AMERICANA JIM WHITE Queen‘s Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 18 Jun
A conversation with Jim White is never an ordinary thing, and on this occasion it just keeps coming back to the troubador’s relationship with Dumbarton’s most famous son, David Byrne. ‘l’m a little taller than David, but I used to get mistaken for him all the time in New York,’ says White. Then there was the unfortunate Travis Bickle incident. The way Jim White tells it (and as Byrne himself told The List recently, ‘he does have one or two stories to tell’) the Florida native had always wanted to be a black man, and decided some years ago that the best route to this might be through trying to be ‘superwhite’. ‘And as soon as I thought of that word - ‘Superwhite’ - a picture of David Byrne came into my head,’ the American grins. ‘Then I was driving my cab one day, and I saw him walking down the sidewalk. I’d never met him, but I parked up, and I started walking behind him, going: ‘Superwhite. Superwhite!’ l was in the grip of dark forces at the time, and I had a mohawk haircut due to a hairdressing accident, and David just started going faster and faster, and then he ran off into a photo
shop. I never told him about it until after he signed me to Luaka Bop.’
Few things are ever black and white
It was Byrne’s record label which picked up White on the strength of a demo the former Talking Head cheerfully describes as ‘one of the worst-sounding cassettes we’d ever heard’. Jim White at that time was a troubled ex-fashion model who had an unlikely champion in Madonna’s sister (and Daniel Lanois’ manager) Melanie Ciccone, and his home-made tape may have been ropy, but as
Byrne agrees, ‘the material was just great’.
The two mavericks have become firm friends over the years and albums, and Byrne was in agreement with his protégé’s choice of stage name when the one-time Mike Pratt decided on a change (‘Floyd Hellwood’ was apparently also on the list). The pair were last here together in April, with White opening the shows on Byrne’s European tour, but this month brings White to Scotland with his own band, and his compadre nowhere in sight. Not that the spirit of David Byrne won’t be hovering watchfully. ‘He still gives me 15 pages of things I should change for every album I make,’
says White. ‘And I still ignore them.’ (Ninian Dunnett)
Home is where the heart is
ADEM King Tut’s, Glasgow, Sun 20 Jun
When esteemed post-rockers Fridge formed. they apparently settled on being an instrumental outfit simply because none of them could sing. That trend continued with Kieran Hebden's solo Four Tet project. but for his own solo mission another third of the band. Adem llhan. has found his veice. And what a voice it is.
His debut solo record.
Homesongs. released simply under the moniker Adem, is a beautiful. fragile and intimate alternative folk rec0rd With a lo-fi Vibe and it's a great showcase for his veice. a wonderfully assured croak of a thing.
“It's only very recently that I've been able to call myself a singer in my head.‘ he says. ‘And in recording it's really important to be confident and pretend to be a Singer even if you're not actually one.’
The record features all sorts of weird. old acoustic instruments such as autoharps and harinoniums. llhan obsessively picking up things in lleaiiiarkets and making good use of them.
‘I always explore old instruments." he says. ‘l bang them and twang them and hit them underwater and stuff.‘
The result is a record that wheezes and creaks and rattles. creating a moody. late-night ambience very much in keeping With its making.
‘I made the reCOrd at home and I live in quite a noasy corner of the world so I couldn't really: record during the day.‘ says l.han. 'My house is basically a big oi_)en-plan rectangle so l was playing and singing guietly by low light late at night. trying not to wake my girlfriend up in another corner of the room.’
llhan laughs at the memory. before inadvertently summing up his own creative success in a nutshell. ‘But I find that limitation is the best catalyst for creativity' he says. And in this case at least. he's right. iDOug Jobnstonei
LATIN LATIN VOICES Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 18 Jun
There can be no doubt that the most lively and passionate world music in 2004 is being created by Spanish and Latin American women and three of the brightest stars of the scene are coming to Scotland as part of a tulsome UK t0ur.
The baby of the bunch is Yusa. Cuba's funky -jazz cutting edge Singer-songwriter. whose eponymous debut album proved that not everyone on that beleaguered island sings old romances from the 1950s like the Buena Vista veterans.
The most celebrated internationally is Mexico's Lila Downs. the magical singer who wowed everyone with 'Burn it Blue'. the irresistible theme from the film Frida. an evocative duet with Bl'allllali Caetano Veloso. The most distinguished is Peru's graCious Susana Baca. who. in 2002. became the first Peruvian to win a Grammy and had the president of her c0untry congratulating her on the phone.
Yusa, Baca and Downs
Long before the Kahlo film Lila Downs had stunned critics ".'.'ltll her 2000 album Tree of Lie. Her voice is nothing short of iiiesmerising. snaking up and down the catchy melodies and lively rhythms of entrancnig songs about love and death. snakes and iguanas. earth and wind. As her subsequent disc Borderline and her new album One Blood show. her songs draw on her dual Mexican-American heritage and are underpinned by sharply witty political Downs is a modern medicine ‘.'.'oinan. eaving anCIent stories for the present. her shapeshifting ‘.OlCC' accompanied by Mexican guitars. harps. saxes. drums. wooden xylophones and masses of textured percussion. Singing in Spanish. English and lesser heard but very much alive Mexican Amerindian languages. she's as iconoclastic and sexy as singers come.
And you only have to hear the delicate mice of the coolly beautiful Susana Baca bring to life her feisty Afro-Peruvian songs and understand how she captured the heait of David By l'lIC‘. making her the first signing to his maverick Luaka Bop label back in the 1990s. Each of these three women is a jewel. Together they make tOr an awe inspiring night. In Downs' words. ‘\‘~.i’e are One Blood". 'Jan Fairieyi
LATIN VOICES GIVEAWAY! Those damn generous people at Narada World and Tumi Music have given us five DVD/CD packages to pass on to you. We have Yusa’s new DVD - Yusa Live at Ronnie Scott’s - and Lila Downs latest album One Blood to give away. To get your paws on them just send your name and address on to promotions@ Iist.co.uk by Thursday 1 July. Usual List rules apply.
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