— nun RIG
Run Rig are a phenomenon. Wildly successful in their native Scotland yet comparitively unknown outside ofit they are an Entertainments Convenor’s dream. Book Run Rig for your University Hop and you are guaranteed a sure fire hit. Of course. they are far more than just mere
student pleasers - there is a fair amount oftruth in the way Melody Maker compared their effect on Scottish audiences to Springsteen‘s on American ones. Both powerful and haunting. there is something in their music which brings out the Celt in all of us. Recently returned from a successful tour of West Germany they are due to close the year with concerts at Glasgow‘s Barrowland and Edinburgh’s Playhouse. Vocalist Donnie Munro, while admitting that the band are basically Scottish in outlook says that they have gone down well in Europe. adding that their music ‘crosses over very well‘. If their music meets resistance anywhere. it is in London: European audiences such as the Dutch are more used to listening to music in a ‘foreign language‘ and hence, more ready to accept them. It is in Scotland. however. that they remain most popular. even then Munro has noticed a change in their audience over the past three years. Before they used to play to what he calls ‘West Highland. second generation Gaels‘. Recently though they seem to have been reaching a wider audience. Some might suggest this has been through the inﬂuence of Celtic rock bands such as U2 and Big Country — indeed some have gone so far as to suggest Stuart Adamson ripped them off. Donnie refutes this. ‘I know he‘s been to see us and it would be nice to think that we influenced him. but to say he‘s ripped us off is unfair — he‘s been ' playing that stuff since the Skids.‘ Run Rig did not start off as a purely Gaelic band. To begin with they played cover versions and were more ofa ‘showband‘. The Gaelic inﬂuence just grew - ‘while we‘re aware ofour Scottish identity. we were never ﬂag wavers‘. They would rather see themselves as a cosmopolitan band with their lyrical content having an ‘international feeling.’ Despite the obvious difficulty in breaking into a primarily
record-orientated market. Run Rig are pleased that they can sustain themselves and ‘make a living in Scotland — the only band to do so.‘ Run Rig concerts can be pretty wild affairs — indeed it is a favourite ploy of student unions to combine their concerts with cheap whisky nights (‘I don‘t drink sol won‘t comment on the morality ofthat‘) and although the end of the year concerts are ‘more or less the way thing have worked out‘ it is also ‘nice to have this end of the year audience and finish with a big bang.‘
The first thing you notice about Dexter Gordon is his sheer physical presence: the jazz life may have taken its toll. but this is still a BIG man. dwarfing the couch he sits on. That exceptional presence. and his totally unique walk. dominates Round Midnight — Dexter may not be an actor. but there is no doubting his authority in the role. It is Dexter‘s life up there on screen. the burning desire to push the music as far as he can make it go. the fallible lapse into drink and drugs that has left him in fragile health. His deliberate. halting speech is delivered in the wraith ofa long-vanished voice. pausing to contemplate each statement. but he
is perfectly lucid on his reasons for doing the film.
‘There had never been any real attempt to tell the story of any of the truly great jazz players of my generation. I wasn‘t all that interested in being in the film until I talked with Bertrand. and began to see that this would be a better deal than anyone ever had. He is a jazz fan. he loves the music. and he genuinely wanted to cast the musicians in those parts. and to listen to advice on making it all as authentic as possible. We changed a few things. developed the character together. while Herbie Hancock took care of the music. He updated the sound a little. rather than just trying to be strictly accurate — we could have done that with old records. right? — and we had no problems there at all.‘
Dexter established a good working relationship with Tavernier and the rest of the crew. and with his co-star Francois Cluzet. that eased what he found to be an otherwise trying stint as an actor. The music. after the initial problems ofgetting over a two-year sabbatical. came easier: the musicians perform with a naturalness rarely seen on film. their music an absolutely integral part of their performance. Dexter is no longer the fircbrand of his bebop days. but he plays with a knowing weariness that illuminates his elegiac treatments ofclassics like ‘Body and Soul‘ and ‘Round Midnight‘.
The film may have come late. but Dexter hopes that it will contribute in spreading the jazz message. ‘Jazz never really gets this kind of exposure in the mass market. and I‘m hoping we will attract new listeners through that. It has been playing to packed houses in America and Europe. and seems to have a very broad appeal. There is a very human quality about the film — it‘s not just about jazz. There is a whole range ofemotions going on in there.‘ (Joe Alexander)
Round Midnight opens at the Cameo. Edinburgh on 12 Dec. Allan Hunter talks to the film '5 director. Bertrand Tat'ernier. on p8 of this issue.
_ BILL SHERWOOD
In the midst of the growing public. media and governmental concern about AIDS the release ofBill Sherwood‘s debut feature Parting Glances is particularly timely. Treating its subject matter not with awe or fear. but with a sophisticated sense ofcomedy and ultimately a good deal of courage, it focuses on a hectic 24 hours in the life ofa gay yuppie New York couple, and the strain caused between them by the fact of one of their ex-lovers being a long-term sufferer of the deadly
Born in 1952, and for a long time heading for a career in modern classical music as a composer before attending film school in New York and Califronia, Sherwood explains that Parting Glances was the end of a search for a project that would be financially and artistically viable for him: ‘Actually I wanted to make a low-budget independent feature sort of in the same style as the John Sayles films of the other American independents where instead of moving to LA and writing screenplays for ten years then finally being allowed to direct Teens 00 Gonzo or something like that, you just scrounge together the money yourself and make the feature from scratch. getting friends and acquaintances to help. So, I’d written a couple of larger-scale screenplays that weren’t particularly gay but were too expensive. Then I tried writing something more affordable. With Parting Glances I thought I‘d make this story that’s set within 24 hours and there’s just a few locations and somehow we’d be able to do it.‘
On the artistic side of things, Sherwood was dissatisfied with the portrayal of the gay community as he knew it. a factor which inevitably shaped the final draft of the screenplay: ‘Yes, on the political side it was kind of irritating to always see these films where the gays are like psychotic hustlers or drag queens or extreme stereotypes, sol thought it would be kind of fun to do a movie that was just everyday people. just perfectly normal, palid low-key guys.‘
The experience of actually shooting the film showed that in New York whilst in many areas anti-gay prejudices have broken down, in others they still persist. Straight actors play gay parts in the movie, for instance, which surprised even Sherwood himself: ‘It was really funny it didn‘t faze them at all. It must be the new groovy generation or something.’ On the other hand, the casting of Steve Buscemi as the AIDS victim did create a certain amount of friction. as Sherwood explains: ‘He was a New York City fireman and traditionally the Fire Department has a very anti-gay stance politically. Now at the audition I didn’t know him and presumed he would be incredibly right wing. so I took him aside and I said ‘Do you really think you can do this? What’ll the guys in the department say?‘ Ofcourse, it didn’t matter to him at all.’
Hope fully. lots of people will see Parting Glances and its portrayal of the gay lifestyle as no different from anyone else’s will help to break down this sort of misguided stereotyping. (Trevor Johnston)
The List 12 Dec—8Jan1