On Sunday morning, exhausted, I slept through a massive hangover until my faithful pooch, Oscar woke me up with the news that it was, in fact, time to go to the beach for a walk. There’s something about sitting on the banks of the Clyde with a cool breeze, looking over Dumbarton Rock and onwards towards Ben Lomond that can really relax me and allow me to contemplate what I’m doing with music, and also to reflect on one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.
On Thursday, Gareth and I went to the Royston area of North East Glasgow to set up for the SNP show on Friday. We were providing the PA for the proceedings, and so had to rig the room and do sound checks for the other acts. This also meant we were running the sound desk for the whole event, including mixing the First Minister’s microphone so that the party faithful could hear every word loud and clear. Quite an honour, and a challenge considering that we were used to mixing loud, shouty, punk bands!
I returned to the venue at 3pm on Thursday to check everything was still working for the show starting at 7pm, including a few extra soundchecks for last-minute acts. It was going to be a long, long day. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, arrived around 7.30, and by 8.15 she was finally at her seat in front of the stage (she honoured everyone’s request for a photo as she made her way through the hall).
She gave an inspiration speech around 8.30, which was followed by chinese food for the buffet dinner. I finally took the stage around 10pm (does this mean Nicola was my support act?), playing a short set of my more Scottish Political songs (Sinner and the saint, On Our Own, United colours of Cumnock (Jim Monaghan), Rise Again, ending with The Wellyboot Song with a new verse I wrote for the occasion). I think it went well, it was quite hard to judge. I finally got home around 2am and crept in to bed to get a few hours sleep before having to wake up, get back to the venue to collect the PA, and then back home, then out to Glasgow for Saturday’s shows.
New Hellfire Club is a record store in the West End of Glasgow, in the Hidden Lanes off of Argylle St (in Finniestone). It exists as a second hand record store, but the reality is that it is a hub of musical activity with a manifesto that seeks to put profit back in to the hands of the musicians and not the corporations. Through this, it sells CDs and DVDs by local acts, puts on acoustic sessions, and also runs bigger gigs around the city. Musically, I come from a background of DIY punk rock and therefore a lot of what NHC is doing is second nature to myself and my peers, but I think its fantastic that they are bringing this way of life towards the indie and rock bands of the city.
I was playing in the shop as part of their “Not-Record Store Day” acoustic line-up. I played for around 45 minutes to a small crowd, happily made up of some familiar faces. Looking back, I perhaps rambled on a bit too much instead of playing songs, but I think everyone had a good time. Afterwards, I headed along to Lebowskis (a bar I had heard of, but never set foot in) to try their Highly Recommended selection of White Russians. Not too many though, since I had to get in to the city centre to play a show at The Vale with the ‘new band’.
I have played at The Vale many times over the last 15 years. It’s a typical Glasgow train station boozer, with a venue upstairs. In recent years, the venue has been refurbished so that the stage is in a better place and not its original site at the back of the room, upstairs, and behind a wall. Seriously.
The band I was playing with is called “Rob Duncan & the Side-Effects”, where I play a simple role in the rhythm section as second guitarist. In all the years that I have played music, this was the first time I had been on stage without the front-man role. And, you know what? I really liked it.
I’m getting on a boat on Thursday night to kick off the run of mainland European shows. Full details are here.