Saturday, 30 June 2012

Festivals 2012


Summer festival season started this weekend with heavy rain making a mud wash out for those travelling.  Lets hope the UK weather picks up. 

Sadly I am very busy this year with other commitments while I would wish to be attending more live gigs and festivals. I hope at least to make Edinburgh in August for a short while anyway. I have weddings and more in the middle of it all.    

Glasgow Westend Festival 1st – 24th June

*Isle of Wight 22nd – 24th June,
 Bruce Springsteen, Biffy Clyro, Elbow, Pearl Jam,

*T in The Park 7th July 2012, Belado, Scotland,
Snowpatrol, Kasabian, The Stone Roses,

*Latitude  13th – 15th July, Suffolk
Bon Iver, Elbow, Paul weller,

*V festival 18th August, Chelmsford, Essex
The Stone Ross, The Killers, Snowpatrol,

Doune the Rabbit Hole 24th August  , north Kilsyth Carron Valley, Scotland -  Phantom Band, King Creoste, Aidan Moffat, http://dounetherabbithole.co.uk/
Other festivals Scotland - Wickerman 20th August - http://www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk  
Belladrum 3rd August Inverness - http://www.tartanheartfestival.co.uk/

Monday, 25 June 2012

Lana Del Rey 'National Anthem' Video

Lana has released artwork for her forthcoming video for her single National Anthem. She has a very unique style and she likes her music to be about the images too. The video is set to see Lana taking on the role of Jackie O with rapper A$AP Rocky playing John F. Kennedy. Del Rey cited the video as "definitely the most beautiful thing" she's ever done. As of June 29, 2012, it has garnered over one and a half million views.
REVIEW What Culture -http://whatculture.com/music/lana-del-rey-national-anthem-music-video-review.php - It’s actually really really sad and a truly stunning video (especially the end monologue) – it is all about nostalgia, memories, life, love and loss. I preferred the more upbeat demo version of National Anthem originally but I think this video makes the most of the new more forlorn version and bolsters it upwards. Will it set the charts alight…if it does provide a breakthrough then it is much deserved. Get ready for the Summertime Sadness video soon but in the meantime, rejoice in a national anthem that everyone can actually remember the words to.  Stars, stripes and serenading the President are all in a day’s work for the 2012′s First Lady of Pop as she delivers another note-worthy all-American visual.

Born to Die has sold more than 1.4 million copies worldwide. It peaked at number one in Greece, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and other European countries.
Del Rey's music has been noted for its cinematic sound and its references to various aspects of pop culture, particularly that of 1950s and '60s Americana. The singer has been described as a "self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra" and cites many contemporary artists such as Elvis Presley,Britney Spears, Nina Simone, Nirvana, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and Antony and the Johnsons amongst her musical influences.
Del Rey possesses a wide contralto vocal range, which has been described as unique, captivating and highly emotive, being able to transcend from sounding high and girlish in her timbre, down to a low and jazzy sound with great ease, although both these areas of the voice can be conflicting in their sound and polarise opinion. 
http://youtu.be/60cvtxwlJr8

Lana Del Rey wows crowd at Hackney Weekend!

It is good to see Lana is now performing with scaled back stings and piano rather than the out-of-step rock band that backed her on her Saturday Night Live performance and which didn't match her range of jazz infused soul sound at all.
Lana performed her next single National Anthem as her encore and shook hands with the enthusiastic crowd. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejg2zFpvTzI 


Interesting. Also I heard this track on the radio today. Lana Del Rey and Bobby Womack 'Dayglo Reflection' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eJkETkfdSg –
Del Rey is due to play a host of UK festivals, including this weekend's Isle Of Wight Festival as well as Radio 1's Hackney Weekend and Latitude Festival.  Earlier this month she played Los Angeles' El Rey Theatre and debuted a brand new song, 'Body Electric', at the show.

I watched LDR on the YouTube clips when she received poor reviews of her performance on Letterman. I also watched some other clips, where she performed with only piano and I posted on YouTube how much better she sounded with the piano backing rather than the band, where she looked and sounded ill at ease and rather lost.
Del Rey has spoken about how hard she found being judged by music fans and critics at the start of the year. "When you focus on being a writer for ten years and then after that people start listening to the work and they decide that they don't like you and that's kind of off-putting," she told BBC Radio 1. Adding: "Just because when you've put all your work into crafting words and melodies and then people start thinking about you as a person, that's a little off-putting."
As of March 2012, Born to Die has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. It peaked at number one in Greece, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Emeli Sande Olympic Torch Relay George Square June 2012


 

Emeli Sande performed at as part of the George Square Olympic Torch Relay celebrations 8th June 2012.  She performed songs from her number one UK Album Chart, Our Version of Events, which was released in February 2012.
Emeli sang her album songs – Heaven, Tiger, Breaking the Law, My Kind of Love, Daddy, Wonder, Next To Me.
She asked us to join in her last two songs. A very young child behind me, who was about five, was singing along and knew all the words. Her mum said she had heard them on the car cd player. Emeli said that ‘Wonder’ would be the summer single, and it’s hum along chorus works well with stadium audiences – as does ;Next To Me;.

Sande appeared as a guest artist on Professor Green’s single 'Read All About It' which reached the number one spot on the UK Top 40 Singles chart in October 2011. Emeli Sandé is a Scottish R & B and soul artist and songwriter. Before pursuing her musical career, Sandé studied medicine at Glasgow University. Sandé first became known to the public eye after she featured on rapper Chipmunk’s, ;Diamond Rings; which entered the UK top Ten Singles chart. Also a top ten hit with Wiley’s 'Never Be Your Woman; Sandé released her first solo single 'Heaven' in 2011 which made No. 2 UK Singles chart.  Her album 'Our Version of Events' was released in America in June 2012 to good reviews.. Emeli Sande Photo Gallery - ttp://www.zenfolio.com/pkimage/emelisande 

Transatlantic Band


Every January my son and I take a front row seat at the 'Transatlantic Sessions' Celtic Connections Glasgow. This is a very unique concert - and is about the band firstly and live bands don't come much better than this one! The musical directors are Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and dobro player Jerry Douglas.
Transatlantic Band. Ruth Moody, Declan O’Rourke, Tim O’Brien, Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, Danny Thompson, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Donald Shaw, Darrell Scott, Bruce Molsky

There is an earthy real sound here. Folk tunes, as Dylan found, touch a deep place and yes you can play the tunes over and over.  What I love is the way the singers are centre stage I mean vocally surrounded by these rich deep warm tones of the folk music. Singers include some of the most beautiful Celtic voices -   Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, Cara Dillon, Darrell Scott, Tim O'Brien, Paul Brady, Julie Fowlis.
Folk music has stood the test of time and much like good wine it simply gets better with age. 

Here is the perfect voice of Cara Dillon singing Garden Valley. Words and Music by Scottish singer songwriter Dougie McLean  

Monday, 11 June 2012

Alternative Music Festivals UK 2012


There are ‘alternative’ festivals to the mainstream festivals - which are aimed at the more 'serious' music lovers rather than those simply seeking a party weekend. 

Cambridge Folk. http://www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk/
Doune the Rabbit Hole. http://dounetherabbithole.co.uk/
Celtic Connections. http://www.celticconnections.com/

Hop Farm with headliners Dylan and Peter Gabrielle is the festival I would head to. but I've not applied to any far away festivals for photo passes this year. I’m not prepared to deal with a tent for two nights, although I know many provide up-market camping with Yurts and more.

In Scotland T In the Parkhttp://www.tinthepark.com/ is the second biggest UK festival with many well known headliners, offering a wide range of artists but this festival can also be over commercialised. While Rockness http://www.rockness.co.uk/ is a better bet for outstanding scenery and a more alternative, eclectic and indie music line up.

With the recession and debt crisis attendance at festivals was down in 2011. There are also more festivals to choose from as well as there being loads of top festivals abroad with excellent line ups (such as Benicassim http://www.benicassim.org.uk/ ) which offer the hope of better weather and avoiding mud and rain!  New Scottish festival Doune the Rabbit Hole is a good bet for seeing up and coming Scottish bands.  


The biggest and best UK festival continues to be Glastonbury as it pursues its charity approach to avoid being over commercialised. Every fourth year they have to allow the fields to go fallow to recover. There is no Glastonbury 2012 however due to a lack of Portaloos and police officers caused by the London Olympics!. There you go : )  With the Jubilee and Olympics just as well we can think of the debt crisis after? 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

*Great Scottish Troubadours

Dick Gaughan
Rab Noakes
Emeli Sande

Writing this I realise I've been fortunate to have met and seen live most of these very talented Scottish Troubadours at their gigs in the past years and I have also taken photos of them  - with the exception of Annie Lennox and Gerry Rafferty. These talented artists include - Annie Lennox, King Creoste, Dick Gaughan, Rab Noakes, Karine Polwart, Emeli Sande, Dougie McLean and Michael Marra.
Some have managed to cross over to the mainstream for commercial successes, but for the likes of Gaughan does this matter if he can still tour his music? All these artists follow the music in the first instance, have great strength of character as well as being talented musicians.

*Dick Gaughan - Leads the field. He mixes his Scottish and Irish roots to great effect and draws on deep traditions of song craft.  Best songs Westlin Winds, Both Sides the Tweed
He's been touring his songs for over 40 years, while he also does song researching, and more. He is a true character in every sense with no pretensions whatsoever.  His songs have much to say about character, social inequalities, beauty, truth and more. For Gaughan it is about the song and its message - while also about his guitar and edgy voice. Worth seeing live for his chat between songs too. http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk

*Gerry Rafferty - I remember clearly listening to Humblebums and Stealerswheel small cassettes, before his solo career and to his many wonderful songs. He was the rare folk singer who managed to cross over to commercial successes - or maybe it was simply easier for talent back then? In the 70s he gave us his biggest hits - the soaring sax of Baker Street and the dancing rhythms of Stuck in the Middle With You, as well as Get It Right Next Time, Right Down The Line and The Ark. His songs cover the full spectrum of emotions, they express full-on-energy, questioning cynicism and mystic spiritualism. He was from Paisley Scotland and his music gave the folk song a new voice. He cared about the craft of the song and not celebrity or it’s trimmings. He was an artist in the true sense of the word and had a rare clarity of artistic vision. Folk pop singer songwriter Rafferty was one of Scotland’s greatest singer songwriters. http://www.gerryrafferty.com/

*Rab Noakes played with Rafferty in Stealers Wheel before going solo. He draws on 50s American rock n roll such as Buddy Holly and his hero Dylan. Noakes always sings some lesser known classic songs by respected musicians and clearly respects music back catalogue. Songs - Branch, Together Forever, Clear Day. Noakes is a straight talking and sincere man.  http://www.go2neon.com/
*Karine Polwart - Of the younger artists she has the most to say on social injustices and a lovely voice too. She writes about sensitive political issues, such as alcoholism and genocide. Songs Daisy, Rivers Run. I've met Karine and she is a lovely down to earth person too. http://www.karinepolwart.com/
*Michael Marra paints colourful images of American legends from his Scottish perspective. His songs are effective through his slanted humour. His songs include -  'If Dundee was Africa', 'Bob Dylan's Visit to Embra', 'Grace Kelly's Visit to Dundee,' 'Muggie Shaw', 'Freda Kohl's Visit to the Tay Bridge Bar', 'Lonesome Death of Francis Clarke',  'Schenectady Calling', 'Letter from Perth', http://www.musical1.com/Michael_Marra/

*Annie Lennox started out in the Eurythmics with Dave Stewart (Sweet Dreams) and has gone on to solo successes worldwide both as a song writer and performer. Annie also does a lot of work for charities -  Amnesty International and Greenpeace. She and Dave Stewart donated all of the profits from Eurythmics' 1999 Peacetour to both charities. Lennox is one of the worlds best selling music artists.  http://www.annielennox.com

*Dougie MacLean is one of Scotland’s premier songwriters and producers. His most famous music is ‘The Gael’ which was used as the main theme for The Last of the Mohicans. And Caledonia which has been covered by many other artists and called Scotland's "unofficial national anthem". He played with the bands Tannahill Weaver and Silly Wizard. http://www.dougiemaclean.com

I'm not sure where the young Troubadours are. Yes I know there is KT Tunstall and Paolo Nutini who have had successes on the festival circuit, yet I am not sure what these artists are saying to me. A mention here for talented singer songwriters Kim Edgar, Boo Hewerdine, King Keoste and Kris Drever, who tour and play at Celtic.
    
Exciting New Scottish Artists 2012
*Emeli Sande. I've followed Emeli (previously known as Adele) since 2006 at her ep launch and it has been very exciting to see her reap the rewards from all her songwriting work with the successes of her debut album Our Version of Events,due to be released in America in June. She has a powerhouse soul voice and distinctive song writing. I met Emeli at her King Tuts gig and she has such a natural warm smile and was very earnest about her music. She plays clarinet and piano. http://www.emelisande.com/
*King Creoste - His album collaboration album Bats in the Attic with Jon Hopkins won him a Mercury Prize Nomination 2011. Creoste draws from folk roots and world music influences.http://www.kingcreosote.com/ 

New Scottish Bands - Admiral Fallow, Dirty Beggars, Rura, Manran... There appears to be more creative activity in the folk/bluegrass/Celtic rock traditions than in the rock music field. Perhaps following after the success of English artist such a Mumford and Laura Marling.
Scotland boasts three world scale Arts festivals - T in the Park (second largest music festival in the UK), Celtic Connections and Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe festival. Glasgow has the most attendances at Arts events of any UK city ( this includes galleries). As well as the SubClub world famous dance club venue. 

Scottish music: Rock of the north -  Talk of independence is giving Scottish culture a boost – especially in the thriving music scene. The new bands are inspired by the country's traditional music, and they sing in their own accents too! I found this article below on the resurgence of Scottish 'pride' in our very unique Scottish heritage - and it's effect on younger musicians. Many say they now feel proud to include Scottish roots elements in their music. Plus some Scottish bands no longer feel they 'have' to be based in London an can access the wider world via a Scottish base - the Errors, Frightened Rabbit, Twilight Sad, Admiral Fallow.  London is a very over crowded city metropolis and why should Scottish bands/artists feel they have to move there to have successes. If you check the artistic breath of Scottish music its' a huge plus to be free of the 'what's the cool trend' in London. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/

Karine Polwart

Michael Marra

Eclectic Taste in Music


I was wondering about this - why I have eclectic taste in music and why it is that many people like to focus on only one or two genres of music. I believe I perhaps I have broad tastes in music because of my own personal journey in music. 

I started piano lessons when I was seven and the focus then was on simple tunes and then musical and national tunes. I sang in school and church choirs -  sometimes Burns songs. Eventually I moved on to classical pieces - such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. In my teens I got very into pop music - from Motown, The Beatles, The Stones, Cream and more. I played Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Elton John on the piano. In my twenties I got involved with the 'folk scene' in Edinburgh and enjoyed traditional reels and unaccompanied and harmony singing.  
I enjoy all the genres and I wouldn't want to have to choose between them!

However for some 'music' is about their image of themselves - how cool or otherwise they see themselves. For me it's' about music or voices that move me and what makes a good song or melody.
There are great folk tunes and fairly boring folk tunes; there are also great pop songs and boring pop songs; there are great classical pieces and dull classical pieces of music; there are energizing rock gigs and dull rock gigs too. I get annoyed on Wikipedia or elsewhere when I read the music snobs who think pop music is only for young people and only for commercial reasons... and that by contrast all classical or jazz music is wonderful.   

Sometimes it is the simple song that we remember, the endearing folk song that moves us or the classical piano sonata that touches our heart.        

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