King Tut’s, Glasgow, Sat 24 May
No ship of fools
Some rockers, on completion of an album as emotionally charged and oceanically tempestuous as Cape Horn, might heave a sigh of relief, hop on a jet to Bermuda, go paddling, play some golf or quaff some rum. When Justin Sullivan strummed the last chord on his beautifully intense and dark but sparkling solo debut. Navigating by the Stars, he booked passage on a bleak cargo ship to Newfoundland. He spent six weeks with 23 salty sea-dogs and 2000 containers, crashing through 3000 miles of furious ocean, 30ft Atlantic waves battering down on him.
‘It was my reward for finishing the album. I‘ve got this romantic view of the sea, and I thought if I did this I would lose that,’ he explained. ‘Far from it. It was everything I’d hoped for and more. I hoped for bad weather and we got it — the crew hated me because I’d wished for it!’
For 20 years, Sullivan has been a minstrel on the road less-travelled. As frontman with New Model Army, he mellowed from snarling socio-political, clog-wearing, rock-hard cynic to tattooed poet, tracing with passion, melancholy and vitriol the light and shadow of life in the 20th century‘s dying
The songs on this album have been six years in the writing, though two of the most potent - ‘Sun on Water’ and recent single ‘Ocean Rising’ - were last-minute additions.
‘It’s got all the intensity of New Model Army without any of the noise,’ Sullivan said. ‘It‘s very emotional and very personal, without that big juggernaut of rock.’ That’s not to dismiss his past. A new NMA album is under construction, and his solo set, mainly acoustic, sometimes cranked up with bass and drums, reworks classic crowd-pleasers. It’s no small testament to Sullivan’s songwriting craft that stripped down they are more evocative and compelling
So what floats his boat these days? ‘I’m crazy about Queens of the Stone Age. They really give a shit about what they're doing. The first time I saw them three years ago, it was one of those moments, like when I first heard ‘. . . Teen Spirit’, or ‘My Generation’ - the world stops.’
Fulfilling a jazz fantasy
LAURA MACDONALD SEXTET
CCA, Glasgow, Sun 1 Jun
Laura MacDonald leads her most ambitious project to date in this exciting new sextet. The alto and soprano saxophonist has already impressed in trio and guartet format. and has composed and directed for big band. The Scottish Arts Council's New Work scheme provided the opportunity to to, son‘ething in between.
‘Assembl; Drec’. asked me. i‘ could do a project under the scheme what actiéri it be? And thought a group so'nexxhere around sextet to octet; decided on sextet. and they asked me who would liKU tr 'l£l\.(} :n it. and that is what l've got.‘
And an lllllﬂC‘SSl‘J? choice it is. Nev. York tenor saxophonist Dcnm McCaslin. Gerriian
trumpeter Claus Stotter. Scottish pianist Steve Hamilton. French bassist Gildas Bocle and American drummer Antonio Sanchez make up the international band.
'I've written a 90-minute set. lt has been a weird experience this time. The final arrangements have been a lot of work, but the main themes in every case have come with almost no thought. When they did. it was really fast. which is very strange for me.
‘1 usually use poetry or art or something like that as a stimulus. but this time thought about things like people that knew or tuftny people l have met in my life. or childhoOd memories >- that kind of thing. had a run- througn .vith some Scottish musiCians at the house. Just to make sure it all works. «id was really pleased with how it sounded' iKenny Mathieso'i.
l :‘t k
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sun 25 May; Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Fri 30 May
Cal‘etl‘aillie kicked off the recording of C’mt‘e l rl"t).i.tge in tlting to Sardinia. tentii‘g a \illa, and setting ut‘ some 'nics That was last §§ll'll"‘i(‘l, Further recording l'l [lonettai and the Scottish Highlands. and careful final polishing in the llttlttl's Glasgow studio has prodtit‘edxzhat ktl‘Jlﬂttlil£1(‘(‘tlltllt‘il player and founder Donald Shaw l‘t?ll(?‘.0§3 ‘is our most ambitious album to date To their powerful ‘lite' drum, b.’ ss and percussion lime been added layers of seduences, samples and loops, taking ()apeicaillie further down the fusion road that has seen the Scottish hand shift over a million albums worldWide.
Capercaillie, still craic addicts after all these years
And another quantum leap is taking the prize—Whiting Shaw/McKerron team rCharlie McKerron is the band's fiddlerl to new levels in their Successful film soundtrack work. 'We're doing the music for Dougray Scott's latest feature film. It's called One Last Chance and has got Keyin McKidd in it. It's a sort of black comedy. We talked it through With the director and went for a very raw. authentic sound ~ not too Scottish. ln fact we've brought over a fantastic banjo player from LouiSiana. They're engaging tracks, With simple vocals and often just guitar and banjo — a kind of Oh Brother type of sOund.'
And the band itself heads over the Atlantic in September, for their first US tour in some time. “We haven't been back for years.‘ admits Shaw. ‘We pulled the last one because Karen was pregnant. We actually cancelled it around six months in advance - but the loyalty of fans is a strange thing. It started a heated debate on the fan club message boards. It was quite funny really. There were acousations of anti— Americanism flying around. Then I got involved in the argument,‘ he adds ruefully. ‘That was a big mistake'
So. a more mature Capercaillie? 'Yes_ I suppose so,’ he laughs. ‘BlaZin' Fiddles turned up at Our gig in Cambridge last week —- they had a night off on their tOur — and piled backstage after the show. Great craic. But we eventually had to get to bed — so we left them all still partying in our dressmg room.‘
22 ’Aa,-5 June 207.? THE LIST 49