On the first anniversary of his death the question is do we need another John Peel? Not if we properly nurture and support the talent on our doorstep.
hen the Fall cancelled their scheduled
Dundee date in order to appear alongside
New Order. Misty in Roots. Laura Cantrell and Venetian Snares at London‘s Royal Festival Hall for a special precursor to John Peel Day. the first anniversary of the legendary Radio I DJ‘s untimely death. no-one really minded. For once. it wasn‘t the band‘s legendarin ctrrrntrdgeonly leader Mark Ii Smith throwing a strop. but a rare show of solidarity and maybe even gratitude. They will be joining. after all. a cross-section of acts who. arguably. without Peel‘s championing would never have played outside of their local spit’n‘sawdust touring toilet circuit.
Thousands more artists. from post-punk one chord wonders to Japanese noise terrorists. owe Peel a similar debt. Yet. with Peel gone. there remain 57 varieties of out-there cottage—industry micro-record labels without any kind of public radio outlet. Sure. the likes of BBC Scotland‘s Vic Galloway stick their necks out. particularly in providing exposure for homegrown acts. but. outside of all those careerist retro- indie bands on Pnpit‘nrld. all hopes of subverting the mainstream are long gone.
Then again. who really needs it? While Scotland's presence on John Peel Day is low-key. the music scene here is thriving against all the odds. Venues are closing every other day. replaced by Yuppie flats and style bars. In back rooms across the land. however. independent promoters are unbowed.
[n a backpackers’ hostel in Edinburgh‘s West Iind. for instance. Baby Tiger promotions has been putting regular nights on for more than two years. including presenting one of the earliest appearances of Fife songstress KT Tttnstall. Its now annual Tigerfest festival picked up an award in its first year. btrt more commercial operations still pick up all the attention.
Similarly. the Subway. a late night Cowgate dive. plays regular host to the most out there music in the country. The Lonesome Highway organisation brings country music to the city and gigs at Glasgow‘s Mono are packed. Meanwhile. record labels such as Fence. SL. KFM. Benbecula. Creeping Bent and Rock Action plough their own furrow. picking tip plaudits abroad while being all btrt ignored on their own doorstep.
A couple of weeks ago. young Glasgow band Music and Movement played alongside C86 veterans the BMX Bandits at Mono. Later the same night. Fire Engines. one of the most pivotal influences on the current wave of post punk art rock. wowed a packed otrt ()ptimo at the Sub Cltrb. Suddenly the scary phrase ‘local band night‘ isn‘t as daunting as it once was.
()nc of the more intriguing events on 13 ()ctober. while not officially part of John Peel Day. is the second night of Stalled. two days of experimental weirdness taking place in Glasgow‘s Universal bar. ()stensibly a ‘fringe‘ of this year's Instal festival of ‘Brave New MUsic‘. Stalled was initiated by a loose-knit rabble of artists based around the activities of Edinburgh‘s Giant
10 THE LIST 6—20 Oct 2005
‘THE MUSIC SCENE IS THRIVING
AGAINST ALL THE
Tank organisation at the aforementioned Subway.
While the array of international artists at this year‘s fifth Instal is a potentially ear-popping delight. why a festival subsidised by the Scottish Arts Council. and part of the ‘Scottish Experimental Music Partnership the same people putting on similar festivals in Glasgow. Dundee and Stirling ~ has only now embraced a thrivinu Scottish scene. should he addressed.
It also raises questions about how independent rrrtrsic should be funded in general. In the last few years.
public initiatives have included the setting up of
NIiMIS (New Music In Scotland). as a conduit for the
indigenous music industry. and the founding of
Mtrsicworks. the Glasgow-based industry showcase. A Scottish-based contingent visited Austin. Texas. for the showcase. South By South West.
As well meaning as all the above-mentioned ventures are. few bands at ground level are aware of what NIiMIS does. One wonders too why so many homegrown acts visiting this year"s SXSW were already signed to major labels. who should be the ones bankrolling their charges‘ visits while funding bodies concentrate on developing music from the ground tip. Ftrnds need to be directed towards the grassroots promoters and labels who are providing platforms for new music.
If core funding was given directly to Baby Tiger. Giant Tank and others. this would ease headaches on costs and allow for more
varied and eclectic bills across the board. Similarly. if
SL. Benbecula. KFM and other labels were properly resourced. this would allow breathing space for long- terrn development of artists such as the Magnificents and Saint Jude’s Infirmary.
However new music is funded in Scotland. no single group should be allowed to rnonopolise things. To btrild a thriving contemporary music scene of the future. a pluralist approach to the array of promoters and labels is what's required. That was the John Peel approach. He may not be around to play the music any more. but if the SAC and others put some of the faith he had into what's going on beneath their noses. his passion will not have been in vain.
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Saint 's Infirmary , .2! -
PIUCKING FRUITS FROM THE CULTURAL BUSH
l Tupac Shakur is continuing to live on after his death. Not only is he cropping up on dodgy Eminem produced Elton John mash~ups. but a screenplay he penned. [we 9 "Tell, is gorng into production. produced by the rapper's mother no less . . . Another late great who's getting an unlikely lease of life is Johnny Cash (pictured) in Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical. heading for Broadway in 2006. Its producers have constructed a new stery around his music in much the same vein as Mamma Mia. and it was apparently approved by Cash before his death. But we have higher hopes for the biopic Walk the Line. starring Joaquin Phoenix . . . More music legends are coming to a screen near you wrth the news that Mike Myers is to take On the role of crazed Who drummer Keith Moon in an as— yet unnamed film produced by vocalist and former band mate Roger Daltry . . . Cheeky Cockney Phil Daniels is set to join the cast of Fasthnders as the latest addition to the Wicks family. Not to be outdone Coronation Street have one of their most dramatic exits yet with Candice (Nikki Sanderson) leaving to become Statth Quo's personal hairdresser (yOtl couldn't make it tip) . . . Still in the world of TV. Friends star Courtney Cox is said to be desperate for a guest spot in Desperate Hot/sew/ves playing a mental institute escapee . . . Lovers of poodle rock wrll be chuffed to hear Bon Jovi are going to be the first act to play Wembley Stadium when it reopens (they also have a Hampden Park date planned for 3 June. 700(3) . . . And finally we'll leave you With the best name for an upcoming film yet. Snakes on a Plane. starring Samuel L Jackson. A load of venomous snakes get loose on. yep. you guessed it. a passenger plane. Quality.