GLASGOW AMERICANA FESTIVAL: GRAM PARSONS' TRIBUTE, COTTIER’S, OCTOBER 6, 2013.
He may only have been 26 years of age when he died 40 years ago this year, but what a fabulous songbook cosmic cowboy, the man in the nudie suit, Gram Parsons left behind.
The Grievous Angel’s music was celebrated in fine style at a sell-out Glasgow Americana Festival heartfelt tribute night, the final show of the five-day 2013 Festival, too – doing a couple of ‘Grams’ on stage took on a whole new meaning here.
Curated by Kevin Morris, the quiet man behind the Festival for the past seven years and whose Fallen Angels Club’s growing reputation is well-merited, this was a joyous session of songs, some of which have been covered by the biggest names in country music. It was a mighty fine way to spend an evening in a former church in Glasgow’s West End in the company of the converted.
The set list spilled forth with warmth and huge affection by those performing to
be lapped up by fans who have shared Parsons’ music over the years via the International Submarine Band, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and, of course, The Fallen Angels, Emmylou Harris included.
The work of the tortured artiste – whose “Cosmic American Music” mixed soul, country, rock and blues to influence countless bands and singer/songwriters over the past four decades to create what we call alt.country today, or Americana even – was moving, exhilarating and defied the passage of time.
Each performer clearly revered Parson’s songs and delivered versions that would make for an unforgettable album or DVD.
From Irishman, Ben Glover with his gorgeous and passionate Hickory Wind to Canadian duo, Madison Violet’s In My Hour Of Darkness, host-for-the-evening, Roddy Hart’s steely version of Sin City or the wonderfully laconic, James Grant whose Dead Flowers was riveting before he encouraged us to sing the chorus of You Don’t Miss The Water, but only if we stayed in tune.
The Parsonage Choir, named after the man himself, excelled in their cover of She with voices soaring, their pleasure from being involved so heartwarming to see. Return of the Grievous Angel was, not unexpectedly, the perfect finale with all the acts involved in the show on stage, except the choir.
As big fan, the one and only, Keith Richards once said: “Gram was everything you wanted in a singer and a songwriter….. and he could make the chicks cry.”
No-one was in tears but song after song on a memorable night reminded us of a wonderful talent for lyrics and melodies that continue to bring so much pleasure so long after his death.
• The performers were: Roddy Hart, Madison Violet, Ben Glover, James Grant, My Darling Clementine, The City Sinners, The Parsonage Choir.