Big Peter talks to Brigid Kaelin
On her recent visit to Glasgow, Brigid Kaelin was intercepted at the train station by our very own Big Peter McGee. Unable to shake him off, she kindly agreed to be subjected to questioning. Just like when you get arrested by the police only you don't get a lawyer.
BIG PETER MCGEE: A warm welcome to Glasgow! You've arrived on the one day of the year that it doesn't rain!
BRIGID KAELIN: Thank you for arranging that for me!
BIG PETER MCGEE: Would this be your first visit to Scotland?
BRIGID KAELIN: Well, I've never been here for music before. I went to university in New York City, and it was actually cheaper to fly to Europe than it was to fly to Kentucky. There was a spring break where my roommate and I flew to London, and took a train up to Scotland on the second day. We planned on staying for one day, and stayed the whole week! I brought my parents here in 2002. We originally tried to fly out on September 11th, but we didn't make it! So this would be my third trip here, but first for music.
BIG PETER MCGEE: And you've enjoyed it so far?
BRIGID KAELIN: Oh, absolutely! As soon as we crossed the border, everybody was excited. We played in Edinburgh last night, at this pub right in the middle of town, Whistlebinkies. It seemed like was gonna be kinda touristy and a pub crowd, but they were all listening, so it was a great show.
BIG PETER MCGEE: It's always good when you get the crowd, and they listen to you as opposed to talking over you.
BRIGID KAELIN: Except for one show in Liverpool, the people have been really attentive.
BIG PETER MCGEE: Have you picked up on any regional slang at all?
BRIGID KAELIN: I was warned about Glasgow, they said I'd never be able to understand you, but you're doing fine. What have we learned? Just yesterday, when we got to Scotland, Peter and Danny have been saying "great!" a lot. It's not different vocabulary, but different dialect. I find that funny. Things like "flat" and "biscuits" were confusing at first, but most of these we were warned about in advance. I think driving on the left has been the scariest of all. I feel quite comfortable with it now, but I'm afraid for when I go home.
BIG PETER MCGEE: I thought in Edinburgh you might have had people asking "D'ye ken wit ah mean?", as in "do you know what I mean?"
BRIGID KAELIN: I've not heard that yet! There was a table of really drunk men last night who were saying lots of things, so I'm not sure what they said! I'll watch out for that one.
BIG PETER MCGEE: Moving on to music, which artists would you say have had the biggest influence on you?
BRIGID KAELIN: I like songwriters a lot. Elvis Costello and John Prine are probably my two favourites, but I also grew up listening to a lot of jazz music, so Cole Porter, George Gershwin - a lot of the big band music from the 1930s and '40s, which I think is why my music has a bizarre combination of folk and jazz. I like songs that tell stories. I think I listen to lyrics more than a lot of other people.
BIG PETER MCGEE: Your latest album, West 28th Street, was quite a hit with Bluesbunny. Seemingly a move into bluesier territory than before, one of the album's main strengths is in the lyrics. "Catty Woman Blues" is a great song - unless you are the subject of the song! On the whole, are you pleased with the final product?
BRIGID KAELIN: I am. I made a record three years ago called "Keep Your Secrets", which was really my first try, and I was blown away by how well it did in my community because that was my first foray into the business. I guess every artist likes what is out currently better than everything else, but I felt like that first one, in terms of production, was safe. I tried to have more of a focus on the latest one. I worked with a producer who really understood what I meant - that I wanted to do an "organic" record. It's bluesier than I thought it was going to be, but I like the vibe of it.
BIG PETER MCGEE: Looking at the liner notes of the album, I picked up that you may have a dog named Guinness. Is that right?
BRIGID KAELIN: That's true! I have a dog called Guinness. Although I normally only drink whisky, the only beer that i've really found that I like is Guinness. He's five, and a great dane mix - enormous! He's at my parents' house right now. When he was a puppy he was the colour of Guinness. He has since gone solid black, but he is extremely stout!
BIG PETER MCGEE: Great! Now, you and Peter Searcy are approaching the end of your tour of the UK. Has it been an enjoyable experience for you?
BRIGID KAELIN: We've had a blast. Through CD Baby i've been selling CDs over here, and when you're selling CDs somewhere, you wanna go and play there. I've always loved Europe, and I just thought i'd see if anyone here would book my act, and they did. I know we're going to come back! No point in playing somewhere once!
BIG PETER MCGEE: Do you have a favourite experience as a musician?
BRIGID KAELIN: Yeah - Elvis Costello! Did you read about that at all?
BIG PETER MCGEE: I thought you might mention this!
BRIGID KAELIN: Honestly, i've played with some of the best musicians I've ever met, played with some amazing people in Nashville, but playing with Elvis Costello! In his band, too. It wasn't just him. I learned to play rock keyboards by listening to Steve Nieve's parts on Elvis Costello records. That was phenomenal. He was so great to me.
BIG PETER MCGEE: Finally, is there anything in particular that you want from your career?
BRIGID KAELIN: I'd love to play with John Prine. He's a phenomenal songwriter. Some of the songs that he wrote when he was just 19 or 20 are still mind-blowing. It's funny. I've played with several members of his band, but never him. He knows who I am, though! Maybe someday!
BIG PETER MCGEE: Ms Kaelin, thank you for your time!
Author: Peter McGee
October 20, 2008
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