The Front


he capItal's reSIdents have known It for a while. Glasgow

denIes It. but finally London's wakIng up to the fact:

Edinburgh Is the place to be. And not just In August. It has been announced that the Usher Hall Is to host next year's BBC RadIo 3 Awards for World MUSIC. comIng on the back of news that LeIth Is to be thIs year's venue for the MTV MUSIC Awards and the Royal VarIety Show bOunces Into town in November.

The announcement reflects somethIng of a COup. not lust for Edinburgh, but also for the Usher Hall, thch has worked hard to place Itself at the forefront of world muSIc. ‘Karl [Chapman the Usher Hall's general manager] has been strong In developing thIs straIn of musIc and has stuck hIs neck Out a few tImes on artIsts that we weren't Sure we'd get an audIence fOr. but who have proved very successful." says John StOut. programmer for the Usher Hall.

The Hall's commItment has been recognIsed across the world musIc scene. and In the last year It has hosted bIg names from Ladysmith Black Mambazo to rISIng stars such as the recently discovered Ponuguese smger. MarIza. ‘The Usher Hall has been cultIvatIng world musIc audIences so there's somethIng buildIng

Hit the road, Jack

.; as roof" o,- {A at a . ~ -

Executive gives in to calls for public inquiry on planned

motorway extension. Ruth Hedges

ampaIgners against the proposed

3d carpet bur

Awards ceremonies just can’t seem to get enough of Edinburgh.

One of this year's winners, Orchestra Baobab

there. It's also a very good venue from our poInt of view' says Alex Webb. events co-ordInator for RadIo 3. 'There's standIng and seating. and One of the thIngs we want to dt. Is have thIs yen, Informal atmosphere It's a poll-winners concert wIth dancIng.‘

The Usher Hall has pIcked up on what Webb tles<:r.t)es as 'a growIng wave of Interest :n world musIc’ and sues a ‘dIsenchantment WIth pop at the moment' as one reast n why more people are turnIng to alternatIve SOUftdS.

And although the event mIght lack the blIng bling glamour of the MTV Awards. they are more 'for the people' than the exclusive happenIng In LeIth. thch most Will have to watch on testy. ‘lt's; largely an open event and we'll try and peg the ticket prIces; to the kInd of things the Usher Hall's been doIng. I really want to reach out and get seme other grOupS of people In,' says Webb. hinting at the pOSSIbIIIty of a deal sImIlar to that offered by the last EdInburgh InternatIonal FestIval. thch sold subs.dised tickets for a fIver.

Ruth Hedges

The ceremony takes place on 9 March and tickets will go on sale from December. Full details of shortlisted artists are announced in the autumn and will be found on

‘We’re iamming’

M74 extenSIon are welcomIng a

concessIon by the ScottIsh ExecutIve to hold a publIc local Inquiry Into the controverSIal protect. 'It's the first opponunity there WI“ be to argue the case against the M74 In front of an Independent arbiter.' says Colin Howden of Transform Scotland. 'There's never been any Independent evaluatIon of whether the M74 makes sense. All there's ever been Is promoters of the road sayIng it's a good Idea. thch Is not good enough for the use of potentIally CSOOm of publIc funds.‘

The route w0uld comprise a five mile stretch of motOrway through from Fullarton Road Junction In South LanarkshIre to KIngston Junction on the M8. It has been

4 THE US? 3—1 7 Jul 2003

resIsted by a unIted front of campaIgn group JAM74_ Transform Scotland. and Green and Scottish SOCIalIst MSPs. Nearly half of the 100 businesses Within the proposed rOute are also raising objectIons as they would face COtnpulSOny purchase Orders.

So. on the Surface. the move strIkes a posmve note for democracy and debate. But look closer and thereIn hes the rub. ‘The plannIng applicatIon Is coming from the Scottish ExecutIve. the plannIng authorIty Is the ScottIsh ExeCutIve and then the Scottish ExeCutIve appOInts the Inquiry repoher,‘ says Howden. A bIt lIke a defendant appoIntIng his or her own tudge. then”.> ‘There are actually potentIalIy Human Rights Act problems about thIs.' he adds.

'We're gong to be lookIng Into that."

The Scottish ExeCutIve has the right to throw out the report's fIndings but It will face press scrutIny after all the arguments have been laId bare. And then there's the small matter of a genera; election comIng up and the fact that If the Executive wont listen to anyone now. It might be fOrced to lIsteh to the ballot box.

Warts and all

I Talk about something different. Charlatans trontboy Tim Burgess Is set to release a solo album in September. entitled I Believe. Less plausible is the list of collaborators getting Involved. namely J-Lo. P Diddy. Lil’ Kim. Beck and Snoop Dogg . . . Less of a shocker is that the Human League will be back in December. continuing to flog their dead electro-pop horse with a date at the Glasgow Barrowland. Oddly and coincidentally and maybe ironically they are also due to play the second paddock at Ascot in mid-July . . . Warts and all, they call it. Robbie Williams will be staying indoors for once in his life when he settles down in front of his laptop to pen his autobiography. Well, his friend and j0urnalist Chris Heath is actually doing the writing . . . Back on the incredulity front. Russell Crowe is either proving himself to be a man of the people or just losing all his marbles. If you happen to have access to Australia's Channel Nine Network. you might hear his regular guytones commentating on rugby league matches. Stops him making films. suppose.