The timing could not be better for this Easter’s performance by the internationally acclaimed Skaparis, a Manchester based orchestra, in a global livestream filmed at the Lighthouse in Salford and going online on the 3rd April.
Using the Old Norse word meaning to create, the ensemble was formed in 2016 by the highly thought of Simon Robertshaw. The group were soon to become much admired in the public arena. In November 2018, only 2 years since its inception, they performed with another titan of the music world, Gary Numan. Skaparis received acclaim from critic and fan alike.
The April 3rd global livestream will involve the performance of 3 pieces that are set to cheer up a claustrophobic public who are in as much need of being entertained as the performers and organisers are to putting it on in this event.
First to perform will be ‘Les Elemens’ by Jean Fery Rebel, originally a Symphony whose world premier was in 1737. His writing has become popular again in recent decades. Les Elemens was a piece written about the 4 elements of the universe; earth, water, air and fire. Then there will be a violin sonata in G by Mozart from the 1700’s consisting of 2 movements, 1. Allegro con Spirito (cheerful in spirit), and 2. Allegro (a straight forward happiness).
The third piece will be the 13th century Christian Hymn ‘Stabat mater’ all about the saddest of occurrence of Mary suffering the crucifixion of her beloved son. Called ‘Sabat Mater’ brought to us by Battista Pergolesi. The evening is a set of Robertshaw’s orchestra that will show the capability of a modern orchestra who are so well accomplished that they can showcase any genre of music. It will be yet another chapter in the progress of a phenomenal group who are flying through the world of music with unstoppable momentum.
Date: Saturday 3rd April 2021 – 19:00 – 21:00 (introduction and interviews from 19:00)
Tickets: Global livestream tickets are available at www.skaparis.uk Super Early Bird – £18* (from 23rd February to 5th March) Early Bird – £24* (from 6th March to 19th March) Standard – £28* (from 20th March to 3rd April) VIP – £60* (from 23rd February to 3rd April) *including VAT
Performers: Conductor and Musical Director – Simon Robertshaw Soprano – Madeleine Pierard (The Royal Opera, Convent Garden) Mezzo-Soprano – Sarah Castle (Zurich and New Zealand Opera)
To celebrate Belhaven Brewery’s 300th birthday, they are having a massive music party – & everybody is invited!
Hello Gordon, first thing’s first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I’m originally from Inverness and these days I live in Torphichen, near Linlithgow.
Aha! What do you think of Party at the Palace, we were there a few weeks back?
It’s a great event and has quickly become a fixture of the summer. It’s a wonderful backdrop and the location in the middle of town makes for a really nice mixed crowd.
Can you tell us about your role at the Belhaven Brewery & how you got the job?
I’m the marketing controller at Belhaven Brewery. I’ve worked in drinks marketing – soft drinks, spirts, coffee and now beer – for most of my career. It’s not that I’m a particularly thirsty individual, it’s just how things worked out. The day to day of my job at Belhaven involves everything that generates demand for our lovely beers. That might be advertising, events, sponsorship, social media or packaging design as well as new product development, which can be a lot of fun and involve a certain amount of tasting.
Can you tell us about the Belhaven Bursary for Innovation in Scottish Music?
The Belhaven Bursary is an initiative that was born out of a partnership with the Festival Interceltique de Lorient a few years back when Scotland was the country of honour. We started by sponsoring the beer tent but when we saw the energy and excitement around up and coming new Scottish folk music and the connection that it made with the crowd, we thought it was something we should explore. My main job is telling the story of a brewery that is all about old and new, proud of its tradition yet forward-looking and innovative; and this fabulously creative and still distinctly Scottish music just encapsulated that perfectly. Showcase Scotland Expo were the organisers of the Scottish presence at Lorient that year and we worked with them on a few ideas as to how we could best get involved in the scene and make a meaningful difference. So the idea of the Belhaven Bursary for Innovation in Scottish Music was born, as a major award to grant to musicians at a stage in their career where they could use the funds and the exposure as a springboard and hopefully be able to take new creative risks and attract new audiences.
What is it about live music that makes you tick?
It’s the energy of it that makes live music so magical, and the fact that the people up on the stage are really playing stuff they love that you’re enjoying in a shared experience with the rest of the audience. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation when a band takes to the stage or the euphoria of a brilliant finale.
So there’s a big event lined-up by Belhaven, can you tell us the about the reasoning behind it?
Well yes, it’s Belhaven Brewery’s 300th birthday this year – quite an amazing achievement and one that we wanted to mark with a great big party. We’re Scotland’s oldest working brewery but we’re always looking forwards so it was important to us to celebrate as a vibrant, current brewery rather than a brewing museum. A live music festival – the Belhaven Birthday Bash – was the obvious way to bring together a great event, situated at the brewery and drawing on the work we’ve done with the Belhaven Bursary.
How were the acts selected & who have you got for us?
We knew from the off that the bill should celebrate the breadth and diversity of music with a Scottish folk flavour – again that reflects us as a brewery rooted in its Scottishness and taking on all sorts of influences from around the world. We worked with Active Events/ Showcase Scotland on putting together a line up with that idea at its centre. So, in alphabetical order, we have Assynt, Breabach, Capercaillie, Dougie Maclean, Elephant Sessions, Kinnaris Quintet, Niteworks, Talisk and Tidelines.
It seems you are going for a more traditional Scottish folk sound, why is that?
We’re proudly Scottish and trade on our “Scottishness” in export markets around the world (around 30% of our beer goes overseas) so we’re always looking for ways to celebrate a fresh, relevant take on Scottish culture and I think the breadth of our line up does a great job of that.
What else does the festival have to offer aside from the music?
We will of course have amazing beers available, along with food and drink and, as a family-friendly event, we’ll have some children’s activities going on too. On Sunday 22nd we have a brewery open day where we won’t have acts on the main stage but visitors can come in for a half-price brewery tour and soak up what I hope will be a lovely chilled out (and, fingers-crossed, sunny) atmosphere.
Is this going to be a one-off, or are there plans for a 2020 festival?
What a thought! Let’s get this one under our belts and you can ask me again afterwards!
Twice winners of best group at the BBC2 Folk Awards, The Young’Uns’ latest offering tells the tale of Johnny Longstaff, a working-class hero who grew up during the Great Depression, marched in the 1934 Hunger March to London and volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The lads, Sean Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle, interweave the recorded voice of Longstaff with witty and touching ballads, bringing his story alive and serving a timely reminder that the evils of poverty and Fascism aren’t that far in our past that we can be complacent.
In 2015, after a gig in Clevedon, Somerset, the Young’Uns were presented with a sheet of paper by Longstaff’s son, describing the main events of his father’s amazing life. Longstaff had also been interviewed and recorded by the Imperial War Museum Archives in 1986 and recordings form the heart of a unique series of songs that paint a moving portrait of a heroic individual who challenged the inequalities he saw and fought for a better tomorrow, both at home and abroad.
The trio sing some fine harmonies, sometimes a cappella , sometimes accompanied by squeezebox and piano. The lyrics are bold, often hilarious and always performed with warmth and humanity. The songs take us on Johnny’s journey from the backstreets of Teeside, down-and-out in London, sleeping on the Embankment, standing against Moseley’s blackshirts in the ‘battle of Cable Street’. Then, as an underage volunteer in September 1937 Longstaff walks across the Pyrenees into Spain to defend the Republic against Franco’s Fascists, fighting in appalling conditions, but never losing his resolve. Throughout his journey, Johnny meets some remarkable characters, fondly brought to life again in the Young’Uns’ songs.
This is the kind of history lesson that engages the heart and the head. The kind that kills Fascism. It’s the kind of history lesson that we should be taking our children to hear. I’m reminded of Orwell’s observation from ‘Looking back on the Spanish Civil War’, “…unfortunately the truth about atrocities is far worse than that they are lied about and made into propaganda. The truth is that they happen.” It’s important that the real witness of men and women who suffered and fought against despotism are heard. Viva the Young’Uns!
A folk tune, like whisky, is fine straight-up. But it can take a good mixer too. The Fergus McCreadie Trio serve a knockout punch of traditionally-infused jazz that slips in your ear like a good malt goes over the thrapple, then sets your heart alight with the exquisite afterglow of places, times and moods. I could rave on about the awards and accolades that have been heaped on this young man and his group, but that’s all been said before. The point it, this guy is seriously good, like a favourite dram.
The Trio’s first number of the evening was perhaps fittingly titled ‘Ardbeg’, after the Islay Distillery. A simple piano melody from McCreadie drifts effortlessly over David Bowden’s understated bass, with Stephen Henderson’s percussion rolling and glinting throughout, like sea-shimmer. McCreadie has a gift for distilling the essence of landscapes into the mood of a composition. Most of the pieces from the Trio’s debut album, ‘Turas’ (Gaelic for ‘journey’ or ‘tour’) are inspired by places in Scotland that McCreadie has visited and drawn inspiration from. In particular, ‘Hillfoot Glen’ is a funk inflected hustle of a Scottish ‘Harlem River Drive’ with some lighting fast piano arpeggios over a driving snare drum rhythm. The trio are so tight on this one it’s thrilling.
’The Set’ goes back to Trad reel rhythms mixed up in cool jazz. The confidence with which the trio dissect the rhythms then throw out fragments for the ear to catch onto was mesmerising to hear. A few as yet unnamed tracks show that there’s much more licks to come from this trio of precociously talented young men.
I found my personal favourite of the night was a track I’d not heard before – ‘An old friend’ – downtempo, meditative and achingly sincere (there’s a performance of ‘An Old Friend’ at BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 here). The deceptive simplicity of the piece reminds me of Zbigniew Preisner’s ‘Farewell’ from ’Ten Easy Pieces for Piano’. Both pieces make easy that hard task of expressing melancholy without being maudlin: sentiment minus the sentimentalism.
Horsecross Perth’s new Theatre complex was an excellent venue for the trio, with an intimate feel and first class sound engineering. I just hope it’s not too long before the trio return to Perth with what’s sure to be some excellent licks.
First-class Fife band, Paris Street Rebels, have just released their new single – Kings of Balado
Where are you all from and where are you all at geographically speaking? Grant: Myself, Jazz and Kev all grew up together in a discarded, derided and forgotten ex-mining town in Fife, Scotland. Ballingry brought us up mean and showed us the best and worst life has to offer dangerously young. Cammy was different he found us after years of growing up in a slightly less violent village just 10 minutes from us. He always maintains that place was no good for him. Nowhere near enough trouble he says haha. The truth is all 4 of us have always been outsiders, even in our own communities. All hung up on Little Richard when everyone else was busy fitting in.
Hello Kevin, so where does your love of music come from? Kevin: My love of music comes from a generation of music lovers. A lot of my family members have always had music on around me and you could say it stemmed from there. I really got to know music when I started writing and understanding that it doesn’t just come from the radio or the beautiful people on tv, it comes from depths of the heart.
How did the band’s line-up come together? Cameron: The band’s line up as it is now took some time to come together. We were initially a six-piece group which after three months quickly turned to five. Around six months later, after weeks of discussion, we made the decision that being a four piece band would be the best line up for Paris Street Rebels. We’ve never looked back since.
Can you tell us about the earlier incarnations of the band? Kevin: The band at its earliest stage looked and sounded completely different from what you would see and hear today. Having started as a 6 piece we found ourselves building a sound to satisfy the various members as opposed to focusing on one singular vision. After becoming a 4 piece we watched ourselves become a far more single minded, focused, dangerous rock’n’roll group. With a united ethos and hell bent on changing the world, the four of us have become something else entirely.
What would you say are the band’s biggest influences? Jazz: It’s very hard to pin down influences for us I’d say, I suppose most people would compare us with the punk scene, The Clash etc but we take influence from so much more than that. What makes us different is that if you asked any member his top 5 bands they’d all be totally different. That’s what makes us unique I think.
Which singers and styles have influenced your own voice? Grant: When I think of the singers who have directly influenced me throughout the years it’s clear I’ve always connected more with vocalists who had their own unique voice. The type of singers who you could instantly recognise and identify in any setting. That authenticity of expression has always been important to me. To name but a few Ray Davis, Joey Ramone, Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, Patti Smith, Jam era Paul Weller, John Lennon, Leonard Cohen. These artists could not be confused with any over-manufactured, mass produced, reality tv talent show fodder of today and that in and of itself proves their worth.
Do the band members socialise outwith the music? Jazz: Constantly, probably too much to be honest. Me, Kev and Grant all grew up together, same village, went through school together and have been through a lot together. Cammy was the missing cog and although in the grand scheme of things he’s relatively new in the social circle. He’s just made everything click. He’s the glue needed to hold the other three maniacs together.
What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like? Kevin: My perfect Sunday afternoon could look like a day in the rarity of the sun playing guitar drinking beer or even a ‘black out blind’ day listening to the rain with no worry at all.
In 20 seconds sell the Paris Street Rebels speed dating style. Grant: Well Cilla I think people should listen to our little rock’n’roll band Paris Street Rebels. Deranged? Yes. Professional? Debatable. Legendary? We soon will be sister.
You’ve got three famous bass players from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert? Jazz: James Jamerson (Motown), Paul Simonon (The Clash) and Mani (The Stone Roses). Beer starter, Gin and Tonic main, Sambuca for desert.
You’ve just been deserted on an island with a solar-powered DVD-TV combo – which 3 films would you have with you? Grant: I could’ have chosen 3 pretentious Italian arthouse films by the way… and on another day I may well have…but on this occasion I thought it best to tell you it like it is. Cinema has always been the real Rock’n’Roll and its not to be trifled with. Apocalypse Now. Its long as fuck and has Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and Marlon Brando among others playing out the tragedy and comedy of the Vietnam War. All whilst one of the greatest soundtracks in cinematic history makes the death filled jungle’s of North Vietnam…. almost funky. Trainspotting. Hard to avoid really. Would seem cliche if not for the fact that even in 2019 it is still undoubtedly that good. It told the story of heroin addicts of course but also of working class Scottish culture trapped in a cage of its own design. Iconic then, iconic now. The names Danny Boyle and Irvine Welsh will forever be etched on my heart. Pulp Fiction.For a pre-teen in the late 90s seeing this for the first time its effect can not be understated. The strange world of Tarantino’s LA might as well have been Alpha Centauri for all I knew. The way the thing was structured, crafted, shot and the way Pulp Fiction was built around dialogue and its characters strange interpersonal relationships within this mythical 50’s American dreamland knocked me dead. It still does.
Can you describe the band’s sound? Cameron: We take inspiration from all sorts of different bands and music. We like to fuse a blend of The Clash, The Libertines sort of angst along with the glam rock of 70’s Stones and T-Rex, with some David Bowie in there for good measure. Having said that ask me another day and all those would be different again. Schizophrenia runs wild in this group.
Is the band focused more on recording or gigging? Kevin: As we plan our years we tend to take one year foccused solely on writing and recording and preparing for a new year full of gigs to showcase our recordings which helps us hold our fans gaze.
Can you describe the dynamics of the band’s musicianship? Cameron: We put the song first. Whatever we create as independent musicians within the group is to serve the song we’re working on. Paris Street Rebels aren’t a group that allow pretentious 10 minute guitar solos. It’s all about the story we’re trying to tell at that time.
Where do the band’s songs come from? Jazz: Our songs are all about what’s happening around us, growing up in a place like we did you seen a lot of shit. They’re about our experiences and what we’ve seen other people go through, as well as all the shit that’s happening in the world today. Bands have always been social speakers, the times were living in now we need to speak up more than ever.
Can you tell us about the new single – what its about, where it came from? Cameron: Kings Of Balado is the story of two perfect strangers spending a night lost in the festival campsite of Balado which was the long-term site of Scotlands legendary T in the Park. It pulls directly from our own lives and experiences and explores the importance of music festivals in general but also the spiritual connections we can all feel for each other in mass gatherings of these types. A unity. A temporary lifestyle lived briefly throughout the summer months. Festivals and other outdoor, hedonistic events like them serve as a blueprint for alternative society for young and old dis-satisfied with day-time TV and uneventful barbecues.
Can you describe the writing process of Kings of Balado? Grant: When we were first writing ‘Kings Of Balado’ it started to sound like some ancient, pagan chant or incantation of some kind. There seemed to be something primal about that pounding, maddening mantra building to a crescendo like that. That mystical aspect really influenced the lyrical content of the tune. I immediately made a connection between that and a strange night I had spent years ago, one night when the Scottish weather was uncharacteristically sublime. Perfectly lost in the campsite of the T In Park festival held at Balado, ten minutes from my front door. I spent the whole night walking and talking with a complete stranger who I felt like I’d known forever. We talked about hopes, love, fears, politics, Stanley Kubrick and revelled in the human carnival going on all around us. It sure was a trip.
Can you tell us about the recording process? Jazz: The track itself was a piece of piss to record. Once we locked into the feel of it we rattled the thing off without much fuss. Shout out to Chris Marshall & Johnny Madden of &West Studios who smashed it out of the park once again on production duties. The Wizards we call them…. magicians man.
What does the rest of 2019 have in store for the band? Cameron: At the moment we are currently working on our next single release for our track ‘Kings of Balado’ which will be released April 12th along with a steady stream of gigs around Scotland. We also have several other singles set to be released steadily throughout the rest of 2019 which we cannot wait for you all to hear. Stay tuned.
Edinburgh’s finest band are about to release their long-awaited fourth album, THIS IS GOING TO HURT… the Mumble were honour’d to get a wee blether with the band before their highly anticipated album launch
Hello Victor and welcome back to Mumble Towers (read last year’s interview here). This time you’ve brought an entourage, your band, can you tell us who they all are and what they play? Victor: Well there’s me, otherwise known as Victor Pope, on acoustic guitar and vocals. Roy Jackson, also known as Nice one Man on backing vocals, melodica, mandolin and electric guitar (usually not all at once), Jess Aslan, otherwise known as Terminator Jess, on keys, Graeme Mackay, otherwise known as Grime, on bass and finally Jon Harley, otherwise known as Cuddles McGee, on drums.
Hello guys, nice to meet you. So, Jon, as the heartbeat of the group, what is the true ethos behind the Victor Pope band? Jon: It’s always a singular pleasure playing a drumkit with Mr. Victor because, quite simply, Vic is Love!
Hello Roy, this is the band’s fourth album, where, when and by whom was it recorded? Roy: We recorded the full band with Alan Moffat & co at the old Leith Recording Studios above/next to Leith Depot pub. They drilled through the walls & used the Depot’s gig room as a live room. The council have now chucked them out of their premises though, so Edinburgh Uni can get more students in, but I believe Alan recently secured a new property in Leith & they’re back up & running again. Woo hoo!!
Hello Jess! You bring an interesting sound to the band, what is it and how did your musicianship evolve into the instrument? Jess: Hi Mumble.I play a mono synthesiser adding some melodies and sometimes harsher sounds to the songs. I joined a few years ago, and love working with the guys. Steve’s pretty specific (demanding) about the sounds he feels works or don’t work with the song. Really it’s easy to implement a sound world if someone’s already got a fixed idea of how they want it to go. Not to make out he’s a control freak about the songs or anything (is that what we’re meant to say Steve?)
That’s great. Bouncing back to Victor now – what would you say are the band’s biggest influences Victor Pope: We all bring our own unique flavors to the brew but for me it’s songwriters who value truth over musicianship. I’m into me lyrics and a bit of humor doesn’t hurt either. People like Lou Reed, Syd Barret, Billy Bragg, Kimya Dawson, the Television Personalities, Jon Otway, Jon Cooper Clarke, Daniel Johnston and Half Man Half Biscuit.
Hello Graeme – the Victor Pope Band are your first band playing bass. How is the experience improving your skill and your style (try not to mention me unless it’s in proper context) and how would you describe the basslines and vibe you supply.? Graham: Hi Mumble. Indeed, I picked up bass for the first time in order to support the Victor Pope band and their surge to the top! The biggest help above all that improved me as a player are the people around me. Steve, Jess, Jon and Roy are all incredibly accomplished musicians and the music just flows out of them from every pore! I like to watch what they are all doing and take bits here and there to add to what I am doing. I think it’s what all good bands do – learn from each others strengths! My basslines are all pretty simple but I think that gives others the platform to inject a little more pezang into the songs. My vibe? Mr reliable
Back to Victor, can you tell me about the song selection for the band’s fourth album? Victor: Well, there’s a lot of new stuff on there but there’s also a couple of old classics I’ve dredged up from the back catalog. One song in particular, Voodoo when U smile, I wrote about twenty years ago. It’s kind of a twisted take on a love song. I believe it was Bukowski who said “Love is a mad dog from hell” and I guess it’s my take on that. The rest of the songs cover a variety of topics. It’s not really a concept album. It’s more of a selection box where you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get next. I like albums like that. They keep you on your toes. But I like to think humor and a cynical, almost nihilistic viewpoint on life are recurrent themes. I’m a bit of a miserable bastard really. But I like to laugh about it.
This is a question for anybody to answer; You’ve opened up you house during the fringe via AirB&B’ and three famous figures from history are staying – who would they be and what would you make for breakfast?
Graeme: Will need to think about the 3 but they’d all be getting sliced sausage rolls that’s for sure!!
Jon: For me, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Grigori Rasputin. When they’re finally all chatted out and snoring wax their beards together and see how they get on with their waffles with eggs poached in vodka
Graeme: Ok. Tutankhamen, Jesus, Tollund Man. Nice mix of historic figures there and plenty to talk about.
The Mumble: Graeme, you’d give meat to Jesus?
Graeme: I’m not sure you could even class sliced sausage as meat!
Victor: Charles Bukowski, The Marquis de Sade and Mr Bean. Chocolate Fudge Sundee.
Roy: I’d invite Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix & Mozart. Not sure exactly what I’d make but it would definitely be something with jam in.
Jess: Wow boys, no women?!
Victor: It’d be nice to have a lady there but I’d be worried if Mr Bean started to get a bit lecherous..
Jon: Good point luv… ditch Marx for Annie Jones Elliot.
Jess: Three air bnb guests will be Delia Derbyshire the boss of electronic music, Roberto Bolaño seemed like a pretty cool cat and Mac Miller who just died way to soon and should come back and make some more excellent pop music – Porridge and apple as standard.
Victor: OK. Margret Atwood instead of Mr Bean. Bah humbug.
Thanks guys, so back to the new album, I’ve been listening to it & its great work. Graeme, Your bass on festival casualty is really top notch, can you tell us how. It was created and do you think it’s your best work on the album? Graeme: Interesting you say that as I would say that Festival Casualty is my weakest song on the album in terms of bass. The bass line I am most pleased with is the suicide (specifically the chorus). It kind of came out of nowhere but looking back at it there seem to be some similarities to Rock the Casbah I’ve noticed! It’s all about taking in your influences when coming up with new music. Recycling old material.
Roy, you’ve been with the band since the start. Does this album capture the band’s live sound, or is their a lot of overdubbing. Also, how would you describe the band’s sound overall? Roy: We always like to record the bones of a track live in the round whenever possible & that’s what we did again for this album. I suppose the more you record the more you begin to think about overdubs though. Certainly on this record there were backing vocals & percussion that we only conceived when we were listening to the live rushes. Also, I would describe our sound as loud!!
So Steve, you’re launching the album this weekend, can you tell us about it? Victor: Aye. Well it’s set up to be a big night. We’ve got Little Love and the Friendly Vibes supporting us who are one of my favorite bands in Edinburgh. We’ve done a lot of gigs with them, they’re kind of like our sister band, as their sound is quite close to the kind of thing we do. We’re trying to start a scene but so far it’s just us two bands. We’ve also got Lou McLean who writes these beautifully sharp, witty and honest songs who we saw at a previous gig with Little Love and were very impressed. I bought both her CDs! We’ll have merch for sale including the new album of course and the previous one plus some T shirts. And we’re doing 2 45 minute sets. The new album back to back and a kind of greatest hits set after that. Oh, and it’s at Leith Depot, 7pm onwards, Saturday 19th January, a mere 3 pounds entry. We like Leith Depot. It’s kind of like our home turf.
THE LEITH DEPOT
SATURDAY 19TH JANUARY
Review by Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Strengths gather fears and worry dissolve. It had been one of them days January blues. I skipped down Leith walk to the Depot in time for Anne McIntosh’s Birthday gathering. The Depot was packed with creatives that I love and we had a really beautiful start to the nights proceedings. Hugs and kisses at every turn. I first saw Steven Vickers perform as Victor Pope, taking the stage of a Strip Cub on Lothian Rd 5 years ago. It was one of Granny Nessie Radge Romie’s musical spectaculars and the night that Steve first blew me away. Hmmm I thought. He can have a private dance. indeed in the resulting years that followed our friendship would bloom, both being Northern English Urchins gave us a bond. And for a while I became part of the rhythm section of The Victor Pope Band.
Tonight’s performance was a gig in two halves. The first half was the new album “This Is Going To Hurt” performed in full. The second half was a greatest hits set. Having performed with the band more times than I have seen them, being part of the audience was quite a thrill, Acis As had travelled from London to perform this groundbreaking intimate gig. It didn’t take long to have the place bouncing and it soon became evident that this new album, is to be the release that takes The Victor Pope band to the next level of performance art . The greatest hits set was fantastic in the same way. Knowing the rhythm of each song set my dancing feet on fire. It was a fantastic gig and the perfect tonic. Everyone was buzzing and excited in the knowledge that something legendary had taken place.
2019 is going to be the year that sees this very entertaining Band reach greater heights of creative and performance success. The Perfect Tonic and Remedy great Rock N Roll and great friends, thanks everyone for transforming the Divine January Blues.
This Friday, the 25th May, young Scottish band Hò-rò’s are releasing their second album, HEX. The Mumble managed to catch a wee blether with the band’s ebbulient guitarist…
Hello Sean, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking? Sean: Hello! I was born in Inverness, and soon after moved to northern ireland where my da is from in county down. And im now back in Inverness where it all began.
When did you first realise you were musical? Sean: I think my first memory of being musical was when I was visiting my granny in Mallaig and my uncles had all sorts of instruments lying around. So I started playing with a keyboard that was there. One of my uncles suggested that I stick to all the black notes on the keyboard because it will sound good no matter what you play. funnily enough, I think ive used that mentality throughout my music career.
What instruments do you play? Sean: I Play guitar Piano and drums .
What for you makes a good song? Sean: A good song for me is one that can grabs your attention right away. Whether thats with a catchy chorus, Or an infectious instrumental hook. Also, if a song makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and you’re not sure why? Id say thats an indication that its a good song.
You’ve spent time making music in LA, can you tell us about it? Sean: LA was incredible. I was lucky enough to be invited into various studios to soak up as much production knowledge as possible. I always wanted to go over there and explore americas vast music industry. I ended up working with a Pop Duo named Alabama Capital. We worked together on just about everything you could think of. Songwriting, Production, Performance. It was good to be a part of their journey and to watch them grow as artists.
What does Sean Cousins like to do when he’s not being musical? Sean: My friends often tell me I need to find a hobby! At the moment music takes up all of my time but I wuldn’t have it any other way. Maybe ill eventually get into gardening or train spotting or something.
You are the founding member & guitarist of Hò-rò, can you first tell us what the name means? Sean: Hò-rò is actually a vocable that has traditionally been used in Gaelic song for hundreds of years. So it doesn’t actually have a meaning as such. Its used to embellish the likes of Waulking songs and Puirt-a-Beul . I suppose its just the same as ad lib that is used in songs written in English such as “OOH’S AH’S and YEAH’s”
And the band’s style of music? Sean: For me, the bands style of music definitely falls under the Trad/ Celtic Realm. But within that there are elements of just about every genre you can think of. Were constantly experimenting with new sounds and ideas. It keeps things exciting for us and hopefully the listeners too.
Your first album, released in 2016, was extremely successful & highly praised. It seemed to hit a chord with many people, can you explain why? Sean: Our first album was released after quite a long time of us playing live and touring. So I think there was definitely a bit of anticipation for an album! I think this album in particular struck a chord with a lot of people is because it was very raw and to the point. We wanted it to showcase the talents of each individual band member. But more importantly we wanted the album to reflect what we sound like live. There were elements of everyones playing on the album and of course we threw in a couple of well respected traditional songs too. This seemed to go down well and we are very happy with the outcome.
The band are releasing their next album, HEX, on the 25th May. This time out you’ve expanded into a six piece, who else is in the band & what do they play? Sean: Yes , as I said earlier we are always experimenting with new sounds and vibes. So we expanded our instrumental lineup. We now have DC Macmillan Playing Drums and Paul Martin on the Keys. Both these guys are incredibly talented and they gelled in with us instantly. They bring a whole new element to our sound and we really enjoy the vibe on stage when playing with them .
Can you tell us about the recording of HEX? Sean: We recorded the album over on the Isle of Lewis. It was amazing to get away and have a clear mind to work on the album. It was very relaxed and we had a lot of freedom to experiment with different recording techniques and different arrangement ideas that would pop into our heads.
How did you guys choose the songs & how much input did you have at this juncture? Sean: The song choices on the album were a collective decision. We would each go away and research traditional songs and try and find the right ones for us. I do love this part of an album process. This is where I can really dive into my passion for producing. Constructing a song from the foundations all the way to the finished product. Its a great feeling.
Which song off the album resonates with you the most? Sean: I guess the song that resonates with me the most Ravens Wing a song written by Barry Kerr. Its such a beautifully well written, poetic song about the struggles of alcoholism. Its one of those songs that so many people can relate to. Its a different approach. Lots of songs are about love and relationships. But to be able to shine a light on a real issue that so many people struggle with daily is pretty special.
What does the rest of 2018 hold in store for Hò-rò? Sean: We have been working hard on the release of HEX and we will be touring the album throughout the UK and Ireland starting in June which we are very excited for. After that we will be diving head first into the festivals season playing some great festivals throughout Europe.
Hò-rò will be taking the new album on tour in June and July this year;
Drygate Brewery, Glasgow 15th June Killin music Festival 16th June The Think Tank, Newcastle 19th June Surya, London 20th June Portland Arms, Cambridge 21st June Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast 23rd June Whelans, Dublin 24th June Railway Social Club, Fort William 6th July Dervaig Village Hall, Isle of Mull 7th July Tiree Music Festival 13th July
There’s nowhere like Edinburgh @ New Year, that is of course if the Weather Gods smile kind. Luckily, a few days back the gales held off ensuring a brilliantly brilliant time was had by all. Edinburgh’s Hogmany party gets bigger & better every year, & it really is hard to be every at once. Mine began at 6PM @ St Giles Cathedral for a particularly moving start to proceedings, with Bach’s Magnifact in D BWV 543 brought to a resounding sonic success in Edinburgh’s most sacred & echoing building. It was also a chance to witness for the first time the sweetest soprana I have ever hears, red-headed Carine Tinney, of whom listening to is a purely celestial experience.
It was soon time to head into the mighty jungle that is the Edinburgh Hogmanay, a fenced-off world of movement & music, a seething mass of happiness, a wintry lupercalia of delights. There were several stages kicking off to the happy revelers, including the main stage in Princes Street Gardens, at the foot of Castle Rock. My own jounrey through the festivities began with lovely duo, Honeyblood, who played a set of their more punkier numbers. This was followed by a boogie with Craig Charles Funk & Social Club @ the Frederick Street Stage, before a wonderful gig from hyperactive Cumbrians, Maximo Park, @ the Waverley Stage to bring in the bells to an en mass Auld Langs Eyne & a top class fireworks show.
After 1AM it was time to leave & everyone was surfing the love-buzz. If 2016 is anything like its first hour, then its gonna be a good un.’ But Edinburgh doesnt shut down at 1, especially on New Years Eve, so I hit the Bongo Club for Mumbo Jumbo, the finkiest night in town. The word had clearly got out to Craig Charles, for he snuck in in disguise for an extra cheeky set – the guy’s insatiable appetite for fun spilling out onto the danc-floor yet again. All in all, a bloody good Hogmanay, that was!
From half way down Carlton Road you could hear the sound of Studio 24″s musical masterpiece that they had put on for the end of 2014 !!!! On entering Studio 24 the music took hold of you like a warm embrace from a close friend. THE WEE DUB was in full swing, blasting out the tunes that make them unique… The music, the dance and the vibe was electric. Without further thought I plunged myself into the crowd, onto the dance floor and allowed the music to take me on a magical musical journey through the first few hours of 2015.
With Mungo’s Hi Fi, Prince Batty and Dread Squad, we were all in for the long haul. A Five Hour mash-up of friends, dancing, drinking and loving was only what most people had in mind. With a great vibe and friends you couldn’t have asked for a better way to see in a New Year and ending the last one with a Bang !!!! Well done to all the staff at Studio 24 and to the Wee Dub crew for putting on a great show.