The Cheap Part of Town is Louis Rive’s first collection of songs. Bar-room bards and street philosophers, from the down-and-out and back up again, this collection focuses on the people and places that make up the patchwork of life holding any city together. Louis, a Scottish singer-songwriter, based in Barcelona, draws widely on folk music from the traditional ballads of the pub to the modern day tale-tellers and poets. Influenced by the likes of The Pogues, Hamish Imlach, Michael Marra and The Corries, to name but a few, Louis continues the grand tradition of the storytelling musician, and is taking it to Edinburgh for a show that kicks off tonight. Louis spoke with The Fountain ahead of his Fringe show.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
It is! At least, I am excited. I don’t know how the rest of the world feels about the prospect, but they can tell me in the lobby afterwards.
TF: The Cheap Part of Town certainly sounds entertaining, what is the premise?
It’s storytelling music. A collection of stories and tales really that document a wide range of things. It’s songs that detail a life spent talking to your Average Joe, Joe Bloggs, Jock Thompson et al, all the issues that affect the silent masses. Strap in for social inequality, the ambiguity of being ‘British’, the dole, marriage. That makes it sound quite heavy doesn’t it? Well, we don’t live in the most enlightened of times and I think the songs reflect that. It’s about being relevant to the audience and engaging with them. In this realm there’s no barrier between performer and public and ideally I would like folk to feel able to talk to me after the show about the themes of the songs.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
Scotland’s always had this oral tradition of storytelling, songs about wizards, goblins and an unbelievable amount of tunes about Bonnie Prince Charlie. I have always loved this idea of telling a story through a song but I wanted to relate it to more modern themes. Thus, drawing on an inordinate amount of time spent in pubs and bookies, I started to put what I heard into songs. In terms of influences, I really love the music of Michael Marra, Lou Reed and Hamish Imlach, the acerbic take on modern life, and I wanted to follow on from this.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
Though I am from Edinburgh, I have never performed before at the festival. Thus my advice will remain purely practical for the novice festival-goer, namely; don’t expect too much change on a tenner for two pints. It’s a no-brainer for London-based visitors, but a kick in the stones right enough if you were brought up in Dundee, Newcastle or Aberdeen.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond The Cheap Part of Town?
The Fringe is part of a series of shows around Scotland. I am playing at Leith Depot on the 28th in aid of the Save Leith Walk campaign, a community-based movement against the continuing closures and complete disregard for the future of community in the area. That’s well worth highlighting as social change gets lost in the glitz and glamour of the Edinburgh Festival. When the Festival ends, life in the city goes on, and visitors would do well to remember that Edinburgh is a working city like any other, replete with the injustices and paradoxes therein. I will also be playing Leith Folk Club on the 3rd of September. A new album, Hard Living in the Old World will be recorded this winter, but you can catch some of the songs exclusively at my shows
You can see The Cheap Part of Town at Acoustic Music Centre @ UCC tonight and tomorrow at 5:30pm. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com