The good, sad, sublime and mad

It’s been an interesting week since I last posted, some bits sublime, some ridiculously weird, some totally unexpected; it’s all left me too bamboozled to put anything down ’til now. Let’s start where I finished last time, about to head to see See How They Run, I didn’t see it. We arrived rather late, my chum wasn’t fussed about seeing it so we saw Bodies, Bodies, Bodies instead (I still haven’t seen it yet but I shall). Yeah, umm, we should’ve just call it quits and gone to Stramash early, really I could not have cared less if all they’d all ended up dead (I don’t think we were the intended demographic for it).

At least after that particular ridiculous, there was the sublime Nicole & the Backup Crew to pick us back up, and she was wearing another unitard, oh my (I’ve seen her wearing one before, I get it, very comfy, like a onesie but with sexy sass). Stramash was jumping, a great crowd. After midnight The Buccaneers took over, the crowd kept dancing, it was a lot of fun but I called it a night after the first set, hey, beauty sleep is required if I’m to stay so handsome!

A last minute decision saw me heading to the cinema on Tuesday night to see Clerks III, I hadn’t been aware it was even out, just as well I flicked right through the list! The first time I saw Clerks I was not impressed, then some time later I saw it again, much better, I loved Clerks II; I’m sure I have them both on dvd somewhere. If I can find them I can have a Clerks Day, watch them both then see Clerks III again. I enjoyed it but its definitely just one for the fans, quite poignant at times and it really points out how old we’ve all gotten (wow, Dante looks sooo young in clips from the first film!).

Sad news, Accordion Ryan has now left Edinburgh, he’s taken his two bags and accordion to Vienna. Good news, Ryan enjoyed Edinburgh and his Fringe experience so much that he may well be back next year, yay.

Wednesday saw me back at Legends for another blues evening. I missed the first band but arrived just as Jed Potts & The Hillman Hunters took to the stage; or in my head as they became, The Janitors, the mild-mannered janitor (as previously explained in this blog), the cooler slightly edgier janitor and the janitor you really wouldn’t mess with (yes, my mind does wander down some strange paths). As brilliant as ever and I do believe there was mention of an album coming soon?!

Headliners were The Cinelli Brothers who have just won The 2022 UK Blues Challenge, needless to say they were pretty damn fine – but my mind went for another walk…… Okay, so at the time it was very funny, I wasn’t drunk or nothing, I mean no disrespect, but come on, I bet I’m not the only who’s looked at the drummer and thought “porn star”. He had the ‘tache, the hair style, the satin shirt; actually I blame the guitarist/keyboard guy (they all sang various songs) he started it with his odd vaguely eighties trousers with a pattern that reminded me of curtains my Mum had in her kitchen years ago (probably the eighties). Then the other two band members, tiger print shirt and blue tinted glasses, paisley shirt and a hat straight from the seventies; obviously the director and producer of the porn movies. Like I said, they were great, it was a great evening – the deflated blow-up doll lying abandoned in the Cowgate made for a bizarre ending.

That wasn’t the bizarrest part of my week though. Oh, I had a good idea that the gig on Thursday would be different – I had no idea how different it would be! Firstly, it was in the Banshee Labyrinth, not a pub I frequent (just in August for the odd Free Fringe show, usually in the cinema room), well named as I wandered what was obviously the long way round to find the right room. Just about another dozen souls had found their way there to see Nestter Donuts with support from Diogo Augusto, and the trip began.

Loud doesn’t come close, ear-splitting, the backing track for Diogo Augusto was intense, I’ve never done it before, but thank god for a spare tissue to stick in my ears. The guitar was pretty low in the mix so was hard to made out a lot of the time, maybe if he’d just turned down that infernal backing track. Aside from the music he seemed quite a funny Portuguese chap, definitely preferred the stand-up bits, haha. I realised it did seem like some odd Free Fringe show I’d stumbled upon; the headline act stripping down to his undies at the side of the stage to put on his leopard print unitard did nothing to dispel this thought (personally I reckon Ms Smit wears a unitard much better than Mr Donuts).

the artist prepares

Nestter Donuts was another solo act, he sings while playing electric guitar, bass drum and high hat; he has two large Spanish fans as stage adornments (trying for a kinky boudoir look?!) He describes his music as flamenco trash, a fair description, there’s flamenco stylings in his singing and guitar. There’s also a lot of bizarre, like getting an audience member up to sing the words for his song Meow Meow (those are all the words and boy, did she go for it, obviously a fan). A strange act that somehow compels you to keep watching, thank god I was able to avert my eyes away at the end, most of the few there did – he’d pulled the unitard down and his undies, yes, deliberately! Ye gods! Ridiculously unexpected that was.

More sad news, the Scat Rats won’t be playing Binkies after the Fur gig on Tuesday night, good news is it’s the Willie Dug Duo, or at least that’s what Binkies have their website, hmmm. Unexpected good news, I should be picking up a new toy that I bought on EBay tomorrow. One of those quick ganders that threw up a beauty, I won’t actually say what it is, don’t want to jinx it, maybe I’ve already done so by just mentioning it. Yes, it’s paid for but you do hear things.

Anyway, my tea’s almost ready, I can smell it, yum.

Toodle pip!

P.S more pics and vids on Facebook and Instagram

I’ve been away, did I miss much?

Hello! I know it’s been a wee while, I’ve been down in the old country doing family things – what a time to be out of Edinburgh, eh! In case you somehow missed it, our queen Queen Elizabeth II died on the 8th September at Balmoral, three days later the Queen’s coffin was brought down to Edinburgh by hearse to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, from where it was taken the following day by procession up the Royal Mile to St Giles Cathedral. Her Majesty’s coffin stayed in St Giles for 24 hours, so that folk could pay their respects, before being flown to London. Many thousands came to Edinburgh to bid farewell to a much respected and admired lady, the queue reached right back to the Meadows apparently.

Queen Elizabeth II will be a tough act for King Charles III to follow, I wish him well in what may well be turbulent times. She was a strong figurehead for the United Kingdom, without her the status quo has been shifted, there may well be a few aftershocks before a new equilibrium settles in. Will some take this opportunity to make the changes that they’ve said would happen after the Queen’s reign came to an end?

So, I was down in Yorkshire for a while, a place name I usually precede with “deepest, dampest”, well it’s not so damp at present and water levels are far from deep, see how low one of the local reservoirs is…..

Yup, seriously low.

When the water level was low was in the mid seventies, the area below the road bridge was littered with looted safes, shot guns and the like! Now if we trot back up to the bridge and look upstream from the dam wall, you can see the much, much older bridge I was standing on to take the above photo.

The old packhorse bridge is usually well under the surface. It’s like a local barometer, can it be seen just under the surface? Oo, the top of the arch is visible; this view of it is extremely rare, possibly the first time there’s only been the smallest of streams trickling below it. It’ll take an awful lot of rain to refill the reservoir, anyone know any good raindances?

I came back up to Edinburgh on Friday after a longer stay than I’d intended, the Scat Rats were playing Stramash so it was definitely time to head north. What a gorgeous day for travelling (unlike the journey down) and at the end of it a lovely pint of Stewart’s and great sounds, yay! As I was leaving Stramash afterwards I asked the lads if they could confirm a date down in the Edinburgh Gig Guide of a midnight set in Whistlebinkies on the 27th – err, not in their diary! Then I mentioned it was the same night that Fur are playing the Mash House, oo, that perked them up, indeed yeah they’ll be playing that night! Goodo.

The Rats were out to play again on Saturday afternoon in Binkies; a new ale for me to try, mmm, so good I treated myself to a pint. And yay, Mr Marah is out again tonight with The Buccaneers, midnight at Stramash; before them it’s Nicole and the Back-up Crew, so thats four sets for some folk tonight. Maybe one time there could be a big mash-up of the two bands right through, I’d love to see that! To take me up to ten o’clock I’m shortly off to see See How They Run at the flicks, the trailer looks wonderful.

Best be off now, toodle pip!

I had my cake …..

Yes, I bought a couple of conference pears and a punnet of raspberries and set to work. If you plan to try this yourself be aware that all the added moisture from the sliced pears means that the middle of the cake will take longer to cook. Oo, thinking of yummy food, I’ve just remembered that I took photos at the Farmers Market yesterday morning, post-it reminder to do a thing with them in the morning. Well, I’m popping oot soon as the lovely Nicole Smit is at Stramash tonight with her Back Up Crew, just a half pint of something, honest; a sweet ending to the month.

I did think I’d be warning about a wet start to the Fringe, the forecast a few days ago was bloody awful for Tuesday and Wednesday (kinda expected, you know) but as it’s got closer the amount of rain predicted to fall has seriously declined to You might want to have a brolly.

My cake was delicious, thank you. First little try was fine, above is the cake slightly warmed in the microwave then passionfruit and mango coulis drizzled around it. A trip to Madeira a few years ago really opened my eyes to the delights of passionfruit, especially with cake!

I’ve realised I can cheat a little this year as a number of shows I saw last year are back this year – I could do pingbacks to last year’s reviews and hope standards haven’t declined since then (for most, a couple have hopefully improved). Straight off I will say that Shakespeare’s Fool and Watson: The Final Case are back and jolly well worth seeing. Yes, I am wholeheartedly recommending these two shows, bloody marvellous they both were! Right at the bottom of this page there should be a search bit, if you can’t wait to see what I wrote about them.

Okay, so I may have had another piece, with more coulis!

Must dash. Toodle pip!

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!

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