Friday, 29 May 2015

Teenage Foo Club

On Tuesday TFC drove down to beautiful Hebden Bridge. Last Of The Summer Wine country. The Trades Club is a characterful venue looked after by people that like their job. We coudn't get into the dressing room downstairs until the local Tai Chi class had finished. After soundcheck I had half a pint of Pennines Gold (recommended) and some nice grub prepared by the venue's Tibetan chef. I walked up a steep cobbled road to Heptonstall and read the inscription on Sylvia Plath's gravestone:

Even amidst fierce flame the Golden Lotus can be planted.

I nicked into St Thomas A Beckett church and caught a performance of Bach's Double Violin Concerto and then toddled back down the hill. The gig was hot, sweaty and fun. We played a relatively long set in preparation for the next show - supporting The Foo Fighters at Manchester's Old Trafford cricket ground.

Talking of hot and sweaty I remember when Shonen Knife, Captain America and Nirvana played the QMU in Glasgow. I didn't play with TFC then and I didn't meet anyone in Nirvana, but I was in the dressing room after the show with some others and I remember Kurt Cobain talking to Norman and saying TFC should tour with them - which they did. 

During their set Dave Grohl had some nice words to say about those days:

The Foo Fighters put on a great show. My favourite part was when Mr Grohl got an 8 year-old boy out of the audience to duet on a song.
After the gig we were invited to come and say hello. Dave had time for everyone..

And that was that.

Damn - forgot to give him a copy of this....

Monday, 25 May 2015

Belle & Seb at The Hydro, etc

Last Friday I saw Belle & Sebastian at The Hydro, Glasgow. "The Boy With The Arab Strap" got me feeling particularly emotional. Apparently Stuart Murdoch, many moons ago, passed a mutual friend a demo tape to give to me when I had started my wee imprint Shoeshine and Stuart wasn't with a record label. The mutual friend thought I wouldn't like it and never passed it on. It could all have been so different. Thanks, mutual friend.

Teenage Fanclub have been rehearsing for shows this week in Hebden Bridge and Manchester, the latter opening for The Foo Fighters. Here is a photo of my shoe resting on a drum between songs.

So now I can say I have read Kafka's "Metamorphosis". *clears throat"

"I have read Kafka's Metamorphosis"

Next up, this:

Hooray for car boot sales.

Here is a new thing that might be of interest to fans of Glasgow Music - Guided Walking Tour Of The City's Music Scene.

Over 1k plays for this from my 'classical album'. Yay.

Right, I'm away to practise resting my foot on a bass drum. Wish me luck.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Battenburg AND Madeira

Today I had a rehearsal with the lovely Cairn String Quartet for our performance at BBC Scotland on June 5th.

Tea + Cake + Music = Pleasant Way To Spend A Couple Of Hours.

(That's Battenburg and Madeira btw; I'm an internationalist when it comes to bakery products.)

I can recommend Slow West, recently screened by BAFTA Scotland. It was followed by a great Q&A with Janice Forsyth and director John Maclean. Inspiring stories about working with what you've got.

Bob Dylan appeared on the outgoing (in whatever way you want it to mean) David Letterman the other night. Bob's antics during the instrumental break are wonderfully awkward (that look at 3min 10 seconds!). Think he's miming his vocal?


My website has had a wee tweak.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

We Don't Really Like What You Do

Last night I saw Norman Blake and Jad Fair perform at Mono. Twas fun.

Jad's encore of a cheesy stand up routine was a highlight ("we got a flat tyre - there was a fork in the road"), but especially moving was their performance of Daniel Johnston's "The Story Of An Artist".

We don't really like what you do,
We don't think anyone ever will,
It's a problem that you have,
And this problem's made you ill.

Norman and Jad's new album "Yes" is available here, by the by.

Final, final word on Picasso and Francoise Gilot - I enjoyed this Vogue article from 2012.

Record Collector described my album "Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste" as "sublime music with floating textures". So yay.

More info or to order LP, CD or mp3s at

Don't forget I am performing LIVE with the Cairn String Quartet at BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow on June 5th on the Bryan Burnett show. Get free tickets here.

Car boot sale reading. I liked Alan Bennet's "The Uncommon Reader", a kind of love letter to the joys of the written word.

 'Manhunt' -  the first episode of The Detectives was pretty compelling TV.

Lastly I made up a joke.

Me: Why has Dracula never been to The Western Isles?
You: I don't know, why has Dracula never been to The Western Isles?
Me: Because he's afraid of The Gaelic.

Och, please yourself.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Pablo, Dave and Antoine

Picasso meeting Charlie Chaplin is an interesting read but for my final extract from Francoise Gilot's "Life With Picasso" I think I'll offer the following.

Gilot, mother of two of Picasso's children, has been having haemorrhages and her doctor advises she needs an operation:

When I spoke to Pablo about it, he said there was no question of my having the operation right away.

'I'm much too busy to let you take time off now', he said. 'There's no need for women to be sick so often, anyway.'

I wonder what would have happened if Kim Fowley and Picasso had ever got stuck in a loft together...?

What else? I have been speaking to some HND/BA students about The Music Industry, such as it is. And I am working on music for a film.  *mysterious ambient music cue*

Teenage Fanclub are supporting The Foo Fighters in Manchester this month. Should be fun. What's not to like about playing drums in front of tens of thousands of people with quite possibly Dave blinkin' Grohl observing from the side of the stage. No pressure.

Meanwhile on 5th June I will be performing some "Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste" with The Cairn String Quartet on the Bryan Burnett show at BBC Pacific Quay. For more info and to book tickets go here.

Finally, here is an obituary for Antoine Duhamel that just I stumbled across.

I liked his soundtrack for Death Watch, shot in Glasgow around 1980:

Saturday, 9 May 2015

This is me since yesterday

On June 5th I will be performing some "Music for String Quartet, Piano And Celeste" with The Cairn String Quartet at BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Yikes and w'hey!

Last week I sang three songs at a sold out event in Cottier Theatre, Glasgow organised by The Bare Facts (they are on Facebook). One was co-written with my pal Harry Pye. It wasn't this one:

Lesley Riddoch was the main attraction, giving an inspirational talk about Scotland's potential. I won't try and summarise but it didn't boil down to who we should vote for. Kathleen MacInnes sang this (what a treat):

Nae Pasaran's kickstarter campaign has been successful. A beautiful, true story about Scottish factory workers doing their bit to defy the Chilean military regime in the 1970s. It deserves to more widely told, and now it will be.

Last night (as I type) I attended the closing concert of the Plug festival at the Royal Conservatoire Of Scotland. Colin Broom's multimedia extravaganza "7 Pictures Of An Electronic Life" was inspiring. Witty and brilliant. I also loved Jay Capperauld's "Houdini's Death Defying Spectacular" concerning his attempts to contact his (Houdini's, not Capperauld's) wife from the afterlife. It used some extracts from this spooky recording.

My album "Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste" picked up some nice mentions recently in:

The Irish TimesQ Magazine and French music blog Soul Kitchen.

Sacre bleu.

I am working on music for a project that I can't tell you about.

Oh and before I go, another extract from "Life With Picasso". The esteemed artists speaks sulkily of friendships and loyalty:

"If they really loved me they'd come anyway, even if they had to wait a the door for three days until I felt like letting them in."

Monday, 4 May 2015

Picasso, Reich, Glass...and me (Uncut)

Some more from Francoise Gilot's "Life With Picasso".

Picasso is painting Guernica. Dora Maar is with him. Marie-Thérèse Walter appears on the scene saying, "I have a child by this man", and the two women begin arguing. Over to Picasso, as related by Gilot:

I kept on painting and they kept on arguing. Finally Marie-Thérèse turned to me and said, "Make up your mind. Which one of us goes?". It was a hard decision to make. I liked them both for different reasons: Marie-Therese because she was sweet and gentle and did whatever I wanted her to, and Dora because she was intelligent. I decided I had no interest in making a decision. I was satisfied with things a they were. I told them they'd have to fight it out themselves. So they began to wrestle. It's one of my choicest memories". And to judge from the way he laughed it was.


Here's a picture of Steve Reich from Fri 1st May in Glasgow.

I had just watched him being interviewed where he had graciously enough answered my question about how he embarks on new work (does he wait for commissions that inspire him or does he come up with initial concepts and ideas? The answer was a bit of both). However he could have been slightly more gracious with a young questioner who asked him what he thought of minimalist sculpture. Hmm.

Philip Glass was affable in his preceding interview. No one seemed to ask him a question he didn't seem to approve of (I asked him to talk about working with Woody Allen and he obliged) so his toys stayed in the pram.

Later that night I attended a 4-hour performance of "Music In 12 Parts". I loved it for different reasons not least its heads down perversity and relentlessness. My 6 year-old son once described an excerpt as sounding "like a miracle is happening and a robot is dancing for it".

Here's The Philip Glass Ensemble taking their well-deserved fourth curtain call.

So it's General Election time. Please read this.

Andy finally, Esther...

Uncut magazine called my album "Moistly melancholic minimalism". Erm...thanks?