Saturday, 18 March 2017

Motherwell Makes Music - Night One

Derek Watson of The Banter Thiefs has organised a brand new music festival to promote the best local musicians as well as some of Scotland's raft of emerging talent.

The festival launched last night, using a number of venues across Derek's home town of Motherwell and continues tonight (Saturday) and tomorrow. The Electric Bar and Jack Daniels are the main hosts before the festival moves to Starka and the Railway Tavern on Sunday.

Derek's worked exceptionally hard to pull a multiple venue, 3-night festival together and my good friend Gordon Phipps headed along to check it out last night and he discovered his new favourite young band.

Motherwell Makes Music –Night 1 @ Jack Daniels

Guest blog by Gordon Phipps

I Headed along to the first Motherwell Makes Music festival held over a couple of venues in the town this weekend. The first act I seen when I got there was the closing song of Tommy McGuire who performed a nice cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain utilising a loop pedal to play the main riff while he played the lead part beautifully on an acoustic guitar.

Next up were Alburn who turned the volume up way past 11! The grunge/punk/hardcore quartet performed a few songs from their upcoming debut album. Every song was delivered with venom and passion and seemed louder than the last! Keep your eyes out for their debut album which will be released on 7th April.

The Ranzas had travelled all the way from Ayr to play the festival and treated the crowd to some infectious indie tuneage. Backed by a few fans they had brought through the band treated the crowd to an infectious set of indie pop tunes. Singer Lyle Kennedy looked like a young Kyle Falconer in his impressive jacket and he had a voice to match. Bass player Murray Brough had bass lines reminiscent of Flea and the Chilli Peppers. All round a good show from the boys from the seaside town.

I knew the next band were from Wishaw which obviously had me sitting up in my seat ready to see what they had to offer and holy fuck they did not disappoint! Luna The Professor absolutely blew me away! This band are only 16-18 and played better than most bands I’ve seen at double their age! They opened up with a blistering track and then followed up with brand new song Tonight which is a future dance floor smash with its catchy hook laden crescendo of a chorus! And the hits continued at a frenetic pace each song as good as anything I’ve heard on the radio recently. They’re understanding of vocal harmony at such a young age is incredible and leads to some beautiful moments between singer/guitarist Johnny Irwin and bass player Dave Mcnally. Defintely a band to watch out for!

Luna The Professor

Finally a band I am very familiar with having seen them a number of times over the years was The Begbies. I may have seen them a few times but they seem to be ever changing and maturing and the addition of the two saxophone players was a genius decision that really sets them apart. Kicking off with the brilliant single Sleeping Dogs Singer Gary led the band through a set of their own brand of skindie (ska/indie) hits. Other recent single Stay Young, Stay Free sounded tremendous as did they’re older stuff including one of my favourites Ashleigh. They are sure to be festival favourites this summer and should have a 5 track EP out later this year so keep an eye out for it!

Last but not least was a band of incredible musicians called A Sudden Burst of Colour. This instrumental band attracted the biggest crowd of the night and were reminiscent of Pink Floyd in parts.  The band played some beautiful music and equally bounced off each other musically. I never thought a band with no singer could hold the attention of a Friday night pub crowd but it’s a massive credit to the band’s talent and song craft that every one in their stayed to the end and seemed to be in some sort of transcendental grip of the band.

Amazing night of music all round and amazing night for the local music scene. Let’s hope to see more of this in the future!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My music is my refuge

My music is my refuge. We mustn't lose hope. - Mohammed Mohiedin Anis

As I flicked through the Metro this morning en route into Central Glasgow, I stopped in awe, wonder, shock and amazement at a striking, beautiful and haunting image.

Sitting amongst the horrors of war is 70-year old Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, his home, in Aleppo, destroyed, no walls, no windows, no doors, furniture virtually destroyed, his bed strewn with rubble. Yet his record player still works, he lights his pipe and plays classical music.

The photographer, Joseph Eid, described the image as 'a novel in one shot'. And it is. It says so much about hope, about the power of music, the wonder of getting lost in it, finding comfort, solace, joy....Yet it also clearly portrays and  describes - in one shot - the horror and destruction of war. 

You can read the full incredible article by Ishaan Tharoor via the Washington Post.

It really got me thinking of the times I have sought refuge in music; as a teenager rejected by a girl, or dumped by a girl, those troubled teenage years when you feel alone, that no-one understands, when I didn't get a job I really wanted, when I lost my Dad..... nothing in comparison to the image above.

I tend to think of happier times; truly discovering the power of pop/rock as a kid when I must have played Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer; the pure pop rush and fun of Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now; jumping and moshing around my bedroom to Smells Like Teen Spirit; hearing The Concept by Teenage Fanclub and the joys of duelling guitars and three part harmonies; the wonder of Brown, Squire, Mani and Reni combining to create guitar, bass, drum and vocal melodies, riffs and beats that you could sing; getting lost in Screamadelica, Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb and Jam and Spoon in my friend Reddy's room; punching the air in wild delight to Oasis; walking to the station/work with my cassette personal stereo and swaggering like Tim Burgess in the morning sunshine whilst singing a-long to North Country Boy.....

It keeps going; that joyful moment when you hear a song you have never heard - Kids In America by Kim Wilde at a friends 30th; playing the 7-inch of Hot Chip's A Boy From School at Edinburgh School Of Art and much cooler people than me going crazy and asking who it was; kids at the Wee Red Bar gasping with amazement when I told them the song I just played (Tomorrow Never Knows) was by The Beatles - I had to show them the record and play it again;

Then there is the sheer feeling of elation when band/artist and audience become one like Underworld playing Rez, the sheer ecstasy of Orbital playing Chime and taking it into Belfast, the Roses epic 15-minute Fools Gold at Heaton Park or me crying with joy in Amsterdam when they played Ten Storey Love Song and This Is The One; Marlena Shaw playing California Soul; Candi Statton playing You Got The Love; the DJ at Barraloadasoul dropping (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher; Neneh Cherry doing Buffalo Stance; Jimmy Cliff causing me to cry when he played I Can See Clearly Now at Wickerman; Nile Rodgers and Chic playing one of the best sets I have ever seen; the chills down my spine the first time I saw and heard Brian Wilson playing Good Vibrations or Arthur Lee and Love playing You Set The Scene; my ongoing love affair with Temptation by New Order and the Ritchie Havens version of Going Back To My Roots

Music is my refuge when friends and family create a moment of wonder when everything seems to stop; the moment Stephen Solo plays Crying Because and everyone stops talking and you can hear a pin drop; when my sister and TeenCanteen do an acapella version of Honey; when Stevie Jukes sings let your heartbeat or lets live forever, together we can stay young the audience puts their hands in the air; when Miaoux Miaoux takes an audience on a journey with Stop The Clocks.....

Music is my refuge when I can wander into a bar or gig, escape reality and marvel at the talent of someone original...a cover....when you can enjoy a song, a melody, a chorus, a lyric, a riff....

Music is such a huge part of my life, it has brought me great joy, friendship and love. I know that it will continue to do so. The moment when you can get lost and forget the world, forget everything and just be in the moment is truly special, music can take you there.......

The image that prompted this outpouring is incredible. I hope and I believe that Mohammed Mohiedin Anis got lost for a minute, for a moment, for the length of a song or record, that he was able to escape the horror, the destruction, the tragedy.....

Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, 70, smokes his pipe as he sits in his destroyed bedroom listening to music in Aleppo. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Teenage Fanclub at Shepherds Bush Empire

I have made a number of friends through my love of Teenage Fanclub - you start to chat online via the Message Board and the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub facebook group and then meet in real life at shows and you chat and drink like lifetime friends.

The love of Teenage Fanclub forms a bond with people, it is like instant appreciation and recognition. You think 'I'm going to get on with this person' and 'what other bands/artists do they like?'

The conversation usually starts with Teenage Fanclub and drifts on to music, travel, politics, life, death and the universe. The pre Barrowland Fanclub Fanclub meet up in McChuills last December was fantastic - stories were swapped and people caught up.

At McChuills I met a relatively new recruit to the Fanclub Fanclub, a lovely young guy from Edinburgh by the name of Mark Hannah. He broke his Fanclub cherry at the Liquid Rooms in September (in style by invading the stage at the end) and was now determined to see them as many times as possible.

He told me he was heading to London in February, for the bands final European date before they headed off to America, Japan and Australia.

So of course I asked him to write a guest blog..... I think we'll have him back.


Teenage Fanclub at Shepherds Bush Empire, February 2017

Guest blog by Mark Hannah

We’ve been playing all over Europe for the past 3 weeks so it’s nice to be finishing the tour tonight here…in the European Union.” – Norman Blake

The prospect of a sold out Teenage Fanclub show at an iconic London venue to bring the curtain down on a three-week European tour was absolutely nothing short of tantalising. The band have toured fairly heavily since the release of their new album Here in September so to see the culmination of this leg of the schedule before they headed off to Japan and Australia was something I just couldn’t pass up.

Following the final nights of the British tour in a glorious Glasgow homecoming a few weeks before Christmas, I really got an idea of just how genuinely special and almost life-affirming these nights can be with a band as special and as well-loved as Teenage Fanclub. That wet and windy night in west London would prove to be just that…and more.

I boarded the Virgin Trains East Coast 12:00pm service from Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings Cross that Sunday with the anticipation well and truly tangible. This was going to be my first ever London gig and as the train roared and rattled down through the rolling countryside bound for the Big Smoke; it occurred to me I really couldn’t have picked a better band for this rather seminal moment. I’d found some accommodation for the night in the form of a guest house on Shepherd’s Bush Road, a mere five-minute walk from the venue. It left a lot to be desired; after contending with a bizarre owner who enjoyed sporadic moments of enthusiastic shouting, a faulty room key and a borderline hilarious argument involving some French guests and a breakfast menu, I dumped my Adidas holdall and fired on my Teenage Fanclub t-shirt with the intent of doing a U-turn to get the hell out of there. To be fair, what else did I expect for £30 on

After a few pints of Camden Hells Lager (when in London, eh?) at the Sindercombe Social, I made the 10 yard walk next door to the Empire just as the doors were opening. I made for the front clutching a £5.25 pint of Carlsberg, a far cry from the dirt-cheap pubs in vicinity of the Barrowlands. Nevertheless, the Empire is a genuinely stunning venue, proscenium arch stage, red velvet seating, a fitting venue for Glasgow’s finest musical ambassadors. As the venue fills, a few glances in my peripheral vision and a scan of the balconies reveals I am the youngest person here by a fair margin. Even at the age of 22 however, I’ve had enough yobs shouting and swaying and launching lager everywhere at gigs in previous years to know this is far from a bad thing.

The support act this evening is Euros Childs, a solo keyboard based artist collaborating with Norman Blake in the band Jonny who only stepped into the support slot 48 hours beforehand on the Friday. His melodies are bright and breezy with added touch and humour in his lyrics, the crowd respond well. His final track is Ursula’s Crow and features Norman making a premature appearance to assist on backing vocals. The harmonies between the pair really are fantastic and they depart to loud applause.

As any Teenage Fanclub fan will tell you, the band’s imminent arrival is signified by a pacing “Guitar” George Borowski. As he moves around the stage making last minute adjustments and tunings to the instruments, lone fans cry his name in love and appreciation. His legendary cult status among the Fannies is more than secure.

At around ten to nine in the evening, Teenage Fanclub enter the stage to huge cheers and rapturous applause. As Norman, Gerry, Raymond, Dave and Francis assume their positions, it really is difficult to think how this band could do any wrong. 

They launch their way into I’m In Love and the crowd instantly shower them in love and it is definitely reciprocated. The last night of a Teenage Fanclub tour generally means a somewhat unpredictable set list with a few rarities thrown in, too. The break in the usual order is more than welcomed. The ease and precision among the band as a unit comes across really strongly, easing their way between an explosive Radio and a subtly brilliant Versimilitude

What we are seeing is not just a well-oiled machine that has navigated its way around the continent in previous weeks but a group of old pals who’ve been playing together for literally the best part of thirty years who the crowd stand and admire with loved-up affection. 

Frontman-elect Norman whips up the banter and chat between songs, TV series he needs to catch up on, the wonderful venue and even a subtle gag aimed at the European geographical and political situation. The live harmonies really are exemplary, Norman and Gerry really scraping every last note out of The First Sight, a real personal standout from their latest release, and on somewhat scarce appearances for Dumb Dumb Dumb, Did I Say and My Uptight Life

The fans are also treated to the melodic masterclass of Your Love is The Place Where I Come From, Ain’t That Enough and I Don’t Want Control of You; a triple header of Songs From Northern Britain, an album whose tracks have featured heavily in the recent touring and a record very close to my own heart, too. 

The crowd really are lapping it up, especially the crowd of Spanish speaking voices congregated next to me as they conclude with a heart-warming The Concept.

The encore really is something to behold; the band re-emerge from stage right but with Gerry armed with a green Telecaster and taking up position front and centre of the stage with Norman now this time to his right and filling in on bass. It’s very much a heart in the mouth moment wondering what rarity they are about to pull out from their extensive back catalogue, before easing their way into a chiming, gorgeous and euphoric Going Places from their 1995 album, Grand Prix. The masses can hardly believe their luck as the collective lead riffing of Gerry, Raymond and Dave really take the track to a new level in this very rare live situation. It’s safe to say I was fighting tears during this one, a perfectly timed poignant rendition. 

Gerry takes centre stage for Going Places

The effortless ebb and flow transitions perfectly into a free and easy I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive, proving the offerings from their first album in six years really are just as good as any of their past efforts and exhibits the bands clockwork consistency perfectly. The show eventually reaches its conclusion with an increase in stage volume and effects for Starsign and their seminal first single, Everything Flows.

Teenage Fanclub once again provide the practically perfect evening for the loyal and true who have come from far and wide to their Mecca for the evening that is the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Albums and tours only come around every five or so years nowadays so the need to capture this event, this moment, among the fans is visible as we file out into the pouring rain of Sunday night and for myself, back towards the slightly mental Fawlty Towers-esque guest house I would call home for the night, clutching my fully signed set-list thanks to the one and only Dave McGowan. 

This is absolutely everything I could have hoped for; a fantastic night consisting of a varied set-list, the inevitable rarities, the passion, dedication, and the longevity in their craft of song writing and musicianship that has made Teenage Fanclub one of the best loved bands in the world of independent music. A band with the power to make your heart and mind soar to the highest of heights, creating a wave of harmony and melody to wash over you, purifying your spirit in ways you never thought possible. At the grand old age of twenty-two, I’m a very late comer to the Teenage Fanclub party; but fucking hell what a party I’ve joined.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Introducing Fnuf and the Fairylights

Yesterday (Sunday 5th March) I had a magical sunny afternoon in Kelvingrove Park with my 2 daughters Zoe and Rosie. We had ice-cream, ran around the fountain, played in the swing park, played Pooh sticks and then had the good fortune to stumble across Fnuf and the Fairylights who set up with a portable PA system and played some beautiful, mellow, positive and melodic music that just fitted the Spring day perfectly.

'Hi I'm Fnuf from France and now I live in Govan and these are the Fairylights' was how the lead singer (Fnuf) introduced himself after we wandered around the corner to follow the sound of music.

The second song was The Sun Is Shining and indeed it was. The stripped back 5-piece with Fnuf on guitar and vocals, Trombone and 3 members on percussion, created a brilliant sunshine vibe.

What more could you want on a sunny Sunday in the park? Well Fnuf and the Fairylights had more positive vibes to shine our way - Show Love and We Can All Find Peace being just two of the songs I remember from their set.

Show Love contained a spoken word rap with French accent - it sounded blissful and heartfelt and the five piece all joined in with the chorus to lift it beautifully. Then the trombone took it even higher.

Zoe and Rose had been sent up to throw a few pounds into their guitar case, but after a few songs I asked Zoe if she would like their CD Kelvingroove which was for sale. I was delighted when Fnuf engaged with Zoe and Rosie to hand them stickers which they proudly wore and they took it in turns to clutch the CD as we stayed around in the sunshine to soak up the vibes.

Fnuf told us they were playing a charity night at McChuills that night with an expanded band that I would have loved to have gone to. I definitely intend to seek them out live, although it will be hard to beat watching them in the Kelvingrove sunshine.

Expect a follow up blog and hopefully an interview in the next month or so. You can listen to and buy the album HERE

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Different Drum

Cover version of the month #23

Different Drum by The Lemonheads

Different Drum is a song I discovered via The Lemonheads when they released an acoustic version as a b-side to the It’s A Shame About Ray single in 1993, although the band had originally released it as a 7-inch single back in 1990. I’ve been fortunate to see Evan Dando play it live on lots of occasions. I love the lyrics, melody and the way it flowed. I soon discovered that The Pastels had also covered this gem of a song, as had many more, including The Jayhawks and PP Arnold.

The origins of Different Drum date back to 1965 and Mike Nesmith of The Monkees! Nesmith wrote the song the year he joined The Monkees and it was originally recorded and released by a band called The Greenbriar Boys in 1966. LISTEN HERE

The Stone Poneys (featuring Linda Rondstadt) covered the song and released it in the fall of the summer of love in September 1967 (incidentally the year that Dando was born).

The lyrics, structure and melody are very clever and there is real humour as well. Dando has a long history of cover versions and Different Drum fits him like a glove. It could have been written for The Lemonheads.

There are a number of versions of Evan/The Lemonheads playing Different Drum on YouTube but this is my favourite from the b-side.

And this is the original electric version that The Lemonheads released;

You and I travel to the beat of a different drum
Oh can’t you tell by the way I run
Every time you make eyes at me

You cry and moan and say it will work out
But honey child I’ve got my doubts
You can’t see the forest for the trees

Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

Yes and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person, place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

So good-bye, I’ll be leaving
I see no sense in this crying and grieving
We’ll both live a lot longer
If you live without me

Previous covers of the month

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 6

The Never Ending Mixtape began in October 2016 when I finally discovered Spotify after years of saying I would never use it. Watch The Sunrise by Big Star kicked things off, joined by the Velvets, Spiritualized, Tricky, Massive Attack, Belly, Mazzy Star, The Orb, The Smiths.....all kinds of things.

Each month I make some additions to the Never Ending Mixtape and the blog allows me to either reminisce about old favourites, seeing acts live or where and when I bought/heard the song, or to talk about recent discoveries.

You can check the Never Ending Mixtape below and then read on to find out the latest additions.

Aphex Twin begins the latest additions to the Never Ending Mixtape with the stunning Aisatsana. It is a truly mesmerising piece of music. Donovan, Air and John Lennon lead a relatively mellow way before O-O-H Child by The Five Stairsteps lifts things up and then it doesn't stop with outstanding tunes from The Flirtations, The Jackson Sisters, Marlena Shaw, Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield.

Aisatsana - Aphex Twin
Isn't this just beautiful?

Colours - Donovan
One of the first songs I learned to play on acoustic guitar. Easy and lovely.

Playground Love - Air (with Gordon Tracks)
Hadn't heard this in years, from the Virgin Suicides soundtrack - blissful.

Oh Yoko - John Lennon
Lennon wrote so many love songs about Yoko but is any as melodic as this one?

O-O-H Child - The Five Stairsteps
Pete Paphides tweeted that he was thinking this might be the greatest single of all time.... it's pretty god damn good

Nothing But A Heartache - The Flirtations
But I'll take Pete's suggestion and raise him this outrageous romp. Listen to those vocals go for it The power and passion in this song is sensational. I got a lot of those heartaches, I got a lot of those teardrops....

I Believe In Miracles - The Jackson Sisters
Another outrageously good track - this is uplifting and ecstatic - I believe in miracles, I believe in you

California Soul - Marlena Shaw
An all-time fave of mine, had the pleasure of seeing Marlena live a couple of times, the first time was way back when The Renfrew Ferry was on the other side of the river and practically sinking. The ovation after this song must have gone on for 10-minutes! That good.

Across 100th Street - Bobby Womack
What a voice, what a tune, what a story......

Move On Up - Curtis Mayfield
It doesn't get any better than this. Sublime. Bite the lip and take the trip

Friday, 24 February 2017

Everything Flows Podcast 11

February 2017 Podcast

I wanted to restart my podcasts on a semi-regular basis with a guest joining me as I thoroughly enjoyed the last one with Duglas T Stewart from BMX Bandits. Life has been moving pretty quickly, so I thought I would record a quick one while choked with the cold.

There is a lot coming up in Glasgow - the 6 Music Festival, the new TRNSMT Festival on Glasgow Green and loads of shows at Kelvingrove Bandstand.

So this podcast allows me to get going again, it is short and sweet; 5-songs in 26-minutes - enjoy.

Dreaming Of Me - Depeche Mode
April Skies - Jesus and Mary Chain
I Wasn't Made For These Times - Beach Boys
Song To The Embers (Miaoux Miaoux remix) - Zoey Van Goey
The Warmth Of The Sun - Lightships

Previous Everything Flows Podcasts

Podcast #1 featuring Teenage Fanclub, David Bowie, Dr Cosmos Tape Lab, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, JR Green, The Undertones

Podcast #2 featuring The Troggs, Happy Meals, Rose McDowall, The Frank Popp Ensemble, Fun Boy Three, Jo Mango and The Pictish Trail, Miaoux Miaoux, Yo La Tengo

Podcast #3 featuring Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Marlena Shaw, Natalie Prass, November Lights, Molly Nilsson

Podcast #4 featuring The Chemical Brothers with Beck, The Charlatans (Brian Jonestown Massacre mix), BMX Bandits, Edwyn Collins, The Parliaments, K-Klass, White

Podcast #5 -Tim Peaks Electric Fields line-up featuring The Charlatans, Yucatan, Blueprint Blue, Documents, TeenCanteen, Horsebeach, Hot Vestry, Riding the Low, Tim Burgess

Podcast #6 featuring JR Green, Hinds, The Groove, Doug Tuttle, Second Hand Marching Band, Emma Pollok, David Bowie, Lesley Gore

Podcast #7 featuring Catholic Action, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals, The Supremes, George Carrow, Prophets, LCD Soundsystem

Podcast #8 featuring The Pooh Sticks, In Embrace, Another Sunny Day, The Pastels, Teleman, The Beach Boys, Stone Poneys, Sebadoh, The Vaselines

Podcast #9 featuring  Happy Meals, HONNE and Izzy Bizu, Broken By Rock, Belle and Sebastian, BMX Bandits, Twerps, Neil Young

Podcast #10 featuring Jonathan Richman, The Shangdi-Las, Tenniscoats, Jigsaw, Daniel Johnston, Todd Rundgren, Paul Williams, Rod McKuen