Findlay Napier: Glasgow

We love Findlay Napier writing about Glasgow, the city he now calls home and title of his new album. Findlay kindly agreed to share it with us — thank you Findlay.

Glasgow is released on October 13 and you can pre-order it here

 

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Photo by Raymond Depardon, Magnum Photography

In 1997 I moved from the banks of the River Spey to the fourteenth floor of the Red Road Flats in Springburn. I was born in Glasgow and had visited the city periodically over the years, the Garden Festival in ‘89 and City of Culture in ‘90 being particular highlights. I remember the buildings being black. I remember being jostled by the people on Buchanan Street. I remember the sound and the shoogle of the Clockwork Orange. I remember the people and their patter. I remember it like the first time I watched Blade Runner. I remember it like the first time I saw Billy Connolly.

Mostly I witnessed Glasgow from afar. On the telly it was a place full of humour: Francie & Josie, Naked Video and Rab C. Nesbitt. Taggart, bookended with Maggie Bell’s ‘No Mean City, was Glasgow’s darker side.

I heard the music, I even sang some of the songs; street songs, folk songs, mimicking Frankie Miller’s Tennent’s selling growl or howling along to City to City on long car journeys north. Yet I was so out of touch with the city’s music I didn’t know that Del Amitri bloke with the leather trousers off the telly was from Glasgow. Rab Noakes’ Standing Up introduced me to The Blue Nile and Michael Marra. I came round to The Bard of Dundee very quickly but I confess it was years before I understood the wonder of those four immaculate albums by The Blue Nile.

By ‘97 Glasgow was undergoing a kind of spring cleaning for the forthcoming City of Architecture. It was the gleaming champagne and red sandstone promised land. I was seventeen and about to enroll on the first ever BA in Scottish Music at the RSAMD. ‘Jock Hawk’s Adventures in Glasgow’ would be a good soundtrack for the next few years of my life in Glasgow, that or ‘Erin Go Bragh,’ a clueless country bumpkin falling in every pitfall the big smoke had to offer.

After graduation it never occurred to me to leave Glasgow. It became my home. I’ve been here for almost exactly twenty-one years to the release date of this album. I’ve lived all over the place, mostly in Dennistoun and Haghill, a year on North Street (above The Bon Accord), a year in Bridgeton, some time in Cathcart and I am now settled in Pollokshields. First I was staying here, then I was living here, now this is my home.

This album is for Glasgow and for the fantastic people I’ve met; unique formidable characters like Big Jim McKenna who told me before walking on stage one night that, “No-one wants to hear you singing your own fuckin* songs. Your sad fuckin songs about your boring fuckin life. They want to hear something they know. Maybe something about their home. Mix them up a bit.” He liked my songs though. He told me when I came off stage. He said I should learn that Hamish Imlach song. I fuckin did.

*In Glasgow swearing is considered a form of audible punctuation

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releases October 13, 2017

Findlay Napier- Guitar, Vocals
Boo Hewerdine- High Strung Guitar, Piano
Donna Maciocia- Backing Vocals

Produced by Boo Hewerdine
Executive Producers Jennifer Haase and Peter Napier

Recorded by Chris Pepper at Motherlode Studio, Norfolk
Foley Recorded by Findlay Napier, Alasdair Pettinger, Stephen Quigley and Andy Gardner
Mixed by Chris Pepper at Saltwell Studio
Mastered by Paul Savage at Chem 19
Design by Martin Rowsell at Simply Marvellous Music
Cover Photo by Raymond Depardon, Magnum Photography
All other photos by Richard Crawford, Precious Productions

Findlay Napier plays a customised Moon 0003 guitar fitted with a Vanden Mimesis Kudos Blend pickup.

Memphis 68: A soulful evening with Stuart Cosgrove

On Saturday 7th October, Stuart Cosgrove will launch his brilliant new book Memphis 68 at the Admiral bar in Glasgow.

We’re chairing the earlier part of the evening when Stuart will read from and answer questions about Memphis 68.

From 10pm, djs Lenny Harkins and Andrew Divine will crank up their irresistible Northern Soul club night begins at 10pm with .

Stuart has put together a storming playlist for us, and once again the lovely people at Polygon  have given us 2 copies of Memphis 68 for a competition — check out our Facebook page for details on how to enter.

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Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul

In the 1950s and 1960s, Memphis, Tennessee, was the launch pad of musical pioneers such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Al Green and Isaac Hayes, and by 1968 was a city synonymous with soul music. It was a deeply segregated city, ill at ease with the modern world and yet to adjust to the era of civil rights and racial integration. Stax Records offered an escape from the turmoil of the real world for many soul and blues musicians, with much of the music created there becoming the soundtrack to the civil rights movements.

The book opens with the death of the city’s most famous recording artist, Otis Redding, who died in a plane crash in the final days of 1967, and then follows the fortunes of Redding’s label, Stax/Volt Records, as its fortunes fall and rise again. But, as the tense year unfolds, the city dominates world headlines for the worst of reasons: the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

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Photograph by Kris Kesiak

 

Glasgow Americana Festival 4-8th October

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We’re really looking forward to Glasgow Americana this year which boasts an impeccable line-up playing venues across the city.

Check the full gig listings here

The opening night celebrates the work of one of the most revered Texan singer/songwriters, Townes Van Zandt. The Late Great Townes Van Zandt Tribute features artists including; Rachel Sermanni, Jefferson Hamer, Davie Scott, Roseanne Reid and Jonas and Jane.

Bob Dylan described Townes’ song, Pancho and Lefty, as one of the best ever written and countless Americana acts cite Townes as a major influence.

The Late Great Townes Van Zandt Tribute is at Drygate Glasgow on October 4

7.30pm, 8pm start Tickets £15 from Tickets Scotland 0141 204 5151 or book online.

Adam Holmes

Adam Holmes

On Thursday Oct 5 in a sparkling double bill, critically acclaimed Scots talents Adam Holmes and the Embers plus Rachel Sermanni at perform at Saint Luke’s.

Tickets £15 from 0141 204 5151 or buy online

Doors 7.30pm, 8pm start

Rachel Sermanni

Rachel Sermanni

Enjoy an evening with the brilliant American singer-songwriter Slaid Cleaves at St Andrews In The Square on Friday 6 October

Rated by many as one of Texas’ finest songwriters, with comparisons to Woody Guthrie and other craftsmen, Slaid has proved time and again that he is a deft songwriter with flowing lyrical qualities and a great ear for a memorable melody.

Tickets £16 from 0141 204 5151 or book online

Doors 7.30pm, on stage 8pm no support

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Slaid Cleaves

Founding member of legendary band, The Jayhawks,Mark Olson, plus Ags Connolly play The Glad Cafe Saturday 7 October 2017. Mark Olson’s new album Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun is out this month. Ags Connolly is a traditional country singer-songwriter from Oxfordshire, and a proud supporter of the ‘Ameripolitan’ movement, supporting new music with a traditional roots influence.
Evening show, doors 8pm, 8.30pm start.

Tickets £14 from Tickets Scotland 0141 204 5151 or book online

Mark Olson

Mark Olson

Govanhill International Carnival

The inaugural Govanhill International Carnival and Govanhill Against Racism festival takes place from August 26-28.

On Saturday 26 August, Govanhill International Carnival 2017, will bring Govanhill’s diverse communities together for a celebration of its unique community.  On Saturday 26 August a colourful and lively Parade will weave its way through Govanhill to Queens Park Arena where there will be music and family friendly activities. Organised by Govanhill Baths Community Trust.

Sunday, August 27 will see Roots Rock Reggae Against Racism and on Monday 28 Rock Against Racism will mark the 40th anniversary of the Rock Against Racism movement.

Bands include Black Grape, Black Roots and Aswad, who performed at one of the earliest Rock Against Racism gigs in London’s Victoria Park in 1978. The festival is organised by Govanhill Baths Community Trust and the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust

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The Sikh Pipe Band by Peter Ross

To celebrate the launch of his new book The Passion of Harry Bingo and our Piping Live tours, Peter Ross and his publisher Sandstone Press have graciously allowed us to use this wonderful piece by Peter on The Sikh Pipe Band’s appearance at Piping Live in 2015. Thanks also to Michael McGurk for allowing us to use his photograph. Keep an eye on our Facebook page later this week for a chance to win copies of The Passion of Harry Bingo.  Over to Peter…

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Beneath a Saltire blue sky, with Irn-Bru in their bellies and an old Punjabi war cry on their lips – ‘Sat Sri Akaal!’ – the men and women of the Sri Dasmesh pipe band march out into the grassy arena of Glasgow Green, the first time a Malaysian group has competed at the world championships, and give their medley laldy. ‘Gaun the Sikhs!’ shouts a turbaned fellow in the crowd.
The World Pipe Band Championships, known as ‘The Worlds’, is the Olympics of piping. Some 230 bands from sixteen nations, adding up to around 8,000 pipers and drummers, are taking part this year. The championships date back to 1906, but they have never seen anything quite like Sri Dasmesh.

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Photograph by Michael McGurk

There are about forty of them, ranging in age from early teens to early sixties, tricked out in a manner that makes the uniforms of even their gaudiest rivals appear drab. Over white robes they wear a bright sash, a plaid in Royal Stewart tartan, and a faux tiger-skin apron, combining in one outfit the distinctive styles of Mason Boyne, Mary Doll Nesbitt and the Bay City Rollers. All of this, mind, topped with a turban and pink plume, or kalgi, bearing the symbol for ‘One God’. They look amazing: Glasgow fabulous; Kuala Lumpur dead brilliant.
That’s the city from which they have come, travelling 7,000 miles from the banks of the Klang to the banks of the Clyde. For many, this is their first time in the country from which the music they play originates. A homecoming of sorts.
‘This is an almost thirty-year dream coming true,’ says Sukdev Singh, the band’s founder, a tall, aquiline man with a silver beard and sovereign air. ‘When we set up the band, we would dream of one day just coming to Scotland. We had no idea there was such a thing as a world championship.’

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Photograph by Peter Ross

His younger brother Harvinder, the fifty-two-year-old pipe major, takes up the story. ‘We were living in a world with no pipe bands. We didn’t even know what strathspeys or reels sounded like.’
Sri Dasmesh – named after the tenth guru of the Sikhs – was formed in 1986 by Sukdev, a commercial pilot. He had remembered, in childhood, hearing the skirl and drone coming from the police parade ground, back in the days (he considers them the good old days) of British rule. The sound and feeling stayed with him, and he decided, on graduation from university in the UK, to reintroduce bagpipe music to Malaysia. An instrument store was closing down, so he bought drums cheap, later adding Pakistani bagpipes which, Harvinder laughs, proved impossible to tune. Harvinder, in 1990, was dispatched to Glasgow for a week of lessons at the piping college, returning to Kuala Lumpur with the band’s first proper notation books, and a handful of CDs by some of the great bands. Here was treasure. The present generation of Sri Dasmesh – many of them the sons and daughters of original members – have grown up with this music from the cradle, and thus consider, say, the Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band to be hugely glamorous figures.
To visit Scotland and actually meet the likes of Jim Kilpatrick, Shotts & Dykehead’s drum major, has been overwhelming for the Malaysians. But they, too, have had their taste of fame. Everywhere they go on Glasgow Green, they are mobbed by members of the public wanting selfies. ‘Ah wis drawn tae them,’ says Jean Campbell, a sixty-one-year-old from Cumbernauld, enjoying a contemplative fag in the smoking area. ‘Thae turbans ur a magnet fur me.’
The last maharajah of the Sikh empire, Duleep Singh, sometimes known as the Black Prince of Perthshire, was deposed by the British in 1849 and exiled to Scotland, where he was petted and fêted by high society; Queen Victoria is said to have particularly admired his eyes and teeth. Yet even the Black Prince did not reach the benchmark of Scottish celebrity achieved by the Sri Dasmesh band – being interviewed for the lunchtime news by Jackie Bird.
During their fortnight in Scotland, the band have travelled around the country, competing at Highland games, and connecting with people of their faith past and present. Scotland is home to around 9,000 Sikhs. Sri Dasmesh have performed at gurdwaras – temples – in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and travelled to Kenmore, Perthshire, to pay their respects at the grave of Maharajah Duleep Singh’s infant son. They laid flowers and played ‘Highland Cathedral’; a moving and complex moment, a Sikh band from Malaysia playing Scottish music in a Christian kirkyard in tribute to the heir of a lost Indian kingdom.
There is something about the majesty of the music Sri Dasmesh plays that transcends the dark history from which it has emerged. ‘We should be a bit embarrassed by our colonial past, but if any good has come out of it, there it is,’ says Joe Noble, a Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association adjudicator and former world champion drummer, nodding towards the Sikhs. ‘The music was good and the music’s stayed. That’s our culture, and it’s brilliant that they are prepared to play it.’
Not just prepared, eager. Sri Dasmesh do not regard bagpipes as the instrument of the oppressor, but rather as an emblem of a shared history. ‘This is our mechanism for creating a bridge between our society, religion and community with the Scots,’ says Sukdev. More, they simply love the sound. Priya Kaur Kesh, an eighteen-year-old tenor drummer, was raised on Indian classical music, the daughter of a tabla player, and recalls the impact of hearing bagpipes for the first time six years ago: ‘I was shocked. Stunned. I had goosebumps. I thought, “I need to learn that asap.”’
On Saturday, after early prayers at the gurdwara on Berkeley Street, Sri Dasmesh travelled by coach to Glasgow Green for their heat. They were accompanied by their tutor Barry Gray, a no-nonsense middle-aged Australian who spotted the band in an Anzac Day parade three years ago and promptly ‘adopted’ them. Gray is a veteran musician well known for performing with whichever big rock and pop acts find themselves in Sydney and in need of a piper. He is no stranger to ‘Mull of Kintyre’. The good thing about working with a Sikh band, he says, is that they don’t get drunk. The bad thing is that their timekeeping is dreadful; he fines latecomers twenty pence a minute, and during one rehearsal in Kelvingrove Park raised twenty quid for the kitty.
Following their performance, the band wait anxiously for the results of the judging, damping down nerves with trays of chips ’n’ cheese, a Scottish delicacy for which they have developed a taste. The announcement, when it comes, is a triumph – they have qualified for the finals. They leap in the air, hug, tears rolling down cheeks; they get on their phones to home, breaking the news in excited Malay, Punjabi, English and Chinese. Later, their second performance will not go as well, but that doesn’t matter. Qualification was their goal and represents victory, as indeed does this whole journey.
I ask Tirath Singh, the eighteen-year-old pipe sergeant, how it feels, but he can hardly speak for crying. ‘This is my dream,’ he says, as the silver dagger at his waist glitters in the Scottish sun.

Also available by Peter Ross: Daunderlust

The Next Big Thing: 40th Anniversary

Lindsay Hutton started his seminal fanzine The Next Big Thing as a punk Xerox sheet in 1977. He went on to found the world’s first ever Cramps fan club The Legion of the Cramped along with a certain Stephen Patrick Morrissey…We invited Lindsay to guest blog for us to celebrate the 40th anniversary issue. Thanks again Lindsay!

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In April 1977, I kicked off a (badly) photocopied fanzine called THE NEXT BIG THING. An entity that exists to this day mainly as a blog however, for the first time in nudging 20 years, there’s an actual print edition to mark four decades of activity.

What on earth possessed me to do this? I’m not sure there’s a straight answer to that but I’m certainly way old enough to know better. It all just kind of came together. From the consideration of preparing something symbolic to it evolving into an actual issue of the fanzine in the format it was last seen. “It happened again” to paraphrase the Twin Peaks giant, tempered with a smidge of an urge to recycle some polythene bags.

Another consideration at the back of my noggin was that printers don’t work with old style cameras anymore (as far as I’m aware). Artwork is provided as high res PDFs. The good old high contrast zine style is almost possible and using Photoshop, you can approximate it but it’s just not the same. In my opinion, all the image manipulation software in the world will never match the raggedy-ass cool of paste up. I was able to work with this to an extent but then had to come up with them pesky files. The end result looks OK though and the main and most surprising thing is that it actually happened.

In addition to a Brigadoon style return to fanzinedom, it was also time to put out another record because NBT morphed into a label too for a wee while. This is not just any record though, tis a brand new 45 by The Dahlmanns (from Moss Rock City, Norway) that features two brand new Andy Shernoff songs. He’s the guy who wrote the tune that kicked off The Dictators Go Girl Crazy that subsequently gave NBT its moniker. Things work so much different now. It’s a bit like being in suspended animation and waking up in a whole ‘nother world. The old infrastructure is gone but the bush telegraph – or social media as the young yins refer to it – is doing a reasonable job of getting the word out.

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The notion that this THING is a magazine with a free record is entirely misguided. If anything it’s a free magazine with a (very cool) record. You can get ‘em individually but they’re better enjoyed together. A friend asked me if putting it together was fun. I wasn’t sure how to answer but I suppose it is, especially as folks seem happy with it. Any misgivings I have are entirely down to the ongoing OCD. Why didn’t I mark the 30th anniversary? I never had the inclination or the wherewithal. Things sucked around then into the bargain too. So why 40? Time moves on (doesn’t it though). It’s as much a reaction to loss as anything else. Friends and inspirational characters that you expected to be around forever suddenly weren’t. I have an inkling that I (perhaps) won’t be around for 50 – or even if I am, in no position to put anything like this together. I’m unlikely to ever find another combo that is as good as The Dahlmanns for starters. They are my favourite pop ensemble on the planet.

Despite this jaded exterior, there’s music, stuff and most importantly people that it’s worth sticking one’s napper above the parapet for. That’s something that I’ve tended to do over the years and I see no reason to deviate from that mode of practice. Stick with what you know, even if it means cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s even more important to have an opinion now than it ever was because we live in an age of blah. Circumnavigate that condition at every opportunity.

NBT 28 is available now and in addition to featuring the aforementioned combo from Moss, you also get The Schizophonics, a story by Amy Rigby, Reine Laken and a repro of a letter received from one Stephen Patrick Morrissey just prior to his group playing Night Moves on Sauchiehall Street back in the year Nineteen Hunder and Eighty Three. Contact lhnbt@hotmail.com for details.

At the Apollo: A Postcard From Roddy Frame

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Guests on our Music Mile tour love hearing and sharing stories about the late, great Glasgow Apollo, and we’re re-running Roddy Frame’s guest blog on the fabled venue in case you missed it first time around.

Although he decamped many years ago, Frame will always be linked to the town: partly, because he gave the city an unofficial anthem in the yearning bus-station epic “Killermont Street”; but mostly due to his years as Postcard Records’ prodigious post-punk boy wonder. Signing with Alan Horne’s fabled DIY label aged 16, Frame’s Aztec Camera put the young into The Sound Of Young Scotland, yet shared with labelmate Edwyn Collins’s Orange Juice a preternatural knack for writing songs that seemed simultaneously to reference every record he’d ever loved – in Frame’s case, from Wes Montgomery to Motown via Bowie, The Clash and Joy Division – while sounding unique. From wiry, charging acoustic jangle to gorgeous plastic soul, a restless, mercurial spirit has remained constant across his ever-changing career.

We’re beyond delighted to have a few words from the man himself. We asked him to cast his mind back to his own early gig-going memories in Glasgow, and a favourite venue. Over to Mr Frame:

 

THE GLASGOW APOLLO
by Roddy Frame

The Apollo was where I learned what a gig was.

In the Seventies, my (much) older sisters took me there to see the likes of Eric Clapton, The Ozarks and Don McLean, all great players who made me want to rush home and practice guitar. Then Dr Feelgood and Eddie and The Hot Rods came to town as Canvey’s harbingers of punk and I suddenly had my own scene.

Now 13, I duly queued for my own tickets to see the likes of The Clash with Richard Hell and the Voidoids and Suicide in tow. Close enough to see the blood on Alan Vega’s face as debris rained down. And all for £2.50.

Upstairs in the smaller Satellite City club, I saw one of Magazine’s first gigs and got to witness John McGeoch invent post-punk guitar playing right there before my eyes.

By the time Joy Division came to town, opening for the Buzzcocks, I was already a huge fan and had my own band waiting (metaphorically) in the wings.

Sadly, by the time my turn had come, the Apollo had closed its doors.

The stage was too high, the bouncers could be a little “firm” and on a good night the balcony looked like it might collapse, but there was magic in the fabric of its walls, and the Glasgow Apollo will always be the home of my most formative music memories.

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Keep up to date with Roddy Frame via roddyframe.com and twitter @RoddyFrame