2017 – first quarter… instalment one…

Jeez-o… tricky to keep up with all this stuff. April already and Mister Harvey has barely processed January yet… He hopes to catch up with this journal at a faster rate than the year spirals away… so much to report.

Anyway, here’s how the year began – a genuine Januarollercoaster…

King Creosote/Modern Studies tour ::

After three bangin’ Scottish dates with King Creosote (all the ‘B’s: Bogbain, Birnam and Banchory), the KC posse – to much curtain twitching – piled onto a fair dinkum tour bus outside Des’s in Blantyre – home for the next two weeks. First stop was the RNCM in Manchester, where things got off to a cracking start, before hitting Norwich Open and Cambridge Corn Exchange (an early highlight). Mister Harvey managed to defy all expectation and get out for what he loosely terms a ‘jog’ prior to the soundcheck, managing to find the only scabby bit of canal within a fifty mile radius to puff and pant alongside. A day off for Captain Geeko’s 50th birthday in the plush surrounds of Shrigley Hall (the scene, but two years ago on the KC Union Chapel tour, of the consumption of an actually unbelievable number of white russians), then back to it, and now with Modern Studies doubling Mister Harvey’s workload as the support act. Liverpool Philharmonic, Birmingham Town Hall, the Barbican (where MS hit their stride and gave a cracking show to a sold out audience), Bristol Colston Hall, Cardiff Tramshed and the magnificent Sage Gateshead comprised the main part of the tour, then Mister Harvey split with KC to traipse back up to Scotland with MS for a glorious home-coming Celtic Connections headline show in Glasgow’s home-from-home Glad Cafe. The following night Mister Harvey reunited with KC for a sweaty all-standing sell-out Celtic Connection gig at the Old Fruitmarket, featuring the full Appleman line-up includng Mairead Green on pipes and accordian, and Catriona McKay twinkling away on her delicious harp right next to Mister Harvey’s delighted ear – a spectacular end to a spectacular tour.

Roddy Hart’s Roaming Roots Revue – Celtic Connections ::

In amongst the tour above Mister Harvey had been arranging string parts for Roddy Hart’s Roaming Roots Revue, a superlative concert involving the talents of ten invited artists singing their own songs and covers with Roddy’s Lonesome Fire as house band, and the Pumpkinseeds providing some serious string love. A most relaxing stage format involved a couple of sofas next to the string riser, where waiting artists could enjoy a glass of wine whilst awaiting their turns in the spotlight. Most lovely it was to be kept topped up throughout the evening – by the end of the gig Mister Harvey was really rather sozzled and having a wail of a time (but obviously not playing a note out of place – to the best of his recollection). A joy to share intimate numbers with Emma Pollock, Jesca Hoop, Ricky Ross and Benjamin Francis Leftwich – and some full on tube-clearers with smashers Kathryn Joseph and Scott Hutchison, a cracking tune with Field Music, the amazing Bryde (bringing herself to Bjork’s Play Dead), and Yola Carter who lifted the roof with Jolene.

Hannah Fisher New Voices – Celtic Connections ::

Whilst Mister Harvey was beavering away on the KC tour bus on the Roaming Roots arrangements, co-Creosote-conspirator Miss Hannah Fisher similarly had the bit between her teeth preparing for her Celtic Connections ‘New Voices’ commission. Inspired by the artworks of her late grand-pappy which peered from the back of the stage through a forest of standard lamps, Miss Fisher pulled out all the stops for her exceptional show, accompanied by her band, featuring – beyond Mister Harvey – Seonaid Aitken on fiddle/keys/BVs; Craig Ainslie on bass; Danny Grant on drums; Kirsty Fisher on guitar/BVs; and Sorren Maclean on guitar/BVs.

Iain Morrison Quay Session – Celtic Connections ::

After a quick trip home to be sure the family hadn’t forgotten his face, Mister Harvey returned to Glasgow to rock out with Iain Morrison and band for one of Roddy Hart’s BBC Quay Sessions. Seriously brutal performance – top way to end the month.

Lomond Campbell – Black River Promise

brp-sleeveA joyous time was spent at Castle Menzies near Aberfeldy a number of months ago with an assemblage of ten Pumpkinseeds putting final form to Mister Harvey’s swirling string arrangements for eight songs entrusted to his care by Mister Lomond Campbell.

The resulting album Black River Promise was released by Mister Campbell’s own Triassic Tusk label at the end of November on CD and beautiful clear vinyl in a gatefold sleeve and has been going down well ever since. Do treat yourself to a copy.

★★★★ – The List

‘Bolstered hugely by the masterful string playing and arranging of Pete Harvey… it’s hard to imagine music which more captures the feel of the autumnal Scottish Highlands more.’

★★★★ – The Scotsman:

‘…sumptuous, romantic strings, arranged by Pete Harvey, recorded by a ten-piece ensemble in a castle and threaded through Black River Promise like a noble, mournful chorus behind Campbell’s yearning voice.’

ScotsWhayHae:

‘Mention must be made of the string arrangements by Pete Harvey which lift Campbell’s songs to new heights. This is an album which sounds fresh and intoxicating… it also feels out of time, bringing to mind other famous pastoral records such as Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter or Five Leaves Left, John Martyn’s One World or even a darker take on Astral Weeks.’

Manic Pop Thrills:(with whom Mister Campbell also shared some of his most refined thoughts in an interview here)

‘…a gorgeous record thanks to the impressive strings courtesy of Pete Harvey and the Pumpkinseeds. Well worth seeking out.’

The album has been featured as a ‘record of note’ by Roddy Hart on BBC Radio Scotland, and featured in Vic Galloway’s top albums of 2016  and played on BBC6Music by Gideon Coe.

kwaing-lomond_2-707x1000

Mister Harvey joined Lomond for a wee release tour in November, accompanied by the wholly enigmatic Kwaing Creasite. The tour included a gig at the Happiness Hotel, establishment of one Song, by Toad, where two further ‘Seeds joined us for session renditions of three of the album tracks rejigged for a wee string section consisting of the additional violin maestress Kate Miguda, and bass aficionado Emily Scott.

The resultant videos should be somewhere below if everything has gone according to plan.

There’s also some lovely photos from the event courtesy of the excellent Kat Gollock.

Lomond Campbell – Black River Promise (Toad Session) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Lomond Campbell – Every Florist in Every Town (Toad Session) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Lomond Campbell – Misery Bell (Toad Session) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Sumer Is Icumen In

The sun is finally out; summer must be here, no? Well let’s make the most of it just in case.

Mister Harvey has been applying grease to his elbows and returning to work in the garden, and now finds himself a concrete slab and a course of bricks closer to a nice wee step to the upper level of the patio. Bricklaying is harder than it looks.

In other news, Modern Studies have been finalising artwork for their LP Swell to Great, which will be released in September on Song, by Toad Records. They’ve had a couple of commissions for Earth recordings too – one an instrumental for a tribute to Burt Yanch’s Avocet album – Avocet Revisited (mixed and submitted last month), and a second for a cover album of songs by the same artist. Both should be out in the not too distant future.

He’s also been working on tracks for The Son(s), who recorded three tracks at Pumpkinfield in April – he’ll be noodling about with some string arrangements for these over the next week or two.
Travels with his cello have taken him to Iona, Crinan and Skye Live with King Creosote (including a nail-biting drive across the unexpectedly snowy wastes of Mull), and to Edinburhg’s Wide Days, Shuffledown (Larbert’s answer to Glastonbury) and Aberdeen’s Advocates Library with Best Girl Athlete.

there was also the small matter of a Pumpkinseed performance in the form of an 8-piece string section accompanying A New International at St. Luke’s in Glasgow, playing the lovely string arrangements of Mister Colin Elliot in the company of a member or two of the Up North Session Orchestra.

2015 is dead. long live 2016.

A misleadingly bleak headline. Mister Harvey is certainly not all doom and gloom, and wishes everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR. Despite a more time-intensive recovery from a Christmas Eve hernia repair (and subsequent infection) than initially expected, he is most wobbly with satisfaction at the year concluded, and trembles in anticipation of the year before him.

In the manner of the vast majority of years that preceded it, 2015 has passed. It saw the release of numerous records of note to Mister Harvey, and – whilst not pursued – it is always nice to see notice taken by those with ears of their own. Best Girl Athlete’s Carve Every Word (strings arranged by Mister Harvey, performed by the Pumpkinseeds, and recorded at Pumpkinfield), appeared in, amongst others, the Scottish Fiction top 20 albums, the Podcart Favourite Albums, The National’s Top 20 Albums, and Netsounds stuck the track Hills up on their 50 tracks of 2015. The Herald Top 50 Albums slapped BGA right next to Paul Vickers and the Leg’s The Greengrocer (recorded and mixed at Pumpkinfield), which also appeared pretty high up in the Jockrock top 50. Iain Morrison’s album Eas (featuring some of Mister Harvey’s cello noodling) was BBC Radio’s Roddy Hart’s album of the year, and turned up in the Herald’s list too. Not too bad for a relatively quiet year.

Since The Bells, and during his restoration to full health, Mister Harvey has managed a gentle gig with BEAM in Edinburgh’s Scot:lands festival, and another with Emily Scott and the Fell Down Trio at a house in Glasgow (where he had the delight of performing another wee set with BEAM to boot). His commitments at Cetic Connections are mercifully light this year, aiding his recouperation, but have thus far included a blistering show with Iain Morrison at Oran Mhor (followed by a late night slot at the festival cub), and will see him play with Perthshire’s own Hannah Fisher on the 27th at the O2 ABC.

mojo review for the Greengrocer – ‘winningly odd’

In what is both rapidly and very slowly becoming the longest period of ‘release’ for any album in history, Mojo magazine has this month printed a review of Paul Vickers and the Leg’s album The Greengrocer, recorded at Pumpkinfield.

*** MOJO

Former Dawn of the Replicants man’s winningly odd folk-prog sprawl

Like all his work since his tenure as singer with lo-fi deviants Dawn Of The Replicants, there’s a dark comedy coursing beneath Paul Vickers’ third album with The Leg – and a lot audible on the surface as well – but this tale of curious shopkeepery is decidedly more League of Gentlemen than Open All Hours. Backed by a cast including King Creosote and regular sideman Pete Harvey, The Greengrocer delivers an idiosyncratic fusion of heavy jazz bustle, haunted pop sketches and bristling avant-folk, while Vickers’ vocals have only grown deeper and more twisted with the years. On My Trifle, he growls a peculiar blues as strings and woodwind scythe behind him, like Beefheart performing to a medieval court, while the roilin riot of Polynesian Snuff suggests fevered Foxtrot-era Genesis. And hearteningly, the banjo-driven rumble of Horns And Anvils finds Vickers’ gift for lilting, left-handed pop oddness intact and thriving.

Mojo review

Get in touch to order it direct from Pumpkinfield, or visit our Bandcamp page to secure a copy of this vinyl-only release. It’s a great big black circle of lovely.

 

Summer fun

Where to begin, where to begin…? Mister Harvey has had a busy few weeks, and under such circumstances this ‘ere news feed is the first thing to be left behind. Unfortunately it necessitates a bit of a gush to try to catch up, but best to do it now before it gets any bigger (as Lady Pumpkin is wont to say).

Urinals

So in brief summary, Mister Harvey and his cello have, since the last post, participated in gigs with BEAM, Lomond Campbell, Best Girl Athlete, Iain Morrison and Paul Vickers & the Leg. They have had some sessions at Castle of Doom for Mogwai’s score for the second series of Les Revenants, and sojourns to Glastonbury and Belladrum festivals with King Creosote.

With the latter, they were also delighted to participate in a beautiful outdoor performance of From Scotland with Love in Kelvingrove Bandstand and a pair at the Hub in Edinburgh as part of the International Festival – Messrs Miguda, Zaccardelli, Graham and Peebles bringing sumptuous life to Mister Harvey’s string arrangements:

‘All of the musicians and singers were brilliant, but hats off to the string quartet…’
The Times

‘a string part so lush that it makes the heart sing and warms the chilly night’
The Herald

Inbetween-while, Mister Harvey has been burning the other end of the candle back at Pumpkinfield to mix Emily Scott​’s new record; record the beginnings of an album by Jo Foster; continue tracking the debut album from Lainie and the Crows; and edit the results of a Pumpkinseed session for the debut album of the aforementioned Mister Campbell. There is more to say about all of these things, but little time to do so.

He did manage to catch ACDC at Hampden Park, and was grateful for the chance to let his hair down.

Harriet & Paul

Harriet and Axe

It can be an ungainly affair, twiddling one’s knobs on one side of the glass then running through to scratch one’s instrument on the other, and on Monday Mister Harvey found great pleasure in having the latter affair handled by Miss Harriet Davidson, who came to Pumpkinfield to lay down some beautiful cello for a new album project of the most talented Mister Paul Mosley. It was a delight for Mister Harvey to see a cello played properly, and to hear the component parts of three of Mister Mosley’s splendid arrangements.

bold fisherman

Clash Premiere features Bold Fisherman, recorded at Pumpkinfield as part of Emily Scott’s Modern Studies project. The track will feature on Shirley Inspired – ‘a triple-CD package which features everyone from Graham Coxon, Lee Ranaldo and Bitchin Bonnie Billy Bajas (Bonnie Prince Billy) to comedian Stewart Lee’.

Mister Rob St. John – guitar, vocal
Miss Emily Scott – bass, vocal
Mister Harvey – harmonium/glass harmonica

King Creosote at Perth Festival

IMG_20150522_144148172Mister Harvey’s complex logistics on Friday night involved catching the number 56 into town for the evening’s performance with King Creosote at Perth Concert Hall as part of the Perth Festival. After all this flitting about, a home gig was most welcome, and in such a spectacular venue it was also most humbling. Mister Hamish James Hawk opened proceedings with a smashing performance accompanied for the first time by his band. Profound vocals coupled with elaborate experimentation in what to do with his guitar-freed hands made for a thoroughly engaging show, which Mister Harvey enjoyed in the company of his good lady wife before scurrying off backstage to tan half a bottle of wine and inflate his cello.

First time onstage with the King Creosote Acoustic 8 since February’s Union Chapel gig, and it was as if barely one day had elapsed – like eight fingers slipping into a bespoke eight-fingered glove. Highlights included Yellow Alert and Penny Falls, both of which have most exhilarating violin/cello harmonies executed by Mister Harvey and co-local Miss Hannah Fisher – and BEAM‘s Search Party for One, in which Mister Anderson’s hypnotic accordion coupled with Miss MacDougal’s haunting vocals to provide what was, in Mister Harvey’s humble opinion, a transcendent experience. Though that could easily have been the wine. And it was as much a pleasure to watch the audience put arms around each other and sway to the Homeboy finale as it was back in February. Slightly more awkward in the Concert Hall, given that the wide seats are segregated by generous arms rather than Union Chapel’s more cuddle-conducive pews. Slightly more awkward. But still very lovely.

Mister Harvey was most proud to perform (musically speaking) in front of his wife for the first time in some considerable period. And grateful to her for the lift home afterwards.

IMG_20150523_215936130The remainder of the weekend saw Mister Harvey travel to Ardanaiseig Hotel – overlooking Argyll’s aptly named Loch Awe – to perform for a most lovely wedding with Messrs Dick, Graham and Macdonald as the Rose Street Quartet. Spirits were not in the least dampened by the miserable weather, and a programme of Mozart, Grieg and Beethoven, topped off with a little Porter went down a treat. Mister Harvey was even invited to remain for some dancing, but politely declined the generous offer, citing a swiftly invented medical condition. Overnight accommodation was a hop, skip and hiccough away at the Taychreggan Hotel  and was preceded by three nail-biting games of snooker. Each was down to the black, but they were not particularly classy affairs. The Glenfiddich and Skinny Blonde saw to that. Mister Harvey scored the highest break of the tournament with an eight point red/black combo. Despite this spectacular point-scoring streak, like the hare to the tortoise he was consistently on the losing team. Largely through his own misadventure.

Then to the Substation on Sunday, for a session for one Daryl Demarco – Mister Harvey’s string arrangements once again delighting all of those assembled. The last time he was there was to record for Degrassi’s The Form EP (the website is worth checking out, as it provides a snapshot from a decade ago, and even Desc get a mention) – and he was most delighted to meet up with the latter’s Scott Smith (producing) after a good couple of handful of years. With two tracks epic’d up, Mister Harvey was home in time for tea.

folklore tapes – merry may

FTCCIImerrymayMister Rob St. John is featured on the latest release from the Folklore Tapes with a track recorded at Pumpkinfield.