By Greg Kane
Christine Bovill’s award-winning show “Paris – From Piaf To Pop” earned her multiple 5 star reviews during it’s sold out run at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe, establishing her as one of Europe’s finest interpreters of French song. Her show offers a deliciously sexy celebration of the Golden Age of French song and how it evolved during the Swinging Sixties. Singing in both French and English she honours many stars including Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg and Francoise Hardy. I’m such a Francophile, I like France, I love the French people, we holiday there most every year and this gig presents a chance to sample some choice French culture without having to join a long frustrated queue with passport in hand.
Choice Track: Christine Bovill – “Sur Mon Ile De Reve”
J.S. Ondara is a 30 something, Grammy Award nominated Kenyan singer-songwriter. He is signed to the iconic record label Verve Records in the US and his releases sit comfortably alongside their impressive catalogue including Laura Nyro, John Lee Hooker, Dion & Jamie Cullum to name but a few. As a young man growing up in Kenya he gorged on the music of Radiohead, Nirvana, Jeff Buckley and most notably Bob Dylan. Imagine Dylan’s vocal & guitar delivery on top of subtle African rhythms and you pretty much get what Ondara is up to. He’s paid his dues too, fully embracing the coffee house culture touring all over the US for the last decade, eventually settling down in the midwestern state of Minnesota (Dylan’s home state incidentally). One to watch me thinks.
Choice Track: Ondara – “Lebanon”
Sammy Rae & The Friends are and 8-piece funk/jazz-rock band based in New York City. The band formed in 2016 and is fronted by Samantha Bowers (performing as Sammy Rae). For as much as Sammy Rae & The Friends may be a band, this collective of artists and dreamers considers itself a family first. This is from their blurb, “… The shows are like a shot in the arm of affirmation of individuality. They are safe spaces to feel overwhelmed with love and acceptance. “Friends” in the audience are encouraged to dress how they like, dance how they like, join the party and form person-to-person Friendships.” How this “attitude” will go down on a cold, damp and dark November night in Glasgow is anyone’s guess, but they do have an irresistible aura of positivity on their side. You never know, some of it just might rub off.
Choice Track: Sammy Rae & The Friends – “Jackie Onassis”
Cypress Hill are an American hip hop outfit from the US state of California. They formed in 1988 and have sold over 20 million albums worldwide. The group, along with their contemporaries Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog & 2Pac are considered to be one of the main forefathers of West Coast hip hop. I’ve been listening to them all week and I’d forgotten how much Latin music is a big part of what they do … it really gives them their USP amongst the hip hop fraternity. They’re out on tour in 2023 celebrating the 50 year anniversary of hip hop. 50 years? Yes, hip hop was born on the 11th of August in 1973 in The Bronx, NY, NY. “Fathered” by DJ Clive Campbell. Campbell? That’s a Scottish name isn’t it? Can we claim hip hop too? Mibbes naw.
In 2019, Cypress Hill became the first hip hop group to have a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
Choice track: Cypress Hill – “Insane In The Brain”
Rianne Downey is a young singer/songwriter from the outskirts of Glasgow, now based in Liverpool. Like most young pretenders nowadays she started posting covers of songs on Youtube during lockdown. One such cover, The Beautiful South’s “Rotterdam” caught the attention of a certain Paul Heaton and he in turn invited her onto his UK tour in 2023 to take on the role of female protagonist in his band, The Beautiful South! Upon reflection, a very clever choice of cover Rianne. I watched her performance with him at The TRNSMT festival this year and she really did make it her own.
She also has written songs with Dundonian bad boys The View, contributing to their recent top 10 album “Exorcism of Youth”. She does display a confident swagger for one so young, but it will be her voice that gets her places. Such a great singer. Her most recent EP “Method To My Madness” is available on all streaming services now.
Choice Track: Rianne Downey – “Paper Wings”
The Wellington Church on University Avenue is notable for its magnificent neoclassical portico complete with a colonnade of Corinthian columns in the style of an ancient Grecian temple … in other words (one word actually), it’s quite an ostentatious place to play. But the virtuosity on show after the Scottish Ensemble rosin their bows demands suitably impressive surroundings. The Scottish Ensemble are a pioneering collective of musicians who champion music for strings and have been in existence for over 50 years, but are constantly evolving with the best of the best players taking their place when required. The choice track I’ve picked is them in collaboration with acclaimed film composer Craig Armstrong.
This gig has all the ingredients to make it a very special occasion indeed.
Choice Track: Scottish Ensemble -“Ballantyne – Movement 5 Your Shadow”
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