Not that I need an excuse to feature fellow Philosopher's Stone band member Julie Adams on 'Dead Man Talking' - but having the Presidential election this week seemed the ideal opportunity to introduce my favourite East Tennessee musician to Strachan McQuade. He's not exactly what you'd call a Ladies Man, so I hoped having this opportunity to work with a gal would keep him on his best behaviour and perhaps encourage him to wear his best aftershave (Eau de Formaldehyde).
Anyway - a quick word of introduction - Julie plays flute and has featured on albums such as 'Through A Whisky Glass Darkly', 'Abbey Tapes:The Exorcism' and the new Columbus Road album 'Red Kite'. She hails from East Tennessee and goes swimming with Elvis twice a week. Well, that's what I thought she said. That southern drawl is sure easy on the ears but sometimes I don't understand a word.
|Strachan McQuade R.I.P|
McQuade: Welcome to Dead Man Talking, Ms Adams. You’re the first American to appear on our showcase slot. Better late than never, I suppose. Which funnily enough is exactly what I said halfway through the Second World War. From my notes I see you are a flatulist. I imagine that guarantees you a dressing room all to yourself when performing at concerts and the like. Do you eat special foods to achieve that windy state of maximum abdominal combustion? Or do you suffer with gall stones?
McQuade: My late wife often said I had the most beautiful organ. I played it in church every Sunday. Anyway, as our (so far) token American guest, I’d like to personally thank you for certain enhancements your country has kindly bestowed upon the world. Among these I would list – The Sextant, Rock and Roll, Electric Light Bulb, Toilet Paper, Bubble Gum and Moon Walking. On the down side you also gave us Government Funded Terrorism and Hydrogen Bombs. As a representative of your country which two items of Americana are you most proud of? Before answering, take my sound advice and don’t list George W Bush as one of your choices. Or TV – as that was a Scottish invention.
Adams: Ah you are very welcome, though I think we'd have to share billing with the Brits for rock n roll. But Americans can claim full responsibility for jazz and for the electric guitar, both proud accomplishments. If I can choose a third it would be blue jeans.
McQuade: It’s a big election week over there in the States where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are going head-to-head to see who gets the executive wash-room key for the Oval office. Which candidate are you backing? Personally I like Romney for no other reason than he reminds me of Darrin the good-natured but rather dim-witted husband in the old television series, Bewitched.
|Is that the Kremlin on the line?|
McQuade: Some cynics (of whom I most definitely am one) would say Watson had an ulterior motive in scheduling your appearance on this high quality showcase feature. The motive in question being to give a nepotistic plug to the audio book of December, Phil Rickman’s classic tale of spooky going-ons involving a psychic folk-rock band named Philosopher’s Stone. It appears you played flute on the CD entitled Abbey Tapes:The Exorcism from which selected music is being incorporated into the Isis audio book. Would you like to go ahead and shamelessly plug this merchandise? I’ll give you two minutes, starting now.
Adams: I love any chance to spread the word about the Abbey Tapes: The Exorcism album which came out last December. Phil's novel, December, was published in 1996 and had gone out of print despite being a sort of cult favorite among mystery and ghost story readers. As you may know, the novel includes bits of lyrics and song titles written by the characters Tom, Dave, Moira and Simon who recorded the infamous 'Black Album' tapes, able to melt stereo equipment and drive a listener to ruin. But Mansion House was publishing a new edition and Allan Watson and Phil Rickman, after the success of their Lol Robinson and Hazey Jane albums (music from the Merrily Watkins novels), decided to complete the Philosopher's Stone songs. You can read my article and see the album art and liner notes on my blog: http://brightjul.wordpress.com
The songs are just gorgeous and won't drive you crazy, I'm living proof. (Editor – Really? I’m not fooled for a moment) The album includes a sort of surprise ending, adding an uplifting last chapter to the novel. Allan recruited friends on many continents to contribute to the music, including musicians in the UK, Germany and the US. That's me on flute and Cheryl Reid singing on 'The Comb Song', Moira's tale of the discovery of her powers handed down to her from her Celtic and gypsy heritage. That song figures in Phil's books The Man in the Moss as well as in December.Phil’s page has a song clip http://www.philrickman.co.uk/pages/Shop.html and buying info.
So this December the audio book version is due from Isis Publishing, read by Sean Barrett! We're all excited about that because 6 tracks from the album will be included in the audio, possibly the first of its kind ever. There's a clip from the audio book here: http://soundcloud.com/ulverscroft/december-by-phil-rickman
McQuade: (listening to Moira Anderson on his Walkman) Finished yet? Good. Here in the west of Scotland, playing the flute is associated with dressing up in a stupid uniform, getting drunk and playing tunes that commemorate a dreary battle in Ireland where someone in a wig pranced around on a white horse. Probably far too hot in Tennessee for that sort of nonsense. So what other flutey projects are you involved in?
Adams: Allan used a flute track in his beautiful song, 'Through a Whisky Glass Darkly' and I've sent him some tracks for some upcoming Candy Seance and Columbus Road cds he's doing, so I'm excited about that. It is a new experience for me just making something up because I'd always had the music to read. But I do play by ear so it is a lot of fun. Allan is great to encourage his friends in their creative endeavors (Editor - yes he is, isn't he). My dream is to play live at a Hazey Jane II event.
I also play in the jazz band at Tennessee Wesleyan College where I'm a librarian. We have about 8 students and 4 faculty members and we practice once a week and perform occasionally on and off campus. And I practice on my own, playing some exercises and classical stuff. You've got to learn that Mozart, Telemann, Debussy, and Bolling....
|The lovely Kenneth McKellar|
Adams:Hmmm since my interviewer is already on "the other side", I assume some of my supergroup can be as well, so I'll pick Richard Thompson, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny and Dave Swarbrick. Maybe you've met them, Strachan?
McQuade: Met them? Never even heard of them. What a waste of time that question was. Well, thank you for your time and trouble, madam. Despite some of your lacklustre answers I'd like to present you with this lawn mower to take home with you. I think there's possibly something is wrong with the motor as it hasn't worked for quite some time and was taking up room in my coal bunker. Well, that's put the Presidential election to bed. May the best man win (yawn).