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 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!

Another Friday evening….

Were you one of those kids who liked having music playing loudly while doing their homework? Parents constantly questioning how such a thing could be done. I wasn’t, never had the option; now, on occasion, I find watching live bands quite conducive to making notes for blog posts. The music clears away anxieties and excess clutter, ok, so it doesn’t produce one long clear stream of consciousness, more like random pop-up thoughts. If you’ve read much of this blog you’ll know that’s how I roll anyway (and if you have read much of it, thank you!).

What now follows is pretty much what I wrote in my notepad yesterday evening in Stramash while (whilst?) watching the Willie Dug Band. Like the start of the previous Friday’s seven o’clock slot, the place was dead, at least I assume so from the few that were there when I went in at the back of eight. Methinks Stramash may change the band times if this keeps up.

In Stramash just after eight, the band’s not on, must have played closer to the time slot than the Rats did last week. I wonder how many were in? The cord that’s usually still across the stairs is already down, I don’t reckon the numbers really warrant it yet. Stewart’s Citra Blonde is off so I’ve had to go for the Holyrood Pale Ale instead, interestingly I’m not as keen on it as I was, I do prefer the Citra now.

So yesterday the Fringe programme finally came out in solid form, yay. I went quickly through the entire thing last night – yes, quite a feat! It’s going to be an interesting year, many differences again after last year’s covid-embattled Fringe. Certainly many ticket prices have are up by a couple of quid, not unexpected with everything that’s going on in the world, but a bit ouchy to see all at once.

No Half Price Hut on the Mound anymore!! What?! That’s right. Apparently there will be something in place for cheap last minute tickets from the Fringe Box Office itself, no details of how this’ll work at present. I’ll miss standing, watching the display board taking an age to get round to the times I want to see, getting hassled by flyerers, “Are you looking for something to see?”,”No, I’m looking to see whether what I want to see is up there”. With no huge display board or Fringe App, how easy will it be to navigate through whatever this year’s set-up to find the ticket offers?

《the band’s on with Come Together one of my particular favourites. The guitarist so looks like Guy Martin》

That’s right, no Fringe App this year! Never thought I’d get so use to the Fringe App that I’d miss it, yes it was easy and useful, not that I actually bought tickets on it but the Nearby Now feature was really handy. There’s a lot of unhappiness about it on Facebook.

《wow, an extended jam of Sunshine, nice》

I’ve also noticed that they haven’t shown in the programme which shows are doing Friends Of The Fringe tickets, why?!? I have to log-in on my phone and find the show to check, aargh, load of bloody faff for why? Okay, I haven’t made as much use of the Friends 241 tickets in the last number of years but not being able to see at a quick glance is a negative to me.

《didn’t recognise that last song but now they’re on 54 46 That’s My Number by Toots and the Maytals, a favourite of Willie Dug.》

Its all e-tickets now and like last year all tickets bought together are tied into the e-mail receipt. Fine, except when you have four or five e-mails to check through find the right one for the show you’re about to see (it’s never the first one you open). Heaven help anyone who loses their mobile, remember how we used to be fine without them?!

《the Willie Dug Band are now on their last number for the evening, Higher, this song requires an audience response in the chorus, we gave it our all. I think he usually finishes with it but tonight, umm, did I detect a slight bitter ironic tone? Certainly that was a timecheck when he looked at his phone, wanting to get the set over with? Can’t blame him, not many came in at all, probably because it was another very warm, balmy evening so folk would want to be outside until as late as possible; a real shame as the band were good, some great longer jams going on to really get into, I enjoyed the music tonight》

Pint finished I headed home, okay so I popped my head into Binkies but it was a rather dull covers band so I wasn’t gonna waste a drink on them. I did think of going bat watching later but much later I woke up from dozing on the sofa, damn!

And it’s that time again tonight. Toodle pip!

That’s all right? I’ll say!

Saturday night I toodled back to the cinema for Baz Luhrman’s Elvis and I loved it! Sure he plays fast and loose with the facts but this a Baz Luhrman movie not a gritty warts’n’all biopic, what did people expect?! I had no problems with Austin Butler’s Elvis, and Tom Hanks’ Colonel Parker was a great departure from his usual roles, bet he enjoyed playing the bad guy for once (has he ever played a bad guy before?). The soundtrack is great fun, I enjoyed the mix-up of styles, all the scenes around Beale Street were a total delight for eyes and ears alike; and Trouble, oh my, it was rather fine.

Elvis does skirt around a lot of stuff but how long would it have been to get everything in? It was already two hours 39 minutes long, not that I particularly noticed the time, the film fair sweeps along and carried this viewer with it. For me it’s a cautionary tale of talented boy looking for fame and fortune makes a deal with a devil which ultimately costs him everything, any resemblance to Elvis Presley was intentional. I could happily see it again before it disappears, that’s how much i enjoyed it!

The title of this post, you may have guessed, comes from the song That’s All Right which features in various forms through Elvis. It’s also the second song that The Scat Rats played on Friday evening in Stramash, it usually crops up in their sets somewhere (you can catch a bit of it on my Instagram). I headed up the road determined to catch more than the last few songs of the first set (I always intend to get there earlier but time seems to go incredibly fast late Friday afternoons), haha, turns out the bar was so dead they’d held off starting for a while. It happens in summer, people are staying out in gardens and beer gardens longer to enjoy the evenings; even when the lads started it was still very quiet but their magic touch weaved it’s way out into the streets and drew people in (to paraphrase from Field Of Dreams, if you play, they will come). A very appreciative crowd they were, mind The Scat Rats were on fine form, particular stand-outs for me were Tonight The Streets Are Ours and The Man In Me, beautiful both 💛

I’m being spoiled this month as the Rats are back in Stramash a week on Friday and the Fridays before and after that it’s the Willie Dug Band in the early evening slot, yay. Earlier today Stramash shared on Facebook that the Rats will also be there seven o’clock on Friday 5th August, ah, first Friday of the Fringe so I’ll most likely be seeing previews, hey ho. Yes, it’s just over four weeks until the Fringe preview shows start! And kinda Fringe related, the Cowshed as was during previous Fringes under George IV Bridge is now an extension of Subway next door, the Cowshed folk have mooved to 27 West Port. They opened just recently, it’s a low building on the right-hand side as you leave the Grassmarket; a pub that’s never appealed to me in all it’s many reincarnations over the years, but as it’s now the new Cowshed I popped in for a look after the cinema. I was pleasantly surprised, especially as they’re having live music every evening – I missed Del & Bart (from The Kennedy’s Project) earlier in the week according to the board on the wall.

Just three more sleeps ’til this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme is properly out i.e. in solid paper form. There’ll be billboards up all around the place with Fringe posters in no time. My first Fringe on Instagram, if only I knew what I was doing with it!

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!

It’s good to be back

……said Messrs Marah and Rough at least a dozen times each last night. Yes, those Scat Rats were back on the seven o’clock slot at Stramash on Friday evening, yay! It’s been a whole five weeks since the last time – some of us were having withdrawal symptoms. “Good” doesn’t really cover how great it was to see them again!

It was the usual mix of covers and their own stuff, one cover they do divinely is Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Richard Hawley (I had to look that up). It’s a shivers down the back, bittersweet, honey of a song; I really should check out more of Hawley’s stuff, I think. They don’t often play it, so it’s a treat when they do as their harmonies really shine on it. Another rarely performed treat was Bob Dylan’s The Man In Me, was I the only one who immediately thought of The Big Lebowski? Probably not. Carl’s guitar work was beaut here, the Scat Rats really were glad to be back and it showed.

As usual now Babe Station was in there, Hot Blondes In Your Area Tonight and Gouching On The 33 from the upcoming Logan’s Close album also got a look-in. And if you want to check out the acoustic versions of these three gems you can! When LC went back to Germany earlier this month they performed them live during a radio interview, Logan’s Close Interview & Liveset on Chocolate Soup radio station, available to watch on Facebook. I’ve gotta mention the neat little segue in the Rats final song last night; You Can’t Judge A Book as usual had a crowd up on the floor when a large bunch started doing an odd dancey walk thing round in a circle, our boys responded by breaking in a quick bit of Walk Like An Egyptian, nice one!

The evening was still young so I had another pint and hung around for the next band, The Moanin Bones. I’ve not seen them before even though they play Stramash and Whistlebinkies fairly regularly, the singer/guitarist Chris Buckley often does the sound for bands at Binkies, not really sure why I’ve never checked them out. They’re rather good, yup, I’ll go see them again; and I could be wrong but the bass player also plays with the Kennedy’s Project, he was very spruced up in a rather cool shirt last night but I think it was the same guy.

the Moanin Bones

In case you’re wondering why it’s taken me so long to post, I had to save the day down in Deepest Darkest Yorkshire, I was very busy. I may have taken the odd one or two pics whilst out pooch walking, I’ll leave you with a wee selection. Toodle pip!

I have no idea what the flowers are, sorry.

plenty of wild garlic flowering on the riverbank
Yorkshire, nuf said.

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

Hot blondes in the Auld Toun

I think the title of my last blog post confused a few Americans – they went looking for whisky talk and found a Dutch band instead! How to get attention though, just put the word scotch in, or maybe I’ve just suddenly gotten very popular in America?! Hahaha, nah. So what’s new? Not a lot. Oh, the Uke Hoot is back at the Kilderkin on Wednesday evenings, I really should get along there one week. I’m currently trying to master a Blues Shuffle in G that I found online, it could take a while but hey, it’s a fine excuse for not doing other things that I should be doing.

I was inspired to search out some bluesy uke playing after seeing Mr Marah play not once not twice but three times last weekend. Yay for social media keeping me informed – it’s not stalking when folk put their schedule on Facebook! First off, The Buccaneers were playing the after midnight slot at Stramash on the Thursday night. I had intended to go down to Leith Arches earlier that evening as Willie Dug was playing there along with three other bands; annoyingly, after tea my little relax on the sofa turned into a big time nap til around ten o’clock, dammit. A couple of episodes of Lucifer perked me up for stepping out into the night and up to Stramash.

Carl was back in Stramash for the seven o’clock slot Friday evening with fellow Scat Rat Scott Rough. Oo, we were treated to Hot Blondes In Your Area Tonight from the upcoming Logan’s Close album, nice! This pared down version really brought out the bittersweet-sounding chords and harmonies; music to make your soul soar whilst at the same time tearing a rip in your heart. A young couple completed the romance of the song by dancing together to it, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be enchanted for those few minutes, that moment in time.

Less than twenty-four hours again and the Scat Rats were doing an afternoon set in Whistlebinkies. I just caught the second set, it was my reward to myself for spending the previous two hours up a ladder carefully painting the final inch strip around the top of the kitchen walls. Hey, I have high ceilings, the concentration required to paint that neatly and not fall off the ladder was intense, I deserved to sit in a dark room with great music playing after that! There was a new Stewart beer on, a very nice session ale, just had the one half, you understand, just to relax after my endeavours.

And yay, I got to hear Hot Blondes again, a big reason for going along so I’m glad it wasn’t in their first set. There weren’t many in Binkies but the lads gave it gusto as always, Carl managed to break another two strings (I saw two go the previous evening!) – overexuberance?! So, a lot of the same songs always come up, but I could never be bored of listening to this pair, there’s always something to delight, a sound that’s tight but loose and always fresh.

In The Morning is sounding so good now (well, yes, it’s always sounded good but this is A+ with a cherry on top good); sitting in Binkies I realised this was the song on Friday night when I could have sworn Big Nick was there beside me enjoying it, saying, “Yep, those boys have it!” As the Rats wound up with You Can’t Judge A Book it finally twigged – Carl’s gotten a tad flamenco-ey at times, very like Nick did in the later years, that’s why he’s been hovering round.

Facebook tells me that The Buccaneers are back at Stramash this Sunday night (well, Monday 00:30), another late night. Mind, Facebook has also just told me the Close are back in Hamburg, a quick trip or will I be in bed before midnight on Sunday?

I’m sure Elsie won’t mind me sharing the latest shot of their magnificent mugs here