big big world
Alvin Youngblood Hart Glasgow: Strathclyde Suite, Wed 21 Oct.
There is a lot of pretty dull, strictly by-the~numbers blues playing out there, but the estimable Rykodisc have been assiduous in picking up on the likes of Kelly Joe Phelps and Alvin Youngblood Hart, two very different artists united — aside from the coincidence of each using a triple-barrel name - by the fact that are doing genuinely captivating work in and around the genre.
Hart makes his Scottish debut as part of the Big Big World festival, and if his debut for the label, Territory, is a fair indication, it should be a memorable occasion. The album traverses a lot of musical ground in addition to the blues, a fact in keeping with the singer and guitarist's general musical philosophy.
Now in his mid-30$ and entirely self-taught, he served a long apprenticeship, playing in bars and ‘. clubs before getting the chance to cut his first record in 1996, but things have moved quickly for him since. He described that debut album, Big Mama’s Door, as 'an explosion of seventeen years of the study of my native folk music. Some call it the blues. I refuse to give it so narrow a description. Music, for me, has always been about adventure, not about catering to a specific genre.’
Born in California, he had an itinerant upbringing, travelling around the country with his family wherever work took his father, picking up bits and pieces of music along the way. Visits to his grandmother (the Big Mama of the album title) in Mississippi helped focus his awareness of the roots from which his music sprang.
‘Moving around a lot, I didn't know kids to hang out with, so I spent a lot of time alone with my acoustic guitar,’ he says. ’It's important to me to hold on to a little
Lunasa: aptly named after a pagan Irish hooley
.4" ’. ‘\
Alvin Youngblood Hart appearing for his Scottish debut
bit of something from the different cultures that evolved in the area from which I evolved. The music is one part of it, perhaps the easiest part of it. It’s a thread I can bring fonrvard.‘
On Territory, he took the chance to explore on an even wider canvas, taking in down-home acoustic blues and folk, romping Western swing, an exhuberant ska beat, and a couple of electric guitar instrumentals, including a feedback-laden version of Captain Beefheart's 'Ice Rose'. It could have been little more than eclecticism gone mad, but it all works, and it all has his distinctive stamp on it. (Kenny Mathieson)
this freshness about it,’ laughs McGoldrick. 'But there is a rumour that we’re gOing to rehearse for this tour. It's still the same music, basically Irish and Breton wrth quite a lot of new stuff that we're writing for the second album, but were not gomg to change tack, or go for intense studio production. Lunasa’s music will still be more like tunes you would play in a session.’
As new boy in Capercaillie, he delights in a different musical idiom. ’I love it,’ explains McGoldrick. 'l’ve always been a fan. I'm into the tunes — and the fast Gaelic songs. And I love the contemporary feel.’
He always has. Though brought up steeped in a family musical tradition in
Lunasa Big Big World 98, Old Fruitmarket,
" Glasgow, Sun 18 Oct.
f Lunasa, the ancient Irish end-of—harvest festival, falls around the same time as i the mucn admired two-year-old group
" of the same name arrives for its first = Scottish Visit — supporting Capercaillie
in Glasgow's Big Big World 98. Uillean piper and flute player Michael McGoldrick is in for a busy night,
performing as he does in both outfits.
For those who haven't heard Lunasa’s eponymous debut album, it has the spirit of a particularly enjoyable all- instrumental pub session, albeit by five top-flight players, and that is more or less what it was.
’We didn’t really rehearse, it just sort of came together. Matt (Chieftain's) Molloy's pub in Westport was where we recorded a lot of it, on a portable studio, and I suppose the music has
Manchester's Irish community, he played for years in the famous local folk-rockers Toss The Feathers. As for his other current pr0jects, a new McGoIdrick solo album is on the stocks, he’s playing on the new Kate Rusby single, and is letting up with uillean pipes in the new Afro-Celt Sound System who he hopes to tour with, if time permits. 'l’d play with anybody,’ he grins. ’l'm a folk tart.’ (Norman Chalmers)
big big world MUSIC
FOLK Vieja Trova Santiaguera
Big Big World 98, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Sat I7.
As the sound of Cuba continues to increase in popularity, this fortnight sees the welcome return of Sonora La Calle's hot salsa to Glasgow and Edinburgh (see Folk/World listings), but the seminal position of the Caribbean island in the evolution of 20th century Latin music is best heard in a remarkable group visiting Scotland for the first time.
From Santiago, the five elderly but superb musicians in Vieja Trova predate Castro's or even Hemingway’s Havana, bringing a taste of the early country roots of salsa in their guajiras, boleros, guarachas, and of course, sones - the quintessential happy melancholy, the heart of Cuban song. Instrumentally they use guitars, claves, maracas, bongos, bass and the tiny metal- stringed tres, while the call-and— response songs are richly harmonised.
The youngest member, Reinaldo Hierrezuelo, was born in 1926, and, before the revolution, had progressed to a career in New York, performing in the early 60$ alongside the likes of Machito and Tito Puente; even recording, under the pseudonym Rey Caney, as leader of of an orchestra. Through the 705, he continued to tour the world in a wide variety of groups and orchestras.
The other four have Similar CVs, and as Vieja Trova Santiaguera, continue to make music that is soulful, authentic and timelessly attractive - they’ve lately been collaborating and recording with Ry Cooder and Spanish piper (and Celtic Connections favourite) Carlos Nunez. An unexpected aspect of the band is its humour — the two lead vocalists are ever-ready with visual and verbal jokes, daft sound effects and slapstick routines. With a combined age of around 400, their collective experience is vast. Truly, you’ll be hearing 'ome golden oldies.
Vieja Trova Santiaguera: literally the oldest swingers in town
8—22 Oct I998 THE “ST 47