BBC Scotland’s Loudon & C0 is the latest attempt at an outstanding live music show. Alastair Mabbott spoke to its eponymous presenter, Loudon Wainwright.
Writing songs that are erudite, touching and funny is a difﬁcult one to pull off. but after more than 25 years in the business. Loudon Wainwright 111 is still ahead ofthe game. Witness his ability to lull a crowd into a false sense of security before pulling the rug out from under them with a chillingly truthful couplet. and you too will wonder why his name is invariably preceded by ‘cult‘. and sadder still. ‘minor‘.
A performance at the Acropolis dun'ng 1993's Edinburgh Festival convinced BBC Scotland producer May Miller that Wainwright would make an ideal presenter fora series which now reaches our screens under the title Loudon & Co.
Recorder] over five hectic days in Glasgow‘s Fruitmarket. Lulu/(m & (‘0 features thirteen acts playing solo or with bands to a live audience. The range is impressive — James Taylor. Texas. Carlene Caner. Des'ree. Daryl Hall. Everything But The Girl. Marcella Detroit. Roachford and more — and the series features one of the final appearances ever by Deacon Blue.
Wainwright‘s knack of building up a rapport with an
audience makes him a natural Master of Ceremonies. The way he sees his role in the series is. ‘I introduce l people and chat with the audience and, uh. goof . around with some ofthe performers. so it's kind of all over the place. I think my primary role was as a host: they. ah-ha-ha. were my parasites.’
Wainwright is no stranger to TV cameras on either side ofthe Atlantic. from acting in early editions of . M *A *.S'*H to regular spots singing on The Jasper _ Carroll Show. He had. in fact, intended to be an : actor, attending drama school in Pittsburgh. but was ? hooked by the singing-songwriting bug and became i one ofthe troubadours inevitably weighed down with : the ‘new Bob [)ylan‘ tag. i He seemed to slip out of sight along with the 70s. but a 1992 deal with Virgin ended a four—year hiatus from the recording scene, and two new albums emerged in the space of a few months: History. and the live Career Mai-es. Wainwright now has fourteen albums to his name. but. incredibly, no Best Of. isn't he now in that rank where people start ﬂinging phrases like ‘elder statesman' at him and compile boxed-set retrospectives'.’
Guests Chris flea and Marcella
£3 _ 5 Detroit with host loudon Waith III.
‘Well. there has been some talk about stuff like that. yeah. I‘ve been around for quite a while, and I'm kind of proud of that. The reason that we put out the live record was to celebrate my silverjubilee in show business. l’ve always operated somewhat on the periphery of the music business, which is kind of a nice way of saying that i haven‘t sold lots of records. but, you know, l've been around long enough that people have at least heard of me and I’m happy to still have the job.‘
And this year is the silverjubilee of Woodstock, an event unlikely to escape an alert songwriter's notice . . .
‘l‘ve just written a song about Woodstock ’94, which is a lot of fun. it's another one of those talking blues. l'mjust trying to stay current and keep working and live in the moment as much as possible.‘
So has he been invited?
‘No. ha ha. And after this song they‘re not gonna ask me. Hi tell you.‘
Loudon & Cu begins itsﬁt‘e-week run on Wed [3 at [1.15pm 0/1 [313672.
:— Taken fora ride
An elegantly aloof young woman stares along the road to her approaching ride. Behind, on the desert, a boy blows fire in the electra- glide landscape under clear blue sky. This bears the unmistakable stamp of young video wonder-kid, Wizz and this is the unmissable intro to a new youth programme, Passengers. L
From the glossy credit sequence in, Passengers tears up any pre- conceptions about late Friday night Channel 4 youth entertainment which might linger from The Word or Beavis and Butthead. llo presenters. llo studio. llo slick graphics. lloi even a condom headpiece.
‘I wouldn’t fall this a Youth than they used to be in what is the minute. Basically what we wanted “09'8"!” ' d 03" W3 3 Pfogfamme happening across the world. was an overview of what was aimed 8‘10""! POOP“. Which is ‘There are two types of story in the happening in youth culture around the
completely different,’ says Bill ililary, commissioning editor for youth and entertainment features at Channel 4. ‘The aim of the series is to be a window on the world. A lot of young people nowadays travel, and if they don’t then they are more interested
The Passenger posse programme,’ continues ililary, ‘the first is short: an overview of the world, whether it is about the mafia or supermodels or whatever. Anything goes for that. Then there is the diary piece, which is longer and takes a look behind one of the major stories of
An overview is what you get - quick snatches of bold TV, shot without malice but, judging from the first programme, with a weather eye open for the salacious. So a quick foray into the underworld of Milan, where the Mafia uses iourteen-year-olds tor hits because they’re too young to be prosecuted, slips fluidly into Dykes on Bikes, a piece about Australian lesbians who have bikes and know how to ride them. lleither have the depth of conventional current affairs programmes, but both will grab the attention of the Friday night television grazer.
As current atfairs for readers of glossy magazines like Ttventyfoun Seven this is entertaining without becoming fluffy, factual without becoming pompous. And the fact that it will be beamed out to 40 countries at the same time gives it that global view which could lust make it as popular as The Word. (Thom llibdin) Passengers begins on Friday 1 July at 11.05pm on Channel 4.
The List l-— l4 July “>94 77