You take your eye off the ball for mere moments…..

Hello, dear reader, did you miss me? I do have a tendency to disappear into other things after the Fringe is done. This year I somehow managed to totally miss that Logan’s Close were playing at the Dunbar Music Festival, headlining no less, at the Battery on the Saturday night. And with a new bassist! Okay, so there was a different drummer too, but they’ve had various drummers in ever since Mick left (drummers round here seem to be real tarts, they don’t commit to one band). I’ve seen clips on Facebook and reckon this bassist is a good fit, and he can sing harmonies too, bonus! Check out the Dunbar Music Festival’s Facebook page to see for yourself, there’s plenty of clips of all the bands through the weekend.

Oo, I’ve just spotted one Willie Dug & The Cosmic Gents were playing on the Saturday afternoon. They’re rather good, I caught them at the Voodoo Rooms last Wednesday; I heard there was a free gig with three bands to celebrate the return of live music, yay. Annoyingly I wasn’t aware that Carl Marah was the first support act – until I wandered in during his final song, dammit. I also didn’t hear that he was the guest with the Handsome House Band at Stramash the previous Sunday until after it happened! Three misses in less than a week – no, I was not a happy bunny or moose.

I’m not the only back in the room, the students are all back in droves. This last week has seen masses of wide-eyed, big suitcased young’uns trying to find the right Students Residence (there are an awful lot these days and not all are well signposted, as the fast food delivery guys will testify). The older returning students have been making up for a lost year by hitting all the night spots hard, the local media have been going on about the long queues. Oh, give them a break, cut them some slack, please. Yes, Covid is still here but we’re gonna have to get on with life some time, as far as I’ve seen they’re all carrying masks ready for donning as necessary and have phones out ready to check into places (yeah, this is still what Beyond Level Zero means in Scotland).

Mind, the locals may have yet another reason to moan about the students – shortages of beer and certain food items made even shorter. The beer isn’t flowing as it should (last week the Voodoo Rooms were without any Joker or Caesar Augustus and Stramash has had a few beers missing) and the hoards of students will drink plenty, I would imagine. A couple of days ago, the Tesco’s up on the Southside was devoid of olive oil, much of their own brand herbs and spice range, the pasta, rice and tinned tomatoes were severely depleted as was the cheaper soft loo roll; that’s definitely students doing a first stock-up.

Sadly, the start of a new academic year has meant that Roy the Barista has left Edinburgh to study in London – no more lattes and cheery banter on the Royal Mile for me! His latte was so fine I didn’t need to add sugar to improve it, a first for me. Some years ago the best coffee was to be had from Ruby in an old police box, this summer it was Roy from an old phone box, where will the next best coffee be served from? An old pillar box?!

G’night! Sweet dreams!

A fine final Friday

Friday morning I popped round to Mums for brunch – no, not all the way to Yorkshire, to Mums on Forrest Road, I’d noticed they do Eggs Benedict. Their full title is Mums Great Comfort Food, and it surely is. Like Luscious it was a no nonsense, no fancy twiddles, proper Eggs Benedict; perfect poached eggs on plenty of streaky bacon, atop a muffin and generous amounts of hollandaise sauce. It never looks like a big amount on a plate but, by God, it fills me up! I was all set to nip round to a PBH’s Free Fringe show at noon.

The venue was the Natural Food Kafe on Clerk Street, the show Van Gogh Find Yourself. Folk were already sat around various table sketching whilst waiting for the show to start (art materials supplied around the tables). Besides the people in the cafe, there was also an online audience, Vincent had two cameras set up so that he was seen and also the picture he was drawing as he spoke to us about his life. We were also encouraged to draw as we listened but it was very easy to become engrossed in his words and just sit back awhile. We started with a quick sketch each to kinda free ourselves up from our selfconciousness before he properly settled into telling his story. A fascinating and relaxing hour, well somewhere over it actually. It felt like we’d been in the actual presence of Van Gogh, I’m so, so glad I went – what did I create? See below.

As it was a gorgeous warm day I wandered up into the Park and dozed a bit. There were a couple of free shows that I could have made it to, but once I was settled in a wee sun spot I really couldn’t be bothered moving! Finally my tummy was rumbling so I headed to a large slice of lasagne for tea (made with hoggat mince from Annanwater at the Farmer’s Market, it works really well).

Last night I toddled back to Stramash to see a band called Moanin Bones, they were rather good, a rocky set and a tight sound. The crowd were well up for it, especially a large bunch of squawking hens; two rather drunk guys were highly entertaining, it looked like there could be murder on the dancefloor at one point. Had something previously happened before I arrived on the sidelines, or was it an ex who’d just come in with her friends? Whatever, the tension was palpable, eyes were throwing daggers at machine gun speed, thankfully (I think?!) he did the gracious thing and left, dignity drunken but not dented. People watching can be such a fun sport!

Mum’s Egg Benedict
Self portrait, Moose in the Park, well, I had to put a seat in there, come on!

As nightmares go, it was rather a fine one!

Yay! I finally made it in to see David Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic, it’s rather good. This show is as much about the storyline as the magic tricks, they’re all a part of the story as it unfolds. Towards the end I did lose the thread a bit, but there’s a good chance that was part of his plan to bamboozle us and wrest rational thoughts from our minds; it worked if it was! David Alnwick is a good storyteller with a quiet confidence in his tone, can I coin his talent as “sleight of voice”? He would ratchet up the tension and diffuse It effortlessly. And the ending was delivered as a throwaway, just brilliant!

I’ve noticed there’s a fair number of magic acts this year, maybe there’s always be this many but they’re more noticeable as there’s so much less of everything else. There’s certainly a demand, David is now doing Nightmare Magic twice a night now until the 29th.I have seen another production involving young actors at a theSpace venue, but as it suffers like other younger shows I’m not going to bother naming and shaming it.

Is it the effects of the last eighteen months that the younger contingent of the Fringe haven’t impressed me; or, in a normal Fringe year with much more choice would my fringedar have automatically picked better shows? Who can say? But bravo to all those who have come and given it a shot this year. I hope they get a chance to come back another year. Mind, I would be happy if the Fringe didn’t go back to how it was in 2019, way too big. There’s big and then there’s just too much! From selling out almost every show this year, the newbies could be sadly disillusioned by numbers from a return to 2019 levels in a second year here.

This is an odd year – as I keep mentioning! I went out late last night because The Kennedy’s Project were playing at Stramash again, this time after midnight. I went for a stroll about to revive myself (I could have easily just gone to bed), it looked like the Pleasance Courtyard were closing up, no throngs of people around the Teviot area, of course no Potterrow this year, just a few still sitting out in the Underbelly garden in Bristo Square. The Cowgate is sooo quiet compared previous Augusts. Stramash was fairly quiet too but it sure picked up when the band came on. Different lead guitarist this time, he didn’t do any singing so it all fell on the other guy. Another great night, the crowd loved them, I suspect they’ll now be regulars there. My, it’s been a while since I last got in at almost three in the morning!

I shall leave you with an Eggs Benedict update. I was going to go to Em’s Kitchen but there was a queue waiting to go in! Er, no, so I went up on the Royal Mile, left or right? I knew everything on offer left so I turned right and headed down the hill. Not far down on the left-hand side there’s a cafe called Luscious, some how it’s never caught my attention before, I crossed over to check out the menu, oh yay! Went in, no menu perusing necessary, thanks, Eggs Benedict and a latte, please. And here it is, pure and simple, just an slice of tomato with it. Perfection on a plate and in my tummy ๐Ÿ’›

A Fringe beyond zero

Alas, I didn’t get to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots last night and it was their last night, unless, like many things in this fluctuating Fringe, they decide to do more shows (pretty please?!) Nah, it’s unlikely, at least I have the third Private to see today, Christian Brighty: Playboy. Its like a minibusload of absurdists came up for a week and now they’re all packed ready to head back south just as soon as Christian has taken his bow and said his thank yous. Him and his stuff will be bundled into the bus and with ringmaster, Dan Lees at the wheel, they’ll be gone. Imagine if the outside of the minibus reflected the minds of those inside?!

I had been intending to head to Stramash after the show, wow, drinking and dancing in a no doubt busy room, a blast from the past. How would Stramash be now? Well, it was weird going to the bar, rather than six deep around it, there were two queues stretching across the room. To folk entering it wasn’t immediately obvious so they’d head straight to the open space at the bar, then they’d kinda look round at us, it would click that we were stood in a line, “Er, is this a queue for the bar?”,”Yup!” and they’d head the other way to find the back of it. God, it was interminably slow. Now Stramash has an upstairs balcony area that I’ve rarely been in, I was pretty certain there was a bar up there but not 100% certain, striking up a conversation with a chap alongside me in the other queue I ascertained yes, there was a bar upstairs but the queue was even worse up there, that’s why he was queuing where he was. Considering how quickly my drink (a pint of Holyrood Pale Ale, very nice) was bought and paid for, I don’t understand why it took around twenty minutes to get it! It looks like Stramash has gone cashless, everyone was paying by contactless or their phones, so no fumbling around for cash and change.

It was busy but the doormen were making sure everyone was using the CheckIn Scotland app on entry. I guess its become another habit for some, click in and mask up. I did notice a few folk keeping their masks on awhile once inside, like they couldn’t really believe it was okay to remove them. It is a bit confusing, different places have different rules, many folk I think keep masks on until they’re pretty its ok to remove them. Some Fringe venues are fine with unmasking during performances, well, if there’s a bar many will have brought a drink in. Some venues do make an announcement asking that folk stay masked (half then have to put their masks back on), yes, it’s confusing.

Assembly Roxy has attendants at the door to enquire the size of your bubble and then lead people to appropriate seating. Similar was done at Monkey Barrel Comedy Club; they also have a temperature scanner there (only one I’ve seen so far) and they administer a squish of hand sanitiser to everyone who enters. Many venues certainly started the Fringe with seating spread out in groups of twos and fours, I wonder if some have made the spaces between smaller now to accommodate more seats; certainly some venues now have the usual rows of seats. Some folk do look uncomfortable when strangers sit right next to them, but as the In Person shows are selling out a fair bit, it happens, are they thinking “would it look insulting if I put my mask back on?”?

So, back at Stramash, pint in hand I found a good spot to watch the band come on for the second spot, a band called The Kennedy’s Project. I almost spilled my drink – it was the band from Waverley Bridge! It was great to see them indoors in a proper venue and, my, they were good, really good. As usual both the rhythm and lead guitarists shared out the vocal duties, as their voices suit very different songs it works well across the songs they cover. The crowd (and me too) loved them, plenty were on their feet dancing. Highlights for me were Hound Dog, Bring it on Home To Me and, as awesome as the last time, Minnie the Moocher. My, that guitarist was hot, growling out the words, hotter than Idris Elba even!

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If you just stumbled accidently upon this blog post and have enjoyed it, I always post a link on Facebook, I’m Bruce T Moose. New friends and followers always welcome (and no, the T isn’t for The).

See, apples green, oranges orange, got that?

I’m in the wrong place, Gromit. No wonder l feel out of sorts, bloody Covid, I should be a couple of hundred miles south in darkest Yorkshire. I haven’t spent the second weekend of October in Edinburgh for eons! It’s one of my annual pilgrimages back to the old country. Some would say I should have just gone down but, having left the decision right up the night before I would have gone, the family all agreed best to leave it. The law may be an ass, but annoyingly my tribe are way too law-abiding for our own good at times!

My disgruntledness hasn’t been helped by an article I saw this week on Facebook from the local paper; the headline read “Curbs on amplified music, concerts and fireworks proposed for Edinburgh’s Old Town”. What! Are they having a laugh? Mind you, reading stuff in the local paper is like hearing about stuff from my mother – not necessarily the actual facts, just something with a resemblance of them. It’s written to read like everyone in the Old Town area came together and all agreed, no more fireworks, castle concerts, and we don’t care for the Tattoo either, really? A number of people compiled this ducument, by no means should it be taken as the views of all Old Town residents. See, that irked me but what really got my goat was when the article went on to say that this group also have “a radical solution …. to ban all amplified music in the Old Town, from …. individual pubs”.

I was annoyed with the way local pubs in the local music scene were being linked to the council’s greed for the tourist buck and everything else that’s bad about inner city living; the night-time noise in the Grassmarket area is from drunks spilling from the other pubs, the live music venues really don’t add anything much to that hullabaloo. I was so incensed I almost wrote a comment (having read the Comments section of the local rag posts, I know the savagery of the regulars and how adept they are at missing others’ points). Almost, then I noticed a Facebook friend had already pretty much made my comment for me, oo, and indeed there were already two replies that would exasperate anyone level-headed.

Would my friend reply back? From reading through all the comments I discovered the first reply was from a serial ranter with a rather smug, patronising attitude towards any dissenting views; please, don’t rise to it, I prayed, he’s so not worth it. Ha, no reaction back (I bet that irked him), but a good handful of likes in support of our local music scene. Crickey, if these recommendations were implemented it would be a serious blow to Sneaky Pete’s, Stramash, Bannermans, just to name a few. And if that happened where might the new puritans strike next?! Oh, I do get the need for some restrictions and noise controls, absolutely, but not by people who don’t know apples from oranges!

Wet does not suit mooses

It’s a miserable, wet day here in Edinburgh, typical November. It’s so soggy oot there that even a set by Logan’s Close in Stramash can’t tempt me to leave the moose cave! Maybe ifย  I’d had more notice about it my mind could have been set on going no matter what, but I just spotted it on the board as I squelched past at lunchtime.

I was quite surprised as Facebook usually informs me of such things (and then tells me again and again and again….) but not a peep. Had a quick ganders at the Close and Stramash’s pages – nothing! The Pianodrome at Leith Theatre would appear to be the Close’s next outing (Friday 6th December, annoyingly I’m otherwise engaged that evening) and the Stramash events bit mentions two bands on tonight but not the lads.

Hmmm, usually there’s three bands playing on a Saturday night. So I checked it with the Close and indeedily they are playing, just seen on Facebook that Stramash have finally mentioned them this afternoon. Is it, like, really uncool to do the 7pm slot? Like, Yeah, we’ll do it but let’s not mention it to anyone, okay?!

Of course, Strictly is on telly tonight too, oo, soon. A good reason to stay in by the fire.ย 

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I shall leave you with this marvellous pic of the lads. Hmmm, what’s going on in those heads……..

– That’s it! We’re taking them down!

– Uh oh, I’m gonna keep sitting quietly and hope no one notices me

– Shit! Better protect the family jewels!

– Aw, hell! Here we go again. Why do I let myself get into these situations?!

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