Archives for January 2013
All posts from January 2013
Thank you to everyone who came to my birthday show on Saturday… it was a gas!
Photo © Christine Keating 2013
It is my birthday show at the end of this week, a big event at one of my favourite venues, The Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever had a hand in organizing and I do hope some of you can join us on the night. At time of writing there are still some tickets available (you can order them here).Throughout the night The Bedlam Six and I will be joined by special guest singers drawn from our friends and peers in the Manchester music scene.
Guests include Tom Hingley (of Inspiral Carpets fame), Ríoghnach Connolly (from Honeyfeet), Richard Barry, Hannah Miller (from The Moulettes), Kirsty Almeida and John Robb.
Doors are at 7.30pm and we’ll be starting the show at 8pm. There is no support act, just us all evening!
Tickets are £8 in advance and £10 on the door.
The video for my labelmate Felix Hagan’s song “My Little Lusitania” is now online. In it I guest as a Bronson-esque pugilist loner. It was a lot of fun to make!
I wrote a little article on the project shortly after the shoot. That can be read here.
It is one of the great pleasures of my life when other people sing the songs I write.
I am absolutely in love with Bridie Jackson & The Arbour‘s recording of “Scarecrow”. The subject of the song suits Bridie’s voice so well – far better than mine!
My background is in folk music. Mostly Scottish, Irish, English and North American. They all have their moments of singular beauty, particularly when they overlap, Irish immigrant songs about travelling to America are a good example of this. Tunes about uprooting oneself carry so much emotion, there is a mix of nostalgia for the past and expectancy/optimism/fear for the future. A sense of place is very important, but also placelessness.
When I wrote the song I wanted the geography to be detailed but simultaneously nonspecific (even confused), or possibly a homogenized location drawn from elements of all the aforementioned countries. There are mentions of plants that do not cohabit (fern and long-leaf pine for instance). Fern is special to me as it holds early memories of my grandfather’s house on the Isle Of Skye, where I’d wade through acres of the stuff as a child, its rough leaves coming up to my chest, as exhausting as walking through deep water. Long-Leaf pine is significant as it’s what poor people’s coffins were mostly made out of in the USA at the end of the nineteenth century (I did quite a bit of reading into this while fact-checking my metaphors!). The seasons are also mixed up (it is simultaneously winter and autumn). In the song we find the lost soul of a young bride looking at a scarecrow dressed in her wedding gown. I figured both time and place probably get confused when you’re dead.
The most important thing for me was to write a story where there was no story. Too often folk songs feature characters who are the victims of extreme circumstances, but too often in real life we are the victims of a complete lack of extreme circumstances. This dead narrator was not killed by a jealous lover or a sinking ship or an ancient prophesy or a war. She’s just one of those people who dies of nothing.
I had a school friend who died suddenly aged eighteen. No one knew why. It happened instantly – there was nothing to blame, nothing to hate. It had a profound effect on everyone in my school year. Retrospectively it is where I draw the line between my childhood and adulthood. The moment I heard the news is one I have revisited many times in songs, in all sorts of ways, some direct and some less so. This is the most recent example.
I can’t imagine any singer who can pack all that into a single vocal delivery better than Bridie Jackson. I am very lucky.
The Bedlam Six and I have been holed up in our studio house for a week now, making good progress on the new album and having a lot of fun at the same time. I’ve been keeping a daily diary of our work over on the band blog if you’re interested in the process.
During a break in the recording we jammed out this old classic. No matter how loud we can get on stage, our roots are squarely in folk music!