From the wilds of the Highlands to the catwalks of Glasgow, Vic Galloway makes the most of a party invite.
I love my experiences to be weird and wonderful. In fact, I search them out. I recently made the effort to attend two events at cultural polar opposites. Firstly, I was at the ‘Loopallu' festival (officially the last gasp of summer madness!) in ‘UIIapooI' (get it?) to witness an oddball array of musical delights topped by Hayseed Dixie and the Undertones. Two thousand Highland dafties packed into a big-top for a wild, rollicking but extremely well-organised bash. taking the supporting cast of relatively unknown bands into their hearts as well as the Hillbilly headliners. I too managed to play a set with my own band in the tent. and DJ at one of their Fringe events over the weekend. Ullapool rocks!
Secondly. the Scottish Style Awards at the Tramway. a celebration of fashion, style and haute-couture is taking place right on our doorstep. But almost more important for me, finally I’ve been asked to attend a swanky party and drink too much champagne! These things don't happen very often so best to make the most of it.
For discovering new music, the two busiest times of the year are in spring and right now. The sheer volume of releases is unbelievable. Currently I‘m wading through paddling pools of CDs and demos. trying to separate the sublime from the ridiculous — although they're quite often one and the same. The one rule is to keep an open mind and try to find something that stands out from the crowd. There was. of course. one man who was rather good at this. and indeed made it his life’s work. Yes. it's “John Peel Day’ on the 13 October, so what better excuse to pay respect to the man, and check out something weird and wonderful?
Vic Galloway presents BBC Radio Scotland's ‘A/r' at 8.05— 10.00pm on Mondays and BBC Radio 7 at 7. 30—me on Thursdays.
60 THE LIST 6—20 Oct 2005
ALTCOUNTRY LAURA VEIRS ABC, Glasgow, Thu 13 Oct
Once described as ‘the bridge between the alt.country ghetto and the Sheryl-Crow revering mainstream’, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Laura Veirs has followed up the haunting simplicity of 2003’s Carbon Glacier with her latest album, Year of Meteors, to great critical acclaim. The latter is an altogether warmer and, whisper it, even poppier affair, so what was behind the change of approach? ‘I was intentionally wanting to use more electric sounds,‘ she says. ‘l’m glad people have responded well because it seems that when it comes to a lot of music, people want the next record to sound the same. In this case it changed and people still like it.’ And what about the recording process? ‘I wrote the bulk of the songs last summer but I worked through a lot of them while I was on tour.’ Many critics have described it as a travel record. ‘It is,’ she agrees. ‘But it’s also a concept album about air and the intersection between our inner and outer worlds.’ That kind of
BIG BIG WORLD F-IRE COLLECTIVE CCA, Glasgow, Tue 18 Oct
Even if you haven‘t come across the F-IRE Collective. chances are yOu will know some of the people assocrated with this group of musicians. dancers and visual artists. They include the members of bands like Acoustic Ladyland. Polar Bear. Jade Fox and Centripede among the ranks.
Not. mind you. that they WOuId acknowledge anything as fOrmaI as ranks. The group had its Origins among a handful of like-minded musicians who were also friends. and early meetings were held in the bedroom of percussionist Barak Schmool. The initial emphasis was very much on working with rhythms. and African rhythms in particular.
As the collective grew. American saxophonist Steve Coleman asked Barak if he intended to name them. or wait for someone else to saddle them With one. They kicked around ideas inspired by Coleman's own M-BASE in New York.
‘We started playing around with dumb acronyms. and eventually we got to F- IRE. which is Fellowship for Integrated Rhythmic Experience. It's partly a Joke. of c0urse. but we are abOut trying to integrate things that are often separated. We don't just slap one thing on top of something else and call it fusion.'
Sixteen mLISICians Will take part in their debut in Scotland. Performing. though. is only part of the F-IRE ethos. ‘lt's about our lives: it's not about a product. Living in a City it's easy not to be part of a community. but it feels so spiritually empty Without one. We're interested in playing. of course. but also in building partnerships between teachers. players. kids. venues. reCOrd stores. colleges. and that is happening now.‘ iKenny Mathiesonl
contrast seems to be a recurring theme throughout Year of Meteors, lyrically and musically. ‘Absolutely,’ she says. ‘One of the foundations of good art is contrast.’
As for whether she can cite one song as a favourite, she says this reveals a lot about the complex layers of the album: ‘lt’s always changing. One of the things I really like is that when I meet people, everyone always has a different favourite song to the next person. It’s not like everyone has the same favourite so that’s a good feeling.’
Is she heading more for the mainstream with this record? It’s not considered a good word in her circle of friends and musicians, she says, but it seems she’s not averse to her music reaching more and more people - on her terms.
‘I don’t want to be mainstream as such but I would like it if more people found out about my music. I’m not going to dumb myself down to be popular to the mainstream - I will never sell my soul in that way.’ (Emma Newlands)