Well, it has been some year. We’ve had some good times…well not really good times per se, but I did find a pack of mandolin strings in my sock drawer back in April. if that isn’t a musical high point for a year of lows, then I don’t know what is. Anyhow, it’s not all doom and gloom and before the ruling powers of Giliad, or Westminster to revert to anachronism, lead us into more red, white, and blue soaked crap times, let’s have a look at what’s going on musically.
The music is starting to be picked again by what I would call the glue of grass-roots music; community radio. Special mention goes out to the team at Sunny Govan, and I will leave you with the prospect that maybe, just maybe in the future, and if they let me of course, I will maybe get behind the desk again. Imagine that, a radio show.
To conclude, a couple of pals stick out as shining examples of how to manage music during this time, and I’d like to make special mention of Fiona Liddell and Jack Hinks. The former’s ‘Local Heroes’ list is a ‘go to’ for new Scottish tunes, while the latter’s humorously titled ‘Hot Singles in Your Area’ features an interactive take on the concept of the new release. You might even hear a bit o’ yours truly.
For bookings, info, or my award-winning discount catering service please get in touch. You can find me across the board online, or in person to the right of the gate at Alexandra Park and Cumbernauld Road, my chosen busking location. Come one, come all!
In writing about music, and the music scene I always come back to my base belief that community movements in music trump 21st century individualism time after time. Carolyn’s genuine passion to propagate and support the musicians featured on the page is a perfect example of how working together with passion can create a sustainable side to grass-roots music.
It’s a testament to the times that we live in that the only time I hear music in a public space is when I go to Morrison’s. I would listen to the piped shop radio station, replete with various 80s hits, usually upbeat pish like Wham! and Cindi Lauper, lest something more pensive should make you consider shopping less or something.
In any case wasn’t expecting Joy Division or Mudhoney to accompany the buying of suspiciously cheap pineapples. This experience of hurried, masked, panicked, musical consumption, limited to aisles of beans or biscuits, is in my opinion quite representative of our musical dystopia; indeed from capitalism’s point of view, using music as a lure to keep consuming has been a depressing staple for a while.
I (naively) always thought that in an age of such readily available technology, just throwing together a wee video would be ridiculously easy.
As a musician, plugging my trade in the modern music industry, the importance of a visual presence quickly became evident. Sadly for dinosaurs such as myself, the emphasis on aesthetics has some sort of relevance to most music in this day and age. With this in mind, I reluctantly signed up to Instagram about 3 years ago.
So over to radio. Semantically speaking, the mere idea of ‘radio’ has become so dated that we can barely bring ourselves to refer to it in the vernacular, instead using the medium of podcasts to somehow detract from the fact that the majority of podcasts are, if not ACTUAL shows from the radio, then a segment of talking and/or music within a specified time frame; i.e. a radio show.
I’m in love with the radio on It helps me from being alone late at night Helps me from being lonely late at night I don’t feel so bad now in the car Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on
Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
I always drone on about this musical utopia, one in which all aspects of making, writing, performing, reproducing, listening, and talking about music all exist on this hitherto absent level playing field. The results of which would be a flourishing and sustainable music scene etc etc. If that’s what you want to start your Wednesday by reading about, then you can find that piece here.
For grass-roots musicians in this day and age, when it comes to gaining ‘exposure’ (I hate that word) for the music that you have bled into, sweated over, and torn from your being, the options are certainly more varied than before.
Artistic expression as a framework for truth and progress is the very essence of what it means for me to be a musician. To go to prison in a 21st century western ‘democracy’ is a sign of utter regression, both on the part of the Spanish state, as well as that of neighbours, like us, who seek to frame such blatant injustice as something distant and alien.
Why anyone watches the news any more is beyond me. Since March last year, the whole affair follows a familiarly, bleak pattern; statistics about death, no end in sight etc. However, watch the news carefully, all of it, and you will find a trope common to all the major UK networks: the offset story.
These stories, more often than not from abroad, usually depend on the domestic tales of woe that precede them. They come in various guises, but the two stars of the show are the novelty report, and its dystopian older brother the ‘look how bad it is there’ tale.
Imagine a world in which music didn’t work as a glorified pyramid scheme, a world in which achievement (and by that I mean the sad common trope of capitalism, money) didn’t create the success apartheid in which the music industry exists at the moment. Imagine if an act of god, say for example, a global health crisis that the neoliberal ne’er-do-wells that control every aspect of our life confronted with world-beating incompetence, aye imagine that came about, yet grass-roots musicians weren’t the first to be cast adrift in a wave of self interest-
I think it would be presumptuous to talk of utopia, insulting even given that what I view as utopian could be quite easily achieved, given the right set of circumstances.
Why selling off musical copyrights makes a terrible situation even worse. Plus, fun with Russian bots.
I haven’t released any music since the 30th of October, 2020. That’s not to say that I haven’t been making music in the intervening time, but in the world of evidence-based existence via social media, it would appear that I have done absolutely nowt since then, musically speaking anyway.
This dearth of social media self-promotion, in addition to a consistently low Spotify listenership (shout out to ye local 142 people worldwide!), means that algorithmically I don’t exist any longer.
In this topsy-turvy world full of inherent contradiction, my lack of ‘being’ on the world wide web would probably lead to even less public interest regarding the music that I have already made, given that I am not promoting anything, or even revisiting back catalogues. I haven’t sent anything to any playlist or radio for a long while, and other than to check the inbox for this here review site, I would have assumed that I would be getting little in terms of direct communication.
Scottish musical culture transcends language and history, from Hebridean Gaelic to Indian rhythms, through to the frank wordsmith that is Spee Six Nine. This is, for me, a fuller picture of contemporary Scotland.
The teacher told us to shut up and listen, glaring over the top of the electric piano, harpsichord setting, his eyes alive with a total obsessiveness of a man unused to not being listened too. He’d wire into fugues by Bach or variations by Mozart, occasionally adding his own unbearable falsetto voice to the clunky, same-y melodies that we would listen to in stony silence. Then we would be lectured on how one fella in 18th century Germany influenced another in 19th century Austria or vice versa. Variation #12 Opus 32. Music by numbers.
The Gaelic part of the course was equally as tenuous, as if the SQA in all their desire to make Scottish culture as monochrome and one-dimensional as possible, sought to somehow find the relevance of the traditional Puirt à beul (mouth music), or Òrain Luaidh (Waulking Songs) in suburban Edinburgh. Though we were spared the grey days of falsetto-heavy baroque and classical, the historical and cultural significance of Gaelic culture sadly fell on deaf ears. That is until in an act of academic sabotage, our once demur teacher broke rank and put on ‘Chanter’ by Martyn Bennett, and in one moment of glory that only exposure to music can provide, the world of sampling was thrown open to me.
Telling people from outside of Scotland that you are Scottish is always a fine line to be walked. Though, mercifully, the reaction to Scottishness, or Caledonianity or whatever is usually positive worldwide, there always remains this glint in the eye of the listener, this somewhat romanticised vision that in order to divulge my national identity, one in which I had to travel through the glens, evading redcoats, playing soulful laments on my pipes, before being able to explain my clan history to some bonnie maiden etc.
In today’s article, we look at how corporate individualism has championed over collective creativity and support in the music industry. Plus, Rab C. Nesbitt.
Catchy titles never were my thing…
I am going to start this article with The Proclaimers, a band that I personally think are worth 1000 times more than their classic 1988 global mega anthem, ‘I’m Gonna Be’. For me as a fan of lyrics that focus on the issues at the heart of modern Scottish life, the album ‘Sunshine on Leith’ is in my top 3 of Scottish albums from back in yon day (Scared to Dance by Skids and Steeltown by Big Country being my other contenders). Anyway, the twins’ story of how their music made it mainstream seems simple if Wikipedia is to be believed; a demo alongside Kevin Rowland of ‘Come on Eileen’ fame that ended up with another established indie group, The Housemartins, and then bang the cycle of creativity began. It shouldn’t really be that surprising that collaboration between established artists and emerging ones led to the success of this iconic band, but to me, it seemed just that. Surprising.