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Reid all about it: Proclaimers come '500 miles' to our town

Scottish duo will perform at Mississippi Studios April 24


by: COURTESY OF EUAN ROBERTSON - Craig and Charlie Reid have walked a lot of miles through life to entertain fans as The Proclaimers, and they'll play at Mississippi Studios on April 24.The Proclaimers, the popular Scottish folk-rock act, have worked steadily during the past three decades to hone their craft, says Charlie Reid, half of the duo with his identical brother, Craig.

“We don’t work a song to make it more complex, we work it to make it more simple,” Reid says during a telephone interview from New York City. “I think it makes it more powerful and direct. We want something where the lyrics are not opaque. We want somebody to remember the feel of a song.”

Apparently the formula has worked, given The Proclaimers have sold two gold and two platinum albums in the U.K., as well as the gold album “Sunshine on Leith” in the States. The Reid brothers are on the road to promote their latest album, the 11-song “Like Comedy.”

The duo will hit the stage at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi St., for a 9 p.m. show Wednesday, April 24 (mississippistudios.com). Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. JP Jones, former frontman for the Brit band Grace, who’s also collaborated with Chrissie Hynde, opens the show.

Reid says he’ll strum guitar and sing, and Craig will blow some harmonica, play percussion and sing.

“It’s kind of back to our roots to some degree,” Charlie says, noting they’ll play their hits like “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” — made famous in the States when it was placed on the “Benny and Joon” soundtrack — as well as “Letter from America,” in addition to some new cuts and other tunes from their nine-album career.

That career is still hitting high notes. Last winter, filming took place of the movie version of the award-winning U.K. musical drama “Sunshine On Leith,” based around songs by The Proclaimers. The drama follows the highs and lows of two soldiers returning from Afghanistan to Scotland.

“It’s been, by far, the most productive period of our career,” Reid says. “We’ve been really lucky. Things have come to us just by doing what we wanted.”

And part of what they wanted was to capture the heart and soul of the working class Scottish experience, Reid says, noting he and his brothers weren’t exactly fans of the recently deceased British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Proclaimers have referenced both Scottish nationalism as well as working class struggles in their songs, he adds.

“Certainly Thatcher was the symbol of reversal of the left,” Reid says, alluding to Thatcher’s attacks on British trade unions and other left-wing institutions.

On the other hand, he says, on such issues as gay rights and universal health care, the left seems to be turning the tide worldwide. However, the economic battle Thatcher waged against such leftist causes as organized labor is another story, he says.

“If you have to tally up the score, I think that she won,” he says.

On another political issue dear to his Scottish heart, Reid says he still strongly supports Scottish independence, famously the subject of such Proclaimers’ tunes as “Cap in Hand.”

“I think it’s a matter of self respect to a great degree,” he says. “I would rather be governed from Scotland than London. I think that Scotland and England can cooperate in many things ... as long as there is a self-respect and a feeling that your vote counts for something.”

As for the latest album, Reid say it deals with such issues as letting go of your grown children (“Wherever You Roam”) and trying to find meaning and truth in a world riven by religious division (“I Think That’s What I Believe”).

“I don’t find much consolation in religion,” Reid says of the latter tune. “But I have found interest in people who search for the truth.” Traditional religions are “too restrictive,” he says, but “that doesn’t mean there’s no God.

“I don’t think we can say we’re just physical beings.”

As long as they are physical beings, The Proclaimers hope to keep sharing their catchy tunes with the world, he adds.

“I hope we’ll be out there as long as we think we’re doing it justice.”