Alice Marra celebrates her father's legacy
The Hazey Jane singer hosts a festival gathering at Celtic Connections to celebrate her tribute album Chain up the Swings
The late, great Michael Marra received a massed musical send-off at Celtic Connections in 2013 but this year his daughter Alice hosts a more intimate festival gathering to celebrate his songbook, and her tribute album Chain up the Swings, selections from which she will perform with a new incarnation of her father's Gaels Blue Orchestra big band.
Surprisingly for such a strong character, Marra Sr was a reluctant performer. 'He absolutely hated it, he was so nervous,' says Alice. 'What he always wanted was for other people to sing his songs. He said "I didn't want my name in lights, I wanted it in brackets". That kind of sums him up,'
But he did instil a love of singing and performing in his children. Alice leads community choirs and singing groups but is best known for fronting the rootsy indie pop combo The Hazey Janes with her brother Matthew and Andrew Mitchell, aka Andrew Wasylyk, who moonlights in Idlewild.
Their band took an interesting left turn last year, collaborating with writer Liz Lochhead and saxophonist Steve Kettley on The Light Comes Back, providing jazzy backing for Lochhead's spoken word ruminations. 'There's some of Michael coming through in Andrew's piano playing on that record. While we were recording it definitely felt like he was there somehow and that that was the reason we were all together.'
This unlikely ensemble, with or without the ghost of Michael peering over their shoulders, will also reconvene at Celtic Connections, performing at the Tron Theatre. In the same week, Michael Marra's back catalogue will be available digitally for the first time. 'So hopefully there's a whole new generation of Michael Marra fans to come, which is a nice thought.'
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 1 Feb; St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow, Sat 4 Feb