folk circuit in her native Texas (she was born near the ruusical hotbed of Austin). and has continued through a dozen carefully crafted albums and an international following. The Texas influence. thorrgh. has never been eroded. either in her singing or in her idiosyncratic guitar style. an unusual combination of finger and flat-picking techniques.
‘l toured for so many years by myself. and it's a style that developed from having to have dynatnics musically. and only having rrryself to create them. and a lot of my songs will go from a real light finger-picking thing into a real flat-picking style. but that really evolved pretty much on its own. I was very influenced early in my life by Buddy Holly and The Crickets. who had a unique West Texas kind of guitar style.‘
It is as a singer and songwriter that she is primarily known. however. and her track record in that respect is impeccable. Her last albrrtn. I'lver. saw her move into ruore personal territory. btrt each of her records has a distinct character of its own.
‘The change with l’lyer just kind of happened that way. and I‘m glad it did. It was a good breakaway for me to use myself as a character. and I guess having done it. I atn a little more comfortable with that now. I‘m in the throes of writing again. and they are coming out as a blend of the kind of
ﬁction story songs I used to write. and more personal material.
‘lt‘s important for me that each album has an individuality and a common thread which rtrns through it. They also carry the personalities of the people involved on each project. and there is not one of them that I would do over
Nanci Griffith: acoustic roots
again in a different way.‘
Griffith has always covered other people's songs. but foresees a time when she might be ready to switch the emphasis of her work away from the grind of touring and performing to the more reflective pleasures of writing.
‘Well. I‘ve always enjoyed the performing, and it's a part of what I do as an artist that gives me an immediate gratification. bttt the other side of me will always be a songwriter. and I'm sure there will come a time when I want to be like (‘indy Walker or Harlan Howard and just write for other people. I feel that it is very important to have
3 other people record my songs.‘
Anyone who caught her on the Castle Esplanade during the l‘)‘)3 Edinburgh Festival will have an idea of what to expect from her acorrstic retrospective concert. As she explains. the tour is a response to many requests. incltrding a steady stream of mail to her Internet site — try a search under her name for several pages devoted to her.
‘l’ve toured in the States acoustically a lot. btrt I've never done a tour in Europe without The Blue Moon ()rchestra. We‘ve had a lot of letters asking us to do something acoustic. and we just decided this was a good time. We did a big world tour with the band for the liver album. and this seemed a nice opportunity to go out and have frrn. without having anything in particular to promote. 1 did consider not touring at all this year. btrt this is something I really felt I wanted to do. and it's not a long tour compared with the band ones — we‘ll only be on the road about five weeks. as against thirteen months!‘
Nmrr'i Griffith plays The Usher Hull. lirlinlmrg/t. ()ll Tue /7.
; Heavenly ; creatures
‘Why do they shut me out of heaven? Do I sing too loud?‘ And so begins , Emily Dickinson’s poem Singing ‘ Outside Heaven which provides the title and inspiration for the Chamber Group of Scotland’s concerts in Glasgow and Edinburgh this month. A programme of music by women composers who, for one reason or another, have not had equal opportunity with their male counterparts, its specially commissioned text is by Janice Galloway. Narrator is the Scottish actress Morag Hood.
Singing Outside Heaven examines the f music and lives of four women composers: Clara Schumann, Lili , Boulanger, Janet Beat and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel. According to the Group’s Administrator, Carole Allen, ‘the idea stemmed from Sally Beamish, composer and one of the artistic directors of the Group, and Janice Galloway both being asked to review Marcia Citron’s book Gender And The Musical Canon for Radio Scotland’s ; The Usual Suspects. In it, there’s a j lovely quote from Clara Schumann’s diaries and that sparked off Sally to do a women’s programme.’
The composers selected have all been neglected in various ways. Clara Schumann, whose daughter Eugenie
Narrator Morag Hood
described her as being ‘artist and mother indissoluny one’, was overshadowed by her husband Robert, while it was her brother Felix who stood in Fanny Mendelssohn’s way, thinking it quite the wrong thing for a woman to have her work published while there were duties on the domestic front to see to. Janice
' Galloway’s text has been compiled in such a way as to comment on the historical context of the composers, whether from their diaries or contemporary writers or, as in the case of Glasgow composer Janet Beat, from meeting and talking. The music itself is beautifully contrasting, with Fanny Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio proving a highlight for Carole Allen. ‘lt’s wonderful and very moving music. I really found myself sitting with tears in my eyes as I listened to it.’ (Carol Main) Singing Outside Heaven is at the
HSAMO, Glasgow on Sun 15 and the Oueen ’5 Hall, Edinburgh on Mon 16.
iA | ’1,
Tommy Smith: homage to Miro
Tommy Smith’s latest project, Azure,
brings together a stellar European quartet for a tour which will launch in Scandinavia and finish in France.
Smith has been involved in hands-on . fashion in setting up the tour, as well as writing the entirely new suite of
music they will perform.
‘The tour has taken a tremendous amount of energy to put together, and I’ve been talking to the three promoters involved in Sweden, France and the UK for over a year,’ he says. ‘l’ve spent a lot of time on practical details like coordinating flights and , hotels and equipment hire and l budgets, but I believe this is the right
way to get myself into Europe, and stay in control at the same time.’ That step into the European arena is an important one for Smith. He has played there before, of course, but recognised that working directly with . local promoters and offering them a high-profile line-up of musicians was more likely to produce results than waiting for bookings to come in for his existing hands. it was not simply a
i . practical decision, however, the
saxophonist is looking forward immensely to working with such distinguished company.
I trumpeter Kenny Wheeler should be a
fascinating foil for Smith’s own playing (and a sharply contrasted stylist to Guy Barker, his front-line partner in his sextet), while the Scandanavian rhythm section of bassman Lars Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen are as top-flight as it gets in contemporary jazz. Smith is looking forward to leading this band of leaders, but acknowledges that the material he has written has been hard work.
‘l’ve recently completed a new suite
for the band to play, dedicated to the
work of the Spanish painter Joan Miro,’ he says. ‘We had no commission for the work, but that wasn’t necessary — these musicians and Miro
were inspiration enough. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever tried to write, and now we will discover if it is going to work!’ (Kenny
Tommy Smith ’s Azure play at the
Oueen’s Hall, Edinburgh, on Fri 13, and the RSAMO, Glasgow, on Sat 14.
The List 6- l‘) ()ct W95 31