Buttan Tom If Buffalo Tom had been. in the
words of music biz insiders versed in
the appropriate jargon. ‘not very good‘, the advice to the Boston trio would probably have been along the lines of, ‘Don’t give up the day job‘. As fate would have it though, Buffalo Tom are a band of considerable stature and yet — ha! - still haven't forsaken the nine-to-five existence.
‘Hold on a minute,‘ interjects guitarist and vocalist Bob Yanowitz during our transatlantic chat. ‘I‘m still at work and I have to answer the phone. . .' Sheesh, a life caught between a gloriously received band and a ‘fairly miserable' job in a printing shop. Still, beats rock 'n‘ dole, I suppose.
Buffalo Tom, for the herd of hearing, are quite improbably. folkcore. With an undulating guitar grind verging on the lethargic. and a drawling. first-thing-in-the-morning vocal lurch, the comparisons with
i Dinosaur Jr are obvious. (Indeed, J Mascis was responsible for
producing last year‘s Birdbrain album.) But chuck in a spattering of Van The Man influences and a nod in the direction ofthe melody, and the comparisons crumble.
‘I see ourselves as a step on from
‘ Husker Du, The Replacements and
Sonic Youth. But we‘ve ended up going towards more folky. melodically directed stuff. Our songs do have a real traditional structure to
; them. But we‘re still using i aggression.’
For a neat encapsulation of Buffalo Tom‘s unlikely mix of ferocity and mellowness, there‘s the new Beggars Banquet single, ‘Fortune Teller‘.
i Could this be the one that sees the
band following their Stateside contemporaries into the arms of a more mainstream, post-Doolittle
audience? Hello Top 40, goodbye printing shop?
‘I can see it all happening,‘ is the printer‘s confident reply. ‘We‘re fairly versatile in that we don‘t adhere to fads or trends. With Buffalo Tom. it‘s a slow building process.‘ (Craig McLean)
Buffalo Tom support The Wedding Present at The Barro wland. Glasgow
on Sa118 and Queen's Hall, Edinburgh on Sun 19.
L__..._". _ 46 The List 17— 30 May 1991
For Art’s Sake
When Arthur H lirst went tor singing lessons, histeachertoid him, ‘i've heard you are a good musician. But you will never, ever be a singer.’ But now, declares the 26-year-old Parisian, who only iound his true style three years ago, ‘my voice is my lite.‘
He must be heartily sick now oi the tag ‘the French Tom Walts’, although it's beyond doubt that tans oi the
, gravel-voiced hobo-guru will iind much
in Arthur H's music that they will like, provided they can come to terms with
. most olthe set being in French.
Jazz tans might be advised to look in as well, although Arthurwon't pigeonhole his excellent band. ‘lt’s French music, with jazz iniluence,
’ European iniluence, tango inlluence’,
3 strongly inspired by the ‘chansons
realistes’ his mother sang to him when he was young, and the storytelling tradition ot his country.
‘There are such morbid and ironic stories in France,‘ he says. ‘Morbid, but lunny.’
This might explain the bizarre, even surreal tales woven by Arthur H in
concert, in which a man beats his mother-in-law to death with a trumpet
and a ghost only bottles out oi suicide when he remembers he‘s dead already.
Not surprisingly, there is a theatrical side to his work, much oi which can be traced back to early shows the band did in a cabaret in Pigalle, where they ‘dld a lot with lights and made imitations of very bad and very iunny musicians. That cabaret. . .' Arthur reminisces, ‘it was periect ior us.’ (Alastair Mabbott) Arthur H plays the Queen‘s Hail, Edinburgh on Fri 24.
. Ferry fest
The growing ‘Fringe' at Mayiest is, in one instance, oi equal status to the main event, but without the beneiits ot press coverage and inclusion in the otticial programme. I reterto the grand series of concerts and ceilidhs promoted on the Rentrew Ferry, the iloating conservatory moored on the south bank at Clyde Quay. With two events each evening during Maytest, the audiences have already enjoyed some tremendous nights, including the only Mayiest appearance ol Allan, and can look iorward to some star players stepping aboard soon.
Still in her mid-twenties, Kathryn Tickeli has raised the prollle oi traditional music among Britain’s general public more than any other instrumentalist in the last score at years. She has made playing the liddle and the Horthumbrlan pipes seem normal, accessible, even somewhat glamorous, to a generation reared on pop iconography and the pap homogeneity ol sequenced samplers
i and club studio mixes.
l Alter the last tew hectic years
i travelling the world, releasing a
= numberoialbums, periorming on
Sting’s album, and being the subject oi a television documentary, she arrives
g at the Ferry with heryouthtul, but
musically sophisticated band lor an
undoubted sell-out next week.
Two Frenchmen appear later in the . month. Or rather one Frenchman and one Breton.
Pierre Bensuson is a singer and an exceptional guitarist whose sound and style palette is drawn lrom just about every musical Idiom. Allowing no easy categorisation, his periormances garner an increasing audience on each successive visit to Scotland.
From Brittany, and considering himsell the musical spear oi his nation, Alan Stivell’s messianic quest lor the ; re-estabilshment at Celtic values in music, art and society has lollowed an i erratic course. Twenty years lrom its release, his ground-breaking album Renaissance Oi The Celtic Harp, now sounds primitive in parts, but-at the time it reintroduced the ancient sound at the small harp into contemporary tolk and rock music. With the harp now more popular than ever in its history, Stivell is to be recognised as one at the prime movers.
His bagplpe playing, on the Scottish Highland pipes is, however, at no great standard. But his enthusiasm and passion are obvious, and he is a much underrated singer, periorming Breton ioik songs with a sometimes mesmerlc intensity.
Kathryn Tickell Fri 17; Pierre Bensuson
Wed 22; Alan Stivell Sat 25.
ng There‘s nought more rewarding than quizzing Mancunians about their city and its music. The Madchester debate is far from extinguished. and while Mark E. Smith is bending the ears of anyone who still pays attention to him with spurious waxing on Auld Rcekie and its inhabitants, relatively young upstarts Rig still have their feet firmly entrenched in Lancashire soil.
Formed in fits and starts when ‘there seemed to be a lot of those ﬂimsy guitar Smiths rip-off bands around' and well before Manchester went public. Rig express the habitual indignation ofany musicians robbed oftheir vanguard position simply because time was not on their side. Founder member Jonathan explains: ‘When we got together and said “right. we‘re going to do something different" it was just three people in a rehearsal room making loads of noise and experimenting. saying “there‘s are no rules — we can play what we like.“
‘We got a DJ friend of ours to remix some stuff before everyone else did it and then, lo and behold, everyone starts remixing guitar bands. and because there‘s a six-month life between doing it and releasing it, it sounds very derivative. Then all ofa sudden we found ourselves in favour with a movement we had nothing
to do with - we just coincided on a few points. I‘m not saying “Dig” (their first single) was ahead ofits time, but it certainly was symbolic of what was going on at the time.'
‘Dig' was an attention-grabber. Rig‘s early material was all dog-cared Mondays, brash, contemptuous and aggressive. Their music may have matured, as the current single ‘Big Head‘ testifies. but their attitude is as uncompromising as ever. ‘As far as we‘re concerned we can do what we like.‘ (Fiona Shepherd)
Rigplay King Tut‘s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow on Sat 25.
i i i