When I went full-time with this music malarkey, some six years ago now, I released an EP, not much more than a demo, called Broke, Lonely and Guilty. Much to my surprise, it got a wee bit of attention – a couple of reviews, some local radio airplay and the likes. This led (after, I believe, a good word being put in by The Dirt) to my being invited on to a local community radio station for my first ever interview/live-on-air session. The station was Sunny Govan FM and the show was The Switchback, presented by Paul Clarkson.
Picture me, in a black cab, guitar by my side. “You playing tonight?” asks the driver. It’s a night-time session and it’s already dark, the show starting at 10pm. I’m running late.
“Aye, I’m on the radio,” says I, with no small measure of pride. The driver is suitably impressed and, armed with the address (which I have written on my hand), he heads confidently Govan-wards. However, once in the general vicinity, we drive around in circles for what seems like forever. We are drawn to a couple of porta-cabins. We pass them a few times, both of us certain that can’t be the place. “There should be some kind of big aerial mast” the driver says, and we duly crane our necks in every direction. Eventually, the driver gets out and asks for directions at one of the cabins. He comes back to the cab shrugging his shoulders. “Aye, this is it,” he says. “Just asked the guy – the aerial’s up the high flats.”
And so began the first of several nights I spent at Sunny Govan, which eventually moved to its current comparatively palatial headquarters in an actual building. There was a greater element of washing mugs and making coffee than I’d entirely expected and Paul was a good guy (there are many good folks in the grass-roots music scenes but a fair few fannies as well) so I was put at ease straight away. The end result was a relaxed session, the recording of which I released as a limited edition promo EP for the launch night of my first album a year or so later. I’ve experienced a few other community radio setups since and Paul, despite his propensity for modesty in this regard, has a knack for getting a decent sound from the room using just a single mic – in sharp contrast to some of those others.
The Switchback was a great supporter of the Scottish and international grassroots americana/country/blues/folk scenes. Pretty much the entire regular live roster of the old That Devil Music night I used to run and very many more all played sessions and received airplay there. Paul played tracks from, I think, every release I’ve put out over this past five years as well as the work I’ve done with Jim Dead. Where other early local media support had dried up, The Switchback was one of the main sources of airplay of my most recent album, Losers and Bastards, and it was much appreciated.
Inevitably, geography and real life took their toll and in the spirit of all good things coming to an end, The Switchback aired its last show on May 15th. It was a good one, with much in the way of anecdotal reminiscence from Mr. Clarkson. Some kind words about me there too, and an airing for a cool old session version of The TR7s Have All Gone To Heaven. This post is really just intended as a wee “thank you” to Paul Clarkson whilst wishing him all the best for the future – your efforts on the show were always appreciated man and the grassroots scene will be poorer without your input.
Here’s the link to an MP3 of the final Switchback show – more than worth your time, trust me (I’m a guitarist).