ELLIOT SMITH TRIBUTE NIGHT
Mono, Glasgow, Sun 29 Oct
Almost three years to the day since Elliot Smith took his own life. it's little surprise that tribute nights have sprung up in his honour. His glowing musical contribution and tragic passing mean that he now sits alongside Jeff Buckley and Kurt Cobain as an enigmatic fallen angel to an army of discerning fans.
So what better place than one of Glasgow's indie epicentres to pay homage? The night began Wliil a set from Hey Princess 00.. . an altogether cheerier proposition than the occasion may have predicted. They're really great. carrying on that Glasgow lineage of school bands done good. although their softly- softly approach and girly vocals are more reminiscent of The Gentle Waves or Old Solar than Belle and Sebastian. And they played Smith's 'Speed Trials'. too.
Next came Early Discloser .0. -- aka Brian Paghoobur. the organiser of the whole shebang — and his fine solo set was stark and tremulous. as we might have expected from a fan of Smith. Two of the three songs he played were Smith's I‘Angeles' and ‘The White Lady Loves You More'l. and the die- hards by the bar muttered approvingly. He was the hit of the lower-key middle section. although Lou Hickey 00. —- who played none of Elliot's tracks for fear of producing ‘a crap cover' — glowed With minimal piano and cello. Sher Watson. singer of Edinburgh's Das Contras O. was pleasant. but somehow too upbeat and earnest.
The utter highlight was Adam Stafford of Y’all ls Fantasy Island 00.. . who remarked With amusement that his hand sound nothing like Smith. before battering his guitar into submission With a bellowing round of cra/ed one-man swamp rock. Utterly mesmerising. and Only Joe Kane 0... with
his band Idiots Against Time escaped the terrible pun of his name with a barrelling approximation of late-era Beatles. Elliot would've been proud. had he not had other things on his mind. (DaVid Pollock)
OUR LUNAR ACTIVITIES AND THE GEMS Nice’n’Sleazy, Glasgow, Sun 5 Nov .0.
What better way to pull in punters on a windy Sunday's eve than with the lure of Slea/y's womb-like interior. free warm Red Stripe and hard. driving rock? Launching their new single ‘lt Comes in Waves'. Our Lunar ActiVities were the night's generous hosts. Preceding them, The Gems. a band whose bass heavy punk thud recalls influences from Primal Scream to The Jam. There's not much original thought to speak of. but as far as raw power goes they've got plenty. and singer Eddie Beggan's lusty tones are a definite asset
OLA lean further to the darker side of the rock spectrum, recalling Placebo. and Idlewild at their most anthemic. There's a certain indie sensmility running through their tunes isinger Charles Clark played with defunct Scottish near thing Astridl and in their lightest effort ‘She Cried'. they've something really quite pretty — all intertWining guitars and a big. singable chorus. And you can never have enough of them. (Malcolm Jack)
Our Lunar Activities
FIDDLL 2006 FUNKY STRING BAND Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Fri 17 Nov
JAZZ COLIN TOWNS Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 18 Nov
Colin Towns has an impressive track record as a film composer, but to jazz fans he is the man behind the excellent contemporary jazz big band, the Mask Orchestra, and Provocateur Records, an independent label that fostered an impressive roster of British jazz talent (rock fans with long memories may even remember him playing keyboards with Deep Purple’s
Ian Gillan back in the 705).
Towns also has a well-established working relationship with the NDR Big Band, and earlier this year released three simultaneous recordings with the Hamburg-based outfit. One featured singer Norma Winstone with the band on It’s Later Than You Think. A second, Hot Licks (and Funny Smells), was devoted to their imaginative re-workings of the music of Frank Zappa, and the third was a studio album of Towns’ own music.
The Winstone and Zappa projects will be the focus of this rare Edinburgh gig, featuring Norma and the NDR Band. Towns has been a Zappa fan since his own rock days, and painstakingly made the transcriptions of his music he used in the project from the original recordings, before subjecting them to his own distinctive treatments.
‘It isn’t a Zappa gig, it’s a celebration of the qualities of the music. The pieces themselves decide what freedom you have. Some of the stuff you can pull around a lot, and l have done so, but you also have to know when to leave well alone, like ‘Peaches en Regalia’, where I changed the chords a little, but more or less left it as it was.’
His collaboration with Winstone features a repertorie of songs by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Jaco Pastorius, Randy Newman and Towns himself, and brings out a different facet of this legendary improvising singer. It should be an irresistible combination.
Their first album sneaked out around 18 months ago. on Shooglenifty's record label. and now ‘Nifty front man and fiddler Angus Grant. With mandolin maestro Luke Plumb and non-Shooglenifty member Peter Daffy are back in the studio making a second album as the Funky String Band.
Its genesis may have been in Australia (Plumb's a Tasmanian. and Daffy's from Victoria) but the band moves between the hemispheres. and opens proceedings at Edinburgh's wild weekend Violin orgy of Fiddle 2006. But as Lochaber-bred Grant is keen to pomt Out 'A fiddle band we are not! In fact it'll probably be the first time the festival audience Will have heard a Robert Johnson blues. We play anything from EIVIS to Nathaniel Gow.‘ Plumb cheerfully agrees ‘Our repertoire is from anywhere: old timey American. Eastern European. Willie Nelson. Celtic — Peter (Daffy) has such a ‘.'/l(iC range of songs. everything from Richard Thompson to Hoagy Carmichael' Hoagy Carmichael? 'Yeah' says Plumb. 'Hoagy Carmichael is the business. We're recording one on the new album — we're dusting off “Stardust".'
Fans of globe-trotting Shooglenifty know that Angus is a hugely expressive fiddler. if no traditional tartan purist. but they might not know that as a 14 year-old he rebelled against his background (father Angus senior is a renowned West Highland fiddler and teacher who kept the authentic music alive through the dark decades) by chucking the fiddle and smashing up guitars for years as a punk. And though the fiddle eventually won its place back in his heart. he remains a non-conformist. owning no car. and not even a mobile phone. 'l'm not anti-mobile phones, but I do find it interesting that although there are now more and more ways to make connections. people are communicating less and less. Saying less and Iess.‘ He laughs. ‘I'm not anti-mobile phone. but I am pro-fiddle. I think everyone should have one!‘ (Norman Chalmers)
16—30 Nov 2006 THE LIST 65