Rod Picott – 25 January 2016

Having interviewed Rod on the afternoon of the concert at the Celtic Music Radio studio, I got a first hand glimpse of his songwriting ability, which mainly paints a picture of his life, but when I saw his performance on stage, he was, of course much more animated and amusing.

His songs are generally down beat and have a thoughtful and serious theme , but there were a few more upbeat and one which got very good response was “Uncle John”. His pre-song description of his uncle had me laughing out loud, because I could just imagine it ! He apparently used to come to Rod’s concerts and sit right at the front and try to carry on a conversation with him while he was trying to introduce some meaningful ballad. “Have you got your snow tyres on the car yet “ etc. which got a great laugh, especially from me.
His humour was quietly endearing and got a nice response.

I particularly liked his self penned song “Elbow Grease” which he wrote because he thought it was time to write it, as he was, in his own words “ a middle-aged, skinny-assed white guy”
He sang a very personal song about a relationship he’d had with a girl called “Alicia” and said that his producer kept asking if she had heard it at each stage of the production  and he kept saying “not yet” so we were left wondering. His thought provoking song ”Soldiers Don’t Come Home” got a really long appreciative applause.
The audience obviously really took to Rod’s songs and his performing style and judging by the long queue at his CD table at the interval, they wanted to hear more.

That was Rod’s first appearance at Celtic Connections and I don’t think it will be his last.

Moira Kerr

Kimmie Rhodes 25 January 2016

I have often played Kimmie Rhodes on my Saturday morning programme, but I have never seen her performing live and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. She opened with “Everywhere I Go” which I thought was a good choice – one of her own songs, medium tempo and of course, here she was, another place, another show. Kimmie was accompanied by her son Gabriel on guitar and piano. He also sang backing harmonies with her and their voices blended really well. Severaltimes in the evening, he laid his guitar flat on his knee and played dobro style and he did this to great effect in “God’s Acre”. This added greatly to the variety as singers tend to travel lighter band-wise these days.
Some of her intros were, by her own admition, a bit long, although they were generally quite interesting and amusing. When her daughter, Jolie Goodnight came on stage, the three part harmonies raised the game. The first one they all sang was Bob Dylan’s “Wallflower”, then a few duets from the ladies, The first, “Love Happens” co-written with Emmy Lou Harris was lovely, but my favourite song of the night was their interpretation of the Ray Charles song, “You Dont Know Me”, which I thought was outstanding.

They came back on stage after a standing ovation and sand two covers. Donovan’s “Catch The Wind” and a wonderfully laid back arrangement of Buddy Holly’s “Raining In My Heart”. Americans always have that really laid back style of performing, which makes everything look so easy and of course they left the stage to another standing ovation.

Moira Kerr

Review: Diana Jones, The Art Club, Glasgow, 28 January 2015

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of Diana until last year, when I came across some of her tracks in the Celtic Music Radio library and now, I’m hooked!

I was part of a full house on Wednesday night, where Diana was appearing and I was so impressed by her, as was everyone in the room.   Her repertoire, was mainly influenced by Appalachian music, which is where she discovered her birth family roots lay.

I was delighted when Diana sang the first track I ever played of hers, “Love O Love”   The second I ever played was “If I Had A Gun” made all the more powerful by her quiet, sensitive rendition of it, but the song which moved me most was “Oh Mary How I Love You.”   It was written by Diana after a trip to Scotland , which spookily coincided with an article in The Scotsman newspaper about The Hillcrest Mining Disaster of June 19, 1914 in America.

One of the miners killed, was Robert Anderson from Stirling, aged just 35. Diana was moved by this story and as she was driving a few miles from Stirling when she decided to look up his family and was not only given a friendly welcome, but also some of the letters which he wrote to his wife Mary, every one of which began, ‘Oh Mary how I love you’. Again, a song so strong by it’s simplistic and poignant arrangement and of course, beautiful delivery.

I spoke to Diana after the concert and found her to be, as her writing suggests, natural and sincere. I wish her well with the rest of her European tour and hope that we will have the privilege of hearing and seeing her again in Glasgow.

Moira Kerr

Singer-songwriter and presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

Review: An Evening with Jimmie Macgregor and Friends, Mackintosh Church, Glasgow – Saturday 24 January

When Jimmy opened the concert alone on stage with a lively song, the first line was “I was born long ago”, which got a laugh from the audience, who were with him from the moment he stepped on the stage. He then introduced his talented array of guests.

Rab Noakes, Annie Grace, Stephen Quigg, Corrine Polwart and Sheena Wellington and multi instrumentalist, Alistair McRae who were referred to as “the orchestra”

The first duet with Jimmy was Tramps and Hawkers with Annie Grace, who also played small pipes, whistles and fiddle throughout the concert.

Sheena Wellington sang The Jute Mill Song, appropriate as she is a Dundonian and of course, the song she has made her own by opening the Scottish Parliament with it, “A Man’s a Man” by Robert Burns, which got a terrific response.

Many of the songs were of a bye-gone era and “Freight Train” written by Elizabeth Cotton was given a great treatment by Rab with his individual style of guitar playing, with harmonies, of course, by Jimmy.

Karine Polwart, with her pure and lovely voice, sang her own beautiful song, “Follow The Heron”.

I hadn’t seen Stephen Quigg for a number of years and had forgotten what a great voice he had and when he sang the very poignant “Only Remembered” written by Horatous Bonar, a 19th religious writer from Edinburgh, it brought the house down, as they say.

But, the ultimate accolade must go to Jimmy, who at the age of 84, played and sang for most of the evening. His self penned parodies were very well received and I particularly liked his Glasgow love song “I Like You” which was both funny and nostalgic.

At the end of the night, a capacity crowd gave him a well deserved standing ovation.

Moria Kerr
Presenter, singer-songwriter
Celtic Music Radio 95FM

Review: Hootenanny wi’ Joyce & Annie, The Glasgow Art Club, 17 January

Last Saturday night (17 January), I was privy to a great night’s entertainment, courtesy of Annie Grace and Joyce Falconer, ably assisted by multi instrumentalist Alister McRae on guitar, piano and uke at The Glasgow Art Club in Bath Street, Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections 2015. 

Annie showed her many talents as well as some great vocals, by playing whistles, Scottish small pipes, ukulele and shruti box.

Joyce played piano and accordion and sang in her own deep husky style. They both engaged in a lot of amusing banter, showing their acting abilities to the great delight of the audience.

Although their voices were completely different, they blended very well together, with occasional harmonies from Alister.  There were traditional songs from the north east to Glasgow and several very clever parodies.

Although the evening was mainly upbeat with lots of audience vocalising,  there were a few poignant songs.  There was a beautiful rendering of Matt McGinn’s “Courie Doon” and a self penned song from Joyce called “Where Every Child Thrives.”

Altogether a night of great songs, great musicianship and great fun.  If you missed it, make sure you get to their next performance.

Moira Kerr

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

Rab Noakes guests on Moira Kerr, Saturday 10.00am

On this Saturday’s Sounds Celtic with Moira Kerr, her special guest will be Rab Noakes who is a force to be reckoned with in the world of music in Scotland and beyond.

Last year, 2013, was a busy year for Rab. In January 2013 the centerpiece of Rab’s activity was the Celtic Connections concert ‘All will be well’. This was a commemorative, celebratory event featuring the songs of Michael Marra, who sadly died in October 2012.

This summer will be busy a time also, mainly with the dates Rab’s doing with Barbara Dickson. Their EP ‘Reunited’ is available now.

Moira will be talking to Rab on his current collaborations is with the great Gaelic singer and actress, Kathleen MacInnes.

Rab Noakes plays Glasgow on Wednesday 18 June at the Landsdowne Church with his From Nashville to Muirend, Stripped, a Peter MacCalman promotion for the West End Festival.  This is an unplugged version of Rab’s Celtic Connections show featuring guests including Emma Pollock and Jill Jackson.

Sounds Celtic with Moira Kerr, Saturday 14 June 10.00am-12 noon and Catch Up anytime.

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