Another Friday evening….

Were you one of those kids who liked having music playing loudly while doing their homework? Parents constantly questioning how such a thing could be done. I wasn’t, never had the option; now, on occasion, I find watching live bands quite conducive to making notes for blog posts. The music clears away anxieties and excess clutter, ok, so it doesn’t produce one long clear stream of consciousness, more like random pop-up thoughts. If you’ve read much of this blog you’ll know that’s how I roll anyway (and if you have read much of it, thank you!).

What now follows is pretty much what I wrote in my notepad yesterday evening in Stramash while (whilst?) watching the Willie Dug Band. Like the start of the previous Friday’s seven o’clock slot, the place was dead, at least I assume so from the few that were there when I went in at the back of eight. Methinks Stramash may change the band times if this keeps up.

In Stramash just after eight, the band’s not on, must have played closer to the time slot than the Rats did last week. I wonder how many were in? The cord that’s usually still across the stairs is already down, I don’t reckon the numbers really warrant it yet. Stewart’s Citra Blonde is off so I’ve had to go for the Holyrood Pale Ale instead, interestingly I’m not as keen on it as I was, I do prefer the Citra now.

So yesterday the Fringe programme finally came out in solid form, yay. I went quickly through the entire thing last night – yes, quite a feat! It’s going to be an interesting year, many differences again after last year’s covid-embattled Fringe. Certainly many ticket prices have are up by a couple of quid, not unexpected with everything that’s going on in the world, but a bit ouchy to see all at once.

No Half Price Hut on the Mound anymore!! What?! That’s right. Apparently there will be something in place for cheap last minute tickets from the Fringe Box Office itself, no details of how this’ll work at present. I’ll miss standing, watching the display board taking an age to get round to the times I want to see, getting hassled by flyerers, “Are you looking for something to see?”,”No, I’m looking to see whether what I want to see is up there”. With no huge display board or Fringe App, how easy will it be to navigate through whatever this year’s set-up to find the ticket offers?

《the band’s on with Come Together one of my particular favourites. The guitarist so looks like Guy Martin》

That’s right, no Fringe App this year! Never thought I’d get so use to the Fringe App that I’d miss it, yes it was easy and useful, not that I actually bought tickets on it but the Nearby Now feature was really handy. There’s a lot of unhappiness about it on Facebook.

《wow, an extended jam of Sunshine, nice》

I’ve also noticed that they haven’t shown in the programme which shows are doing Friends Of The Fringe tickets, why?!? I have to log-in on my phone and find the show to check, aargh, load of bloody faff for why? Okay, I haven’t made as much use of the Friends 241 tickets in the last number of years but not being able to see at a quick glance is a negative to me.

《didn’t recognise that last song but now they’re on 54 46 That’s My Number by Toots and the Maytals, a favourite of Willie Dug.》

Its all e-tickets now and like last year all tickets bought together are tied into the e-mail receipt. Fine, except when you have four or five e-mails to check through find the right one for the show you’re about to see (it’s never the first one you open). Heaven help anyone who loses their mobile, remember how we used to be fine without them?!

《the Willie Dug Band are now on their last number for the evening, Higher, this song requires an audience response in the chorus, we gave it our all. I think he usually finishes with it but tonight, umm, did I detect a slight bitter ironic tone? Certainly that was a timecheck when he looked at his phone, wanting to get the set over with? Can’t blame him, not many came in at all, probably because it was another very warm, balmy evening so folk would want to be outside until as late as possible; a real shame as the band were good, some great longer jams going on to really get into, I enjoyed the music tonight》

Pint finished I headed home, okay so I popped my head into Binkies but it was a rather dull covers band so I wasn’t gonna waste a drink on them. I did think of going bat watching later but much later I woke up from dozing on the sofa, damn!

And it’s that time again tonight. Toodle pip!

A is for Aidan, Alex and Arthur

Just fourteen days to go before the solid-form, paper Edinburgh Fringe programme is finally released. Can’t bloody wait!! I’ve tried having a look around it online but it takes so long to get anywhere, and all that clicking back and forth for more information, can’t be doing with it. See, you can look in the paper version and there’s everything immediately in one glance, the blurb, the venue, the dates and all the varying prices, all there together, no messing. Checking online I’d still have to write all the details down, all that scribbling would take a long while and use paper anyway.

Yes, I took a peek yesterday, when I clicked on Browse What’s On it said there were 3196 results; I filtered out the Online shows and it came back with 3124 results; then I took out Children’s Shows, Events and Exhibitions (apparently there’s 199) leaving me with 2925 to browse through. And that’s another thing, I thought I’d just look through to the end of the A’s, then the next time I’d pick up with the B’s – there’s only previous and next choices of pages, no way of jumping straight to page 30 to the start of B (If there is a way it’s not obvious).

Actually the first shows listed are the ones with numerals at the start, about 30; one for the night owls is 2am at The Jazz Bar. The A’s always have a few beginning AAA to get the first listings, followed by a few Aaaaaaaaaargh…. shows (round about that number of a’s, I didn’t bother counting). I noticed Henry Naylor has a new show, Afghanistan Is Not Funny, this time he’s performing himself; and his one woman play Angel from 2016 is back again.

Joys, Mr Goatley is back with Aidan Goatley: Tenacious but not at the Sweet venue in the Grassmarket this year, he’s on at ZOO Playground at High School Yards instead. Also back is one of my finds from last year, Alex Farrow, still with Laughing Horse but in Cabaret Voltaire this time. Oo, I had a disagreement with a chap the other week who said that the Liquid Room was on the left-hand side near the bottom of Blair Street (it’s not, it’s on Victoria Street) he was obviously thinking of Cabaret Voltaire, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember it’s name at the time! Last year his solo show was Philosophy Pig, this year it’s Alex Farrow: Philosophy Machines, he may not be teaching philosophy any more but he’s not ready to give it up yet, and if there’s comedy to be mined from it, well.

Arthur Smith is back, of course. He must be in the running for longest-running Edinburgh Fringe act by now. Hmmm, I must check that out sometime but not right now as its way past my bedtime, so I’ll bid you good night.

Good night!

Heeeere’s August!

July did seem awfully short but at least it was toasty. Now as the first of the new month ebbs away, I’m wondering how the Fringe got so close without me organising any tickets?! Maybe its the complete lack of large posters everywhere? No programmes lying around the place to be marked up, cut up, saved for best? The town is busying up now but it feels more like a June rather than nearly Fringe time.

I have been looking at the In Person shows on the Fringe website and some ideas jotted down. Interestingly I noticed this evening that Barry Ferns isn’t down as doing the whole Fringe run now, but from the 20th until the end. Did he have second thoughts about his knees handling a full run? I really wouldn’t blame him. And John-Luke Roberts in the programme with another show than the one at the Monkey Barrel, he’s bringing back his Terrible Wonderful Adaptations for two nights at the Assembly Roxy. He’s more like an MC, ringmaster of the bizarre and absurd, in TWA so I’ll pass as I’m seeing him elsewhere, and it is £12 a ticket. That money may be spent instead seeing Watson: The Final Case, also on at the Assembly Roxy.

I have to be very wise with my money this year, what with no three days of cheap previews, no Assembly locals’ ticket offer, no Half Price Hut (ok, I am just assuming there won’t be an equivalent this year). My Fringe fund has never seemed so finite before! Do enough staring at screens these days, so I’m determined to see mainly live shows, there may be a few tantalising nuggets online, but as I’ve always said, “If the rest of the world wants to turn on my doorstep to entertain me – who am I to say no?!” Ergo, the shows on my doorstep get first dibs over flat screen offerings.

So far theSpace venues have a number of shows that interest me and as most shows are just doing short runs this year I’d best get on and book some tickets. Oh, and there’s booking fees to add in, £1.25 per ticket, up to £5 per transaction; I need to book enough at a time to make it worth it.

Ho hum. Maybe I should buff up my ukulele playing and try busking for some extra pennies – most likely thrown to make me stop! I must bid you all good night, it’s rather late now.

Good night, dear hearts 💛

I need some beauty sleep!

Crikey, it’s way past bedtime, I’ve got work in the morning, oh and the neighbours have just started arguing, joys! Here’s me needing my bed and Will Seaward will have just begun his midnight show, Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories VI once again in the Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. Yes, there’s more spooky shenanigans going on, and yay, there’s the return of Louloulou and her boyfriend (whose name escapes me just now) in one of the stories. This is definitely not a show for everyone, but if you like bonkers, daft, eloquently told yarns then it may just suit!

Oo yeah, last Friday night at 22.55 I saw The Slinks in Dexter at the Underbelly Bristo Square; a show sure to divide opinion and bewilder – I’m not what I witnessed but it was whimsical, disturbing, mesmerising, kooky. Hugo Hamlet’s voice was sublime, very much reminding me of early Lou Reed. I have a friend who would so totally love this show, alas I doubt she could ever manage to stay up so late, pity.

Also a pity was the lack of audience, there was myself, two others and a couple of staff sat in. I guess the late time slot and the fact that they’re not listed in the paper-form Fringe Programme, just on the online version, may be contributing factors. If you fancy a trip to another realm one night The Slinks can take you there!

Toodle pip!

 

So a phoenix, a bear and a monster walk into a bar….

Actually it’ll be myself going to the bar between shows 😊 Yes, the full Fringe programme is out! An intense first check through over three days, eighty two cuttings, several G&Ts and some of teeth gnashing later, I have bought my first batch of tickets: twelve previews and the Sleeping Trees’ Christmas Special. Yay!

First preview night this year will be Nick Helm: Phoenix From The Flames, Ben Pope: Dancing Bear, and Alice Snedden: Absolute Monster. Nicely spaced over the evening and not too late to bed afterwards. Nick Helm, just because! Ben Pope, umm, is it the bear thing? I have seen previous good reviews for him (and who didn’t smirk on seeing the  words pope and bear so close together?!).  Alice Snedden I know nothing about apart from the blurb in the programme but she’s a kiwi and that’s enough in my book to warrant a preview ticket.

20180825_171401And on kiwis, I’m off to the Modern Maori Quartet’s Garage Party on the Thursday night, looking forward to seeing them again (that’s yours truly with three quarters of them last year)

I don’t have a ticket yet for the wonderful Sarah Kendall, but as her previews are £8 I’m holding off in the hope that Assembly will do the locals’ tickets for a fiver thing again (just up to the end of the first weekend I think). There’s another five or six shows in that particular queue; if Assembly don’t come through for me they’ll all go into my Half Price Hut hopefuls pile.

The Sleeping Trees: Christmas Special is just on for one night so I had to, had to, had to get a ticket! Well, actually I got two, the show has the Fringe Friends’ 241 offer on it, so at £15 for one ticket (yikes), it made sense to get the second ticket – I’ll sort out a chum to chum me later.

Oo, I’m starting to get a bit excited now. Only fifty days to go!

Sweet dreams!

 

Bruce loves candy

Hurrah! Those lovely people at Assembly announced on Friday that they are once again doing their Locals discount, that’s all Assembly shows from the 1st to the 5th for a fiver (to a maximum of six shows) at their box office, evidence of an EH postcode required. Woohoo! A swift perusal of all my cutouts and the Venue guide section of the Fringe programme  (it lists all the shows at each venue), et voilà, five more shows picked out.

This is a particularly good deal as Assembly shows are not cheap, even the previews can be costly – I paid a tenner for Thrones! The Musical! preview show just in case the residents offer wasn’t on this year. I can now happily snaffle sweets from the Baby Wants Candy flyerers as I’m finally going to see them (I’ve always felt a teensy bit bad taking their sweets as I never saw them or intended to). Again, their previews cost £10, then up to £14-£15, yeah a fiver sounds good to me.

Sleeping Trees have uprooted themselves again and are now in one of Assembly’s Studios. Couldn’t miss these guys but again, Assembly prices, so though they should really be in the middle week (see  It’s the wrong order, Gromit!) I’ll be seeing them the first weekend for just the fiver and I can see another show with the change! Fingers crossed they do Sleeping Trees and The Chocolate Factory again, that’s oodles of fun. It’s not in the programme, never is, but watch out for posters around the Pleasance Courtyard.

Assembly already have their George Square Gardens set up and running as part of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, so when I ambled up to get my tickets I was able to check this year’s layout. There’s a new bar at the bottom of the garden that has an upper level. Silly me, I didn’t check the drinks prices to see how much I won’t be drinking, but I did notice that whilst there’s no decent cider, they do have a couple of IPAs, so I may treat myself to a Deuchars before a show.

Toodle pip!

 

 

 

Anya Anastasia sings again

It’s a tad late, I’ve been perusing the Fringe programme again and lost track of time but thought I might share with you some of the possibilities I found this evening and why they caught my eye. I’ve taken to marking up on each cutout a rough time of day, in case there’s enough earlier shows to warrant booking more annual leave off work.

First to catch my eye Accordion Fight Show, it’s late night in the final week, only a fiver and apparently has “the world’s loudest, nakedest accordion player”!! No it wasn’t “nakedest” that got my attention, I happen to enjoy accordion music!

Anya Anastasia I’ve seen before, oo, she’s moved venues again, this time to the Gilded Balloon; fun, a sharp wit, pretty good voice and wickedly dark songs, but still, it’s pricey,  marked up EVE and HPH (half price hut). Another from the Cabaret & Variety section is The Voice Behind the Stars the story of Marni Nixon, ghost singer on so many musicals I used to watch as a young calf; tempting but another HPH.

Adam Larter: Boogie Knights caught my attention ’cause of his starey eyes in the picture, that and “just a typical medieval story told through disco”!? So that’s an AFT and PWYW (pay what you want), how bad could it be?

And how bad will Ciaran Dowd be in his first solo show Don Rodolfo without his fellow Beasts? I ponder this as the first Beasts show I saw was outstanding with plenty of hysterically funny ideas but their follow-up show was disappointingly unoriginal; this one may need more checks, so REVIEWS and LATE.

To end this evening in the Comedy D’s, Douglas Walker Presents: Of Christmas Past, “the sinister, absurd true story of Christmas” with a picture of a chap in polar gear gazing into the distance, my fringe-dar is definitely beeping at this one!

You know, I think I may be starting to feel ever so slightly excited about this Fringe lark again  😊

Well, that’s the previews sorted!

If you read my last post (and why not?!) you’ll be dying to know what happened, will I have to miss my films? Well, good news, I will be heading back to the mother ship this weekend so won’t miss any of EIFF 2018, yay! Bad news, the whole piss-up/brewery thing has been totally cancelled this year (bloody numpty!) I am so not impressed.

Since then I’ve completed my first scour of the full printed Fringe Programme and bought my first batch of tickets, mainly previews with a few others. As there is now a booking fee of 80p a ticket that stops at £4.80 it makes sense to buy enough tickets to reduce the effect of it – £4.80 booking fee for fifteen shows is quite reasonable, I’d say!

I’m going to kick off this year with Russell Howard, good to see him back and for only a fiver! Mind it is called Russell Howard – Work in Progress, hmmm, first night could be interesting (interesting=shambolic). The ever delightful Felicity Ward (pic below is me swooning over her poster) is back and hopefully on time. I have 30 minutes to get from Pleasance Above to George Square Theatre for Thrones! The Musical! this is perfectly doable, just as long as the Pleasance aren’t running too late. Considering how long they’ve had to get it right you would think it should run like a well-oiled machine but, well, it doesn’t always.

After a break last year everyone’s favourite sock puppets are back  with a new show Superheroes, check out the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre on Facebook or YouTube for skits and songs on the subject (love the Deadpool and Black Lightning videos). As ever they’re in the exceedingly warm Sportsman room at the Gilded Balloon, grab a flyer on your way in to use as a fan!

At the witching hour the wonderful Will Seaward is back with Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories V, but what’s this? He’s no longer in the Wee Room, he’s been upgraded to the Dining Room! Yay!!

Oo, and I got me a ticket to see the Ukulele Death Squad as they’re bound to sell out. They’re back at the Leith Depot near the bottom of Leith Walk, an exceedingly hot room above the pub but it does have its own bar. Well I actually bought two tickets as it’s on the Friends of the Fringe list of 2for1’s, so if you’re reading this and will be in town Sunday 5th, I have a spare half price ticket for one very lucky individual! Bang Bang!

Toodle pips!

20160821_085108

Pick a category, any category!

Oo, not long now. In two weeks time I’ll be just home after seeing my first two preview shows, fingers crossed it won’t be chucking it down like it is tonight. Now is the time to go through the programme again and see what else leaps out as possibilities.

For many years the first category in the programme was Children’s Shows, to be skipped past to reach Comedy, then in 2011 Cabaret appeared! Had the Fringe been devoid of cabaret before this?! Argh, the new prog has Cabaret & Variety, what? When? In 2015 it turns out, and in 2014 Dance & Physical Theatre took Circus under it’s wing. Prior to 2014 circus could be in Comedy, Theatre or Dance & Physical Theatre, some acts probably still are.

Variety acts sometimes still laze in Comedy and if you throw in a few amusing songs then Comedy or Music fit too and also back to Cabaret. It wouldn’t surprise me if Magic is put in with Cabaret & Variety next year (there is quite a bit of it about), but if you tell jokes while doing it, you’ll probably list it under Comedy. Is your head spinning yet?

Then in 2012 came Spoken Word, well yes, they usually are on stage. Ok, so the poets and storytellers generally leapt over to this, unless they considered themselves more comedic or theatrical. Plenty of university academics and scientists like to pop up to pontificate on their subjects, yep, definitely Spoken Word. My favourite entry in this year’s crop just says, Diary, Charlie Dupre, A man reads his diary. Fairy nuff, but when is a word just spoken, how theatrical can it be before it’s Theatre? Or Cabaret? Is Spoken Word more of a solo sport? But then if it’s funny would that make it stand-up comedy?

Are there any rules, or is it just about how a show wants to be perceived?  I think I’ll just go lie down in a darkened room a while.

Perusing the Programme

Make yourself a pot of tea and get the biscuit tin out or open a bottle of wine, this will take a while! If you’re a Fringe novice I would advise you not to try to do it all in one go, it takes practice. Always mark up potentials (you’ll never find it again if you don’t) and maybe mark if it’s a definite, an um-not-sure, a check out the company’s website, a wait for reviews, an only worth the preview price or if it appears listed at the Half Price Hut.

Then go through it again, maybe do it from back to front this time, or alternate categories. Leave it by the loo, peruse it on those long visits when you’ve nothing else to do!

Now here’s where it’s  good to have a spare programme to hand. Go through and cut out all the potentials from the spare, and if you have a Fringe buddy go through your choices together  (and hope you have at least a few matches). I had a good Fringe buddy for many years, we had so many matches it made the compromises on our other choices not seem so bad as we respected each other’s taste and trusted it to lead us to right. Though he’s no longer around I still do this, it’s easy to move bits of paper around to see what will fit where, throw a choice in the bin after a glance at their website, keep tabs on shows you haven’t yet committed to.

Or you can do none of the above and wing it! I’m afraid I need much structure in my life, like a good boy scout I like to be prepared!