What a night! At the Usher hall supporting Joan Armatrading. She had chosen our song ‘Portobello Sands’ as one of the winning songs to be showcased on her most recent tour. We had a great chat on the day about songwriting and doing it your own way!
Another treat that day was my friend Chris Wood who was her main support act came back to our flat after the gig for a cuppa tea and a catchup before he needed to pick up the tour bus at 1am heading off to the next gig!
I was playing at Penicuik folk club not long ago – a great wee club just outside Edinburgh. Here’s a review of the night from Alan Murray.
Mairi was our “fairy on the Christmas tree” for 2013 and was a unique and very special one. I’d never heard Mairi on her own, so it was a bit of a revelation. Swapping between viola, keyboard, voice and combinations of all three, she gave us an intimate, varied and truly engaging evening, with audience participation that was far more than just “singing along” – although we did some of that!. Mairi was experimenting with wordless “soundings” … her own form of mouth music …. and she had us all making funny noises and making up even funnier noises. It was fascinating to hear a folk audience respond and make up stuff when they didn’t know that they could do that. Mairi’s long involvement with collective folk singing paid dividends here.
She also test-flew some new songs with us. I’m sure I’ve heard “The Piper and the Maker” … a homage to pipe maker Hamish Moore. Just a lovely idea – to make a song around a maker of instruments and the life that the pipes acquire when someone actually plays them. Peggy Seeger’s haunting “Love Call me home” - a paean to life, the passage of time and friendship – was also a highlight for me.
But most of all, I was moved by the sparse keyboard, “If I should meet my maker” – a song by Mairi and her long-term collaborater and husband David Francis. Stylistically, it looks back to Joni Mitchell in her “Blue” (actually purple!) period … “And maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t blame my maker for mistakes I could own. And maybe, just maybe I should thank my maker for the chances I have blown“. It is in fairly standard, sad, singer-songwritery territory, but with a “happy-ending” twist that makes it very special “I would ask my maker … to remind me that I was always loved“. I suspect that one will be covered by others as its message is universal. All sorts of crap can be solved and/or tolerated if you are loved.
All in all – a lovely, warm, engaging gig from one of Scotland’s finest.
The reason I’m in it, is that in 2008 Dave and my version of ALS was placed in the blockbuster movie ‘Sex and the City’. It’s funny how things happen – sometimes seems so random but this was a little/big story.
Ten years previously, in 1999 Sarah Jessica Parker heard us sing ALS for Sean Connery at the US Presidential lifetime Achievement Awards.
That was quite an experience! We got the call, quite out of the blue, to sing the song at this huge awards ceremony in Washington. I’d just had my second child, Ellen, who was around one year ( photo) but my mum had just died the previous month, so I was feeling pretty wobbly. Fiona, my cousin from Toronto flew in to babysit a couple of days before the event, which was whirl of rehearsal.
We’re sitting in the green room with….get this… Catherine Zeta Jones, Kevin Spacey, Matthew Broderick, Alfred Molina, Coretta Scott King, Quincy Jones, Halley Berry, Bill Cosby, Frank Langella, Michael Douglas and Herbie Hancock. Our wee Ellen is the darling of the lot, a gorgeous bundle and everyone’s having a cuddle. Kevin Spacey says ‘ If I die out there I’m coming back for the baby!’
So, that was a night to remember as I hope tomorrow night will be for you.
I’m loving these new sounds – ancient, fresh and elemental. This new music comes in from the deep.
In the last few months I’ve teamed up with David Gray, a producer, musician and engineer. We’ve worked together for many years on various projects so it feels really good to be teaming up and creating this music.