the major international platform already so spectacularly graced by such musicians as B. B. King. Buddy Guy. Robert Cray and various white baby boomers.
‘With more experience, it gets a little easier. I try to be very laid back.’
So 1 don't. Instead. I ask Larry. between bulletins on the weather in Chicago (damp) and the health and general well-being of B. B. King (excellent). why he didn‘t go down the
more sociologically conventional routes of soul. disco. gospel or rap music favoured by many of his contemporaries.
‘The blues was something we stayed away from for quite a period through the 70s and 80s.‘ he explains. ‘It was too much like a racial slur or cliche. It was expected ofall blacks to like the blues. so that was why so many of them tried to get away from it. to be categorised with something that was, you know. different class. I never went down that road personally; I‘ve been listening to the blues and playin' the blues ever since I was a baby. really.‘
McCray. a thoroughly nice and amenable bloke from Arkansas. was taught guitar by his sister Clara. herself an accomplished blues musician.
‘She instructed me for. I guess. two years. then I began to learn from the records of B. B. King. Albert King. Freddie King. Albert Collins. Then I spent some time playing in an R&B band.‘ (The term R&B means different things to different people — McCray explains that to him it's the soul harmonies and driving rhythms of the Motown sound.)
In those heady days of the late 80s when one had to make one's own entertainment after 2am. McCray ﬁrst attracted notice over here with a closedown jingle for BBC Radio I. followed by a pretty respectable debut album. Ambition. which drew a lot from the styles of the musicians mentioned above. Minor cult status brought him to Glasgow on The Big Day in 1990. after which he seemed to disappear from view as Britain was treated to a slowly growing diet of blues and R&B. the seeds ofthe mini- blues revival we seem to be undergoing cunenﬂy.
‘The blues was something we stayed away from for quite a period through the 70s and 80s. It was too much like a racial slur or cliché.’
The last few years have included what McCray diplomatically dubs ‘a few disagreements in my business quarter'. an unsuccessful eighteen-month wait for a particular record producer's diary dates to coincide with his. a lot of touring. including. recently, some dates with his hero B. B. King. the securing of legendary British producer Mike Vernon (Artwoods. Bowie. Focus. Ten Years After, etc. etc . . .) and the eventual release of his new CD. Della Heaven. recorded in Memphis.
‘lt's a 200 per cent improvement on the first one.‘ enthuses McCray. ‘More R&B. with more bluesier guitar. but it still has a bit of a rock edge to it. I recorded it with the band I‘m working with. as opposed tojust going in and playing to tracks. As a musician I think you can really feel the band‘s personality.‘
Given added shine by the Uptown Horns. Della Heaven‘s a good. raunchy—but-polished listen; as much for the 90s as Robert Cray appeared to be for the 80s. The band unit scores further by having Larry's brother Steve on drums and former James Brown sidernan Dan Dottery on guitar.
Playing alongside a longtime idol like B. B. King. does he ever get nervous?
‘I used to get real excited — my heart would jump out of my chest sometimes. But with more experience it gets a little easier. I try to be very laid backf
Laid back. definitely. But not so cool as to stop the show from being a scorcher. judging by his performance so far. When you hear Larry McCray you realise why so many white blues- playing kids suspect. deep down. that they‘ll never be the real thing.
Larry McCray plays K in g Tu! Is. Glasgow on Mon 28.
um- Hope springs
In the great post-War folk music revival. the right wing had a hard time. The values of traditional music, and its begotten son. the singer-songwriter. are overwhelmingly egalitarian. humanist and socialist: there are no Tory folk singers. lfthe latest wave of folk-based bands seems to move ever further into the abstractions of virtuoso instrumental prowess. there are yet individual performers whose involvement remains within the movement to construct a just society. with song acting as both catalyst and ammunition.
Roy Bailey is part of an exceptional duo at the Glasgow Folk Festival. in a performance where his thoughtful songs and commentaries are teamed with Tony Benn's history of political and social dissent in Britain. and Roy is also one of the collaboration of like minds brought to the Festival under the banner ofthe Band Of Hope.
John Kirkpatrick remains one of the most influential English musicians. and played various superb squeeze boxes with Steeleye Span and The Albion Band. later turning a generation on to native English music with the driving. electric Morris ()n. Steafan Hannigan is the youth. a cheerfully eclectic multi- instrumentalist; and The Band Of Hope is completed by the famous guitar. ﬁddle and song duo from the early 70s. Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick. For more than a decade. Swarbrick's fiddle fired up Fairport Convention. and he later formed the zippy acoustic frets and fiddles band Wippersnapper.
Thirty-three years ago. Carthy was soaking up the guitar licks and songs of Elizabeth Cotton. Mel Travis and Etta Baker. later making contact with traditional and source singers in England. and so evolving the seminal , English folk guitar and song style. ‘When I left school I got ajob l backstage in a theatre — I think I wanted | to be an actor — but they didn't give tne the chance. so l left eventually when i I'd been singing a bit in the new folk clubs.‘
Famously mentioned on the back of an early Dylan album. Carthy saw quite a bit of the young Minnesotan in 60s London. Carthy remembers him as ‘a good bloke. a bizarre individual. He got “Lord Franklin" off of me. that became “Bob Dylan‘s Dream"; and “Girl from the North Country" was “Scarborough Fair". He borrowed that. as distinct from Paul Simon. who pinched it!‘ (Norman Chalmers)
The Band ()fHo/n' [Ila-v l/It’ I )7»: Theatre. Glasgow on 'Iizes 22 as par! of ; (Ilasyoii' Folk Festival.
The List l8 June—l July WM 25