Thursday 4 October 2007

Kilsyth festival 2007

- August 2007

Colzium park is an intimate park for a festival, with people dotting the grassy slopes down towards the main Colzium, stage. There was a Japanese tea ceremony in the Walled garden, an enclosed area for dancers and drummers, the waterside stage surrounded by stalls and rides and the Acoustic stage. KIC was set on 4 stages and fortunately the rain held off. The colourful fun festival provides something for everyone. There were colourful dancers energetic drummers, young rock bands and lots of fun events for families. Billed as a day out for families it attracts a good turn out.
Headlining was in demand Ceilidh band the Peatbog Faeries. 

A highlight is the Parade from the Colzium house and down through the park, including Rhythm Wave drummers, Pipers, dancers and Majorettes. The festival was very pleased to be able to bring over from Africa ‘Gandawi’ from Ghana, who proved a highlight of the day, bringing their African culture to Scotland.

The Peatbog Fearies ended the day’s entertainment with a blistering set of tunes. They mix Celtic and jazz, with a full brass section. They have an energetic fiddle player, and vary this with the flute. The crowd were on their feet dancing to end a fun and colourful festival.

Diwan and Samba Sene Mugdock Festival 2007

Diwan bounced onto the bandstand in colourful African outfits and lifted the looming clouds with African  sunshine and dancing rhythms.
Sene is a charismatic front man backed by a dynamic band. The band played with both a wild, infectious vitality and chaotic beats, both loose and ragged, that resulted in both a laid back and upbeat mood. It was music that came from every angle. They play West African music of soft jazz, swaying bass rhythms and gentle percussion beats with a wide assortment of percussion instruments from Africa, one called the ‘djembe’ drum.
Samba enjoyed every minute, he smiled often and rarely stopped dancing. Catch them if you can!
As Samba commented – ‘Even the midges were dancing!’

Sene was born in Senega and moved to Scotland seven years ago. He writes his own material and sings in French, English and his native Wolof. His style is strongly influenced by the jazzy grooves of Senegal with grooves and beats to get you dancing.
I met their bass player, Kamli N’goni from Wassonlon Southern Mali earlier, when he and their American percussionist were dancing to Partick Beats drums in the courtyard. I asked him about their music and he told me their music was ‘Afro jazz grooves.’

Music is Mali’s most famous export. The level of musicianship is extraordinary – there is even a traditional musicians class known as griots. Throughout Africa, music holds this incredible power; in a place where life hard, it is one of the greatest joys. Mali and Senegal are the two leading places to go for West African music - there is the hypnotic ‘dessert blues’ of the north and the ‘danceable rhythms’ of the south. In the 70s Mali’s government, like others in Africa, funded larger bands to express the culture and vitality of the new nations. For example the ‘Super Rail Band, that mixes Afro-Cuban dance rhythms with the traditional. This is a land of no media, and no Internet, where music can travel by cassette. Mali is a Muslim democracy and while poor is also tolerant, diverse, optimistic and stable. In Mali swords have turned into guitars and music helps to express a feeling of national unity. The arrival of the electric guitar gave young men a new voice. There is a music festival in the dessert, at an Oasis called ‘Essakane’. This is a three day event, where many travel across the Sahara by camel for weeks to attend.

Edinburgh International Festival 2007

Ah how does it feel – another year has passed – and the EIF is here again. I have put in my order for warm sunny days. On a dull Tuesday I ventured rather late in the day up the High Street and I met John Kielty, writer, actor, musician, leaning in the St Giles doorway. John is now shuttling between San Francisco and Edinburgh the past year. The Martians performed their cover songs and the designer and the producer of their musical the Sundowe are there. John's lyrics in a show at the Underbelly are nominated for a Lyric Fringe award. The good news is that John is doing one of his ghost tours on Thursday evening. The Martians are so much fun!

‘INTERPOL’ gig at the Corn Exchange with Macabee supporting who were also good, although they kept us waiting an hour rudely. Very hot, sweaty venue with light coloured walls ( used to be a slaughter house!) They were powerfully dynamic and full of energy with strong harmonies and interweaving rhythms, recommend them.
The sun’s here! and the Martians busking on the High Street. This is the weather I expect for my festival visits, it makes all the difference. I went to the Andy Warhol exhibition at the mound.

I took the Ghost tour to Greyfriars Bobby’s graveyard and the Covenanters Grave where there are many buried and you can feel the passage of time. The spooky dark graveyard has inspired many writers including John and he quoted from his Sundowe musical which was about the dead rising in Edinburgh. In this dark eerie place you can feel their very presence and their lost voices. 

Friday - I went to see the play - A History of Scotland in 60 Minutes. It was highly entertaining.
I spent time at the Book Festival, which is quiet after the High Street madness. Later we took one of the rickshaws down to the Traverse theatre behind the castle! Fribo gig at the Acoustic Centre who are an innovative mix of Norwegian and Scottish traditions.

Saturday - I went to the C venue where Oxford students do their shows and I saw Out of the Blue, which was an  entertaining show.  I had lunch in the café and enjoyed the young costumed artists having fun with their shows.  I read of an Irish fiddle player who did his show ‘Around the World on 80 quid’ with no advance PR or venue. Travelling the world he got involved with drugs and ended up on a beach with no violin and thought to himself, what’s the point? Then he decided he could play anything at hand.  He played a few sold out shows in Ireland and people said to him – ‘Why not play the Edinburgh Festival?’
While there are many fun things such as the Speigel tent and more, a festival needs to evolve and Edinburgh has been going since the 40s! More streets available for new musicians to perform – say blocked of streets near Princes street with a central place to buy their cds – similar to Montreal’s Blues and Jazz festival. The sun casts late rays across the High Street blinding anyone walking towards the castle. Playing any festival is a buzz, there’s that exaggerated feel to it all and the heightened senses - the odd street performers and people of every nation brought together in a melting pot- from Australian scouts to north Americana Indians. Here’s hoping for sun and fun shows next year. See you there 2008!  THE  SUNDOWE musical plays in Eden Court Inverness Nov 2007 - before touring.

Mugdock Music Festival 2007

The Festival brought young and old, Indian and Scot, European and African together in a celebration of world, modern, classical, traditional music, and ‘jazzy Afro grooves!’ The festival braved many hazards also fFrom wind, rain, midges, accidents and more ….. so that music from the cool of Norway to the warm breezes of Africa might bring us all together. We had Chinese and Indian dancers, Scottish and Gaelic singers and pipers, Norwegian songs, fiddlers and African drums. The headliners were Karen Matheson (Capercaillie), Caledon the three tenors, and world famous fiddler Ali Bain and Alle Muller.
Friday Concert - June 2007. This evening we had Erne’s Crossborder band, who combine English and Scottish folk and with Harry on tamblas and a cello player who were followed by the local Milngavie pipe band and the Islay choir

Saturday The Courtyard, Peter Donegan’s (son of Lonnie) upbeat skiffle band. The central hub of the festival was the Courtyard stage at the historic visitors Centre which staged a wide variety with colourful dancers, cool classical music, traditional Celtic and atmospheric Jewish wedding music, upbeat Scottish drummers, cheerful Barbershop, children’s choirs and enthusiastic young Indians.
Saturday Afternoon concert. Seylan and Cheyanne, Cheyanne on harp played delicate yet energetic rhythms that were like waterfalls that counterpointed perfectly to Seylan’s deep toned cello melodies. The band Caledon were next and included Alan Beck, Jamie MacDougall and Ivan Sharpe and they belted out Scottish songs, with Burns, traditional and modern tunes.

Saturday Evening Concert was a Night of Contrasts and a classy concert of Scottish traditional music and African rhythms. Fribo from Edinburgh, bean the evening with serene, innovative sounds, and they blend Scandinavian and Scottish music traditions, combined with a positive feel for contemporary sounds and rhythms.
Lovely Gaelic singer Karen Matheson was engaging with a beautiful, natural purity to her  voice, that takes you on a calm breeze. Karen sang Gaelic, Burns and modern songs. She has been hailed as the ‘finest Gaelic singer. She was followed by Diwan and Samba Sene, and their wild, infectious vitality and a chaotic stage presence, both loose and ragged, that added to their laid back yet upbeat feel. Diwan band members play African percussion instruments and are from Senegal, Mali, Colorado and Scotland. Catch them if you can!
Sunday - The Courtyard,  .
The Sighthill Project ,were enchanting and were led by two former RSAMD students. They consisted of asylum seekers and refugees from the likes of Kosovo, Albania, Ski-Lanka and Africa. They played Scottish and Irish traditional music.  They were followed by Two’s Company: a classical trio from Edinburgh, that included violin, piano ,clarinet and cello.  Vivien Scotson provided a contrast as a solo singer songwriter with only her acoustic guitar, her soul-searching voice and her emotive songs. Sunday afternoon concert, was led by accomplished players Ali Bain and Ali Moller on the bandstand stage. Here were two musicians, one the master of traditional Shetland music, the other on mandolin, an accomplished Norwegian musician. Ali Bain’s fiddle music has an unsurpassed clearness and a lyrical beauty.
The new festival included many accomplished, entertaining, diverse and interesting artists, performing both traditional and new music. From the expert and world travelled Ali Bain to enthusiastic young singers. We had two bands bringing together Norwegian and Scottish traditional music. One band, Diwan, that brought artists together from around the globe – from the USA, Mali, Senegal and Scotland. We had the two main stages, the Courtyard and the Walled Garden. The Highlights for me were the energy of Diwan, the beauty of Karen Matheson’s voice, the expert traditional violin of Ali Bain and the innocence and joy of the Sighthill project.
Mugdock 2008 -

Mugdock festival 2009 -

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Patrick Watson King Tuts Glasgow

Patrick Watson @ King Tuts 19th Sept 2007
Bright Shiny Lights
Indie 4 piece from Montreal played King Tuts - were relaxed and having fun.
Richard Mailey, a fresh-faced young Irish man opened the gig, he has the power in his voice of a young Bruce Springsteen.

The Patrick Watson band offer lots of flowing space and fun theatrical percussion with their music. Patrick, songwriter and piano player and lead vocals puts everything in without doing too much, with the rest of the band bouncing off him. They used anything at hand – a balloon, a jacket over the guitar, effects pedals, more...
To start the set the drummer shook a soft percussion instrument in the space in front of his drum kit. This was not only about the songs or Patrick’s expressive voice, but about the energy of all four.

For the last number Patrick and guitarist took up position in the centre of the audience, and with the guitarist revolving on a small stool they conducted the audience with a ‘Man under the Sea’. For the encore Patrick sang with only piano the quite wonderful ‘the Great Escape'. Fun and engrossing. 

I enjoyed the way this band mixed things up with light fun rhythms, echoing each other…. No rules, no genre - with playful percussion, varied soundscapes and expressive vocals.
Coming out of Montreal’s fervent music scene, the band has a new album out ‘Close to Paradise’ and you sense they come out of a rich heritage of blues, jazz and more and shake it up to make it their own.(Also out of Montreal - Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire. Montreal has a renowned Jazz and Blue festival in July. )

Monday 6 August 2007

T in the Park Scotland 2006

T in the Park 2006
Apart from the rain, T was awesome fun!  The Chillis were sizzling hot! the Zutons  from Liverpool were exciting; the Kooks look good but were a bit derivative; Guillemots were highly colourful and command the stage; Franz Ferdinand partied like the Beatles; Maximo Park rocked.
Festivals are a wall of sound and a celebration of music, where everything goes and the more outlandish or fancy the better. The best thing is that everyone is there to party and have fun - yes there is drinking, the litter, there is outside toilets (this is something I come back to), but mostly there is good nature friendliness and everyone is happy that they can be there to share with the best in music 2006.
The Kooks. They look cool with floppy hair but lack individuality with their sound. One song is like Bob Marley, the next like Sting, the next like the Kinks.
Maximo Park, They swing and rocked with some strong melodic songs and a memorable performance.
Hot new band from Glasgow the Frettelis were one of the best bands there/ They played the Future Tent and will surely be playing one of the main stages next year.
The top new bands for me were the Guillemots, Maximo Park and the Zutons.  It meant a lot to see the Chillis live as Flea is my son’s hero! He saw them at Murrayfield a few years back and since then has became an amazing bass player through listening to the Chillis over and over and over!
The Chillis headlined and were in a league of their own. Flea’s bass shook the ground with steady rhythms as John Fruciante soared his guitar.  Keidis lept into action around the stage and slid to the mic. His voice while unique, was also the most flexible instrument as it lept around the bass lines in a tight and exacting way. The crowd also leapt and sung, transported to another dimension for this period of time.
One young guy in a wheelchair had managed to get pushed to close to the front. Unfortunately a girl on her mobile ignored him, so he tried to push up on his arms to get a glimpse of his heroes on the stage. Everyone is so excited to see the band perform.
They sang their hits, and some longer set pieces where they get to explore their music more. Flea and Fruciante move close to each other on stage to play tight together.  This band is very much a unit. Their last song, By The Way, really got the crowd pumping, with a hot energy and euphoria. It is easy to see why this band named themselves – the Red Hot Chillis!

Radiohead played Meadowbank stadium August 22nd 2006

Radiohead played Meadowbank stadium August 22nd 2006
Wild, unpredictable as the wind in the trees... their music takes you on a journey across time and space with flurries, storms, hurricanes and gentle breezes. Tom York’s voice blends incoherently with the band and Johnny Greenwood lays into it all, on electric guitar. Some of their lyrics capture essences of the human spirit such as- ‘ Just cos you feel it, doesn't mean it’s there.’
Karma Police; ‘For a minute there I lost myself.’
And Just; ‘You do it to yourself’

They played their first hit Creep as their final song ; ‘I wish I was special, I’m a creep I’m a weirdo.’ Tom at one point says, Radio One used to take risks and now they play Jay-lo.’
Another moment to take away from the gig, Yorke looks straight into the monitors to sing. Several of their songs are atmospheric and catch you in the gut with beats that resonate and vibrate through you. One of their new songs creates that Last Post end of the day broodiness. Possibly my best ever gig and an unforgettable experience.

Dick Gaughan at the Place Milngavie September 16th 2006

"a world weary traveller of stories and music"
Dick Gaughan, traditional folk singer and guitarist, songwriter, composer and record producer, played the Place, Milngavie to a packed and enthralled audience. His traditional folk hits hard, with powerful guitar and voice. He sings often of Scottish heroes and stories, of our lost past and voices long forgotten. In between songs, while re-tuning, he tells of his travelling. He ponders in one song, have we forgotten the protest voices of the 60s, We Shall Overcome, and What Are We Fighting For. Another about connecting to his grandfather while visiting the first World War graveyards in Germany, who died while half his age from mustard gas poisoning, and connects this to the faces he remembers well as a child, the sad faces of old men and the old miners.

The Guillemots QMU

"innovative, surprising, unexpected, melodic"
This new band make me think of dancing on a summer night!

The Guillemots are a unique, uplifting band on the indie scene London hit Glasgow last night and they grabbed attention through a blistering set.
Their lead man, Fyfe Dangerfield, commanded the stage with a strong and expressive voice. On one song he held a small keyboard to his chest and sang acoustically when he held the audience in the palm of his hand. Fyfe has a wide-ranging voice which he used as an instrument.

 A stand out song was the beautiful folky song Made Up Love Song and also the touching Over the Stairs. The guitarist MC Lord Magrao does his own thing, as does the Scottish drummer Greig Stewart and their quiet lady bass player, Aristazabal Hawkes (who also plays double bass) are all top musicians.

This band enjoy making music with free abandon, slashing sax and many more effects. There were shades of the Kinks in their classy blend of the best of pop - soft yet furious at times. While Fyfe's lyrics are creative and imaginative.

They are touring Europe and London.

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Rodrigo y Gabriela, at the Barrowlands Glasgow, June 4th 2007

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Worship at the church of Rodrigo y Gabriela. Music of wonder and passion. The gig was foot-stomping, achingly sad, wondrous and passionate. They do a dynamic version of Stairway to Heaven and Mettallica songs mixed with flamenco and classical.
The gig was started by Brad Dannon from California and he had rich vocals and interesting songs. After which the stage was reverently set for the main act with mics, guitars and leads being carefully positioned and the still anticipation as we watched the two chairs set on the quiet stage..
Then stage was set on fire! as Rodrigo y Gabriela brilliantly counterpoint each other - Gabriela with her flowing rhythmic passion and Rodrigo with his guitar licks, pounding and delicious swirls, and heartbreaking guitar melodies.
They had no set list. Rodrigo led and took us on a musical journey from rock - several Mettallica song such as Orion, and Led Zeppelin – and their own songs. Gabriela is more flamingo in style, she burrs and hums and whirs her guitar, with her long hair flowing behind her.

Rodrigo’s music flows seamlessly while taking unexpected turns, one minute pounding the guitar, the next quietly and poignantly moving up the frets. There were moments of deep heartbreaking pathos, that suddenly turned into energetic exhilaration. A high point, of which there were several, was their playing of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You were Here’ with the crowd doing the vocals. Another was Rodrigo’s playing of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ - and he made this ultimate rock classic his own with changes that work perfectly.
Their performance had no airs or graces and they connected to the audience through their unique and wondrous acoustic music. I enjoyed the way they built up the momentum over the set and gave us something entirely new. For their encore they played Diablo Rojo and then after they went to shake hands with the front row of the audience.

The packed crowd left feeling a wonderful high. I hope they enjoyed their last gig of their present tour. They were returning to Mexico the next day and return to the UK to play Glastonbury. Rodrigo y Gabriela got their break after touring Europe in 2000 and then settling in Dublin, where they felt a kinship with the Irish and immersed themselves in the music scene there. They released a live album in 2001 and Rodrigo y Gabriela in 2006. Haste ye back to Scotland!
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Oddly on Monday two of the biggest names to emerge from Glasgow in recent years played small venue gigs here - perhaps in an attempt to get back to their grassroots with low key performances to a small crowd.
Franz Ferdinand at the Grand Old Opry in the depths of the south side, and Snow Patrol at King Tuts in Sauchiehall street – the place where they played years back and built up their fanbase. FF meanwhile played parties in Glasgow - hence their ‘music for girls to dance to!’ which has made them the biggest band out of Scotland.