Saturday, 22 December 2018

I'll Miss Us When We're Gone

"Journey Into Another Dimension" is a well-told, spooky story from The Moth.

And "Nancho Challenge" is powerful.

I thoroughly recommend "Stan & Ollie" if you get the chance to see it. Lovely, loving and lovable:

And The Young Offenders Christmas Special on BBC i-player is a reassuring hoot.

The other week I recorded some new music with my ol' folk-fiddling' pal John McCusker (violin, viola) and the wonderful harpist Sharron Griffiths (who also played on this). The fruits of our labours feature in this powerful documentary, 10pm Jan 1st BBC Two Scotland:

And on Hogmanay on BBC Two you can catch this:

Loved composing for this. Director Lou Lockwood and editor Jonathan Seale were brilliant to work with. Briggs is a fascinating character; a quiet, English revolutionary. I would recommend this one hour of TV to anyone.

Teenage Fanclub are joining Belle & Sebastian's Boaty Weekender in August 2019, alongside Camera Obscura, Yo La Tengo and others.

Info on all Teenage Fanclub live activity - shows & festivals in Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe - can be found here.

These folks made my album of the year.

Tracyanne & Danny are coming Way Out West soon, of course...

Tracyanne & Danny ticket info here.

Monday, 10 December 2018

15th December in Glasgow

Looking for something to do this Saturday 15th December? Come  along to the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel for a special gig. I will be singing some songs alongside Belle & Sebastian's Stevie Jackson, Richard Luke, A New International and.......a Surprise Guest.

I'll be performing in aid of British Heart Disease and in honour of the late Simon Cottrell.

Tickets here.

Recent films, you say? I liked Mary Queen Of Scots, The Outlaw King and most especially The Favourite. However - this was heart-wrenching and amazing:

Best last scene of a movie that I can think of.

V. glad that Vic & Bob are on the telly. An antidote to the depressing baloney of Brexit.

In my last blog I posted a letter I got from Alex Chilton. Well, here's the letter he sent my ol' pal Joe.

I have been working on the music for "Snowmen, Bogeymen & Milkmen" - a beautiful profile of Raymond Briggs, directed by the amazing Louise Lockwood and edited by her Sancho Panza Jonathan Seale. A brilliant experience for me. Tune in at 9pm, BBC Two on 31st December.

RIP, Pete Shelley. Another life not lived long enough.  Not everyone gets to leave behind great art like this.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

"There's No Glory In Outstripping Donkeys"

I was delighted to find a letter that Alex Chilton wrote me several yonks ago.

I can't put my hands on the compilation tape now, but I remember there was stuff by The Gories, The Scruffs, The Country Rockers and a wonderful version of "Alligator Man" by The Greenbriar Boys.

In 1993 (September?) after Big Star played the QM in Glasgow, supported by BMX Bandits, a squad of us ended up at a get together in someone's flat. A couple of acoustic guitars appeared and there was a sing song. I remember one song was"California Girls" because I was strumming one of the guitars and LX cued me for the riff before the last chorus - and my fingers turned to boxing-begloved sausages. Oh well.

Alex sang us this song, mentioned in his letter.

After the initial verse there was some laughing (scoffing?).

Alex kept strumming and said, "Burt Bacharach wrote this".

Came the earnest reply, "Did he?"

Alex (still strumming): "No".

Sunday, 18 November 2018

"Mummy's Gone Out For A Cigarette"

Well that was some finale...

Very nice to meet John-"I can't believe I met Norman"-Simm on Night 2 of the London run of Teenage Fanclub shows. He kindly filmed a wee message from The Master for my wee 'Whovian' boy (the latter's verdict: "It wasn't too bad".)

While in London I also caught a matinee performance of Pinter 4 ("Moonlight" and "Night School") which I loved. Great cast and performances. Funnily enough John Simm will appear in Pinter 6.

I ate lovely tapas in Jamon Jamon in Camden and delicious veggie lasagne in Rosetta in Covent Garden.

I visited Westminster Abbey which was pretty amazing. Photos aren't allowed but I told a guide that I had provided (a little bit of) music for the recent BBC Imagine doc about David Hockney's new stained glass window. He let me snap a photo as a souvenir of my seeing it 'in the flesh'...

To the National Gallery again. This painting affected me....

...maybe in part because I have been thinking about The Iolaire Disaster.

I also discovered Lorenzo Lotto.

I am singing some songs at this charity event with Stevie Jackson, Richard Luke, A New International and a Surprise Guest in Glasgow on 15th Dec. 

Looks like a beautiful venue.

I've been working on music for a TV programme which will be shown during the BBC Christmas schedules. It's a wee gem. V. chuffed to be involved. I'll be shouting about it when I can.

Say - Tracyanne & Danny are coming the West Coast of North America next year:

Tickets/info here.

RIP Roy Clark. I used to put this on compilation tapes to play in the BMX Bandits tour van:

Overheard at a recent screening of The Grinch in the Odeon, Braehead, Glasgow: "Mummy's gone out for a cigarette. Sit down."

Monday, 12 November 2018

Manchester - Birmingham - London

Teenage Faclub's Manchester residency was a hoot, despite my playing keyboards with oven gloves on the odd occasion. Last song on the last night was a rare version of Take The Skinheads Bowling. All the more rare for being accidentally in the wrong key. Allegedly.

I was struck by a painting (not literally) in the Manchester Art Gallery. Apparently Richard Neville, the 16th Early Of Warwick, vowed to fight to the death at the Battle Of Towton. Here he is killing his horse so he can't flee the battlefield:

How's that for knowing your mind? I can be paralysed with indecision as to whether to have tea or coffee.

And I thought this Feminist take on the Grand Tour was brilliant:

Before our Mancunian finale, me and Norman sloped off to the cinema to catch this...

Loved it. Dave had already seen it and assured me I'd be youtub-ing Queen's full set at Live Aid. And he wasn't wrong.

On the drive to Brum Norman came up with an idea for a sandwich shop. Bohemian Wraps All Day. Don't groan at the messenger.

The Birmingham shows were fandabbydozy. Last song on the third night was "Like A Virgin" with Brendan thumping the tubs. Not sure the band have ever played that live.

This materialised backstage.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us
Looks like we've all got Lenny-Henry-as-David-Bellamy-on-TISWAS beards.

Speaking of art.... I love Birmingham Art Gallery. And not just for the fish and chips in the Edwardian Tearoom.

Among other things I like the painting Mount Civette by Elijah Walton. Not sure why. Hard to articulate. Something to do with its scale. And what it must have conveyed to folk back home (with no TV cos it hadn't been invented yet) who would never travel abroad. And the Grand Tour tradition. And A Room With A View. And Hotel Du Lac. And familiarity. And - I'm havering now. 

(Meanwhile a wee snap taken with my phone camera doesn't quite do it justice.)
Loved this too.

I ate Balti (when in Rome).

And now we're in London. I've had a mooch in the National Gallery...

If I had a nose like that I wouldn't ask to be painted in profile (cue heckler: "What do you mean "if"?")
...steak frites in Joe Allen's... and I popped for a discounted ticket for the 3rd instalment of Pinter At The Pinter which was, at turns, good and great; moving and funny.

Powerful cast: Keith Allen, Lee Evans, Tamsin Greig, Meera Syal and Tom Edden. 

I hardly ever get to see live theatre.

Three Fanclub shows in London this week. 

Then home to finish up some music for TV.



Wednesday, 7 November 2018

"The Right Words Inside Of The Right Melody"

I enjoyed this Bob Dylan interview.

Teenage Fanclub have played some more shows in Glasgow and Manchester since my last missive. 

All fun. 

Brendan has a gift for loosening up everyone in the building and reminding us all that we're here to have fun. I didn't spot this at the time from my stage-left grotto, but last night there was no sign of him before we started the second song of the set, "Sparky's Dream". B was supposed to play a wee bit of percussion over the intro but we assumed he'd gone AWOL....Oh well. Paul counted us in. Norman played the opening lick. An arm emerged from the black curtain at the back of stage shaking a maraca...

Amazing shot of Karen 'Amy Pond' Gillan. Taken with a phone camera, would you believe?
On Sunday I attended the BAFTA Scotland Awards 2019. Tuxedo? Tick. But it always comes around just too late for me to remember how to tie my back tie. Hurray for youtube tutorials.  "The Force: The Story Of Scotland's Police" (wot I done music for) was nominated but didn't win. However, I got a blether with David Hayman (lovely man), a chat with the good folks of GMAC, and caught up with various folks that have helped me get on with making music for TV. And the caramelised onion tart starter was delish.

Yesterday (as I type) I visited the Manchester Art Gallery.

I've eaten salt & pepper baby squid in Red Chilli and Catalan black pudding in Lunya.

Oh and here's some TFC LP reissue news.

Might give this a go.

*message ends*

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

In The Footsteps of Robert Vickers

So the Teenage Fanclub bandwagon is off and running. Two loosey-goosey warm-up shows in Livingston and Glasgow's CCA, and then first night at Glasgow Barrowlands Ballroom playing the albums "Bandwagonesque" & "13". Lots of fun.

During soundcheck as I was strumming Norman's epiphone at the front of the stage (not my usual turf) for a run through "Is This Music?", I got to thinking: this is more or less the exact spot where once I saw Robert Vickers (bassist with the Go-Betweens who were supporting Aztec Camera) extend his middle finger - mid song - to the faceless bampot that flicked a lit cigarette at him. And that wasn't yesterday. Funny the things that come to mind.

Speaking of The Go-Betweens, I dug this when I saw it...

Tracyanne & Danny are off on tour shortly:

Tracyanne & Danny tickets/info here

And Teenage Fanclub have just announced some European shows for next year:

Teenage Fanclub live info here

I'm enjoying watching the new Dr. Who with my wee boy. We re-watched Vincent And The Doctor too. Great episode. I was overcome with emulsion. (Wee painting joke there). I also took my wee boy to see the new Johnny English film. He loved it so I loved it. And Inside No 9's live Halloween special was a hoot.

Oh and I thought this was quite something from David Mackenzie...

Right - I am away to practise.

Monday, 22 October 2018

I do like London

I had to go to London for some stuff.

I ate in Joe Allen's (didn't spot Kenneth Williams)...

...and also in J Sheekey (didn't spot David Bailey (although the bloke next to me was telling his pal how he had performed Hamlet a few times, so that was kind of fun)).

I had a burrito in Benito's Hat (if you know what I mean). I had a drink in The Coach & Horses (no Tom Baker). I ate in Chinatown (Wong Kei - but their supposedly famously rude waiters weren't that rude).

I hooked up with Harry Pye and we went to see a 50th anniversary screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey in the beautiful Print Charles Cinema off Leicester Square which probably looks exactly the same as 50 years ago. Amazing, beautiful-looking film to experience on the big screen.

I visited The National Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery.

Me after breakfast at Joe Allen's

I looked at some of Bob's new Mondo Scripto stuff in the Castle Gallery.

I got a discounted ticket for a West End show The Comedy About A Bank Robbery - which was fun.

I watched this  David Hockney doc (which had a tiny bit of my music).

I had a meeting to do with TV music and I saw Tracyanne & Danny rockin' Bush Hall.

Back up the road I've been filling my head up with Teenage Fanclub rehearsals. Good to hear Brendan and Paul laying down their grooves.

I'll say it. Dr. Who's Rosa Parks episode moved me to tears.

The glorious Tracyanne & Danny are playing some shows in Newcastle, London, The Hague, Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris.

Info/ticket links here.

Tinkety-tonk, old fruit, and down with the nazis.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

So how was it?

How was my solo gig?

To quote pedal steel maestro Jon Graboff's post-show analysis routine, "Well - nobody died". Actually it was fun. I mostly played songs from this...

When am I playing again, you ask? No plans.

In other news, here's a fun new video from Tracyanne & Danny:

They tour UK/Europe soon - dates here.

I saw this and recommend it:

I am writing some TV music that I can't tell you about.

If you never caught up with Tara & George - here's a link to the podcast.

I'm giving this a go.

And Ive got my eye on the Go-Betweens doc at the GFT.

Toodle pip.

PS: #StopBrexit

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Roads And The Miles To Dundee An' That

I just had a nice wee trip to bonnie Dundee.

The McManus, the V&A, the Discovery, Desperate Dan's statue, Tony Macaroni, Boots the chemist, etc....

My favourite thing was the selection of b&w photographs of children by Joseph McKenzie in the McManus...

On the way home I got a wee look at Doune Castle where Monty Python And The Holy Grail was filmed....

Taunter's day off
I recommend Wajib, btw...

...crackin' film.

Delighted to learn that The Force: The Story Of Scotland's Police (for which I provided music) has been shortlisted for a Scottish BAFTA.

Zoinks! Tickets are now on sale for all Teenage Fanclub live shows including Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and US. More info here.

And as I type, this Friday I'll be performing a set at The Seven Song Club in The Tron, Glasgow. Finlay Macdonald (with whom I have played in Speedboat, BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub) is doing a set too. See you there?