Canine fanciers whose attention is caught by the names — Old Blind Dogs. Four Men And A Dog — will find howling fiddle and barking banjo but no trace of our four-legged friends when checking them out. The former is the Aberdeen-based dance band due down here in a few weeks. and the latter is a Northern lrish export that. like Bushrnills whiskey. lights up convivial gatherings all over the world.
There have been a few changes since the band formed in l990. but the line-up has been settled over the last year. Last summer‘s album. Shifting Gravel. reveals their mix of lighter self-penned songs by ‘new’ singer/ guitarist Kevin Doherty. and the heavyweight engine of the band. the virtuoso attacking style of instrumentalists Cathal Hayden and Gerry O‘ Connor. which is the heart of their appeal.
Hayden was all-Ireland champion on the banjo but is now regarded as one of the finest fiddlers in that country. 0‘ Connor is astonishingly gifted on the banjo and no slouch on the ﬁddle. So. while they may be weaker in some departments — in slow airs and the lyrical aspects of the tradition —their bravura expression of reels and fast dance music never fails to have an electric. arresting effect on audiences.
The band's final secret weapon is the bodhran/percussion player and singer Gino Lupari whose antics on. and off. stage can be funny. startling or sometimes disconcertineg loopy.
BBC2 is to network a recent 40-minute television special of the band. filmed in Belfast. but before that you can catch them live in Central Scotland. The Edinburgh gig is free. so be early or be left on the street. (Norman Chalmers)
Four Men And A Dog play Scrujj‘y Murphy 's, Edinburgh on Sun I 7 and King Tut's, Glasgow on Mon [8.
mm:- Back on the
Joe Alexander looks at the resurgence of one of the great names in Chicago blues.
Like so many of the great bluesmen who carved out a new. electric. urban version of the music in Chicago in the 50s. ()tis Rush came to the Windy City from the deep south. He was born in the town of Philadelphia. Mississippi in 1934. and made the journey north as a fifteen-year-old in 1949. He finished school and found ajob. but also
I discovered the world of the blues clubs i in general. and the legendary Muddy
Waters in particular.
‘l came up to Chicago all by myself.
; and l was living on the South Side at
i that time. and going around the clubs
1 listening to Muddy. who left a very big ' impression on me. in fact. all the guys : who were around at that time made a
i big impression. people like Little
I Walter. Junior Wells. Jimmy Rogers. all these guys. i listened to their music and decided that was for me.‘
Rush had begun to play as a child. stealing turns on his big brother‘s guitar ' (‘l learned to tune the guitar real quick. 3 because I knew I had to leave it in tune or he would know l'd been messing ' with it.'). Since he ‘knew nothing about I: the guitar'. he learned to play a i conventionally-strung right-hand instrument with his left hand. and has
Otis ﬂush: blues master done so ever since. although when pressed on aspects of either his singing style or his brilliant guitar work. he offers only a ‘l just do what i do' response.
He began to gig around the clubs hitnself. sitting in with his heroes on occasion. or leading his own band (working at one point under the name Little ()tis). and has built a career largely on his work in his adopted city. He quickly became established as one of the exciting new talents on the scene. along with the likes of guitarist Freddie King. his exact contemporary, and the slightly younger Buddy Guy (he also shares that left hand style with another famous King ofthe blues. Albert).
He reels off the string of clubs around the city where he has worked over the years. but it hasn‘t always been easy for him. ()tis may have had Mick Jagger. Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton singing
his praises and stealing his licks, but the gigs have not always arrived, and recordings have been sporadic. He has always delivered the goods when the chance came around in the studio. but he has been hampered by problems with record companies over the years. including a five-year delay in the release of his album Right Place. Wrong Time, recorded in l97 l . but not issued until l976.
‘Some people say it’s ten years since i made a record. and some say it‘s seventeen years. depending on how you count the live record Tops.‘ he acknowledges. That situation is about to be rectified. courtesy ofa recording deal with Andrew Lauder’s This Way Up label.
‘The new album came about because of Buddy Guy. When he first came up to Chicago. i used to let him play with us. and i helped him get his ﬁrst record deal. He never forgot that. and when he joined Silvertone. he mentioned my name to his producer, John Porter. and things just happened right along from there. We are hoping that the record is gonna open a few doors that have been closed for a while.‘
His debut for the label, the Porter- produced Ain 't Enough Comin' In. may be an ironic reference to the fact that in I the past decade. he and his band ‘have been working. but we haven‘t been working that much'. The album is certain to regenerate interest in one of the most distinctive performers in blues. Forget the imitations — Otis Rush is the genuine article.
Otis Rush plays at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh on Sun I 7. Ain ’t Enough Coming In (This Way Up) is available on C D. LP and cassette front 5 April.
mm Mac Max
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra are not an organisation to be fazed by the prospect of the unconventional, but even they may be breaking some unanticipated musical barriers when ; they perform Peter ilelson’s new ' ‘Cross Concerto’. Snuggled innocently into a programme of Corelii (in the original ‘Concerto Grosso’ form to which his punning title aludes), Mozart and Tippett, Nelson’s piece takes the orchestra - and the audience — into the arcane world of electronic music. it is an area in which he is well versed. lie is currently the director of the Electronic and Computer Music Studio at Edinburgh University, and has been instrumental in setting up a number of electronic music events over the years, notably as one of the artistic directors of ECAI. lie has worked at the shrine of European electronic experimentalism, Bouiez’s iiiCAM institute in Paris, and at MIT in America, and hatched the ideas which will appear in the new work during a stay at the Banii Centre in Canada. ‘Cross Concerto’ is written for classical chamber orchestra, with three live soloists from the SCO’s ranks — David Nicholson (flute), Ruth Crouch (violin) and Robin Williams (oboe) - and three Apple Macintosh computers. Each of the three solo
instruments is connected to one oi the computers, which uses a programme named MAX which liaison has devised to instantly monitor the notes being played, and respond to them In its own distinctive fashion. The orchestra, meanwhile, will be heard in an antiphonal relationship to these human-electronic soloists, thus engendering the concerto grosso references.
The real departure in the music will lie in that fact that the musicians will
be Interacting not with a tape, as in most electronic music performances, but directly with the computers, which will remove the limitations of unaiterable, pre-determlned form, and make every performance distinct. it promises to be a fascinating new sonic and musical experience for all concerned. (Kenny Mathieson)
‘Cross Concerto’ will be performed by the SCO at the City flail, Glasgow on Fri 8, and the Queen’s llall, Edinburgh on 8st 9.
26 The List 8—2l April 1994