If you fancy a chat with Andy Kershaw, intrepid reporter, fearless broadcaster and unique music man you have a chance when he hits the Arches in Glasgow on Tuesday 28 February.
‘This is better than a proper job,’ said Andy who is launching his biography ‘No Off Switch’ and taking the opportunity to tour 33 venues across the country to continue the conversation with people who want to talk with him. ‘Radio is a solitary occupation, so it’s good for me to get out and about.’
Andy presented his Radio 1 show for 15 years till he was sacked in May 2000. He joined Radio 3 about a year later and covered stories such as the volcanic eruption on Montserrat which happened the day after he’d arrived on the island with his partner for ‘a quiet Caribbean holiday.’
His autobiography concentrates on four particular areas he’s reported on: North Korea where he made the very first film from inside that secretive country carried by Channel 4 and where he’s been on holiday three times. Rwanda where he reported on the genocide there in 1994. ‘That was an awful situation which badly needed to be reported. Too many journalists were too scared to go there,’ he said. And some of his adventures in Haiti and Zimbabwe which are among the 97 of the 194 countries in the world, Andy has visited.
‘I’ve had 30 years of amazing adventures, seen history being made and reported on these things as a journalist,’ said Andy. ‘It is just as well I didn’t write my biography 20 years ago. While my homework may be a bit late, I’ve got more to say
And he says them through music too. Running the entertainments section of the students union at Leeds University in the early 80s for two and a half years, he lined up The Clash, Elvis Costello, Black Uhuru among many others. This took him to London – without a degree – as Billy Bragg’s driver and roadie. There his music career took off and his first asignment was a report for Whistle Test on the Monsters of Rock heavy metal festival. He now holds two honorary degrees from other universities.
‘Right now’ he comments there is ‘nothing new since Bob Dylan – who should have retired in 1976.’ But he claims he’s ‘too nosy to retire.’
His biggest challenge so far has been ‘Fatherhood! That’s the biggest responsibility and the most enjoyable experience of the lot.’
For tickets see the Arches website : www.thearches.co.uk
Students with Al Meezan, the Muslim education voluntary organisation, have made a powerful gesture of solidarity with the people of Haiti through a £10,000 fundraising drive.
Pupils, parents and teachers aimed high to help the survivors of the earthquake which shattered the Caribbean nation nearly two months ago by selling food, clothes and furniture and having a dress-up day.
The school presented a cheque to Habib Malik, the head of Islamic Relief Scotland, who said: ‘This is not the first time Al Meezan have raised outstanding amounts for charity. For example, when disasters have hit Gaza, Niger, Lebanon and Sudan, parents and children have responded by raising money for those most in need.
‘I would like to thank all the students, parents and teachers at Al Meezan from my heart for raising this money. They are all little heroes for Haiti. Islamic Relief will use this money to provide emergency relief, food, water and shelter for thousands of people in Haiti.’
Al Meezan was established in 1998 to provide Islamic education to women and young people. The Glasgow-based organisation, which relies entirely upon donations, voluntary work and fundraising, has some 600 pupils. Its activities include mother-and-toddler facilities and fitness groups.
Salma Shaikh, the Chair of Dumbreck-based Al Meezan said: ‘I am delighted that we hit our target of £10,000. It is very important to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Haiti at this time. Many Haitians have lost loved ones and are still battling on without food, shelter and water.
‘Our thoughts are with all those who have been injured or orphaned by this dreadful earthquake. We hope our £10,000 will make a small difference to their lives.’
American musician and storyteller Rik Palieri delighted the staff and pupils at Whiteinch Primary when he visited as part of a Scottish tour.
Rik is an accomplished performer on the guitar, banjo, Polish pipes and Native American flute. He also weaves stories and narratives into his performances, in the style of his mentors, Pete Seeger and Utah Phillips.
He performed a set of songs for the younger nursery children which the kids were delighted to join in, and later told the schoolchildren stories of spending time with Native Americans in a sweat lodge.
After Rik finished, the pupils and staff returned the compliment by singing Tattie Time, a song about picking potatoes in rural Scotland, and finished with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Rik, from Vermont, has contributed a song to a CD called Singing Through the Hard Times, a Tribute to Utah Phillips, which has been nominated for a Grammy award. The Grammys will be announced on 31 January.
Speaking about his love of performing for children, Rik told LOCAL NEWS: ‘It’s all part of what I call the train of tradition. You start by scattering the seeds amongst the young, by going into schools. And you sing the songs and give the kids a feeling of something different, a feeling that you can have a life in music, that dreams are possible.
‘When I’m in schools I do a specific programme that I know is going to excite the kids, time-tested songs that I know are going to work and are going to light up that school. Part of me has to acknowledge that learning from masters like Pete Seeger, I want the kids to experience the same joy that I had from hearing his songs. He can’t do it any more cause he’s 90 years old. It’s almost like today, times have changed, I’m more like a dinosaur, I want it to be authentic, I sing about things I know about. And when I’m telling the kids a story about sitting in a sweat lodge in South Dakota with Indians, they can imagine what its like, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and the music is this road that takes you into situations that you could never have got to.’
Rik added: ‘My hope is that five years from now some of these kids I’m performing for in Glasgow will be up on the open stage (at Celtic Connections) and will remember the joy that they felt through music. They won’t be playing what I’m playing, but that’s not my goal.
‘During a show at a school the other day I was with some older kids, and I played one of my songs and asked them to think for a moment about the people in Haiti who are suffering at the moment after the earthquake. Because they were older kids I felt they could understand that its not always fun and games.’