Music is one of those things in life. You need it. You buzz off it. You get emotion from it. You pay for it. You love it. BUT only if its good. That’s the general rule. Good in music could mean anything. It could be good because of a good singer, clever lyrics, it reminds you of a time or a person, it could be good just because the person making the music has got talent. In my life I can justify everyone of those reasons for music being good at some point or other. Sometimes all of them together make music good. Let’s face it even shit music can be good, the number of times I’ve danced to a George Michael song proves that. When you see a band on Top of The Pops they could be shite, when you see a band down your local it could be the best band in the world. Not even success can change whether music is good or not. Often the best music is that which hasn’t been heard by the masses. If it’s good it’s just fucking good, OK?
I’ve mentioned bands that make me tick a few times before, Oasis being the one that has had success, equally the band I had the joy of managing, The Waves were bloody good as well. People with a passion for life will always produce good music. Enter Scott Gordon, and an acoustic folk band called ‘Wee Blue Folk’. This is music. This is good music. It deserves to be heard.
I first met Scott Gordon as he joined and quickly became a prominent member of the South of England Northern Ireland football Supporters Club, which I had set up in 2005. By coincidence Scott was living close by in Bournemouth’s Southbourne district and is the sort of character who will be liked and loved no matter whether he tries or not, or whether he cares. He normally doesn’t and when he does he doesn’t care if you care or not. Scott is a Belfast man with a working class Northern Ireland accent untouched by outside influences or forces. So much so that his name becomes Scatt, so ye know where we’re coming from, rayt? Add to Scott, Englishmen Simon and Dave and you have ‘Wee Blue Folk’. This is music and this is music that is good. You can work out why yourself.
For me, I love music which means something and represents something that relates to my life. Here are some things that ‘Wee Blue Folk’ have written about: late nights drinking, getting on a train to somewhere, a football genius, getting what you want in life, not getting what you want in life. These things are familiar to a lot of us, probably more so to men who like a drink, a football match, freedom from their missus and a laugh. Generally Scott (who is the main songwriter) writes songs about things that mean something in life to him or his immediate circle. I have never asked him, I just worked it out. Kurt Cobain wrote songs about depression, Ian Curtis wrote about suicide, Noel Gallagher wrote about escaping Manchester to see how amazing the world is, Paul McCartney wrote about frogs. Well you get what I mean…
I first heard of ‘Wee Blue Folk’ in April 2006. I had just came back from an AFC Bournemouth football match and met up with the boys down the pub (Malt & Hops in Southbourne) and they told me about the band. With modern technology these days music goes online and ‘Wee Blue Folk’ are on MySpace. Four tunes on their for your listening pleasure. I know all the guys in the band pretty well and have been at a few jamming sessions (often held in Scott’s kitchen with beer and whiskey a mandatory side order), experiencing that life in the band is much more surreal than a 40 minute set would have you believe. There’s planning, there’s fuck ups, there’s bonding, there’s comedy, there’s disagreements, but what is most important is there’s music. Since then I’ve been to a few gigs and try my best to attend them all. At the very least it’s a night out, a few beers, decent music and talking shite to people who enjoy themselves and who knows the odd sexual flirtation with the barmaid of choice on that particular evening could always lead to a venue for love. When was life about anything else?
In 2007, on my first week back living in Bournemouth after a whirlwind world tour and busy days in London, I turned up in The Winchester (formerly Bar Tonka) on Poole Hill, Bournemouth for their gig. As ever the enigmatic and enthusiastic Scott Gordon lifted the crowd with his blend of comedy, passion and music which, if it doesn’t inspire you, then close your fucking ears. The band through commitments etc. have played a wide range of gigs all over the south of England, which have included Birthday Parties, Appearances at AFC Bournemouth football stadium, The Larmer Tree Festival, Bars, Acoustic Nights and just to anyone who loves music and a beer down the pub. In fact the first three times I saw them were:
1. Acoustic Band Session in Scott’s Kitchen (February 2007)
2. Acoustic Live Radio Session on my own show on FM (March 2007)
3. Live at Devil’s Music Night in The Winchester (September 2007)
(I could be wrong there and may need corrected, but my memory is pretty good)
Scott is the vocalist and mixes lead and rhythm guitar with main and backing vocals to a point where you know he would do all four at the same time if he had enough hands, mouths and guitars. It blends with Dave’s Harmonica sounds and Simon’s Bass to provide a unique mix of music in an age where most musicians just want to be the next Coldplay (I only play their music when it’s cold incidentally I thought that was the whole point). ‘Wee Blue Folk’ fit songs for all seasons into a set which even has me wondering how many cover versions featured. Normally it’s less than two.
Highlights of the ‘Wee Blue Folk’ catalogue for me are the simple ‘Last Train to Somewhere’. In that song, you can almost picture a pop video where Gordon himself catches a train, stares at his watch and thinks “What the fuck?” as he opens a tin of beer and breathes a sigh of release. Not relief, release. I should also add that whether the beer is warm or cold shouldn’t matter to Gordon, who enjoys each sip as if we are watching the best of Maradona on an old Betamax player (Maradona gets a mention here out of self non-pity that his talent was eclipsed by George Best and Bestie will get an honourable mention later. I kind of hate talking about the Falklands War…). Either way you’d want to be on that last train with him, as he offers you a beer without budging an eyelid. Not even Gordon or his band even care where the hell the train is heading. It’s just the last train to somewhere. In fact it may not even be a train. This could all be a big trick and you’re actually launching a corner kick high into the air to salvage a point in a relegation scrap in the Carnegie Irish League against a wind so fierce that The Empire State Building curves into an obvious banana shape. Remember it’s music, it can be anything you want it to be. Personally I’m on Gordon’s train. It could even be the Beatles “Get a ticket; stand in line” muses Gordon, though somehow it could even be ‘Ticket to Ride’ mark two. But I’ll not compare those two songs any longer. I own both records and they’re both good, in their own ways. There is something eloquent about writing a song based on a train journey.
When I was young I was kind of told by my Dad to respect my elders, now I’m a flawed man as I don’t always, but sometimes a lack of respect for those older than you can mean you lose your own respect from them. Similarly saying please and thank you and smiling isn’t hard? It’s manners. Yes we all swear and yes we all do things that are wrong, but it’s nice to say please and thank you now and then. ‘Wee Blue Folk’ address this in a “did they just say that?” sort of way. Gordon is truly appalled at the lack of pleases and thank yous in an unmentioned public and therefore wrote the song “What happened to all the please and thank yous?”. The question is probably a rhetorical one. Not sure if it needs an answer, I’ll leave it as it is. Dave’s Harmonica enters after the rousing chorus, before Gordon mentions ‘smiling at a bar’ and ‘being filled with dread’ in a world we could envisage. It doesn’t take much effort to smile or say thanks. In a way I hope they are having a go at people who are rude and ignorant. Perhaps Gordon Brown could learn a thing or two about preaching to your audience with a major message if he banged this one onto his iPod.
‘Torn and Frayed’ enters us into a world of longing for something. Of course it may not be, but to me it is and that’s all that matters to each and every person who hears the music. ‘Sometimes’ hits the nail on the head for me in terms of life’s ups and downs, where sometimes “you are living in the land where time forgot”, but “sometimes all you need is a drink of water.” While we watch the world go by, we just “read the paper and wait for the next bus.” These lines could have been composed anywhere in the world. I’ll associate myself with that as Gordon’s strums his acoustic into a sky only those on drugs won’t call real.
I couldn’t end this review of ‘Wee Blue Folk’ without mentioning the genius within Scott Gordon’s lyrical composition which embraces life itself, to the point of war and death. Gordon is not shy to his obvious background from the streets of Northern Ireland. On such streets, our milk bottles were petrol bombs and our shooting practice was not always a game of football down the park, often when you were on the receiving end of a bullet, you’d be front page news. These were sad facts in a 1970s Northern Ireland despite the major exaggerations within the media. Northern Ireland was a warzone of a kind and Gordon’s first hand experience of this shines him through and gives us a glimpse of life at the end of this long tunnel to peace. I notice references to Belfast here and there, but none more so in the one song that is about Belfast’s finest son, George Best.
In the song ‘Fly’ Gordon looks at the legend of George Best and dedicates a moving tribute to him. “Soon we watched in disbelief, he defied gravity” sings Gordon as he moves to a chorus which tells how George Best learned how to “fly.” It’s almost a life story and a dedication which captures the genius of Best, whose addiction to football, ladies and alcohol in equal moderation made him football’s first real celebrity. The fact that I myself am a big fan (see my other post on George Best) makes it easy to understand of course, but the universal appeal is here. “Attention turned to this young lad, from far and from wide”, and there we have it, with the eyes of the world on him, George Best lived his life how he would have it, no shying away, no lack of honesty, just a talented man who had defenders falling in his wake as he dribbled a football nonchalantly past their despairing challenges. “Those magic feet inspired the rest of us to higher reach” is another line where you realise the genius of Best being encapsulated in music is something we can relate to. He gave us ambition and dreams, yes this shy Belfast Boy. For me though it is the line “and for times at least in our wee country gave us unity” which has hairs on my neck standing to attention. ‘Wee Blue Folk’ here are referencing the troubles in Northern Ireland and the fact that George Best had no religious bounds, ironically it was George Best that united our country. Of course it’s not all true, but it’s as true as you want it to be. He did give us unity. It’s a rare and special moment in their set when I stare skyward and understand that very lyric. I’m just gutted I didn’t write it. It’s a genius statement. If only the politicians and terrorists of Northern Ireland’s past had that kind of unity. Whether you’re a fan of George Best or not, you’ll be aware of the passion in the song and what it means to them. Dave also recognises Best as the greatest player ever. There is no song about Pele. It’s not needed.
Of course there are many gems in the ‘Wee Blue Folk’ archive which I have not mentioned. That’s the beauty of music. Go watch them, go listen to them and then get into them. You may not like it. We are all different. But the music is good, and for every reason I have mentioned in the first paragraph. I have had the pleasure of interviewing the band and having them live on a St. Patrick’s Day Radio Show on Nerve FM in 2007. Thanks to the band themselves, I have a copy of that Radio Session, which in many ways is how life can sound good when you don’t need to try. I really need to delve into the Scott Gordon archive and find some more old classic tunes which have never seen the light of day. When I hear them, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, feast your eager ears to the link below: