Amused mooses, ACMSs and now the Brucies

It’s late, I’ve been medicating my sore throat with strong dry cider, I think it’s working, or?! Anyhoo, Mesdames et Monsieurs, Welcome to the Bruce On The Fringe Fringe Awards 2022! These winners have been picked from 52 shows (not counting return views); there’s been some stiff competition this year – so I took a leaf out of the ACMS’s approach and made up awards to fit.

Best Zomcom: Apocalypse Kernow

Best Pomelo: Palimpsest

Best Sci-fi: Space Hippo

I’m still pondering Best Musical Moment, first nomination is the Miracle Glass Company performing Look At You Now (it was mighty fine)

Best Use of a Red Hat: The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much

Most Macabre: Famous Puppet Death Scenes

Smartest Suited: The Flop – A Band of Idiots

Second nomination for Best Musical Moment is Blueswater performing The Wizard (epic)

Best Creepy Mouse Costume: Neil Frost – Nan’s House Of Fun

Best Hans Gruber Impression: Yippee Ki Yay

Most Tenacious: Aidan Goatley

Third nomination for Best Musical Moment is Nicole Smit for every moment she’s onstage

Most August: Thom Tuck

Best Kitchen Utensils: Steve and Shirley Sieve

Best Washing Machine Operator: John-Luke Roberts

Fourth nomination for Best Musical Moment is Accordion Ryan’s ability to go so low

Most Absurd Bird Impressionist: Luke Rollason

Best Avian Messenger Trainer: Christian Brighty

Best Furniture Movers: Grubby Little Mitts

Fifth nomination for Best Musical Moment is Carl Marah not falling off his stool in Binkies

Sweetest Fringe Thing: Accordion Ryan

Sexiest Fringe Thing: Rob Kemp

Silliest Fringe Thing: Crybabies – Bagbeard

And that’s it for this year. Pardon? Who won Best Musical Moment? I’m gonna take another leaf off ACMS’s tree and not bother declaring a winner.

Toodle pip!

this year’s Bruce On The Fringe Fringe award winners

Some fleas are very talented

Late Sunday afternoon, the penultimate day of the Fringe, for many acts it is the final day. Earlier on the Out Of The Blue and the Improv Musical flyerers were all out in force again on the Royal Mile, come on, guys, I thought, there’s still time for something to go down. Very entertaining on the Royal Mile was a Flea Circus act that was just starting as I passed by, well, I had to go back and take a look. Not too closely mind, one look at my luxuriant fur and …. well! Doroflea, Hercuflea and Evel Knieflea are actually very skilled circus performers, an acrobat, strongman and daredevil respectively; the ringmaster was very fun with his many flea puns and he seems to treat his fleas well (I do hope it’s the same away from the showtimes).

that’s Doroflea on the highwire

It’s been a glorious day here, after my late morning saunter up the Mile I wandered round to Olly Bongo’s on Teviot Place for a spot of lunch. I am a creature of habit so, bacon, brie and cranberry panini with a white coffee, thank you. I was happily surprised that there were tables available when I peeked in, Olly Bongo’s is very popular and quite often full around lunchtime during the Fringe (always worth a look though, very tasty food). Pleasantly full I headed to join the queue outside The Jazz Bar for Blueswater Presents: Queens of the Blues; yes, another date with Nicole!

Queen of the Blues and a couple of knaves

Actually it was the third time I’ve seen her this week. No, it’s not stalking! For one thing, until I saw Blues! on Tuesday evening I wasn’t even particularly aware that she was part of that Blueswater show, and no, I didn’t go to the final ever Blues! show yesterday just for Nicole, it was a brilliant show with the most awesome rendition of The Wizard (and I got a HPH ticket). The Jazz Bar was full today, luckily I had a good view, apart from not being able to see Simon on drums, shame. Another cracking show from m’lady, in her words, an hour of sass, waffle and song. As the show title hints, she talks about the Queens of the Blues as she sings their songs; in forty, fifty years time will another young singer be putting on a Fringe show about her hero, the great Nicole Smit, who started out singing at the Fringe all those years before? I like to think so (oh, Nicole will still be going strong, and maybe one night she’ll turn up and they’ll do a duet!).

Tonight will be Accordion Ryan‘s final show, quick check on Instagram, good, nothing to say he’s had to cancel, yay, I shall be there, my fourth time – yes my fourth, I did go see him on Friday night and bagged a photo with him! (no, I’m not stalking him, it’s a free show at a time of the evening when it’s too early to go home but really, should I be having yet another drink? Answer, stay out and give Ryan my pint money). He did say he’d put in a different Ryan’s Original song, so I have to go for that and to soak up a few more happy vibes! I wonder where he’ll be heading to next, and whether he’d fancy giving an accordion and ukulele double act a go? Hahaha.

Ryan & Bruce, has a ring to it, don’t you think?

It’s just occurred to me – I haven’t made any plans for tomorrow!! If you’ve read about any of my previous end of Fringes you’ll know that wrapping up the Fringe well has always been very important to me. Final night shows have to be good, usually a favourite to end on. Erm, ahh, my end is in danger of fizzling out like the Fringe does, oh dear. Quick flick through accumulated flyers and saved cut-outs for shows seen, it looks like only the Pleasance and Gilded Balloon still have shows on tomorrow, and even at lot of theirs have finished today. No final evening show for a good send-off?! I suppose there’s the Open Mic Night at Whistlebinkies for entertainment. Hmmm, if Ryan hasn’t already left Edinburgh will he show up? That’s where I first saw him just before the Fringe, it would make for a very good bookend!

Toodle pip!

Spending time in Spaces

Yesterday I hit the hut, the Half Price Hut tickets, plus others just to get a good return for the overall £5 booking fee. In doing so I finally saw shows in theSpace venues, third week and I hadn’t been to any of them yet, unusual for me. I’ve noticed theSpace host a lot of small theatre companies, many that just come up for one week; so if it’s theatre at a reasonable price that you’re after, it’s a good place to check out.

TheSpace on North Bridge is on the first floor of the big hotel there, the big posh hotel, lovely staircase up, but somehow a building devoid of any, erm, emotion is not quite right, very airport lounge-y, very impersonal, a total lack of atmosphere (just my opinion, others may say differently). This does mean that the actors really need to be able to create their own atmosphere. Once Upon A Midnight Dreary certainly pile in on, a sumptuous musical play about Edgar Allan Poe, sadly it wasn’t quite to my palate. It was the Edgar Allan Poe element that attracted me (there’s always at least one production about Poe or his works at the Fringe every year). The music was very good, very fitting and the three performers all have great singing voices but the play itself just didn’t sit right with me, but any Poe fans, fans of the macabre should consider giving it go, especially if the tickets are on HPH offer.

In the evening I had back-to-back shows in Theatre 3 at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. Be warned, Theatre 3 is a very warm room, warm enough to have your head nodding if you’ve recently had a large meal. First off, You’re Dead, Mate a dark comedy where Death has to process his latest client and send him to the Hereafter, but his client is, understandably, rather confused and disbelieving. This is the debut play of Edmund Morris with himself as Death and Harry Duff-Walker playing the recently deceased. It’s very funny and entertaining, a few poignant moments in there amid the laughs; for a first play I reckon he done good, not brilliant but sound and some great ideas. It would be interesting if Morris re-visited this in five years time, with tweaks from all his accumulated knowledge and experience this could be really something (yes, Morris has a future in theatre of that I have no doubt). ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Another young man with a bright future is Fraser Brown. After a brief step outside to gulp down some fresh, cool air it was back into Theatre 3 for It’s Fraser Brown, I’m Afraid. He comes across as a personable young chap who’s a tad anxious, or is that part of the act? No, I think his occasional apologies to his audience weren’t without basis in his true self, they may be in there as part of his routine but it would still be telling that he put them in. Brown has some wonderfully pitch-black comedy moments where a few cracked a laugh and others gasped or laughed like they shouldn’t be finding the funny. He seemed to take a while to relax into his stride, I felt he was trying to hard to be edgy, it came across just a bit uneven, disjointed; when he got in his groove he had a lighter touch and delivered the dark punches with more effect. Definitely one I’ll be keeping my eye on ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yesterday early evening I finally indulged myself with a HPH ticket to see Blueswater Presents: Blues! The 10th Anniversary Show in the Grand Theatre at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. I know that I shouldn’t begrudge spending a bit more to see some top class blues but I’m a terrible moose and I do. Wow, though, this is a brilliant show, it’s the last year Blueswater will do this particular show, definitely worth seeing before it finishes on Saturday if you like the blues. Worth it just for Nicole Smit coming on and performing I’d Rather Go Blind, followed by a blindingly good rendition of The Wizard by Black Sabbath!

Yes, this show takes us for the beginnings of the blues (with just Nicole Smit and Felipe Schrieburg on stage singing John the Revelator – exquisite) right up to modern day. Members of the band came and went off stage as each number required, with Nicole adding to the mix occasionally; all the various Back Up Crew were there along with some brass on the side. Just have to mention The Wizard again, I don’t usually pay much attention to drummers but I do enjoy watching Simon Gibb and he was sooo good on this; and Jed Potts and Charlie Wild going nuts on guitar, awesome (oh, Ewan on bass and the harmonica player were great too, and Felipe on vocals). I am a bit tempted to go back for the final show.

Last but not least from yesterday, not in any Space, the Gilded Balloon Wine Bar instead, was Yippee Ki Yay and if you can’t guess what this show takes its name from it’s possibly not the show for you. If, however you are a fan of Die Hard, are not averse to some verse and like a slice of silly, this could be right up your street. Richard Marsh tells two stories side by side, one Die Hard the movie, the other of our narrator’s life having fallen in love with a fellow Die Hard fan. His Hans Gruber is priceless (with plenty of little Rickman and Potterverse quips); the proposal scene to the music from The Princess Bride, such a great little detail. So glad I decided to get around to seeing this romp ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The sun has finally decided to come out – it was very gray and wet before lunchtime. Must go out and get a few rays, maybe catch another show or two. It could be a late one tonight as I believe those Scat Rats are playing Binkies in the early hours, will I make it?

Toodle pip!

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!》

You wait two years for a Festival ….

It’s June, the sun is shining and the Meadows Fair (or Festival, as it has become) is back again on the first weekend of the month, yay. Apparently not as big as it was before Covid, not down to Covid but our money-grabbing, anti-locals council; the usual space in the Meadows has been priced out of the Fair’s range, so it will all be in the area that was previously just an extra spill over corner. I noticed the other day that the travelling fairground has come back in it’s usual spot, it comes for about seven or eight days.

a fort, anyone?

The Meadows Fair is wonderful for spotting odd buys on the bric-a-brac stalls and bumping into old acquaintances you haven’t seen since the last time. There’s live music right through the day til six o’clock. Indeed, this year they’ve been seriously promoting the bands on Facebook, check them out at Meadows Festival Edinburgh. No mention of a second smaller stage for young, upcoming bands this year, so I don’t know if that’s happening or not. Annoyingly I have somewhere else to be on Saturday from noon, but I should manage to be up there in plenty of time for Black Cat Bone at five o’clock.

do you wanna get ahead?

I may be a tad whacked on Saturday because The Buccaneers are playing the midnight slot at Whistlebinkies on Friday night. I’m thinking of seeing the new Dr Strange film beforehand, the 8:40 showing won’t finish until 11:15 which gives a nice time to walk from the cinema to Binkies. [EDIT it was just Binkies nonsense again, I checked with Mr Marah, he was away playing on Islay] It is a good stop-off point on my home from a movie, I went to check out their Legendary Open Mic Night on Monday after seeing Downton Abbey: A New Era (very enjoyable if you’re a Downton fan – very predictable but the script is witty with the Dowager Countess getting all the best lines as usual). Why is Binkie’s open mic “legendary”? I don’t know, maybe there is a history that justifies the term, I hope so, legendary to me is a term that should be whispered by others not claimed for oneself.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival will be fully back this year, disappointingly not this month. They’ve put it back in August like it was until around 2007 when it moved to June; I much prefer it in June, there’s enough to see in August with it! I’ve now had a look at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival programme for this year, the lovely Nicole Smit has two shows on the final weekend. Oo, it’s a great venue, the Piccolo tent, perfect for Nicole Smit: Travelling Tent Show to celebrate the music of 1920s tent shows; I don’t have a ticket yet but I shall! (at £18 it’s pricey for me, but she’s worth it)

Free to wander around will be the Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket on Saturday 16th July and the Edinburgh Festival Carnival (around the Mound and Princes Street) on Sunday 17th July. Fingers crossed for a sunny weekend! It’s starting to feel like an Edinburgh summer now, where’s my sunglasses?

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