Friday, 28 February 2020

Eugene Kelly at The Doublet

I really love The Doublet bar in Park Road, Glasgow. It's handy for Kelvinbridge Underground, Kelvingrove Park, Woodlands, Great Western Road and Gibson Street. But it's still just nicely out of the way to stand on its own.

The Doublet is a traditional old boozer, beloved by musicians and artists. So, when they announced they were putting Eugene Kelly with support from Molly Linen on in their upstairs function room, I knew I would have to be quick to grab a ticket.

Eugene is an artist I fell for back in my teens and I guess I have been extremely fortunate that a lot of the bands and artists I discovered back then have had long careers; Teenage Fanclub, Eugene and The Vaselines, The Pastels, BMX Bandits, Primal Scream, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr ... all still making music.

Upstairs at The Doublet holds 50 at a squeeze, so this was a special intimate show. Molly Linen played a beautiful set, her voice is gorgeously pure and her guitar playing is intricate, clever and melodic. Linen released a 10-inch EP via Lost Map at the end of 2019 and I will certainly be checking that out and hoping to see her again in the future.

On to Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, or one-time of Captain America until Marvel Comics threatened to sue him, so he changed the band name to Eugenius 'which no-one could spell or say.'

People were literally sitting (on the floor) at the feet of a Scottish indie legend last night. The intimate setting was informal and friendly and Eugene dove way back into his catalogue to play songs of love, lust, frustration, bitterness, tenderness and humour.

The opening Wow! and Bed In from the Captain America days translated easily to an acoustic performance, making me appreciate them all the more.

New songs, School Sports Day and Dogs Best Friend, made me long for a follow up to Eugene's 2003 album Man Alive, from which he played a number of songs. Eugene brilliantly combines raw punk energy with brilliant pop melodies, riffs and hooks and it was thrilling to see him perform in such an intimate setting.

Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam is a song that has traveled around the world thanks to Nirvana covering it on their Unplugged album, here we were watching its author perform it in his local pub - a joy.

New song Is She Into Me? was brilliant - hilariously brilliant. The lyrics and melodies flowed as Eugene told a story about a guy doubting himself through a string of events. I so hope he records it.

Eugene ended with classic Vaselines songs Mollys Lips and Son Of A Gun to rapturous applause. This was a very special show from someone who displayed his very special talents.

My only disappointment was that Eugene didn't have time to play If I Could Talk which he co-wrote with Evan Dando and The Lemonheads recorded.

But hey, what a night!

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

INTERVIEW - Warren McIntyre

Photo by Jim Byrne
Warren and Heather from the Starry Skies

In October and November of 2019 I was very taken by a crowdfunding campaign by singer-songwriter Warren McIntyre to raise funds towards the recording of his next album with his band, the Starry Skies.

I scrolled through the ways that you could get involved, ranging from a simple £10 donation in return for a digital copy of the album, through to a guitar being raffled, signed vinyl, credits on the record sleeve etc.

What caught my eye, was a house gig.

I've been fortunate to attend a few house/flat shows and I've always loved the friendly atmosphere they create. It was £250 to book Warren and one or two of his band for a stripped back show. But then I thought - I'd like to do more.

So, I explained to Warren that I would like to put on a small intimate show in a pub. It's been a while since I put on a show and it's also been a while since I had an afternoon in a pub! I would underwrite all costs and Warren would receive every penny from ticket sales.

I chose upstairs in The Doublet Bar, Park Road, Glasgow. It's a good traditional pub and very music friendly. 45 tickets went on sale at 1pm on Wednesday 15th January and by Thursday 16th January they had sold out! So that is £450 towards helping an artist create music and art.

Read on for a very honest interview with Warren that takes in; him annoying his parents after discovering pop music, his first band at the age of 12, bands he has played in, what it means to be supported in his art and a little bit of what to expect if you are lucky enough to have a ticket.

Starry Skies have a new digital single Sweet Honey Blue coming out on 20th March and you can pre-save it on Spotify if you follow this LINK

EF - Can you remember when you first became interested in music? Was it a certain song or band?

Like many people, I first became interested in music through the music my Mum and Dad were listening to and remember they were big Beatles and Elvis fans. The first song I remember being obsessed with though was the very unfashionable Drift Away by the Doobie Brothers when I was about 8 years old.

We were on a family holiday at a caravan site in Tighnabriaich with lots of other friends of the family and I was playing the song over and over again and singing along with this wee cassette microphone. When I say over and over, I mean like for hours at a time and eventually the tape was 'lost' as no-one could take it anymore. It was only years later in reflection I realised it may not have been lost at after all!

Then when I was twelve I got hooked on punk rock and joined a band called the Revs playing drums on songs by the Clash, the Fall, Sex Pistols and the Cure. Then after a year or two as a drummer, I retired and listened mostly to the Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop and the Stooges albums on repeat.

EF - When did you first pick up a guitar? How quickly did you get to grips with it?

A few years later my Dad's friend came to visit one day with his son Peter who had just been for his guitar lesson and had his guitar with him. He played me House of the Rising Sun, Wild Thing and some Spanish guitar stuff and I straight away wanted to be in a band. I managed to get a guitar nearly straight away, using my birthday and Christmas money and started trying to play. I point blank refused to get lessons as my Dad suggested and wish I had now as it took me years to get anywhere near competent and I still can't really understand timing or scales or any musical theory very well. And when I say very well, I mean at all!

It often amuses or annoys people in equal measure how easily I can screw up counting to four. This is mostly the reason I always make sure that I play with people who are much more musically able than I am and  top of their game.

EF - When did you first record one of your own songs? What are your memories? And do you have a standout studio moment from your years playing and recording?

The first time I recorded was with the Revs when I was 13 and we recorded Killing An Arab by The Cure, Bingo Masters Breakout by The Fall and English Civil War by The Clash. We were three-piece and neither Steven or Brian, who were the singers, wanted to sing The Clash song, so I ended up singing it and it turned out I was a better singer than drummer. This is not to say I was a very good singer but I was god awful at the drums and keep meaning to get it put in digital form so that I can let drummer friends hear it to give them a laugh.

Standout moment recording was probably recording at Toerag studios with Liam Watson because it was all done live on to 8-track and you left the studio after 3-days with the finished record.

This said, I have enjoyed making every record and always worked with great producers such as Johnny Smillie who is very much the man in demand these days, and more recently with Matt Harvey who is amazing at string arrangements among many other things.

EF - What bands have you played in through the years?

I have played in loads of different bands over the years and perhaps it's not always been the smartest move, but whenever the line-up changed, I have tended to fold the band and start afresh under a new names. So to date; I have played drums in the Revs and sung in Atomic Clocks, Exhibit A, Sunclocks, Moondials, Hippy Toys, Whiteout, Ducks and now Starry Skies.

Been a bit silly in some ways as always starting afresh means you lose any momentum the name has established. I've made the decision though to stick with Starry Skies from now on, come what may.

EF - You're crowdfunding the costs to record a new album. This is becoming 'the norm'. What are the pro's for you as an artist?

Yes, lots of fans and friends of the band have been really generous and basically paid for the record upfront with a number adding extra to come into the studio to add handclaps to a track or buy a house concert. It has been very kind of them and we really appreciate it. This support means that we can make the album quicker than we would have been able to do if just saving up for recording and pressing costs.

EF - What's the response been like and what are your plans for the album?

We have been blown away by the positive response and there are so many brilliantly supportive and lovely people out there and we feel very privileged to know so many of them. Money can be tight these days and not everyone is in a position to help through crowdfunding but have supported us in other ways. Encouragement and support can come in many forms and it's something I'll always appreciate.

EF - One of the options in the crowdfunder was to book you to play a home show. Instead, I asked if I could book a pub and put you on. What can people expect from your intimate afternoon show at The Doublet?

Well, that is a good question and we were really chuffed that you came up with this idea so have been working hard to make sure it is a great show for everyone coming. The fact that it sold out in 24-hours was a surprise, so we have to make sure it is as good as we have ever played.

We'll be playing through songs from the first and second Starry Skies albums along with a selection that will be on the next album. So basically we will be playing songs from all the records. To give ourselves a wee challenge I'm keen to play my favourite song of all time which is a song made famous by Ray Charles, although it is not so easy to sing, so still working on that, and one by my other favourite singer Nina Simone. We are planning on having all three strings there along with the two guitars, so not quite sure how we'll cram in but where there is a will there is a way!

Warren singing Nina Simone in 2015

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Norman Blake and Euros Childs at Strathaven Hotel

Douglas McIntyre from Creeping Bent Records is involved with FRETS Creative in Strathaven. The creative hub have started organising regular shows at the Strathaven Hotel. Towards the end of 2019, both James Grant and Lloyd Cole played shows. Last night was the turn of Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Euros Childs .

Strathaven is a lovely little town in Lanarkshire. It's not the easiest to get to, certainly not by public transport and especially not in crazy wet and wild weather, but that didn't prevent Fanclub Fanclub members traveling up from London and down from Cromarty.

We were only traveling from Uddingston, a 25-minute drive away, but the back road from Hamilton to Strathaven was pretty scary in the wet and wild weather. We were glad to get in and grab some drinks from the bar in time to catch most of KiDD's set.

KiDD , on this occasion, were Stuart Kidd and Alan Clark on their acoustic guitars with a dash of 'mouthie'. I absolutely loved what I heard; beautiful melodies and harmonies and their guitars gelled well together. Kidd's new songs have a lovely sense of maturity and happiness to them - telling tales of setting up a home with his wife and child. I look forward to hearing them on record. They worked beautifully with just the guitars and I wonder if this is the route when he comes to recording, if he hasn't already.

After a short break Norman and Euros waltzed into the room like the bride and groom taking to the top table, quite fitting as the venue is usually booked for weddings - my cousin Katy got married there.

The duo opened with an acapella version of Sky Men by Joe Meek and it was really beautiful. Their voices sounded so beautiful together and their was a bit of a celtic feel to their take on it. There have long been rumours of Jonny (Norman and Euros side project) having an album of Joe Meek cover versions ready to go, was this a hint that they might finally release it?

We didn't have time to find out as what followed was a moment of slapstick comedy as Norman spilled a bottle of water and was worried about electrocuting himself. The water was cleared up and Stuart Kidd took to the stage to play some light percussion as he does on the Jonny album.

You can find the full setlist below. It was really good to hear most of the Jonny album live again. You Was Me flowed brillianty, Bread was brilliant, so clever, so melodic and so funny. Norman's I Don't Want Control Of You is even more stunning when it is stripped back and the shouts for Euros' Spanish Dance Troupe were granted and the song was very warmly received.

Whilst Norman was tuning Euros took up the tale of the two of them once owning an antiques shop, this yarn led to Norman auctioning off a vinegar bottle! The between song banter was hilarious and very good natured.

I'll Make Her My Best Friend was another of my favourites from the Jonny album, short, sweet and upbeat, while Circling The Sun was just sublime.

Never Alone is my favourite song on the Jonny album, there is so much imagery and emotion in the song, it's truly beautiful. And Norman's stripped back take on his Fanclub song I'm In Love was glorious. I hope it is recorded in that style at some point.

My sister had been hoping that Euros would play a song of his called Spin That Girl Around and was delighted he did. I hadn't heard it before. It's a cracker, really stunning, beautifully melodic.

Norman, Euros and Stuart then ended with a cracking cover of The Kids Are Alright by The Who that I hadn't heard in ages. I found myself blasting it out this morning.

A brilliant night. The Bluebells are playing an acoustic set at the next FRETS night in March and the April headline act will be announced on Monday. Sign up for their e-newsletter to get details first.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Supergrass at The Barrowland Ballroom

10-years after they had said goodbye to their fans in the Barrowland Ballroom, Supergrass returned to say hello and remind people what a fantastic catalogue of songs they had produced, by delivering a blistering high-energy pop punk show from start to finish.

A short promo film of homemade video footage from the bands career played on a big screen and then before we knew it, the band were onstage and ripping and roaring through Caught By The Fuzz. Gaz Coombes on guitar and lead vocals, Mick Quinn on bass and backing vocals and Danny Goffney on drums and backing vocals sounded superb as they blitzed their debut single.

Joined for much of the set by Rob Coombes on piano and keyboards, the band clearly enjoyed themselves and the youthful energy of their songs, many from their teenage years and early 20's, sounded blissful.

The guitar riff of Diamond Hoo Ha Man backed with a kick drum kept the pace up as the crowd clapped along. The stoned melodic groove of Mary slowed things down briefly and if you needed reminding of how easily Supergrass could throw in little hooks then you had received a lesson in 3 songs.

Moving was a real highlight, it seemed to be really beefed up for the got a low, low feeling around me section, the place erupted. I said to my brother several times through the show that the sound was incredible, the sound engineer had really nailed it.

After another few songs including a romp through Mansize Rooster, the band departed the stage and another short film was shown before the band came back on and launched into In It For The Money from their 1997 album of the same name.

The way Supergrass gel guitars, bass and drums is thrilling, especially on songs like Richard III and the band fizzed through it, leading to a glorious keyboard solo and Gaz sceaming trying to get at you, trying to get at you, trying to get at you.

Supergrass make so much sense live, Danny Goffney was whirling like Keith Moon on the drums, Coombes was sounding great on guitar and vocals and Mick Quinn thundered through some bass riffs. They looked and sounded magnificent.

Going Out was sublime, even without the horns, running into a nice little jam at the end, then Lose It, She's So Loose and into Alright, the band were on fire. And then Sun Hits The Sky was another real highlight for me, so powerful and again the band jammed on at the end.

The throbbing riff to Lenny swiftly followed and the crowd and band were going for it as Coombes led us through I've been around and around but I got nowhere to go now

Strange Ones, Bad Blood and a huge Pumping On Your Stereo, which the crowd started singing before the band started, ended a really cracking show.

Coombes highlighted the bands love for the Barrowland a couple of times. I hope they will be back.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Never Ending Mixtape part 45


Thanks for visiting my blog and the most recent additions to my Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify, now sitting at 1,346 songs, 89 hours and 31 minutes of music.

Dig into a couple of Beatles classics and marvel at McCartney's driving and flowing Paperback Writer. I recently discovered Weller's beautiful Instrumental Pt 1 and rediscovered Say Something by James. Elsewhere we have euphoric pop by Belinda Carlisle, stunning soul from Baby Huey and also from The Fantastic Four and incredible guitar pop from The Bluebells and from Echo and the Bunnymen. And much, much more including a gem I just discovered by Candi Staton.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape or click below where you'll also find a list of the latest additions. Dig in and enjoy.

Paperback Writer - The Beatles
Instrumental Pt 1 - Paul Weller
Say Something - James
Day Tripper - The Beatles
Ike's Mood 1 - Isaac Hayes
Caught In The Middle - Cerys Matthews
Heaven Is A Place On Earth - Belinda Carlisle
California Dreamin' - Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters
Mighty Mighty - Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters
What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted? - The Fantastic Four
I Touch Myself - Scala and Kolacny Brothers
I Can Change - LCD Soundsystem
Circling The Sun - Jonny
It Helped - Yakima
The Ship Song - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
I'm On Fire - Bruce Springsteen
Why Does It Always Rain On Me? - Travis
Driftwood - Travis
Writing To Reach You - Travis
All of the Time - Alex Chilton
Can't Seem To Make You Mine - The Seeds
Blue Moon - Big Star
Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Medicated Goo - P.P. Arnold
Standing By Love - Eula Cooper
Hallelujah Anyway (Larse Vocal) - Candi Staton
We've Gotta Find A Way Back To Love - Freda Payne
Everybody's Somebody's Fool - The Bluebells
Seven Seas - Echo and the Bunnymen

Thursday, 13 February 2020


Cover version of the month #51
Mark Morriss covers Alcoholiday

25-years ago this month I caught two young bands playing King Tuts Wah Wah Hut - The Bluetones and Supergrass! Quite a moment, both bands clearly had something.

I fell for The Bluetones. The gained a huge following in my hometown of Carluke for their melodic guitar pop. Quite a crowd of us headed to The Garage in Glasgow the week their stunning debut album Expecting To Fly came out. in 1996 and in the summer of that year I chose to catch The Bluetones headlining the NME Tent at T in the Park over Radiohead on the Main Stage.

Mark Morriss was a super cool front man with a cheeky grin, an impeccable haircut and a cool swagger. The Bluetones still play semi-regularly, indeed just this week they have announced a joint tour with Sleeper for later in the year. But Mark has also been playing regularly throughout the UK for years as a solo artist, releasing 4 albums, beginning with Memory Muscle in 2008.

Alcoholiday by Teenage Fanclub was covered by Mark on his debut and what a gorgeous version it is.

The original featured on the Fanclub's classic 1991 LP, Bandwagonesque and it is one of my favourite TFC songs. Driving, fuzzy, distorted electric guitars are at the heart of the song and they fire up from the start, paired with stunning harmonies that captured the hearts of so many.

Norman Blake's lyrics point to doubt about a relationship. Whether he is in that relationship or wants to be in it is up to the listener to decide.

There are things I want to do, but I don't know, 
If they will be with you, if they will be with you

There are things I want to say, but I don't know
If they will be to you, if they will be to you

 I remember in 5th year at school discussing Bandwagonesque with my friend Grant Mitchell and he particularly loved this song because of the swearing in it

Went to bed, but I'm not ready
Baby I've been f**ked already

The song flows beautifully, like so many of Blake's do. It all feels so natural, like the word and melody are just pouring out of him. There is a break just before the 3-minute mark, but there is still another stunning 2.5 minutes to go with Blake singing 3 -times before his electric guitar combines heavenly with that of band mate Raymond McGinley.

All I know, is all I know
What I've done I'll leave behind me
I don't want my soul to find me

So what could Mark Morriss do with a Norman Blake and Teenage Fanclub masterpiece?

Well, Mark turns it into a gentle acoustic lullaby, sprinkled with glockenspiel and underpinned by strings. He handles it with clear care and love. Removing the electric guitars allows Morriss to focus on the lyrics and the melody and his vocal delivery brings out regret and reflection. The closing all I know, is all I know section is sublimely soulful and heartfelt.

It's a gem of a cover version. Mark is back in Glasgow at the Glad Cafe on April 18th with support from Sister John. Be quick as there are only a few tickets left.

The Bluetones will be playing their stunning debut Expecting To Fly in full on August 28th in Glasgow on a joint tour with Sleeper.

Previous covers of the month
13. Hurt

Friday, 7 February 2020

Album tours

I found a recent tweet by Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand rather amusing. Given the timing, Kapranos might have been referring to Suede who have just announced a European and UK tour of their 1996 album Coming Up.

Personally I love when favourite bands of mine focus shows on landmark anniversaries of classic or fan fave albums. Some don't even wait for an important anniversary, they are just getting out there. Although I totally understand where Alex is coming from.

For me, everyone is a winner; the band get to revisit a much loved album, maybe even playing some songs live for the first time. It might generate media interest and sales of the album or merch. They may even get to play larger venues than 'normal' due to demand.

Fans, know what they are getting, are prepared to pay for tickets and merch and have a good night out, while promoters are probably more confident booking a band if they know exactly what the band is going to play.

Galleries curate exhibitions of artists at certain periods, people celebrate anniversaries all the time ... why can bands not celebrate their catalogue of creative work?

A number of my favourite bands have played classic albums. Teenage Fanclub needed 3-nights to play their Creation albums from the 1990's. Primal Scream revisited Screamadelica in 1991 and blew me away both times I saw them on that tour. The Charlatans have revisited their debut Some Friendly and Tellin' Stories, while The Lemonheads have performed It's A Shame About Ray. I caught The Jesus and Mary Chain play Psychocandy in Glasgow and I very much hope to find a friend with a spare ticket to see them perform Darklands at the Barrowland in March.

I have also been extremely fortunate to watch Arthur Lee and Love perform Forever Changes and Brian Wilson and his band perform Pet Sounds. Typing that sentence sent tingles down my spine.

That's five of my favourite bands playing records I cherish plus two absolute legends playing incredible albums from the 1960's that generations afterwards have fallen in love with .

Meanwhile bands from The Wonder Stuff to The Twang have played shows of 'classic' albums. They might not be 'classic' to me, but they are to some. And that is what counts.

Kapranos followed his initial tweet with the statement below.

He is very probably right regarding the idea. Although at the same time he mentions that touring is a way of performing a body of work - surely an album qualifies as that. And most bands also play other stuff either before or after the album concerned.

And in terms of an album being a slice of creativity frozen in time....

I find that a very odd comment. Art, good art, is timeless. Hell, in the case of Screamadelica mentioned above, the album still sounds futuristic.

Kapranos has a point, but perhaps he has missed one as well. Classic art does capture a moment in time, whether that is a painting, a photograph or music. The birth of rock n roll, Elvis on TV, The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the summer of love, Bowie on Top of the Pops, The Pistols, the rave scene, Britpop ... they are moments in time that mattered to people, moments in time that people will revisit via YouTube, old photos, albums, singles and by chatting to friends, or making new friends online as a result of these memories. Are they frozen? Or do they continue to inspire?

Think of albums; Sgt Peppers, Pet Sounds, Never Mind The Bollocks, Stone Roses, Nevermind ... they capture a spirit and a moment in time for many. Other bands might not have created albums quite so culturally significant, but they still meant something to someone out there - enough to go on tour.

If playing an album show  gets a band back together and out touring or playing a few dates and giving people a night out, making them happy .... good for them.

And what will happen if a promoter offer Franz Ferdinand good money to tour their classic eponymous debut album? The 15th anniversary is coming up! ;-)

Brian Wilson at Kelvingrove Bandstand, August 2017

Monday, 3 February 2020

The Ship Song

Trust me #9

On Sunday 26th January I attended a beautiful Scots/Burns/Australian event to mark Burns Birthday and Australian Day. The host, an Aussie, Professor Andrew Biankin, opened the doors to his wonderful home and invited colleagues and friends round for an afternoon of poetry and song, all to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer Scotland - the charity I work for.

The talent on display was truly awesome, but one song stood out in particular for me towards the end of the evening, a beautiful rendition of Nick Cave's The Ship Song.

Cave is an artist I have seen live, but I haven't properly dug into his extensive back catalogue or his recent critically acclaimed albums. That might change. Maybe I'm ready for him now.

The Ship Song is so beautiful, so heartfelt, so perfect. The delivery and performance is simply stunning, enhancing the poetic words.

Trust me, if you haven't heard this (or even if you have) then sit back and enjoy.

Come sail your ships around me
And burn your bridges down
We make a little history baby
Every time you come around

Come loose your dogs upon me
And let your hair hang down
You are a mystery to me
Every time you come around

We talk about it all night long
We define our moral ground
But when I crawl into your arms
Everything comes tumblin down

Come sail your ships around me
And burn your bridges down
We make a little history baby
Every time you come around

Your face has fallen sad now
For you know the time is night
When I must remove your wings
And you, you must try to fly

Come sail your ships around me
And burn your bridges down
We make a little history baby
Every time you come around

Come loose your dogs upon me
And let your hair hang down
Your are a little mystery to me
Every time you come around

Words and music by Nick Cave

Previous Trust Me blogs

1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras
7. In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
8. The Music Box by Ruth Copeland

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Roaming Roots Revue present Born To Run - Springsteen at 70

Bruce Springsteen, AKA The Boss, turned 70 in September 2019. This landmark birthday inspired Roddy Hart to arrange this years Roaming Roots Revue in Springsteen's honour.

The annual bash, a real highlight in the Celtic Connections calendar, celebrated its 8th birthday by selling out their usual haunt at the Royal Concert Hall

For the first time in the events history, a second night was added, in the stunning Old Fruitmarket in the Merchant City area of Glasgow.

Reports from night one were euphorically emphatic and I was thoroughly looking forward to celebrating my birthday with family and friends to the sounds of Springsteen.

What a show!

The setting, song choices, artists, band and performances were just perfect. And we squeezed in right down the front at the side to have a brilliant up close view of performances.

Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire were on fire. I think the all standing venue made a difference and perhaps they were looser after playing the night before.

The guests who joined them on stage were exceptional; The Rails, Ryan Bingham, Phil Campbell, Lisa Hannigan, Karine Polwart, Jonathan Wilson and Craig Finn. They all brought something a little different, all teased something out of Springsteen's catalogue that made you appreciate his work as a songwriter and performer a little more and every artist showed their appreciation for the songs and artist that will make me go back and revisit songs and albums over the weeks to come.

Roddy Hart used the first half of the show to introduce his guest singers, with each performing a song or two. Phil Campbell chose to play a song called Western Star from Springsteen's latest album - it was stunning and will ensure I check the album out later in the week.

Roddy Hart and Phil Campbell

After the interval the show didn't let up. The tech team ensured swift changeovers and the show flowed like ... well like a Bruce show should!

The evening was one long beautiful feel good highlight. Although I guess I should note that the 4 songs I played first thing this morning were I'm On Fire, Brilliant Disguise, Hungry Heart and The Rising.

Lisa Hannigan's take on I'm On Fire was jaw droppingly beautiful. You could have heard a pin drop in the Old Fruitmarket. What a voice! 

Roddy Hart and Lisa Hannigan

Phil Campbell has an incredible voice and an infectious energy to his performances. He blew me away at the Abbey Road Roaming Roots Revue in 2019 and he did so again last night. I look forward to checking out his new band The Byson Family. His raw, rasping, soulful vocals were perfect for Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Campbell threw himself into the performance.

Karine Polwart led a charing version of The Rising that really got the place going. I found it really interesting to hear her singing in this way, I guess with more ferocity in the music behind her, it really suited her.

I loved the interaction between James Walbourne and Kami Thompson, AKA The Rails. Walbourne tore into his guitar and their harmonising was glorious. 

Craig Finn from The Hold Steady is a huge Springsteen fan and his love shone through, he looked super happy to be on stage and taken aback by the audience response. 

Look at the setlist below - stunning. Roddy and his band worked the set (see below for full setlist) order brilliantly, building to huge anthems Born To Run, Dancing In The Dark and Badlands. By this point everyone was on stage, playing guitar, singing lead or backing vocals, or just enjoying themselves.

It was fitting that Roddy Hart, the curator of these fantastic annual events, took to the stage with two of his band on piano to deliver a spine tingling encore of Thunder Road. Hart's voice was magnificent, strong and soulful, possibly the best I have heard him.

Last night left me buzzing all day. A truly fitting tribute to Springsteen.

I do hope that the demand for tickets in 2021 will ensure Roddy's Roaming Roots Revue keeps a second night at the Old Fruitmarket. I have to confess that earlier on today I was thinking of ideas what they could do. I thought of Carole King, she'll be 80 in 2022 so that is one to pipeline as a potential for then.

My friend Ian went both nights and nabbed a setlist from night 1. Ian noted that the set list had 3 changes on the second night (which, incidentally he said was best): Ryan Bingham and Lisa Hannigan did different tracks, and Land of Hope and Dreams was dropped. But what a show

Monday, 20 January 2020

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 at Celtic Connections

 Photo by Bazza Mills

The pubs surrounding the Old Fruitmarket in the Merchant City area of Glasgow were sprinkled with yellow from around 5.30pm on Friday 17th January. There was also the odd disco ball style cap and plenty of people looking like they were dressed for a weekend at a festival rather than a Friday night out in Glasgow.

I wonder how many people have fallen for Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 (CMD5) as a result of seeing them at a festival over the last 5-years or so? Difficult to predict, but in that time the band have grown into a staple of the festive scene in Scotland and beyond.

If you have seen them, then it is easy to describe why. And that is why over 1,300 people descended on the Old Fruitmarket dressed in yellow, with painted faces, flowers in their hair, disco ball hats and looking ready for the weekend.

They came to laugh, to sing, dance, smile and forget about their worries for a few hours. And they did just that.

CMD5 are always quick to promote bands and artists they enjoy - see my previous interview with David Blair for substantial evidence. On this occasion they chose to promote my sister Carla J Easton by asking her to support.

Carla and her band played brilliantly. Wearing yellow to get into the spirit of the night, Carla played songs from her Homemade Lemonade (released under the guise of Ette) and Impossible Stuff albums, along with new material. Get Lost from the new songs is possibly my favourite song she has ever recorded. And she brought her pal Stina from Honeyblood on for guest vocals on new song Weirdo. It was a polished and confident set and I look forward to seeing what 2020 brings.

Photo by Stuart Westwood

On to the main act. I never did get round to counting how many people were on stage with CMD5. I was quite simply too busy enjoying myself.

Opening with International Sex Hero and going straight into festival favourite Dance Off, the Colonel and his merry band of yellow heroes had the place bouncing from the off. They barely let up, they seemed to just keep the beat and the groove going from start to finish.

Photo by Stuart Westwood

The band have so much positive energy it is unbelievable. New songs worked well; Disco Colin and the current single G.T. mixed well with the old classics.

Cross The Road is a FESTIVAL CLASSIC and even though it was packed we did manage to cross the road.  Dance Like Nobody's Watching might be the next festival classic, while Gay Icon took the roof off the place. At some point in all of this David Blair crowdsurfed - at least twice.

Photo by Iain Cochrane

Anthems like Peace, Love and Mustard demand crowd participation, smiles, laughter, high fives .... and all round good feeling. These Are Not The Drugs You Are Looking For is one of my favourite songs from the last 5-years, like the Beta Band produced by Andrew Weatherall, it is so clever, so funny, so socially conscious, so bonkers brilliant. 

There was time for one more, the surging pop of Ginger Girl had everyone with their hands in the air singing the chorus. The band quickly played a little bit of How Many Many's and Capturado and sent everyone off into the night with smiles. What a night!

Those with energy stayed to dance to DJ Amy Lame from 6Music.

Roll on the summer. And to Celtic Connections bookers - can you book them now to brighten next January please?! This is a special, special band who can transport you into a good place and make you forget your worries and the state of the world for a couple of hours.

Photo by Iain Cochrane

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Never Ending Mixtape part 44

Well over 40 songs are added to my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify. There is loads of soul, indie guitar gems, classic songwriting from Bob Dylan and Elton John, The Stones go psychedelic, there is Tom Petty, a beautiful acoustic song from Noel Gallagher, classic indie bands like Sebadoh, Galaxie 500 and early R.E.M. and so, so much more. Ending with the truly stunning Holy Man instrumental by Dennis Wilson - pictured above.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify, or use the web below, and then decide if you want to scroll down to the latest additions, or play from the start or just click on shuffle.

I hope you discover something you haven't heard before that you love, or rediscover an old favourite.

There are over 1,300 songs on the playlist, 86 hours and 47 minutes at the time of writing. New songs are added regularly and I do a round up blog with a list of them every month.

A full list of the latest additions are below.

The Bottle - Gil Scott-Heron
Love Is Gonna Lift You Up - Bobby Womack
Nowhere To Run - Earl Van Dyke
Love's Gone Bad - Chris Clark
You've Got Your Mind On Other Things - Beverly Ann
That's Not Love - Holly St James
Just Walk In My Shoes - Gladys Knight and the Pips
The Video Dept - The Radio Dept
I Am Not Willing - Moby Grape
I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations
Didn't You Know (You'd Have To Cry Sometimes) - Gladys Knight and the Pips
Feel The Pain - Dinosaur Jr
Coast to Coast - Twerps
40 Miles - Congress
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right - Bob Dylan
She Belongs To Me - Bob Dylan
Buzzsaw - The Turtles
River Man - Andy Bey
Point That Thing - The Clean
Anything Could Happen - The Clean
25 - The Courtneys
See You In L.A. - Mascara featuring Luther Vandross
Plateau - Meat Puppets
One More Chance - Shirley Lawson
She's A Rainbow - The Rolling Stones
Ong Ong - Blur
Ascension to Virginity - Dave Grusin and The Byrds
Turnin' My Heartbeat Up - The M.V.P.'s
A Day In The Life - Gabor Szabo
Daydream Believer - The Monkees
Dead In The Water - Noel Gallagher
Fall On Me - R.E.M.
If She Knew What She Wants - The Bangles
I Gotta Praise - Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott
Looking Forward To Seeing You - Golden Smog
Beauty Of The Ride - Sebadoh
Fourth of July - Galaxie 500
Sparky's Dream - Teenage Fanclub
(Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me? - Isobel Campbell
It's Hard To Kill A Bad Thing - Isobel Campbell
Runnin' Down A Dream - Tom Petty
Leaning To Fly - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
These Are Not The Drugs You Are Looking For - Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5
Sparks - The Who
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - Neil Young
Tiny Dancer - Elton John
Looking At You - MC5
Holy Man (instrumental) - Dennis Wilson

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Interview - David Blair

David Blair, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Summer 2019
Picture by Robert Adam

In these testing times we live in there is a band that always brings a smile to my face. A band that gets me singing, dancing and putting my hands in the air. Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 have become a firm favourite in Scotland and beyond over the last decade, with legendary festival performances playing a huge role. I decided to catch up with the bundle of energy that is David John Blair, D(ij)ancer and force of nature for the band.

The beautiful picture above, of David and his band uniting a festival, perfectly captures the energy and enthusiasm Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 generate when they play live with anthems like; Dance OffCross The Road, Peace Love and Mustard and the anti-drugs song These Are Not The Drugs Your Are Looking For. That song ends with the mantra everyone is happy, everyone is smiling, no-one here is sad anymore. 

I look forward to seeing Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 getting the party started, celebrating the release of their new single G.T.,  in the beautiful surroundings of The Old Fruit Market in Glasgow on Friday 17th January. TICKETS HERE

Honestly, if you have the January blues, or if you just fancy a good night out, you won't regret it. Added bonus that my sister Carla is supporting and has some cracking new pop songs to play.

The band have just released their new single G.T. which is zooming up the alternative music charts.

I caught up with David for an extensive interview - should have done a podcast! Read on for loads of music recommendations and tonnes of positive energy.

EF - How are things with you and the band? What can we expect from your Celtic Connections show?

On a personal note, never better thanks! I started my actual Dream Job as Market and Ballroom Assistant for the Glasgow institution Margaret McIver Ltd, more famously known as The Barras Market (100 years old in 2021) and the Barrowland Ballroom AKA the Greatest Venue for Live Music in the World, on the 23rd of last month.

I've been going through an induction period of getting to know the role, buildings and area and the place is steeped in so much history it;s unreal. A truly humbling education and experience. It's genuinely my spiritual musical home and having played it five times, been to about 200+ gigs there and the band being inducted into the Hall of Fame in December 2018 makes it all the more special to now call it my place of 'work'.

Shout and MASSIVE thank you to the manager Tom Joyes for having the faith in me to offer me the job and for being such an amazing music mentor to me over the years. Tom's passion and knowledge for the business, area and music industry is unrivalled by many. What a man to learn from! As as are all The Barras Family working in there. We're really close knit, like a family. The banter is tremendous and it's great to have a laugh as much as possible in life. It's good for the soul.

CMD5 have a mass Dance Off in their favourite venue

There's a buzz around the East End Quarter at the moment and it's an honour to be spending so much time in an area so fertile with creativity. 2020 is going to be a BIG year for the East End!

As for the band, there are, as always, lots of things happening and coming together. We're busy finishing our second album, provisional working title The Difficult Number 2, with Paul 'Gal' Gallagher at Glenwood Studio in Castlemilk. It's pencilled in for release on 5th May 2020. Just in time for festival season with some new festival season anthems on it for The Dijon Family to dance like nobody is watching to!

Last Sunday (5th January) BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Amy Lame gave our new single G.T. (single and album released on Button Up Records - Garry John Kane - The Proclaimers bassist - record label) it's international radio airplay exclusive! That was after we woke up to a three page spread in the Sunday Mail interviewing the Colonel and using our new space themes photo shoot images from the incredibly talented Lee Howell Photography. We were so impressed with his photoshoot and artwork for Bombskare's last album A Million Ways To Die, that we asked him to work with us too.

EF - What were your highlights from 2019? Did any festivals stand out in particular?

Festival season is usually my go-to memory bank when I'm asked for band highlights of the year. Kelburn Garden Party was our best one yet I think. Of maybe five or so appearances. Tom McGuire and The Brassholes were on the Square Stage before us. I think they're one of the best funk and soul and party bands around and we have a lot of audience crossover so it really got the party vibe going with us dancing away in the crowd and then continuing with the Dijon party vibes straight after them.

We played our fourth year in a row at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. The Highlands Dijon Family really, really go for it up there and we've seen our crowds go from a capacity Hothouse Stage tent (1,500 ish) to being moved up to the main Garden Stage and the numbers growing steadily to 15,000 in 2019!

This will be our fifth birthday party playing there this year. The main stage production team told us post-gig it was the largest EVER crowd they'd ever had at the main stage! Until one of Bathgate's finest exports, Lewis Capaldi, bettered that later the samenight. Fair play Lewis!

Boomtown Fair, in Winchester, is one of the biggest festivals in the UK now and one of my favourites. Their whole Movement there, philosophy (peace, love, creativity) and vibe is beautiful. Approx 70,000 mad revellers attend and the level of production is movie set material everywhere you look. The aforementioned Tom and The Brassholes played, our bezzie mates from The People's Republic of Merseyside, She DRew The Gun, were a highlight, along with an incendiary set from the Prophets of Rage to close the Town Centre stage on the Sunday. Tom Morello had a message for our Evil Empire 'leader' Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson on his guitar!

EF - The Scottish festival landscape has changes; no more T in the Park, no more Wickerman, no more Electric Fields .... you are probably more well placed than most to comment. What is working? And are there any gaps?

The festival landscape seems to always be evolving in it's own way, as you would expect. We were lucky enough to tick T in the Park off the bucket list at the last one ever at Strathallan and then DF Concert's came back with TRNSMT in our home town on Glasgow Green with no need for camping. I have had some amazing days at TRNSMT and for someone who doesn't drink alcohol (11 years aff it on 4th May 2020), I can leave the site, drive straight home and be in the shower or bed in fifteen minutes!

My heart belongs to Glasgow so I LOVE to see Glasgow's music scene thriving. TENEMENT TRAIL moving East last year was an amazing day of live music between the Barrowland Ballroom, Barras Art and Design, Saint Luke's The Winged Ox, Creative East End, Many Studios and more.

I'm always excited to play new festivals and we've announced one in the Black Isle, outside Inverness, called Woodzstock, that we've been asked to headline and are playing with our Highlands hip hop brothers and sisters, Spring Break. Their MC (The Badger Sized Rat) and DJ (Butterscotch) - both the same person - normally joins us onstage at Bella and we love them and their music.

Closer to home, I love the look of Playground Festival in Rouken Glen Park and with Underworld announced already I have a really good feeling that is going to be an incredible and not to be missed festival for the Central Belt.

EF - You have an incredible thirst for music - which artists and bands in Scotland are you particularly fond of at present?

Each year I think our music community gets stronger and the talent within it even better! I don't see 2020 being any different. I am particularly looking forward to the Return of The Odd, being Stanley Odd - one of my favourite bands EVER and MC Solareye AKA Dave Hook AKA Dr Hip Hop, one of the soundest folk in the music community at the ever excellent Neu! Reekie! night organised by Michael Pederson and Kevin Williamson for Burns and Beyond on 25th January in the Freemasons Hall in Edinburgh.

Medicine Men have a new album coming out I'm looking forward to. The level of creative talent coming out of Glasgow's Last Night From Glasgow record label is outstanding and I doff my disco cap to Ian Smith and everyone involved there. Keep an eye on everything coming out of Chris Blackmore's excellent Holy Smokes Records - The Hoojamamas, Awkward Family Portraits, Quiche and more.

Ones to watch our for this year are The Rain Experiment - like a cross between Catfish and The Bottlemen, Blossoms and Sam Fender. Have a watch of the Be My Angel video.

Have Mercy Las Vegas, Bombskare, Yoko Kwono, Feet of Clay's debut album, your sister Carla J Easton (our Celtic Connections gig Special Guest), Scotland's most talented teenagers Connor Fyfe, Robin Ashcroft and Emi V, Free Love, Stara Zagora, DopeSickFly, Flew The Arrow, Deni, Zoe Graham, Freakwace, Vanlves, Megan Airlie, kitti, Cara Rose, Zoe Bestel, BLair Coron, hip hop from the aforementioned Spring Break, Steg G and The Freestyle Master, Loki, Kayce One, GASP, Shotgun, Physiks, Kamihamiha! Mosta Bohze, Empress, Delivery Room, The Twistettes, Mickey 9's, Melisa Kelly and The Smokin' Crows and so many more! So many sources of inspiration around us.

Last year I started 23 Music Management and Promotions with Andy Anderson and with help from his brother Frankie roo and the first artist I am managing is the outstanding John Rush. Check him out, he really is amazing. Solo, singer-songwriter, acoustic guitar, stomp box, harmonica and incredibly soulful voice with a Scottish brogue. He's been drawing comparisons somewhere in between Ray LaMontagne and David Gray.

One of, and possibly my favourite band right now are HENGE. A four piece (three of whom are intergalactic aliens and one Homo Sapien) who are on a Universal mission called The Cosmic Dross Experiment to spread peace, love and music - from prog rock to techno and cosmic gestures unknown to us Ravelings here on Planet Earth.

EF - We entered 2020 with right wing leadership, climate emergencies and the threat of war. What gives you hope?

What gives me hope in these mad, bad, crazy times? Us. Power to The People. It's ALL happening on OUR watch so the only people that can do anything about it is ... US! From a creative standpoint I am very much inspired by the Dadaists response to the horrors of WW1. We need to continue and increase the use of arts to imagine, create and inspire. We need more civil disobedience and mobilising the masses to, borrow some Primal Scream lyrics, come together as ONE, to agitate, protest and resist the Evil Empires, corporations and backed by right-wing billionaire owned gutter press/propoganda. We need system change.

And that means facing up to capitalism and it's greedy illusion of perpetual growth/GDP on a finite planet. We don't inherit the planet from our parents, we borrow it from our children. In the immortal words of Zack de la Rocha, 'Anger is a gift' and we DO need to get angry at what's happening and channel that into positive non-violent direct action to affect, demand and make positive change.

Rage Against The Machine are hitting the comeback trail again this year, it is very timely and much needed. To use their lyrics from Take The Power Back

The Movement's in motion with mass militant poetry
The rage is relentless
We need a movement with a quickness
Youa re the witness of change and to counteract
We gotta take the power back

EF - Post Celtic-Connections, what does the rest of the year have in store for you?

The new album on 5th May 2020. Festival season. Announced so far for us are Woodzstock Festival, Speyfest and Bella. More to follow ... Getting out and about and playing more of the new album and old songs, spreading the peace, love and Mustard and partying with the Dijon Family again. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Idles and their album title Joy As An Act Of Resistance is like a mantra to me.

EF - Any New Year Resolutions?

I don't really go for anything too specific. Every day is the start of the rest of your life. Focus on the positive changes we can make in our Eternal Nows. For myself, I hope each year is a healthy, happy and prosperous one filled with peace, love and music and those are the main things I wish for all my family, friends and all the world really.

Even for those stuck in bad ruts, negative feedback lopps, misguided, hurting themselves and others. Just stop being a c**t to yourself and others and then maybe the world will be as One

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one

Think peace, act peace, spread peace, imagine peace.