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Miller and Hartford

Friday 5 July 2013, 10:03

Ricky Ross Ricky Ross Presenter

Miller and Hartford. Estate agents? The core of the late seventies Scotland side? Keep reading

It’s a late train coming home west to Glasgow and I’m thinking about some of the people I’ve encountered over the last few days. Perhaps the most amazing musical moment was standing on the side of the stage at Glastonbury’s Acoustic Tent last Saturday evening with my son, Seamus, Gregor Philp and my manager, Tom O’Rourke. All of us were watching one of my great heroes, Steve Winwood put in a quite extraordinary shift with his band for an hour or so. The remarkable bit was the sheer skill of musicianship on show. Stevie was playing hammond, electric guitar and singing. That voice! Where was the bass coming from? None of us could work it out until Gregor stopped us all in our tracks; Steve was doing all of this and playing the bass parts on the hammond foot pedals. Some guy. I think it’s really important not to forget about where music came from and who brought it to us. Stevie’s one of these men and we’re grateful to them, that’s why I want to talk about other great musicians that we overlook at our peril, but still on Glastonbury:

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Alabama Shakes perform Hang Loose at Glastonbury 2013
It was great watching all of that through the eyes of my 12 year old son. He was mesmerised by the drummer and continued to be taken by the whole Glastonbury experience. If you haven’t been I can recommend it. Even I, a long time festival sceptic was quite taken by the whole affair. Hundreds of thousands of people in a small area but rather than getting territorial about space or privacy people seem to go about their weekend with a great deal of grace and community cohesion. Litter is picked up, courtesy is shown and the benefit of the doubt extended where possible. I was impressed.

Good too to see the variety of music on show. I didn’t see that much – I find a gig a day enough – so catching two or three acts is quite a big deal – but what I saw was really good.However I’m always going to feel I’d rather be hearing whatever it is I’m hearing in a hall rather than a field and with 49,000 or so less people in the room.

I’m getting close to my holidays and it’s got me thinking that there’s a couple of outstanding things I wanted to explore with you before the good Roddy comes to keep you company in my absence. Many moons ago I suggested I wanted to delve a little into the music and story of Roger Miller. I also expressed an interest in finding out more about the life and times of John Hartford. Coincidentally a new book about John has just come out and so I thought it would be a good week to play some of his diverse writing and playing.

We’ll also explore Roger Miller’s remarkable career. Remarkable because he broke two commonly held rules of country. He wrote nearly all of his own songs and hits completely on his own and he also became a British household name because of one enormously successful song. There’s no real connection between them, other than they are both truly great. But there’s a wee bit of common ground over this character:

We’ll have lots of new things too including something from the rather lovely new album by Alela Diane, Shovels and Rope, Roddy Woomble and Mavis Staples. It’s going to be good, so join me if you can on Friday evening at 8 on BBC Radio Scotland.


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