There’s been some ukeing goin’ on

The kitchen was a real state last evening, but that didn’t stop me from popping down to the Kilderkin for the Uke Hoot. Hey, the fridge freezer still wasn’t fully defrosted, a small pool of water was still collecting in the bottom, but not enough to spill out on to the floor if I left it for a couple of hours. Besides defrosting and cleaning it, I’d pulled my fridge freezer out from the wall to clean the floor and paint the last bit of kitchen wall. Yes, I painted behind the fridge freezer, I knew it wasn’t done and it irked me, plus there was just a small amount of paint left in the tin, it made sense.

Yes, I hooted my uke last night, it’s quite liberating! A small group of enthusiastic uke players meet up to play and sing songs, all abilities welcome, just do it with gusto and you’ll fit right in. There’s a comprehensive songbook to pick from, some of the regulars have it on tablets but there are solid copies to share around. Folk just call out tunes to play next, there was My Girl, Two Princes, Dreaming (a Blondie song I’d completely forgotten), a few Beatles tunes, of course; my suggestions were Sunny Afternoon, Runaway and Pretty Flamingo. All washed down with Stewart’s Holyrood Pale Ale (well the voice did need lubricating) at the very reasonable price of £2.30 for half a pint. It’s now £2.90 in Stramash, I guess that’s the difference between diy entertainment and getting in professionals!

I was back in Stramash last Sunday night, drinking Stewart’s Citra Blonde, a very hoppy session ale, nice but not as nice as the Holyrood Pale Ale but it is 40p cheaper for a half! The Buccaneers were playing after midnight but I went along at ten for the band before, Nicole & The Back Up Crew; never seen them before but I know Nicole has sung at a number of Fringes as part of the Blueswater Presents line-up, it seemed a good time to finally check her out.

Holy moly, ay caramba, like, wow, don’t I feel stupid for missing out til now!! What a voice, what a presence, what a cutie, Nicole Smit is the whole package; super talented and sweet’n’sassy. A quick check reveals that she’ll be performing Blueswater Presents: Queens of the Blues Live at the Jazz Bar again this year (six shows), definitely worth a punt for blues lovers. Oh, and Nicole’s at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival in July, I’ll be checking the programme for the details when it launches tomorrow.

Nicole and her trusty Back Up Crew in Stramash

I almost felt sorry for Mr Marah having to follow Nicole on stage, but hey, Carlos was fine. The band change over was easy as two of the Back Up Crew are also Buccaneers, Simon on drums and Ewan on bass (I was a tad confused when I walked in to see Simon already setting up the drum kit to his liking), as I’ve said before the band scene here can be quite incestuous. Stage right, the harmonic player was replaced by keyboards, stage left, that’s always Carl’s spot no matter who he’s sharing the stage with. I must ask sometime if there’s any particular reason for it – his best side? superstition? Special mention must be made of the night’s rendition of LA Woman (I say this as one who loved this track to death many years ago, yes, to death, when I really could not bear to hear it ever again) the Buccs have renewed my appreciation of it’s magnificence.

You would think that it was time to hit the sack when I got home at ten to three, au contraire, I made a sandwich, a flask of hot herbal tea, dug out an old picnic blanket, grabbed my uke and headed Park-ward. At five in the morning I was sat on Whinny Hill listening to the dawn chorus, a very grey dawn chorus, occasionally joining in strumming my uke (no, I was not playing Morning Has Broken). I was gently strumming away when I sensed an audience, slowly peering round there was a fox just a few feet away from me, wow! It stayed a few minutes more then continued on it’s way. Probably going to saying to it’s friends later, “You are not gonna believe what I saw in the park earlier – a moose playing a ukulele! Yeah, how weird is that?!”

a moose with a view

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

More Scotch, anyone?

Happy Easter! Is it moose or bunny, either way it doesn’t lay eggs!

No Park walk for me today, the place will be full of folk rolling eggs everywhere! Tonight the Park critters will dine royally on the smashed egg remains, it’s the payoff for having to hide away from the hordes all through the day. Tomorrow I’ll enjoy spotting painted pieces of shell on the slopes.

Edinburgh has gotten busy now, maybe still not to usual numbers but not far off now. The stags and hens are all back, swarming around looking for pubs. Alas, the last week wasn’t a good one for bands that I like playing locally, so I’ve been staying in and the odd evening stroll in the Park. I was so happy when Scotch the Band drove back into town after their trek around Scotland. If you read my last post you’ll know they went down a storm in Stramash, this time they were playing Whistkebinkies, a very different space, almost claustrophobic compared to the cavernous Stramash.

Ah, they were so fine, high energy, bouncing off the confines of Binkies; the crowd were fine too, dancing and singing along exuberantly. There’ll be a couple of clips of Scotch in action on my Facebook (Bruce T Moose, and if you friend or follow me there’s always links to new blog posts there). On here you’ll just have to make do with pictures and imagine the sounds and atmosphere. Gotta say, the skinny stripey trousers always put me in mind of Steve Harris back in the day, well, the eighties.

Oh yeah, I should mention I bought their latest cd Losing My Mind, I almost got it for free, well, I did, then I passed the kindness right back to them. See I didn’t have a tenner on me so was going pay by card, I hung around for one of them to find their card reader, it was hiding well away, no trace, he decided to just give me the cd, like wow! Heading out by the stairs on to South Bridge and the fresh air, it occurred to me that there were a line of cashpoints just over the road, doh. Naturally the band, though they’d vacated the pub, were still hanging around outside on Niddry Street, yay, and what a nice bunch they are. Of course, I should have asked how they came by the name Scotch the Band – oh well, next time they’re in town.

Toddle pip!

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!

Some snow, some Fringe, some Potts

We had snow, yay. Not much but enough for more snowmen sentinels to rise up again and a few snowboarders headed up into Holyrood Park for a bit of fun. Of course, I had to head out too, I mean, look at it …..

Unfortunately, we’ve still some very strong winds around, hence I ended up in a rather prickly bush. It was very prickly, and rather than come to my rescue, dash it, the photographer just laughed and kept on clicking!

Heading down to Dunsapie Loch I spotted a snow sentinal rising up, struggling against the gusts of wind (up to 40mph the weatherman said and I can well believe him) to stay upright. He kept losing his head but he still kept going! Had to ask for a pic with him but as his face wasn’t fully formed he couldn’t reply, but who wouldn’t want a pic with li’l old me?!

Back home drying out, I had a glance around news about this year’s Fringe Festival. Much as I enjoy cold, snowy weather I am looking forward to summer! This August will see the 75th anniversary of the Fringe; it’ll run from 5th to 29th August (plus two days of previews before the official start, hopefully). Hmmm, yeah, I remember the Edinburgh Fringe used to officially run from the Sunday for three weeks finishing on the Bank Holiday Monday, when did that change? Checking back through my programmes 2009, the start moved to the Friday before. You know, I never noticed that before!

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 show listings will start appearing on Thursday 3rd March with more coming online 7th April, 5th May and 9th June. Apparently there will be a printed programme this year but it won’t be launched until early July (my guess is Thursday 7th). The Pleasance Theatre have also announced their first ten shows for Edinburgh and the tickets are already on sale. I noticed the magician Ben Hart will be back again, never seen him but he always has brilliant posters. I am tempted to get a preview ticket, umm.

And back to cold February, it’s another Six Nations rugby weekend and the French are already in town! I knew the rugby was on this weekend but hadn’t yet checked who v. who and where; there were a lot of men sporting blue berets in Stramash when I wandered in to catch Jed Potts and Jon Mackenzie, some bizarre stag-do? Ah, of course, I can’t believe it took me as long as it did to figure it out! The French were out to play and enjoy themselves, well, there would be Friday to recover before Saturday. I hadn’t seen this particular combo before but Mr Potts has been very good every time I’ve seen him, so I popped along for a gander (and a couple of beers, of course). Yay, excellent again. I would have put a clip of them doing Johnny B Goode but I don’t have the premium package apparently, so you’ll have to make do with stills from it (If you pop over to Facebook, Bruce T Moose, I’ll pop the vid on that).

Sum pluses + minuses

Three weeks into 2022 already; three weeks of tighter restrictions again in Scotland, thankfully they’re ending on Monday. Its been back to table service and strictly no mingling in bars. Hence I’ve only been out for a drink once since New Years Day, that was a midweek drink in Whistlebinkies as Willie Dug was on and I really needed a break from the moose cave. On entering I was leapt on by a member of staff who proceeded to escort me to a table, oh boy was it quiet in there! Just as well, the staff didn’t seem to be in a rush take orders and serve drinks. In some ways I quite like good table service, but I prefer to have an option on it.

I even gave a miss to seeing the Scat Rats in Stramash, well, they were on the ten o’clock set on a Saturday night; an ordinary Saturday night has a queue outside the door by ten, so with restricted numbers allowed in, hmmm, I stayed home (with a very precious new toy, more later). At least the restrictions will be lifted in time for Carl Marah‘s latest thang, The Buccaneers, playing Stramash in the late night slot next Thursday. They were meant to play a few weeks ago in Whistlebinkies but a case of covid got in the way, fingers crossed all will be well this time. Their bio on Facebook reads “Blues/Rock/Soul 4-piece based in Edinburgh …” who promise to be “an exquisite late night sandwich”, oh my! I’ll let you know just how tasty they were next week (touch wood).

At the start of February Scotland will have a new regulation on smoke and heat detectors come into force. It was meant to start in 2020 but, well, the nation was kinda busy with other things. All homes will be required to have interlinked fire alarms, that’s a heat alarm in the kitchen, a smoke alarm in the most used room and a smoke alarm in every hallway or landing (also a carbon monoxide detector in any room with a carbon-fuelled appliance). While it will be the law to have interlinked fire alarms in Scotland, it won’t be a criminal offence not to have them, so no penalties, however, if you have a fire and no interlinked alarm system in place, good luck with any insurance claim. Of course, there’s plenty of opinions about this on social media from the downright bolshy to the paranoid – like Scotland’s gonna light up like an octogenarian’s birthday cake on the 1st February!

Way more important to many Scots – can Scotland beat England on the 5th February? Yes, this year’s battle for the Calcutta Cup takes place at Murrayfield on the opening weekend of the Six Nations Championship. Auld Reekie will be packed out that weekend, fun will be had.

More later, toodle pip, mes amis

Three movies and a couple of rats

As the evenings draw in, it can be too easy to accidentally cocoon oneself at home, so this week I’ve been catching up at the cinema again, three films seen so I’m already quids in for the month on my Unlimited card. This was the final week for Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch so I started with that on Tuesday evening……

The French Dispatch is a sumptuous, visually stunning film to wallow in, if you like Wes Anderson films, be warned this is a very, very Wes A film. As usual he has a large returning cast, does he write characters with people in mind, or think who he wants and writes for them? The French Dispatch is a magazine supplement produced in Ennui-sur-Blasé (a fictional town in France, Angoulême was used for the location shots) for an American newspaper; the film has a beginning, an ending and three feature articles in between, like I said, it’s very Wes. There’s a lot in there but personally I found that whilst it was sensory overload in many ways, it lacked something for me, the whole was less than the sum of the parts. Hmmm.

Next up was Venom: Let There Be Carnage and there was, indeed! Well, it is a Venom film so violence is part of the territory, accompanied by lots of fast quips and dark humour, of course. Again, a film to enjoy, but for me, not quite up to the first one. Tom Hardy is very watchable as always, and Woody Harrelson has a whale of a time! I was thinking back thirty years and more, to when he played Woody (the dopey bartender) in Cheers, who would ever thought that same guy would go on to do so much and win awards?! In Venom: Let There Be Carnage he plays locked up serial killer Cletus Kasady, who by managing to bite Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets a piece of the alien symbiote, which makes him even more psychotic and he becomes Carnage. I have a few niggles about plot holes and bits, but it is a very entertaining watch, just don’t think about it too much.

Then, last night I went to see Last Night In Soho, Edgar Wright’s latest film. Oo, he’s good. Great story, script, cinematography, atmosphere, soundtrack, and wow, the actors! Sixties iconic actors, Terence Stamp, Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham, former Dr Who Matt Smith and two of the best young female actors around, Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie (plus a number of other recognisable faces). This is a beautiful stylish film right from the first scene when modern day wannabe fashion designer Ellie (McKenzie) is dancing around, wearing a dress made from newspaper, to A World Without Love, in her room which is plastered with posters from the sixties. She’s soon heading to London and college; overwhelmed by student life (and a bitchy, shallow roommate), she moves into a room on Soho (oh, and we know she has some kind of spooky gift), and so it begins……

Everything is so brilliantly realised, the fashions, the clubs, Ellie sleep-watching Sandie’s world, slowly becoming most absorbed into it. The lightness at the start of the film gives way to the darkness, the seedy sordid side of the swinging sixties. Scenes like Sandie’s (Taylor-Joy) audition as she sings Downtown, and the dream dance sequence are mesmerising. I can’t actually say too much more that wouldn’t spoil the slow reveal of the film, oh, but Matt Smith as the sleazy charmer, Jack, is really excellent and quite unnervingly scary. There’s plenty to think about from watching this film, the attitudes and morals of the times, the victims. I think I need to see Last Night In Soho again, and seeing it a second time, knowing all the truths from the start could be quite fascinating.

This was Diana Rigg’s last film, in some ways a good film to finish with, a bookend to her start in The Avengers tv series as Emma Peel in a somewhat surreal swinging sixties. Rigg was also an early Bond girl (reader, she married him!), but filmwork didn’t entice her away from tv and theatre work, she was a very busy lady! Of course, many now know her as the magnificent Lady Olwen Tyrell from Game of Thrones, and some may remember that she appeared in Doctor Who during Matt Smith’s time in the tardis. I wonder if Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham shared any stories of their younger sixties selves with their young co-stars, bet they have some good ones!

No cinema tonight as The Scat Rats were playing Stramash, so still sticking with the sixties vibe! A number of Beatles covers amongst other songs from the sixties, and of course, a few of their own. Carl waxed lyrical about their old haunt, Babylon Cafe, which was sadly a victim of covid, before breaking into In The Morning. I’ve put a clip of this ode to a fried breakfast on my Facebook (that’s Bruce T Moose), the ending is a running joke of who can hold the note longest. Oo yeah, exciting, there was a brand spanking new song too!! It promises to be another cracker from the lads.

Crikey its late. Sweet dreams, mes amis!

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 ❤

Bags, uke, that’s me ready!

Just time for a quick catch up before I head off for a wee while, bags are packed, ukulele by the door so I won’t forget it. Yay, I did get to see Free Guy again! Still great on second watch. I also got to see the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, like wow, WOW!! Jennifer Hudson is sooo good. The film ended at the time when she recorded the live album Amazing Grace, the recording of which was filmed, a film I saw two years ago in the Filmhouse, sweet!

This week I luckily spotted that The Green Knight was on at the Filmhouse, a “last chance to see” Facebook post . It’s a re-telling of Gawain and the Green Knight, in this version Gawain is played by Dev Patel (the reason I wanted to see it, he’s getting better and better as he ages). Sumptuous and kinda arty, lots to enjoy, but I did feel it lacked a bit towards the end.

Stramash have very kindly released a lot of gig dates for October and November, so there’s Jed Potts, the Kennedy’s Project and Willie Dug to look forward to, and yay, the Scat Rats (aka Messrs Marah and Rough) will be back, and, double yay, not until after I’m back in toun. Ah, thinking of the Close, I recently went on a coastal meander and popped by Dunbar, look what I found, yay!

Just a jog away from Dunbar is Belhaven Bay, plenty sand, sea and surf. Oh yeah, the surf was up! A great place just to idle a while, shame I didn’t discover it midsummer, ah well. Beach Boys songs swam around in my head as I strolled across the sand; it struck me that it could well have been the Beach Boys sound that heavily influenced the Scat Rats if they’d spent more time on the beach…..

Toodle pip!

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