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

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

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

Belle and Sebastian’s Chris & Sarah chat about TRNSMT

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With T In The Park taking a well-earned rest this year, the festival focus shifts to Glasgow this weekend when the inaugural TRNSMT festival takes over Glasgow Green from Friday to Sunday. Kasabian top the bill on Saturday and Biffy Clyro bring proceedings to a rocking close on Sunday but it’s the Friday line-up we’ve got our eye on, especially our beloved Belle & Sebastian, spreading the good vibes before the brooding clouds converge over headliners Radiohead.

We spoke to Chris Geddes and Sarah Martin from the Belles about being part of TRNSMT, as they both looked forward to playing their biggest ever hometown gig.

Chris:

Generally speaking we are a band who prefer to do our own thing than be part of somebody else’s event. On the other hand, this is a bigger thing than we could do by ourselves, so it’s a chance to play to people who wouldn’t necessarily come and see us if we were doing our own thing.

Sarah:

It’s an interesting mix. We quite often get stuck in a really indie bill but it’s not a super indie thing and that comes from it being quite a big festival. We’ve never done T In The Park. When T In the Park was at Strathclyde Park, I never had enough cash to actually go and by the time it was viable I was too old to camp in a ditch.

Chris:

We’ve got a good relationship with [TRNSMT organisers] Df, they’ve promoted our shows in Scotland since way back. They said to us that Radiohead had personally requested that we be on the bill with them – whether that is actually true, or whether they just said that to twist our arms I don’t know…we trust if they ask us to do something that it’ll be good.

Sarah:

It was really nice to know you had fans in high places. It was quite a flattering thing. I saw them really early on in King Tut’s when Creep came out and I didn’t like it at all but they’re not the sort of band that works that well in a little venue. They just seemed overblown for King Tut’s, it was a bit stadium rock and sure enough it turns out they are a stadium band.

Chris:

Right back early days I think Radiohead did ask us to support them but at that time I think we knew that we weren’t a proficient enough live band to do ourselves justice opening for a big touring band. These days at least we know we’ve got a crew we can rely on!

These city-based festivals can be really good. We’ve done the Hyde Park one down in London a few years ago and it seemed like a good event so something that brings big bands to play in Glasgow could be a really good thing.

Sarah:

You don’t need to camp and that’s maybe what appeals, it’s accessible for people without having to destroy your mind to cope with camping in a mudfest. For a local festival to be properly local is appealing. I like Glasgow Green, it’s such a great space.

Chris:

And it’s handy for me too – I stay in Dennistoun so I can get home pretty sharpish afterwards!

Read about our Belles tour here

Check out the Tigermilk Owners Club

Glasgow Jazz Festival: Jazz Tour featuring guest musician Joe Williamson

We have a real treat in store for you!  The guitarist Joe Williamson —”Outstanding musicianship and breathtaking improvisation” Tommy Smith — will perform a short set at the beginning of our jazz tour on Saturday 24th June commencing the Scottish Music Centre at 2pm. Join us for a refreshment and some great music before we set off on a gentle stroll around the Merchant City.  Purchase of a ticket entitles you to one half price ticket for the concert celebrating the centenary of explosive drummer and bandleader, Buddy Rich, with the SNJO featuring Alyn Cosker on drums.

We’d love to see you there, get the lowdown on Glasgow Jazz Festival with our walking tour on Sat 24th June:

Joe Williamson hails from the North East of England, and recently graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with first-class honours. Known for his melodic and creative improvising, Joe performs regularly across the Scottish jazz circuit.

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Joe is a founding member of award-winning quartet Square One known for their free-spirited original music and energised live performances. In December 2015, Square One became the proud recipients of the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, administered by Help Musicians UK. This prestigious prize allowed Square One to record their debut album, In Motion which was released in October 2016 along with a tour of the UK and Poland.

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Glasgow Jazz Festival 2017: The Greg Foat Group

Glasgow Jazz Festival present internationally-acclaimed UK jazz keyboardist Greg Foat who makes his Scottish live debut celebrating the launch of his 5th studio album Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand (by Hampshire & Foat) released on Edinburgh’s Athens Of The North label.

On this latest epic, he has collaborated with fellow Isle Of Wight resident Warren Hampshire, best known as multi-instrumentalist with Mercury Award nominated The Bees. Previous albums on Jazzman Records have received widespread praise from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Jamie Cullum, BBC Scotland’s Jazz House and Chris Evans, and all are now highly sought after on the vinyl collectors’ scene.

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The Greg Foat Group fuse unique influences as diverse as keyboard-led 1960s UK jazz (by legends such as Michael Garrick and Gordon Beck), through 1970s soundtracks (from minimal masterpieces like Roy Budd’s iconic “Get Carter” to string-laden epics, such as John Barry’s “Midnight Cowboy”), via obscure library or “mood music” (echoes of Basil Kirchin, Piero Umiliani and Alan “Mohawk” Hawkshaw come to mind).

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Kelvingrove Summer Nights: Neil Hannon

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The 2017 summer season of concerts at Kelvingrove Bandstand is almost upon us. Glasgow’s beautiful, bijou outdoor arena will host the likes of Brian Wilson, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Kool & the Gang, Sir Tom Jones, Texas, Pixies, Hipsway and Arab Strap over the next couple of months, but opening proceedings are The Divine Comedy, best loved for their elegant and witty Britpop hits such as National Express and Becoming More Like Alfie.

In recent years, mainman Neil Hannon has worked on a rich variety of other projects, including a stage musical version of Swallows & Amazons, a couple of opera commissions and an organ composition, To Our Fathers In Distress, inspired by his own father, before reactivating The Divine Comedy on latest album, Foreverland.

 

We spoke to Hannon ahead of his Bandstand revels on such pressing issues as his cult following, his typical childhood Sundays, his Napoleon complex and an asinine collaborator…

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