Saturday, 31 December 2011

Rumours of my demise are premature. Hello.

Things I have fairly recently enjoyed? Hmm...well....


And this:

And that:

Other stuff: "A Christmas Carol" (late to the party; first time I'd read it)... BBC 4's David Hockney special... "I Took The Moon For A Walk" (children's book)...clips of Victoria Wood's "Acorn Antiques"..."The Joy Of Country" on BBC 4...making instrumental music for films... hearing a cover of one of my (unreleased) songs by The Dahlmanns...

Recent groovy and/or fun iphone apps:
BBC iplayer
Nav Free
Dragon Dictation

Resolutions for 2012? Do more creative suff as time allows. Send some handwritten letters. Finish my album of songs. Learn some new recipes. Invent a new, eco-friendly source of energy to which the global oil-based economy can easily adapt. Practice piano.

Speaking of the piano, I like this:

Right. That's it. Move along - nothing to see here.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Rumours Are True

First off, I can confirm that the rumours about me and Katy Perry are true.

Apart from Katy's wow-factor-full-on-hi-camp-ultra-entertaining-hydraulic-pink-cloud-glittery-primary-colored-teenage-multi-media-poptastic extravaganza at the SEC in Glasgow a couple of days ago (and, after the show, standing proudly by while she told Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura "I love your voice" and that her husband introduced her to CO's music) other stuff I have recently been enjoying includes:


I love the atmosphere of these films. I am working through the Rathbone-as-Holmes collection, saving The Hound Of The Baskervilles till last. Basil's stirring, more-optimistic-than-prescient speeches at the end always tickle me, eg:

Sherlock Holmes: There’s a new spirit abroad in the land. The old days of grab and greed are on their way out. We’re beginning to think of what we owe the other fellow, not just what we’re compelled to give him. The time is coming, Watson, when we cannot fill our bellies in comfort while the other fellow goes hungry, or sleep in warm beds while others shiver in the cold. And we shan’t be able to kneel and thank God for blessings before our shining altars while men anywhere are kneeling in either physical or spiritual subjection.
Dr. John H. Watson: You may be right, Holmes… I hope you are.
Sherlock Holmes: And, God willing, we’ll live to see that day, Watson.
(got this here)
What else, you say? Well, I was treated to The Barber Of Seville at Theatre Royal and dug it very much. That's the third Scottish Opera staging I've seen there and they have all looked brilliant (Rigoletto was a corker). 
Other stuff I have recently enjoyed include Mark Gatiss on Desert Island Discs; David Sedaris "Memory Laps" in a recent New Yorker; the repeat of the Psychoville Halloween special; Randy Newman's inheritance tracks on BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live (from 47mins 30secs approx); Machi Massala takeaway from Mother India's Cafe; family birthday fun; please, Father, that is all I can remember - I'm not sure how long it's been since my last confession....
Later, 'gator x

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

And ANOTHER thing

I KNOW! Right? Yeah so anyway....

I forgot to stick this in my last post. The music is from my second instrumental album "Maculate Conceptions Volume 2". The footage is from Japan. You do the geography.

What - you want more? Well head over here.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Bob, Woody, Film Music, Sneckers, Spangles and Positive Thinking

Well. Bob Dylan's 2 x Glasgow shows were splendid. Especially the second night, Sunday 11th Oct. I've got three words for you. Blind Willie McTell. Can I get an amen? THANkyou!

Now. Any other business?

I had almost forgotten the relatively rare pleasure of seeing a new, great Woody Allen film in the cinema. The first one I ever saw as it came out was his "Oedipus Wrecks" in "New York Stories" ('Marge Simpson' was a good comic onscreen compadre). The latest was "Midnight In Paris". In the early stages I thought I was going to appreciate the idea more than the execution, but it won me round fair and square. To elaborate might spoil it. Whatever. For what it is worth, it gets my seal of approval.

One more thing.

I made my first bespoke soundtrack for Team WriteCameraAction!'s 48 Hour Film Project entry "A Shot In The Dark". We got awards for Best Costumes and Cinematography. I didn't want to win the Best Music Score award anyway so Sneckers! (I bet the last time you said 'sneckers' you were munching a spangle. O to be young again sporting non-ironic flares. I digest. I mean digress.). Here's the trailer:

I hope to get more soundtrack opportunities. Watch this space.

OK. Check the gate. Take it away, fellas:

Friday, 23 September 2011

"Maculate Conceptions Volume 2"

OK so I am releasing "Maculate Conceptions Volume 2", the second and final instalment of instrumental tracks recorded on my MacBook while Teenage Fanclub toured Europe in Nov/Dec 2010.

Buy it here. 

The first track is called "Weissenhauser". Here is a video with footage shot in Brazil:

Random things I have recently enjoyed - New Yorker article on Tony Bennett recording with Lady Gaga...Martin Clunes on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs...The Moth podcast...a plain chocolate bounty.

Rock on.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Is it September already?

Hello. Yes I am still here.

Since I last blogged I had this photo of my wee boy strolling by the side of Glasgow's new Riverside Museum (designed by Zaha Hadid) published in the Herald newspaper:

I liked then loved Chris Lilley's Angry Boys:

I baked some cakes - Torta De Santiago, Orange & almond, Eggless Pineapple (I substituted the Cardamom Powder with Nutmeg & Cinnamon) and a disastrous banana oaf, I mean loaf. Or do I?

Oh - and I was turned onto this. And now I am turning you onto it (wish Ben Dunlap was my professor):

I am re-reading the powerful Maus book(s).

I have been making some mainly instrumental music. I did write a wee song called "Hey Pumpkin". I'll let you imagine how it goes for now.

I saw Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In":

Yikes. 2 thumbs up from me. Although my favourite Pedro A opus remains "Talk To Her".

Teenage Fanclub played a festival last month in Aranda Del Duero, Spain. Good wine country there apparently. I like wine. I like Spain.

More things I like? All in good time, my child.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

John McCusker, Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan and me. And John Herald.

So my best pal is going on tour with my hero.

John McCusker (plays the fiddle an' that) has been working with Mark Knopfler for the past couple of years. And Mark Knopfler - who produced this of course) is touring with Bob Dylan around Europe for several weeks later this year. And McCusker's going to be in tow. 'kin mental!! I'm so proud I could kick his head in. Still, me and Bob actually bonded way before this.

*Cue dream-like harp and glockenspiel arpeggios as we dissolve to a dimly lit plane hangar on the banks of the River Clyde, filled with predominantly male, grey-haired Mojo-reading music enthusiasts*

.....20 odd years ago at the SEC in Glasgow, I threw a



He looked a bit sheepish when this thing sailed out of the dark towards him. He moved to the back of the stage. But a little later he bent down to pick it up (maybe it was in the way of his set list) - and it unfurled to reveal itself for what it was. Not a bomb but a wee souvenir of Bonnie Scotland. Bob mumbled "Alright, thank you" into the mic. To me. Bob Dylan thanked me. I'll pause so you can re-read that and take it in. Got it? So there. How's THAT for meaningful communication?

For the record I'm not an over-the-top Uber Fan or anything. I am way more together than that. But I'll need to ask John to remind Bob about this incident. I say that but let's be honest, Bob is not likely to have forgotten. It was a nice scarf. Macdonald tartan. I mean more like; John can take the opportunity to let Bob know I'm doing fine. He's probably wondering. And maybe he can return the scarf. Only if he's done with it like. But, y'know, I mean.... that's been 20 years he's hung on to it.

Oh - here's a wee drawing I once did of Bob on Evernote:

I know. Uncanny. Never had a lesson in my life.

And while I've got you, I'll post this in tribute to the late great (one time Bobby D scuffing partner) John Herald. That night John played downstairs at the 13th Note Cafe in Glasgow - solo and backed by my old country band Radio Sweethearts - lives on as a magical memory. John you are gone, but you are not forgotten.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Recent things I have liked

Hello - I am alive. Three random things that I have liked recently.

Jonny's gig at King Tut's on Friday...

Family time by Loch Lomond today....

A documentary about Leonard Bernstein...

Oh and one other bonus thing: "What did the animal walk to the zoo? Because he shivered" (Hugh's first made-up joke. Well, it's a start....)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Let's hear it for Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy wrote and directed "The Station Agent", "The Visitor" and "Win Win".

I recommend them all. Humanity, humour and heartbreak. And great performances.

Here are the trailers:

See - I never mentioned Bob Dylan...d'oh!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Thomas Muir, Dick Gaughan, Allen Ginsberg, Renaldo and Clara

I was roped in to a gig as part of the Thomas Muir festival in Bishopbriggs last night at the lovely Fort Theatre. The great (and very personable) Dick Gaughan headlined. I have a lot to learn about Muir but Adam McNaughton's song, as performed by Gaughan to a mid-set standing ovation, is a good starting place.

Today I saw Bob Dylan's four hour cinematic offering "Renaldo & Clara" at Glasgow's beloved GFT. A rare showing on the big screen and I had the best seat in the house. I loved it. 1 or 2 folk walked out (it was not reviewed favourably on release). But I think it is a wonderful, dense roller-coaster ride, laced with sly, warm humour. Much cool footage. Great editing. Allen Ginsberg struck me as a good sport. And the music....

No Bob Dylan in the next blog - I promise (it's hard to type with your fingers crossed behind your back).

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bob is 70

What to say? Well, not much. I can't sum up what both Bob and his music means to me. And I am not on a big mission to convert anyone. When people say he can't sing; that he never could sing - I kind of know what they mean. I disagree, but I know what they mean. I know that nothing I say is going to change their way of thinking.

When other people try and sum him up it usually bugs me. The phrase "There's Bob Dylan and there's everybody else" probably comes closest, but that doesn't exactly pin him down. Then again he seems to have spent his whole career trying to avoid being pinned down.

Anyway. Bob is 70.  If you are interested in a gem of a live performance from 1975, read this blurb below (I pasted it from here.) and then click on the video link.

^ Johnson, Tracy, Encounters with Bob Dylan: If You See Him, Say Hello, Humble press, 2000. ISBN 0-9647009-2-1. Cf. story "1975: Abandoned Love" by Joe Kivak. "On a Thursday night in July 1975, I headed out to see Ramblin' Jack Elliott at The Bitter End in New York City ... Their first song was 'Pretty Boy Floyd,' with Bob singing harmony and his guitar buzzing right along. Then Jack started 'How Long Blues.' After the first verse, he looked at Bob in a way that seemed to ask him to sing a verse. Bob simply shook his head and mouthed something inaudible. When the song finished, however, Dylan began strumming his guitar. But since it was still buzzing, he asked Jack to trade instruments with him. At that moment, everyone in the room was in a trance; it's not every day one gets to hear an impromptu Bob Dylan performance in a tiny club. After a couple of lines, we realized he was performing a new song, with each line getting even better than the last. The song was 'Abandoned Love,' and it still is the most powerful performance I've ever heard."

Happy Birthday, Bob. Thanks for everything.

(What do you mean he probably isn't reading this!?)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Brazil and "Gothenburg 2"

Well, Teenage Fanclub's trip to Brazil was rubbish. Amazing people / gigs / food / hotels / caipirinhas. What a downer.

Here is a wee video I took of us walking onstage in Sao Paulo.

And here are some photos from my Facebook page.

Thanks, iphone 4.

In 1973 Sergio Sa made a beautiful album of songs in slightly wonky English under the name Paul Bryan, slightly wonkily called "Listen Of Paul Bryan".  Carey and Tracyanne from Camera Obscura turned me on to it.  S'wonderful. Here is a wee clip of Sergio Sa singing a snatch of "Listen" live:

I picked up a couple of Sergio Sa LPs on this trip, though I can't see either of them beating "Listen Of..."

I've been lucky enough to get to Brazil on three occasions. It just gets better and better. This time TFC played Sao Paulo and, for the first time, Rio. Lots of bouncing up and down, singing along and a couple of stage invasions. Golly. Lots of l-u-v in the rooms.

Ah, memories.

(dissolve to......Several moons ago I played some solo (!?!) shows. Crazy. I remember supporting Los Hermanos in, I think, Londrina. Maybe 800 or 1000 people there for the main support. And there's me, Joe Bloggs, with my acoustic guitar; on first to the potential bafflement of everyone in the vicinity, including me. Help. I decided to start with: "I see trees of green / Red roses too / I see them bloom / for me and you / And I think to myself..." and it seemed like 800 or 1000 people went, "WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD!!". My immediate thoughts were a potent mixture of Beautiful! and Thank f*ck for that...)

I love Brazil. But let's not forget who has the better football team:

In other news -  I made a wee promo video for "Gothenburg 2", a track from my instrumental album "Maculate Conceptions" recorded during TFC's European tour last year. Here t'is:


Thursday, 5 May 2011

Smartphone betrayal, dizziness, Billy Connolly and political apathy and...zzzzz

I've done it. I've crossed over. I got one of these. BlackBerry served me well. I can't type on this gadget. What was I thinking? Well - I was probably thinking about the apps store, Hipstamatic Cameras and that kind of thing. Gee how shallow and fickle. Any suggestions for good iphone 4 apps - lemmeknow. So far I have not downloaded Angry Birds.

This song came into my head today. Isn't it a beauty?

Billy Connolly once said, "Don't vote - it just encourages them". Well I did vote today, but I can't help thinking Billy has a point....

I contributed a song to this compilation.

Laura Cantrell in Edinburgh tomorrow. Yay.

Brazil next week with Teenage Fanclub. Yay! Here's my favourite Brazilian song:

Right - that's your whack.

Monday, 2 May 2011

More Baloney

Pyschoville is back on the TV this week. Yay. 

En passant, another comedy show I dug was "Summer Heights High" 

Just read that writer and star Chris Lilley has a new project "Angry Boys" airing soon. Yay.

What else? Today's barbecue was fairly disastrous: chicken drumsticks at turns undercooked and carcinogenic. O well.

Recent listening: Taxi Driver soundtrack and "Vindaloo" by Fat Les (video makes me smile: I think it's the Max Wall impersonator more than anything), Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem" (I am still Scottish, btw, in case anyone was wondering) AND.......... Laura Cantrell's recent Bob Harris session - 3 days left to listen.

This week's dilemma - BlackBerry Torch or i-phone 4?

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Warm fruit salad, Arthur Lowe & Waylon Jennings

I remember having some barbecued cinnamon pineapple in a restaurant in Sao Paulo donkeys ago and it was delia-licious. Lately I've been chopping up fruit (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, kiwi fruit, banana, whatever (make it your own; I'm easy-osy ), sprinkling with cinnamon and squirting a smidgeon of lemon juice and sticking it in the oven. A bit of vanilla ice cream on the side doesn't hurt. There. Flowers and cards to the usual address.

Something else I like apart from warm fruit salad? Erm...I like the fact that someone had the bright idea to ask the late Arthur Lowe to narrate the Mr Men.... and that someone else got the late great Waylon Jennings to sing the theme tune to The Dukes Of Hazzard:

If this was an on-line diary I'd tell you about my yoga class this week.



Thursday, 28 April 2011


"Blow your own trumpet or someone else will use it as a spittoon" (origin unknown)

I shot and edited this video yesterday. It's for a track "Toulouse-Barcelona" from my instrumental album "Maculate Conceptions", recorded while on tour in Europe with Teenage Fanclub last year:

Here come two other videos.


"Aarhus 2":

Hear more music or, golly, buy the album at my website... 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Cinema Paradiso

Here's something else I like:

Many moons ago I ambled along to the glorious GFT in Glasgow thinking I was going to see "The Cook, The Thief His Wife And Her Lover" (which I have still never seen). I got my dates wrong and instead stumbled upon this gem. I don't care if people criticize it for being sentimental. Not saying I don't agree - just that I don't care. Where would we be if every film was bereft of sentiment? Here's another imponderable; where would "Cinema Paradiso" be if Ennio Morricone had not provided the soundtrack?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Hello. I've got a hunch this blog thing might take off so I've decided to be an early-adapting tastemaker. I think this blog will mainly be about stuff I like.


I like Laura Cantrell. I like her new album "Kitty Wells Dresses" - out now and available at / amazon / i-tunes / HMV / etc.

I also like this wee Laura Cantrell promo film, shot on the soon-to-be-defunct Flip camera and edited on i-movies:

I released Laura's debut album "Not The Tremblin' Kind" on Shoeshine over 11 (!) years ago. Crazy. I remember being SO EXCITED that I was going to be working with this amazing talent. Queen Of The Coast..The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter....Genius! Great singer, songwriter and person. And now here we are again. Laura tours the UK next month:

ManchesterClub Academy

0161 832 1111

Bristol, St Bonaventure's

0870 4444 4000

Sheffield Memorial Hall

0114 2789 789

Nottingham, The Glee Club

0871 472 0400.

Edinburgh, Pleasance Theatre

0131 220 3234

Gateshead, Old Town Hall

0191 4336965

London, Union Chapel

0131 220 3234

Number 2 - BRAZIL

I like Brazil. I get to go there next month for two shows with Teenage Fanclub. Rio and Sao Paulo. Yay. I played some solo shows in Brazil a few years ago (I know; WTF? etc) and later returned with TFC for a tour. Great people/music/food and these:

Here's a track from Jorge Ben to celebrate (Remind you of any Rod Stewart songs?):

Number 3 - ...

Och that's enough for now.