Tag Archives: music

Justin Townes Earle launches UK tour at Òran Mór


Justin Townes Earle today releases his companion album to 2014’s acclaimed Single Mothers, an LP of brand new material entitled Absent Fathers. Featuring 10 new tracks, the album forms the second half of a once intended double album. It was previously announced that Earle would release “Call Ya Momma” as lead single from the collection. 

With a full UK tour kicking off at Glasgow’s Òran Mór on 17 January and signing off at London’s Union Chapel on the 6th of Feb, the Americana maverick will be playing tracks from both and more at the shows (full dates below).

Both albums were recorded live with his four-piece touring band with only days of rehearsal leading up to recording to keep the ideas fresh. Tracks “Picture in a Drawer’ and ‘It’s Cold in This House’ are only Justin, his guitar and his pedal steel player Paul Niehaus.  Justin Townes Earle is the the son of iconic country musicican Steve Earle.

On arguably his most raw, yet lyrically personal and refined material to date Justin addresses the issues of his troubled former years with a brutal conviction. 

Single Mothers was released on September 9, 2014 / Absent Fathers is released today via Loose Music.

17 Jan GLASGOW, Oran Mor (Celtic Connections)

18 Jan GATESHEAD, Caedmon Hall

19 Jan MANCHESTER, Band on the Wall

03 Feb LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club

04 Feb NOTTINGHAM, Glee Club

05 Feb BRISTOL, The Tunnels

06 Feb LONDON, Union Chapel

Classical review: RSNO Takeover in concert, 17 June (****)

RSNOTakeover concert

It was never going to be an ordinary concert. Tuesday’s early-evening performance from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (or, strictly speaking, a larger-than-normal band expanded with quite a few unfamiliar faces) came at the end of a two-day Takeover project, where almost all of the orchestra’s departments – from planning to production, marketing to development, and, of course, musical performance – were gleefully hijacked by 40 16 to 18 year-olds from right across Scotland. It was all in the name of education and new audience engagement, of course, and it was the first time that the RSNO had dared such a thing. And judging by the beaming faces of youngsters and RSNO staffers alike, it worked a treat.

Two hectic days of meetings, discussions and intensive decision-making culminated in the hour-long concert for friends, family and invited guests, performed by the RSNO regulars whose ranks were swelled by several young players. A decision had been made to break with classical tradition and invite the orchestra on stage section by section – an interesting approach that highlighted the sheer number of musicians, even if it ironically seemed to set up its own formality.

Isla Ratcliffe conducting

After introductions and explanations of what the various groups of students had been up to, RSNO assistant conductor Jean-Claude Picard launched into a sparkling account of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus Overture, showing off the big, rich sound of the enlarged RSNO but balancing it with a subtle nimbleness in the quieter sections.

Then came a surprise, as two novice (or almost novice) conductors took to the podium for movements from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Isla Ratcliffe from Edinburgh took on the Overture and March, giving a crisp, clear beat that some professional conductors could learn from, and ably stressing the phrase shapes with her eloquent gestures. Alice Guse from Glasgow, who directed the Chinese and Arabian dances as well as the Russian trepak, took a Boulez-like chopped-hand approach, but was no less effective for that, the orchestra following every movement in her precise direction. It no doubt took guts to stand in front of 100 professional musicians and tell them what to do, but there was little sense of the orchestra simply playing the music their own way – the players hung on the two young conductors’ moves and responded with vivid, characterful performances.


Jean-Claude Picard returned to the platform for the concert’s final item, a beautifully (and appropriately) fluid account of Smetana’s much-loved river evocation ‘Vltava’ from Ma vlast, with confident contributions from student bassoonists Beth Beattie and Andrew Vettriano, as well as resonant timpani playing from Brodie McCash.

It was billed as an elaborate work-experience project, but the two-day Takeover was far more than that. By offering the students the opportunities to control all the orchestra’s activities, but then expecting them to rise to the challenge with little sense of a safety net, the RSNO showed great faith in the abilities and commitment of its young invitees. And that faith was more than repaid in a highly memorable evening of music.

Radio 1’s Big Weekend: Saturday 24th May

Glasgow has forever been hailed the home of proud Scottish behaviour. Rowdy, good fun and filled with camaraderie, it only seemed natural that Europe’s biggest free music festival set its next footsteps in Scotland’s largest city.

Tickets for Radio 1’s Big Weekend were released in March and snapped up at uncontrollable speeds, due to the popularity of the acts and the free ticketing policy the BBC has operated since the festival began. A total of 50,000 people arrived at Glasgow Green over the weekend, eager to take advantage of the arrival of massive music names on Scottish shores.

* * * * *

Radio 1’s broad spectrum of listeners invited a varied crowd to the first day of the event. In a very clever effort to get people through the gates early in the day, boy band of the moment One Direction opened the main stage.

One Direction
Whether or not you enjoy their music, the sheer number of people who had heard of One Direction and their fan base resulted in a packed main stage. The crowd was varied, from young children on their parents shoulders, to twenty/thirty-something year old men there just to experience the 1D mania. They had an undeniable stage presence; brilliantly bold urging the crowd to sing along (as if they needed any encouragement). Reeling off hit after hit, you realise that although their music may not be made to appeal to everyone, it inadvertently does. They’ve been responsible for one of the most recognisable music catalogues of the 21st century, and when performed live, it translates to an unassailable crowd pleaser. They are The Beatles of the internet generation, and with Harry Styles misted in a Jagger-esque aura, the mass hysteria you experience is entirely justified.

Hailing from New Zealand, Lorde has gone from writing music in her bedroom to performing to huge international crowds, all before turning eighteen. Her subdued set early on Saturday afternoon was nothing short of beautiful, as she took to the stage in high waist black trousers paired with a white vest. She looked and acted like she meant business. Delivering highlights from her brilliant debut ‘Pure Heroine’, she jolted and swayed her hair in perfect sync to her music. It was like watching a teenage girl dancing around her bedroom, unrestrained as though no one was watching. In turn it felt affectionate and intimate. She feels her music, and reverberates that to every corner of the audience. One of the most touching moments came as she introduced ‘Ribs’, a song she wrote when she was fifteen and realised the inevitability of growing old. She looked out on to a packed crowd, and smiled. She may only be a young woman, but her stage presence and lyricism reflects that of somebody near three times her age. Lorde was Big Weekend’s most innate and expressive performer.

His name has been attached to every one of the world’s most popular songs in the past eighteen months. As expected, all of Pharrell’s recognisable hits propped up in his perfectly slotted set on Saturday afternoon. Opening with the Daft Punk collaboration ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’, he started subdued with subtle groove provoking a swaying crowd. His vocals, whilst there, were barely audible. Perhaps this was an issue with sound (I was near the back of the crowd, and his voice has more intricate flare than booming power), but the half recognisable record was not necessarily the best choice for an opener. Saying this, he ploughed his way through his impressive repertoire of music, dropping in cuts from his latest album including Marilyn Monroe and Happy, and some of his older work. His most bizarre performance came in the form of Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl, a song Pharrell wrote and produced under his early noughties power group, The Neptunes. It got the crowd going, but Pharrell’s effort was questionable on that part. His band, choreography and backing singers were on point, but maybe a little bit more passion from the man himself would work better as a festival gig.

Calvin Harris
Both sub-headline slots on the main stage were filled by Scottish music heroes at the weekend. Whilst Paolo Nutini brought soul to the stage on Sunday night, the world’s highest paid DJ performed on Saturday, setting off pyrotechnics and smoke flares aplenty. Bombastic, non stop and relentless, Harris reeled of his catalogue without a duff note in between. It was an atmospheric, standard set for the DJ. He delivered what the crowd wanted, but was a little afraid to drop something unexpected. Nothing overly boring, nor earth shattering – just standard EDM affair.

Undoubtedly, the most astounding feat of Big Weekend came with Coldplay’s euphoric headline set. Delivering some of the most incredible stage work the city had seen, they effortlessly soared through a rather short set for the stadium band, but included all of their best work and the obligatory new ones. That’s the thing, though. The crowd was more than willing to listen to their new music – it’s as wonderful as the classics. As the lights stretch out as far as you can see, and twisting LED dandelion seeds fall from the sky, you realise that although the spectacle is there, it isn’t necessary with Coldplay’s immense catalogue and charisma. Seeing them live is a mindblowing experience, and as Chris Martin watched the 25,000 strong crowd sing the hook of ‘Viva La Vida’ back to him, it might just be the same for them too.

Munro’s open mic night

Munro’s bar, in the west end of Glasgow, has launched a new open mic night hosted by singer songwriter sensation Tommy Reilly providing a new platform to showcase local talent.

The 24-year old, who got his break after winning the Orange Unsigned Act competition on Channel 4 before rocketing to the top of the Scottish charts with ‘Gimme A Call’, will host the weekly event every Tuesday at 9:00pm.

Munro’s, located on Great Western Road, offers a great range of quality craft and cask ales as well as some of the best beers from around Scotland and the world.

The open mic night is free to enter and open to everyone, of any age and any ability, with the aim of bringing together the musical community of Glasgow.

Go on, have a go – you know you want to!

Ashton Lane Hogmanay Street Party

Ashton Lane Hogmanay (1) (2) Ashton Lane Hogmanay (2) (2)Ashton Lane Glasgow[/googleMap]This event starts at 7:00pm and goes on till late. Tickets are available from venues within Ashton Lane and on Ticketmaster.

Ashton Lane is a flurry of festive lights, live entertainment and fantastic food and drink this New Year.

The Lane’s Hogmanay Street Party is one of the liveliest spots in Glasgow to welcome the bells. Entry costs £25 and you can spend the night hopping around your favourite bars and restaurants while enjoying live entertainment in the Lane from a host of great acts including Them Beatles, Snafu, George Donaldson (Celtic Thunder) and lots of other great street performers before a spectacular firework display to bring in the New Year.

Great dining packages will also be available from Ashton Lane’s eclectic range of bars and restaurants including The Ubiquitous Chip, Ketchup, Brel, The Grosvenor Café, Ashoka and Jinty McGinty’s.

[googleMap name=”Ashton Lane” width=”300″ height=”300″]

Gig review: Mr McFall’s Chamber, Viva Tango, Jam House Edinburgh (****)

Tango Group shot 1

It might have been baltic and monsoon-like outside, but inside Edinburgh’s Jam House, Mr McFall’s Chamber had created a sultry, convincingly South American atmosphere for their Viva Tango night of music and dance, their capital stop in a short Scottish tour.

It helped the authenticity that the ad hoc classical-based ensemble was joined by a few key interlopers – most of all, the wonderfully supple, ringing voice of regular collaborator Valentina Montoya Martínez, a Chilean singer-songwriter (now based in Scotland) who performed a selection of her sensuous songs in the first half.

‘Tango de la espera’ brought out real bite from the five-strong string section to accompany Martínez’s intricate vocal line, and ‘Versos’, her account of the Chilean military abducting her father when she was a young girl, had touching passion.

Mr McFall's Chamber - Maria de Buenos Aires - Thu 16 May 2013 - The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh (Photo Credit - Andy Catlin) -0078


Two other players stood out among the fine ensemble. French tango violinist Cyril Garac gave strong, characterful contributions throughout: he was in the spotlight for Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Vandarito’ with some remarkably expressive playing, swooping and sliding all over the place, and attacking his lower strings with a rich, intense vibrato.

And young French bandoneón player Lysandre Donoso, although somewhat hidden among the rich ensemble texture, delivered nimble solo work as well as cutting jabs and interjections that reinforced the group’s rhythmic bite.

The few numbers by Argentinian tango king Piazzolla stood out somewhat among Martínez’s songs, but all were conveyed with impeccable class and style. And in the second half, a dance set of classic tangos, waltzes and milongas from the 1920s to the 1950s gave Edinburgh’s finest the chance to show off their footwork – with impressive results. The pre-concert dance class that was on offer had probably helped – and there were more opportunities for movement in the milonga DJ set that followed.

Mr McFall’s Chamber’s Viva Tango concert tour continues in Glasgow tonight and Stirling tomorrow Saturday 9 November, with pre-concert dance classes and late-night DJ sets also on offer.

Hard Rock Rising 2013

Hard Rock Rising is a battle of the bands competition and they are looking for the next big band . The worldwide competition is coming to Edinburgh at Hard Rock Cafe in the city’s George Street they are looking for bands/artists from all over Scotland to take part and new talent can win music equipment valued at  around £6,000 as well as shoot a music video and embark on a world  tour.

Any artist interested can register on the Edinburgh Hard Rock Cafe  Facebook page, where fans will decide who can move on to the live performance rounds. Registration ends January  21. Once the favourites have been selected they will perform at The Hard Rock Cafe in front of a panel of judges at the venue who will then decide who wins and will then be representing Scotland and be up against the winners from all the other Hard Rock Cafe’s participating throughout the world. The winners will then be narrowed down to a Top 25 and a panel of  judges will decide the overall winner.

More than 12,000 bands entered Hard Rock Rising and nearly one million votes  were cast by fans around the globe in 2012 with the Edinburgh event being won by local group The Asps.

The overall winner of the competition will play a world tour in cities including Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong,  London, Chicago and Honolulu, arranged by Hard Rock International, as well as  record an album with Hard Rock Records.

Entries must be received by 21st January 2013.


For more information or indeed to enter please follow the links below:




May The Best Band Win!

Sixth Avenue Traffic Interview

Glasgow based rock band Sixth Avenue Traffic are headlining a big gig on Christmas Eve at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in the city.

Chris Thompson (Vocals), Chris Gould (Guitars and Vocals), Kirsten Stevenson (Bass) and Jordon Lang (Drums) are finishing off a huge year for the band, from playing Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands in Edinburgh back in March to releasing their debut EP Whisper, Smile and Wave to a packed house at the Classic Grand. Playing a major gig at King Tut’s 2012 rounds off a busy and successful year for this great band.

Here Barry Dickson interviewed them about the past year, Christmas Eve and what 2013 will bring for the band and their ever growing fan base.

Sixth Avenue Traffic Interview by Basher1969 on Mixcloud

To find out more about the band go to:



Film preview – Searching for Sugar Man

We are willing to bet you that you will come out of the cinema after watching this film and head straight for the nearest music store, or download the music immediately from iTunes. The film, Searching for Sugar Man, is a documentary, but having already won the Special Jury Prize and the World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary at this year’s Sundance Festival, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, as well as winning second place at the Tribeca Festival, you know that it has to be special. And it is.

The story is true of course, but it is one which is barely believable, even when the film draws to a close. (And you will not want it to end anyway). Sixto Rodriguez, a singer songwriter of Mexican descent, lived in Detroit and sang in less than fabulous bars there, including one called The Sewer. Two record producers, Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore, signed him to make his first album called Cold Fact in 1970 and a second album Coming from Reality followed which was produced by famed music producer, Steve Rowland. But neither of these amazing offerings became a hit in the US, despite the fact that all three of the record producers worked with many huge stars, both before and after working with Rodriguez. It fell to the South African market to buy his records, and he became a musical legend there. His songs, in the words of one person interviewed in the film, were ‘the soundtrack of our youth.’ This was the South Africa of apartheid, of oppression. His songs appeared to speak directly to the people at the heart of that struggle, and they simply loved him.

The music is sort of Bob Dylan but better. It is quite mellow, but with enough lyrical twists and turns to engage you. And in our view his music is better than Dylan in many respects, principally that you can understand what he is singing.

In the opening sequence of the film you might think that you are on the Pacific Highway in California, but this is not possible as the car is driving on the left hand side. It is only when you are told that it is Cape Town that you realise the film is starting on a different continent with staggeringly beautiful scenery. This proves to be a world away from the streets of Detroit.

There are some unanswered questions, including the destination of money earned from the sale of the records, but we think it is just as well that those areas were left unexplored, at least for the time being. The intrigue and mystery might easily have been compromised, and a great film spoiled. But the  team behind it knew what they were doing.

It is the work of Director, Malik Bendjelloul. Based in Stockholm, Malik Bendjelloul has been directing documentaries for twelve years, primarily based on musicians. In 2001, Bendjelloul directed the first ever documentary about German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk. He has also made a documentary series about the history of heavy metal as well as some single documentaries, collaborating with such iconic artists as Björk, Sting, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Madonna, Mariah Carey, U2 and Kylie Minogue. Last autumn Bendjelloul directed a filmed concert with Prince.

Bendjelloul has also worked as director and creative producer for Swedish Television’s international cultural weekly show Kobra, where he made short documentaries covering a wide range of stories. Among the subjects were the First Earth Battalion – the American army division who tried to teach their soldiers to walk through walls; and a profile on Alfred Merhan, a man who has been living in Charles de Gaulle airport for 18 years and who became the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s THE TERMINAL. Other subjects have included the controversial story of British pop band The KLF burning a million pounds, and a film exploring the rumours surrounding Paul McCartney’s death.

He had worked on Sugar Man for a long time before meeting up with the Producers Simon Chinn and John Battsek who helped complete the film. Bendejelloul said:- “In 2006, after five years making TV documentaries in Sweden, I spent six months travelling around Africa and South America looking for good stories. In Cape Town I met Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, who told me about Rodriguez. I was completely speechless I hadn’t heard a better story in my life. This was five years ago and I have been working on this film more or less every day since then.”

The producer Simon Chinn has already won Oscars and other plaudits and you will possibly know him for his most recent films Project Nim and Man on Wire (the latter did win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance). It became Rotten Tomatoes best-reviewed film of all time.

In 2005, Chinn established his production company, Red Box Films, to produce MAN ON WIRE (taking inspiration from Philippe Petit, who kept his ideas for future projects, including his high wire walk between the Twin Towers, in a red box under his bed) and it currently has a slate of projects – including feature documentaries, feature films and television dramas – at various stages of production and development.

We loved it, and we are struggling to tell you about it in too much detail since we really do not want to spoil it for you. It is the story of Rodriguez, an American singer, his music and his life. Maybe that is all you ought to know before you storm the doors of your nearest cinema from 27 July 2012 when it is available on general release. Then sit back and prepare to be amazed by the story of a singer songwriter who was bigger than Elvis in South Africa.

Searching for Sugar Man opens in the UK today 27 July 2012

Photo © StudioCanal


The Glasgow Reporter chats to Two Stripe Band

by Mark Mckinlay

How long have you been making music together and how did the band come together ?

The band started in September 2009 after a couple of chance meetings. Laura was meant to be going to my 18th with Jamie (our original keys player) who I had met on a few nights out. I had written a few songs and needed a singer. I also had a microkorg and needed a keys player. Not very rock and roll! Would have been better if fate had conspired and we all randomly during a cocaine orgy backstage at a Motley Crue gig.

We had to stop for about a year as our bassist joined the navy and our keys player went to Leeds for uni. Again, not very rock n’ roll, it was really hard to refrain from making up that our bassist died in a tragic, twister accident after smacking up. We are back now though and that is the main thing.

How would you describe your sound  and what other artists influence the band ?

I’ve always tried to write very melodic songs, I’ll come up with a hook and then work around that. The idea is to get the melodies stuck in your head. This is probably influenced through listening to the Beatles. We are all massive Beatles geeks. I don’t think there has been a band, before or since, that have even came close to the Fab Four.

Arctic Monkeys are also up there as a huge influence, especially lyrically. I like the way Alex Turner writes and performs words, mostly in their more recent output. They kind of roll out of his mouth effortlessly, whilst at the same time, sound emotive. It’s not always about the meaning, but the way the words sound and fit rhythmically around the song. I try to keep that in mind when writing and not get too bogged down in the subject matter. It’s good to have a bit of mystery there.

Other bands we like, Late of the Pier, Franz Ferdinand, Mystery Jets, the Cure, David Bowie, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Echo and the Bunnymen. Big into dance music as well, the Prodigy being a favourite. This gives our sound a rhythmic quality. The new line-up has definitely brought the best out of that. The parts they are coming up with work perfectly. Basically, we want people to dance and our sound is defined by that.

You’ve got quite a few live dates coming up, are you excited to be taking your music around Scotland ?

And you’re sharing a bill with Hot Chip in April, looking forward to it ?

Yeah, definitely, very excited. The response we have had so far has been fantastic. The comeback gig at Flat 0/1 was mental. Two folk in A&E by the end of the night. We do love recording and getting involved in the production side of things, but the best part by far is playing live.

There are a few great gigs coming up in the near future. Playing with Tango and the Attic will be class as we have been following them for a while now. Hot Chip are obviously the highlight though. Fantastic band. Our friend Keir who shot and directed our new music videos will also be filming so that has the potential to be another raj gig.

How did you find recording your Rush And Glamour EP ?

It was fun yeah, really laid back. No-one knew we were going to be releasing anything. We had a rough date in mind for when we wanted to put it out there but there wasn’t any pressure to have them finished so we could take our time. It was a similar situation to the first time around. I had these songs lying about doing nothing and decided it would be good to get a new line up sorted. We approached my mate Kev Harper from Little Eskimos and he was right up for getting the tracks down. Was a fantastic decision as he’s a talented bastert’. Think it shows in the E.P how capable he is as a producer. At the heart of it though, there are three great songs on that E.P. that we are really proud of.

Plans for a full album in the pipeline ?

Not at the moment. We want to get to a place where it would be worthwhile releasing one. It seems to be a death sentence for a lot of up-coming bands. That tricky debut, independent album. We are recording our follow up E.P. very soon though. We have the tracks written, just need to set a date for recording. It’s a lot brighter than ‘Rush and Glamour’. We have been calling it our ‘Summer E.P.’ Quite happy to keep recording E.P.’s regularly. It keeps the buzz going and showcases our stuff on an affordable format.

Can our readers expect to see you at any festivals over the summer ?

We are working on a few things at the moment, but it is quite hush hush. Hopefully we will have a BIG announcement in the near future though, so keep yer eyes peeled!

Where do you hope to be in 12 months time ?

Going right for the charts and grabbing it by the throat, knocking Ed Sheeran off of his smug, James Blunt perch and simultaneously sticking the boot into the bland, boring club ‘culture’ this generation has adopted. Think pennies, you get pennies.

2nd April – Stereo, Glasgow

7th April, 20 Rocks, Falkirk

13th April – Chambre69, Glasgow with Hot Chip (DJ SET)

27th April – 20Rocks, Falkirk