Exposure: The Bottleneckers
- Kelly Smith
- 12 June 2009
The Bottleneckers are well-known in Scotland's retro scene for their authentic, old-time rhythm & blues antics that inevitably stir up some seriously good times. An incarnation of sorts of the similarly-spirited The Five Aces and The Privates, these gents will certainly be in their element next week in Glasgow where they will share a bill supporting the first lady of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. Duncan, Ross and Richard give The List the scoop.
So what's your story?
Our story is a typically incestuous little family of six musicians that make up The Five Aces, The Bottleneckers and The Privates. Most of us have played in rock 'n' roll and R&B bands for too many years now (The Cobra-matics, The Kaisers and The Boogaloo Investigators have a prominent hand in our back story). What is nice is that outwith the six of us, our extended musical family represents a group of people dedicated to playing, DJing and generally getting right into all the great music of the first two-thirds of the 20th century. Basically music that hasn't been hideously overexposed and commercialised (such as blues rock, mainstream soul music, drab singer/songwriters and interchangeable guitar bands etc). We do what we do because it is more vital and stimulating than anything we hear in the mainstream. There is more life in this so-called old music than anything being hyped and touted nowadays.
What kind of events do The Bottleneckers participate in that encompass the celebration of music of ole?
One nice R&B-based culmination of this was the first Glasgow Rhythm & Blues Festival (organised by the Shout Bama Lama guys in Blackfriars) in May this year. A weekend event that we thought was going to be a total disaster ended up being a rare success. In total over 1,500 people came to the gigs and the organisers made excellent choices in bringing bands that never usually tour Scotland and backing them up with great local bands and DJs from here and from further afield.
You can rock and roll, you can do delta blues, you can jazz swing - what else?
Richard: We can rhythm and blues, yep, plenty of that, and other stuff from the same era. As for the delta blues, that’s like a precursor to the other things we do. Washboard Sam, The Mississippi Sheiks and the like. Rockabilly, too. To us, it’s all just good tunes.
Duncan: That would definitely be the lynchpin of the Bottleneckers, or cornerstone rather. We play songs we like that get us excited. The genre aspects is one we ignore completely and have never had to think of until now! Basically we seem to end up playing music from the late 1920s to the mid 60s.
What's the difference between you and the Five Aces?
R – We’re younger than them, and we have fully working backs as we don’t have to lift Hammond organs all over the place. Our chronological home is a few years earlier than that of the Aces. Mark’s on double bass, and we have an extra guitar as well, which makes the sound travel slightly faster, with bits sticking out at the sides that you can see if your shoes are the right height.
D - The Bottleneckers is more of a 50s thing musically. The Aces was a logical continuation of the Boogaloo Investigators as we progressed backwards in time from the late 60s soul, funk and R & B sound to an early 60s rhythm & blues with the Aces. The Boogaloos and the Aces sounded like what we were, ie a bunch of Scottish guys trying to play American soul and R & B. The Bottleneckers is a further step forward in going backwards in music years.
That aside, The Five Aces were essentially a travelling/touring band hence we played in Europe as much as we played in the UK. The Bottleneckers are a home-based endeavour to a large extent, although not exclusively.
So, Wanda Jackson! Excited? How'd you land it?
We got the gig from our pal Holly who works for the booking agency that is putting the gig on. (Holly also runs the Eyes Wide Open night in Glasgow, a club night specialising in 60s garage and psych music). She has seen the Bottleneckers many times and The Privates (the Hammond organ trio that will comprise Wanda's backing band along with Bottlenecker Mark on double bass).
It is always fun to back up American musicians when they come over. Invariably they are surprised that we approach playing in a similar way to how they used to approach it (It isn't unusual for these guys to get session players who aren't necessarily R & B fanatics backing them in the UK). By all accounts she can still cut the mustard onstage vocally and still puts on a show so we are looking forward to a great night.
Where else can we find you?
We haunt Blackfriars in Glasgow’s Merchant City on a Tuesday evening, and there’s the odd bit of weekend action. We do stick mainly to Glasgow, but have been as far as Spain (for actual gigs, we weren’t just lost, although we probably got lost at some point). Our MySpace page is the best way to keep track of us.
Your heroes? Or should we just leave it at top five at the risk of being here all day?
Okay, six it is. Keeping it in Bottleneckers mode: Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Arthur Crudup, Little Walter, Johnny Guitar Watson and Jimmy McCracklin. Do we get six each?
Favourite record in your personal collection?
Muddy Waters - Rollin’ & Tumblin’.
Ever been to Memphis?
We haven't even been to America yet unfortunately, however, we have driven past Houston on the Clyde many times.
Best 50s fashion trend?
That would have to be the fashionable trend for rockin' rhythm & blues! Oh, and girls in pretty frocks.
The Bottleneckers play with Wanda Jackson at ABC2, Glasgow on June 23