That’s all right? I’ll say!

Saturday night I toodled back to the cinema for Baz Luhrman’s Elvis and I loved it! Sure he plays fast and loose with the facts but this a Baz Luhrman movie not a gritty warts’n’all biopic, what did people expect?! I had no problems with Austin Butler’s Elvis, and Tom Hanks’ Colonel Parker was a great departure from his usual roles, bet he enjoyed playing the bad guy for once (has he ever played a bad guy before?). The soundtrack is great fun, I enjoyed the mix-up of styles, all the scenes around Beale Street were a total delight for eyes and ears alike; and Trouble, oh my, it was rather fine.

Elvis does skirt around a lot of stuff but how long would it have been to get everything in? It was already two hours 39 minutes long, not that I particularly noticed the time, the film fair sweeps along and carried this viewer with it. For me it’s a cautionary tale of talented boy looking for fame and fortune makes a deal with a devil which ultimately costs him everything, any resemblance to Elvis Presley was intentional. I could happily see it again before it disappears, that’s how much i enjoyed it!

The title of this post, you may have guessed, comes from the song That’s All Right which features in various forms through Elvis. It’s also the second song that The Scat Rats played on Friday evening in Stramash, it usually crops up in their sets somewhere (you can catch a bit of it on my Instagram). I headed up the road determined to catch more than the last few songs of the first set (I always intend to get there earlier but time seems to go incredibly fast late Friday afternoons), haha, turns out the bar was so dead they’d held off starting for a while. It happens in summer, people are staying out in gardens and beer gardens longer to enjoy the evenings; even when the lads started it was still very quiet but their magic touch weaved it’s way out into the streets and drew people in (to paraphrase from Field Of Dreams, if you play, they will come). A very appreciative crowd they were, mind The Scat Rats were on fine form, particular stand-outs for me were Tonight The Streets Are Ours and The Man In Me, beautiful both 💛

I’m being spoiled this month as the Rats are back in Stramash a week on Friday and the Fridays before and after that it’s the Willie Dug Band in the early evening slot, yay. Earlier today Stramash shared on Facebook that the Rats will also be there seven o’clock on Friday 5th August, ah, first Friday of the Fringe so I’ll most likely be seeing previews, hey ho. Yes, it’s just over four weeks until the Fringe preview shows start! And kinda Fringe related, the Cowshed as was during previous Fringes under George IV Bridge is now an extension of Subway next door, the Cowshed folk have mooved to 27 West Port. They opened just recently, it’s a low building on the right-hand side as you leave the Grassmarket; a pub that’s never appealed to me in all it’s many reincarnations over the years, but as it’s now the new Cowshed I popped in for a look after the cinema. I was pleasantly surprised, especially as they’re having live music every evening – I missed Del & Bart (from The Kennedy’s Project) earlier in the week according to the board on the wall.

Just three more sleeps ’til this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme is properly out i.e. in solid paper form. There’ll be billboards up all around the place with Fringe posters in no time. My first Fringe on Instagram, if only I knew what I was doing with it!

Toodle pip!

Movies, music and a little light rain

Last night I went to see Top Gun: Maverick, nothing unusual there, I am a regular cinema-goer; the thing is, I’ve never particularly liked Tom Cruise and I’ve never watched Top Gun all the way through (even on telly, the bits I’ve seen have never enticed me to sit and keep watching). I still don’t get the guy’s appeal, but Top Gun: Maverick was an enjoyable watch even if it was fairly predictable. Yes, yes, the flight scenes were great but that’s only as expected from a Tom Cruise movie.

I saw a much better film on Sunday afternoon, I was dragged along for company (why are some folk unable to go to the cinema on their own?!), certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it I as much as I did. The movie? Good Luck To You, Leo Grande a film about a retired widow who hires a sex worker so that she might finally experience all the things she missed out on through her very unfulfilling marriage. It helps that the widow is played by Emma Thompson, who once again turns in an amazing performance; and Daryl McCormack as Leo, he’s well grand, acts as fine as he looks (in his case I can see the appeal).

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is intelligent, funny and frank, hats off to Katy Brand for creating and writing such a great grown-up film. All the self-doubts, fears, overanalysing of Emma Thompson’s character will be well recognisable to many, myself included; oh, to have been more gungho and fearless through life. The denouement of the film was perfect and completely satisfying (he said with a wink), of course I say this as a moose, what older human males will make of it I really couldn’t say.

The cinema wasn’t my only outing on Sunday, in the evening I went along to La Belle Angele for the launch of Nicole Cassandra Smit‘s debut album Third In Line (that’s Nicole as in the one with the back up crew). Tonight the crew weren’t backing her, instead they were all out front in the audience. Wow, she sure gave a captivatingly awesome performance with a fine brass section on the side. The album will be released on 8th July, there’s already a single off it on Spotify. Yeah, I really should get on and book a ticket for her show at the Jazz Festival.

Let’s just go back one day further to Saturday, a fine afternoon – until I trotted along to Waverley Bridge to see if The Kennedy’s Project were playing. They were, with extras, and they kept playing through the shower, it went on for a good (or bad?) ten, fifteen minutes or so, but it was fairly light. Lucky for me the person behind put up a brolly which nicely sheltered me from much of the precipitation. The band retaliated against the weather with Have You Ever Seen The Rain? (I’ve put a clip of it on Instagram, you can indeed see the rain on it). The extras? Dara Watson trying to keep her harp relatively dry (yes, she from Whistlebinkies a few weeks back with Bart from TKP) and Jay Supa (frontman for Supa & Da Kryptonites).

Even after the sun came back out during Hound Dog, the rain refused to give up for a while, not that anyone was driven to seeking shelter elsewhere, most stayed to watch. Finally the band outplayed the rain and finished the set in glorious sunshine. Ah, the joys of a Scottish summer!

was it something I said, guys?

It’s good to be back

……said Messrs Marah and Rough at least a dozen times each last night. Yes, those Scat Rats were back on the seven o’clock slot at Stramash on Friday evening, yay! It’s been a whole five weeks since the last time – some of us were having withdrawal symptoms. “Good” doesn’t really cover how great it was to see them again!

It was the usual mix of covers and their own stuff, one cover they do divinely is Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Richard Hawley (I had to look that up). It’s a shivers down the back, bittersweet, honey of a song; I really should check out more of Hawley’s stuff, I think. They don’t often play it, so it’s a treat when they do as their harmonies really shine on it. Another rarely performed treat was Bob Dylan’s The Man In Me, was I the only one who immediately thought of The Big Lebowski? Probably not. Carl’s guitar work was beaut here, the Scat Rats really were glad to be back and it showed.

As usual now Babe Station was in there, Hot Blondes In Your Area Tonight and Gouching On The 33 from the upcoming Logan’s Close album also got a look-in. And if you want to check out the acoustic versions of these three gems you can! When LC went back to Germany earlier this month they performed them live during a radio interview, Logan’s Close Interview & Liveset on Chocolate Soup radio station, available to watch on Facebook. I’ve gotta mention the neat little segue in the Rats final song last night; You Can’t Judge A Book as usual had a crowd up on the floor when a large bunch started doing an odd dancey walk thing round in a circle, our boys responded by breaking in a quick bit of Walk Like An Egyptian, nice one!

The evening was still young so I had another pint and hung around for the next band, The Moanin Bones. I’ve not seen them before even though they play Stramash and Whistlebinkies fairly regularly, the singer/guitarist Chris Buckley often does the sound for bands at Binkies, not really sure why I’ve never checked them out. They’re rather good, yup, I’ll go see them again; and I could be wrong but the bass player also plays with the Kennedy’s Project, he was very spruced up in a rather cool shirt last night but I think it was the same guy.

the Moanin Bones

In case you’re wondering why it’s taken me so long to post, I had to save the day down in Deepest Darkest Yorkshire, I was very busy. I may have taken the odd one or two pics whilst out pooch walking, I’ll leave you with a wee selection. Toodle pip!

I have no idea what the flowers are, sorry.

plenty of wild garlic flowering on the riverbank
Yorkshire, nuf said.

Hot blondes in the Auld Toun

I think the title of my last blog post confused a few Americans – they went looking for whisky talk and found a Dutch band instead! How to get attention though, just put the word scotch in, or maybe I’ve just suddenly gotten very popular in America?! Hahaha, nah. So what’s new? Not a lot. Oh, the Uke Hoot is back at the Kilderkin on Wednesday evenings, I really should get along there one week. I’m currently trying to master a Blues Shuffle in G that I found online, it could take a while but hey, it’s a fine excuse for not doing other things that I should be doing.

I was inspired to search out some bluesy uke playing after seeing Mr Marah play not once not twice but three times last weekend. Yay for social media keeping me informed – it’s not stalking when folk put their schedule on Facebook! First off, The Buccaneers were playing the after midnight slot at Stramash on the Thursday night. I had intended to go down to Leith Arches earlier that evening as Willie Dug was playing there along with three other bands; annoyingly, after tea my little relax on the sofa turned into a big time nap til around ten o’clock, dammit. A couple of episodes of Lucifer perked me up for stepping out into the night and up to Stramash.

Carl was back in Stramash for the seven o’clock slot Friday evening with fellow Scat Rat Scott Rough. Oo, we were treated to Hot Blondes In Your Area Tonight from the upcoming Logan’s Close album, nice! This pared down version really brought out the bittersweet-sounding chords and harmonies; music to make your soul soar whilst at the same time tearing a rip in your heart. A young couple completed the romance of the song by dancing together to it, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be enchanted for those few minutes, that moment in time.

Less than twenty-four hours again and the Scat Rats were doing an afternoon set in Whistlebinkies. I just caught the second set, it was my reward to myself for spending the previous two hours up a ladder carefully painting the final inch strip around the top of the kitchen walls. Hey, I have high ceilings, the concentration required to paint that neatly and not fall off the ladder was intense, I deserved to sit in a dark room with great music playing after that! There was a new Stewart beer on, a very nice session ale, just had the one half, you understand, just to relax after my endeavours.

And yay, I got to hear Hot Blondes again, a big reason for going along so I’m glad it wasn’t in their first set. There weren’t many in Binkies but the lads gave it gusto as always, Carl managed to break another two strings (I saw two go the previous evening!) – overexuberance?! So, a lot of the same songs always come up, but I could never be bored of listening to this pair, there’s always something to delight, a sound that’s tight but loose and always fresh.

In The Morning is sounding so good now (well, yes, it’s always sounded good but this is A+ with a cherry on top good); sitting in Binkies I realised this was the song on Friday night when I could have sworn Big Nick was there beside me enjoying it, saying, “Yep, those boys have it!” As the Rats wound up with You Can’t Judge A Book it finally twigged – Carl’s gotten a tad flamenco-ey at times, very like Nick did in the later years, that’s why he’s been hovering round.

Facebook tells me that The Buccaneers are back at Stramash this Sunday night (well, Monday 00:30), another late night. Mind, Facebook has also just told me the Close are back in Hamburg, a quick trip or will I be in bed before midnight on Sunday?

I’m sure Elsie won’t mind me sharing the latest shot of their magnificent mugs here

Scotch n Eggs

Friday night again, Etta James is serenading me, sweet. Had a very, very late night last night at Stramash, so I’ve been feeling somewhat jaded today. Oh, I’m not hungover just missing some sleep, I was drinking very slowly after discovering the latest price increase when I paid for my first pint – dropped down to halves after that. Mind, I would have spent considerably more if my evening had gone as originally intended and I’d gone to the Jazz Bar. Oh I went along (intending to while away a couple of hours) then went along back home, apparently everyone and their cousins had turned up for the Groove Thursdays jam session, not even enough room left inside to squeeze in a mouse never mind a moose!

Why didn’t I just go to Stramash or Binkies rather than back home awhile? Because, annoyingly both pubs had bands on that I would never willingly go see, one because I’ve had the displeasure before, and the other just really is not my thing. I’m very glad I did trot back out after midnight to catch Scotch the Band, well worth it! Phew, so glad was I, well it was late 2019 when I last saw them play and I was fairly drunk that night.

Scotch the Band hail from Holland, clad in black and white striped trousers, white shirts and braces, the drummer carries his kit slung low from his waist, no sitting around for this guy! There’s guitar and bass, and banjo and fiddle, oh and four of the band sing. Their style? Erm, party folk music? Revved up Balkan folk? It’s infectious in the best possible way. Scotch sing in Dutch and English, they sing about cheap vodka, weddings, the hair of the dog, they get the crowd singing raucously along. And after a week driving around Scotland they’ll be back in Edinburgh in Whistlebinkies, yay!

In other news, Co Co Co. were up from Dumfries at the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market last Saturday with some amazing Easter eggs.

I resisted buying one, but I did succumb to a packet of passion fruit truffle eggs and solid white chocolate raspberry eggs. OMG!! These guys know their chocolate but those passion fruit truffle eggs really are divine! (there’s a strawberry cheesecake chocolate in the pipeline that I’m really excited about)

I’ve been very controlled and just had one or two each day – until shortly after this picture this afternoon!

Dance like no one is watching

…. Oh, but they are. I mentioned in my last post that I was up dancing to The Buccaneers last week, not just tapping a foot or swaying to the beat, full on dancing, shaking it baby! Man, it felt good. Friday night saw me in Stramash for The Scat Rats doing the early evening slot; the lads were on top form, the audience (scant as we initially were) were audibly appreciative but no one danced. I know I praise Messrs Marah and Rough a lot, but really, In The Morning was sooo good – are they getting fired up now that their mini-tour is getting closer?

Second set started with a bang, One After 909 by the Beatles (great song, a regular inclusion in Bluefinger sets back in the day), still no one dancing. The place was starting to fill nicely, everyone was having a great time tapping fingers and feet, not even Listen To Your Mother could entice anyone up (and it really should have), and then, too soon, the final song You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover. The Buccaneers finished with that in Binkies, I danced then, by god I was going to dance now, so screwing up my courage I headed over to where a vague acquaintance was showing increasing signs of needing to dance. Would she like to? – Oh no, not just us two in front of everyone. She clearly wanted to dance! – But her friends wouldn’t. Turning around there was a line of folk all itching to move more than just a shoulder to the beat, if we got up they’d follow – Really? So I asked them, will you dance if we do? Yes, hallelujah, we started dancing and they joined us, as did plenty others.

Amazing what desperation will make you do, but someone had to get the ball rolling and last night that someone was yours truly. After that the ball stayed in play and any half decent tune got people dancing, the crowd were raring to go by the time the next band came on. I took my leave and headed home some time after midnight, if I’d been wearing socks they would have been well and truly danced off! That was truly a moment of happy for me, I miss my dancing days, or rather, nights. Oh, I never chose to stop dancing but, well, places close down, friends’ lives drift apart. But Brucie, you go out to see bands plenty, why not just get up and dance if you want? Because, because, like the lady and plenty others last night, I feel the fear.

The fear is a powerful deterrent, it can be subdued by copious amounts of alcohol but that can often result in the fear plus a dose of shame the following day, not good. My fear was drilled into my psyche in my teenage years good and proper; twice, a few years apart, I learnt that others are watching, judging, mocking, condemning you as a wierd freak. I learnt that if you’re out alone, but still trying to make the best of things, without the protection of a bunch of buddies, any hyenas nearby will sniff you out. Yes, that was many years ago now, but it can be hard to shake these things off. And hey, everyone has their own doubts and fears – next time someone tells you your fears and worries are irrational and daft, ask how they feel about spiders! Now that would be irrational, to fear spiders (here in the UK anyway).

And while I’m letting off a little steam, here’s another thing ……. a relative of mine recently accused me of being obsessed with a certain band! What?! Me? At the time, I made some feeble, mumbling jokey retort. Well, he’s just a scornful old misery guts, always out to deflate others’ enthusiasm because he feels none for anything anymore. Wish I’d turned round and asked when was the last time he felt passionately about anything! Certainly never in this century. Yes, my enthusiasm when I find something I love is amusing to others, but sorry, not sorry, that’s just the way this moose is.

Must go now and tidy round a bit before I head up to Stramash for the late set after midnight – it’s The Buccaneers, yay! Will I be dancing? Who knows what the night will bring, but probably not. In the morning though, I totally intend to do something that’s really scary to me but is water to a duck’s back to others. Wish me luck!

Toodle pip!

So 2021, any highlights?!

Oh 2021, we started the year thinking we might get past Covid and all the restrictions, ha, here we are a year later! After all the lockdowns of 2020, more of the same just made 2021 drag. This time round it just got boring, lethargy set in, no point trying to look forward to anything as it would most likely be cancelled, at best postponed indefinitely. So, were there any highlights? Hmmm.

Highlight numero uno, the snow in January and February, all from the east, so lovely powdery stuff, snowmen everywhere, sledges, snowboards, even skiing in Holyrood Park! Yes, decent snow in Edinburgh, again! Okay, so slippy as hell, but beautifully scary is better than greyly dull.

Highlight number two, finally being able to head down to see family in May. It felt so different to other journeys home, and so nice to see faces right in front of me and not on a screen. And hugs!

Numéro trois, cinemas re-opening, yay. I like seeing movies on the big screen. Oh what? Pubs were re-opening too? Sorry, not a highlight for me – too many constraints, the new normal; being able to go back to the cinema was way better to me. Tied for my top cinematic highlight of 2021 are Free Guy and Last Night In Soho both brilliant in very different ways.

Nummer vier, enjoying the beautiful summer weather at Portobello beach. After spending so much time in solitude in Holyrood Park, it was great to be among people on the beach, and so many nationalities, it felt quite cosmopolitan. Oh, I love the wildness and nooks and crannies of the Park but sometimes I do need company, to hear voices and laughter, a sunny day at the beach ticks those boxes.

Numero viisi, it had to be there, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2021. Okay, so it started real slow and I was dubious how good it would be, how many actual live In Person shows there would be, but as it progressed more acts came up (as the line from Field of Dreams says “If you build it, they will come”). Every few days more shows would be announced, more venues opened up, more seats became available at previously sold out shows because of the restrictions being eased; it was exciting and unpredictable, regular checks for updates were vital (I have no idea how the Online version went, I was done with screen-watching). The lack of the Half Price Hut meant I had to adjust my sights to fit my budget, Pay What You Can and Free Fringe shows featured a lot for me.

The Monkey Barrel Comedy Club was a highlight hosting weird and wonderful comedy; including John-Luke Roberts, Rob Kemp and two thirds of the Privates, all of my Fringe highlights! Oh, except one, the only show I saw at the Pleasance Courtyard, Tim Fitzhigham: Here Now. Tim’s always entertaining but he really was on top form for this one show in the Cabaret Bar, almost manic with glee at sharing his stories with a live audience.

August saw highlight numer pięć – live music back again! A band had started playing almost every day on Waverley Bridge, like, why not? It was good weather in general, the road was closed to traffic, plenty of room for people to pass by while others hung around and watched (generally safely distancing). All this fringing and good music got me itching for more, Stramash was open again with bands playing, I had to go along; and who was playing my first time back? The band from Waverley Bridge (aka The Kennedy’s Project), oh joys! They were such fun.

The autumn months of 2021 were as good as any time I can ever remember for seeing great live music: the Voodoo Rooms (especially The Courettes ❤); Stramash, of course; I became reacquainted with Whistlebinkies (I’m not sure why I didn’t go there for years!?); and, a particular highlight for 2021, Fur at Sneaky Pete’s! Yay! I’ve discovered the likes of Jed Potts and Willie Dug these last few months, it’s like a new vista laid before me; there’s been old friends in new guises, The Scat Rats, aka Scott Rough and Carl Marah from Logan’s Close, playing covers with a few of their own songs thrown in (bloody marvellous as per usual).

Sadly, what promised to be the highlight of the year, Logan’s Close Presents … A Christmas Pudding had to be postponed because of the latest covid variant. Mind, even without that shindig Logan’s Close take the top highlight of 2021 spot with the wonderful Logan’s Close on LimbicTV (Live from Aluhpasonics) back on the 27th March 2021; still available to watch on YouTube and I think there’s still a way to donate if you feel inclined to show your appreciation. I could wax lyrical about how great it was, or I could attempt a pingback to the post I wrote at the time So Close so fine, let’s see, by George, I think I did it! Hopefully if you click on the highlighted post title it should open up in a new tab [EDIT If it doesn’t open, try twice more, it may need coaxing], I hope (or you could scroll right to the bottom of this page and do a search for it).

If you do read about why this live music session takes the prize for 2021, you’ll notice my pleas for the audio recordings, well…….. I’ll tell you later.

Toodle pip, and may your god smile upon you in 2022 💛

I’ve never been to Barra

….. so Barra came to me, well, Storm Barra popped round. Luckily Edinburgh rarely gets the brunt of any bad weather, some poor sods had only just had their power reconnected after Storm Arwen to lose it again! (who chooses the names for storms?!) Arwen caused a right kerfuffle around the UK, she came the last weekend in November and set quite a high benchmark for the rest of the storms this winter! Storm Barra was never going to be as badass but he gave it go.

As I said, Edinburgh never gets hit as hard as other places, bad weather here is really just crappy weather, but, of course, folk will moan like it’s the absolute worst! Arwen brought Edinburgh cold high winds, some rain, and left a smattering of snow; I would have enjoyed a toddle around Holyrood Park but was booked to leave Edinburgh first thing on the Sunday morning, shame. At least there was snow where I was headed, and it was the easterly, powdery stuff, yay, and not so much as they had around Tan Hill in North Yorkshire, so getting about was fine.

The Tan Hill Inn, previously famous as the highest pub in Britain (1,732ft or 528m above sea level) is now famous for having a three day lock-in thanks to Storm Arwen. She brought 3ft of snow, but the high winds caused snowdrifts up to 9ft deep and downed a power line blocking the road, the pub was completely cut off – with over sixty folk inside, including an Oasis tribute band who’d been playing on the Friday night. The story made the news around the world, yesterday the pub’s Facebook page had an estimated audience size of 48M-56M, like wow! The tribute band Noasis (soon nicknamed Snoasis by the press) kept their fans updated on Facebook, finally announcing “Noasis have left the building”, hey, the story even got a mention in RollingStone.

This highest pub in Britain thing got me wondering about where the highest pub in Scotland is, the Highlands, surely? And how much higher could a pub in Yorkshire be than a pub up in the Highlands? It turns out, the highest pub in Scotland is nowhere near the Highlands, it’s actually way down in the south west in a village called Wanlockhead, goes by the name Wanlockhead Inn (no The for this Inn) and it falls 201ft short of the overall British title. Oh, and it’s not the second highest pub in Britain neither, that goes to The Cat & Fiddle in Cheshire at 1689ft above sea level. Have many folk visited all three as a thing, I wonder? Some years ago I may well have made it a challenge to myself, for now I’ll content myself with battling the wind blowing down the Cowgate!

I left Edinburgh after Arwen had swept through town and returned in time for Barra turning up. My trip away was also bookended by Carl Marah playing at Stramash, first with the Willie Dug Band ( I was going to see Willie Dug anyway, Carl was an unexpected bonus!) and then with his fellow Scat Rat, Scott Rough. After a full-on week it was so good to have a pint and listen to my favourite duo, the lads were on great form. I recall their rendition of Norwegian Wood was particularly fine, oh and they finished the first set with Del Shannon’s Runaway, don’t reckon I’ve heard them do that one before.

If I had to be stuck in a pub in the middle of nowhere for three days with a band, Logan’s Close would be my first choice, yes, above all other current bands (if we’re going full fantasy line-up, I’d need more time to think about it). As long as there was enough food in for full scottish fry-ups, oh yay, breakfast serenades!

I leave you with an attempt to replicate the plight of the Tan Hill Inn….

Speak easy at the Voodoo Rooms

Yes, I was back in the Voodoo Rooms again this week (and I’ll be there next week for Black Cat Bone). Not the big room this time, but the Speakeasy on the first floor, a very intimate venue. I didn’t think I’d ever been in there before, certainly never for a gig but the more I dwell on it, I reckon I may have seen a Fringe show in it years ago. There is bar at the back of the room but, as it was roasting in there, I trotted upstairs for a pint of Caesar Augustus for a bit of a cool down (there are two large air conditioning units on the ceiling but they didn’t seem to be doing much). On one of the side walls is a large mirror, a really large mirror. For aesthetics? To the make the room seem much bigger? Maybe to help shortarses like myself to get a good view of the bands! As usual for a music gig there was a substantial number of giants attending; my jigging around was only half inspired by the beats, the other half by trying to catch glimpses of the bands. Then I realised I got a much better view if I watched through the mirror, result!

I actually knew next to nothing about the bands playing; absolutely nothing about the two supports and only pictures of the headline band on a page I follow on Facebook. The pictures were super cool, oozed style and screamed 60’s vibe – if the band sounded half as good as the pictures that would still be bloody good. The bands?

Apologies to The Poppermost for my lack of organisation to get there earlier and see them, whilst waiting to get served at the bar I heard that I’d really missed a treat! Damn! My excuse? Rain, buckets and buckets of it! My usual mode of transport, Shanks’ pony is averse to the stuff. I’d hoped it might peter out, but by the back of 8 o’clock I had to come up with a plan c (to see the rain without it touching me).

I missed the very start of Les Bof! but I don’t think by much. Their bio on Facebook just says “UK premier French 60’s Garage Rock band!” Well, this moose likes French 60’s garage rock apparently, never knew that before! I love their style and sound, yes, very sixties and that dirty, gritty sound like early Dr Feelgood and the Animals. For the first time in a while the lack of cigarette smoke fog seemed slightly odd, definitely one of those gigs where once upon a time you could have cut through the smog with a knife! The singer Laurent Mombel sure likes to shake a tambourine, and being French he looks cool doing it. I have later discovered that the rest of the band are Scottish (an easy assumption to make that they were all French), well I reckon they’ve picked up a Gallic ambience from Mombel over time. I’ll be watching out for Les Bof! in future.

And then, The Courettes, like wow, talk about the passion, baby! I’m in love! Flavia Couri is a rare and beautiful creature, stylish and sultry, strong with a sweet mischievous smile, and by’eck, can she rock a guitar! Guys wanna be with her, girls wanna be in her gang. Alongside Flavia is husband Martin Couri on drums, and that’s the whole band, nothing else needed. They’re touring to promote their new album Back In Mono with a cover pic that describes their music perfectly, no words required. I would have bought the album that evening, but end of the month, you know.

If I had to describe their sound, I’d say, think of The Ronettes, trash it up, fuzz the guitar and add a wee snarl to the voice. One song has a line, “Look out! Look out! Look out!” which is a very obvious nod to The Shangri-Las’ Leader of the Pack, a classic in my book! The Courettes also have a new single out from the album, R.I.N.G.O. and yes, it’s a tribute to Ringo Starr. Ah, just twigged, it’s images of a seedy old funfair, fumblings in the dark, à la That’ll Be The Day that their music evokes for me (Ringo Starr starred in it). So many Courettes’ songs would be perfect for film soundtracks, someone call Tarantino!

I hope it’s not too long before The Courettes ride back into town. I need more ❤

That turned out pretty damn fine!

Last night wasn’t a good Friday night, it was a great Friday night! Oh yeah, I finally got round to seeing Free Guy and I think I may have to go see it again on the big screen before it disappears, I ❤ Ryan Reynolds. There’s a lot that I love about this movie – RR, Jodie Comer, Channing Tatum, Taika Waititi, great choices of music for some of the big scenes (especially the scene using Mama Cass’s Make Your Own Kind of Music), it is sooo visually stunning, a wickedly funny, witty script and, for me, great ideas and layers all delivered with a weirdly gentle innocence and charm.

I didn’t actually know much at all about Free Guy but it’s got Ryan Reynolds in it so that’s enough for me. I had heard stuff but had forgotten the details, like that Jodie Comer is in it. When Molotov Girl first appeared she made me think of Danni Minogue, then when I saw Millie, oh yay, it’s Villanelle, ah, yes, when you need someone who can do accents! The opening sequence with all the “sunglasses guy” stuff was such fun, and Channing Tatum too! Something of the premise came back to me, Free City is an online open-world video game and Guy is a background character who somehow breaks from his programming, game world and real world interactions ensue …. As I’m not a gamer at all I floundered a little, er, NPC? A non-player character? Ah, a background character within the game, yeah, I don’t play these games at all.

So, Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller, living a regular life, doing the same things every day, happens to spot the girl of his dreams – not part of his daily routine, it triggers something and he starts being more than he should be, he does the unexpected, he takes a pair of sunglasses off a bank robber, wow, the sunglasses let him see things he didn’t know were there (bit of an unwitting Matrix blue pill moment there). What Guy doesn’t understand is that the glasses are showing him what a game player sees, with them on the NPC becomes a game player and he moves away more from his programming, which causes Millie and everyone in the real world to think he’s a player/hacker. Guy finds Molotov Girl but she tells him he must level up to above 100 if he wants to speak to her again and shows him how to click the side of the sunglasses to see his level. He doesn’t really understand it but he really wants to see her again, how to level up? Take guns and money, she tells him, but he’s a good guy, and so begins the ascent of Blue Shirt Guy.

No more plot for you, just that Guy helps Molotov Girl in his world to help Millie in the real world fight the bad guy Antwan, played deliciously by Taika Waititi. Guy’s fight to be free to do whatever he wanted made me think of Wreck-It Ralph (another great film imo). There’s plenty in this film that sparks thoughts about other films, oo, a fresh one, remember Chris Hemsworth’s dancing in Ghostbusters and Bad Times At The El Royale? Channing’s moves in this made me think of how good he was in the tap-dancing sequence in Hail, Caesar! We need a film with the two of them in a dance-off – Mr Waititi, if you’re not busy?!

Yes, I need to see it again, there’s also Respect to see this week before it finishes, possibly Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings too. Thursday sees the new Bond film oot, that looked pretty good on the trailer. Oh yeah, I saw a trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage too, really looking forward to that!

You may be thinking that was my Friday night done, oh no, I hoofed it quickly down to Stramash to catch Willie Dug and his band (not the Cosmic Gents as seen at the Voodoo Rooms a couple of weeks ago). This was Willie on guitar and vocals with a drummer and a guy on harmonica, nothing more needed to make sweet sounds! Willie Dug is one magnificent hound, oozing style and charisma, shades of a young Malcolm McDowell, especially when he stripped off his shirt and put on a faux leopard fur jacket that was lying on a barrel just in front of the stage.

The Stramash crowd were really up for dancing, the band delivered and then some. For me the best of the bunch were Come Together (I notice it’s become a popular one to cover since the lockdowns), Roadhouse Blues and the final, one more song, Not Fade Away, ah, a song with many fine memories for me. The minimalness of the band recalled Bluefinger for me, Not Fade Away was a fitting number to head out into the night air on. To paraphrase from Free Guy.….

I may not be real, but for a couple of hours there I felt pretty alive