Spuds and Saints

October already! Ah, but September ended on a couple of fine notes! First off, last Tuesday evening Fur were back in town, yay! This time at The Mash House, not a place I’ve seen a band at before, Fringe shows yes, in different rooms there. A friend said they weren’t keen on it as a music venue and having now been, I kinda get what they meant; not that there’s anything particularly bad about it, it’s just got no appeal. I will say that the bar there is quite nice and reasonably priced.

Fur were as brilliant as ever and the crowd were really up for it. I spotted Mr Rough across the room, so I moseyed over to say hi, and as there was a bit of breeze from a nearby air conditioning vent (very warm venue) I stayed on that side; there were also fewer giants in front of me there. It was a very fine gig but the announced last song was indeed the last song, no encores, no Can’t Help Falling in Love, the band were all there ready come back on except Murray, no one seemed to know where he’d gone! No sign of him, so the lights came up and that was that, an odd end (I gather he was not feeling well). Shame.

Friday I was all set for more music, even if I had to go over to Glasgow for it. It must be at least fifteen years or so since I last went through to Glasgow to see a band, I don’t know Glasgow at all – this was gonna be interesting. The venue was St Luke’s & The Winged Ox, the band The Strange Blue Dreams with support from Logan’s Close, yeah okay, so, it looked easy to get to and LC said they’d put me on their guest list, yay. I had a wee printed out map and the return bus times, knew how long it should take me to get back to Buchanan Street bus station (to be double checked with how long it took me to find St Luke’s). It turns out that St Luke’s & The Winged Ox is just past the Barrowlands, funny how many bits looked familiar as I went by; heading back afterwards I stuck to the same route, but had a strong recall of a drunken discussion between two friends I was with after a Barrowlands gig, about which was the best way back ( I just tailed along behind them praying we’d make it in time otherwise it was an hour til the next one).

Oh, I do like St Luke’s, it’s an old church that’s been converted into a space for live entertainment and other events, one with a three quarters round balcony and the old organ pipes are a magnificent backdrop for the stage. There’s still the old pulpit at the side of the stage which became a booth for DJs Anna and Holly to spin some fine pieces of vinyl, some seriously good taste there! The Winged Ox part of the name is the bar adjacent to the venue room, a good sized bar with a kitchen, so a convenient place to eat before a show; reasonable bar prices too, and a very nice IPA! (there is a little bar with limited choice in the venue, best to head to the full bar)

Now, the evening itself, wow, The Strange Blue Dreams, yep definitely on the strange side, haunting, intense, infectious, so many retro sounds going on, hints of forgotten tunes, glimpses of older times, smoky dance halls. The band are all dapperly dressed in keeping with their stylish sound; a sound and look perfect for a David Lynch film.

The gig was to celebrate the release of their second album Simple Machine, well reader, I was so impressed with their brand of rock’n’roll I just had to buy it (on dvd), oh, and a copy of their first album too. If you’re on Spotify you can check them out.

Yes, now I’m getting round to Logan’s Close , so good to finally see the full band again. I noticed Scott went and changed into his stage attire, no scruffy Rat for this gig! Head attire for the evening was his heart-shaped sunglasses (Scott always has something on his head). Eleonora was first choice and they were off!

It was a short and sweet half hour set of deliciousness. Naturally they mentioned the album-in-waiting Heart-shaped Jacuzzi and played the title track; Dans Le Jardin was in there too. A couple or so escape me, but I do remember they played the now very familiar to me Gouching On The 33 and, of course, Babe Station, Hot Blondes In Your Area Tonight rounded off an excellent set.

I would have included a shot of Sean Keys, but as usual he was in a darker spot and the guy is never still for a second! My crappy phone camera is incapable of taking a decent photo of him. The drummer in the back was previous sticksman Alex, filling in for the evening as Gavin was away.

It was a great evening, even my trek back to the bus station was well-timed with just a few minutes to spare. After their set Carl was on merch stall duties, apparently because he was driving, so Scott was taking the opportunity to get bevied, no surprise there! I noticed the Live At Limbic TV CDs were getting some interest, as they should, an hour of juicy goodness for only a tenner? Bargain!

Not sure what they were up to when I took this!?

It’s very late, I’ll leave this here I think.

Toodle pip!

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

Five long gloriously juicy years

Next month It’ll be five years since I stumbled upon Logan’s Close, towards the end of this month the new line-up will take to the road with their mini tour of the UK before heading off to Germany; what will the next five years have in store? But before they headed off to their future would they have time to chat about their past to an old moose? They did ….. in the Waverley late Tuesday night before they played the midnight set at Whistlebinkies. Yup, The Scat Rats, aka Carl Marah and Scott Rough, agreed to meet me there (a favourite pub of theirs) well, they are two lovely amiable chaps, funny, smart, easy-going; as delightful offstage as on. Unfortunately we were drinking, and still drinking at Binkies ’til after two, so I’ve had to sift through an alcohol-induced blurriness to recall anything from the conversation.

Rough and Marah have been best buds since they met playing football at eight years old, so going on twenty years. Both started playing guitar around the same time, Carl was self-learning, Scott was going to a guitar class and told Carl about it; and so the seeds were planted. By 2014, in their late teens the two had been joined by friend Mike on drums and they took the name of a lane in their hometown, Dunbar, as their moniker Logan’s Close. This bit’s hazy, finding a bass player who fitted in took a while, I think Olly was the third one and he was a perfect fit. Now they were a tidy foursome, things started progressing nicely.

I first became aware of them at the end of April 2017 when Facebook suggested I might like their video Listen To Your Mother. Oh, I did, it was cracking and I still reckon it’s a great watch, do check it out! The following month they were the support for a touring band playing Sneaky Pete’s in the Cowgate so I went along and was totally blown away by their energy and sound, yup, one taste and I was hooked! I saw them three times more that year, the final time in November was for the launch of their latest single Girl, at the Caves just off the Cowgate.

Logan’s Close at Sneaky Pete’s Wednesday 31st January 2018

As good as this line-up and sound were, Rough and Marah were after one more piece to complete the puzzle – a keyboard-player, but where to look for someone to match their sound? The gods were happy to oblige them and dropped one into their laps, late one night after a gig in Stockbridge, a chance meeting in a small supermarket. He sent them a demo and Sean Keys was part of the LC sound; as I suspected, it was Scott who christened him Sean Keys, no his surname is not Keys! That was in March 2019 and now those keyboards are very much an integral part of the Logan’s Close soundscape.

Logan’s Close at the Voodoo Rooms supporting Black Cat Bone in April 2019

Alas, in July 2019 the band said a sad farewell to Mike. Since then they’ve had various drummers, but drummers seem to be flighty things, LC wanted one who’d settle down and go steady with them. Mind, it’s been an interesting time, Alex (as seen on the Fantastic Man lockdown vid and the LimbicTV gig) was great and Simon Gibb (currently playing with The Buccaneers amongst other things) has picked up the sticks for them on occasion. They have a new drummer, yet to be seen out at play with the band and also a new bass player since Ollie left for Italy last year, interesting to ponder how this change in the rhythm section will affect the band.

Messrs Rough and Marah have been very busy coming up with a whole stack of new tunes since the lockdowns. That must have been grand, finally getting back together, bouncing ideas off each other, getting the old chemistry sparking again. I had intended to ask a bit about the process of their particular alchemy on Tuesday night, hey ho, maybe another time if I’m lucky.

There’s been a shift in their style, the lads have gradually moved away from their initial early Beatles and Sixties sound, looking back Give It To Me (released July 2019) was a clear signal of this change. Oh, there’s still the sixties sensibilites in there in the weave but much more subtly. There’s so many new songs, and what with new band members, much of the old repertoire has been consigned to the band’s history, but there’s the odd one or two that’ll be kept around. Playing as The Scat Rats some LC tunes can pop up, I presume their particular favourites (some of mine too). A couple of songs from the LimbicTV session last year will be on the new album, I’m rather excited to hear how both will have evolved since then, and with the full studio treatment too! Yes, I know which two – not telling!

Sadly Eleanora isn’t one of them, shame. Oh, I did ask where Eleanora came from – Carl having his fortune told high up on a mountain in Italy (Apparently the fortune teller only spoke Italian, so he recorded it and got it translated later). Hey, at least it’s available on the Logan’s Close Live at LimbicTV CD now on sale as a limited edition vinyl-style CD on the band’s website for a mere £10 GBP (exc. shipping). I’d like to think I had a small part in their decision to put the CD out there, you may thank me later.

That’s it from what I’ve retrieved from my sozzled memory of Tuesday night. It was a fun night, there weren’t many in Binkies but we had plenty of enthusiasm and yes, I was up dancing again! So that’s the first five years of my acquaintance with the Close, can’t wait for the next five and beyond. Whatever Marah and Rough get up to next, it promises to a whole barrel of juicy fun.

Let’s finish this with a pic of the divinely talented, exquisitely in-sync Scott Rough and Carl Marah ❤

late night in Binkies

NEWSFLASH!!! Just announced on Facebook, the Close’s debut album Heart-Shaped Jacuzzi will be recorded in Hamburg in April. Well, newsflash to you, I already knew.