Thursday, 20 October 2016

Hello Cleveland

America continues 'to rock'.

How great to be back in NY: not just to catch up with music pals like Laura Cantrell and Michael Shelley and the nicest bassist in the world (just ask Ronnie Spector) Jeremy Chatzky; or indeed to have Ira Kaplan jump onstage for a jam...

...but because of Junior's Cheescake.

And because when riding the NY subway stuff like this happens:

Boston and Philly shows were fun. Great to meet Princeton professor of music (and pal of Norman's) Dmitri Tymoczko

Beautiful Autumn whizzes by

Blakey's back onstage in Boston
A flight of beers in Philadelphia chosen for me by the grandson* of the man whose label, Swan Records, released "She Loves You In" the US? Och, I don't...

 Oh, OK.

 This was a groovy diner...

Window shopping in Cleveland...

Tempted - but those trousers would be wasted behind a drum kit
Splendid grub on West 6th St.
What else? My big sister's shortbread has been popular in the tour van. And now I'm off to get some brunch.

Cleveland just made the World Series. Might help make for a fun time at tonight's show...

Keep in touch.

 *(Jim from Taggart. Not that Taggart - it's a band)

Friday, 14 October 2016

Back In the USA

So TFC are back in the USA.
t-shirt made in Honduras
We played Toronto a couple of nights ago. 

Fun gig. Sold all our t-shirts. I met up with my long lost cousin and her daughter which was a bonus. They treated me to dinner which was another bonus. Grilled salmon and steam whistle beer. (Ah, I can still taste it. Must brush my teeth.)

Yesterday, as I type, TFC drove down into the US for the schlep to DC, fortified by a Primanti Brothers sandwiches pit stop. 

Today I promenaded in the fresh sunshine to the Trump International HQ 2017 (just kidding).

Strolling past the Whitehouse I passed a cheery-looking pilgrim burdened by a huge wooden crucifix. Only later did it occur to me to ask if Jesus had accessorised his one with a US flag and some roller-skates on the bottom to aid transportation. L'esprit de l'escaliers.

I also passed a stout chap sporting a POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OFFENDS ME t-shirt. A lesser man might have asked if this meant he'd like to be referred to as 'fat'. But not me.

After the Washington Monument I had a peek in the White House souvenir shop.

The Donald's lost some weight.

Then tasty tacos from a van in Farragut Square.

Roll on DC gig tonight.

Meanwhile here is a new Teenage Fanclub video:

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


It's October!

(Lost Songs Of St Kilda is Number 1 for the third week in Classical Charts so yay)

I've watched all of Season 2 of Better Call Saul to watch. Loved it. Season 3 please.

I applied to Creative Scotland to record an album of new music at Hamilton Mausoleum and was unsuccessful. Then I re-applied - and I was successful. More on this in good time.

I think Northgate, the Glasgow passport office, gets my newly inaugurated the Friendliest Staff Award proving bureaucracy doesn't need to be po' faced. New passport means I am looking forward to touring the US this month with Teenage Fanclub. All live dates here.

Thumbs up for Grayson Perry's "Playing To The Gallery".

On rebellious art things being co-oopted into family viewing.

"The last truly dangerous thing - the one you won't see - is underarm hair."

Loved this.

Any chance to see The Beatles on the big screen - count me in.

I liked this doc on the National Theatre Of Scotland. Lovely to hear Karine Polwart narrating it too.

Earlier this year "Dunblane - Our Story" was screened on BBC. A very powerful, sensitive film directed by Stephen Bennett. I greatly appreciated being involved in providing the music. And I am delighted to learn that it has been nominated for a BAFTA.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

20th Sept

As I type I can still proclaim that Teenage Fanclub "Here" is a Top 10 album in the UK. Hooray.

Haven't bought it yet? Click 'here' (*chortle*).

Guess what we were up to last week?

On Saturday I took my wee boy to see the filming of a BBC show "The Dog Ate My Homework" (thanks, Hannah). 

At the School Disco section the whole audience had to get up and dance while the cameras whizzed around. Must set my video.

I liked these extracts from John Le Carre's autobiography. Favourite line on his troubled relationship with his father: 

"when we buried the hatchet, we always remembered where we’d put it."

And the hits just keep on coming. I was delighted to be asked to arrange a piece of music for the Decca Classics album "The Lost Songs Of St Kilda". The Scottish Festival Orchestra played, James Macmillan conducted and - only my track - Julie Fowlis recited and sang. The other composers were James Macmillan, Craig Armstrong, Rebecca Dale and C. Duncan. Our arrangements sat alongside solo piano recordings by the late Trevor Morrison. At the moment is sitting at No1 in the Official Classical Artist Albums Chart and on the Classic FM Chart.

Once again (I know!) here is my track with Julie - "Dùn" (Spotify link

Sad but interesting article about Julius Eastman here.

I am going to see this tonight.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Truth About Me And Babs

On Monday Teenage Fanclub performed a live session for Lauren Laverne at 6music. Click here to see us playing "Thin Air".

As we were loading the van outside afterwards, who comes blinking' swannin' by but the one and only Barbara Windsor. I told her that I could make a lot of people jealous if I could get a photo with her and she obliged. We didn't bug her for too long but she was lovely and friendly and quick to smile.

In the evening we played an in-store at the Rough Trade Record Shops and I picked up some swag:

A curry in Brick Lane...

...then bed.

Today I was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's Janice Forsyth Show discussing my involvement with "The Lost Songs Of St Kilda" - an amazing project to be part of (sorry (not sorry) to repeat myself...).

Unfortunately it was a pre-record and they edited in the wrong track by accident. So here's me banging on about the great Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and how privileged I was to be asked, along with these other esteemed composers, to write for string orchestra and harp - and then a different track entirely was broadcast. D' oh!

You can hear my track featuring Julie here.

A while ago I blogged about my day in the studio with James Macmillan, Craig Armstrong, C Duncan, Rebecca Dale and The Scottish Festival Orchestra. The St Kilda songs album was released the same day as TFC's "Here" and The Beatles "Live At The Hollywood Bowl". It's going to be a close run thing for the No1 spot.


If you haven't enjoyed his recent work you might not be converted by Woody Allen's "Cafe Society" - but I liked it. Fun - if not wildly funny - and sweet and beautifully shot. A favourite line (which must have been kicking around before now): "Live each day like it's your last and one day you'll be right."

So have you bought this yet?

If the answer is "no" click here....

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Here Is The News

TFC had fun at the Heart Of Gold, Heart Of Glass festival in Camping Les Tours, Saint Amans Des Cots (en France) on Friday. 

We then had quite a schlep back to London in order to be up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a performance on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One telly.

I had the rest of the day to myself in London. 

I visited The National Gallery (Rembrandt's self-portrait at the age of 63 is a favourite), The National Portrait Gallery (great William Eggleston exhibition; memories of meeting the man himself once in Memphis, and memories of Alex Chilton too), I ate Mexican food, I saw a West End show (matinee performance of The Play That Goes Wrong - which was fun), and the new Pedro Almodóvar flick which unfolded pleasingly.

I also bought these books as a birthday gift for - me.

So now I know all about art. Ask me anything.

Tomorrow (as I type) we’ll do a live session for Lauren Laverne on 6music and in the evening we will play an in-store at Rough Trade in Brick Lane. Then it’s home for a bit.

The recent gigs in Bristol, End Of The Road Festival in Dorset, London, Edinburgh and Manchester have been increasingly hot and sweaty...

Manchester audience spontaneously combusting last week
But it is all worth it when someone from Japan gifts you a nice new pair of socks (thanks, Keiko).

A pair of Japanese socks last Wednesday
Recent tour chat has included theorising on the construction of a grosvenor pie (I think Gerry cracked it); the difference between a sauce and a reduction (unresolved); and a brief Norman routine about trombone players being able to practice on their way to a gig with the sliding handle on their suitcases. You had to be there; well-oiled and giddy with sleep deprivation...

I got on a wee nostalgic country kick the other nights and made a spotify tour soundtrack compilation called Gems. Thanks, Norman, for the Tom T. Hall discovery. I have been overdosing on "Ony’s Bop" in particular…

TFC’s new album “Here” is finally released, of course. Hurrah. (You've bought it, right?)

And it is worth it's own blog but at the risk of repeating myself, (*coughs*) I am very glad to be a part of “The Lost Songs Of St Kilda” (Decca Classics). It's not often I get asked to write for 20-piece string orchestra and harp  (The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra) conducted by James MacMillan with vocals by Julie Fowlis. 

More about this amazing story here.

Au revoir. x