Tom Waits lollows up the release at his new LP ‘Erank’s Wild Years' (not quite the soundtrack ol the musical he wrote with his wile and which was periormed by Chicago‘s Steppenwoll Theatre Company) with a British tour. including one nightat the Edinburgh Playhouse. ‘Frank‘s Wild Years‘ is being seen as the linal part at a trilogy which began with the LP ‘Swordlishtrombones‘. which itsell marked an end to the Tom Walls 01 yore. He may still have dressed in is weathered beatnik/ Depression dritterclothes. butthe poet laureate at America's sleazy underbelly was no longer the gin-soaked loser growling away at his piano to the dateless bartlies. He had become a musical gypsy. or an explorer. weaving his own textures with odd combinations ol instruments orlound objects. As a result otthis selective metamorphosis Waits. while having to endure record sales dropping in the States. lound his music enjoyed by a new and increasingly young audience.
In a recent interview he described the transition as like travelling down a road and meeting a series ol tunnels.
‘l‘d started leeling like my music was very separate trom mysell. My lite had changed and my music had stayed pretty much its own thing. I though I had to Iind a way to bring it closer. Not so much with my tile as with my imagination. . . lused to sit in a room with a piano, the TIn Pan Alley approach. I thought that’s how songs were written.‘
Now settled in Los Angeles. Waits seemsto have lound a certain amount oi stability in marriage and tatherhood. There‘s still a lot at Waits. however. in the central character 01 ‘Frank‘s Wild Years‘. who escapes middle-class boredom in a series 01 labulous exploits. choosing one tunnel in the highway ol the American Dream.
‘Ive uprooted a lot. It’s like being a travelling salesman. People sit at a desk all day- that‘s a rough place. you know? I‘ve lived in a lot at dlllerent towns. There’s a certain gypsy quality. and I‘m used to it.‘
Los Angeles llvlng keeps him close to the movie industry; he has had parts in several tllms now. the latest being alongside Jack Nicholson in ‘lronweed‘. But music. asthe song goes. is hlslirst love. and he treats his songs as something sacrosanct. One
thing he will never do is allow his songs to be used by advertising companies. though he has manytimes been approached. and reserved his greatest bile tor artists who do.
‘You know. when a guy is singing to me about toilet paper- you may need the money but. I mean, rob a 7-11 ! Do something with dignity and save us all the trouble at peeing on your grave. . . lreallyam against people who allow their music to be nothing more than a jingle lorjeans or Bud. But I say. “Good. okay. now I know who you are.“ ‘Cause it‘s always money. there have been tours endorsed. encouraged and linanced by Miller. and I say. “Why don‘t you just get an ottice at Miller? Start really workin‘ tor the guy.‘
Waits needs no endorsement or encouragement (though the linance is pretty important) to go on tour. but he's nervous. as he always is when planning one.
‘I still have nightmares aboutthe stage where everything goes wrong. The piano catches lire. The
lighting comes crashing to
the stage. the curtain tears. The audience throw tomatoes and overripe lruit. They make their way to the lront ol the stage and my shoes can‘t move.’
Given that his Edinburgh date is on Friday 13th maybe we should start to worry it he‘ll show up atall. (Mab)
SCOTTISH THEATRE: ALIVE AND KICKING
There‘s a deliant mood at resilience that is keeping the energy in contemporary Scottish theatre. It means that alteran all-day conlerence on Theatre in the Community. you can still come outleeling inspired and optimistic and not at all deterred bythe prevailing climate ol philistinism.
The conterence. hosted bythe Royal Lyceum Theatre Club in Edinburgh on Hallowe‘en. presented an impressive array ol highly articulate speakers trom theatre workers to academics. Anna Stapleton. the new Drama and Dance Director at the Scottish Arts Council. pointed out how alter only a tew weeks north ot the border she had sensed a spirit oi determination that has been all butcrushed over the past twelve months in England. She was echoing the sentiments at many at the day’s speakers whose personal experiences gave a clear impression ol the enthusiasm and pride that‘s
2 The List 13 - 26 November 1987
still alive in Scottish theatre.
There were calls trom Ian Wooldridge and Roger Spence ol the Royal Lyceum and lrom Sandy Neilson (currently appearing as Mephistopheles in Dr Faustus at the Tron). lora strengthening olthe relationship between theatre and schools and tar an end to the practice 01 Drama always beingthe lirst subject to tall victim to educational cutbacks. The momentum continues to build up tor the loundation at a Scottish National Theatre to give a much-needed locus to theatrical talent in Scotland. And Councillor Paolo Vestri reallirmed Edinburgh District Council‘s commitment to making art and entertainment truly accessible to the community. (MFF)
LUIS ENRIQUE GODOY
One 01 Nicaragua‘s most persuasive ambassadors as well as a line exponent ot Atro-Latin music. Luis Enrique Godoy and his band Mancotal join Billy Bragg on stage at the Night tor Nicaragua this month. Luis Enrique has no college degrees or music academy awards. He started playing as a child in the small bordertown ot Somoto. near Honduras. He remembers how ‘Durworld was olthe circus. clowns. street sellers. puppets. popular musicians and street musicians. trios. strolling players and marimba pertormers. To earn a living mytather made and sold marimbas (a native wooden keyboard instrument) and also worked as a Customs guard. sold cigars. raised chickens. rented out bicycles. worked as a lisherman- and a musician.‘
Luis Enrique‘s musical education thus started early and was extended in his teens as his opposition to his country's rule by lormer dictator Anastasio Somoza ensured long periods 01 exile. He helped lound the Costa Rican New Song Movement and absorbed inlluences trom as laraiield as the Nueva Trova in Cuba. Chilean popularsong. Jamaican calypso and rock and roll lrom the United States. In the 1960s he also encountered the Western ‘protest song‘ movement. but is switt to pointout: 'What's ditterent tor us is that while our songs may be oi protest, they are also oi hope. Personally. I’m also a thorough-going optimist. I share with my band Mancotal a great hope that ourwork may leave enough olan impression at an
impression to bring together people as a ge0graphically distant as you and us through a common bond 01 music.‘
The name 01 his game is international solidarity. Just as Bob Dylan and Co were spurred to protest at world injustice through the tiller ot the Vietnam War. so Luis Enrique wants to call attention to how Nicaragua could so easily become such another bloodbath. ‘In which case.’ he adds. with depressing accuracy. ‘Blood would be spilt throughoutthe region. It you support Reagan and the contra army. that‘s what you‘re endorsing.’
He himselt paid his dues in lighting in the mountains with the Sandinista National Liberation Front. which came to victory in July1979 with the overthrow ol Somoza. But he Is also capable ola longer historical overview: ‘Nicaragua has had 150 years 01 struggle against loreign domination. The United States may be the richest and most powerful nation in the world. butthey
Luls Enrlque Godoy and Bllly Bragg
( i i
I I I i
have never succeeded in controlling Nicaragua. and they won't now.‘
To us. brought up on a diet
at boy meets/loves/loses/ leaves girl lyrics, eventhe
2 idea at composing love-
songs to one‘s homeland might sound dubious. But despite Nicaragua‘s long history ol stmggle. the Revolution oi 1979 is still a fresh achievement that has to be delended daily. And so Luis Enrique sings ol the
’ history ol his country. much
01 it couched in the oral tradition ol ‘testimony‘ and 01 its ‘heroes and martyrs‘. irom Sandino to Carlos Fonseca.
In his political satire. however. Luis Enrique also introduces jokes about the problems endemic in Nicaragua - the impossible public transport system and worse taxis; the daily papers that appear as and when with old ‘news‘ because ol paper shortages; the ‘queues outside the supermarkets that show we‘re all consumers now!‘ In short. Luis Enrique Godoy and Mancotal know how to generate enthusiasm and enjoyment while doing a considerable amount at lund-raising. A recent New York concert raised $15.
. 000 to be split between
: musical and medical aid.
And as Luis Enrique says: ‘Luck and late are bringing us all together in England.‘ Be there and on yourleet. companerosl (Amanda Hopkinson).
Night tor Nicaragua. Assembly Rooms Edinburgh. 031 225 3614. Fri 13 Nov. 10.30pm. Tickets in advance lrom Virgin and Ripping Records. Scottish Medical Aid lor Nicaragua are also holding an intormation and petition day in Argyle Street Precinct. Glasgow on Sat 14 Nov.
Expatriate Glaswegian guitaristJim Mullen. a man who knows a thing ortwo about both (an and iusion guitar. put it succinctly enough: ‘John Scolield? He’s number one now. Dellnitely.’ The inlluential Downbeat magazine‘s Critics‘ Poll agreed. ll virtuoso guitar playing is still viewed with suspicion in post-punk rock and pop
circles. the instrument has undergone a remarkable re-assertion ot importance in contemporaryjazz. with Scolield very much inthe vanguard.
‘Yeah. lthinkthat is because people ol my generation started out with The Beatles and the Stones and rock ‘n‘ roll. andthere were eight million zillion guitar players around. Naturally. a small percentage at them would move onto playing jazz.‘
Paradoxically. while it will be blues and tunk based musicthat he will be playing with the band he brings on his lirst visitto Scotland next week. Scolield lirst cameto prominence in Billy Cobbam‘s heavy tusion outlit in the mid-1970s at a time when all he wanted to do was polish up on his bebop licks. These days. he linds the lorrns co-exist happily in his music.
Scolield‘s interplay with Bill Frisell on Bass Desires eponymous debut album (a second is imminent lrom ECM) showcases a diilerent approach trom that evident on his recent trio ot highly regarded albumslor Gramavision. The album boasts Hiram Bullock guesting on guitar. and Mitch Forman. but thetour line-up is slightly dilterent.
‘lt’sthe same bassistand drummer. Gary Gralnger and Dennis Chambers. but Mitch Forman couldn‘t make it. so I‘ve gota keyboard player named Rob Aries. He‘s done a lot 01 tusion-type stutt. andjazz too. He’s a young guytrom New York who is real good on synthesizers and on acoustic piano. The rhythm section is great. llove playing with them. and they have this thing they do together which is really beautilul. and I just ride along with them.‘
Interaction with his own group is obviously important to Scolield.
‘lt‘s essential. you know. I've never been a studio musician. Even though I've done a lot at record dates and so on. I‘ve always loved playing with a band that has time to play togetherand develop. With some bands trom the lirst note you ever play together it works, but most bands it takes a while to reallyllgure out what works with each other. That only happens on gigs. and playing together night alter night. When lilrst started to get into (min 1970 and 1971. ltseemed that. with the exception ot John McLaughlin. Wes Montgomery was the most modern stylist-jazz guitar hadn‘t really developed beyond bebop. The music that was catching my ear was coming lrom horn