Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Beatcroft Social, Saturday 16 September 2017. For Hugh Docherty; remembering Colin and Pearl

Och, it's seven or so years since that picture was taken, at a lay-by on the A77, just before the Kilmarnock turn-off. Hugh had met me and Rob Allanson (we were on borrowed Triumph Street Triples; I nearly totalled mine at the Bushmills Distillery, but that's another story) near Carrbridge and accompanied us south. We were heading for Wigtown, but everything went a bit pear-shaped near Stirling, with Rob zooming off by accident towards Edinburgh, and the weather turning frightful. Hugh had been planning to come to Wigtown with us (Rob and me were heading off to Ireland afterwards) but went off to his hometown of Kilmarnock instead. This is where we said goodbye.

And now we have to say goodbye to Hugh forever. He was an extraordinary character, absolute stalwart supporter of the Tom Morton afternoon and evening shows on Radio Scotland, organiser of FOTTOMERS (Friends of the Tom Morton Evening Radio Show). I talk a bit about him on this week's Beatcroft but there was so much more to say: his tales of offshore engineering, his musical adventures, motorcycling and stewarding at East Fortune, the cars, the crack, the characters. Those fantastic tales of derring-do in Volvo P1800s and Ford Mustangs. Incredible antics on helicopters over the North Sea. What happened at the Isle of Man. The guitars, the gigs.

Hugh was kind, wild, thoughtful, generous, extreme, cautious, careful, completely over the top. There were shows he single-handedly rescued from tedium. Entertainment was his middle name. I twice nearly bought a bike from him, latterly a Honda Hornet which was all set to go on the boat north until there was a serious problem loading it onto a trailer at Hugh's home. In retrospect, I wondered whether it was the first sign of the illness that would lead to where we are now. Once, he nearly bought a bike from me. He frequently tried to interest me in buying one of his campervans.

I'll miss him. His zest for life, his taste in music, his spirit of adventure. I've been trying to find pictures of the FOTTOMERS Malt and Barley Revue gig at Eurocentral, but perhaps this one sums up the spirit of the man. Much missed. Ride on.

This week's Beatcroft Social playlist - Spotify playlist is further down

Call Mother a Lonely Field - Jackie Leven
Don't Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll - Long John Baldry
Ancient Jules - Steve Gunn
Heavy Heartless - Neon Waltz
Laundromat - Rory Gallagher
Motorcycle Emptiness - Manic Street Preachers
Walkin' My Cat Named Dog - Norma Tanega
People Get Ready - The Chambers Brothers
I Just Don't Have The Time - Randall Bramblett
Theme For An Imaginary Western - Jack Bruce
Avenging Annie - Andy Pratt
Indianapolis - The Bottle Rockets
Back In The Night - Dr. Feelgood
Ain't Wastin' Time No More - The Allman Brothers Band
This Ain't New York - Mercy John
Travelling Riverside Blues -  Led Zeppelin
Come On In My Kitchen - Robert Johnson
Divine Intervention - Matthew Sweet
God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind) - Etta James
Wandering Boy - Randy Newman
Excuse Me Mister - John Martyn
Diamonds On the Inside - Ben Harper
Whenever You're On My Mind - Marshall Crenshaw
Vagabond Moon - Willie Nile
Turtleneck - The National
Into My Arms - Shelby Lynne

Red Right Hand -  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Friday, September 08, 2017

The Beatcroft Social, 9 September: Remembering Walter Becker via Steely Dan's earliest days, celebrating the rhythm guitar and more...



Steely Dan were always for the more cerebral among us, which kinda left me behind with my Uriah Heep,  Steeleye Span (easy ordering mistake to make, maw) and Led Zep albums. The truth is, I always loved the very early stuff, from hearing 'Dallas' (still very difficult to find on CD and vinyl) the first single, on a Probe Records sampler which I still have. Don't get me wrong, I later grew to love Donald Fagen's voice, but David Palmer on 'Dallas' and 'Dirty Work' is fantastic. He went on to co-write with Carole King after Fagen's voice 'grew strong enough' for live work. And he's still around.


Becker of course, departed the planet this week. While I've always found some of the Dan's work cold and, with its self-conscious virtuosity, alienating, I loved chunks of it and I will always remember a first family trip to Florida when we hired a massive SUV and headed from Miami to Orlando, a CD of Steely Dan's Greatest Hits providing the perfect accompaniment to freeway driving.

Meanwhile, this week has seen Shetland beginning the withering into winter with the first equinoctial gales. As you can see below, I did manage a splendid trip out on the electric bike, the ideal mode of travel for gentlemen of a certain age. Though it's coming up for end-of-motorbike season, which means there could be an MZ or BMW GS going cheap. Keeping an eye out anyway.

This week's playlist follows. 'Dallas' isn't on Spotify.

Dallas - Steely Dan
Biloxi - Hiss Golden Messenger
Biloxi - Ian Matthews
Biloxi Parish - The Gaslight Anthem
Never Been a Captain - The Barr Brothers
Jersey Girl - Hell Blues Choir
Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
Help You Ann - Lyres
Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window - Wilko Johnson
Midnight Train - David Rawlings
Johannesburg - Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson
Sabrina - The Stray Birds
Beautiful Scars - Blackie & The Rodeo Kings
If You Want Blood (You've Got It) - AC/DC
Crossroads - Gurf Morlix
The Hook - Stephen Malkmus
A Life Of Illusion - Joe Walsh
Dirty Work - Steely Dan
Time to Pretend - MGMT
Iron Sky - Paolo Nutini
Survival Car - Fountains Of Wayne
Who's Got A Match? - Biffy Clyro
Hedy Lamarr - Findlay Napier
Standing Over Elvis - Paul Brand
Rescue - The Legendary Hearts
Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson
Living For The City - Stevie Wonder

There She Goes, My Beautiful World - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds



Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Not run-of-the-mill: A wee electrobike jaunt to Eshaness and secret Tangwick

A bright, beautiful, slightly windy day and so it was off on the hill-smoothing, gust-busting electrobike up to Eshaness, where I was distracted by the usual dreadlocked ponies. With the lighthouse and cliffs looking a tad too tourist-tastic I diverted down the Tangwick road...
Get lost. I know you have no carrots

...There to see, as I had done many times previously, the tiny sign 'to watermill'. I'd always thought it signified the usual clutter of stones along a burn where grain had been milled in the past on quernstones, but feeling more curious than usual, I trundled along the track until a  line of posts led into what seemed like remotest bog...

Walk from here. Bike is great - limited to 15.5 mph on batteries but freewheeled to 36 mph going downhill
....then there appeared two carefully-constructed wooden walkways and a bridge, plus a stone, turf-roofed building. There was the sound of rushing water. After yesterday's torrential downpour, no surprise. A notice explained that, a decade previously, with grant aid from some of the usual suspects (who had money for this sort of thing, back then) the Hillswick and Eshaness Area Regeneration and Development Association had restored (and essentially reconstructed) the watermill to full functionality.
The daily grind
                                ...though the millstones weren't actually going round and round,  because the horizontal mill wheel was jammed, either deliberately or through rustiness. Was I tempted to crawl in there and see if I could get it (and the stones) turning? Momentarily. The sensation passed.
If only I'd had some WD40...
.and so it was back on the bike for the return trip. Alas, the Braewick Café was shut, but Martha had left some of her excellent espresso chocolate cupcakes in the fridge at home. Of which, relatively guilt-free, I duly partook.

View from Braewick towards the Drongs

Friday, September 01, 2017

The Beatcroft Social - Shawn, Mark, Angela and Neil - Special Shetland Visitors' Edition

It's been quite a week - Shawn and Mark from Virginia, Neil from Crieff and Angela from Auchtermuchty came to visit - long-term friends of the various TM radio shows, and I thought it'd be good to get some song choices from them for the show. Actually, Mark and Shawn put together their own celebratory show for the visit which you can find on last week's posting here - every song themed to 'radio'.
Oh, and I can't resist pointing out to the powers that think they know about promotion that Angela, Mark and Shawn have all considered moving to Shetland - and only because they discovered the place through the radio shows and the Promote Shetland webcams.

           
 Shawn, as you will hear, chose several songs, which is fine, and I think you'll enjoy this "visitors' selection", along with my own. I can't get Richard Thompson's 'Guns Are The Tongues' out of my head at the moment'. And the new David Rawlings album, Poor David's Almanack, is marvellous.
           
Just a quick word for two of the 'Fottomers' team who haven't been well recently - the founder of it all, Hugh Docherty, and Edward Johnson-Ott over in Indianapolis. Thinking about them. And in a week when most media attention has been on the awful flooding in Texas and now Louisiana, the last track - Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood - is also a call to remember the thousands who have died and the hundreds of thousands affected by terrible flooding in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Beatcroft Social for 26 August 2017: Tom Morton's weekly musical meditation on Sheffield synth-pop, crunchy Modern-Lovers-influenced indie sarcasm, arty detours, earnest hollers, much twanging in the Shetland peat bogs, and loud thumping noises to boot...

Summer slipped away this week. Shetland had two gloriously warm, sunny and ferociously midgey days, and then, as the nights began to make their darkness felt properly for the first time, the clouds descended, the rain started falling and then the wind began to blow.

Anyway, here's the show. The Spotify playlist is at the bottom of the page,  just after the lyric which in fact marked the last BBC late-night show I did, more than two years ago now. I'm still thrilled by so much music, new and old, and was thoroughly inspired by reading this Quietus piece by Joe Thompson of the band Hey Colossus.

Enjoy. Next week I hope to include some chat with longstanding listeners and visitors to Shetland Mark Buff and Shawn Morton, who have come all the way from Virginia. They have their own radio show on Mixcloud, available here: Remember you can get in touch via Twitter @thebeatcroft or on Facebook

That Sound

Seven inches of plastic
Or 12 if I have the time
10 inches of shellac
Never eight or nine
45 or 33 and a third
78 rpm
Even if you don’t like numbers
Remember them

Watch the needle dropping down
Watch the record going round 
Everything you’ve ever lost 
Everything you’ve ever found
Is in that sound

People say I’m stuck in a  groove
I don’t care
Everything I need to hear
Is there

Talk about jumping, pops and clicks and hiss
Those are the things I always miss
I remember every scratch, every listening lover
Every joint that was rolled  on the cover
Take a sapphire or a diamond
You need a precious stone
To get the music from the holy
Gramophone

Watch the needle dropping down
Watch the record going round 
Everything you’ve ever lost 
Everything you’ve ever found
Is in that sound