The Railway People – Eva Kor & Raymond Meade, at the CCA, Glasgow – June 2017

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Eva Kor and Raymond Meade meeting in Krakow.                                                                                  Pic Credit – Mark Wilkinson for The Railway People

It’s an unlikely pairing. A quiet and thoughtful Glaswegian rock star who tours the world with Ocean Colour Scene and a feisty woman in her 80s, who’s a survivor of Auschwitz. They get together, and make a record. The result is a four track CD called The Railway People.
I had the privilege of meeting Raymond Meade and Eva Mozes Kor at an event at Glasgow’s CCA, where they were speaking about their record collaboration.
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This story also featured in an excellent BBC Scotland documentary called The Railway People, which was beautifully and sensitively put together by Demus Productions.
Raymond has been to Auschwitz and Birkenau. The former Nazi concentration camps are  located in the town of Oswiecim, around 30 miles west of Krakow in Poland. Raymond has visited the camps five times.
Auschwitz

Auschwitz

On his last visit he penned lyrics and a poem, but he had a idea, which led him to reach out to Eva. He emailed her and asked if she would read and record the poem How Could It Be? And to read this at Birkenau in a bid to capture the essence of the words. He didn’t expect a reply.
But when you hear Eva speak – you get the impression this woman is curious, and she was intrigued. Eventually, the two met in Krakow and started their journey. There is a bond between them which is palpable when you see the two of them interact. There’s a mutual respect and a genuine fondness.
Birkenau

Birkenau

What Eva has faced in her life is unimaginable. When she arrives in Birkenau, she’s with her twin sister Miriam. They are 10. Dressed in matching dresses, the identical twins catch the eye a Nazi officer.  He asks their mother – “Are they twins?” She hesitates “Is that a good or a bad thing?” He assures her it’s a good thing, and she confirms that they are. Their fate is decided.
The family is split up. The twin sisters are taken to Dr Joseph Mengele, named the Angel of Death. They never see their parents, father Alexander, mother Jaffa or sisters Edit and Aliz again. The family perished in the gas chambers of Birkenau. The twin sisters survived but suffered torturous experiments and treatment at the hands of Mengele.
Birkenau

Birkenau

In Glasgow – Eva talked about loss and said we always remember the last time we saw someone. It’s true. I remember my dad smiling and waving from his hospital bed as I left, fully expecting to see him the following day. He had a heart attack a few hours later, and I wasn’t there, but I still see his face as I left. It’s sad – but not traumatic.
Contrast that with 10-year-old Eva, and the tears, screaming, anguish and fear, that ensued as families were ripped apart. We can’t imagine how that final scene must haunt her. She’s revisited the scene, the railway platform at Birkenau many times. Astonishingly she found the courage, strength and compassion to forgive.
Birkenau

Birkenau

The path to forgiveness has been a long one. Eva talked about the time she met a former Nazi officer, a Dr Hans Munch. And she liked him. She described him as “a bad Nazi but a good human being”. He stood outside the gas chambers while people inside were killed. A death certificate recorded one death to hide the large numbers of people murdered. Dr Munch had joined Eva at a conference in Boston. He then agreed to go to Auschwitz with her in 1995 to sign an affidavit which stated the truth.
Eva wanted to thank him for this act but struggled to find an appropriate Thank You card, so she wrote a letter.  That letter prompted her to write a further letter, to forgive the Nazi who caused so much terror and cruelty to Eva and her sister Miriam – Dr Joseph Mengele, who was dead by this point.
She read the letter to Mengele out loud on the railway platform at Birkenau. And in that forgiveness she found strength. The act of forgiving gave her power and control. She owned the forgiveness, it was her’s to give, and no-one could change it. It was a defining moment.
“I discovered I had one power. What I tell everybody is that you — any victim, any person hurt — you have the same power. You have the power to forgive. And what it does, forgiveness, has nothing to do with the perpetrator. It has everything to do with the way the victim feels.” Eva Kor
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Raymond and Eva at Birkenau. Pic Credit – Mark Wilkinson for The Railway People (Official)

The partnership and relationship between Raymond and Eva, transcends age, place, boundaries and cultures. There’s a willingness to engage, learn and to try and understand.
For Raymond’s part, he’s captured Auschwitz and Birkenau. I’ve also visited the former concentration camps. You cannot fail to be affected by what you see and feel. For me Auschwitz was horrific, but Birkenau hit even harder. While Auschwitz has the incredibly sad exhibits of what is left of the dead – the suitcases, piles of shoes, hair and spectacles – in Birkenau there is nothing. It’s empty. It’s a vast open space and you’re left to fill it with your imagination and emotions. The atmosphere sinks into your bones, chilling you to the core. It’s eerie, haunting, incredibly sad, and silent.
Raymond’s song At The Top of the Stairs was written after he stood atop the stairs overlooking the train tracks which brought carriage loads of people, to their final destination, and death.
Birkenau

Birkenau

In 1995, Eva opened the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she now lives. It sees around 7,000 school children every year. She also lectures all over the world and the 82-year-old works tirelessly to educate people and to try to stop the atrocities of the past being repeated.
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Quote displayed at Auschwitz

Photo from the Candles Museu

Photo from the Candles Museum

Eva’s sister Miriam died in 1993 from a lung illness that Eva attributes to the tests that Mengele performed.
A radio documentary was made telling the story of how the project came to life. This documentary has been awarded the New York Festivals Bronze Winner for the World’s Best Radio Programmes.
Eva Kor is an amazing and inspiring woman and credit also goes to Raymond Meade for his determination to bring this project to life and as Eva said, “for following what was in his heart”.
“My hope is that younger generations from every future era ensure that this place is never forgotten, never repeated and always recognised as a symbol of senseless violence”. Raymond Meade

 

Eva Kor at the CCA in Glasgow

Eva Kor at the CCA in Glasgow

“It’s important to stand up for what you believe in and make the world a better place”. Eva Kor

You can buy the album The Railway People for £10 from the The Railway People Website It features 3 songs and the extended radio documentary. There is also a 12 page colour booklet inside. All proceeds are being donated to the CANDLES Museum.

http://www.therailwaypeople.com

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Glasgow Central Station Tours

Glasgow Central Station Tours

 Glasgow Central Station Tours
Sometimes the best exhibitions and tours are the ones that fire your imagination.
The Glasgow Central Station underground tour isn’t a Burrell Collection. There’s no pretty artefacts, tapestries or sculptures to admire, but it’s no less fascinating. What it is, is a reflection and appreciation of one of Glasgow’s many faces, and its past. Like most industrial cities, it’s a bit dark and gritty.
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As we step underneath the bowels of the station, it’s deathly quiet and mysterious underground, and we’re oblivious to hundreds of people above us. They’re running for trains. Arriving, departing, seeking destinations, for work or pleasure. They’re going to meetings, night outs, going home, going out, perhaps they’re having secret assignations like the movie Brief Encounter … saying hello and waving goodbye …
It might all be going on upstairs, but downstairs on the Central Station Tour we’re being entertained by Paul Lyons, our tour guide. He actually looks and sounds like he’s been spirited in from another era. He’s a classic Scottish storyteller, an art that some people naturally possess – and he has it, in steam engine powered shovel-fulls.
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The tours were his idea, and he fought long and hard to bring them to life. He had to persuade a lot of people, and you get the feeling that he doesn’t give up easily. The powers that be were eventually persuaded when Glasgow Central Tours took part in one of the Doors Open Days – when traditionally closed off buildings and premises open their doors to the public for a weekend. The Glasgow Central Tours received 83,500 requests for 100 free places. It was proof that people wanted to get underneath the station and feel its history.
And it’s a history that is fascinating and tragic. Bring your imagination and you can feel the chill at a certain point on the tour, where Paul tells us it’s where the dead bodies of young men, lost in WW1, were brought and laid down. And he pays homage to the women – the wives, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, grandmothers, who would come to identify them. It brings a lump to your throat as you imagine the heartbreaking scene and then the struggle that ensued as those women were made responsible for bringing their loved ones up the stairs and out of the station. Paul found some of the original stretchers that some of the bodies would have been laid on. He is also planning a First World War memorial to the women of Glasgow, including a brass plaque and a poem in Scots.
Glasgow Central Station Tours
34 million people pass through Central Station every year and they are using more than 1,000 trains a day. The station was built on what was the old village of Grahamston, the vast majority of this village was demolished when Glasgow Central Station was built.
Paul is also continually collecting stories from people who he takes around the tour. These stories, at risk of being lost forever, are now being kept alive.
The final section of the tour is fascinating as you stand on an old abandoned platform, with huge pillars and tiled walls. There’s an eerie feeling as you gaze into the quiet darkness.
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Paul is currently clearing this section of the station and he’s constantly discovering discarded artefacts such as a telegram from 1919, a pack of Kensitas cigarettes from 1928, and newspapers from the 1940s.
There are also plans to develop this section of the tour and to recreate what this platform would have looked like. Proposed inclusions include an old kiosk, bookstall, shop fronts, old-fashioned vending machines and gas-effect lighting. The money generated from the Central Station Tours, (which have attracted around 29,000 visitors), will go towards this restoration.
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Photo : Network Rail

This is a fascinating piece of hidden history, which is literally right underneath your feet. It deserves to be supported and it’s history wonderfully retold. Listen to the stories, close your eyes, and let your imagination take over.

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Horse: Review of Careful, The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, August 2016 and Winter Tour Preview

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“Be yourself, and others will find you”
 This stage show, shown at this year’s Edinburgh Festival was the story of Horse’s life. Born Sheena McDonald (the Sh-he-na part she hated), in one of Scotland’s market towns.
And as a fellow Lanarkian, the feeling of the town felt very familiar, but while I might have experienced the usual teenage angst, Horse’s experiences growing up were very different.
First of all the name that she hated. She decided she was going to be called Horse, she identified with those lovely majestic animals, and she knew in her heart she was different from the other girls, as she struggled with her sexuality, feeling misplaced in the world.
The set was minimal but effective. Two chairs on stage – representing her home life – one for mum and one for dad – both empty. Her parents, Vicky and Dugald, both passed within six months of each other, leaving Horse bereft. The experience somehow cemented even more firmly her compassion and ability to connect and empathise with other people.
During her show we hear about the simple things, and the things you remember growing up. We hear tales of her mum and dad and how they would sit in their chairs, drink tea and eat Rich Tea biscuits.
We hear about the angst of growing up in a small town where Horse stood out, was subjected to bullying and the odd advice from a lady on a train who tells her of a doctor she could go to to “help” sort out her problems.
There’s lots of laughter too among the tears, as Horse talks of her two tone loons “as experimental as it gets in Lanark” and having to go to the school disco in her mum’s Paisley patterned shirt.
 But there’s an escape and a sanctuary which Horse finds in music. Oddly not realising at first the gift she was born with. But then success comes as she appears on The Tube, gets the record deal and is asked to perform at the Stonewall gig at the Albert Hall.
There are still dark periods though – the operation for vocal nodes and the agonising wait as she fears she won’t be able to sing again.
And then we somehow come full circle. Horse meets her soulmate Alanna. she returns to her birthplace to marry, and she attends the equal marriage vote at the Scottish Parliament on 4th February 2014. And we feel a lovely sense of love, acceptance and peace.
This was a heartfelt and soul-baring play, delivered bravely by Horse, beautifully written by Lynn Ferguson and expertly directed by Maggie Kinloch.
While I know Horse and the town she grew up in, what would the couple from California I got talking to in the queue make of her? They visit Edinburgh every year and stay for the duration of the Festival, packing in as much as they can. They knew nothing about Horse, stumbled upon the play and decided to give it a go.
I met them afterwards. They were enthusiastic and moved to tears. The lady was desperate to get her hands on a Horse CD and loved the song Careful – which Horse sang and referenced throughout the show. I caught Horse’s play on the first night, and if this was anything to go by, all those festival goers who stumble upon shows will have felt like they discovered a little Edinburgh Festival gem.
Horse is now back at the “day job” and getting ready for a tour in November and word is that she’s going to be touring Careful next year.
Meanwhile catch her at:
Dundee Rep 5th November

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Filed under Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Music, Previews, Scotland, Theatre reviews

Preview: Tenement Trail – Saturday October 8th 2016

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1 Day / 9 venues / 50+ Bands / 1 Ticket / £20+ booking fee

I can’t think of much out there that gives better value for money than this year’s Tenement Trail – organised by those doyens of music, Glasgow-based Tenement TV. This is their fourth multi-venue music festival held over one day in the city.

One ticket gives you access to more than 50 bands across eight venues and 12 hours of music. It’s a brilliant way to see some of your favourite bands and also discover new music.

There’s been some recent additions to the line-up. Bands including The Spook School, Louie and The Lochbacks, and Declan Welsh. They’ll be joining newly reformed indie rockers Milburn, who will headline proceedings alongside the excellent Crash Club, The Bar Dogs and Gangs.

Crash Club

Crash Club

It’s always good to see what Barrie-James O’Neil is up to and I’m hoping he’ll pop in and join Emme Woods on stage and perform a duet. Get yourself to Nice n’Sleazy in the afternoon for Emme’s set. She’s on the Last Night From Glasgow record label, who are supporting some great acts and putting out some exciting new albums, including the excellent Teen Canteen‘s Say It All With A Kiss, who you can also see perform at The Art School. A great live band, with cracking tunes, and highly recommended.

TeenCanteen

TeenCanteen

I’m also looking forward to seeing Be Charlotte, who are about to bring out their second single called “Machines That Breathe”, also on the Last Night From Glasgow record label. The band headed up by 19-year-old Dundonian Charlotte Brimner has attracted the attention of One Direction star Louis Tomlinson, who Tweeted about her. She’s also just been nominated for the prestigious Big Apple award at this year’s SSE Scottish Music Awards, which is the fundraiser for Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland.

Lucia Fontaine‘s voice blew me away when I saw her perform with composer Craig Armstrong, and I know the hugely talented HQFU will bring a storming set and get the crowd dancing.

There’s lots of venues to get around on the day, including 02 ABC1, 02 ABC2, The Art School, The Art School (Vic Bar), King Tut’s, Broadcast, Nice N Sleazy and Flat 0/1.

This is a brilliant event with a cracking line-up. Where else can you see all this music for £20? The only problem you’ll have is co-ordinating your day and trying to pack in as much as you can.

Tenement TV, who continue to break new music, as well as entice established acts to play in their famous Flat 0/1, also celebrate their milestone fifth birthday this month.

Watch teaser video for Tenement Trail  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2hcJfuXlHQ&feature=youtu.be

Tenement Trail Festival Director Chae Houston commented: “We’re really building an impressive line-up for TT this year, with a great mix of new, touring and established bands. It’s the perfect day out for music lovers, offering music across all genres and really giving fans the chance to discover new talent whilst checking out old favorites.”

Tenement Trail 2016 | @tenementtv | #TT16

Buy Tickets Here

 

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Filed under Events, Glasgow, Music, Music Festivals, Previews, Tenement Trail, Tenement TV

Ette: Homemade Lemonade – Album Review and Launch, The Old Hairdresser’s, Glasgow – June 2016

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Carla J Easton

Ette is the solo project of Carla J Easton one of the all girl foursome from Glasgow who call themselves Teen Canteen. Here she’s teamed up with Joe Kane from Dr. Cosmos Tapelab and the result is a brilliantly harmonious album called Homemade Lemonade.
At an album launch in the Old Hairdresser’s in Glasgow, we heard a run through.
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Joe Kane and Carla J Easton of Ette

Carla wears her unabashed passion for 60s girl harmonies on her sleeve and it shines through the album. From the sublime Fireworks, with its dreamy wistfulness and trombone, to the cheerful jauntiness of My Mother Says, to Bones, which makes you feel like doing a few side swaying dance moves, and Bonfires, which even includes some rapping.  And would could not fall in love with the fantastically titled Attack of the Glam Soul Cheerleaders (Parts 1 and 2).  It’s pure pop perfection and finger clicking heaven with an L-O-V-E mantra.
Meanwhile, in true Spector fashion there’s nostalgic festive dreaminess in Spending Every Christmas Day With My Boy, with its gorgeous bells and jingles.
This record is a strong body of work and an incredibly catchy collection of songs. Amazingly the album was recorded in only five days at Joe Kane’s garage studio. All songs were written by Carla, with Joe playing multi instruments on every song as well as working on the production. He also co-wrote the disco led Heaven Knows.
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Ette – Carla J Easton and Joe Kane

Performed live it’s fun, bold, and loud, with a psychedelic rocky edge that makes this gig more spiky than sweet.
And while there’s lots of love, happy-go-lucky handclaps and harmonies, underneath there lurks a dark reflection, sadness, pain and anger, which gives much added depth to the songs.
We see this in the lyrics of Bones:
I only want to see the best in you
But you only give me all the rest of you
You’re a constellation that I’ll never know
Cause you’re missing each and every star that glows
And in the fiery I Hate You Song:
I hate you but I hate that I once loved you even more
I’ve got a score to settle
And don’t be fooled by the slight frame of Carla, she’s got a massive voice accompanied by a commanding stage presence. A confident performer, when she sound blew at the end of the gig, she carried on and improvised with a great a Capella.
A winning combination backed by an excellent band, let’s hope we hear much more from Ette.
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The album ‘Homemade Lemonade’ is released on Olive Grove Records.
Listen to the album here:

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Record Store Day at Tenement TV, Glasgow – 16th April 2016

DSC05225.jpgRecord Store Day, an event to honor the UK’s independent record shops was founded in 2007. It’s held on the third Saturday of April. This year Glasgow’s Tenement TV opened their doors and put on a great collection of bands to celebrate.

With a line-up that included Crash Club, Barrie-James O’Neill, aka Nightmare Boy, Other Humans, The Bar Dogs, Gangs and Strawberry Wine – the tenement was rocking its foundations all day. Here’s a selection of photos and videos from the day.

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For a list of the records released for Record Store Day 2016 – see Record Store Day Website

 

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Filed under Events, Glasgow, Live Music Reviews, Music, Photography, Record Store Day 2016, Tenement TV, Videos

Scottish Ballet, Swan Lake. Bloggers Event with NARS Make-Up, April 2016

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Picture Credit: Scottish Ballet

For the first time in over 20 years Scottish Ballet will bring Swan Lake to the stage. This world premiere adaptation is a modern and imaginative retelling of the timeless tale.

It’s the love story between Siegfried and the beautiful swan queen Odette, but he betrays her by mistakenly declaring his love for the dark seductress Odile.

Odette forgives him but the trust between them can’t be repaired.

At a bloggers’ event held at Scottish Ballet headquarters in the Tramway in Glasgow, we got behind the scenes and watched a rehearsal. Precision seems to be key. It’s not just enough to get the movements in place. The choreographer gets under the skin of every move to nail down minuscule details. A very subtle adjustment or emphasis really does make a difference even something such as “lead with the foot, not the thigh”. Meanwhile a dancer is told “I want feel like I don’t want to meet you in a dark alleyway and just now I’m feeling like I could take you”. Very subtly – the movement and emphasis changes as the dancer conveys an air of jerky, aggression and menace.

And what’s the difference between Odette and Odile, the good/bad swan? There will be many ways to convey these idiosyncrasies which will be carefully scrutinized by choreographer David Dawson – who knows exactly what he is looking for.

But apart from dance, other factors will come into play to differentiate between the two swans. One white and one black costume … and a quick change of lipstick.

Scottish Ballet have enlisted the help of NARS make-up artists, who have their work cut out to ensure that make-up stays put under the testing conditions of stage lighting, heat, sweat, close body contact with other dancers and many performances.

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They also have to convey the differences and changeover from Odette and Odile, often portrayed by the same dancer, in a minimal amount of time. And a quick change of lipstick does the trick. With the make-up base in place including a classic smoky eye, Odette the white queen is luminous, natural and beautiful with a subtle nude lipstick.  A quick wash with a bright red lipstick and she becomes Odile – dark, dangerous and seductive.

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Swan Lake premieres at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow on April 19th, and tours thereafter. For tour dates see below.

For more information on Scottish Ballet and Swan Lake, see Scottish Ballet Website

NARS lipsticks used were: Velvet Matt Lip Pencil in Belle de Jour (nude) and Cruella (red). You can book an appointment at the NARS counter of Frasers Glasgow for advice and a make-over.  For more information see Frasers Glasgow / NARS

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr 2016
Box office: 0844 871 7647
Book online

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Wed 27 – Sat 30 Apr 2016
Box office: 01224 641122
Book online

Eden Court, Inverness
Wed 4 – Sat 7 May 2016
Box office: 01463 234234
Book online

Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Wed 11 – Sat 14 May 2016
Box office: 08448 11 21 21
Book online

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May 2016
Box office: 0131 529 6000
Book online

Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Wed 1 – Sat 4 Jun 2016
Box office: 0151 702 7320
Book online

 

 

 

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Filed under Dance, Events, Make-Up, Scotland, Scottish Ballet, Theatre Royal, Tramway Glasgow