Saturday, 5 January 2019

Scottish music scene 2019

There is a lot to shout about in the Scottish music scene in early 2019. I struggle to think of a time in the history of this blog where it has felt so vibrant. The reasons for my positivity? Fantastic emerging and developing artists, strong audience figures, collaborations between artists and labels, established bands finding new ways to get their kicks, a strong DIY culture, 'veteran' bands like The Bluebells and The Skids finding an audience is awaiting and lots of creativity and ideas. The Bluebells Quay Sessions show displayed a band full of confidence and fun, I hope they announce some live shows in the near future.

Artists, bands and labels are adapting to a very new musical landscape. Gerry Cinnamon is blazing a brand new trail for an unsigned artist, a number of artists and bands are recognising the importance of crowdfunding and the incredible independence that can bring,  Mogwai's Rock Action Records are going from strength to strength with new signings The Twilight Sad and Kathryn Joseph, while Last Night From Glasgow have grown phenomenally in their short 3-year existence and enter 2019 with plans for at least 8 physical releases.

So this blog takes a look at some of the things on the Scottish music scene that I'm looking forward to in 2019 and also a few things that I'll certainly be keeping an eye on.

Of course, this is just my take on things. There is so much more to explore.

January - Celtic Connections .... and more
Glasgow's annual Celtic Connections gets bigger, better and more eclectic every year. The traditional late night folk sessions are alive and well, and the heart of Celtic Connections will always be there with folk and trad. This year I've got tickets for the Roaming Roots Revue taking on Abbey Road at 50 and for my sister Carla J Easton playing her biggest show to date at Oran Mor.

Other shows that catch my eye include Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) at the Hug and Pint on Thursday 17th,  Mull Historical Society with Bernard Butler at the CCA, Blue Rose Code at the City Halls, Graham Nash at the Concert Hall, Ronnie Spector at the Old Fruitmarket (might still go to this, venue pictured below) and Siobhan Wilson at St Lukes.

There is also an incredible afternoon of music at The Glad Cafe on 19th January featuring The Spook School and Hairband.

Celtic Connections spills into February and you have Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert playing the gorgeous Old Fruitmarket, Andrew Wasylyk playing The Blue Arrow and Olive Grove Records showcasing at the Hug and Pint.

Outwith Celtic Connections, Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis plays the lovely St Lukes, while Sister John launch their second LP with a show at the Poetry Club and Withered Hand plays the Hug and Pint (as part of Celtic Connections) - all on 25th January!

King Tuts have their annual series of nights under the New Year's Revolution banner, but I am so out of touch that I don't know any of the bands playing! They do have Pete Wylie on later in the month though!

So there is plenty of potential for warm nights in cool venues with friends, a beer and great music.

Check the full Celtic Connections line-up HERE 

Big shows
Most of the shows I attend in Glasgow these days tend to be intimate basement or loft style gigs at the likes of The Hug and Pint, Sleazys, Broadcast, Stereo or the Old Hairdressers. With Mono and the Barrowland thrown in for very good measure. However 3 of my favourite shows from 2018 were at the Hydro. Arcade Fire played an extraordinary show at the huge venue, making it as intimate, raw and soulful as the Barras, James and The Charlatans played a double bill blinder and Paul McCartney rounded off the year in exceptional style.

The Hydro has already announced a load of shows, with The Chemical Brothers in November being high on my list. Look out for much, much more being announced in January and February.

Glasgow's Chvrches return to their home city for a huge show on Saturday 16th February.

Check listings and subscribe for e-news HERE

Intimate gigs
As mentioned, I love intimate shows and the Old Hairdressers has really become a favourite venue of mine. Indie veterans, although still remarkably young, BiS launch their new album on LNFG with a weekend of shows at the Old Hairdressers, the Glad Cafe and the Hug and Pint.

The latter venue have a fantastic selection of shows for Celtic Connections including one from Laetitia Sadier Source (formerly of Stereolab) and one from Withered Hand.

Watching a small gig with friends and a couple of beers is my idea of a perfect night out. I expect to be doing it a lot in 2019.

A real standout (at one of the larger basement venues) in early 2019 is Free Love with Bossy Love at Stereo on Saturday 2nd February. Get your tickets fast for this one.

DIY labels, collaborations and events
2018 saw LNFG organise a couple of pop-up record shops in the fantastic Doublet Bar and these are set to continue through 2019 with the next one taking place on 23rd February. Highly recommended for live music, chat and records.

The growing non-profit label has an incredible run of releases scheduled for this year and will celebrate its 3rd birthday with their annual party at Stereo with Sister John, Foundlings, Cloth and Annie Booth on the bill.

Sister John, Cloth, Domiciles, Bis, Medicine Men, Foundlings, Stephen Solo are all releasing albums on LNFG this year and the label is set to continue to collaborate and partner with other DIY labels.

Elsewhere Olive Grove Records launch 2019 with the aforementioned showcase at the Hug and Pint on 2nd February. The label is gaining strength and is set to release a string of EP's. I am particularly looking forward to releases from Chrissy Barnacle and Pocket Knife.

Scottish Fiction have informed me they have a very busy 2019 planned with some very special events set to be announced and I've already mentioned Rock Action Records who have the hotly anticipated new LP by The Twilight Sad coming out later this month.

There are so many more DIY labels to look out for including Monorail who released the debut EP by Hairband (pictured below) and Fuzzkill Records who have a great ear for garage guitar bands.

I'm looking forward to/keeping an eye on

Teenage Fanclub - post Gerry Love
2018 was a glorious year to be a Teenage Fanclub fan. I caught them live 5 times. Intimate shows at the Trades Club and the CCA, before 3 glorious nights in succession at the Barrowland as they played their classic Creation Records albums in full.

The shows were tinged with a touch of sadness as it was announced that Gerry wouldn't be continuing with the band as they announced considerable plans for touring across the world in 2019.

So who will replace Gerry? Will they play his songs? Rumours are that long-term friend of the band Euros Child will join to play keys and Dave will play bass. With shows in February, we'll find out soon enough.

Regardless, I hope they announce some Scottish dates for later in the year. Or maybe a wee secret warm-up to test the new line-up before heading to America?

Gerry Cinnamon
I blogged on the rise and rise of Gerry Cinnamon last summer and he has achieved even more since then, ending the year by playing Edinburgh's huge Hogmanay party after a string of sold out shows, including 4 in Glasgow.

What next? Well there are European tour dates for starters and I expect new music and a string of festivals. Will we get a single first?

Don't be surprised if the album comes out unexpectedly. Gerry doesn't play by the rules. As Gerry likes to play the Barrowland every year, his booking agent might need to consider taking out a residency to keep up with demand.

The Boaty Weekender
Belle and Sebastian announced, what seemed to me like, a very ambitious floating festival for this summer. The cruise would stop in various locations and aim to capture the spirit of their Bowlie Weekender on the 20th anniversary of their famous campsite takeover.

It is expensive and I've been keeping an eye on things, as, despite being a huge fan of the Belles, I did wonder if they had bitten off more than they could chew with this one.

Looks like I'm wrong. There has been heated online debates in relation to prices and to whether they couldn't just have booked a big campsite in Europe, but it looks like sales are strong. Certainly strong enough to announce a big supporting cast including Teenage Fanclub.

I'll be following events and activities online.

Carla J Easton
Of course I'm looking forward to seeing what my sister does through 2019! 3 albums in 3 years via her band TeenCanteen, under the alias of Ette and Impossible Stuff, her debut under her own name have really raised her profile. Recording with Howard Billerman, writing and recording with Belle and Sebastian and playing a string of shows with her band and solo have given her a huge confidence boost.

That confidence was further enhanced when the Banff Arts Centre asked her to come and be a resident on the songwriting retreat that she attended back in March 2017, sowing the seeds for her to return and record the album later that year.

So Carla is a resident along with Grammy Award winning songwriters, people who play with Beck and Jack White and she also gets time to write and record as well!

With a few songs under her belt, she may well have a new album completed by the summer. Carla starts the year with a big Celtic Connections show at Oran Mor.

Signed to Last Night From Glasgow within a couple of days of their first song Demo Love coming out, Cloth have been finding their feet while releasing a string of single releases - largely digital with extremely limited 7-inch vinyl available. They enter 2019 hotly tipped by Vic Galloway, Huw Stephens and many more. Atmospheric, melodic, hushed, cinematic, electro, reverb-y songs with a hint of The XX are the reason why so many are excited.

The aforementioned Hairband have the backing of the fabulous people at Monorail who put out their debut EP. Their song Flying is a favourite of mine and many people I know have told me that I have to make sure I catch them live. I intend to do that ASAP!

SAY Award
I love the debate that the SAY Award throws up and I love discovering new artists from the nominees, longest and shortlist. Happy Meals (now Free Love) and Andrew Wasylyk are two of the artists I have found via the SAY Award. Personally, I hope the award ceremony returns to Glasgow. No offence to Paisley, but Glasgow is the home of the Scottish music scene and I feel strongly that it should take place in one of the cities many fantastic venues.

It's been a couple of years since I have attended the annual northern soul alldayer at the Barrowland and I hope to rectify that this year. Brilliant tunes, friendly atmosphere, the best venue in town and loads of cool and well dressed people. Tickets are on sale for the 11th May date.

Festival season and summer shows
Last year Scotland took festival and summer season to another level. Electric Fields, outdoor shows at SWG3 in the Galvanizers Yard, Nile Rodgers in Kelvingrove Park, TRNSMT, Bellahouston, Belladrum, Princess Street Gardens shows, Linlithgow Palace, European Championship shows in George Square .... and lots of other things too.

The Cure playing Bellahouston with local faves Mogwai and The Twilight Sad is bound to be popular. After pulling the biggest crowd at TRNSMT in 2018, will Gerry Cinnamon return to headline in 2019?

I've yet to find my replacement for Wickerman, but I enjoyed taking the kids to Linlithgow's Party at the Palace last summer and they loved Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5. I hope we can have a family outing or two to see them again.

Fave bands
I hope to see lots of my favourite bands; The Lemonheads play SWG3 in February, Embrace celebrate the 21st anniversary of their debut album at the Barrowland in March and I would love to see Teenage Fanclub, The Charlatans, James, The Bluebells, The Pastels, The Vaselines, BMX Bandits, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, Primal Scream, Chemical Brothers ....

And much, much more
Who knows what will happen in the Scottish music scene over the next 12-months? One things for sure, it won't be boring.

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