Thursday, 13 October 2016

Brexit & the Arts

The Arts thrive on melting pots and diversities, as does science and innovations. In fact that Bohemia energy can be essential for renewals and creativity.

Never mind our science and medicine - the creative industries are the UKs biggest export. They rely on collaborations and inter-connections to other cultures. Creativity has boomed since Europeans came here and some of the best people came here. Art is often encouraged by different voices.

Ken Loach’s funding comes from Europe and there is a lot of funding from France. Good films are not being commissioned here. The award-winning film director Ken Loach –  said in a recent tv interview that his tv docudrama ‘Cathy come Home’(1766) would not get made today. It would be stopped, he said, and it wouldn’t even get passed the script stage. 

He also has criticised the BBC News coverage as “manipulative and deeply political”. He is promoting his Palme d’Or-winning film about a man’s struggle with the UK benefits system, I, Daniel Blake, said there was a need to “democratise” the corporation. “Diversify it so that different regions can make their own dramas. And its notion of news has got to be challenged.”
We are not telling our stories and not being heard, he claimed.

Perhaps the rest of England is also fed up with all the focus and resources heading to London too?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Concert to Support Dick Gaughan

His informed, entertaining stories are worth hearing!
It is sad to hear that Scottish traditional singer and guitarist Dick Gaughan is ill. There is a concert in Edinburgh to help support him – 27th November, festival theatre Edinburgh.  

Billy Bragg, Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham, Karine Polwart! In honour and support of Leith's finest: Dick Gaughan. Fundraising show - at a time of illness - Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

I first heard Dick Gaughan in my twenties at an Edinburgh gig. I heard he was one of the best and most unique guitar players.  
I’ve heard him at Celtic Connections on the concert hall stage, when he stunned the audience with his profound version of Burn’s ‘Parcel of Rogues’. I’ve heard his full set at my local folk club, Milngavie folk club (MFC). He is a top guitarist and plays guitar with an open tuning in the style of Davy Graham

When he comes to play there he always takes time to chat. There is no pretensions about him. I remember he spoke of playing with Emmy Lou Harris.

I’ve heard many folk singers live and Gaughan is by miles the most moving and powerful.  Like Dylan, he doesn’t smooth over the Big Issues of our time, like Dylan. I was also moved by his interpretation of Burn’s ‘Westlin Winds’, which he said is one of the best songs ever written – with its simple beauty and expression of nature and love.

My favourite Gaughan songs include – ‘Both Sides the Tweed’, ‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’, ‘Outlaws and Dreamers’ – which he certainly is!

He hails from Leith Edinburgh. His mother was Scottish, a MacDonald from Lochaber and a Gaelic speaker and an Irish father.

 Best wishes and get well soon Dick!

My favourite image of Dick at my local folk club

I have several Dick Gaughan blogs on here  -

Nowadays the barrage of media attempts to put forward ‘one’ message he claimed and he likes to be part of what he calls the ‘awkward squad’ who are the grain of sand in the ointment and have other ways of looking at reality - and try to at least think about it!

He spoke about Dylan’s beautifully crafted songs that punched out images such as ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. Gaughan played with Aly Bain’s Boys of the Lough and a punk band called Five Hand Reel. Like many others on the folkscene back then he developed a drink problem and then he had a breakdown. He had to clean up and dry up.

Some very few artists have the ability to transport and transcend the moment, and Dick does so with forceful guitar playing and classic traditional songs with a strong message and a deep expressive, growling voice. You come away from his gigs questioning but ultimately renewed in the faith of our shared humanity. Dick Gaughan is a Scottish living legend, and he usually performs every January at 'Celtic Connections' Glasgow. “   

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Emeli Sande Oran Mor 2016

Sande returns with her second album ‘Long Live the Angels’  this September and with lead single Hurts. She was the biggest selling UK artist of 2012 and sang at the Olympic ceremonies in London when she had number one singles - 'Read All About It' with Professor Green, and 'Your Beautiful' with Labyrinth. She hails from Aberdeenshire and attended medical school in Glasgow. At that time she was travelling down to London to work on song writing on her weekends.

Sande thrilled her fans with her intimate return gig! She lit up the spiritual setting of the Oran Mor Auditorium with old songs and new for the first gig of her mini tour.  The sold out crowd of fans welcomed her with open arms and sang along to the past hits and bounced to some of the new!
Emeli was in her element to be back on stage and gave her all. She greeted us with her genuine heart, soulful voice and rhythms, and warm-hearted smile.  She said it meant so much to her to have us there and to share not just in a music biz way. A more assured Emeli gave more time, space and introspection in her music.

She performed enriching, heartfelt, reaching out songs such as 'My Kind of Love' and the poignant 'Read All About it '– to what is best in us. There was the gentle haunting beauty of 'Clown' and new song 'Intermission' with only bass or piano backing her voice when she reaches soulful heights. and in contrast  the upbeat energy of songs like Rhianna’s 'Four Five Seconds', Babe and 'Next To Me'. Her band felt very much a tight knit unit and the Oran Mor auditorium a perfect setting.

Even the older songs were given a more subtle feel while keeping those strong rhythms.  She expressed both her new found confidence and her vulnerability. In her moving new single 'Hurts' she combines sadness with spiritual healing and hopeful renewals.

Sande spoke of her spiritual journey since 2012. This is in part a break up album, as her marriage to long time boyfriend Adam Gouraguine in 2012 didn’t work out. She is now in a new relationship. This is an artist who’s been through more of life’s challenges and is stronger for them.

She digs deep into her musical roots of choir singing (her father is a music teacher) her appreciation of soul, blues, R & B and of great female songwriters like Nina Simone and Carole King. Emeli combines memorable sing-along choruses, rhythmic beats along with touching lyrics and melodies sung with her magnetic soulful voice. 

It was hard to believe it was 9 years since I saw her here for her first Oran Mor gig! 

Give me Something
Every Single Little Price
Eight Five Seconds
This Much is True
My Kind of love
High and lows
Next to Me
Read All About it

In December 2007 I went to see Emeli Sande play her debut gig at the Oran Mor for the launch of her first ep. Back then she had big dark hair and was known as Adele. She had a top band backing her and we thought she had an impressive voice. Little did we know she would go on to have such huge success. I met Emeli at her King Tuts gig and took photos back stage there. I am sure it must mean a great deal to her to be back at the Oran Mor this Sunday for the first gig to promote her second album Long Live the Angels and I am excited to hear her new songs. My biggest thrill in 2012 was to take photos at her Albert hall gig London!
My Emeli Sande galleries -