Showing posts with label troubadours. Show all posts
Showing posts with label troubadours. Show all posts

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.

*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.

*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.
*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.
*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',

*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.

*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.

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.
*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. 

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.

Karine Polwart

Michael Marra

Wednesday 16 May 2012

*Where are the Troubadours?

Singer songwriter legend John Martyn, famous for 'May You Never'
'The highlight of my career? That's easy, Elvis recording one of my songs.' Bob Dylan. 

Our most loved singer song writers become like our best friends. 

In ages past there were Troubadours who toured their songs. It used to be (not so long ago too) that young artists would get out and perform on the circuit of live folk clubs, uni refectories and local bars in the UK and Europe and elsewhere. It used to be not so long ago that creativity was alive and well in the world of music. Back then it was all more organic rather than a production line. Musicians then played 'residencies' where they might hone their song craftsmanship through the varied experience of playing to a live audience. In the 50s singers toured with the Big bands and money was made through the Publishers Sheet music.

Since the advent of recorded music the Studio (and therefore Radio too) has taken precedence in music. Recorded music has led to a break down of boundaries of place and time and has also brought about vast changes to our tastes. The drums of Africa have mixed with the European folk tunes, the sitar with pop, the jazz clarinet with the violin solo, the rock of The Who with modern electronica.The advent of the iPod broadened our taste yet again with thousands of instant tracks. Of course 'quantity is the opposite of 'quality.'
There are problems now over who should define or select the great from the average. Who are the 'experts' in music anymore? There are the taste makers the Labels, the music reviewers and music websites. It used to be that the Royal Court would decide which artists to commission - who decides today?       

I read about writers and producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
They wrote - HoundDog, Stand By Me and many other great rock and roll hits. Yet how many have heard of these incredibly gifted artists? I don't understand the system at all and I am not an Elvis fan for a start - give me the singer songwriter any time. Apparently Elvis added the line to HoundDog 'Aint' nothing but a rabbit and he ain't no friend of mine.'
For me the voice of the writer of the song simply has more to say to me.

Quote from Mike Stoller, 'Beyond the brilliance of his mind and the mastery of his story telling, Jerry had in abundance two beautiful qualities that guaranteed his immortality. Jerry had spirit and Jerry had soul. '
'He could sing - and man, he sang as midnight. By the way he interpreted lyrics, we were sure he'd grown up in the same ghetto as us,' Quote vocalist Carl Gardener. 

It is only through knowing the 'knowledge' of the 'old' that the young can build something great. There are still some great Troubadours here in Scotland, who have great individual strength of character and something that matters to say in their voice, music and songs - Dick Gaughan, Michael Marra, Rab Noakes.... I'm just not sure where the young Troubadours are though?