Friday, 25 May 2018

Tracyanne & Danny - finally released into the wild

"Tracyanne & Danny" is out now.

“Gorgeous” (The Herald)
“Magnificent”  9/10 (Uncut)
“A gem” ★ ★ ★ ★ (The Scotsman)
“Terrific” ★ ★ ★ ★ (The Skinny)
“Beautiful” ★ ★ ★ ★ (The List)
"Indie at its finest”  ★ ★ ★ ★ (Dork)

Listen again to Tracyanne & Danny live in session for Marc Riley here

Tracyanne & Danny on tour:

This week I learned that Roald Dahl wanted Spike Milligan to play Willy Wonka in the film. Fancy that.

Belated Happy Birthday, Bob.

This is one of the best books I have ever picked up:

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...and this, by the same author, is one of the most extraordinary:

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Loved this too:

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Looking forward to the next episode of this.

Friday, 11 May 2018


I met Scott Hutchison once, a few years ago, when I brought Tracyanne Campbell along to a studio on the east side of Glasgow where she recorded a guest vocal on "Fuck This Place" - a Frightened Rabbit track for an EP they were making to sell on tour.

I didn't really know Scott but that day he was was friendly and unassuming and was pleased to have Tracyanne involved.

There is a lot of heartbreak and pain being expressed about Scott's passing. He touched a lot of lives and was loved. I wasn't going to write anything because I can't pretend to have really known him. But I read that his family and friends were taking strength from the thoughts expressed and memories shared. And I remember that when we lost Carey, Tracyanne and the rest of the band, and Carey's family and friends, drew support from others sharing the different ways in which Carey had touched their lives.

I hope Scott's bandmates, family and friends are holding up as best they can.

In Michael Palin's diaries he writes about a church service for his sister who took her own life. A family friend says,"If only she could have seen herself as we all saw her."

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

It Can't Be Love Unless It Hurts

You know Teenage Fanclub are hitting the road later this year, right?

I loved these two Spike Milligan radio docs about recordings of discussions between Spike and his biographer. In the first episode there is a brutal war anecdote. And Michael Palin's wee story about Spike trying to phone him is a gem. "I've been trying to call you for two weeks to say I thought Roger Of The Raj was great. Now I think it was bloody awful!"

Here come some film recommendations:

The Royal Television Society Scotland Awards take place soon. I worked on music for two programmes which are nominated. Keep your eyes crossed for me.

This is one of the best books I have ever picked up.

And this is powerful and raw, darting from passionate endorsements of classical music to the legacy of child abuse and more. Hard to describe but glad I read it.

Caught this on BBC i-player and calmly soaked in it like a nice warm bath. With a sprinkle of Radox. Spookily lit by a candle from Flying Tiger.

3 or 4 years ago I saw a good amateur production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. Last week I saw Scottish Opera's production. Loved it. I used to think I'd be bored going to an opera, but so far so good. I've liked or loved everything I've seen by SO.

Someone from Scottish Ballet has been in touch about choreographing a performance for two dancers to one of my pieces. Exciting.

And I signed some of my music to esteemed publishers Mute Song.

Anyway. Never mind all that.

Tracyanne & Danny are touring the UK this month.

They've unleashed a new song online and it is a belter; "a beautifully composed piece of songwriting" in the words of Clash magazine:

Tickets for their shows in UK and US can be booked here.

Don't come crying to me if the gig you're thinking about going to sells out.

See you down the road.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Women Of The World, Take Over

Just had 2 x nights in St Monans, Anstruther (grilled smoked haddock in the world famous Fish Bar - tick) with wee excursions to Pittenweem and Elie. Splendid.

(Despite much practise I won't be skimming stones for Scotland anytime soon)

I had to buy 2 x stamps for postcards in Linlithgow. The woman in the newsagents didn't have any for sale, but she had some in her purse and wouldn't take any money for them (another wonderful wifie in the shop was rooting in her purse for me too). Hooray for wee acts of human kindness and earth mothers.

Ivor Cutler said it best.

If you missed the "Lenny Henry: The Commonwealth Kid" programme wot I done some music for, it's here for now. More moving than I anticipated.

120 BPM is a wrenching watch. A Wrinkle In Time less so.

I enjoyed the Glasgow Sons Of The Desert's presentation of some Laurel & Hardy films in the Panopticon avec mon fils. But next time I'm wearing two pairs of socks.

Three shows for which I provided music are nominated Royal Television Society of Scotland Awards:
  • "A Family Divided" (Steadipix / BBC Scotland)
  • "The Force: The Story Of Scotland's Police" (STV / BBC Scotland)
  • "Best Laid Plans" (Tern TV / Channel 4)
Yay. Three chances to fail. Kidding.

Meanwhile I am working on music for two documentaries that I can't tell you about.

You're onboard with Tracyanne & Danny - right? Touring UK and US in May and June.

Buy tickets here.

Friday, 30 March 2018

The Truth about Me, Lenny Henry & Picasso

I recently supplied music for this BBC One show...

Buy me a drink and I'll tell you all my Lenny Henry anecdotes (I don't have any. I never met him).

I loved Picasso's Last Stand on BBC Two.

Oh! Tracyanne & Danny have released "Alabama" from their forthcoming album on Merge:

Great, right? Love Edywn Collins popping up. I got goosebumps first time I heard this song and I still get them.
"When I'm an old lady / I'll still miss you like crazy"
Tracyanne & Danny tour UK in May and US in June. Order tickets / join mailing list here:

Monday, 19 March 2018

Bernard MacLaverty at Hamilton Mausoleum

 The esteemed writer (and grandfather to my children) Bernard MacLaverty attended the live premiere of my Hamilton Mausoleum Suite on Monday 19th Feb. 

Bernard was kind enough to send me his diary extract, allowing me to publish it here on my blog. (btw - I can attest that Bernard's latest, critically acclaimed book "Midwinter Break" is an enthralling read...)

In the evening I go to a unique event organized by Francis at the Hamilton Mausoleum. On the way in there is a thin eyelash moon over the distinctly odd structure. A string quartet with harp playing his composed music – the same music which has just been issued on CD by Shoeshine Records. It is fiendishly cold and the audience sit around the perimeter in overcoats and bobble hats. Almost all of them look up into the distant dark copula. Escutcheons and bare bummed putti throw strange shadows. It’s hard to know what you’re looking at. There is concealed lighting in the vastly tall interior, lighting the stone uprights – undersea green, sky blue, purple, and broom yellow. On the ground is a design of marble marquetry which feels upwardly dished when you walk over it.
The musicians are playing in their overcoats. I can see only one musician wearing black fingerless woollen gloves. Little glimmers of light come from various places. Behind the players four or five lanterns, other places T lights. The cellist’s breath is visible when he exhales past  the downlight of his music stand.
The evening begins with Francis addressing the audience. His voice demonstrates the echo immediately. He tells us about what he hopes we are about to hear. When he turns his head away the sense of his words is lost. They boom into the  surrounding alcoves. He tells us this is close to where he grew up, where he went to school, where he cycled with his friends as a boy. When he finishes there is jagged applause  followed by silence. There is a strange and unexpected sound like a gurgle. My daughter Ciara has had the foresight to bring, not one, but two hot water bottles. She passes one to me for under my coat and the silence is reinstated.
The music begins and so does the controlled reverberation. The notes amplify and echo. They put on sleeves of themselves and the effect is wonderfully satin. The pace of the music is stately so that the melodic lines do not cancel or cross over. The bowed strings are horizontal, the plucked harp vertical. There is a solo piece for the harp which is magically successful.
At the interval Francis tells us that they are  going to let us hear the effect of the echo by banging the huge front door shut. A man in a high viz yellow jacket opens, then slams the door to. It sounds like a gunshot and goes on banging around the place for whole seconds ( the circular building once held the record for the longest echo of any man-made structure). We all feel like applauding the doorman but nobody does. Everyone strolls about to get their circulation going. On a ledge I see ten little black woollen teats, then recognise them as fingers freshly snipped from a pair of gloves.The second half of music broadens the scope of what we are listening to – one piece is consciously paced so fast that the notes impishly smudge and grate. I remember the American modernist composer, Charles Ives, who said to his audiences, ‘Stand up and take your dissonances like a man.’ The whole evening comes to an end with rattling, sustained applause. Some whistles and bravos. A few people attempt to clap still wearing woollen gloves – plump, plump, plump. Others jump to their feet and stamp, more for reasons of heat than anything else. One of the amazing things is that everyone leaving the building remarks on how warm it is outside.
All agree that it is a night they will never forget. Buy the CD. Remind yourself of the music by your own fireside.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Since We Last Spoke...

...I attended the New Music Scotland Awards - fun night at the Drygate Brewery in Glasgow. Hope NMS can flourish for years to come...

I've been digging BBC4's Minimalism docs...

So this brilliant film is kind of about everything....

And this dark, slow-burning slice of show-don't-tell filmmaking stayed with me long after the credits...

Last week I managed to take a photo of Morecambe and Wise just before they jumped through a window in Maryhill Park, Glasgow.

I've been working on music for a thing with brilliant harpist Sharron Griffiths and a string quartet (Justine Watts, Stewart Webster, Emma Connell-Smith and John Davidson) from the Scottish Festival Orchestra.

More on that soon.

This sure is an interesting New Yorker article on the Pablo Escobar industry and 'narcoturistas'...

Did I mention that "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite" is now on Spotify?

You know all about Tracyanne & Danny - right?

UK, US tour dates + mailing list subscription all here.

PS: Oh and I loved this...