the first gig was an achievement, the second gig was Dijon triumph. We had a set list , but from the word go we knew we had to go all out high energy and the crowd responded with a symbiosis that we probably thought we would only get from a Scottish crowd, they even chanted us on for an encore, which we're not massively into , but it felt right that night. Only one song to finish on after the Golden Girls theme died down. The International Sex Hero Is Coming To The Rescue. I thought we'd depleted all our energy , but I've never jumped as high in all my life. 

Cue After party 2 at strange fruit, broken door and a warm welcome. Dave got some DJing going and was amazing, but with a drum kit set up, drummer after drummer ruined his vibe, and then a bass a guitar and a Keytar arrived and it was time for a different vibe, all the international bands wanted to jam with each other, our own Badges McNair played trumpet, improvising and riffing with a saxophonist from Europe while a drummer from Madsgascar layered down a beat and 2 Koreans got their funky keyboards playing. I'd tried to get big Moags up to drum along to Daves set as he knows they songs off by heart, so when I got the peer pressure to sing I had to step up. We've got a PFunk inspired new song There's Nothing Funkier Than Funk. I even got a singsong going. It was an awe inspiring jam to be involved with and it didn't end there, members of other bands passed instruments about and kept the party going well into the next day. It was the epitome of what music should always be about , people coming together and speaking that international language to each other. No differences , just a coming together to make something good. We can't thank Dalse , Patrick and all the Zandari Festa people enough. We've all came back slightly different , in a good way. Seoul we'll be back, but forget gangham style , Hongdae is the way!

Day 5- time to go home. Moags and fathom got a cuddle from some Raccoons in a Racoon cafe. No Cyril Sneer  in sight. Me inflatable and Dj5 headed down to the river, took in some history and chilled, even getting a wee ukelele jam. Homeward bound. 13 burst Dijoners. Mortimer Chester Winthorpe the 3rd Marquis of Denmark has already sourced some Soju in the SeeWoo at Possil. My cousins research is 2nd to none. We did a lot of filming , so keep your eyes peeled for a mini Dijon in Seoul documentary.  

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Never Ending Mixtape Part 3

The Never Ending Mixtape continues with another eclectic selection of tunes - very soul focused this month; Ritchie Havens, The Supremes, Marvin and Tammi, Bobby Womack and more.

Check out the Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify, it kicked off with Big Star and The Velvet Underground in October 2016.

A little description/memories on the tunes added this month is posted below. Enjoy.

Going Back To My Roots - Ritchie Havens
An all-time fave that I always play when I DJ. The house piano kicks the groove in from the off.

I Want You Back - The Jackson 5
Outrageous, pure, joyful soul pop. And that bass line. Jackson's youthful vocal is sensational.

Looking For You - Garnett Mimms
Genius songwriting and performance. Heartfelt northern soul. Read my blog on it HERE

Girls - Major Lance
I love the feel of the music and the glorious vocals.

Superstition - Stevie Wonder
The beat, the funky clarinet riff, the bass and Wonder combine to create something wonderful. Check out DJ Spinna's Wonder of Stevie album series for some stunning Stevie covers.

Ain't No Mountain High - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
One of the first records I got from my Mum's old collection was a Marvin and Tammi duets album. Her name Sheila was written in pencil on the top right hand corner. I still have it. The album introduced me to what I consider to be some of the greatest love songs of all-time. Does it get any better than this?

Tracks Of My Tears - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
What was that question I just asked? Another Motown gem, an absolutely perfect song in terms of lyrics, music, production, structure and performance.

It's Time To Break Down - The Supremes
Post Diana Ross, The Supremes were led by Jean Terrell. I discovered this song via a St Etienne compilation album. Bob Stanley and Pete Wigs have exceptional taste and knowledge. This is a slow burning classic. What a groove and what a vocal, when it builds to the conclusion it is incredible.

I'll never be free from wanting you
My heart is your prisoner 

(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson
Dancing around the legendary Barrowland Ballroom to this song at the annual Barraloadasoul event is a memory I will treasure forever. Looking around and seeing a room full of people smiling, singing, arms aloft and dancing - it doesn't get any better.

My Love Is Your Love (Forever) - The Isley Brothers
Another soul tune I discovered via a St Etienne compilation. This one was called The Trip and it was aptly named. A 2 CD set took the listener on a trip through a wide range of pop, soul, groove and psychedelic music. This is stunning.

Love Ain't Something You Can Get For Free - Bobby Womack
Oh yeah. I was lucky to catch Bobby Womack live in Glasgow just a few months before he passed away. Although he was clearly fragile his voice was powerful and soulful. This is probably my favourite song of his.

Grazing In The Grass (Andrew Weatherall edit/dub) - Dexy's
A band that just keep giving. Kevin Rowland is an exceptional artist, his voice is improving with the years and he has such a clear vision about what he wants to achieve with every single project. This extended edit by Andy Weatherall comes from their Let The Record Show .... album that will feature in my end of year review.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Teenage Fanclub at ABC Glasgow

I wasn't going to write a live review on last night's Teenage Fanclub show. After Saturday night at the Barrowland (see previous blog)  I thought it would be largely the same set with just a few changes - kind of like they had been doing for the whole tour. The Fanclub geek in me had kept an eye on the setlist's that fellow fans posted on social media throughout the last two months.Thankfully, I was wrong.

My reward for going 2-nights running (as if there was every any doubt I wouldn't) was a fantastic show. A very confident and relaxed band completely changed the set around, bringing in gems from Songs From Northern Britain; Planets - sheer beauty, Speed Of Light - uplifting and magical, Can't Feel My Soul - Eight Miles High style guitar, and Take The Long Way Round - euphoric. There was also an outing for Radio from Thirteen and it was joyful, the band romped through it.

Photo by Alan Clarke

The Go-Between's cover from Saturday night was replaced with a glorious cover version of He'd Be A Diamond by The Bevis Frond. The Fanclub version, originally found on the b-side of I Don't Want Control Of You, remains true to the original but with just that special dash of Fanclub zip. Blake and Love sung beautifully together.

We were standing two rows from the front and the whole show was just a joy to watch and listen to. Norman was in top form between songs with the recurring joke of 'We've not played this for a while. Oh I shouldn't have said that' becoming funnier as the night went on. The whole band were smiling and at times they seemed moved by the response to the songs.

The closing instrumental section of The Concept with Blake and Love on angelic harmonising duties was particularly special last night. The guitars were warm and loud, the combination with the harmonies sounded sublime.

The band have been working hard to promote their latest album Here and it is a cracker. Songs like The Darkest Part Of The Night, Thin Air and First Sight are up there with the bands best. They fairly sped through the gorgeous I'm In Love last night.

The promotion continues into 2017 with a London date, several European dates and then trips to Japan and Australia already in the calendar. I hope there will be a triumphant return to Glasgow or a Scottish festival in the pipeline.

And although Here is one of my albums of the year, I can't help but dream of some special 20th anniversary shows for Songs From Northern Britain - an album that the band have played more songs from on this tour than any other.

The two Glasgow shows have only strengthened my love and appreciation for this truly special band. And I'm going to see them again on Wednesday thanks to my friend Lorna who got two tickets in the BBC ballot. and also thanks to my very understanding wife!

Photo by Eric Wilson

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Teenage Fanclub at Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom

Well that was quite special. Teenage Fanclub, my favourite band, playing on a Saturday night in the world famous Barrowland Ballroom, my favourite venue.

I hadn't been so excited before a gig in years. It felt like everything was gearing up towards a real celebration of the band and their music. It was!

This was highlighted when the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub arranged a meet up in McChuill's on High Street beforehand. Fans from Scotland mixed and mingled with fans from Norway, Sweden, Italy, America, Canada, Slovenia......and even England! There was talk of gigs gone by, of dearly departed fans, of rarities, b-sides, t-shirts, favourite songs, mugs, umbrellas.....and there was plenty of beer. It was a fantastic 3 hours in great company.

Duglas T Stewart from BMX Bandits is in the Fanclub Fanclub and there was a lovely moment when we left McChuill's and a guy came up to Duglas and have him a big hug and thanked him for his music.

On to the Barrowland Ballroom around the corner.

The merriment on offer at McChuill's meant that we missed Spinning Coin as support, something I intend to rectify when I head out to the ABC tonight. So there was just time to stick our jackets in, grab a beer and find a good spot relatively near the front.

The band came on at 9pm sharp to a rapturous roar. There were several classic Barrowland roars throughout the night, greeting songs like long lost friends and almost giving the band a warning not to leave it so long the next time.

The sound was perfect and the band were in top form, as you would expect after 3-months of touring. Raymond's guitar playing was exceptional, Norman was beaming and grinning at all his band mates, the crowd and those in the wings - his voice sounded better than ever, a guy next to me shouted several times that 'Gerry Love has the voice of an angel' and no-one disagreed, Francis' drumming was top drawer and he also added harmonies to several songs, while Dave yet again showcased how integral he has become to the Fanclub.

Picture by Eric Wilson

New songs mixed effortlessly with old classics; Norman's loving Baby Lee ran into Gerry's Thin Air which was full of zippy zest, while Verisimilitude received a glorious ovation. The guitars sounded incredible, Raymond was on fire, Norman and Gerry's voices combined with ease.

The setlist almost speaks for itself, it was one gem after another. As the songs and beers flowed a few people were encouraged into the middle of the front for a bounce and pogo, myself included. Those that did put their arms around strangers shoulders and jumped in time to I Don't Want Control Of You and punched the air in delight to Ain't That Enough. In between there were smiles all round for Norman's traditional glockenspiel turn during Raymon's stunning Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From.

Photo by Solange La Rose

There was another huge Barrowland roar to greet the opening riff of Sparky's Dream and a whole host of people decided to relive their youth by creating a mini mosh pit down the front which was great fun. Smiles all round. Then it was arms aloft for The Concept. 3 guitars chiming and glorious harmonies on stage, a few bum notes in the crowd ;-)

Starsign kick started the encore and my only constructive criticism of the night was that this could have been followed by Raymond's Can't Feel My Soul rather than With You. It brought the pace down a little after more pogo-ing down the front.

Guitars chimed and sounded sublime for a cover of The Go-Betweens Easy Come, Easy Go before the traditional closer of Everything Flows causing mass pogo-ing and another huge Barrowland roar of approval, thanks and recognition. Someone even crowd surfed right at the end!

This was a special show by a special band. I can't really put into words how much I enjoyed the whole day and night with family, friends and my favourite band. They played a blinder and I now have the pleasure of seeing them again tonight!

Fanclub's Fanclub meet up

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Scottish music festivals - what next?

Well that was quite a weekend for Scottish music festival news. I thought I would jot down some thoughts on the announcements from Wickerman and the 'leak' from T in the Park (CONFIRMED today - full press release here) and also look at the future of festivals in Scotland.

There was no surprise regarding any announcement concerning the Wickerman Festival sadly calling it a day, or the news filtering through that T in the Park would be having a 'break' from Strathallan Castle after only 2-years at the site, with DF looking at bringing 3 large festival-in-a-day style shows to Glasgow Green.

Music fans have been debating the future of both these festivals for some time.

Wickerman was brilliant and it was on the rise. The sad death of festival founder Jamie Gilroy in 2014 left the festival in doubt, however it kept going in 2015. Although I enjoyed it that year, many regulars felt it didn't have the same feel and that it would be the last one.

Sadly, they were right. Wickerman was set in beautiful rolling countryside, attracting a real mixed crowd of families, locals and music fans. There was plenty of space to explore and a real eclectic mix of music. Some of my highlights from the main stage through the years included; Candi Staton, The Human League, Idlewild, The Magic Numbers, Teenage Fanclub, The Charlatans, Chic, Primal Scream, Martha Reeves, Stereo MC's, Neneh Cherry, Alabama 3 and Jimmy Cliff - quite a mix!

Chic was one of my all-time favourite shows. The place was bouncing, singing, dancing and clapping a-long. The feel good atmosphere was off the richter scale. Jimmy Cliff at the last Wickerman was utterly sensational, I had tears in my eyes during an emotional and uplifting I Can See Clearly Now.

I missed Wickerman in 2016, I really loved the festival and getting to go down some years with bands or with a media pass meant that I got to meet and get to know a lot of the people who brought the festival together.

Chay Woodman and his crew at the Solus Tent were fantastic in their support of new music in Scotland and the way they looked after the artists they booked was tremendous. One of my favourite Wickerman moments was when I was working with Miaoux Miaoux and Detour booked him to have a rave in a caravan round the back of the Solus Tent. There was day glo face paint and all kinds of fun.

Obligatory posing like the Wickerman picture

I was out for a beer last Thursday night and my friend and I both called the biggest T-Break (pardon the pun) in years. It's been coming.

What next for T in the Park? Have we really had the last one? That would have been an unthinkable question a few years ago. Now, it is all too real for music fans in Scotland.

There have been issues with T in the Park for a number of years; the move to Strathallan over a mysterious oil pipe didn't go well in year one, with huge logistical issues surrounding the site resulting in deluge of complaints. Let's not mention the theft of the cash machine - there will be a few more CCTV cameras around Glasgow Green!

T bosses listened and learned from 2015. I attended the festival this year and loved the site and the journey to and from the location was fine. Although an osprey's nest added to DF's logistical worries!

However, I think T2015 was the final straw for large numbers of festival fans. They didn't go back - I wonder if they missed it. T still partied, but the crowds were noticeably down and in the weeks leading up to the festival there were 2 for 1 ticket deals on offer. Something I don't recall happening before.

The pictures of a reformed LCD Soundsystem, one of the coolest bands on the planet, playing to around a thousand people in a swamp seemed to sum things up.

LCD play to the hardcore in the mud

With profits reportedly down by around 50%, T bosses will have taken a long hard look at the festival and the music market in 2016 and plotted out the next step.

For a long time T was like a right of passage for Scottish youths and many just kept coming back year on year. It was something to look forward to, the announcement of the tickets going on sale, the first headliners, which young bands were playing T break, who was playing the Slam Tent.....

I'm not quite sure what happened and it might just be cause I'm getting old, but for me, T definitely lost some of its sparkle. I attended the first T in the Park at the age of 18 and went to pretty much every single T for a long time - maybe 9 out of the first 10-years.

Watching bands like The Charlatans and Black Grape in baking sunshine on the original site the year there was a dust storm due to the heat will stay with me forever. As will leading a conga through the crowd to get down the front for Kylie. And the human pyramid during Crowded House was incredible - doubt that would be allowed these days!

The move to Ballado went smoothly from memory. I remember a huge crowd from Carluke going up and camping out the first few years. One time we were some of the first to arrive and ended up playing an 11-a-side game of football against another group of lads.

 Highlights from Balado off the top of my head include watching Orbital play one of their last shows in the King Tut's tent and then running over to the Slam Tent to watch The Chemical Brothers. Vigo Thieves smashed it a couple of times and Kraftwerk were sensational.

After experiencing Benicassim in 2005 I never looked at T the same way again. Benicassim just seemed to have it all going on - of course the sunshine and proximity to the local beach helped! The site was set out perfectly, tarmac (the site is an old airfield) meant that even the odd summer shower meant there was no danger of things turning into a mudbath, the recycling and incredible lack of litter on site was amazing, the variety of acts on offer, bands playing long into the night.... sunshine!

I know that the same thing happened to others who ventured south to Glastonbury, or to Bestival, or went over to Primavera or even further afield.

And for the price of a cheap Ryan Air or Easyjet flight then you easily could. I think my Benicassim ticket in 2005 was £100 and that allowed me to camp for a week! Talk about value for money.

There is a HUGE market for live music and outdoor shows/festivals in Scotland. But things change and that market has to move with what music fans want and it also has to assess the competition what is working (here and elsewhere) and what isn't.

Mud, mud, glorious mud?

Could Brexit and the price of the £ have played a role in the decision to take a break? Will it be a lot more expensive to get bands to the UK due to the pound falling so dramatically against the Euro?

Music fans tend to consume in singles or a few songs from an album; so do they want a 3 or 4 day festival when they really only want to see and hear a few of the acts on offer? If these acts were all playing on a bill at Glasgow Green with easy transport access or the option to stay somewhere with a proper shower.......well then that is quite an attractive proposition to a large number of people.

T has been rotating the headliners for a number of years and has sadly been suffering in the way the music business has been suffering - the new bands are just not breaking through in the numbers they once were. So shaking up the festival isn't as easy as it once was.

Stone Roses smashed T in the Park in 2016

Bellahouston Park has been playing host to large scale concerts by the likes of Biffy, Paulo and Calvin Harris for years. Glasgow Green has also played host to the likes of Oasis, the Chilli Peppers, The Strokes and more recently the Stone Roses.

The format works and the concerts generally sell-out. It would seem a much more safer option for promoters than tackling T after such a drop in 2016. And I am pretty sure that music fans would respond well to 3or 4 large outdoor shows with huge names in proximity to the city centre.

We'll soon find out.

So what Scottish festivals are on offer next summer?

As the news that Brew At The Bog wouldn't be continuing also came out a short time ago. All I know is that there are enough people in Scotland who want to go to festivals and enough creative people to put them on - we'll be fine. Times-are-a-changing - but that isn't a bad thing.

Let's have a quick look at 3 of them; Belladrum, Electric Fields and the Kelburn Garden Party. Before I do, I caught up with David Blair from festival favourites Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 for his take on them.

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face

David - Belladrum, Electric Fields and the Kelburn Garden Party were all highlights for Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 on the festival circuit this summer. We played 18 across Scotland, England and South Korea! The first two we played for the first time and were mightily impressed with the diverse line-ups that recognised both established acts and up-and-coming Scottish acts.

Kelburn Garden Party is well known to us having played there a few times. It seems to get better every year and the work that goes into their Neverending Glen is worth the entry fee alone. One of the most stunning natural assets for a festival anywhere.

Should these festivals look to expand given the gap left by T and Wickerman?
If logistically they can expand, then I believe they should. I don't think they need to massively increase their capacities but if they have a great reputation then they deserve to thrive and get more punters in to help with the acts they can book and help to create memories for people to take away and tell their pals. Hopefully starting a positive feedback loop that benefits everyone involved in the music industry.

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 - on location at Kilburn

Electric Fields was fantastic this year and I know from speaking to the organisers that they learned a lot from the move to 2-days and the increase in capacity. The feedback they received was overwhelming and the first two tiers of tickets released have already sold out. They look to have the boutique festival sorted - something Scotland has been crying out for for a long time. Many music fans I know reminisce fondly of Indian Summer and Connect.

The atmosphere at EF2016 was exceptionally friendly and it was fantastic to see a lot of young families there. The festival really supports Scottish music with Scottish acts featuring across the main stage, Stewart Cruickshanks Stage, Sneaky Pete's stage and the Tim Peak's Diner.

With the weekend news - will they look to increase the capacity again?

The beautiful setting of Drumlanrig Castle is around an hour from Glasgow. Keep an eye on their website and social media feeds for tickets and line-up announcements. I have heard through the grapevine that the line-up is pretty established already.

I've never been to Belladrum! One year it had Edwyn Collins, The Lemonheads and Teenage Fanclub - I was travelling! I have thought about going and I have only heard good things about the festival site and atmosphere - but truth be told, the line-up hasn't appealed to me over the last few years.

That might change for 2017 as Sister Sledge have already been confirmed as one of the headliners! Their Kelvingrove Bandstand show in the summer was exceptional and they have sold out the Barrowland Ballroom in December. They will get the party started.

Check this cracking promo video from 2016 below.

Another I haven't been to, but an increasing number of friends are going year on year and they have said they want to keep it a secret....well it's out the bag! Not just because of me, but word of mouth is the best form of promotion and those that go and don't want to keep it a secret tell friends aplenty. 

Check this beautiful film from 2016. It might just sell it for you.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Introducing BooHooHoo

Photo by Brian Sweeney

BooHooHoo were introduced to me by my sister Carla who described them as the best band in Scotland. High praise indeed!

When I saw them live - the name totally fitted. Richard Richardson, Reggie House, Liz Kiyoko and Ewan Laing combine to create synth grooves and an infectious energy. The band have well over an album of songs in their back pockets and if they can capture their live sound and feel on record then they will produce an exciting and exhilarating debut album that will get people dancing, singing and smiling.

Before we can think of the album, it is time to introduce the band via their EP released on Last Night From Glasgow. It's out at the start of December and BooHooHoo have a party planned at Nice n Sleazys on 30th November - it's SOLD OUT. You can watch a video for Mould Me at the end of this blog.

The EP (with the amazing title DebutHooHoo EP) is a delight - upbeat, fun, shouty, funky, poppy, electro goodness that generates a spring in your step and a grin across your face. It's being released on limited edition snap USB wristbands!!! There are 4 different colours for each member of the band. I'm going pink for Lizzy!

Keep reading for a quick chat about how the band formed and their musical tastes.

Who does what?
Richardson - vocals, bass and button pushing
Lizzie - vocals, synth and flute
Reggie - synth, guitar, bass and vocals
Ewan - pots and pans

Where does everyone come from? How did you meet?
Richardson - I grew up in Erskine. I met Reggie in school. Skip forward quite a few years and we found Lizzie on Gumtree in the Musicians Wanted section. Ewan was a flatmate of a dear friend who just so happened to be sound AND a drummer!

Reggie and I used to write songs together at the back of higher English. We used to exchange CD's as homework for our soon to be formed band. After getting depressed of playing the same sort of bluesy rock and roll stuff every time we picked up guitars, we decided to channel our energy into synths and drum machines. As you do. We recorded with our producer pal Stephen Watkins and turned to Gumtree to find members.

What kind of music are you into?
We all have our individual tastes but as far as musical influences go for this band I'd say Talking Heads, Prince, Peter Gabriel, Devo, LCD Soundsystem, Chromeo, Hot Chip and Kate Bush.

So we sound like four 20 somethings meeting their Mum's record collection!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Introducing The Vegan Leather

The Vegan Leather describe themselves as an Art Pop four piece creating complex pop music for your soul, mind, hips and feet.

Consisting of Marie, Matt, Duncan and Gianluca, they cite their influences as Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem and Metronomy.

Their This House EP was released in 2015, creating quite a stir and leading to a productive 2016 with some high profile shows, supports and plenty of praise. It's easy to hear why - the title track effortlessly mixes cool with fun, before going a little weird (in a good way). The Knife adds in more of the same; it's upbeat, funky, bassy and the female and male vocals combine deliciously. There are echoes of Franz Ferdinand - arty angular hooky pop music to get people dancing. The guitar instrumental is very Franz.

The Bottom of the Ocean is a glorious disco instrumental that builds into a cracking groove. Guaranteed to get people dancing. The feel good atmosphere of the EP continues with Days Go By; probably my favourite track on the EP, before ending with a more experimental song/filler Your House.

I've yet to catch The Vegan Leather live and all reports from friends that have seen them suggest I should do. Maybe you should to. Check their EP and video below.

Dates planned;

10/12 - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
30 and 31/12  - Supporting Paulo Nutini as part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations
27/01/16 - Supporting Apothek at The Roundhouse, London