This Wednesday night sees a great line up of writers and musicians sharing a stage at The Old Hairdresser’s (27 Renfield Lane in Glasgow, across from Stereo). Those appearing include Beerjacket, Alan Bissett, Emma Pollock, Kirstin Innes, Allan Wilson, Ewan Morrison, Paul Carlin, Rick Redbeard and old grey beard himself, Alasdair Gray.
That’s the who and where, the why is very interesting. The curator of the evening is writer, musician, recent podcast guest, and good friend, Rodge Glass, who is moving back to Manchester, not to continue to stalk Ryan Giggs, but for reasons of work. Rodge has used this move as the excuse to ask those who have shaped his life in Glasgow, personally and culturally, to come together for one night to raise money for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, and to allow him to say cheerio, at least for a bit.
I thought the best person to explain more about the evening would be the host himself, so here’s what he said:
Scots Whay Hae!: Tell us a little about the event and why you decided to do it?
Rodge Glass: The full title is (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peacenik’s, Love and Understanding? and Peacenik is a political term for being a dove rather than a hawk in the context of Israel, Palestine and the Middle East. There’s two reasons for the name. The first is that I have a reputation for being a bit soft and sentimental. When people ask me about these things I always say that I’m very “Peace, Love and Understanding”. So that’s become a running joke.
But the idea for the night came from a conversation a couple of month’s ago with the writer Zoe Lambert, and we were chatting about the assumptions that can be made when you are a Jewish writer, particularly with reference to the Middle East. As it happens, I am not a Zionist, I’m about as left wing as you can get in terms of the Israel/Palestine situation. I don’t pretend to know everything about it, and I’ve never felt able to speak publicly about it. Zoe suggested that perhaps it was time to put my head above the parapet and do something. I’ve always been interested in the Alliance for Middle East Peace as it is made up of many different organisations from many different backgrounds. They focus on trying to get all sides working together and trying to understand each others views. So I thought I’d do a charity night for them.
SWH: There is another reason though.
RG: Well it just so happens that after what feels like a thousand years in Glasgow I’m leaving, so it’s sort of a leaving night, but I thought I could do it as a sort of guerrilla leaving do where I didn’t have to advertise it as such. That’s partly because I’m back about eight times in the Autumn for various things, and people’ will be going “I thought you were supposed to have buggered off”. But it is an end of an era for me. And I thought, what better excuse to ask a bunch of people to do stuff, for free, for me? And because it’s for charity they won’t be able to say no! So I thought I would get together some of my favourite people that I’ve worked with over the last 15 years or so.
SWH: How did you decide on the line up?
RG: It’s people who are close to me or who have influenced me in those years. The Delgados were one of the first Glasgow bands I fell in love with, so to have Emma Pollock on is amazing. My favourite current band is The Phantom Band so to have Rick Redbeard on is also a treat, and Paul Carlin has also played in two of my favourite bands, Dananananaykroyd and American Men, and he is also one of the first friends I made in Glasgow. I’ve been listening to Beerjacket for about 5 or 6 years, and I love his attitiude to making and playing music. It seems to be for pleasure alone.
I’ve never asked Alasdair Gray to do anything for me before, well apart from the small matter of letting me write his biography! But I’ve never asked him to do a reading before and I thought I have to try it now, and he can only say no. He said yes, on the condition that he is not treated differently from anyone else, and I’m just delighted that he has agreed to be there. Anyone who has seen him read to a small room knows what a warm experience that is, a very special thing.
SWH: You said that he’s going to be on first so folk should make sure they’re there early to avoid disapointment.
RG: I think that’s a good idea. But I wanted to pick some of the people who have been very important to me, so I’ve got Alan Bissett on the bill, the person I’ve done more reading events with than any other person, and it’s hugely gratifying to see him, and the likes of Ewan Morrison, getting the recognition that they deserve. Alan once said to me “If it’s dead in the mouth it’s dead on the page”, and I take that with me everywhere I go. It was also important for me to have Cargo writers on the bill (Rodge is an editor at Cargo Publishing) and both Kirstin Innes and Allan Wilson were in The Year of Open Doors collection.
SWH: Any final thoughts as you prepare to leave the city limits?
RG: Glasgow’s been very good to me. It’s been incredibly welcoming and open minded. I love that DIY spirit that can be found across the arts. I’ve done lots of different things in this city. I’ve been to many community types of events which have made this place very special to me and I wanted leave with one of my own . Even if I wanted to abandon Glasgow I couldn’t. It’s given me an education that I’ll take with me wherever I go.
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peaceniks, Love and Understanding is at The Old Hairdressers on Wed the 29th August. Doors are open at 7.00pm, tickets are £5 in advance (£6 on the door) and can be bought by phone: 0141 222 2254 or you can contact the venue by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there to see a grown man cry.