Tuesday night in Glasgow. Bluesbunny is on patrol. We have heard rumbling of a songwriters club in Glasgow. With our super sensitive bunny ears, we track it down. It is downstairs at Blackfriars in that delightful area known as Candleriggs. Bluesbunny likes Blackfriars. They serve Leffe for a start. There are few things finer for enhancing your enjoyment of music than Belgian beer.
For a change, we do a bit of research. Seems like the Glasgow Songwriters Club is not a combat arena. Every second week, worthies step up with their trusty guitars and give it some. You would think that your artistic types would relish the opportunity to creatively criticise their competition in the pubs and clubs in Glasgow. But no. It is a very polite and mannered affair. Verging on supportive, in fact. Apparently, it not about the performance either as a couple of the participants readily admit to their limitations in that department. They have a featured artist thing going as well and this week it is Stewart Hinshelwood. More of Mr Hinshelwood later.
Tonight we have a number of local worthies such as Alexander Murray (a confident and polished performer), Dave Martin (not heard of him before but certainly worth looking out for), Tony Brannan (last time we saw him in "sunny" Coatbridge, Bluesbunny was holding a frozen chicken and Tony looked like he had frozen everything else) and the classy Kandella. Two songs apiece and they are gone. Returning to their seats, they make room for the next contender. It is a curiously modest and unpretentious affair.
Anyway, Bluesbunny has transferred his affection to Guinness by this point. A dapper, mature gentleman in a black polo neck sweater steps up to the microphone. Introduced as Ronny, we assume he is a regular. Having the whole life experience thing going for him, he impresses us with his dry wit and draws musical pictures of what life is like when you think it might well have passed you by when you weren't looking. A plaintive tale of a relationship on the way out rounds out his contribution. Bluesbunny believes that you are only old when you run out things to say. Ronny clearly has plenty to say.
We now return to the matter of Stewart Hinshelwood. An anachronism indeed. It turned out that he had actually been sitting right next to us. Preconceptions are dangerous things. Never occurred to us that he was the star turn - he did, in fact, claim that he was not a performer during our conversation. In our defence, the Guinness was going down particularly well at that point. He plays the guitar left handed claiming to be guided in his chord changes by marks carefully carved into the neck of the guitar. The same disarming humour carries over into his song writing highlighted especially in "Real Women". The spooky thing about him was his voice. It was at least 30 years younger than the man himself. Maybe he had had a hard life but it was disconcerting. As for not being a performer, we don't think so. Restrained but effective with songs that communicate his feelings about times past. Not bad for an old guy. Not bad at all.
After the main event, more songwriters make an appearance on the stage - James Stewart (looked like a brickie but played a jazz inflected guitar to accompany a couple of nice country flavoured songs), Louis Cameron (an anxious but colour co-ordinated young man who sung like someone who had sold his soul to the Devil only for Old Nick to offer him a full refund the very next day) and Ally McPherson (raw edged and nervous talent).
So, polished these good people are not. Unlike most events that we review, there were few obvious performers. It is not that there was a lack of talent but there was an almost adolescent nervousness to things. As in so many fields of human endeavour, the fragility of true talent is on display where you least expect it. Bluesbunny wonders if many of these restrained performers will ever be seen in the light that they deserve. Like sounds in the wind, the songs heard tonight could be lost forever. Ambition is not a bad thing. It is what drives us on to greatness. The kudos is in the performance - the path to fame - but the money is always in the publishing deal. Are songwriters' clubs like these the incubators of talent or do they produce songs in the shadows? After all, these days, who is brave - or interested - enough to venture into the shadows?
Article by Handsome BluesBunny