Mike Ritchie success in national listeners’ poll

Mike Ritchie success in national listeners’ poll

Jan 10, 2017

Celtic Music Radio 95FM is pleased to announce an end- of-year poll success for one its presenters.

 

The Mike Ritchie On Sunday Show secured a runners-up slot – behind the BBC’s legendary Bob Harris, no less – for Best Radio Show in the influential Americana-UK website readers’ vote. http://americana-uk.com/americana-uks-readers-poll-2016-the-results

The website editor commented: “Mike’s show continues to impress.”

Mike’s programme goes out live every Sunday between 4 and 6 pm and features a mix of Americana, alt.country, roots, bluegrass and singer/songwriters.

 

Chairman of the charity-status, Glasgow-based station’s board of directors, Alex Jenkins, said: “It’s great that a community-based station run by volunteers gets recognition in this manner.

“For one of our shows to be voted by the public into a runner-up position to a national broadcaster and a BBC broadcast giant like Bob Harris, is no mean feat.

“Mike works hard to prepare a show that mixes up-to-date releases with many favourites and he introduces new acts as well, including many from Scotland.

“His show is well researched and his knowledge and love of the music he picks to play is clear to the growing numbers of people listening in.

“All of us at Celtic Music Radio are really pleased with the poll result.”

 

Mike said: “It’s terrific that Celtic Music Radio is so highly thought of – I’m surprised but chuffed to get a mention in such noteworthy company.

“I really enjoy going on air and being part of the station’s team. They gave me a chance to broadcast and I’m so pleased they did: they are a terrific bunch who do what they do for the love of the music.”

 

 

DAN STUART, STEREO, GLASGOW – FEBRUARY 25, 2016

DAN STUART, STEREO, GLASGOW – FEBRUARY 25, 2016

Feb 29, 2016

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On the wall stage left, there hung a wooden, tribal-type facemask next to a fire extinguisher.

Used together, I’m certain, they would have had no effect whatsoever trying to contain or quell this spirited and blazingly inspirational gig by Dan Stuart who was, once again on Glasgow soil, in cracking form.

He was brilliant: edgy, funny, down-to-earth, and that was only during his jaunty, MC stints for this glorious evening, where he was well supported by Tom Heyman (who rode guitar side saddle for Dan’s set) and Fernando Viciconti.

Musically, Dan is in as fine form as he’s ever been. The new songs from his latest and garage/rock style album, Marlowe’s Revenge underpin the great works evident on 2012’s, The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings as well as the chunky gems from the days he fronted seminal band, Green On Red while affronting many others in the business or beyond.

Stuart, a compelling figure with a droll, madcap touch about him, was in a devilishly spritely, warm mood throughout. His singing was spot-on even though his guitar tuning niggled him, while a reviewer who had suggested he cloned Lou Reed chords for the new release had annoyed him and was dismissed summarily as he swept into a sinewy and delicious cover of Vicious, for the hell of it.

In fine fettle, he was bruising on The Whores Above and Name Hog from Marlowe’s Revenge, and then tenderly refined on The Greatest, his ode to Muhammad Ali from 2012. He was challenging on the bittersweet, Why I Ever Married You and gentle once again on Over My Shoulder, again from Revenge.

Baby Loves Her Gun was delivered as soothingly as a shy choirboy but Rock N Roll Disease was spat out with zest and the cockiness of someone who’s feeling invincible. He tackled everything perfectly, reflecting the scope of a superb, hard-to-better song catalogue. And what about Time Ain’t Nothing, the opening track on the 1992 release on GoR’s Interesting and Dangerous? Here, shed of the customary raucous sing-along treatment, it was almost a lullaby with Stuart nestling into the verses and chorus to give the timeless lyrics room to expand and breathe. It was unexpected yet sensational.

Heyman and Fernando have talent aplenty and provided first-class support sets. Heyman’s Time and Money from his current and well-crafted album, That Cool Blue Feeling is a heartfelt look back while his cover of I Ain’t Marchin’ Any More by Phil Ochs was rousing. Fernando, an Argentinian now based in Oregon, also excelled with a dark and eerie cover of Hank Williams’ Angel of Death plus tracks from his new release, Leave The Radio On.

When the three dudes got together for The Stones’ Dead Flowers, the superb event was brought to a fitting conclusion with smiles all round. For me, we had just savoured live music at its best.

MIKE RITCHIE

Image: Paul Kerr

Gretchen Peters, Celtic Connections, The Mackintosh Church, Glasgow, January 31, 2016

 

While her first two albums were released to varying shades of indifference, according to Gretchen Peters, the Grammy nominee has gathered such a loyal and sizeable following in these parts that this was her second consecutive gig at Celtic Connections.

And it was a spirited set throughout with songs spanning the 20 years since the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member first visited Glasgow. Many she sang feature on the double CD, The Essential Gretchen Peters, released to co-incide with this Scottish tour.

There is a warming elegance about her and though her heartfelt songs may tackle tough topics, as you would expect, Peters massages them expertly, managing to make some of them sound almost downright soothing. A finely balanced band that gave her space but edgy support when required takes a lot of the credit for the overall buzz and emotion of a seamlessly, tasteful, carefully-crafted set.

From last year’s hugely praised, Blackbirds, the title song is absorbing while When All You Got Is A Hammer was a raucous and infectious romp that would have graced the sweaty stage of a jam-packed bar let alone the dramatic and refined features of this venue. At the other end of the tempo/volume scale, she movingly selected When You Are Old from her 1996 debut album, The Secret of Life in a dedication to Sir Terry Wogan, as, she told us, he had been a great supporter of her music over the years.

The striking favourites, On A Bus To St Cloud and When You Love Someone, a co-write with Bryan Adams, were performed with intense style, affection and feeling, demonstrating the commitment Peters has to her art and, indeed, her audience. It was an altogether classy affair.

MIKE RITCHIE

BLUE ROSE CODE, Celtic Connections, The Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow 29/1/16.

BLUE ROSE CODE, Celtic Connections, The Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow 29/1/16.

Jan 30, 2016

 

 

Blue Rose Code have cracked it ­– though long-term followers of man-behind-the-music, Ross Wilson, could have shared this news ages ago, and not just in the aftermath of this truly superb Celtic Connections’ headlining performance.

There is an enthralling and charming dignity behind his songs, older ones and those fresh out of the wrapper of his new album, And Lo the Bird Is On the Wing. And even when the band grows to eleven people on stage, the intimacy, warmth and joyous sense of wonder in the songs never, ever dips or wavers. The opposite happens, actually: the intensity deepens, the emotions are increasingly obvious and the enjoyment of what is being created by the ultra cool band genuinely fills the room to lift spirits and move people to get up to offer an ovation.

This was an evening of sparkling songs with a suited and booted, Ross acting as a proud musical host, immersed in his songs and delighted with the reception they all got. Little wonder he smiled as he finished each track on a faultless set list.

Pokesdown Waltz from the new album is just gorgeous with Angus J. Lyon’s delicious piano icy and definite: when Ross sang: “….and I did love you, I did” before the piano echoed the last word, it was unbelievably poignant, a moment of heartbreak and real-life break up.

Edina, from previous release, The Ballads of Peckham Rye – played in what Ross says is his fave gig city – gets better with every offering, a no holds barred look at his youthful days in Scotland’s capital city, daft memories interspersed with the dismal.

He returned to the Dear Green Place again for another new song, Glasgow Rain, which is a sumptuously jazzy four-minute concoction, where the influences of his mate, Danny Thompson and the late great, John Martyn shuffle enticingly in and out. The gig co-incided with the seventh anniversary of Martyn’s death, so we were treated to Ross’ impeccable version of Fine Lines, from 1973’s Inside Out release.

One Day At A Time, from “The Ballads…” has the tone of a romp, but the depthn of the lyrics, “Whenever I tried, I tried my hardest,” makes sure its key message is never overlooked. And as a live performer, Blue Rose Code (Ross) does, indeed, try his hardest to engage, please and downright entertain.

He has an elegance, sincerity with an arresting turn of phrase and melodies that stick in the mind. All of these delights are, surely, pushing him towards a well-merited, brighter, spotlight. And he will always be, as he sings in his own gracious song, grateful.

MIKE RITCHIE

Image: Kenny McGhee

KIMMIE RHODES, Celtic Connections, Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow, January 25, 2016.

 

If there is a law against songwriting whilst driving in the State of Texas, then we were in the company at this gig of someone who has broken it, confessing all the while she had run off the road a couple of times as she engaged in this creative, if somewhat dangerous practice.

But Kimmie Rhodes has lived to tell the tale. It was one she shared, among many others, with her contented Celtic Connections’ audience before performing the jaunty yet warm, God’s Acre, written en route to the shopping mall one day. Ironically, the song appears on her 2003 release, Rich From The Journey.

The gospel tinged, Bells Of Joy was from the same album with the song written about a red-hot local Austin band who said she could perform with them one day. Poor Kimmie ended up, instead, at their merch desk and not on stage.

Anecdotes aplenty but they didn’t outshine the steady supply of pure country songs delivered with a delicacy and polished poise that comes with many years hard labour in the music business. Always Never Leave, from last year’s solidly fine release, Cowgirl Boudoir, was gorgeously moving with son (and the album’s producer) Gabe showing marvellous sensitivity on the baby grand.

Love Me Like A Song is in the running for my most beautiful love song of Celtic Connections award with Gabe’s sublime, heartache piano giving his mum’s voice added grip and emotion. He’s a mean guitar player too, as displayed with his smooth bottle neck slide on Just One Love, from her Jackalopes Moons And Angels album, released 16 years ago, with the support of Willie Nelson, who named his own 1995 release after this song.

The set’s end stretch featured a Bob Dylan song, Wallflower recorded by Doug Sahm that she covered on a Sahm tribute album; a stirring, romping, up-through-the-gears version of the Townes Van Zandt classic, White Freightliner Blues, and then local lad, Donovan’s Catch The Wind, which was gentle and fitting.

Nashville-based, singer/songwriter, Rod Picott offered a terrific support act set with the bump along of Elbow Grease and a co-written, heart-tugger, Spare Change standouts from his current dark but compelling release, Fortune. Great voice, touching songs – and like the main act – excellent stagecraft with amusing banter.

MIKE RITCHIE

LUCINDA WILLIAMS, ROYAL CONCERT HALL, GLASGOW: CELTIC CONNECTIONS, JANUARY 20, 2016.

LUCINDA WILLIAMS, ROYAL CONCERT HALL, GLASGOW: CELTIC CONNECTIONS, JANUARY 20, 2016.

Jan 21, 2016

 

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Via a gravel road or ghost highway, Lucinda Williams has trekked many a mile in life and music – and the triple Grammy Award winner’s decision to take the off ramp for this Celtic Connections’ night in Glasgow was right up her fans’ street, so to speak.

It was a brilliant, rockin’ gig with Lady Lu and her red-hot band in truly blistering form, delivering with passion and verve new songs, classics and covers such as the magnificent “Magnolia” by JJ Cale, the final track from her Americana Music Award-winning double album, “Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone.”

Other songs from it on this dazzling set list included lusty dose of Protection, a heart-tugging When I Look At the World, the no-nonsense warnings of A Cold Day In Hell plus a staggeringly swampy, powerful and goose-bumping West Memphis, all menacing is this shoulder-shrugging song about someone being framed for a murder and no one cares, the song declares, in that particular town.

In interviews she says nothing is ever too personal to write about and you just had to listen to two tracks darkly and gracefully performed here to realise that: Drunken Angel and Lake Charles from 1998’s peerless classic, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. With grief never far from the surface in her material, the former song is about singer/songwriter chum, Blaze Foley who lived a perilous life before a violent death while the bittersweet tale that is Lake Charles, was created as a lament for an ex-boyfriend who passed away, mainly from self-inflicted habits.

She said both were staples of her live shows, and no wonder. They are gems played here beautifully, her achingly searing lyrics atop delicious electric guitar by ace slinger, Stuart Mathis, whose playing was magic throughout.

From her latest and 12th release, “The Ghosts of Highway 20,” she maps out songs from Interstate 20 that runs from Georgia to Texas. These look at her life, complete with bruises and sadness and all: starting school, where her siblings were born and so on.

The opening lines of Dust, one of only two new tracks, are: “There’s sadness so deep/The sun seems black,” delivered with her trademark deathly drawl, engrossing and haunting before the band, David Sutton (bass), Butch Norton (drums and percussion) and Mathis, kick in and all hell is let loose.

For my money, it’s hard to beat the lead, bass, rhythm guitars and drums’ set up – especially with this peerless selection of songs and a vocalist of glory and distinction singing them. Brooding, literate, artistic, emotional and riveting, Lucinda Williams shared a night of raw country, big rock and welcome tenderness with soul that we could all cherish.

Mike Ritchie

 

 


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