No, it wasn’t chianti

If someone told my young self what I cooked for my tea tonight, my response would definitely have been “Yeuck, no way!” Even my teenage self and probably mid-twenties self would have reacted the same; and what is this terrible dish I served up tonight? Liver, a bain of children’s lives, we’re told it’s good for us, certainly the version dished up at school dinners wasn’t!

Mind, I still wouldn’t particularly want liver and onions old-fashioned British style, mine has tomatoes, oregano, garlic, paprika, a generous slosh of red wine and a dod of double cream in there. Sometimes I have it with rice, tonight it was accompanied by sweet potato mash and broccoli. Scrumptious! Oh, and some more of the red wine to wash it down. My young self would not have known what to make of my plate, how times change.

And tonight when I pop along to Stramash, I wouldn’t dream of having a cider, whereas twenty years ago ale would have been my last resort. Umm, it’s over three weeks since I was in Stramash (wow, yeah, that long), there was a very nice new ale from Stewart’s, I do hope it’s there again. Tonight it should be Chris Buckley with the Handsome House Band, then at ten it’s that dynamic, edgy duo The Scat Rats, yay! It’s a fine weekend when I get to see them twice!

They were on the four o’clock slot at Whistlebinkies again yesterday. Now that afternoons are shorter before the darkness descends and temperatures have finally dropped, more folk seem inclined to seek a warm pub much earlier on. Binkies is well placed for people coming or going from the town, music from four is a good enticement to have another drink, especially when it’s this good! Last week Jed Potts & Nicole Smit were dishing up the goodies, and I do believe they’ll be back next Saturday at four, sweet!

I suppose I should do the washing up before I head along. It won’t get done when I get back in, that’s for sure, so I’ll bid you adieu.

Adieu!

A somewhat potty weekend

Friday late afternoon, the weekend had begun! I had an inkling, so I took a long detour to Tesco’s via Waverley Bridge – good call! The Kennedy’s Project were playing, so I settled myself on one of the concrete roadblocks to watch. Two songs later the heavens opened and the band had to stop and I scarpered home double-quick sans shopping.

The Kennedy’s Project on Waverley Bridge

The downpour wasn’t actually for too long before the winds blew it away and the sun reappeared, thinking about it now, I would have possibly dried quicker if I’d gone back outside but once soaked twice shy, and meals don’t make themselves. I had more musical entertainment lined up for my evening – a Scottish Blues Train. Not on a train, in a bar on the Cowgate called Legends, next door to Sneaky Pete’s. I’m not sure when it became Legends, it was called Opium for quite a few years (I was only ever in Opium once or twice, I didn’t care for it); back in the late 80s/early 90s it was called the Casbah, that’s when we regularly headed late on, unwilling to let the night end. We had some epic times in there!

Anyway, this Scottish Blues Train was made up of three bands, first up Fullfat, sadly I missed most of the set but what I did catch was sound. Second up were Eustace, I liked them. A good solid sound, a powerful voice and a fine banter between songs; I would definitely see Eustace again next time they’re in town. It felt a bit odd being back in that upstairs room, I kept looking round trying to remember how it was. Either the back wall has been moved forward or I was standing where the bar used to be, the little vaulted ceiling bits at the back of the stage were from the opulent Opium days and definitely no mirrors anywhere, it was dark and dingy. The bar still serves cans of Red Stripe, always our tipple there, now as before, there wasn’t much else I actually care for.

And then the mild-mannered janitor came on stage, okay so it was Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters. Mild-mannered janitor? Err, there was a cartoon back in the mid 70s and for some bizarre reason Mr Potts always brings it to mind. It would probably make more sense to think of Clark Kent – the quiet, unassuming guy in the heavy-rimmed glasses, takes them off and picks up his guitar…… Okay, one, I don’t much care for Superman, and two, that’s a little ott, not that Jed Potts isn’t a brilliant guitar-player, he definitely is. Brilliant but a light air with it, he has a joie de vivre about him that’s infectious (I’ve put a short clip of him on Instagram, see if you’re not grinning by the end of it!) So Friday night was pretty damn fine, I wandered home wondering when I’d next get to see Potts play.

Sunday evening I had a date with a hot Brazilian lady – Flavia Couri was playing the Voodoo Rooms again, okay, with her husband along too, they are The Courettes. This time they were in the Ballroom, last October they packed out the Speakeasy; you read my thoughts at the time in Speak easy at the Voodoo Rooms if the pingback works (hopefully a click or two will take you to it). For just guitar and drums, the music sounds so full, must be the fuzz, and Flavia’s voice is straight from the sixties with the look to match. Standout favourite song for me was Strawberry Boy, yes, The Courettes were, as their backdrop said, fabulous.

That would have been a good evening in itself, but the night was not over! From the Voodoo Rooms I headed to Stramash where another lovely lady was playing the ten o’clock slot, Nicole & The Backup Crew, I was in time for the second set, sweet! And oh yes, Jed Potts is part of the Backup Crew (when he’s not busy elsewhere like the previous time), nice to see him again so soon. There’s a wee clip of Nicole Shakin’ All Over on Instagram, so’s my recording of it but it’s not too bad (not paying for premium, I can’t put video clips on my blog).

Nicole giving it some sass ❤

I would have headed home but I checked Facebook as I left Stramash (no signal inside) and happened to see a recent post by Whistlebinkies; the band at midnight was Fly Mo and The Strimmers. This name meant nothing to me but one of the two pics was of Jed Potts, hmmm, Binkies was only a short detour home and it wasn’t yet midnight…… Of course I went along, and indeed there he was, this time with Euan on bass (fellow Crew member) and the drummer from Friday night (I’ve mentioned a few times how incestuous the band scene is here). What a fine way to finish off the weekend!

So 2021, any highlights?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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