Thanks to Glasgow Festival of Americana we've had some fine musicians in town this October, including Kevin Welch, who played at the Recital Rooms, Glasgow City Halls last Sunday as part of his 'Patch of Blue Sky' Tour.
Prior to going along to the concert in the evening I met up with Kevin for coffee and chat in Glasgow's Queen Street Station. He was instantly recognisable with his Texan suntan and relaxed air. Kevin had only just arrived that morning from Belfast and although he must have been pretty tired after playing a series of gigs in Ireland, he could not have been anymore affable and courteous.
While supped some soup to keep him going, he told me about his life in the music business and about his move from Nashville to Austin, Texas, to be near his children, after his youngest child, Ada, left home to study in California. He explained how much he was enjoying the challenge of making music and the "scarier" experience of working with a whole new set of "all Texan players". Kevin spoke with a lot of feeling about his love of songwriting and his own particular approach: "often starting with a phrase or an idea"; "sometimes a song takes years"; some may be "incredibly dull" but you can have "happy accidents". The best advice he would offer any songwriter is:"'just keep on writing - no matter what".
Kevin had the time of his life producing his new album 'Patch of Blue Sky' in his log cabin home in Austin, Texas and apart from the great bunch of people he brought together for the project, he was particularly pleased by the participation of his son. Dustin, who has his own band, and his daughter , Savannah, and her band 'The Trishas'.
Kevin started out on his own career touring as a youngster playing with bands New Rodeo and Blue Rose Cafe. He still enjoys being on the road and performing, however, his first love is writing songs, which he sees this as a mixture of 'art and craft'. He has certainly perfected his skills, for ten years he earned his living in Nashville writing songs for artists such as Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Solomon Burke, Roger Miller, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Steve Earle - the list is endless.
"When Steve Earle broke through with his Guitar Town album, he and others suggested Kevin get a recording contract, and Kevin was soon signed with Warners, where he put out two albums,"
His albums 'Kevin Welch' (1990) and 'Western Beat' (1992) attracted rave reviews. In 2004 he formed 'Dead Reckoning' with Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin, their release 'Lost John Dean' reached No 1 in the Americana Charts in 2006. Together the group have travelled extensively and gained numerous awards and recognition along the way.
'Patch of Blue Sky' is his first solo record in eight years and also self-produced. It's a cracker. The songs are well crafted with some great tunes and fine lyrics. Kevin's voice is naturally rich and melodic, you hear every word and his style imbues his songs with a distinct sincerity - heartfelt. It's the sort of album that you can't wait to load onto your iPod so that you can listen to it in the car.
I've listened to the album several times at home and then after our chat I chummed Kevin along to Glasgow's Celtic Music Radio, where he happened to be on the Ciaran Dorris Show along with Jim Byrne. This meant that I got to listen into the interview and hear some tracks played from 'Patch of Blue Sky'.
Afterwards Jim, Ciaran, Tori Mason (by coincidence on holiday in Glasgow from Nashville) and I all went along to Kevin's concert. I keep changing my mind about which track is my favourite. 'Marysville', a song Kevin wrote in Australia about the devastating bush fires around Melbourne, is very catchy, with its strong beat and sad and dramatic lyrics. 'Andaman Sea' is very moving and atmospheric with beautiful music and harmonies with Eliza Gilkyson on backing vocals. 'Long Gone Dream', a real country music love song, is perfectly suited to Kevin's rich voice, and a great number for singing along to.
I love the intro in the title track 'A Patch of Blue Sky' - it's also got a brilliant beat. I really enjoyed Kevin playing this one live at the Recital Rooms, also some of his older numbers requested by the audience, including: 'Sam's Town' and 'Life Down Here on Earth'.
Patch of Blue Sky - YouTube with Kevin talking about making the album in his log cabin in Austin, Texas.
Review, Pat Byrne, October, 2010