Final Night Party, the Arches, Glasgow, Sun 2 Feb; Eddi Reader and the RSNO, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Sun 2 Feb
Fiddler and ex-Battlefield Bandit John McCusker has had a busy Celtic Connections - not least being the launch of his second album Goodnight Ginger. It brings in his top- drawer musician pals and shows off an evolving skill not just as a fiddler, but as a multi-instrumentalist (he plays whistle, cittern, piano and accordion) and also as a producer - a role he’s settling into more and more.
Since producing two albums of songs by his wife Kate Rusby, he’s been much in demand. ‘We converted a barn at home (he’s moved down to Kate’s area of Yorkshire) and managed to create a really nice atmosphere in the studio. Cathy Ryan did her last album there, and Linda Thompson. Blazin’ Fiddles did one, and they’re coming back to do the next one this year sometime.’ And word is certainly getting about - Kevin Burke, US fiddle legend from the Bothy Band and Patrick Street, is also due later in the year.
But back to Celtic Connections. two in the successful Musical Ark, Orchestra. and sharing the stage with Buddy MacMaster, Martin Hayes and
Henry’s Jazz Cellar, Edinburgh, 12—14, 16, 19—20, 21-23 Feb
Brian Kellock is Scotland's leading JZV/ pianist. His award- winnrng trio with Kenny Ellis and John Rae is featured regularly at Henry's. but this month also sees the pianist oll out a series of gigs based on the music of jEl// pioneer Fats \w‘v’at'er.
The series takes its name fron‘ \"Jaller‘s finger-busting stride piano n‘asterpiece ‘A Handful of Keys'. Brian often play s Waller's tunes. espeoally the elegant ‘Jitterbug Vv’altz'. and us expert at combining the grace and Spllll of the originals with an exploratory modernity that rs all his own.
‘l'm still working out exactly what I'm geing to do.’ he says. ‘but at the moment my plan is that we and John Rae will be involved in everything. and I'll be tlSl'lg other musicians or maybe a srnger on some tunes.‘
Brian is also one of the short-listed candidates for a Cl’()£lll‘.'(} Scotland award this year. If successful. he plans to use the funds to develop an aspect of hrs n‘usic that remains largely unexplored.
'My application lS really to take S‘Oll‘t: time off to study and to start composmg some of my own material.’ he explains. 'I have never been much interested lll that. but it Is the one thing that everybody else does that l don't. and it might give the muSIC we play wrth the trio a more personal identity. I'd also like to develop a two— piano project with David Berkman.
‘I feel I need a shot in the arm at this porn‘.. I don't know if It's because l've Just turned «10. but I feel I need a push no.2; There was a time early on with the John Rae Collectwe and it“; own the that was very excitrng. It had an edge to it. but that got a bit blunted for me. and it would be nice to hone ll again}
Kellock’s got a plan «Kenny Mathiesont
46 THE LIST T1“) Jan lL-I F et, 9"},1‘;
Alasdair Fraser in the Bow Bothers concert, McCusker and his band opened for Eddi Reader at the Concert Hall. Then he joined her band and my band are being followed by a - the three guitars of Colin Reid, Ian Carr and Boo Hewerdine, with Capercaillie bassist Ewan Vernal and the ubiquitous accordion of Phil Cunningham - all of them backed by After playing round the venues two by the Royal Scottish National
‘It was mental rehearsing’, he says, ‘Eddi’s Burns’ concert is being
~~Mrr w .'
McCusker is quite literally the man about town
recorded for CD and filmed for DVD so there are lights and cameras everywhere. And at the same time me
crew for BBC Scotland and BBC 4!’ If you missed that first live performance, you’ll have a second chance when the full concert is re- staged for the final night. And if that sounds like problem for McCusker, it just means some fast taxi rides to make those Celtic Connections. (Norman Chalmers)
All that’s exciting, shiny and new in rock’n’roll land. This issue: the Grim Northern Social
Aye, it’s grim up north . . .just ask the KLF. But exactly which industrial backwater do these young pups hail from? Why, none other than sunny Glasgow! But with two members from Paisley. one from Dumbarton. one from Mothenvell and another from Stonehouse. singer Ewan MacFarlane is quite right in describing them more as "the league of nations as far as Scotland's concerned.’ Ah, I see. Another bunch of underachieving locals foisting their questionable musical wares on us. So what exactly do they have that every other young hopeful in the land doesn’t? Well. what about a record deal wrth One LllllO lndran? After a 18 .months of gigging. durrng including supports for Elvrs Costello and Del Amrtri. it was finally a case of the right manager in the right place at the right time which gave them therr break. That. and the small matter of 2()-odd demo recordings (Influenced — in now—mantlatory fashion by ‘the classics: Zeppelin. the Who. Curtis Mayfreld. Bowie . . .'l which saw them actually being signed before the record company even saw them play live.
So, a success story for every newcomer to aspire to, then? Indeed so. thh the debut single 'Honey' in March. an album after. and some festival appearances to boot. the Socral are on the verge of a breakthrough. (Davrd Pollock) I l/ie Grim Northern Social play the Bongo Club. [.(i/lllﬂll‘g/i, Tue ll Feb.
The Stand, Glasgow, Mon 3 Feb
Remember Engine? The last incarnation of the band gigged furiously around Scotland. gaining a loyal following. attracting a brace of major labels and running through more line-up changes than Spinal Tap had drummers. Well. now they're back. with new material that steers a neat c0urse between catchy pop and dance credibility.
They're an enthusiastic bunch too. like a cross between the Wu Tang Clan and a litter of gambolling Andrex puppies. all competing to share tales of standing ovations. or joking about plans to set up a musical commune.
..I_ It, _,' . 33' a
Still ticking over nicely
‘This time around. we really got to know each other before we committed to the band.‘ says core member Martin Manley. 'and it's how I've always wanted Engine to be. l know it setinds cheesy. but we're like a btg family!‘
When the band take to the stage. it seems this enthusiasm is catching. Katherine Knox. lead vocalrst who — to give another clue to Engine's magpie sound - was spotted singing Bessre Smith covers with a drum & bass outfit. seems bowled over by the response. ‘The first few months we were together as a band it was about recording. recording and recording. so the first live show was just . . . amazing. It sold out. and the reaction was unbelievable.‘
'The performance SldO of it is really important to us.' Manley confirms. ‘lt's about entertainment. I don't see the point of slaying away on songs you know are great and then not presenting it to a lrve audience. Who wants to be a legend in their own bedroom? Not us.‘ (Jack Mottram)