Counterflows in Edinburgh: 'We believe there's a growing audience with an appetite for new experiences'

Counterflows in Edinburgh: 'We believe there's a growing audience with an appetite for new experiences'

Áine O'Dwyer / credit: David Lakowski

Glasgow's festival of underground and experimental music arrives at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall for new concert series

This winter, Glasgow's highly regarded festival of underground and experimental music Counterflows journeys along the M8 for a new concert series at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh. Instigated by the Queen's Hall's director Evan Henderson after discussion with Alasdair Campbell of AC Projects, who co-promotes Counterflows with Fielding Hope of London's Café Oto, these shows form part of the venue's almost-ended 40th anniversary year.

'The bigger idea from Evan's perspective is to expand the audience for different forms at the Queen's Hall,' says Campbell. 'From ours', it's a way of spreading the word about what we do in a venue where you might not expect to see Counterflows. We believe there's a growing audience with an appetite for new experiences; we always do, we wouldn't do this if we didn't.' Campbell describes each of the three events – the first of which, headlined by Beatrice Dillon, has already happened – as presenting 'a varied and exciting mini-Counterflows programme'.

'Some of the artists have performed for us in the past, so placing them in this context is very exciting,' he says. 'Usurper are legendary Edinburgh artists who we featured at Counterflows in 2018; they'll create something new for our "Festive Soiree". Áine O'Dwyer is one of the most creative artists in the UK these days, she'll create new work for us with the Glad Community Choir, and Bill Wells is just the great Bill Wells, he'll present his "Winter Dreams". For our January event, we have Decoy, one of the great unsung bands of the free jazz world; at this year's Joe McPhee residency at Cafe Oto they blew us away with the sheer joy and power of their performance.'

Campbell is hopeful that budget and interest may allow for more shows in Edinburgh, although he's keen to emphasise that Counterflows isn't seeking world domination. 'We're a little uncomfortable with festivals that become a global brand and do versions across the planet,' he says. 'We're very conscious of locating Counterflows locally within communities and this takes time and commitment to build relationships. Others have been promoting great music in Edinburgh for a long time and we're undertaking this with full respect for them.'

Usurper, Áine O'Dwyer, Bill Wells and DJs, Fri 20 Dec; Joe McPhee & Decoy, Elaine Mitchener and Stewart Smith (DJ), Fri 31 Jan; both Queen's Hall, Edinburgh.

Counterflows Festive Soiree

For the festive soiree, Counterflows invites some of its close musical family for a night of festive-themed fun, throwing up and revelling in all the joy, beauty, horror and ridiculousness of the holiday season. Usurper will present "The 3 Year Old Hamster", a new piece written especially for this event. Usurper are…

Counterflows: Joe McPhee with DECOY

For over 4 decades Joe McPhee has been pursuing a beauty in his music that balances fierce attack and lyrical poetry. Over time he has absorbed the black-radical avant-garde, a love of Coltrane, Coleman and Ayler, an engagement in deep listening and a never ending openness, making him one of the most vital saxophonists…

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