Down in the Vale with Davie and Grace

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a blog post A Tale of Cards and Coiners about my trip to Yorkshireland when the first lockdown eased. I’d discovered a piece of local history that I’d had no idea about; that bit of history has now been brought to life on the telly. Well, it’s a three-part drama prequelling a novel based on events that happened around the Calder Valley in the later eighteenth century. Yes, that, oh so happy valley is on the TV again! I had wondered at the time if this was something that Sally Wainwright might take an interest in (well, she’s made Gentleman Jack about a local historical character).

Shane Meadows (known for This Is England) is the chap behind The Gallows Pole, starting it back to when David Hartley (the later leader of the Cragg Vale Coiners) returns home from being away in Birmingham for seven years. Those years had seen the onset of the industrial revolution which caused major upheavals for weavers and land labourers in places like the Calder Valley, many had to leave to find work in the new mills.

The opening scenes are of Hartley staggering across the moors, it’s all quite trippy, who/what are the weird stag men figures? Are they real or hallucinations? Then the opening titles kicked in, oh, they’re good, brilliantly done, they promise so much. Well, I wasn’t disappointed, that was a cracking first episode for me! This being Shane Meadows there’s quite a few first-time actors in there; he has all his cast working together, improvising to get into their characters, for quite some time before filming; and even then Meadows doesn’t have a full script, just outlines for the actors to follow.

My favourite scene from the first episode is when David steps outside from his father’s wake for some air, to discover that the girl he was courting before he went away is also outside and does not want to see or talk to him (so she says). David ends up sitting on steps round the corner from where Grace is sitting, and boy, she starts talking! Both are obviously quite shook up from seeing each other again; it was a lovely moment, tentative, angry, funny, coy, even a bit flirty by the end, testing each other out.

And it took me sooo long to figure out where I knew Grace’s voice from – Downton Abbey, she was Daisy, would never have figured it out from her face but the voice was so familiar (no, I didn’t cheat). I did a few double-takes at one character Tom, he had a real look of Tom Hardy but it was one of the first-time actors (Dave Perkins), I suspect it won’t be his last.

Much of the filming was done in the area, in Heptonstall and Hebden Bridge, just along the valley from Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale (where David Hartley lived). I know the road through Cragg Vale up on to the moors very well, been along it many many times, with no idea that this was once the birthplace of a counterfeiting enterprise that almost toppled the British economy! Oh, one thing that struck me watching the first episode – the drystone walls. They’re quite dilapidated in areas now, but back in the late 1700’s they would’ve probably been in better condition than they are today (funny, the thoughts that pop into your head!)

No doubt the series will help attract yet more tourists to the area. I did get a copy of The Cragg Vale Coiners Walk but never got round to doing it, if this fine weather keeps up I shall give it a go next time I’m down. I might also pop into the Heptonstall Museum which has recently reopened (the local council had previously closed it as unviable), one of it’s rooms was used as a set in The Gallows Pole. The museum is open from Thursday to Sunday 11am – 4pm. It’s not far from the graveyard where David Hartley was buried after his hanging in York.

If you’re an energetic type you can walk up to Heptonstall from Hebden Bridge! (well, a very energetic type, it is a very steep climb) There are two fine pubs up there, The White Lion and the Cross Inn, both frequented by coiners back in the day. The place is literally steeped in history, sorry, I just had to get that in.

It’s rather late, I must to bed. Goodnight!

If music be the food of love…?

It’s been a tad sunny in Edinburgh, and warm too! Summer concerts at Murrayfield are back, Harry Styles was playing the other evening, feather boas everywhere! I hadn’t been paying attention, so first thought was, oh my god, so many hen parties in one day?! The bands playing on Waverley Bridge had a fine day of it providing pre-show entertainment.

Naturally, The Kennedy’s Project were there taking turns with other buskers, they always pull a good crowd anyway, but the sunshine and Styles fans really busied things up! I had things to do, so couldn’t hang around but as I went past I thought the band were louder than usual, did they feel the crowd’s enthusiasm and cranked up the volume? It is a fairly noisy area with all the traffic and people, a few steps further on and you’d hardly be aware of any live music – unless it’s bagpipes.

There’s plenty of areas in the city centre where buskers set up and play, and since the dark days of lockdowns there have been plenty of buskers around to add a little sparkle to the day. Why, I might not have become aware of the awesomeness of Ol’Times if I hadn’t happened upon them busking. They packed out Whistlebinkies and no doubt other venues across the UK, by busking locally to promote themselves and help finance the tour.

Are you going somewhere with this, Brucie? I can hear you wondering – yes I am. See I recently became aware that the council have launched a consultation regarding busking and to help “determine if we need additional powers to manage amplification of sound in public places”, ummm. CEC (City of Edinburgh Council) are consulting the people? Not possibly with their minds already made up? – I say this, as I’ve completed their questionnaire and really felt it was trying to lead me to being down on busking (from Facebook I know I’m not the only one with this impression). My worry is that the council will go seriously OTT on this, they’re not known for being level-headed and rational.

There are already signs up in some areas to remind buskers of local guidelines of no amplification after 9pm, fair enough, though a busker without any amplification would be unlikely to be heard over the noise in the Grassmarket on Friday and Saturday nights! Buskers are asked to keep to a “considerate volume” and regularly move pitches, I reckon most do. Sure there are some bad eggs, there always will be in all things, and they’ll continue on their merry way no matter what regulations come in, they won’t give a damn. In Scotland the police already have powers to move on performers if necessary, so what additional powers are CEC wanting?

I find it quite sad that some humans seem to have lost the ability to just talk calmly, listen to each other calmly, pause to give thought out responses, accept that other points of view can be valid even if disagreeable; and whatever happened to magnanimity and grace in defeat? I get that some businesses may find it difficult to tell a busker just outside their door to turn it down, but maybe they’re just not thinking and are unaware how annoying they’re being? Maybe they are d**kheads, but maybe they’ll apologise, even be embarrassed by their lack of awareness (of course, embarrassment can also lead to an altercation if they try to defend the undefendable).

I think the problem will be with what the council consider as overamplification and their reactions. Sure there is just too loud, then there’s too loud in one place that couldn’t be heard in another. Times and places, people! Blanket rulings would be overly harsh, while overcomplicated rules will deter shy, new buskers (who should be nurtured and encouraged as possible greats of the future) and the bolshy ones won’t care. And what about bagpipers? Where will they fit in with their noise levels?

This issue has had me remembering back to the mid-nineties and one of my favourite Fringe bands Bean. They came over from Australia for three Fringes, mainly busking on the Mound, but they also managed to get a few very late night gigs in the original Gilded Balloon on the Cowgate. This was the Mound before the Half Price Hut took up residence, so a lot busier and packed with folk.

Bean only had an amp for the acoustic guitar, (the trombone and drum didn’t need anything), but no mics for voices – can you imagine that these days?! They were really quite fine without, but then the ever nearby panpipers added amps!! Really, no! Those panpipes were in-bloody-cessant at the time (I swear some tourists must have left Edinburgh thinking that panpipes were a Scottish thing!) No-one else got a look-in when they piped up, yes, problems with overamplification are not anything new!!

I’m guessing final song of the set, Moondance 🧡
Bean and gone

I’ll leave you with a great comment I saw on Facebook on the subject of how the council will deal with buskers, “You’ll no doubt find a way to charge them by the decibel, and then the louder the better!!!”

Toodle pip!

Deep in a cave in Edinburgh…

Well, that was rather excellent on Thursday night! Most definitely if I had a time machine I’d go back and enjoy it a few times more! Support band the Cumbiatones certainly warmed up the crowd with their South American grooves, bodies relaxed and loosened, gyrating to the band’s compulsive rhythms – warmed up and chilled out!

Scott’s green Gretsch was sat waiting centre stage, it truly is a magnificent creature!

The last time Logan’s Close played The Caves was back in February 2020, to launch the new single Lost In You, played as the final number that night. Quite fitting then to open with it – the crowd went wild with approval, the LC roller-coaster had begun, everyone was onboard, time for some fun!

Naturally, most of the setlist was from the upcoming album Heart-shaped Jacuzzi (and part of the set too – recognise the telly?) with a few classics thrown in the mix. Funny, that, Listen To Your Mother is now an old LC number, most definitely a classic though. I first saw them perform it in Sneaky Pete’s six years ago (exactly six years ago on the 23rd); it’s been the end number, an encore number, now its settled within the set. Party bangers, introspective moods, tales from the Close, they were all there, changing the pace, leading us on.

The crowd were putty in their hands, gleefully bouncy to Eleonara, strung out by Give It To Me (or is that one just me?), punctuating every start and end with rapturous noise. The latest single Gouching On The 33 popped up about midway, bloody great it was! We were pulled sharply from the laguidity of Gouching by a cracking drum solo by Gavin, and how good was that ease into the start of Babestation? Oh, it was good, so succulent a transition.

From possibly the classic from current LC, to their first classic LTYM, on to the heavy stuff, Mock Marble Linoleum is a wondrous creation with it’s heavy guitar sounds, swirly keyboards and Scott’s velvety narrative. After a wander over Curious Terrain it was time for another LC classic, I’m so so glad it’s still in there, I Want You, always a stunner, if it doesn’t give you chills, well.

Swirly keyboards in mind, I was kinda wondering why SeanKeys was seated, he’s usually jumping around! Was he injured? I caught up with him after the gig, nah, he was fine, he’d been told to sit there and although he missed bouncing about, he admitted that his playing was probably better for it. I actually quite liked the little scene with the lamp, SeanKeys isn’t always very visible off to the side, not tonight!

Fantastic Man was on the setlist too, but the lads were running out of time (there’s a very strict ten o’clock finish in this venue); they made a quick dive off the stage to be cheered back on for encores. I’ll just say here that Dans Le Jardin will forever now have a subtitle Sorry Mum for me (you had to be there). Go out with a bang, they say, Hot Blondes In Your Area Tonight did that with bells on.

What a belter of a gig! Again, please! The lads had James Gilhooly of Dislexic Film onstage with them, filming the whole thing (never play Twister against that guy, he’s very flexible). I wonder what they’re planning to do with the results – should be great viewing! And if I were to pick a favourite from the night? Oo, tough choice, Merry-Go-Round.

Toodle pip!

Harold, yes, Chris, no, Elsie, yay

I was at the cinema last night to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, oh it was so good. Harold is played by Jim Broadbent, one of our finest actors, a perfect piece of casting! I read the original book a few years ago and Jim Broadbent is just how I pictured Harold, with his gentle manner and slight bewilderment at situations. His wife is played by Penelope Wilton, another of our finest, the two together really show how it should be done!

There is, as usual, a lot cut from the book to fit the story into a movie time frame but the essentials are there. If you happen to see the film and enjoy it, you really should read the book; if I happen to see a copy in a charity shop I’ll definitely by buying it for a second read. The film seemed to be hardly on for any time in cinemas but it won’t lose anything on a smaller screen so do catch it on whatever stream you fish in.

The previous evening I popped out to see Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, hmmm. Not something I’d bother with without an Unlimited card but the reviews were quite good – erm, reviews by folk who haven’t seen many fantasy adventure films before?! Yes, it was going be fairly generic but I was hoping the script and performances would sparkle, nope. Ok, I enjoyed Michelle Rodriguez, great to see her again, but Chris Pine, nope, nope, nopity, nope (still doesn’t figure how he got the girl in This Means War over Tom Hardy).

Two out of three, that evening between the North West twigs and Yorkshireland, I went to see Renfield, another film only in cinemas for a short time, it was my only chance to see it. So glad I did, Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult together, that only had my interest, but Nic Cage as Dracula?! Oh yeah. Hoult plays our eponymous hero, Renfield the putupon lackey of the vampire; he’s had enough and seeks solace at a self-help group for people in co-dependent relationships…..

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, very funny, sharp and violent; Cage being Cage and Hoult doing that thing he does so well, but with added action and violence. I could definitely watch this again and probably will. Renfield won’t be for everyone, maybe not someone who thinks Dungeons & Dragons is an excellent film.

Anyhow, I need to sort myself out, have a bite to eat, spruce up – I have a date with Elsie tonight! Yes, Logan’s Close are playing a sold out show at the Caves tonight, just over three years since the last time. So, so excited!

Toodle pip!

It’s come round again

‘Twas the night before Eurovision, and I have a magnificent rack of spare ribs defrosting in the fridge, gonna marinade them first thing in the morning. I’m thinking half in a barbecue sauce and half in a Chinese type of thing – I’ll just be ad-libbing both with what I can find, that’s how I roll. Still to get a bottle of prosecco and some pear juice (makes the perfect Eurovision drink); hopefully the stall that sells baba ghanosh will be at the Farmers Market in the morning, a very tasty dip with flat bread!

I’ve watched both semi-finals so know what to expect in the Final. All but two of the songs I picked for the final have gone through – there are more songs I wished had not made it through! Romania and Azerbaijan are the unlucky two; and while Portugal’s beautiful song is through, apparently no song sung second in the Final has ever come first, shame.

There’s no song that really stands out, but there are a few I really don’t want to see win. A quick glance through my scrawlings, I want Armenia, Austria, Australia, Czechia and Portugal to do well, Moldova too. Who can tell? Oo, and there’s a new Rest of the World public vote added in this year; I’m not sure how it’ll work but it could mix things up a bit.

Tonight I’ve had the telly box on BBC4 for all things Eurovision, yes, a whole evening of various programmes on one topic. Do other countries have such full-on Eurovision nostalgia every year, I wonder? Hey, I got to indulge my moose crush on MĂ„ns Zelmerlöw, I’m happy. He’s on my Spotify Europop playlist that I’ll have on tomorrow as I tidy round.

I may have a break from the madness in the afternoon – Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters are playing Whistlebinkies at four o’clock (for those not into Eurovision, he’ll be at B Bar in the evening). I’ll possibly pop back there late on to check out the midnight band, Steepwater Canyon, call me intrigued.

Oh, The Scat Rats went down brilliantly last Tuesday midnight at Binkies. The place was busy when I got in just before the lads began, too busy for me to get a good view, but as is often the case late on, many left after the first set (well, that is around one o’clock) so I scooted forward some. It all looked fairly empty when Carl started Runaway with his usual flourish, that pulls them in, by the end of it, that part of the pub was busy again!

Everyone was having a great time, the Rats were on fine form, enjoying raucous applause after every song, the crowd joined in plenty (check out my Instagram reels), it was one of those nights. Little Green Bag is now a regular on the setlist, an excellent addition.

Another excellent addition is the latest single from Marah and Rough’s other, Logan’s Close. Gouching On The 33 came out on the midnight between me arriving back in Edinburgh and heading to Yorkshireland the following morning, I just had to have a quick listen before I headed off! Oh boy, gorgeous! It’s been a semi-regular inclusion for the Rats, I really can’t call it yet which way I like best, the acoustic duet or the studio LC sound. There’s a video out too, filmed in Carl’s mum’s cafe, it’s on YouTube do check it out!

Must go, it’s very late, I need my beauty sleep. Toodle pip!

Not your average Sunday evening

Oh lordy, so glad I got back up yesterday evening! I knew that The Buccaneers were playing Stramash at ten, which is always good, but I had no idea they would be that good! Wowzah. On fire they were, and with plenty new covers too. I didn’t arrived back in Edinburgh until the back of eight, just time to put things away, eat and faff a while; well, I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t actually be a ten thirty start in reality.

Nope, it was ten o’clock, The Buccaneers were already getting down to business when I trotted in, with fellow creative James Gilhooly filming them. Did his presence perk up the performances? Was it the new set list? Was it the joy of having Luke Cunningham was back with his keyboards? Whatever it was, the band were soaring and took the crowd along with them.

Stramash was up for a good time last night, plenty were out with it being a Bank Holiday weekend, Mr Marah was on fire, yes, he’s always good but last night was one of those special nights, he was totally in his element, oh he shone (shined?) brightly. I look forward to what James Gilhooly will put together from the evening, when it’s out I will let you know, really you will have to see it, it’s gonna be awesome!

Among the new tunes were Heard It Through The Grapevine, The Weight (the song with the line “Take a load off fanny” see now you know the one), Feeling Alright? a classic originally by Traffic. Donavon song Season of the Witch was in there with great keyboard swirly bits and Mr Marah rocking it on his guitar. Oh, and California Dreamin’ had a tasty jam in it (to be seen on my Instagram).

One after 909 stayed in, nice. I got a great quick snippet Carl and Simon Gibb singing, not an easy thing to do filming a drummer – there’s very few angles where he’s visible! I loved Shake Your Hips as did the crowd, all indeed shaking their hips and everything else, and all with the beat; they had the floor bouncing to the rhythm!

For shame that I write a whole blog post about a band and not mention the bass player; there, steady, reliable but rarely mentioned. Ewan Gibson, also part of Nicole’s Back-up Crew, the Black Diamond Express and no doubt others, he’s a tad busy. I’ll also give a mention to John Mackie the best on sound and lighting in Stramash, LA Woman is awesome anyway but he adds the cherry on top!

Hopefully The Buccaneers will be back soon, and they haven’t played Binkies in a while, just sayin’. The Scat Rats are back on the midnight watch at Whistlebinkies tomorrow night and next Tuesday (according to their website). Must get an early night tonight.

Toodle pip for now!

See what I mean?!

That road trip again

So there I was in Gairloch, but not for long, my destination was further up the coast, more single track roads, tight bends and potholes to rival Edinburgh’s! I was out in the twigs again, Melvaig, a scattering of crofts and houses, no shops, the closest are back in Gairloch (again, there is fair warning in the Airbnb notes). Oo, another great find, this Airbnb lark is fun; Seacroft is a fine semi-detached cottage (the owners live next door) with views over to the Western Isles and Skye.

Annoyingly the weather took a turn for the worse from warm and sunny to cold with baltic winds, some rain and the odd bits of sleet and hail! No amazing sunsets for me with all those clouds, but I did get an interesting shot of the setting sun’s reflection on a window one evening….

I had a lovely relaxing few days, afternoon walks, a couple of meals out, the comfiest, largest bed I’ve ever slept in (it can be converted into twin beds), free movies on the telly. Oh yeah, I got to see Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre a cracking movie with Hugh Grant doing his best Michael Caine impersonation and Jason Statham doing his usual.

The night sky is amazing there (when the clouds clear away), I even saw a shooting star, yay. I was hoping for a glimpse of the aurora borealis, well, more than a glimpse, but a wee glimmer was all I got. Maybe if I’d figured out how to put my phone’s camera on to night mode, I could have seen more but I definitely saw something.

On a walk from Melvaig

The view from Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen, where I enjoyed an excellent lunch
The view from the cottage lounge. I should mention the goldfinches, such beautiful birds!
Me chilling in the lounge
Me chilling in the sunshine
One of the locals, an alpaca called Bruce!

Yes, I took one or two photos, you’ll find more on my Instagram and Facebook. Oh, there’s a reel I filmed out on the roadside looking round at the countryside with just the sounds of birdsong and lambs bleating; like so many other times on this trip I was reminded of New Zealand, I really want to go back there!

I had hoped to have a long leisurely drive back to Edinburgh with plenty of stops but as the weather was wet, wet and more wet, nah. At least I had some excellent driving music to keep me going. First on was Rodriguez (both his albums), not something I play overly much but they are both so fine! Next up, Dave Gleeson, once of the Screaming Jets (an aussie band), a CD my bud left for me, never actually played until now – huh, it’s really good! Great production on it, great tunes and his voice and attitude, just what I needed, yeah, it got played a lot .

No rest for the wicked, I got back down to Edinburgh and set off for Yorkshireland the following morning. Same music plus some Hedwig and his angry inch, different journeys require different soundtracks. Tomorrow I head back to my moose cave and normality (well, my normal).

I’ll leave you with a few more pics of Gairloch….

just round to the left of the last pic, look at that blue!
on top hilltop above Gairloch harbour
these two really don’t see eye to eye
From Melvaig, the sunset over the Western Isles

On the road again…

Hello, yes I’m still alive, just had a busy couple of weeks. Well, I say busy, I went on a road trip up to the north west of Scotland for a week, then straight afterwards headed down to Yorkshireland, that’s a fair few miles covered. Made sure I had the essentials, my uke, some decent cider and my brolly (rain was forecast)….

I could have headed up the A9 to Inverness but as the forecast was good for the first few days I decided to take a more scenic route and spend a night near Kyle of Lochalsh, boy did that decision pay off! What a glorious day the Friday was; a full tank of petrol, great music and awesome scenery! It’s been twenty odd years since I’ve been been that way – it won’t be another twenty til the next time!

Glen Ogle viaduct
Beinn Dorian (this pic so makes me think of New Zealand)

My route was up through Callander to Lochearnhead, over west to Crianlarich, then the A82 up to Invergarry, passing through the wonderful pondy bit before Glen Coe, had a brief stop at the Commando Memorial outside Spean Bridge to pay my respect.

The Commando Memorial
there’s still snow around these parts
Loch Lochy or possibly Garry! With stone art by yours truly

Did I mention how awesome the scenery is out that way? Wow, I could have pulled over so many many times but I had a destination to reach for early evening, just as well! From Invergarry it was a left turn on to the A87 up pass lochs Garry, Cluanie and Duich until I passed over the bridge at the start of Loch Long and took a right turn to drive along it’s north shore up to Sallachy, where I head booked an Airbnb for the night.

Some view, huh?

First Airbnb I’ve ever stayed in, and boy, it’s set a very high bar! The most idyllic location, lovely hosts, a very reasonable price which included a full cooked breakfast (a most excellent breakfast, worthy of a certain song) and a magnificent cat called Hugo (the room was very small with a single bed but I was fine with it). If this description has tickled your fancy be aware, it really is past the sticks into the twigs on single track roads (with passing places), there are no shops anywhere nearby in walking distance, the hosts have mentioned this in their blurb, they are not joking!

View from the sofa at Otter Bay

Refreshed and belly filled, I continued north up the A890 to the end of Loch Carron where I opted for the prettier more scenic route of the A896 past Sheildaig and Torridon to Kinlochewe. Not a road to rush, not that it can be with all the single track parts, enjoy the pace, take your time, be courteous and considerate, wave thanks to fellow road users – and never park in a passing place!

pretty but don’t park
I’d tell you where this was but I have no idea!

I reached Gairloch by mid afternoon. Ah, Gairloch, I have the vaguest but fondest of memories for this little place from when I was very young. We stayed in the Old Inn when the old bridge next to it was the main road through, we went paddling next to it trying to catch tiddlers (unsuccessfully). Happy times!

As it’s late I’ll leave you at Gairloch, more when I get time (it’s all very busy this family mullarky, honestly I never get a minute to myself!) I’ll put more pics on Instagram in the morning if I get a chance.

Toodle pip!

Gimme some Ol’Times rock’n’roll

They came, they rocked, they conquered, and now they’re about to storm down across England, Newcastle first. Ol’ Times gave Binkies another night never to be forgotten, talk about the passion, baby! Going on for three hours, until half past midnight – I had no prior knowledge of the extended time slot, so it came as a most excellent surprise!

The place was buzzing in anticipation, busy with folk trying to grab a good space to seeing the band, when in walked three beanpoles, skinny but wide-shouldered, they hovered about at the back looking around. They seemed harmless enough, but just a look between myself and the chap I was chatting to, we both already knew where they’d decide to stand, and indeed, just six foot from the stage!! Yes, I’ve ranted about this before, but jeez, come on! They stood like a mini mountain range with peaks around 6’6″, the folks immediately behind had no chance of seeing anything. And breathe.

I had my eye on a good side spot which I sidled into once the band were onstage doing the soundcheck. I had a fresh pint of Stewart’s Harlequin (another good brew from them), I was ready. First song, Ol’ Times started with a bang, All The Way To The Top written just 28 days previous (I know this because Kai, the drummer, mentions it before he gets the crowd chanting). Straight into the classic Walking The Dog, sung by one of the guitarists Colm, how to keep the temperature rising!

It was during the first set that I noticed Gabriele’s voice reminding me of Marc Bolan, there was one song in particular where I really heard it. He is a brilliant frontman and whilst I’ve likened his singing to others, Gabriele has a unique voice with a mischievous edge that immediately entranced me from the first time I heard it.

The band were obviously enjoying themselves, having a blast, as much as the crowd were. We got sleazy rock, funky beats, rolling jams; all delivered with easy, laidback confidence and irresistible charm. Think Bad Company but take out all the so-seriousness and angstiness and add some of the nonchalance of early AC/DC aussie boogie woogie (the start of Give It To Me is so this).

The second set included a real blast from the past for me, Come On In My Kitchen, apparently they used to play it regularly but hadn’t for about a year until that afternoon when they were busking. As it was back in their consciousness, the band picked it up and made a tasty bluesy jam with it. I’ve since dug out The Joker by The Steve Miller Band from my record collection (side 2 track 3), well, I had to give it a spin! It’s the only other time I’ve heard it, used to love howling along with it (check it out, you’ll get why). Apparently it’s an old Robert Johnson song; that’s my one thing learnt today!

The jams got longer in the second set, Gabriele just put words to them on the spot, a true showman, and as is traditional there was a drum solo, two words that used to strike fear and boredom into many hearts, but, I dunno, have the new generations of drummers figured out something the previous didn’t? I enjoy them now, and Kai doing that thing (as the band call it), oh my, ’tis a fine thing to behold. The crowd vibed along with the grooves, I don’t think anyone wanted the music to end, if Whistlebinkies had a beating heart it would’ve been stolen by Ol’ Times last Friday night.

Tonight Ol’ Times are in Geordieland, that’ll definitely be one mighty fine time for all. One word of advice to anyone planning to see Ol’ Times as they head south, take a pen so you can get the guys to sign their CD (you’ll be wanting to buy one be the end of the gig!) as they probably won’t have remembered to have pens with them. These guys are definitely gonna be big so catch them now if you can!

I’ll leave you with shots from Friday night in Binkies, no, I didn’t manage to get a clear pic of the bassist, sorry!

from top left clockwise, Gabriele, Manuel, Colm and Kai

When in Rome….

Or an Irish bar in Glasgow late on a Thursday night, not somewhere anyone would expect to find this moose, drinking Magners cider too! Well, I’ve never been a fan of guinness and, being totally out of my element Irish cider seemed logical (no, you will never see me drinking the stuff anywhere else).

Yes, I adventured West to see Ol’ Times, better there than Penicuik, which it turns out is not happening (shame) instead they’re back in Binkies tonight (yay). Do I mind that I went all that way for a second look when they’ll be back in Edinburgh? Don’t be daft! Not remotely. Saw a great gig, discovered a new place and a new band.

The place, Malone’s is rather nice. Tucked down a little lane, blink and you’ll miss it, the bar’s at street level with the music venue above it. Doorstaff direct folk into the bar before the gig starts and give a shout when the door opens. Upstairs is a fair size, very long and a tad narrow, but it works. Malone’s has a good ambience to it with great barstaff up and downstairs, I felt comfy and welcome. It’s only a short walk from Buchanan Street Bus Station, very handy indeed.

The new band was The Best Bad Influence were first on-stage, boy were they fun! A three piece rockabilly band, double bass, drums and the guitarist sang. There were standard classics and their own stuff, all played with style and swing and a grin. I did spot that one of their originals started by borrowing from a great old ZZ Top tune She Loves My Automobile a real blast from the past (from DegĂŒello an awesome album from before Eliminator). It would be great to see them over in Edinburgh in Stramash or Whistlebinkies, they’d go down really well in both.

And on to the main event, Ol’ Times were mighty fine, just a shame there were some technical problems, not that we, the audience noticed them but a brief chat afterwards revealed an unhappy bunny (hey, being fussy about quality is no bad thing), you’d never have known from his performance. If there was anything slightly down from their Binkies gig, I just assumed it from being in Glasgow rather than Edinburgh (just kidding!)

It was fun to be over West knowing the band would definitely put some Edinburgh mentions into their banter to bait the crowd. Whilst it was busy, it didn’t look to be as packed as Binkies, but the singing was louder I reckon (after a wee jibe!) The band wound up just after one but as Malone’s is open til much later plenty folk hung around, me included as the next bus wasn’t until two. No way was I leaving before the very end! Hey, I need to soak up every sweet morsel of sound to keep me going.

And on that note, I shall take myself on a wander to Waverley Bridge. Toodle pip!

Ol’ Times at Malone’s out West