Let There Be Love - Roddy's Valentine Blog
It should go without saying that I love you all, so I begin with an apology. Caught in the maelstrom that was Celtic Connections 2013, I cruelly neglected the one thing that brings any true joy into my life: this blog. In amongst the fretting, numb panic, rehearsing, late night Festival Club “research”, more rehearsing, and finally gigging (all wrapped in a general lack of meaningful sleep), I felt the unmistakable pang of guilt reminding me I could well be letting down the three or four of you who might actually read (never mind enjoy) this thing. But I do hope you’ll forgive me. Because for most Scottish musicians, and indeed an increasing number of international artists, Celtic Connections is becoming an all-consuming start to the year. Gone are the post Christmas blues, replaced instead by two weeks of majestic music making which serves to remind us that a sense of togetherness through song can banish even the darkest days of our very Scottish existence.
And this year was certainly no exception – as well as my own engagements with my band’s EP launch, and “curating” the inaugural Roaming Roots Revue (a night in the spirit of Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, with Amy Helm, LAU, Low Anthem and more) – the 20th anniversary of the festival kicked up a gear and brought in a whole slew of acts from around the world for our musical pleasure. Vincente Amigo, Cara Dillon, Manran, Cowboy Junkies, Anais Mitchell, Washington Irving, Kate Rusby, Paul Brady, Sarah Jarosz, and Martha Wainwright were just some of the great artists thrown into the big Celtic melting pot this year, thrilling audiences to the tune of almost £1.1 million ticket sales.
For me, the highlight was the Michael Marra tribute at the Concert Hall in Glasgow – an emotionally charged show that more than did justice to the formidable skills of the irreverent and wildly eclectic songwriting maestro from Lochee. His daughter Alice set collective hairs standing on necks with her lovely version of her late father’s own favourite composition “Monkey Hair”, ensuring there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It seems to go without saying that Michael would have wondered what all the fuss was about, but also that he would have been immensely proud such was the affection and love in the room that night. Which brings me back to love. It’s all you need. A many splendored thing. All around. And yet for every song that serves to remind us of its rose-tinted wonders – or repeat the word so often that it wears it down to almost nothingness – there are plenty more that offer us the more cautionary of tales. Love can, after all, be tainted or tear us apart. It can make one man weep, and another man sing. Which to believe? Well, it is Valentines Day so at this time of highly manipulated consumerism, florists and card shops are hoping your heartstrings will be sufficiently tugged by the more sentimental of ditties to inspire you to reach for your wallet. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the best love songs are the obvious ones. Often the truest are the most naked, uncompromising and downright dirty retellings of unrequited love and relationships turned sour.
So, for The Roddy Hart Show this week we will celebrate love with our Alternative Valentines Night. Whilst Marvin Gaye as our Live On Arrival may give you a clue that it won’t all be doom and gloom, we will certainly endeavor to bring you those lesser heard legends that cut straight to the affairs of the heart. So, we’ll hear from artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Bright Eyes, Father John Misty, We Are Augustines, Tom Waits and more. It’s an anti-love in of sorts, but with its heart in the right place. And it’s all on BBC Radio Scotland, this Thursday at 10.05pm.
So I do hope you’ll accept my apology for my enforced absence of late, and that we can get our relationship back on track. After all, love is the answer, and you know that for sure.