Monday 31 March 2014

New Pono Player

In March Neil Young launched his high quality digital Pono music player at SXSW in Austin, Texas, where he said of his new player "once you hear this, you can't go back". The rock legend announced his plans for Pono - and during the event his Kickstarter campaign raised over $800,000 in just 4 hours! Young explained that 'Pono' is the Hawaiian word for 'righteousness'.

Pono promises lossless audio files, up to "ultra-high resolution" 9216 kbps. Pono consists of a digital music service (PonoMusic) and 128GB portable device (PonoPlayer) capable of storing 1-2,000 high resolution songs.
Some observers however have described the new player, which is yellow and shaped like a triangle, as looking like a Toblerone Chunky! Some also wonder whether we need higher quality sound for ‘music-on-the-go?

I read of Young’s music player,g which he called ‘Pure Tone’ at first, in his good read autobiography Waging Heavy Peace. Young was very concerned over the sound compression of mP3s and resolved to develop a high resolution sound. This reminded me of lo res web images compared to high quality prints. 

Young believes the quality of sound is being lost with MP3s as they compress the sound of music - whereas in the studio there are many layers of sound.  We might compare this to the quality of lo res web images compressed to 72 dpi to hi res prints 300dpi. 

The Pono Player is described as a "purpose-built, portable, high-resolution digital-music player designed and engineered in a "no-compromise" fashion to allow consumers to experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it, to life."
Young is due to release a new autobiography. I enjoyed reading his Waging Heavy Peace last year his stories of both his passion for both vintage cars and music 

His next album will also be released this month and he said the record was "An unheard collection of rediscovered songs from the past recorded on ancient electro mechanical technology captures and unleashes the essence of something that could have been gone forever…".
Neil Young SECC Glasgow 2013
QUOTE Neil Young in Waging Heavy Peace:I want to bring the soul of the music industry and the technology of Silicon valley together to create this new model using artists as the drivers’
I have an idea to build a portable player (I’ve called ‘Pure Tone’) and an online distribution model to present a quality alternative to MP3s.

‘To rescue music from the degradation in quality that is at the heart of the decline of music sales and ultimately music itself in popular culture with the advent of the new online music retailers (such as iTunes ) has some terrible quality. An mp3 has about five percent of the data that can be found in a ‘Pure Tone’ master file or a vinyl record.

I dislike what has happened to the quality of the sound of music, there is little depth or feeling left and people can’t get what they need from listening to music anymore, so it is dying.’
Recording is my first love in the creative field (along with song writing and music making)

Which all led me to think about how much I enjoy the quality of sound of live music. And also prompted me to restore our vinyl LPs and record player from their place in the attic. My son was highly impressed!

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Lyla Foy at Nice and Sleazy's Glasgow March 2014

Lyla took to the Nice N Sleazy stage, after a fine set by Scottish duo Turtles, who have a strong front singer and play powerful electronic melodic post rock. Worth checking out. 

Lyla sang with a subtle haunting country voice her memorable songs along with her backing band.  She sang with a dreamy ethereal, other worldly and even slightly hippy-ish look and feel to her music and look.

Her voice is pure and direct over a steady beat. There were some shades of  Christine McVie's melodic tones with the subtleness of Lana Del Rey and The XX in there too, as she mixes some folk with a more contemporary feel. 
Her songs have quiet reflective themes.  Notable songs were Easy, Feather Tongue and Left To Wonder.  

I hoped she didn’t feel let down that some mates of the support band had already left before her set -  fans of one artist should also support the other artists. It matters not the size of an audience but about impressing those who are there and the seasoned performers know this only too well! 

In 2013 the London singer songwriter put out her music under the pseudonym the WALL and her song No Secrets was well received by both BBC radio and the music website Pitchfork. Her single Magazine has good drama.
She also put out 2 pretty nifty covers - Something on my Mind by Karen Dalton and Where Did Our Love Go, sung by The Supremes.   

I might wish to hear more meat or edge come through at times in her sound though - to offer more dynamic range and moods to her intimate music.
She is a rising new artist now signed to Sub Pop records …. some artists slip quietly under our radar and Foy is one of them. . 

She is currently doing a UK and US small venue tour and has released her debut album titled Mirrors The Sky in which she recorded her vocals outside in fields and on beaches. . .

Dick Gaughan Milngavie folk club March 2014

The folk club was busy for Gaughan’s return gig here with both young and older fans. He prefers to stand tall with his guitar as he plays and sings.  

Dick Gaughan is a Scottish traditional folk singer, songwriter and guitarist. He sings of Scottish heroes and of stories of our lost past and long forgotten voices.  Gaughan has been playing the circuits both at home and abroad for many years now and he is a legend among folk circles. He is also one of the most down-to-earth and likeable artists without pretensions of any kind.  

He sang songs by Brian McNeill, Robert Burns, Ewan McColl and Gaughan - What You Do With What you've Got, Yew Tree, Outlaws and Dreamers, No God and Few Heroes, Whatever Happened to We Shall Overcome, and the outstanding Burns song Westlin Winds.

He prefers to learn from the generations before that have all the knowledge. ‘If you're lucky you can add a wee bit'   He said, 'I don't go for autobiographical songs, there's more interesting topics than me.’ He took traditional folk stories and songs from the library archives and put new melodies to them and he draws from both the Irish and Scottish folk traditions. He also spoke of legend songwriter Yip Harburg who wrote Over the Rainbow and Finnegan's Rainbow (who found a pot of gold and it destroyed him)     

His songs can seem hard hitting but are also full of thoughtful optimistic themes. Like American folk singer Dylan his songs and voice don't come easily to the shore and they tell of straight talking stories. He is also a stand out guitarist and plays with a unique style with open chords and dramatic timing that he learnt from guitarist Davy Graham. 

I first heard Gaughan play in the 70s in Edinburgh when I was dating a folk guitarist who raved about how incredible and very distinctive his playing was. Many years later I heard Dick again at Milngavie Folk club in 2007 and this was an intimate gig where his chat between songs was worth going for alone. 

One of the great troubadours of life's journeys. You come away from his gigs questioning but ultimately renewed in the faith of our shared humanity. He sang, 'Keep your eyes on the road ahead, Keep looking at the light.... '
At this gig I thought - music is not about how good an artist might feel about their music but rather how much joy they can give their audience.  

Gaughan was well supported by guitarists Robin Miller, and Mike Simons. 

Robin Miller
Its' not just what you're born with, but what you do with what you've got.
What's the use of two strong legs, if you only run away.
And what use is the finest voice if you've nothing good to say?
What's the use of two good ears, if you don't hear those you love.
Words &  Music by Si Kahn

He sang not of resolutions but of holding on to your vision. Gaughan was warmly received and seemed to enjoy the gig. I felt that his substance, refreshing honesty and questioning words must have impacted on the younger members of the audience and on the older ones too!  Dick Gaughan Photo gallery -

Thursday 20 March 2014

Your Disco Needs You – NEW SCOTTISH Musical Needs Your Help!

Your Disco Needs You – The Musical will be showcased in October to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the Mitchell Theatre Glasgow to raise funds and awareness of breast cancer issues.
It uses the songs of Kylie Minogue to tell a great story of five women coming together in a dance class to help save it from closure.

Grace, who runs DanzGraceful, decides to enter a dance competition, which has a prize that could save her business and help the community. She puts out the ad: “Your Disco Needs You” in a local paper in an attempt to attract new members, help revitalise class numbers and bring new ideas. Along comes: Sophie who lacks confidence because of her alcoholic husband and inability to find new work; Immy who is going through treatment for breast cancer but has a loving husband who supports her in everything she does even if he doesn’t always agree with it. Immy is also instrumental in bringing her fellow patients from their clinic’s exercise class to DanzGraceful to spice it up with the hula hooping and pole-dancing; Rosie is introduced after an argument with her partner that ends their relationship. A strong woman, she sees the class as an opportunity to find a new girlfriend; Jan is bored with the boyfriend she has been with since school and also finds new love at the dance studios.

The musical brings these characters together as they help change and support each other.
You don’t have to be a fan of Kylie to enjoy this musical. The songs seamlessly tell the story and will have you tapping along to the beat. Your Disco Needs You is a heart-warming story with laughter, song, dance, tears and a great feel good ending.

The musical was written by Neet Neilson a breast cancer survivor. Neet exercised through her treatments and continues to and felt that exercise through treatment helped her feel normal and recover well. It also helped keep the fatigue at bay.  There is plenty evidence from research validating the importance of exercise but this message isn’t reaching the patients.  Neet wrote the musical to help highlight this issue.  

Auditions in May!  As the musical has a breast cancer theme to it the production will also be inviting patients and survivors to audition for cast and chorus. The musical also has on board the amazing Tim Noble, Kylie’s choreographer, to ensure the dances have that Kylie-esque feel to them and is aiming to get five celebrities [one for each performance] to play a small guest part in the final scene. Keep checking the Your Disco Needs You website for details:

The musical will be staged at the Mitchell Theatre on the 24-26th October 2014.
 CrowdFunding!  PLEASE SUPPORT!
The production is currently crowd funding to raise the costs for the production so all the profit from ticket sales goes to the three cancer charities chosen: Macmillan Cancer, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the MBrace exercise project run in NHSGG&C. Macmillan Information Services will be on hand at every performance should anyone require advice and a Breast Cancer Specialist Nurse from the MBrace Exercise Project will also be present.  A breast self check will also be performed [on plastic boobs] at the interval.  

The project really needs your help to fund this very special event.  Even a small contribution and sharing the link to others will help. YOUR PROJECT NEEDS YOU!

Hot Guys!

theo hutchcraft
rory sutherland
jamie sutherland
Paolo Giordano Italian writer and physicist

Over the years shooting I have taken photos of some hot guys!  My gallery of hot guys! on my photo website has had by miles the highest number of hits! I wonder why!
Most photographers are male and they enjoy shooting females, so its the other way round for me and I enjoy shooting good looking men,  as one of the few female photographers and being used to the male scrum at some shoots!   

Sunday 16 March 2014

McCartney’s Songs

He writes enduring songs that capture with their simplicity.
I am not sure why I’ve not done a blog on Paul when he wrote some of my top ever songs
My small cassette playlists back in the days used to start with his piano songs - The Long and Winding Road and Let It Be.

More than any other songwriter his songs speak of the heart. He has written some of the most loved and best ever real and poignant melodies. I’m a big fan anyway of piano singer songwriters as I play myself and McCartney comes top of my list. I feel quite emotional even thinking about what Paul’s songs mean for me. His writing with John Lennon became a dynamic partnership and their rivalry spurred them on to greater heights.

McCartney’s notable songs with the Beatles are Yesterday (most covered sons ever),  Another Day, Blackbird, Eleanor Rigby (mostly written by Paul) and Hey Jude. As well as other songs I love - plus his co-writes with John Lennon when they played together with the Beatles.  

McCartney's Songs
Blackbird (1968) - McCartney explained,  Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road, 2005, that the guitar accompaniment for "Blackbird" was inspired by J.S.Bach’s Bouree in E minor, a well known lute piece, often played on the classical guitar.
Long and Winding Road (1969 ) – Some claim was written about his drive to Mull,  Paul said was about the dissolution of The Beatles. .
Let It Be (1969)  - In a dream Paul’s mother spoke to him. 'Mother Mary come to me, singing words of wisdom let it be.
Hey Jude (1968) – Paul wrote about Lennon’s song Julian.
Yesterday – Most covered song ever. Paul woke with the simple melody in his head - at first the lyrics were Scrambled eggs! 
Live at Hampden!. I saw McCartney live in Glasgow at Hampden in June 2010 and it was a truly wonderful concert and memory....  his coming on stage and thinking what his songs mean for me.  All those memories of those unforgettable songs that meant so much in my youth. When you’ve been a fan of someone since your teens it’s not easy to describe the thrill to see him live. My Review here -

His collaborations include most famously the Lennon/ McCartney songs written during The Beatles few years of fame. 

"He provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the dischords, the bluesy notes", John Lennon explained in his 1980 Playboy interviews.

Lennon and McCartney agreed together in their teens that all their songs would have co-written credits. Clearly early on they realized the sparks they both brought to each others writing. It is slightly hard therefore to distinguish who had the strongest song writing credit on the Beatles songs. It's a strange thing too, because I'm afraid that since the Beatles break up I'm not as keen on Paul's output and his songs with his band Wings - so what happened? Did Paul need Lennon's input and drive? While I am more impressed with his latest 2013 album titled New.
Lennon also wrote some of The Beatles top songs – Strawberry Fields, A Day in the life, Lucy in the Sky, Day Tripper, more…
The mod suits, the mop top hair, the fun energy, The Beatles Help movie, all those age defining and so unforgettable number one songs, and of course those album covers. 
It is hard for me to write on McCartney without getting over sentimental and it is hard if not impossible to describe what the Beatles meant back then - and especially Paul. Of course it was the combination of the Beatles special magic – but then McCartney wrote those piano melodies…... 

Quote John Lennon' in "How Do You Sleep" - "The only thing you done was Yesterday, and since you've gone you're just Another Day"

Saturday 8 March 2014

The Ballerinas

Ballet started 500 years ago in the city states of France for the nobility.
In 18th century there were fairies and sprites in the ballet. The access to the spiritual and to dreams is a feminine world and the ballerinas stole the spotlight on stage.   
Ballet is the only art where women dominate – women have played a greater part in ballet than any other art form.
There are 5 basic positions; there are dancers of technique and dancers of expression.
There are different schools of ballet. British ballet – lyrical and refined; French ballet – elegant and understated; American ballet – fast attack and athletic; Russian ballet - big and punchy.
There have been several very famous ballerinas.
British ballerina Margot Fonteyn – and her choreographer Frederick Ashton. He listened to the music for 3 months before he started to create the ballet, so he knew every note. He had an eye for detail and he loved both fluidity and design. This gave harmony of music and design.  
When Fonteyn was about to retire a 23 year old dancer Rudolf Nureyev came over from Russia, two decades her junior. Nureyev said that they were able to generate between each other that it was a gift, that we lived for each other. He said about her: "At the end of 'Lac des Cygnes' when she left the stage in her great white tutu I would have followed her to the end of the world."
Margot Fonteyn

Also there was the Italian ballerina Marie Taglioni; Russian ballerinas Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova and American Susanne Farrell – who lived in the moment and was able to completely let go.  

Galina Ulanova

Anna Pavlova

I grew up sketching ballet dancers and it has been a huge thrill for me to shoot at the Scottish ballet  - ballet 

My other blogs on Women artists  -

Thursday 6 March 2014

The Head and The Heart, Oran Mor

It is fitting that this Seattle band The Head and Heart felt so comfortable on the Oran Mor stage and they appeared pleased to be playing in Scotland again. They are an indie folk-rock band and have released two albums on Sub Pop Records.  They consist of Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Charity Rose Thielen (violin, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (piano), Tyler Williams (drums).  

I first heard the Head and Heart at the Oran Mor auditorium upstairs in 2010, which was a classic stage setting where I got some of my best B & W Portfolio photos there as I had unrestricted access -  I was keen to hear the band again.

The Oran Mor was hot steamy and packed out for their return headline gig here. Many in the audience sang along to their songs and waved their arms high in the air and at one point guitarist Josiah Johnson entered the audience as he sang!  Songs that particularly grabbed my attention were – Let’s Be Still, Rivers and Roads, Another story, Josh McBride, Down in the Valley, Gone and Ghost. 

The band have three strong front singers, Jonathan, Josiah and Charity, and their sound is organic and accessible. They played with assured competence and careful collaborations – and also with rhythmic relaxed dancing, hand clapping and a lightness of touch. There are no big egos on stage, simply musicians who clearly enjoy playing together and it showed in all their melodic and harmonized songs. On several songs one member played the tambourine with fun energy..
The band have progressed since they supported The Low Anthem in 2010 with longer hair and a more polished performance. I went to check their youtube videos and they appera to enjoy playing live outdoors - beside bonny lochs,  summer colours or in snowy fields.  I hope my images capture some of the energy of this fun gig.  

The Head and heart were very well supported by a talented Paul Thomas Saunders. http://www.theheadandthehear


 (PS The new electronic vivid coloured lighting and those 3 songs restrictions really don't allow for creating the best music photography. At their Oran Mor gig 2010 I had unlimited shooting and lighting that wasn't constantly changing and without those back of the stage distracting lights!.)