A hard act to follow

The National Theatre Live had a new screening last Wednesday, nice timing to whet the appetite for some theatrics at the Fringe, only eight days away now! Apparently it was the highest grossing event cinema release in the UK, not surprising as the star (and only person in it) is Jodie Comer of Killing Eve fame; Prima Facie is her West End debut and boy, she is bloody tremondous in it! A hundred minutes of monologue and she kept us hanging on every word – a high bar for any one to reach in the next month.

Jodie Comer plays Tessa a brilliant young barrister who specialises in defending men accused of sexual assault, the start of the play sees her swagger and treat the job like a sport to be won, winning points (there’s something of a reminder of Villanelle); then, after being raped by a male work colleague, she comes the realisation that someone else will be trying to score all those same points if she presses charges.

The set is two large, grand wooden tables and leather chairs which Comer moves around herself during her monologue, she also has slight changes of clothing to gracefully and unobtrusively manage whilst speaking. She takes books and ledgers down from the walls to later replace them again, files light up signifying the number of cases of sexual assault, but our eyes stay on Comer and her brilliant performance. An amazing piece of theatre but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the truth of how courts work and how little truth can mean in a court of law.

Now I did say at the end of my last blog post that that would be it on local live music for a bit, but last Friday night was a tad special at Stramash. I mentioned that the Willie Dug Band had been moved from the 7pm slot to the 10pm slot; it was Willie Dug‘s other band the Miracle Glass Company who were playing on Friday, and boy they were good. I got into them thanks to a playlist by Logan’s Close on Spotify that I listened to a lot during the first Lockdown (I was being cheap and listening for free). The MGC are back playing together again and have two gigs next week, if it wasn’t the start of the Fringe I would have tried to get a ticket. Oh well, there’ll be more opportunities.

Last night saw the end of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival and I saw the ever delightful Nicole Smit and her Travelling Tent Show. Unfortunately it was a drizzly evening so I stayed under one of the big umbrellas until the queue had gone and I could dash straight into the Piccolo Tent. It’s rather nice in there, red velvet drapes on the walls and well-padded tiered seating (There used to be another old spiegeltent, the Bosco, which just had wooden benches, rather numbing on the bottom!) Locals the Tenement Jazz Band were backing our chanteuse; there was also the bonus of Kat Brooks singing a few numbers and shimmying around in white fringed dress (oh my!). Blind Boy Paxton popped in for one song, it was quite a show all in all.

The Assembly George Square Garden stays open this week, hoping the footfall won’t fall too much between the Festivals. The other bar area in Teviot Square is up and running too, it opens a few weeks early so that all the graduates have somewhere to celebrate straight after walking out of the McEwan Hall (literally next to it!). This shows the power of advertising – I really can’t say whose beer garden it is! I walk past it a lot, every year, but to me it’s just “the bar bit in Teviot Square”, I assume one of the big names has it?! The Pleasance Courtyard are busy getting ready, the big 33 sign still wasn’t up yesterday.

The town is getting busy now, not long to go. Must dash, just noticed on Facebook that The Scat Rats are playing Stramash tonight, something of a departure for them, on a Monday!

Toodle pip!

《Didn’t click hard enough last night – it’s been hanging half published, oops!》

Cake devoured, coffee drunk, time to blog…

Yum, just tried a wodge of cake I made last night, an I Didn’t Intend To Make This But I Have Leftover Mixture cake. I could have just scoffed the mixture but it was very late and didn’t want the sugar rush to keep me awake, so I put it in a small cake tin and bunged the spare pear slices and halved blackberries (from the cake I was actually making) on top. Yes, I have a larger cake with a layer of pear slices halfway down in the mixture, a few pieces on the top and blackberries pushed down into the mixture. I should be good and freeze it in slices for later, I should. Why have I been baking? A special occasion coming up? No, I’ve just noticed that cakes and pastries have been seeming more delectable and appealing recently, if I know I have something at home I’m way less tempted to give in to desire.

And on tasty, delicious things, The Scat Rats were awesome again last Friday evening. Just a few in again but the lads never give less no matter the numbers; two best buds chattin’, singin’, playin’ guitar, they just happen to be doing it on a stage. I had to smile when Scott passed his guitar to Carl to fix as he’d just broken a string (amused but not surprised that Carl is handier at that stuff). While Carl got on with a re-string Scott took took Carl’s guitar for a soulful solo rendition of Tonight The Streets Are Ours, Carl did sing a few backing bits from the corner of his mouth that wasn’t gripping his pick (why he didn’t just take the pick out of his mouth I don’t know, but it made it more entertaining).

More folk did wander in over time but it remained fairly quiet, the usual way these last few weeks. Yup, this lovely summer weather is really doing for the 7pm slot at Stramash, Willie Dug was not a happy pooch the other week, I did wonder if he’d pull out of it this Friday – haha, he’s gone and got the band moved into the 10pm slot (did I get it wrong? nope, the website still shows the original timeslot, the new time is on Facebook). Oo, it’s the old favourites TBC at seven at the mo, hey Stram, how about The Scat Rats again? I’ve stuck snippets of Folsom Prison Blues and The Last Time on Instagram for your delight and delectation.

Later that same evening I was in the Spiegeltent in George Square Garden to see Tom McGuire & The Brassholes; first night of this year’s Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, that tent was buzzing. I’ve not seen them before, very lively and bouncey, as were the crowd too. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve been to anything in the Spiegeltent before that’s all standing except for the outer booths and a few rows at the back, nope.

Saturday saw the Grassmarket was very lively with the Mardi Gras, three stages and a floor space for bands too. Annoyingly, the times given for some band appearances turned out to be completely out, never mind rough guide lines, but I caught Awkward Family Portraits second set and got me their new album afterwards (they are so good, I love ’em). There were plenty of different styles on offer for folk to watch while basking in the sunshine; I didn’t go along but I’ll bet George Square Garden was busy.

The temperature rose through the weekend, Sunday evening was as hot as a normal summer’s day when I went to see Thor: Love and Thunder, so glad of the air-conditioning in there. Personally speaking, I really enjoyed it but I can see why a lot of Marvel fans won’t, too light, too silly, played for laughs; yes, Taika Waititi could have reined it in a bit. But how did he persuade Russell Crowe to do such a ludicrous accent?! Was it meant to be so funny? The guy is famous for being huffy about his acting, was this a deliberate joke back to the Robin Hood accent debacle? For me there was a lot to live in this film, Stormbreaker v Mjolnir, Jane Foster becoming Thor, Tessa Thompson being divine as ever. I’ll probably go see it again, actually, no probably there, I will see it in the cinema again.

It wasn’t just a random choice to see the new Thor movie on Sunday evening, I needed to fill the evening until going on midnight. You’ve guessed it, another late night shift for The Buccaneers in Stramash; no keyboards, which made for a much heavier, rockier sound (haven’t as yet but there will be a couple of clips on Instagram later). Earlier this week Facebook said The Buccaneers would be playing the Jazz Club at 1.30 last night, that is too late for me! The local Gig Guide shows the Buccs playing Whistlebinkies midnight on the 29th, maybe I’ll check that one with Mr Marah.

Next blog post will be Fringe related, no music – unless I hear something epic that I just have to share! It’s looming closer and closer but somehow my head still thinks it’s like a month away or so. Oh, I have plenty tickets now for the run-up week, and my calender drawn up with definites written in. Gotta go, time for a spot of late lunch.

Toodle pip!

a joy for the ears, out on Spotify now

Rats and Brassholes

It’s Friday evening, I’ve just had a rather splendid tea of spaghetti and a homemade pasta sauce – why do people buy that stuff in jars? It’s so easy to throw something together. The Scat Rats should be back at Stramash at seven o’clock but I suspect the place will be dead again, it’s still a hot and sunny out there, go figure. Oh, and the George Square Garden has opened today for the start of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, it’s probably rather busy right now. I’ll be in there myself later on, I’ve treated myself to a ticket to see Tom McGuire & The Brassholes in the Speigeltent, yay! Okay I’ve only seen bits and pieces but I’ve definitely liked those morsels, so why the heck not?

I’ve taken full advantage of Assembly’s locals offer again and bought my full allowance of six tickets. While checking through the Fringe programme I noticed that a lot of previews are only on the Wednesday and Thursday, the Friday is full whack weekend prices (guess how I feel about that, go on!); my Assembly offer tickets run through Friday to Sunday when the offer ends. And that’s another thing – they have a great long list of shows included in the offer, around two hundred, erm, certainly four of those shows don’t start until after the 7th!! That’s just a few I checked, how many more have they bumped the list up by? I only noticed because Rich Hall is back (yay) and his show is on the list, only it doesn’t start the 13th, huh? Naturally I was curious, check a few others, yup, there were more that started after the first weekend.

Turns out those Underbelly folk have decided to jump on the bandwagon and is offering a number of £5 tickets on all their shows from the 3rd til 7th. The offer is only on until midnight Sunday so I’ll have to check quickly tomorrow; this will be cheaper than the preview prices too, oo and it didn’t mention an upper limit of tickets allowed per person, interesting. Now if only the Pleasance and Gilded Balloon felt the need to attract the early-comers too. OMG, just realised Messrs Tuck and Fitzhigham are back with their Macbeth in the Underbelly this time (pricey) but this opens my options of when to see them a bit!

And on Thom Tuck, that wonderful August Institution has a show at the Monkey Barrel that isn’t listed in the Fringe programme, it’s a good job I had a peek at their own website! Will Tim Fitzhigham sneak in a last minute show at the Pleasance like he did last year? I was very lucky to spot that on the Pleasance’s own website and snaffle a couple of tickets. You’ve really got to be on the ball with these things!

Crikey, the time! The lads could be on, or having a drink in an empty bar. Toodle pip!

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