I nusrc PREVIEW
Oxford - pearl of the Home Counties. Haven for the conservative and affluent. Place of garden idylls and strawberry teas. Home to half those lunatics willing to scupper academia in favour of devoting precious hours in practice and precious few minutes in competing in an annual aquatic sprint down a murky stretch of river. In short, the land ofFry and Laurie. A university town whose non-academic denizens seem to have no recreational stimulus beyond a relaxing punt down the nether regions ofthe Thames. Not the sort ofenvironment conducive to the production of mangled. sweaty indie rock. and surely not the natural habitat ofthe four dreadlocde members of Swervedriver.
On second thoughts. the recent proliferation ofattentionsworthy bands from the Thames Valley area can‘t be purely coincidental. lfthat part of the country really is the social void we‘ve been led to believe. then the music fan has nothing to do but retreat to their bedroom and create their own sonic recipe - and Swervedriver‘s has enough kick to refresh the parts that other bands don‘t reach. Their peers talk of music as an escape to some elevated realm; Swervedriver‘s concoction is a much earthier mix. They maybe domiciled in downtown Scholarsyille but their musical signposts point across the pond to the likes of Husker Du.
' Swervedriver first swung into gear
last summer with ‘Son of Mustang
Ford’. Dripping in axle grease. it was perfect tear-down-the-highway-into- the-sunset music; the sound of engines grinding and wheels tearing up sun-blistered tarmac. and hey!-wouldn‘t-ya-know-it but Swervedriver‘s appetite for life on the road is as voracious as that of any Thelma or Louise. This band would use any excuse to head out on tour. The release of their third single ‘Sandblasted‘ is as viable a reason as they‘re going to get. Apart from the opportunity to avoid another strawberry tea. (Fiona Shepherd)
i Swervedriver play the Venue.
9 Edinburgh on Wed 31 and the Venue. Elasgow on Thurs l .
40 The List 26 July— 8 August 19‘)!
Afteryears of running her own label — Awesome Records— and living on the edge of the musical mainstream, Danielle Dax seems to have made her first tentative steps towards commerciality. Last yearsaw the former Lemon Kitten signing to American corporate giants, Sire, for whom she released her first album in three years. ‘Blast The Human Flower’ is distinctly Dax, the move to the major having done nothing to stifle her creativity— Eastern mysticism sits comfortably with T Rex power chords and a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows‘. To call Dax
multi-talented always seems like an understatement— singer, songwriter, musician, producer, accomplished painter, even a flirtation with acting in Neil Jordan‘s ‘The Company Of Wolves‘. Surely it was strange then, for her to hand over production duties for ‘Human Flower‘ to Stephen Street?
‘No, because Karl Blake of The Lemon Kittens knew him and he just came over and it was like he was a third member of the band. The reason I got him was that after nine years of producing my own stuff I thought it would be interesting to see what someone else would do with my ideas.’
Just backfrom a jaunt around America as guests of The Sisters Of Mercy (‘lf avoided having to play all the toilets‘), where the band were followed and serenaded by three opera students singing excerpts from Tosca, the UK tour will be a typically extravagant affair. Dax will, as usual, be designing the stage set and clothes as well as performing, something she sees as an enjoyable necessity rather than a time-consuming chore:
‘Otherwise it’s so boring. I did a tour round Europe with nothing and after a couple of dates I was going crazy. I was so bored I started building a set as we
Danielle Dax plays the Venue,
j Edinburgh onThurst and the ; Polytechnic, Glasgow on Sunday 3.
National Youth Orchestra of Scotland
For any orchestra, 100 concerts is something of a milestone. But for one which usually meets only twice each year, and is made up of 114 players who all do different things— and not necessarily playing music, most of the time — it is a particularly impressive achievement. Yet on Tuesday 30 July the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland celebrates its proud tally of 100 concerts since the very first in 1979, the year of the orchestra's formation. During this time though, the
' orchestra has not merely been sitting
back clocking up concerts. ‘The actual
5 standard of the orchestra has increased 9 year by year,‘ says administrator ' Richard Chester, ‘as well as the size,
which has now grown to such a degree that demand to get in is very high.’ As recompense for those who are inevitably disappointed at not winning one of the coveted places, NYOS has started a repertoire course and runs workshops and seminars, which also help prepare students for entry to the main orchestra. Another recent initiative was the appointment of a string teacher in the Fort William area. This was not a case of the NYOS stepping in as a private provider, lillinggaps left by cuts in the
instrumental teaching service, as Chester explains; ‘They'd never had a string teacher—which is a surprising fact in a numberofareas—and Highland Regional Council are putting up the money to appoint one starting in the new term.‘ Such moves at ground level, along with a string of top-notch international conductors, mean that the standard reached during the iirst 100 concerts is surely secured for at leastanother 100. (Carol Main)
HYOS, Tuesday 30 at 7.30pm. Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. See Classical hshngs.
National Youth Orchestra of Scotland
Before tlte recent political winds of change blew through liastern liurope. and before Kate Btish woke up to Bulgarian choral music. before even the magisterial singer \farta Sebcsty en visited these shores with her bands of musicians. Hungarian band Makyirag had been trekking for years to Scotland. building tip a loyal audience with an authoritiye display of singing and skill on w hat amounts to about 5ft instruments. from sliawms and bagpipes to yarious bowed fiddles. hurdy gurdys and strange basses.
Having played to a packed room at the fadinburgh f-olk club a few months ago. the boys are back at (ilasgow 's Star (‘1th next week. also fitting in a y isit tothe annual 'l‘raquair l-‘air.
'l‘he i‘air. oyer twodays
in the lovely 'l‘wcedside grounds of historic 'l'raquair l louse. still carries the air of those 70s day s w hen local residents the Incredible String Band wandered through the ancient woodland. The organisers nowadays are more down-to-earth. and mix the attractions to suit all tastes and ages. bttt the accent is still on acoustic music and traditional instruments among the craft tents in the walled orchard.
'I'hc Northumbrian small pipes. with their complex keyed chanter and small sweet tone are also performed by a duo at regular interyals.
Anothe r band set to enjoy itself in this stately setting is the (iiant Stepping Statics. An irregular convocation of enthusiasts. theych
; music on the fiddle. penny
concertina. What makes it
a bit out of the ordinary is
that the tin whistle player
is one Tommy Smith. better known to audiences in New York or (No asa saxophone player.
I (Norman Chalmers)
i .ifuk i'irug, (i/(lsguit' I
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