See, apples green, oranges orange, got that?

I’m in the wrong place, Gromit. No wonder l feel out of sorts, bloody Covid, I should be a couple of hundred miles south in darkest Yorkshire. I haven’t spent the second weekend of October in Edinburgh for eons! It’s one of my annual pilgrimages back to the old country. Some would say I should have just gone down but, having left the decision right up the night before I would have gone, the family all agreed best to leave it. The law may be an ass, but annoyingly my tribe are way too law-abiding for our own good at times!

My disgruntledness hasn’t been helped by an article I saw this week on Facebook from the local paper; the headline read “Curbs on amplified music, concerts and fireworks proposed for Edinburgh’s Old Town”. What! Are they having a laugh? Mind you, reading stuff in the local paper is like hearing about stuff from my mother – not necessarily the actual facts, just something with a resemblance of them. It’s written to read like everyone in the Old Town area came together and all agreed, no more fireworks, castle concerts, and we don’t care for the Tattoo either, really? A number of people compiled this ducument, by no means should it be taken as the views of all Old Town residents. See, that irked me but what really got my goat was when the article went on to say that this group also have “a radical solution …. to ban all amplified music in the Old Town, from …. individual pubs”.

I was annoyed with the way local pubs in the local music scene were being linked to the council’s greed for the tourist buck and everything else that’s bad about inner city living; the night-time noise in the Grassmarket area is from drunks spilling from the other pubs, the live music venues really don’t add anything much to that hullabaloo. I was so incensed I almost wrote a comment (having read the Comments section of the local rag posts, I know the savagery of the regulars and how adept they are at missing others’ points). Almost, then I noticed a Facebook friend had already pretty much made my comment for me, oo, and indeed there were already two replies that would exasperate anyone level-headed.

Would my friend reply back? From reading through all the comments I discovered the first reply was from a serial ranter with a rather smug, patronising attitude towards any dissenting views; please, don’t rise to it, I prayed, he’s so not worth it. Ha, no reaction back (I bet that irked him), but a good handful of likes in support of our local music scene. Crickey, if these recommendations were implemented it would be a serious blow to Sneaky Pete’s, Stramash, Bannermans, just to name a few. And if that happened where might the new puritans strike next?! Oh, I do get the need for some restrictions and noise controls, absolutely, but not by people who don’t know apples from oranges!

….meanwhile in lockdown

Kia ora, dudes! Day Whatever of lockdown. Today I’ve come to a decision to be more impetuous! Yeah, I know you all see me as a carefree, live for the moment kinda moose, but not really. I may not post that often but that’s because I put it off to do other stuff (like faffing, watching telly, surfing YouTube and occasionally some cleaning). My table is covered in bits of notes for blogging ideas that I haven’t got round to writing; when something grabs me I don’t rush to share it, my head goes, No, take a note, think about it, write it up later. Needless to say, impetus lost, I don’t. Listen Head, shut up, if ever there was a time for some impetuosity it’s now. There’s nothing that needs to be done that can’t wait. That picture taken on a walk? Share it! Great vids on YouTube, resurfaced memories, Fringe friends up to stuff? Don’t write a note, write a blog post!

A few notes lying around – Jäähyväiset! (I think that’s farewell in Finish), a voodoo octopus, lamb with anchovies – dauphinoise potatoes, The Trap Pleasance Over the Road 2, Jam With Humans, Will Hay, zombiesaur. Guess the ones relating to Will Seaward! I’ll get back to those later 😂😂 See? Did it again.

Today a Facebook friend shared an episode from 60 Second Docs by an artist Mike Bennett from Portland, Oregon who makes great pieces of cartoon art from recycled wood and paints then sets them free into the wild! Well, he puts them out for people to enjoy and raise spirits. He’s raised money for local charities with his artwork, a really nice guy. The artwork is quite Seussical, not in style but in flavour, mischievousness and joie de vivre. Check it out!

Another share (obviously up rather earlier than me) was a brilliant video by Tusk Puppets for the New Zealand Police Facebook page. Hmmm, the NZ Police page has good stuff, some great kiwi humour on there to brighten up lockdown. And bubbles! I haven’t heard mention of bubbles here in the UK, I love the concept, bubbles, it’s a cheery word, not all doom and gloom. Yes, I feel more content now, visualising my bubble around me, gonna float along next time I’m oot. Anyway, Tusk Puppets have written and performed a great little number called “One day I’ll go outside again”, it quite rocks out towards the end!

From there I wandered through the New Zealand Police and Tusk Puppets Facebook pages (my tablet sneakily changes Tusk into Rusk, it just tried to do it that time too😄) where I found a video of a lovely lady tap-dancing with a puppet from Tusk, oh my, impressive! (makes me wish I’d kept up my own tap-dancing from my youth).

Whilst I’ve been tapping away, my friend has also shared a vid by the lovely Carl Marah of Logan’s Close. He’s singing a Bob Dylan cover to his washing machine, I think he may be taking lockdown hard!

Well, I suppose I should head out for my daily trot around the park. It’s great how many people are there everyday now and not just at the weekend, yes, there are quite a few folk out but everyone seems to be generally adhering to social distancing rules. Guess we’ve all been appreciative of the lovely sunny weather we’ve been having recently (yes, that’s right, lovely sunny weather in Edinburgh, Scotland) and that we have an awesome piece of rugged parkland close by the Southside.

I shall leave with another artwork of Edinburgh in smithereens by Pete Standen. Oh, and I’ll stick a piece of graffiti I came across on a walk last week (yes, something I’ve sat on to use later), look twice, there’s something really quite sweet there!

20200408_144805

 

 

If the audience can’t go to the theatre…..

Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, meine damen und herren, naiset ja herrat. Hi peeps! I was just flicking through the tv channels – can you guess what film almost sucked me in? It was tough but I managed to switch it off.

Earlier this evening I did watch Twelfth Night on YouTube from National Theatre Live. Most excellent! I saw it when it was shown in cinemas and was delighted that it’s been included in their lockdown #NationalTheatreAtHome run. This is a brilliant production but particularly outstanding for me were Tamara Lawrance as Viola and Tamsin Greig as Malvolia (yes, that’s right, they’ve made Malvolio a woman!). I’ve loved Tamsin Greig since Black Books, she was a big part of why I saw Twelfth Night in the cinema, and by god, she was magnificent.

There’s seven days to catch Twelfth Night on YouTube until Thursday 30th April when another NTLive production is shown. And what a treat next week! Not just one but two!! Well, the same play with the leads alternating, that’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein and his creature. I was lucky enough to catch both versions at the cinema and will no doubt see both again over the course of the week.

There’s certainly some great theatre and music to be had on the internet to keep us going in these troubled times. I’ve recently been delighted to watch scenes from Oh Hello, a one man show about Charles Hawtrey, on their Facebook page; and how delighted was I to hear a spooky poem featuring Clarence and Louloulou the other evening? Very, very, indeed. More about those later.

Oh, and I have acquired Spotify on my phone (for my daily walks) and am enjoying playlists from the lads at Logan’s Close, so many bands I’ve never heard before, but in the main really good.

Sweet dreams!

 

Saturday night at Chez Brucie

And it’s another late night for yours truly. I did spend plenty of the evening in the kitchen with Elvis making meat sauce for a lasagne (tea tomorrow). Yes, Elvis, well, a compilation cd I made a few years ago from records I’d put on my computer. Probably not the songs you may be thinking of like Blue Suede Shoes or In The Ghetto; no, my siblings and I loved watching his films on the telly, those were the songs we wanted, from the likes of Blue Hawaii, Kissing Cousins, Viva Las Vegas.

Easter weekend, it seemed right to reminisce, sing along and have a wee dance. It’s easy to forget how amazing Elvis’ voice was, man, he was gooood! But hey, all the words came flooding back, from I Got Lucky at the start right to Tender Feelings at the end, via two big big favourites of mine Someone To Lean On and Beach Boy Blues. Honestly I was doing some cooking too, a good ragu sauce does take time you know, lots of chopping up to do.

By the time the music and sauce were done it was late and I hadn’t actually had any tea (possibly the two white chocolate cookies I’d had earlier might have kibboshed my appetite). Hmm, what to have? A small bowl of sauce with added cream and quickly rustled up very garlicky bread, washed down with a bottle of Peroni.

Nice, J.J.Abrams’ Star Trek was on the telly, nearly halfway through but I know it well enough. It’s a great movie, how scared were we that it wouldn’t work before it came out?! Rather, but Chris Pine and all were brilliant, Pine especially was perfect as Kirk and Karl Urban as McCoy, uncanny at times. The only blot on the copy book was Simon Pegg as Scotty; he was fine enough but it seemed rather hammed up for me.

That’s my glass empty, time for bed.

Ciao, dudes.

If I had a time machine…..

….. I’d go back to 8.30ish tonight and go back to the Caves to see Logan’s Close again, this time I’d go right to the front (I was about a third of the way back the first time), it’s  something I very rarely do, dunno why, but I want to see the gig again at the front. After that I’d go back again and trot up to the balcony bit, to witness the awesomeness that is Logan’s Close from a new angle.

I’m thinking after three times I could go again and just have a real good boogie at the back of the room. Hey, then a fourth time to get some cool pics, I’d know the shots I’d want and could anticipate them. Yeah, no pics tonight, the music was waaay too good to bother with the faff of photography. See, that’s why a time machine would be so useful, and as I don’t want one for any nefarious activities I think it’s fine.

How was the gig? Immense, just totally wow. Hence wanting the time machine. Plenty new stuff – why just a single, guys? Surely an EP (in solid form) of your new goodies? Oo, yeah, one of them, about the seventh number in (a long weird intro but with oo-ing) really made me think of Fur, a band the lads supported at Sneaky Pete’s last year. Another newbie had the sound of a Northern Soul floor-filler.

Listen To Your Mother was shifted to penultimate number and they finished with the reason we were all there, their new single Lost In You, available now on Spotify along with plenty other gems and diamonds from the Close.

That truly was the best I’ve seen them yet.

 

Close call at The Jazz Bar

There’s a bar/music venue next door to Richer Sounds on Chambers Street, well, the door’s there, then lots of steps heading downwards. It’s been there as long as I can remember, though it’s probably gone through a few reincarnations since I last went in one time in the, ooo, late eighties, early nineties?! The Jazz Bar is it’s current moniker and it’s rather a fun place.

Last Saturday night had Logan’s Close in the midnight slot, so I thought I’d trot along. As I had time to kill I headed to the cinema to see Knives Out, I’d liked the look of the trailers and folk had said it was very good (I had some reservations as an all star cast does not by any means mean a good film!)  Daniel Craig got to have fun with an odd accent – not as odd as the one in Logan Lucky though. Knives Out is actually a fairly cracking film and doesn’t feel as long as it’s length, it’s keeps up a good pace through to the end.

Anyhoo, I meandered back and headed down into The Jazz Bar about quarter to twelve. A bit of red velvet round the place and I’d swear I’d walked on to some Lynchian-type movie set! Cool, hip, young things were bopping around, I was almost expecting to hear the word “Daddio” yep, there was some vibe going on. Then I noticed, near the entrance, a certain bass player tapping madly on his mobile, this went on a while, til almost midnight, hmmm, a whole set of bass solos,  nice!? Slowly over the next fifteen minutes or so, the rest of the band appeared (though it wasn’t til much later when I realised they were sans keyboards).

The Close made up for their tardiness with two long, cracking sets, including in the second Love me two times by the Doors, rather good, it was! Great to hear What d’I say as well, I’ve been playing the Bluefinger recording recently, that has a seriously lonnngg intro, lads, they probably have a good couple of minutes on you. You may have noticed in a previous post that I have a problem in gigs with tall guys getting in the way, but here there was a slight variation on this; whilst in rock/blues gigs the tall guys tend to be seriously broad too, these were all skinny, easier to peer round!

Indeed, the crowd were undulating, seemingly strange currents moving bodies around and about; I felt I was Sheldon Cooper playing at Spock, it was fascinating to watch, almost like….wow, was this the modern version of what we used to call a “cattle market”? I guess in this new “me too” environment it’s trickier for anyone to express any interest in another without risking any offence, so subtlety is to the fore. It makes a fun spectator sport, watching from the sidelines.

I have to mention the white t-shirt, I have no recollection of anything else the young lady had on, just her white t-shirt, which become pinker and pinker as the time went by. Even her back had two great splodges of red wine on it by late on, huh?

The Jazz Bar was fun, the people friendly; bar prices pricey but no more than you’d expect; entrance was £6 but that was anytime of the evening, I could have seen another two bands for the same amount had I gone in earlier. I like it, definitely a place to keep an eye on.

Toodle pip!

Wet does not suit mooses

It’s a miserable, wet day here in Edinburgh, typical November. It’s so soggy oot there that even a set by Logan’s Close in Stramash can’t tempt me to leave the moose cave! Maybe if  I’d had more notice about it my mind could have been set on going no matter what, but I just spotted it on the board as I squelched past at lunchtime.

I was quite surprised as Facebook usually informs me of such things (and then tells me again and again and again….) but not a peep. Had a quick ganders at the Close and Stramash’s pages – nothing! The Pianodrome at Leith Theatre would appear to be the Close’s next outing (Friday 6th December, annoyingly I’m otherwise engaged that evening) and the Stramash events bit mentions two bands on tonight but not the lads.

Hmmm, usually there’s three bands playing on a Saturday night. So I checked it with the Close and indeedily they are playing, just seen on Facebook that Stramash have finally mentioned them this afternoon. Is it, like, really uncool to do the 7pm slot? Like, Yeah, we’ll do it but let’s not mention it to anyone, okay?!

Of course, Strictly is on telly tonight too, oo, soon. A good reason to stay in by the fire. 

FB_IMG_1574535079844

I shall leave you with this marvellous pic of the lads. Hmmm, what’s going on in those heads……..

– That’s it! We’re taking them down!

– Uh oh, I’m gonna keep sitting quietly and hope no one notices me

– Shit! Better protect the family jewels!

– Aw, hell! Here we go again. Why do I let myself get into these situations?!

😆😆

What ever happened to the sideburns?

So back in April Logan’s Close played the Voodoo Rooms with a new addition of a keyboard player – fine. Next thing, the new pics on FB only show four guys, four plus one should be five? Was it an aesthetics thing – sorry only four to a photo, five would be too much!? The drummer with the great sideburns seems to be oot of the picture, literally. The Close have a new single out soon, no doubt they’ll play Edinburgh to herald it’s arrival, and we’ll see who’s in or out. Same drummer, new drummer, drum machine?!?

It’s reminded me of one of my favourite Fringe acts, Dead Cat Bounce. They wrote a rather magnificence song about the day they fired the drummer, performed at the end of the show literally as though the other three had just agreed earlier that day to fire him. Nine years later I still laugh when I hear it, absolutely brilliant, but then Dead Cat Bounce were top class comedy writers and performers as well as being great musicians. They would most definitely be one of my Desert Island Fringe Acts!

Ironically it was the keyboardist who left the band just over a year later. Sadly the remaining trio only played the Fringe one more time in 2012, it wasn’t quite the same without Mick; and it put Outsized Orthopaedic Shoe and Four Lads off the playlist, shame. In 2013 they called it a day, well, playing live, until in 2017 they apparently did a 10th anniversary reunion show, and there’s a DVD of it!! I must hunt one down. I shall keep on with the occasional stalk to see what they’re up to, in case they reform proper!

The Penny Dreadfuls, particular favourites of mine, were originally a four-man sketch show when my buddy and I first came across them in their Victorian sketch show Aeneas Faversham. It was our favourite show that year, silly, surreal, clever, witty, and thoroughly British! The following year they pulled it off again with Aeneas Faversham Returns, by George, even Bud’s elderly maiden aunt loved it, especially the Invisible Man sketch – the one part we feared she would disapprove of! Why? Specimen 626 had escaped from the lab and they had to find him, he was invisible, at least to them on stage, we could all see Specimen 626 who was stark bollock naked! He was prancing around, jiggling about between the others talking trying to put them off, he even did a cartwheel across the stage! By the following Fringe Jamie (aka Specimen 626) had left them. Had the naked cartwheels been too much for him? So 2008 saw the Penny Dreadfuls down to a trio for Aeneas Faversham Forever, and they’re still loosely together, every now and again popping up on Radio 4 and Radio 4extra, besides following their own solo careers, occasionally popping up at the Fringe. David Reed is up for  four nights with Inside the Comedian and of course, Thom Tuck is up as usual doing lots of silly things with lots of silly people.

Just to show you there were originally four Penny Dreadfuls and also what an awesome act they are……

2019-07-16 19.14.09

behold, the Penny Dreadful playing cards! Yes, they didn’t just do badges, they had decks of playing cards! Three years in a row! The chap at the back of the middle card is Jamie. I wonder what became of him? And can he still cartwheel?

 

…. meanwhile at the Voodoo Rooms ….

Evening, peeps! Friday evening and I’m home, drinking alone, tapping my thoughts down. I could be out, you know. I could be in The Pond listening to the dulcet harmonies of Carl and Scott; I could also be wandering lost in Leith trying to locate said Pond, I’ve never been there. No, I intend to write this post, this post that I intended to write late last Friday night but was side-lined by a need for more music (til after 3 in the morning).

So last Friday night I was back in the Voodoo Rooms to see Logan’s Close supporting Black Cat Bone. Crikey, it’s almost a year since I was there for the launch of their EP Fried Bangers there. But what was this? A keyboard on stage? Ummm, not sure what to make of this development. A favourite band changing it’s line-up has connotations of a pub “being refurbished”, ummm. I remember way, way back when Thin Lizzy brought in keyboard player Darren Wharton for their Renegade album and tour in 1981 (first gig I ever saw!) I was dubious but it was the start of the 80s and keyboards were a thing. I actually quite like the Renegade album but it’s not like classic Lizzy, but hey Phil Lynott’s voice was my passion. Then I recall the last time I saw John Martyn perform around ’92, ummm, I remember wishing someone would shoot the saxophonist! I do like sax, Reuben Legge, case in point, but the saxophonist that night just would not shut up. He was up in the mix and played continuously through everything (I like my sax sparse and selective) Aargh!

So there I was, supping a half of Joker IPA, wondering if this could be the end of my crush on the Close. First number, Work, hmmm, well that worked rather well! Just enough, not too much, a nice touch. I don’t remember the name of the second song but I know it’s one that sounds like it belongs in a Tarantino soundtrack, again, keyboards like a bowl of baby bear’s porridge. New songs thrown in too, nice! A fine set, In The Morning and I Want You particularly brilliant (Scott’s vocals on I Want You are sooo good) Yes, I totally approve of the new chap, except, dude, the trousers, turning them up so high with white socks, no, really.

And what of the headliners Black Cat Bone? A great, bluesy, sleazy, pretty darn sexy sound, I’d reckon not so much black cat, more dirty ol’ ginger tomcat heading out on a night of fighting, f**king and caterwauling ’til dawn.

20190406_004255

 

And here’s a look at the newest member of the Close doing his stuff….

Some Lillies are Tigers that bite

Last night I headed down Leith to the recently re-opened Leith Theatre to see a performance of The Last Days of Mankind by Karl Kraus featuring the The Tiger Lillies. No, didn’t know anything about it, but the poster suggested a hard-hitting, provocative piece of theatre about man and war, and The Tiger Lillies! Oh yay! If they were providing the music, then definitely hard-hitting, plenty of sarcasm and black humour and no shying away from man’s vileness and depravity. It’s been just over five years since I saw The Tiger Lillies at the Fringe, way too long…….

The first time I saw them was 2004, performing Punch and Judy at what was called Pod Deco, this was an odd pop-up venue in the much-loved but sadly closed-down Odeon cinema on Clerk Street (I saw many films there, it was a proper old cinema). This was no family-friendly puppet show – the big clue being the blurb in the programme, “A lurid operetta, with supporting cast of shadows, glove puppets and rubber blow-up dolls. Step into the dirty, chaotic and violent world of Punch”. Yeah, violence and blow-up dolls, but still some idiots brought children along, only to leave before the second song was over! My friend who’d introduced me to the TLs told that when he’d seen them the year before at St Stephen’s the singer warned a mother with two children, she waved him off only to skunk out during the first number!

Punch and Judy was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard before, grotesque, heart-searing, beautiful, depraved. I came out needing a good shower to cleanse my soul – this reaction became my benchmark for a good TLs show. To paraphrase Eric Olthwaite, their humour is black, very black, even the white bits are black. Not for everyone, given the lyrics, but the music itself is sublime; a trio of very talented musicians who will spell-bound you and Martyn’s voice will stay with you forever.

Described as “an avant-punk Brechtian cabaret trio” the Spiegeltent was the perfect venue in 2005. We felt transported to another era, just without the thick cigarette smoke that would have been there. They returned to the Spiegeltent in 2008 with their 7 Deadly Sins. Loved, loved, loved this show, a brilliant set of songs, a burlesque dancer and a puppeteer/clarinetist with little angel wings who seriously looked like Timothy Claypole (a character from a long-ago children’s tv show).

The next two years the TLs were in the Pleasance Beyond, a soulless, functional, modern theatre with no ambiance at all. The performances were great but after the sleazy atmosphere of the Spiegeltent, well, it wasn’t the same overwhelming devineness, they were a band on a stage.

It was 2013 before they returned to the Fringe, playing at the Underbelly’s Cowbarn (aka Reid Concert Hall). A much better venue for them, I seem to the remember the lighting being really good, especially the uplighting on the bass player’s face, fair gave me the willies it did! Another great show with the usual crowd around their CD stall afterwards, they are quite prolific doing all sorts of musical projects, so there will always be new CDs to procure. Sadly I haven’t seen them at the Fringe since, so when they put a picture on Facebook with the comment Watch out Edinburgh, ooo.

So I got me a cabaret table seat in an old slightly dilapidated theatre, even walking in the ambience was right, a piano was centre front in amongst the cabaret tables, percussion at the right wing, bass in front of the left wing; liking it. Two gents with paled faces sat at desks on either side of the raised piano. The Tiger Lillies walked on to their instruments and played…

What a theatrical performance! Everything just outstanding!! The Last Days of Mankind was written in the early twentieth century, satirically charting the war and it’s effects on humanity as the author saw it in Austria; the collapse of civilisation in Europe at the time. Apparently the original play has over 200 scenes, almost 500 characters and an estimated 10 day running time! This new adaptation had a cast around 30 (from all around Europe), 35 scenes and a running time of about 3 hours, phew!

The whole theatre was the stage, with scenes emerging from the sides, the back of the central aisle, even the balcony! Pictures and film clips were projected on to the backdrop and curtain of a sparse stage. Martyn moved between the piano and stage to serenade us with his sarcastic dark wit (his accordian was a thing of beauty, always fancied learning to play one). It was a breath-taking, thought-provoking, mesmerising evening. My cabaret table seat was great, sometimes being right next to the action, but I am quite tempted to go back before it finishes to see it again from the balcony! After all, god knows when the Tiger Lillies will come back to town.

Toodle pip!