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imp: Drever, McCusker, Woomble @ The Lemon Tree, 4th Feb


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interesting music promotions present


Wednesday 4th February 2009

The Lemon Tree, 5 West North Street, Aberdeen AB24 5AT.

Doors 8.30pm

Tickets 15 subject to booking fee

Available from Aberdeen Box Office (His Majesty's Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct or the*Music Hall,*Union Street) Phone 01224 641122 or http://www.boxofficeaberdeen.com




As the old adage goes, if you want something done, ask someone busy. And if you want to hear some of the freshest, savviest, sweetest and most original songwriting around, look no further than three of the busiest musicians in Scotland, newly in cahoots as a trio: Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble.

"Our paths had all crossed in various ways over the past few years - working with Kate Rusby, and on Kris and Roddy's solo albums - and our starting-point was basically just that we all really liked each other's stuff," says McCusker, equally renowned as a producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist.

For Woomble, who recently marked ten years as lead singer of Idlewild, the new trio project is a natural onward step from his acclaimed 2006 solo debut, My Secret Is My Silence. "Being in the same band for that long, you get used to writing songs in that context," he says. "The solo record was the first time I'd really pushed myself in other directions, and that's given me the confidence to take it further: Kris and John each have such a different take on things like melody and lyrics, but we're all working equally on the songs together, so the whole thing feels totally new."

That forthcoming fresh yet seasoned debut, named simply for its authorial triumvirate, was written over the course of just six or seven afternoons in McCusker's Edinburgh living-room, demo-ed on a laptop, then transferred to the studio with judiciously minimal embellishment. "It was amazingly quick," says Drever, the Orcadian singer-guitarist who won a 2007 Radio 2 Folk Award for his own first solo album, Black Water, and is a member of firebrand folk trio Lau. "We had a target number of songs we wanted to record, and we really didn't discard many. A lot of them have stayed quite stripped-down, keeping that rawness."

An array of stellar guests from both the folk and rock spheres contribute to the album, entitled Before The Ruin, including Radiohead drummer Philip Selway, Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake (vocals) and Francis MacDonald (drums), Capercaillie bandmates Donald Shaw (keyboards), Mike McGoldrick (flute/whistles) and Ewen Vernal (bass), plus Irish singer Heidi Talbot.






Orkney-born Kris, emerged from the ferment of the late-90s Edinburgh session scene as a member of bands including Fine Friday and Session A9, and an increasingly sought-after accompanist, working with artists including Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis. Fast building his name both as a guitarist of exceptionally eclectic talent, and a singularly eloquent interpreter of traditional and contemporary songs, he released his debut solo album, Black Water, in October 2006 for Reveal Records, going on to win the Horizon prize for best newcomer at the following years Radio 2 Folk Awards. Doubling as a founder member of the electrifying folk trio Lau, alongside fiddler Aidan O Rourke and accordionist Martin Green, he spent much of 2007 taking the international festival circuit by storm.




Was born in the same Bellshill hospital as most of Teenage Fanclub and Sheena Easton, John McCusker formed his first band, Parcel ORogues, at fifteen, and joined top Scottish folk act the Battlefield Band two years later, remaining with them until 2001. During this time he also began a twelve-year partnership with celebrated Yorkshire folk-singer Kate Rusby, producing several of her award-winning albums and anchoring her live band. Johns film and TV soundtrack credits include the Damien ODonnell movie Heartlands, Jennifer Saunders BBC1 sitcom Jam and Jerusalem, and Billy Connollys World Tour of New Zealand. He has recently recorded on Mark Knopfler and Paul Wellers latest albums, and is current producing the forthcoming debut solo release by Radiohead drummer Philip Selway. In between working with Kris and Roddy, John has spent much of 2008 in private jets and stadiums, as a guest on Mark Knopflers world tour before releasing another album and tour from his Under One Sky commission in the early Autumn.



A native of Irvine small-town Scotland writ large Roddy co-founded Idlewild in 1995, naming the band for the quiet haven featured in his then-favourite book, Anne of Green Gables. Given that the NME likened their early punk-fuelled sound deftly revisited on their latest album, 2007s Make Another World - to a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs, the quiet haven part was initially somewhat ironic, but gradually came closer as Idlewild meanwhile progressed through sweeping melodic rock to rootsy, melodic sparseness. Extending that softer lyrical vein of Roddys songwriting, 2006 saw his first solo release, My Secret Is My Silence, winning rave reviews across both the rock and folk press. He was also a key instigator behind the acclaimed 2007 album Ballads of the Book, bringing together leading Scottish poets and musicians to collaborate on new songs. After extensive recent touring with Idlewild, Roddy has spent much of 2008 as every other year scribbling observations and lyrics in his notebook while out on walks.



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I see Mr Drever just won an award at the Scots Trad Music Awards

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Trad music award winners chosen


As well as a being a rising singing star, Kris Drever - the son of singer-songwriter Ivan Drever - is an inspired and inventive guitarist.

Kris Drever: Singer and guitarist

After temporarily switching instruments to the double bass, he subsequently returned to the guitar and began honing his style - a highly individual blend of rhythm and harmony, folk, jazz, rock and country inflections.

Kris, who finds himself in constant demand as a session player, is a member of acclaimed band Lau and the trio Drever, McCusker & Woomble.

He says: "A guitar's like a portable piano, in terms of its range. I like to try always to use interesting colours in the chords and harmonies I play, rather than just doing the obvious."

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I still haven't bought tickets for this.

...I don't know anyone else who'd be willing to shell out the 14. :(

Get new friends Elizabeth. That's what I say. Or just come down anyway. Friends are over-rated. :up:

Anyhoo. Here's a delightful wee interview to muse over...

Drever, McCusker and Woomble: Folk to the power of three :: The Skinny

Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble talk to Paul Mitchell about chance meetings, moody rock kids and how to make folk go pop

Kris Drever explains his view of the differences between musicians from the folky scene (his words), and those who ally themselves to the rock/pop world. Theres a general camaraderie among folk musicians; a lot of shenanigans as we essentially meet one another at various points around the globe throughout the year. Sooner or later you have a pint and a night out with just about everyone. Sounds like effective networking, but why are the rock kids any different? Some people that Ive met whose livelihood depends on the rock or pop world, well, they dont really hang out with other bands much. They tend to stick with their own camp and dont seem to communicate with one another. I dont really know why that is. I suppose in the folk world, if you start acting up like a big shot, youre going to get shot down in flames.

The Skinny is speaking with Orkney-born guitarist Drever (a member of experimental folk act Lau), multi-instrumentalist and producer John McCusker and long-time Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble on the release of their collaborative album Before The Ruin. The record has been warmly received, attracting applause not just for the allure of the softly spoken compositions within, but also the suggestion that it was put together in a very short space of time. McCusker makes it sound so: We just started meeting up in my flat and wrote a few songs together over the course of maybe ten or twelve days. Woomble however, suggests that the reality is otherwise. The actual process of completing the songs and recording them, fleshing them out, that took a long time and getting all the guests in and putting all the parts together. The record doesnt sound like something that was knocked off in the afternoon, its quite an accomplished piece of work because it has so many different shades - lots of instrumentation.

In this remark he is paying tribute to the production work of McCusker, who was charged with taking the source material and polishing it up (but not too much, we all agreed that overdoing it would not be a good thing adds Drever). McCusker drew upon his high standing in the scene to bring in guests as accomplished as Radiohead drummer Philip Selway (whose solo album he is producing), Teenage Fanclubs Norman Blake and Irish singer Heidi Talbot. The project, initially slated as Woomble's next solo offering to follow 2006's My Secret is My Silence (produced by McCusker), quickly became one in where the chief protagonists just, as Drever remarks, threw our hats in the ring and started playing ideas at each other.

So, with all agreeing there was no definitive plan from the outset, lyricist Woomble explains how he grasped the opportunity to develop his songwriting. I was interested in exploring themes which I normally wouldnt write about myself. I suppose the loose theme of the record is mans relationship with the sea. The sea is one of those metaphors which can be used for lots of things. I was quite interested in writing about the islands, particularly Orkney. Before the Ruin is reference to standing in front of the sea. It can pull you in; you can discover other countries.

McCusker admits that he played it by ear when putting the finishing touches together. We didnt know if it would sound like Teenage Fanclub with bouzoukis, whether we were going to make a poppy sounding folk record or something in between. It seems sometimes like theres a guy inside of me who wants to be in Teenage Fanclub, but I play the tin whistle so it doesnt get to pan out that way. Instead of rocking out we found that it turned out to be quite gentle, and hopefully the listeners will be able to get drawn into the record and find new things with every listen.

The camaraderie Drever mentions is genuine. The trio are generally effusive in their admiration for the work of the others without going overboard with generic platitudes. McCusker explains the air of mutual respect that pervades. We met in Sandy Bells about ten years ago. I went over very drunkenly having watched him play the double bass and said We have to be friends now. Im pretty sure thats how it happens all the time really.

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I just realised Roddy does a Sunday Herald column.

And I also just had a lemsip.

Good times.

Roddy Woomble (from Sunday Herald)

Roddy Woomble

The healing powers of DVDs.

AT HOME I have a pile of DVDs from birthdays and Christmases still unopened. I know I'll get round to watching them one day (and thank you for giving them to me, any relative or friend reading this), but I find it almost impossible to concentrate on a DVD for the duration of its running time. Bordering the screen is the rest of the room and rest of the house, full of other things I could be doing instead of trying to concentrate on the film in front of me.

I do love good films, but I'd much rather watch them in the cinema. Going to the cinema has a sense of occasion about it that sticking on a DVD lacks. Unfortunately, though, a cinema is no place for someone who is sneezing, coughing and spluttering, full of the cold. And that's me at the moment.

Normally, I'm good at avoiding colds ... well, I suspect it's not something one can be "good" at, but on the rare occasions I pick one up, it's usually gone in a few days. I hear the horror stories - colds that lasted for weeks, that turned into chest infections, that ruined holidays - so I've been lucky until now.


But this cold is the real deal. My head feels like it has been packed with cotton wool, my throat is raw, when I swallow it feels like I'm swallowing glass, my nose has turned into a broken tap, and every time I stand up all I want to do is lie down. I'm assured this is the cold, not the flu. And I was always told that if you have the cold, you don't stay in bed. Instead, you adopt the "you'll feel better when you get up" philosophy and attempt to get on with the day. I still think I'd feel better lying down.

I decide to use this period of self-pity and sneezing to finally watch those DVDs and pick out Touching The Void, a recent gift. The film came out a few years ago, and I always meant to see it. It's a documentary, based on the book by the mountaineer Joe Simpson, and recounts his miraculous display of endurance after a climb in the Peruvian Andes goes wrong and he ends up trapped in a crevasse with a broken limb.

Mind you, it seems mad that he wanted to climb the mountain in the first place; it's virtually a vertical mile of ice. He takes the risks to make him feel alive, he says. I've had a few uncomfortable moments myself walking on exposed ridges in the Highlands, but rather than making me feel more alive, they made me want to be picked up by a giant hand and deposited safely and snugly back into the car down at sea level.

I like the bit in the film where Simpson describes how he enjoys feeling like an ant compared with the mountains - that sense of perspective is one of the great things about spending time on the side of big hills. Touching The Void turns out to be the perfect kind of film to watch while lying groaning with a cold. You begin to feel a bit stupid moaning about a sore throat when you're watching a man descend a 20,000ft mountain with no food or water and a broken leg, all while suffering from delirium. By the end of the film, I've almost forgotten about my ailments. A bit of human drama and triumph works better than any Lemsip.

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Latest column from Roddy...

Sunday Herald: Arts: Culture

Roddy Woomble

New album, new challenges.

ANYONE WHO has seen the documentary Some Kind Of Monster, about the heavy metal band Metallica and the trials and tribulations they suffered making an album, will have learned that the process isn't always a quick one. OK, maybe theirs is an extreme example of creative difficulties: things get so bad at one point that they hire a group therapist to help them communicate with each other (unintentionally providing the film with its comedy). But it's still a revealing documentary that shows what a strange, complicated human experience writing songs with a group of people can be. One that gets harder the more records you've made or, in Metallica's case, after the huge amount of success you've had.

I'm thinking about all this because my band Idlewild are about to record a seventh album, and we have been doing "pre-production" at our practice space in Fife. Essentially this is a few days spent with the producer working through the tunes, ironing out any song arrangements and getting their pace right; things you don't want to be doing in a studio that's costing lots of money. If it's with a producer you've never met, this can be a valuable time in which to get to know them (and decide if you like them). Luckily we're good friends with the producer (Dave Eringa) and have made several records with him already, so in very non-Metallica style we spend the time between working on the songs huddled around the camping heater, looking at photographs of Dave's son dressed as Batman, and comparing what we had for Christmas dinner.

I've often wondered what it would be like to be a record producer: spending long periods away from your family, frequently trapped in windowless rooms in rural studios with people you barely know, often struggling to get them to express themselves in their songs. Also, the huge amount of knowledge needed about engineering, guitar sounds, amplifiers, microphones, effects etc. On top of all this, they need to be able to counsel dysfunctional band members and keep relations up.


There are plenty of positives, though: playing a part in what hopefully turn out to be great records; the financial rewards if a record sells well; the fame and acclaim that great record producers receive. Jerry Wexler, George Martin, Brian Eno and Phil Spector are all synonymous with a sound and an era, and a good producer plays an important role in shaping the sounds of the time.

Like much of the music industry, though, production is being hit by the fact a still-growing number of people would rather not pay for an album-worth of songs, and instead download it for free. So the producer, like the songwriter, studio owner, etc, has to be extremely resourceful. For a producer, that means longer hours in even smaller windowless rooms for a whole lot less. A few have already cut their losses and got other jobs, which is a shame.

Still, I'm thinking along more optimistic lines. We're chiselling away at our tunes in our workshop, making something that will hopefully sound good and give people pleasure. Put like this, production seems a strong and worthy occupation. And there's not a group therapist in sight.

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Roddy's latest Sunday Herald piece for anyone still reading...:up:

Sunday Herald: Arts: Culture

Roddy Woomble

France rocks

AHH, PARIS in January. I have an image of myself strolling down the left bank of the Seine in a black pea coat (collar turned up), a bruised paperback edition of Sartre's Nausea in my back pocket and a baguette under my arm, while puffing nonchalantly on a Gauloise. Like a still from a Jean-Luc Godard film, this image is the stuff that French romance is made of. The reality, of course, is far different, as I roll off the end of the moving walkway into the main terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport bedecked in Berghaus gear, and holding my son's cuddly yellow duck. I'm in France not to play a concert, but on babysitting duties, while my wife and her band play at the Tendance Festival held in the Maison de la Culture which translates, if my Higher French serves me correctly, as the Culture House.

Unfortunately the concert is not actually in Paris, but 80 miles north in the city of Amiens. France is having its coldest snap for years, and it's minus five as we hit the road north. The taxi ride is going well until the driver takes both hands off the wheel on the motorway to try and shut his broken window. Everyone else has fallen asleep, but I think it's my gasp of alarm that prompts him to reluctantly pull over in the next lay-by to fix it, while he mutters away in French. He's probably talking about me but I can't understand a word, so I pretend he's cursing the sky in true existentialist style.

Endless fields fill the view towards Amiens; fields where the first world war was fought. Arriving in the city with a few hours to kill we head for the old part of town to visit Amiens Cathedral. It's colder in here than it is outside, but that adds to the crystal echo, the click of heels on the marble, and the murmurs of tourists. This is France's largest Gothic cathedral and the scale is daunting; it's hard to imagine that men built it, in the 11th century. Above the nave, the roof stretches longingly towards the sky, and I suppose (for those who believe in it) heaven. This must have been the intention when the cathedral was built, and the motivation of those building it: to play their part in creating something divine, grand and important.


According to my guide leaflet, the impetus for building the cathedral was to house the head of John the Baptist. It's unclear whether it is still here. A 19th-century replica is still a focus for prayer, says the leaflet, so I don't know what happened to the original head. I decide to light a candle, but don't have any euros, so I leave 1 (surely there is no currency in heaven). I leave, thankfully avoiding being struck by a lightning bolt.

Back at the venue, I settle into the backstage babysitter routine, pushing the pram around the dressing room, while downstairs the band rock out in front of French teenagers. I get the odd disparaging look from a French roadie. But, as the old clich goes - c'est la vie. I knew my French would come in handy eventually.

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