Despite two successive cancellations of scheduled Glasgow Jazz Festival concerts, Mayfest have opted to bring back Nina Simone, a sell-out on her previous appearance in 1990. If that record is emblematic of both her popularity and her unpredictability. she will surely do the necessary at the box- office again.
Once labelled The High Priestess of Soul, she is at home in soul, pop, blues and jazz idioms. and is also a trained classical pianist. She revealed an early musical precocity in her North Carolina hometown (‘I studied music six—eight hours a day from when l was five- years-old — by the time I ﬁnished high school, I could play anything') and later studied at the prestigious Julliard School in New York.
She ascribes the refusal of a crucial scholarship to racial prejudice (‘I was too good not to get it. but they tumed me down. Black people were not supposed to be concert pianists in those days‘), and made a sideways shift into popular music as a singer and pianist at seventeen.
A massive hit in I957 with ‘l Loves You Porgy' catapulted her onto the international stage. but she has had a long and uneasy relationship with the business ever since. Her black militancy (she wrote the black anthem ‘Young, Gifted And Black‘. and was an outspoken supporter of civil rights) ruffled feathers on both sides of the community.
In the 70s, though. she largely slipped from sight, living in Liberia and Switzerland, and making the headlines more for personal strife than artistic achievement. Her career revived in the 80s (partly courtesy of the Chanel ad which sent ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ into European charts). and she is once again a major draw. although her reputation for unreliability onstage as well as off makes every gig something of a lottery for the paying customers.
Mayfest will hope to strike lucky. (Kenny Mathieson)
Nina Simone plays at The Beck Ir Tent on Tue 3.
Whisky ’n’ rai In the late 60s, British and American rock bands began experimenting with llear and Far Eastern musical instruments, calling for an end to militarism, advocating honking In the streets and extolling the mind- expanding properties of illegal drugs, notably kit and the big bamboo. In the late 803, Algerian rai bands began experimenting with Western electronic instruments, calling for an end to fundamentalism, advocating honking in the kasbah and extolling the mind-expanding properties oi illegal alcohol, notably whisky and . . . whisky.
Depending on which side of the recreational relaxant fence you stand, or indeed stagger, rai’s blueprint will sound like either the promise of good times or the certainty of chaos. In llorth Africa, it has produced outrage and alarm in practically everyone aged over twenty - its perceived threat to the social order aggravated by the fact that many of the singers advocating booze and honking are young women. Iiai artists are denounced in the mosques, vilified in the press and attacked in the street. Khaled, one of rai’s originators and its most prominent practitioner in the West, has himself survived two assassination attempts.
That Islamic fundamentalism may be In its final, foaming death throes, however, is suggested by the
. phenomenal audiences for rai from
Paris and Marseilles to Bombay and Manila. Khaled routinely sells over a
million copies of each album, and he
is just one of the top dozen or so vocalist/bandleaders (though as perhaps 90 per cent of these sales are on pirated cassettes, he’s not as rich as you might imagine).
And what of the music itself? Given the copious amounts of whisky and glandular activity which fuel it, you will not be surprised to learn that it is frequently raucous, abandoned and urgent, and just as frequently lachrymose, maudlin and cheesy. At its best — and on a good night Khaled is among the very best - it is wild, free and uplifting, a sweating, throbbing mess of Arabic folk music and bathtub techno. That Khaled’s Mayfest performance is in ‘a venue sponsored by a brewer suggests a sympathetic ambience and the prospect of a performance which will have the mullahs tearing their beards in fury. (Chris May)
Khaled plays The Beck’s Tent on Wed 4.
x " “ \(u l i"
Eleanor McEvoy’s eponymous album, released last autumn, is llumher Five in the llong Kong charts. Ninety-five American radio stations have playlisted her ‘Flnding Myself lost Again’ single. In her native Ireland, she was the stand-out voice on the biggest selling Irish album in Irish history. But most importantly, she gets to court the international press from the rather swanky Groucho Club in .London. This is stardom. ‘They all say
daaahling round here!’ McEvoy says with irreverent glee.
The star-treatment is what you’d expect from record company Geffen, who see this singer-songwriter as a world priority. It all started in September 1992. ‘This guy just wandered into a club in Dublin where l was playing.’ ‘This guy’ was Tom Zutauf, A & ii supremo for the LA- based record giants, holidaying in Ireland. ‘Ile caught the last nine songs of our set, then came backstage and said “I want you to sign to Geffen Records and I want you to record those nine songs”. He had an American accent and he was kind of scruffy, and being Irish l have a natural suspicion of anyone with an American accent. . .’
Zutaut, the man who signed the likes of Guns Il’ Roses and Motley Crue and is used to king-size rock star bravado, mistook McEvoy’s innocence (‘I didn’t know who the hell he was and I’d never heard of Geffen Records!) for cock-o’-the-walk confidence. lle bowed to her every demand. Since then, McEvoy has turned in four tours of the States, one of the Far East, and an appearance in Glasgow supporting Capercalllle during January’s Celtic Connections festival. And novf! flow, ‘we’re hoping to start the next album in the next two or three months. It’s all written.’ Stars, of course, never sleep. (Craig McLean)
Eleanor McEvoy plays The Ferry on Fri 29.
Asturia. in the north-west of Spain, shares with its neighbouring province
3 Galicia a common Celtic
' heritage of bagpipes and
instrumentation, but there
are distinct differences.
given that their languages differ as much as Uist's does with Peterhead's.
; Those familiar with the
. poignant. semi-classical
. lyricism of Galicia’s
Milladoiro will detect a
similar sweet-sad strain in Llan de Cubel‘s slower instrumentals and their occasional songs, but the
5 dominant feel of the band
is in their faster, heavily rhythmic accompaniment
to dance music.
Formed in 1984. this highly accomplished and talented five piece have an
essentially acoustic line-
up of native bagpipe (the
gaita). wooden ﬂute,
violin, accordion, rhythm guitar, various fretted
instruments and hand
drums. Their sound is
filled out by electric bass
pedals and synthesizer. and their music draws
. heavily on the native
forms like marches marches y pasurruis. dawn
tunes alboraes, and
dances saltones, muneires
g and pol/ms.
Multi-award winning at | home. they lead the way in the contemporary expression of Asturian national music; they also express great interest and admiration for the Scottish and Irish bands who relate to their own tradition in a similar way. Indeed. there's a happy photograph of the band sitting down to a relaxed meal and not a few bottles of wine with The Kathryn Tickell Band and a cheerful-looking Tannahill Weavers. (Norman Chalmers)
Llan de C ubel play The
Ferry on Sun I.
22 The List 22 April-5 May 1994