Friday, May 12, 2017

Musical Memories of Glasgow

Nearly a week on, as the blogger that turned out the lights on the wildly successful Scotland summit, I can't help but think this weekend might not quite live up to the last one. I take solace in the friendships that were formed and the memories that will linger forevermore. The visit was perfect in every way, and I can't thank our Glaswegian hosts enough. They even somehow arranged nice weather. Who comes home from Glasgow with a tan? Most of my peers have already written about the weekend better than I ever could, but I thought I had better get a few things on the record before time and retelling blows everything all out of proportion. I mean, how long before Dirk's claim that eight out of 10 girls he saw on Saturday afternoon looked like models becomes 10 out of 10? Here are a few stops along the way that meant a lot to me.

Do you recognize the address 185 West Princes Street? Flat 2/R of the rather nondescript building was home to Alan Horne's Postcard Records. JC and I stopped there on Sunday night just as the sun was setting for the evening and on the entire trip. As I stood there thinking about Edwyn, Roddy, Paul and Malcolm passing in and out of that doorway with the world on a string, I was struck by how there was nothing on the building to mark what had occurred there in 1980 and '81. This should be a landmark with some kind of signage on the second floor on the outer facade. Everything happened on the second floor, and the distance from the ground may keep sticky-fingered fans from stealing the plaque. This project is a labor of love I'm seriously considering.

On Saturday night, I heard JC tell Strangeways I'm a Glaswegian at heart. It's true. Scotland is my favorite place on earth. Why? Three reasons. The people. The music. The climate. Not necessarily in that order. That's why my chance meetings with pop stars was so exciting. Many of my favorite labels and bands call Scotland home, and they have always seemed so far away. Running into any of them on the street or in a pub seemed so unlikely to me, but it's different in Glasgow. Everyone seems to know each other and is so approachable and friendly.

As you can see above, I met a Bluebell. That's Ken McCluskey. Fortunately, I met him fairly early in the day and was still coherent enough to tell him about discovering the Bluebells through the self-titled EP Sire put out in North America in 1983. If I had seen him just a couple of hours earlier, he would have seen a 12" extended version of "Cath" under my arm, one of several purchases made at Missing. Would have loved to have had him sign it. You might notice Ken is sporting an Electric Honey T-shirt. Ken co-runs the famous in-house label of Glasgow Kelvin College, and JC and I both picked up their latest release, 'Any Joy' by Pronto Mama.

One thing quickly learned in Glasgow was you never walk by a pub... you walk through it. Upon our very next pub stop after meeting a Blubell, JC introduced me to David MacGregor of Kid Canaveral. I had the privilege of telling the frontman I literally listen to him every single day. "Good Morning" from the 2010 debut album 'Shouting at Wildlife' is the song that wakes me up. Try it some time. Great way to start the day. David gave me a vinyl copy of the album, which I'm holding in the above photo. When he handed it to me, I let him know when I visited Scotland for the first time in 2012 the first thing I did when I got off the plane was pick up 'Shouting at Wildlife' on CD at the now defunct Avalanche Records in Edinburgh.

On Saturday morning, I hoped to right a wrong from five years ago. Many of you know my story of visiting Stephen Pastel's record shop called Monorail. I went in to buy the first album from Veronica Falls, and it just so happened to be the very album Stephen put on as I was approaching the counter. I handed him the album I wanted to to buy, and he smiled when he saw it. It was the perfect opening for me to introduce myself and tell him what an honor it was to meet him. Maybe even talk to him about his music. I froze. Not a single word was passed during the transaction, and I have been filled with regret ever since.

When our gang arrived on Saturday, it appeared Stephen wasn't there. I was a little disappointed but excited to thumb through the racks. Just about the time I hit the letter T, I looked up from the records to see Stephen saunter in. I nearly jumped out of my shoes. Then I had a quick check of my pals having a cup of tea in the next room. They had been watching me the whole time, and I guess my reaction lived up to expectations because they were all smiles. Happy to report I didn't freeze this time. Stephen complimented me on picking up 'Paperback Ghosts' from Comet Gain, and I was able to tell what his contributions to music meant to me. Weight lifted.

Just outside of Monorail, the bloggers reconvened for tea. Out of nowhere, the Glasgow contingent began passing out gifts to the out-of-towners. It felt like Christmas. There were Postcard T-shirts (one I didn't already have!), personally chosen 7" Northern Soul singles from Drew of Across the Kitchen Table (based on our past positive comments on his blog), the new Butcher Boy 7" and either a music book or CD. Why? Hmm, didn't think to ask. Too busy bug-eyed over my signed copy of Close Lobsters' 'Firestation Towers' set from JC. On Sunday, he shared the story of how he pulled off the feat, and it's quite an involved tale that will be told another time, but I will say I was rolling when he said, "So I was standing outside my house waiting for a Close Lobster, as you do..." All in all, I didn't spend all that much time in record shops. Yet, I came home with a bounty that included five LPs, two CDs, eight 7" singles, three 12" singles and one 10" EP, many of them gifted to me by pals or pop stars. Surreal. The music should make for a plethora of future posts.

This is a music blog, and that's what I focused on here. If you were part of the summit, you know music may have brought us together, but that's not really what our time together was all about. It was the camaraderie. It was the culture. It was the shitty third-tier Scottish football. It was the drinking. Let me repeat. It was the drinking. It was toasting our blogging friends, guest writers and brilliant commenters that couldn't be with us. It was the stories. It was tightening the binds that were already there. Even though many of us had never met before, we were all already old friends... and it felt like it. I, for one, can't wait for the second summit.

The Bluebells - "Some Sweet Day"
Kid Canaveral - "Good Morning"
The Pastels - "Not Unloved"
Close Lobsters - "Let's Make Some Plans"


Echorich said...

Talk about making the best of an already great thing Brian! Again you get much respect for glad handing the celebs like a good American!!

Charity Chic said...

Wonderfully written Brian.
The stuff of legends

Swiss Adam said...

Great post Brian. The Postcard Records office should have been seen by all of us really. Next time.

George said...

Your lines about summoning up the courage to talk to Stephen Pastel sound like a scene from one of those films when The Boy finally talks to The Girl. Great piece of writing, Brian

drew said...

Very good Brian. It was indeed a great weekend. It was quite amazing how we all clicked.

Weather is back to normal, rain and I'm heading up to Alloa, in the hope of a bit better second teir football next season we can but dream.

Dirk said...

Summed up perfectly well, Brian, very much looking forward to the next meeting!

JTFL said...

CANNOT WAIT to join in next time. Truly a pleasure to read this post, Brian.

The Swede said...

What a fabulous post Brian, truly heartwarming.

C said...

Post perfection!

Jez said...

Oh man alive, I wish I could've made it to this. It looks like all concerned had a blast. So glad your super long trip was worth it Walter. Jez.

Walter said...

Wonderful post that sums all. Looking really forward to our next gathering

JC said...

My previous lengthy effort to contribute here is flaoting somewhere in cyberspace, ruined by the fact I was trying to do so by phone when travelling on a train with the wi-fi signal coming and going.

"Even though many of us had never met before, we were all already old friends... and it felt like it"

Those few words nail it perfectly.

I haven't stopped talking about our adventures to everyone for the past two weeks and I also relived some of it with Comrade Colin at The Goon Sax gig last night (I was standing watching them from roughly the same spot we were sitting with our hangovers as you spoke to Stephen).

It was a real joy and pleasure to catch up with you again, and it's great knowing its very unlikely to be the last time.