Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 A Year of Resolutions and Turbulence.

A Year of Resolutions and turbulence.
A year of change, destruction and extremes, of questioning and uprising.
The Arab Spring and bloody times. Murder of ignorant dictators.
Did we ever see the like..? 
The Sun and Rupert Murdoch were told to answer for their Code of No Ethics.
The collapse of the Euro.
Japanese Tsunami.
Royal wedding, Global Warming.
Floods. Earthquakes. Hurricanes.
The Internet brought us close, yet kept us apart.

My wishes for 2012 . 
That education is not about 'mediocrity', what is average and multiple choice questions - but about individuality, creativity, questioning and higher standards. That the new religion is harmony, morality and freedom of thought.
More peaceful times.... 

*NEW YEAR Tv
Best on Jools Holland – Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three! and Aloe Blacc
BBC Scotland - Rab Noakes singing Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Get it Right Next Time.’

Friday, 30 December 2011

MUSIC 2011

I’m excited about music right now. Coldplay released their Paradise video which is another classic and they are bound to hold yet more stadiums mesmerised with their grand melodies.  

New Artists
Emeli Sande/  Emeli released her second single Daddy November 2011 and she supported Coldplay on tour. 
I saw her gig here for her first EP launch in December 2006 when she sang her own songs and a Nina Simone cover. I saw her again four years later at King Tuts December 2010 and she has had a busy time since then!  In 2011 she has had The Mobos, her debut single Heaven which reached No 2 in the UK charts in October. Her second single Daddy is due for release in November and her album, Our Version of Events, will be released early 2012. Emeli spoke of how wonderful the past year has been for her and of her present number one song with Professor Green titled 'Read all about It.
Her music is rocky and upbeat. It is also full of pathos and on the edge of our joys and sorrows. As Emily says herself.. This ain't no 'soft soul easy listening' but soul with a questioning edge.  I had a chat with her backstage at King Tuts December 2010 when she said her music was 'soul with a rocky edge' and influenced by the likes of Portishead, Massive Attack and Joni Mitchell.  
I am now excited for her album release and I expect her album to be a smash success!
Emeli drew attention for her big soul voice when only 16. She attended Glasgow medical school and after obtaining a medical degree in Neuroscience, she decided to focus on her music. I wish her well for her album release. It is clear she doesn’t do things by half measures!  Emeli has won the Brits Critic choice award for 2012.
http://www.emelisande.com/

Aloe Blacc - Aloe Blacc - King of the Soul singers. He captured the main stage at Glastonbury 2011. Check ' I Need A Dollar and Billie Jean' ( Highsnobiety TV: An Evening with Aloe Blacc at MADE - Berlin creative space MADE recently played host to singer songwriter Aloe Blacc, violinist composer Mihalj "Miki" Kekenj & painter Jaybo.
Rebecca Ferguson Reviews - Telegraph - After 12 years, reality TV has finally turned out someone who not only has the hallmarks of a real star, but is also an artist in her own right. "Syco have been really brilliant – as soon as I put my foot down they back off completely. I just wanted songs I'd written on the album. At first I was going into sessions with writers who'd pretty much got all of the songs done already. But I told management they needed to let me write it because otherwise no-one's going to think I'm a credible artist. Then they let me just go into sessions on my own – I couldn't believe it.



 GIGS – I’ve been very fortunate to see two music legends live who are my biggest inspirations  – Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. Both gigs were awesome. There is good interest in Bob Dylan oddly! this blog has had more hits than any other!  

I have also seen exciting new artists this year - Emeli Sande, James Blake, girl band Warpaint and Canadians The Low Anthem.

Musicfootnotes Blog - This has been my main focus the past year, and combines my writing and photography.  (Also Songbook, Poetrynotes Blog). 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Aloe Blacc ABC O2 Glasgow 12th December 2011

Aloe Black stole our hearts and showed why he is the King of Soul. He was supported by a DJ set which meant the dance beats were kept up with no pause before Blacc’s entrance onstage. 
He sang with his crooning mellow voice.  He was also the dance master of cool, with some neat footwork and sliding shimmies.  Later during his set Blacc created a soul train down the centre of the Glasgow audience where locals were only too happy to boogie down. Songs included -  ' I Need A Dollar’ and ‘Billie Jean.' 
For his encore he spoke of missing the sun of his homeland and sang the Beach Boys classic ‘California Dreaming.’ 

Blacc caused a stir at Glastonbury 2011 with his performance there on one of the main pages.  
It is worth checking Blacc singing at MADE on YouTube – a collaboration in Germany between composers, artists and performers.   ( Highsnobiety TV: An Evening with Aloe Blacc at MADE - Berlin creative space MADE recently played host to singer and songwriter Aloe Blacc, violinist and composer Mihalj "Miki" Kekenj and painter Jaybo.)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

*Emeli Sande wins the Brits Critics' Choice award

I saw Emeli Sande gig at the Oran Mor Glasgow for her first EP launch in December 2006. I saw her again four years later at King Tuts in 2010. She has had a busy time since then!  In 2011 she has had The Mobos and her debut single Heaven reached No 2 in the UK charts. Her album, Our Version of Events, will be released early in 2012. Emeli spoke of how wonderful the past year has been for her and of her present number one song with Professor Green titled 'Read all about It.
Her music is rocky and the edge of our joys and sorrows - soul with a questioning edge. I had a chat with Emeli backstage at King Tuts December 2010, where she kindly sigend prints for me, and she said her music was influenced by the likes of Portishead, Massive Attack and Joni Mitchell. I am now excited for her album and I expect it to be a smash success!  Emeli attended Glasgow medical school and after obtaining a medical degree in Neuroscience, she decided to focus on her music.  http://www.emelisande.com/
Emeli is supporting Coldplay on their present tour.  NEWs Dec 2011 - Emeli Sande wins the Brits Critics' Choice award", which rewards up-and-coming talent. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Good Reviews for Rebecca Fergusson and for X Factor Runners-Up

On a different note - Both Olly Murs and Rebecca Fergusson’s albums have had good reviews in the Sunday Times, even though both are X Factor graduates and Runners-up! 
I went to listen to Rebecca's album and it is really rather good and authentic. She was a favourite of mine in the show in 2010. 
Rebecca's debut album 'Heaven' has been receiving top ratings and reviews in both the press and radio. The Independent gave Rebecca a very positive review, claiming "By the law of averages, talent-show telly has to throw up at least one genuinely serviceable talent every ten years or so, and Rebecca Ferguson is surely that one." I thought this review somewhat poignant and are these 'experts' realising at long last that their prejudices against Reality artists are in fact based on ignorance?  Interestingly she insisted on writing her own songs so she might be authentic and Syco let her!  http://www.rebeccaofficial.com

For the winners of these 'reality' shows the label fixate on the 'demographics' that slot people into a 'Type' and  the importance of targeting who their music will supposedly appeal to . By contrast the 'Runners-up' have less pressures on them from the label and from the controlling voice of Simon Cowell. 

It is all too easy to slag Reality tv off and it does have many flaws, while many bands and artists are 'put together' behind the closed doors of the industry and this 'developing' artists has gone on for decades, ever since the recording industry started.  I prefer some fresh raw talent to the 'over-polished formula' of the Guildford school graduates. The mantra should be about hard work and effort. 

The X Factor is another Promotional Tool for the Music Business.  
Rebecca Ferguson Review -  Telegraph,"After 12 years, reality TV has finally turned out someone who not only has the hallmarks of a real star, but is also an artist in her own right." Quote Rebecca, "Syco have been really brilliant – as soon as I put my foot down they back off completely. I just wanted songs I'd written on the album. At first I was going into sessions with writers who'd pretty much got all of the songs done already. But I told management they needed to let me write it because otherwise no-one's going to think I'm a credible artist. Then they let me just go into sessions on my own – I couldn't believe it.

What does scares me with music today is the ‘big American Media Conglomerates’ such as Warners and the damage they inflict on real music. Those XFM American radio Playlists and their cheap mindless sounds – all about gimmicks, dancers and pyrotechnics….

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

*Emeli Sande Oran Mor Glasgow 1st November 2011

Emeli burst on the Oran Mor stage firing on all cylinders. I saw her gig here for her first EP launch in December 2006, when she sang her own songs and a Nina Simone song. I saw her again four years later at King Tuts in December 2010 and she has had a busy year since then with considerable songwriting success. In 2011 she has had The Mobos, her debut single Heaven which reached No 2 in the UK charts in October. Her second single Daddy is due for release in November and her album, Our Version of Events, will be released early 2012. Emeli spoke of how wonderful the past year has been for her and of her present number one song with Professor Green titled 'Read all about It.

Tonight, again at the Oran Mor stage, she owned the stage and took us on her musical journey through soul, gospel, rock and R & B.  Emeli sang the new songs from her upcoming album – as well as a medley of her past hit singles collaborations.

She sat at the keyboard for her song ‘Clown’ and said it was here that she started her musical journey before co-writers and more were involved.  She said this song was a favourite from her new album and we heard why. It was a beautiful haunting song when I wished I had remembered to bring my recorder with me!  She talked about the wonderful experience of writing with Alicia Keys in LA and sang their collaboration song which was titled ‘Hope.’  
Emeli finished her set with her singles Heaven and Daddy and for her encore sang she sang 'Maybe' when the poignancy of her voice shone through with lyrics such as ' We can try a bit harder, We can make it work.'

She gave an accomplished and energetic performance. Her excitement to be performing her songs with a top band back home in Glasgow here where it all started was palpable. The venue was sold out as is the rest of her first intimate headline tour. 
Her music is rocky and upbeat. It is also full of pathos and sits on the edge of our joys and sorrows. As Emily says herself..'This ain't no 'soft soul easy listening' but soul with a questioning edge.The expressive timbre of her voice sends shivers.  She states that her music is 'soul with a rocky edge' and influenced by artist such as Portishead, Massive Attack and Joni Mitchell.

I am now excited for her album release and I expect her album to be a smash success!
Emeli drew attention for her big soul voice when only 16. She attended Glasgow medical school and after obtaining a medical degree in Neuroscience, she decided to focus on her music. I wish her well for her album release. It is clear this lady doesn’t do things by half measures!  MORE Photos - http://pkimage.co.uk/
 http://www.emelisande.com/ 
 SET List
1. Tiger
2. Where I Sleep
3. Suitcase
4. Lifetime
5. Clown (Emeli piano)
6. My kind of Love
7. Next To Me
8. Breaking the Law
9. Hope – River (Emeli Piano)
10. (Medley)
11. Gravity
12. Daddy
13. Maintain
14. Heaven
15. Maybe (encore)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Goa Xingjian

Goa is from China, after speaking out against the cultural revolution he now lives in exile in France, in his Second Life.  As happened in Russia after this country's revolution, the 'free thinkers' and the creative people have had to flee China.  He is a writer, poet, playwright and painter and I went to his talk this August at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011.
 
Goa discussed his views on the differences between the artistic genres and the aesthetics of the different art forms - he spoke of how painting is not literary, theatre is not literal, and the art of the narrative. He said that Literature has suffered from political interventions and it can subjugate literature when authors submit to politics. That globalization imposes also. 

He talked of the necessity for literature to confront experience. Of how we don't understand 'Evil' and the 'Nazi' experience and how history could easily repeat itself. That people 'like to be led' as it is the easy way and how important 'independence' of Thought' is. 

Gao had a deep serenity and calmness about him.  His paintings are very good and they lead the eye on mystical journeys. He talked of setting aside months to paint when he barely reads at all - because image and painting must come direct (without words). When he paints he listens to music and he feels that painting is beyond words.
Gao describes himself as a 'total artist' - creating novels, short stories, essays, plays, paintings and film.  His 'Ballad Nocturne'  continues his ongoing experimentation with dissolving and redefining artistic boundaries, and with melding aesthetic forms.

*Bob Dylan Braehead Arena Glasgow 9th October 2011

Dylan revisited his favourite sons and as the familiar song refrains start it's like going home again. 
I went with my guitarist son, and he was nearly as overwhelmed as I was! Dylan performed more than I expected. At the SECC Glasgow in 2006 we were further back and all I remember was Dylan hunched over the keyboards. Happily for this gig he even smiled a few times as he faced the audience at the mic for several songs when he squatted slightly and seemed to enjoy himself. It is simply inspiring to hear and see him live... 

I noticed the admiration and awe of his band as they strove to embrace his music. His lead guitarist lent forward towards Dylan at the keyboards as if to draw from his wisdom. His band did excellent work of expressing the songs.  
I could feel the reverence of the crowd at the front and this is serious business being a Dylan fan! Few are drinking. Most have travelled to many Dylan gigs - and have seen him ten or twelve times at least. One fan beside me saw him in the 60s at the Edinburgh Playhouse when Dylan was 24 and had just gone rocky.  And yes he was seventy too, the same age as Dylan is now.

Highlights Songs - Full Set List below. Songs: It Ain't Me Babe, Tangled Up in Blue, Simple Twist of Fate, Desolation Row. For his encore Dylan sang Like a Rolling Stone, and All Along The Watchtower. Mark Knopfler supported (think Dire Straits and Money for Nothing ) and he gave a very capable performance. I'm not sure what it is like supporting a master craftsman like Dylan and many artists of any calibre must feel second rate.

Dylan's songs and stories tell of the contradictions in life as they hit reality square in the face with his hard-hitting lyrics, voice and tunes. When he moved from Duluth Iowa to Greenwich village New York, Dylan soaked up many diverse influences for his music. Dylan has piercing eyes and a cracking, scorched voice just like the blues singer Robert Johnston he so admires. 

He takes us to the other side of his songs. Perhaps we hope he might take us to that promised land? Going to see Dylan live is like a pilgrimage and you meet many other dedicated disciples on the way there and on the way back. You either get Dylan or you don't - and you have to go to him he doesn't come to you.

None of the usual descriptions can really apply to Dylan.  Music is his life.  How can I possibly write that his lyrics are colourful or deep when these words sound such simple clichés.  Dylan has opened my eyes, perhaps he shows us the promised land is possible.
It is wonderful to be alive in the time of a poet like Bob Dylan.  A comment from Rab Noakes -
'I can't imagine my life without Dylan in it.'  Bob was on great form last night. Good-natured, good song-choices, good band esp Charlie Sexton.'

306 views

There is a site for Dylan's set lists and lyrics (thanks to the fan beside me told me about) called boblinks.  - http://www.boblinks.com/

Set List
1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob on keyboard)
2. It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob on keyboard)
3. Things Have Changed (Bob center stage with harp)
4. Tangled Up In Blue (Bob center stage with harp)
5. Cold Irons Bound (Bob center stage with harp)
6. Simple Twist Of Fate (Bob on guitar)
7. Honest With Me (Bob center stage with harp)
8. Desolation Row (Bob on keyboard)
9. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
10. Blind Willie McTell (Bob center stage with harp)
11. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard)
 12. Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob center stage with harp)      
 (encore)
13. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)
14. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on keyboard)

Band Members
Bob Dylan - guitar, keyboard, harp
Tony Garnier - bass
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Charlie Sexton - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Celtic Connections 2012 Press launch 25th October 2011

The Press Launch for Celtic Connections 2012 was held in Glasgow on Tuesday 25th October 2011.  Chaired by the festival's Artistic Director Donald Shaw, he announced there would be a political thread to the festival in 2012. This will be the 19th year for one of the world's largest winter music festivals. Shaw spoke of the Arab spring and other recent world wide revolutions and how music was often interlinked and can offer hope of a better life.  How some folk music has become too mainstream and lost the power of offering a voice to the people.  He spoke of how popularity can get in the way of what an artist has to say.
There will be 300 events in 20 venues across Glasgow. Celtic covers folk, roots, world, traditional, indie, Americana, bluegrass and jazz music.  He said that folk and trad would continue to be at the heart of the festival, with artists such as Shooglenifty, Session A9, Blazin fiddles, Treacherous Orchestra, Salsa Celtica, and more. Highlights will include a celebration concert for Gerry Rafferty who died last year and also a concert for the Woodie Guthrie Centennial with Sarah Lee Guthrie. The international line up will include Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Bruce Hornsby, Jack Bruce, Justin Currie, Martin and Eliza Carthy, and KT Tunstall. The Festival club will be held this year at the Apollo 23.
A core of the festival is its educational program. There was a BBC Live Radio Scotland show that evening which included Spanish band Sol i Serena.
I sat beside Scottish songwriting legend Rab Noakes who is involved with the Rafferty concert and was a founding member of Stealers Wheel - I expect will be a sell out very soon!  As will the ever popular 'Transatlantic Sessions', which last year toured and includes American dubro player Jerry Douglas and Scottish fiddler Ali Bain. I enjoy Celtic for the unique collaborations it offers. 


Celtic Connections runs from 18th January to 5th February 2012.
Tickets are now on sale - http://www.celticconnections.com/
 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

*Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011



Pauline Black
Romola Garai
Ben Okri
John Byrne

http://www.zenfolio.com/pkimage/edinburghbookfestival 

Leo


I took photos at 'Leo'  -  performed by Tobias Wegner and directed by Daniel Briere, which won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, and will receive a full NYC production at Theatre Row in January.   The award is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's highest honour, and was presented at the festival's closing ceremonies on August 26.  The production is from the acclaimed German company Circle of Eleven, and considers what happens if the laws of gravity suddenly change. Leo combines stage design and video projections, to create an unexpected environment in which our hero is forced to adapt to this surprising situation.  The award is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's highest honour, and was presented at the festival's closing ceremonies on August 26.  The production is from the acclaimed German company Circle of Eleven, and considers what happens if the laws of gravity suddenly change. Leo combines stage design and video projections, to create an unexpected environment in which our hero is forced to adapt to this surprising situation.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Songwriters Circle BBC 4

October 7th - Leon Russell, Nick Lowe, Paul Brady.

October 14th – Donovan, Buffy St.Marie, Roger Cooke.

October 21st – Neil Finn, Janis Ian, Ryan Adam.

October 25th – KT Tunstall, Ray LaMonatgne, David Gray.

Fridays 9.10.pm. Held at the Bush Hall London. The art and process of songwriting. They perform, collaborate and chat about their songs.

Followed by ‘Singer Songwriters at the BBC.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Edinburgh Festival 2011 (review)

Roland Rivron
I still have hundreds of images to sort...
Edinburgh's theme this year was Eastern colours, dance, and contrasts.  How do we find the joys, the fun in life that gets lost in our everyday realities?  I always pick a theme and my theme this year is fun and what festivals should be for, because after all if life isn't 'fun' what exactly is it for? My main focus is now the 'Edinburgh International Book festival' and I have much less time on the High Street. 

I took photos of the fringe show 'LEO' that is heading to New York and of many authors. Some of my stalking didn't work out. I missed Gordon Brown, David Hasselhoff and Brad Pitt (here Glasgow) - but I did meet Alex Salmond and shook his hand! Cool. 
Stalking!  I missed some stalking opportunities!  I missed my shot of Gordon Brown (ex PM)  who came with his wife Sarah for her talk at the EIBF. It was only a normal Saturday night in Glasgow when Zombies take over the streets!  Tuesday and Brad Pitt media arrived in Glasgow Central station. The pose of photographers were disappointed as he was taken off the back of his train and whisked away.  I later heard that one snapper got the 'shot' for the Sun.  Also a tip that David Hasselhoff would be at the BBC tent at 10pm, and I wasn't able to manage this stalking either!   

FRINGE SHOWS. My first show was 'Rick Hall', as seen on tv show 'Mock the Week'.  Next 'The Dead Philosopher' at the Traverse and the premise was that 'life is a joke' - well if so this show certainly wasn't one!   *
 *LEO.  I took photos at 'Leo' which was a highly creative and wonderful performance and was performed by Tobias Wegner and directed by Daniel Briere. Leo won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award and will receive a full NYC production at Theatre Row in January. The award is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's highest honour, and was presented at the festival's closing ceremonies on August 26. 
I was on the phone outside Biblos restaurant on the corner of Chambers Street when 'Gerry' of Martian fame walked past in the rain wearing a long leather coat with his serious deadpan look. Perhaps it is all fleeting odd moments that we have here and nothing is real or as it seems..? Life leads us on strange paths and on these pavements that have seen to many footsteps...
 'Real harmony comes from the heart. Trust, respect and friendship are all essential.' Dala Lama. My Field of Dreams, I search through them as they hover above, Sometimes golden, Sometimes hollow. 

Edinburgh has strong ever changing winds and apparently the rain is connected to the high tides. One photographer has shot Dylan. In our yurt, that one describes as a 'soggy mushroom' the crack at times is fun. I wonder to myself that some young people can't take time to 'smell the roses' - they are so busy constantly plugged in online.
I love the challenge of Photography while sometimes I wonder it is writing I really want to be doing. Sometimes the song is like a gift.   
It has been cloudy quite often and I feel tired and sad it is over for another year. The last day and it feels the posters are tired and sad a little too, as am I. Cultural overload. For the discerning there is much on offer to delight the senses at EIF.  A big Thanks to all at the Edinburgh Book Festival for another top year.  2,500 shows at 250 venues over 3 to 4 weeks, over one million visitors.  

TMSA Young Trad Tour 2011


BBC Radio Scotland Award finalists hit the road! The cream of Scotland’s young traditional musical talent is touring the country in the next few weeks. Coming together as the TMSA Young Trad Tour 2011, the group consists of the six finalists of this year’s BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award/
 On tour are the Orcadian fiddler Kristan Harvey (2011 winner); Lorne MacDougall from Carradale, Argyll (pipes/whistles); Tina Rees from Glasgow (piano); Alistair Ogilvy from Strathblane (Scots song); Mairi Chaimbeul from Kyle of Lochalsh, Skye (clarsach/Gaelic song); Andrew Waite from Duns in the Scottish Borders (accordion) and 2010 winner, Dan Thorpe, from Inverurie (fiddle).
http://www.tmsa.org.uk

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Lana Del Rey - Video Games



She has a haunting and beautiful voice.  Lana has been a big internet hit with her video on YouTube 'Video Games' now at over 2m hits.
There has been controversy on the web over her reincarnation from Lizzie Grant, and comments over her new image being put together by the Label guys... What's the big deal here? - Dylan was Mr Zimmerman and never rode boxcars. Many artists reinvent themselves, that's the whole point!
There appears to be a community online of those who wish 'put down' those in the creative industries. It is easy to criticize, harder to actually put yourself out there. http://lanadelrey.com/
(Woody Guthrie rode those box cars though...)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

*GERRY RAFFERTY

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He has a hardness in his eyes while his songs are sensitive and true. I first heard his Baker Street album during my folk festival days, with its' soaring sax and hard-hitting lyrics. Then he had a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic with "Stuck in the Middle With You."

He always refused to play the big Label game and refers to this in this hit song with the lyrics  - 'Clowns to the Left of me, Jokers to the right...' . He never toured in the US, even while this song had No 1 Radio airplay. In a sense Rafferty was full of those Scottish contradictions with his strengths and weaknesses. He was from Paisley and sadly died early this year from alcohol related illness. His funeral was held at St Mirin's Cathedral in Paisley and attended by the first minister Alex Salmon.  http://www.gerryrafferty.com/

ArtWorks Scotland - Gerry Rafferty: Right Down the Line - BBC 2 Scotland Documentary aired August 2011



Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Great Singer Songwriters



Where are the great singer songwriters of today?  They are still here (I hope), they are simply hard to find these days and seem to be buried in a sea of 'commercialism' with over-hype, instant sound-bites, over-production and glossy videos. A telling moment on a recent BBC show was simply Simon and guitar on the Parkinson show. The creative genius behind great music, bands and orchestras is simply this and to find the heart of great art requires it is 'stripped back' to basics.  


What are the best songs of the past 2 decades that compare to the great songs of the 60s?  I was making myself a playlist of favourite songs and I was struggling to think of songs from the 90s and noughties that will last the tests of time...?  Names that came into my mind were Radiohead, Arcade Fire and Coldplay - all bands.  Many great singer songwriters started off in bands - Richard Thompson ( Fairport Convention),  Rafferty (Humbelbums), McCartney (the Beatles), Simon (Simon and Garfunkle)...more. Perhaps it is easier to find your artistic voice through collaborating. I know it can take years for classics to emerge.  

Culture has changed, the internet has given us access to instant media-music. In the 60s music was more of an investment of our time and money and involved a trip to the Record Shop!  I feel certain there are advantages to online streaming but drawbacks too.  It was a big deal for 50s artists when they were able to hear the blues legends on the radio. So the advancement of the new technologies means that all the arts can now develop at a much faster pace than ever before.  Yet the young people seem to crave nostalgia...

Does the proliferation of Talent Shows these days (both local and on tv) have a lot to answer for when they are mainly about producing musical performers and are not about the craft of the songwriter.  I guess there is still the folk scene for singer songwriters. Many say that their music is rooted in traditional folk music - for example Dylan drew on Woody Guthrie, and Elton on Leon Russell.

I worry though that the arts are loosing the 'heart' of what makes art or music truly great and unforgettable in their rush to pursue the business side of it all.  Reflecting on music and songs of recent times I began to wonder is there not much 'substance' or heart behind much of it, that tells me something new emotionally I've not heard a million times before? To quote Rab Noakes - ' a future with no past has no idea'. 

Singer-songwriting is about finding your own unique voice.  
Last week the BBC4 ran a show BBC Singer Songwriters.  On my list were many on this show  -  Joni, Rab Noakes, Rafferty, Paul Simon, Cohen.. all there. Those were simpler times back then. Great acoustic music is still here, it is just hard to find it these days : )


Last week the BBC4 ran a show BBC Singer Songwriters.  On my list were many on this show  -  Joni, Rab Noakes, Rafferty, Paul Simon, John Martyn, Cohen.. all there.  Those were simpler times back then. Great acoustic music is still here, it is just hard to find it these days : )


PS - Are older singer-songwriters doing enough to encourage and offer platforms for the younger artists?
I include a clip of Joni Mitchell on the BBC. Joni is probably my biggest inspiration for singer songwriters.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

*Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF)

Neil Gaiman
Lazlo Krasznahorkai










Simon Callow
Joan Bakewell
John Vailliant
John Byrne
Michael Ondaatje




This blog is mostly about music, but it is also about how music and words/lyrics/poetry and art work together.  While I enjoy Mozart, the music I enjoy most is also about the music and power of words.   
Edinburgh Festival is quite unique as it celebrates all forms of creativity in a major way - from the silent performance movement of the award winning fringe show LEO, the music of the Edge and the main International Festival, it's Arts festivals and theatre and drama all abound here. 2,500 shows at 250 venues over 3 to 4 weeks, over one million visitors.  
Some of the authors at EIBF were also musicians and artists.  For example Norwegian author Jo Nesbo who is known internationally for his crime novels and who also writes songs for the band Di Derre.  Also Nobel prize winner for Literature from China Goa Xingjian.
He is a writer, poet, playwright and painter. Gao describes himself as a 'total artist' creating novels, short stories, essays, plays, paintings and film. His 'Ballad Nocturne' continues his ongoing experimentation with dissolving and redefining artistic boundaries, and with melding aesthetic forms. After speaking out against the cultural revolution he now lives in exile in France, in his Second Life.  As happened in Russia, the 'free thinkers' and the creative people have had to flee China

Revolutionary change and times was the main theme for the EIBF this year. Change is not simply a good but also a necessary thing. Which begs the question - why have recent years seen such an upsurge in revolutionary thinking. Is it Twitter and Facebook!?  Those who are saying 'NO' - this isn't working and we want a better way.  
The Debates (the Spoken Word). This year the EIBF started doing Debates each evening and I went to the one on 'Scottish Independence'  The speakers were Ming Campbell, Mike Russell SNP, and articulate historian Neal Ascherson.  The main issue became around one of a hope for Forward Optimism.(refer to another Blog later for this debate). Fun comes in many guises and I had a fun time at the Debate as I reflected on the power of words.  And on how words and music together have the most powerful effective over our memories and emotions.  
My best images often come when the shoot has a buzz about it and where the author is either up for having portraits taken or has outstanding depth of character.   
Karin Altenberg

Candia McWilliam
A good portrait is about the character of the sitter and their stories.  This year I took photos of Irish writer Edna O'Brien, eccentric character and artist John Byrne, Chinese writer and artist Gao Xingjian, presenter Joan Bakewell, 'Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, footballer John Hartson, playwright and artist John Byrne, Scottish national poet Liz Lochhead, actor Simon Callow, writer Neil Gaiman, journalist John Valliant, The English Patient author Michael Ondaatje, comedy writer Rowland Rivron, feminist Badisha, writer Karin Altenberg, as well a Philosophers, politicians and other creative thinkers. MORE AUTHORS images on my Photographic Blog - http://musicfootnote.blogspot.com/  and website -   http://pkimage.co.uk/