Showing posts with label rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rock. Show all posts

Saturday 7 June 2014

Summer Festivals

The summer festivals circuits aim at every taste and style of music fan and range from -
Radio One listeners - T in The Park, Benicassim ;  Radio Two fans -  V festival, Staffordshire, Hyde Park ;  Indie music fans - Bestival, Latitude (Isle of Wight), Primavera Sound Barcelona (with headliners Arcade Fire, The National). Rockness Inverness for the scenery and eclectic line up  
Rock and metal fans - Download ;  Dance and club - Sonar, Barcelona, international festival of advanced music and media art ;  Folk music at Green Man and Latitude.
Classic rock and pop for everyone at one of the best – Glastonbury and its biggest headline acts. 

Sunday 10 November 2013

TOP Female Rock Singers

I'm not a helpless little female full of romantic nonsense ... but able to speak up of myself. 

I was writing here about the awesome Fleetwood Mac and in particular Stevie Nicks while listening to new female rock singers Haim. I was struck by Haim's strong edgy voices and the defiant words in their songs and I thought about those female rock stars who have paved the way. 
Rock singers sing to a rhythm and rock beat, usually with a band that consists of drums, bass and guitars. They defy convention with their look and songs and they don't feel they need to adhere to expectations and the rules, but write their own agenda. They are not afraid of their independence. They retain their femininity without having to totter in high heels or strip to gain attention or to please our patriarchal society. Rock singers songs often evoke strong emotions and they normally also play instruments. Rock band Haim have an edge and are the new FRS.

I was surprised when I checked Wikipedia's List of Female Rock Singers - that they list several country, soul and singer songwriters who I'd never consider rock! (such as soul singer Donna Summer and songwriter Carole King)
I am not making a huge list here, but rather those FRS who stand out for me - two in particular.

*Stevie Nicks
is one of my all time favourite female rock stars. I love her style and attitude and the way her voice cracks yet remains strong and true.  Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974 along with her musical collaborator Lindsay Buckingham (also her lover at that time). The 'Buckingham Nicks' album, released 1973, was influenced by Cat Stevens and Jimmy Page's acoustic guitar playing in Led Zepplin.  
In Q this month she says she was inspired by Janis Joplin's presence on stage even though she was tiny and by the flamboyance yet humility of Jimi Hendrix.

Stevie wore those floaty surreal dresses and her top hat, a perfect look for her dancing presence on stage.  Along with Chrissie Hyde, Nicks was one of the first mega female rock stars, who really knew how to rock with the band, write songs and sing with an edge. Both were American. My all time favourite Stevie song is "Angel" from Tusk - just has that great edge and attitude!  And also her song "Rhiannon" (great live version on iTunes)     

*Chrissie Hynde
I admired the sassiness and confidence of her look, her stance and voice and the way she wore her fringe slightly too long!  Chrissie performed mostly with the band The Pretenders.
I also loved her songs - in particular "Angel of the Morning", "Brass in Pocket", "I'll Stand By You".   
Other top American female rock stars include Janis Joplin, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Pattie Smith.

There has also been several world class Scottish female rock stars - Annie Lennox, Sharleen Spitera, Lulu, KT Tunstall.
English female rock stars include Kate Bush, Alison Moyet, PJ Harvey,  
Also English pop singers I enjoyed a great deal - such as Dusty Springfield, Cilla, Marianne Faithful. 

 Strong female actors who are top role models - Sigourney Weaver (who played the first female lead character in Alien who was actually able to fight back and not stand there screaming! ), Angelina Jolie,(who normally plays strong lead roles in movies who are able to stand up for themselves plus she takes control of her own media)
Stevie Nicks - Angel -

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Emeli Sande Oran Mor 2007

I first took images of Emeli (then Adele) at her EP launch gig at Glasgow's Oran Mor venue. Emily was in the same medical course as my daughter then and she usually won the talent show at her uni course each year. 
She had an accomplished energetic rock soul band with her and performed a few upbeat songs. Then she took to the piano on the left of the stage and sang some Nina Simone songs. She had big hair back then!  She showed even then her unique passion in her voice. She had three backing singers too which surely showed how seriously she was being taken in 2007 by the industry.
I started this blog in 2007 while I wasn’t taking the blog as seriously then. Little did I know!. and if I might have imagined big things lay ahead. We all thought her voice was strong but it is impossible to be sure about anything in this fickle music business. What I hadn’t figured on was her drive and commitment which are certainly key ingredients.

I posted the photos from the gig and her PR contacted me about photos for her Aberdeen gig flyers and posters. I met her PR guy at a few events he had me along to shoot at.
Her manager phoned me about photos from London, which was really very exciting.  I started to pursue my music photography seriously in 2007 after I got some fun shots at a few gigs in 2006 with a small digital, and I purchased a SLR camera.  

Over this time she was very busy working on her uni course during the week and travelling to London on weekends to write songs and work on her music. She had a few hit songs – one with Chipmunk and another with Wiley.

Then in 2011 she played King Tuts…everything was being carefully planned. I met Emeli at her sound check there and she kindly signed some prints for me. 
At King Tuts she said she wanted to do "soul with a rocky edge." She is genuine and sincere and she appeared incredibly motivated. She sings of the wonder and beauty within all of us. I love the positive and true vibes of her music. She is excellent live and her voice has a moving resonance.

I believe that the successful artist have a purpose in their art – a message they need to convey and that they believe is important.
In July 2012 Sande performed at the London opening and closing ceremonies.This May 2013 Emeli won two prizes at this year's Ivor Novello songwriting awards for her hit song Next To Me as best song music and lyrics, and also most performed work. Her album Our Version of Events beat a record set by The Beatles for the most consecutive weeks spent in the UK's Top 10 by a debut album. I’m so happy for all her successes. 

We all left the Oran Mor (and the Albert Hall all those years later!) full of that feel good energy she exudes on stage.  
I look forward to the next chapter!

Monday 1 April 2013

Scottish band Biffy Clyro

Scottish band from Ayrshire, Biffy Clyro, like Frightened Rabbit who are selling out big venues over America, have not needed to travel to London to make it in the big time in music the way it used to be. This Scottish band has done so by building their fanbase through gigs and albums and online networking. 

I heard Biffy on Jools Holland tv show last year and they are the first band in ages I’ve been impressed over. Biffy won NME 2013 Best British Band 2013.

Biffy Clyro play the SECC Glasgow 1st April 2013.
Quotes from Biffy’s Bio -  United by a love of underground, experimental rock and post-hardcore bands such as Braid and Karate, along with the starrier likes of Guns N’Roses and Metallica, they quickly honed their own unique sound, a mind boggling mix of off-kilter tempos, itchy, unpredictable guitars, soulful choruses and feral screams, sewn together into a strange tapestry of sound that sat resolutely apart anything else being made at the time, both in spirit and - thanks to their admirable refusal to uproot from their hometown for the dog eat dog music community of London - geographically too.  Their first three albums – ‘Blackened Sky’, ‘The Vertigo Of Bliss’ and ‘Infinity Land’ – arrived in a barrage of creativity, a record released every year and relentless touring building up a small but devoted army of followers. Team Biffy’s ranks grew exponentially when ‘Puzzle’ came along and stunned listeners with its achingly personal, rich and complex take on rock anthems, and Simon, James and Ben found themselves playing Wembley Stadium with Muse, headlining the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury while being unmistakably a Biffy album, is something brand new again, perfectly crafted, produced and polished without ever once losing the heart, soul and strangeness that means so much to those who have been faithful from the start. And most of all, it means everything to Simon Neil and James and Ben Johnston.
Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band that formed in Kilmarnock with Simon Neil  (guitar, lead vocals), James Johnstone (bass, vocals) and Ben Johnston (drums, vocals). Currently signed to, they have released six studio albums, three of which,  Puzzle , Only Revolutions and Opposites reached the top five in UK Album Chart. They also claimed their first number one album in the UK Albums Chart with their sixth studio album, Opposites. Puzzle(2007) made No. 2  UK album; Only Revolutions (2009) No. 3 UK chart and  platinum in 2010 and nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.
Ps One band I have never understood – Oasis. They are often hyped by NME and Noel Gallagher now has his flying birds …but really what is their appeal. I find their songs and sound very meaningless.

Sunday 17 February 2013

NME Awards tour Glasgow O2

The tour was headlined by Mercury nominated Django Django, who met at Edinburgh Art college and whose debut album has received good reviews. The band had an energetic electronic keyboard player who played creatively and the band offer a new sound. 
Palma Violets had charisma and are being hyped extensively in NME. Miles Kane proved a stage veteran and clad in buttoned up leather he had good banter with the crowd were well up for his set! Kanes songs have catchy bass rhythms.    

Saturday 1 December 2012

Columbia Record's 125 Year History

Quote from Times 18.11.12
The gunshot snare drum at the start of Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone; the distinctive two-note dance that underscores Miles Davis's So What; the unearthly howl and hum of Blind Willie Johnson on Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground; the electrifying saxophone solo that lights up the middle section of Bruce Spingsteen's Born To Run....The thing that binds these varies sounds together is that they were all- for better or worse captured for posterity by Colombia Records. 
It was Dylan's success that made John Hammond a rock star of A & R. Without Hammond's discoveries, it's hard to envisage Colombia being anything like the beacon of American artistry it has become.

Today the label is mighty mix of heritage artists and unit shifting pop behemoths such as Adele and Beyonce. It has also expanded cannily into television, bringing music from programmes such as Britain's Got Talent and Glee to the listening public. 

'There's so much music out there, labels sort it out for you - they're the gatekeepers - and Colombia is still on of the biggest. They're not the only ones who do that any more, but they bring you into contact with people you should be listening to. You need that - we all need that.'  
360 Sound: The Colombia Record Story By Sean Wilentz 

Thursday 26 July 2012

Those Blues Lines of The Rolling Stones

Those strong R & B signature guitar lines were so danceable, the rhythms and weaving guitars that were the basis for their music. The Stones were the first, biggest and the 'bad boys sexually charged' rock band.
Brian Jones. It was Jones who started the band and gave it their name and more than that their 'electric blues' sound. He realised that the niche market for R & B could be taken to a mainstream audience. The lost boy, never satisfied and sadly he became the first of the '27 Club'. He was the UK's first slide guitarist and one of the best blues guitarists in London at that time. Before he left his hometown, Jones said - 'I'm gonna move to London, start a band and I'm going to become rich and famous.'    

Every time 'Brown Sugar' played at student parties, people took to the dance floor and the track never failed to get everyone on their feet. Mick Jagger is rarely still on stage - so does their music reflect his dancing or vice versa!  The French students that were in abundance In Princes street gardens Edinburgh over the summer months in the city also loved the Stones. Former school mates Jagger and Keith Richards became the main songwriting team in the band. At the start the band was led by Brian Jones, known for his mop top long blond fringe and cool demeanour( he was the hip mod), and they played mostly cover songs, that had been selected by Jones - such as Little Red Rooster. I started this blog a month ago as The Stones were another huge influence on my musical tastes. The past week I noticed coincidentally that it is The Stones 50th anniversary. I think I'm getting psychic over music now! 
Brian Jones, The Stones 1962- 69. There is a very good article on Brian Jones, founder of The Rolling Stones in Mojo - the band were initially called the 'Brian Jones Blues band.'  He started the Stones sound and then was sadly sidelined, perhaps due to his own personal difficulties - drugs, abusing women and paying himself more than the rest of the band, not always the best idea.  He brought the tunes of Robert Johnston, Elmore Jones, Muddy Waters, and leading British bluesman Cyril Davies. Jones unlocked the blues secrets for Richards, taught Jagger the first rules of showmanship and brought invention and flamboyance to the band's extraordinary run of 60s singles. Try 'Singles Collection: The London Years.' 

While Jones' main instruments were the guitar and the harmonica, he was also a talented  multi-instrumentalist. Since his school days he had a focused interest in the music of skiffle, trad jazz, modern jazz and  the blues.  He started out playing jazz with local bands and later became Britain's first slide guitarist. Jones studied American blues music and was influenced by bluesman Cyril Davies, who was himself a devotee of Leadbelly's. Davies was perhaps the best player on the British trad and folk blues scene and his playing matched the intensity of the Chicago originals. Brian was influenced by Elmore Jones open D tuning on guitar and also by bluesman at the crossorads Robert Johnston. Then the New Orleans styled jazz and blues band of Chris Barber and Alexis Korner came to Cheltenham (Barber introduced Europe to the music of Big Bill Broonzy, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Muddy Waters).

Jones moved to London to continue working on his music. There the opening of the damp basement 'Ealing Club' became a defining place as the cradle of British rock, from The Stones to Led Zepplin.  
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Dick Taylor were the first recruits for the 'Brian Jones Blues band'.  When they got a BBC session Brian supplied the new name - the 'Rollin Stones' which was the title of a Muddy Waters song. They started playing at the London's Marquee club and Charlie Watts joined as the drummer. Glyn Jones, their first producer recalled, 'Brian was very much the leader, he was quite specific about what they wanted.. He had a complete grip on everything.' Another producer Eddie Kramer said, 'Brian was the most musically gifted. his sense of tone colour was magnificent, he always thought out of the box. ..the marimbas on Under My Thumb. I can still remember being amazed when he brought out the recorder for Ruby Tuesday.'  
Jones sadly was the Stone unable to gain satisfaction in life, pun intended! whether it was with drugs or fast living. The lost boy, never satisfied. Bill Wyman remembers Jones as a visionary who could not deal with the Jagger-Oldham-Richards trio and he left it too late to fight back. However there were other issues too. Jones didn't view himself as a team player, he kept to himself on tour and paid himself more than the other band members. He was asked to leave in the band in June and died a month later in July 1969. Original Stones bassist Wyman stated about Jones, "...he formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got us gigs. Very influential, very important, and then slowly lost it - highly intelligent - and just kind of wasted it and blew it all away." Jones had close relationships and was respected by other well known artists of the time - Dylan, Harrison, McCartney, Townsend, Hendrix and more.  These were simpler times - no internet, or online scrutiny - simply the touring. The youth culture had exploded with the baby boomers after the war.  Basically Jones saw that mixing the new and the old brought something exciting and fresh. 
The success of the Rolling Stones led to more popularity for blues music and musicians such as Muddy Waters who wrote 'Rollin Stone' the song the band drew its name from.  While they are best known for their No 1 rock and roll dance tracks (Brown Sugar, Lets' Spend the night Together, Satisfaction, Paint It Black, Little Red Rooster, Gimme Shelter, Jumpin Jack Flash, Get Off My Cloud, Honky Tonk Woman), they also played some unforgettable slow songs (Ruby Tuesday, As Tears Go By,The Last Time, It’s All Over Now)  Top Albums – Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Aftermath.  A band for the road, The Rolling Stones have probably spent more time on stage, performed more dates, been to more cities and rocked more crowds than any other band. Ever. 
The Stones have had a prolific and long career and one of the longest of any rock band.  Also a prolific out put of recorded music and live albums - 29 studio albums, 12 live albums, and 107 singles.

Footnote :  I took a listen to my favourite Stones tracks -  Let It Bleed(69), Out Of Time (66), Under my Thumb (69), Time Is On my Side (69 ) Rugby Tuesday (66),.Play With Fire (65), The Last Time (65)
The song Rugby Tuesday, such a classic -. Marianne Faithful recalled that  Brian Jones presented an early version of this melody to the rest of the Rolling Stones. According to Victor Bockris, Richards came up with the basic track and the words and finished the song with Jones in the studio.  I began to think Jones was the inspiration but that Richards and Jagger took it on to write future songs and that much of the Stones best material was done while Jones was still playing with the band he created. 

The Rolling Stones 'endurance and relevance' ( Quote critic and musicologist Robert Palmer) is due to the band being 'rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music' while 'more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone.' Though R & B and blues cover songs dominated the Stones early material their repertoire has always included rock and roll.  (References from Mojo August 2012)  


Friday 13 July 2012


Warpaint impressed the audience and they played an ethereal sound and the band describe themselves as experimental art rock. First girl band I've photographed. They were in soft-blue stage lighting which wasn't so easy to photograph!

Warpaint is an American art rock group from Los Angeles, formed in 2004. The band's members are Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Theresa Wayman (guitar, vocals), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, vocals), and Stella Mozgawa (drums, vocals). Warpaint released their debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, in 2009, followed by their full length album, The Fool, released in 2010. "Shadows" was the first single release from their debut and was playlisted by BBC Radio 1 as part of the In New Music We Trust. Warpaint toured in the United States and Europe in 2011 to promote the album. They played at Bonnaroo, Glastonbury Festival, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Rock Werchter and Electric Picnic.

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.
Doune the Rabbit Hole.
Celtic Connections.

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 Park 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 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 ) 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?