It’s bin a rubbish week

Can we rewind back to the 2nd, please? The last morning when I woke up feeling good – what a waste this last week has been! If I could just go back to waking up on the 3rd and find myself gotten over the lurgy while I slept (this can happen, I’ve really felt bad in an evening, all the signs flashing red, then managed a sound sleep and woken feeling fine). I could have gone to see Potts & Smit that evening and been fine for a midnight rendezvous with a couple of Rats the following night. Oh, and The Buccaneers late night at The Jazz Bar, missed that too!

So much for a happy new year! The Scat Rats are playing the midnight set at Whistlebinkies again tonight, not a chance of me going, so not happy. It’s one thing to be ill, everyone gets ill, but I prefer to be ill when I won’t be missing good music. Oh yeah, I did catch some of the Handsome House Jam on Sunday 1st at Stramash – that was good. It was one Gus Munro with the band, I haven’t seen him before, but on checking a previous jam I decided to pop along.

It’s coming back why I missed the first set, His Dark Materials was on the telly and I kinda got caught up in it. If I’d known I was about to be laid low for a week! I have watched both sets since, but it’s not really the same watching on a small screen rather than in Stramash with the atmos and a drink in hand. The Handsome House Jams are filmed and can be seen on Facebook, there’s quite a collection on there (including Carl Marah twice). If you’re ever going to be in Edinburgh on the first or last Sunday of any month the HHJ vids will give you a good indication of what you’ll get in Stramash.

Well, I guess I should to my bed seeing as I’m not trotting up to Binkies. G’night!

I’m just a tad excited

It’s finally here!! Logan’s Close are back in Sneaky Pete’s tonight! Yay! And what a build-up to it over the weekend, couldn’t move without bumping into good music! Friday was the Scat Rats in Binkies, plenty folk were in after office parties, so plenty dancing, myself included.

Saturday evening was back to Binkies for The Moanin Bones on excellent form. After their first set I headed down to Stramash for Black Cat Bone, they were fine but I just wasn’t feeling it so back to Whistlebinkies I headed to catch more of the Bones. As if that wasn’t enough of the talented Mr Buckley, I caught his second set in Stramash the following evening, solo this time. There’s a clip of a rather fine bit of California Dreamin’ on Instagram.

After he was done I nipped over the road to Bannermans for Jed Potts and Nicole Smit playing in the front bar. Yay, another pub with Stewart’s ales and they had Kilted Kiwi on, sweet! (much preferable to Stewart’s festive offering this year). Bannermans is not a place I go in much, I’ve seen the odd band there and if you like your’s metal it’s definitely worth a visit. It was quite a cosy setting on Sunday evening, not metal instead blues and honky tonk, marvellous.

Sometime after ten I trotted back over to Stramash for The Buccaneers, see it pays to keep a watchful eye on social media for who’s playing where. I noted Mr Marah had a new shirt on, apparently he found it in Armstrong’s an emporium of vintage clothing, well-known in Edinburgh for the place to look for something with style.

Well, it’s time to have a nibble or two before I head along to Sneaky’s. Do check out my Instagram @bruceonthefringe for clips of my favourite Edinburgh bands. I’ll leave you with the lovely Nicole and Jed….

Christmas is coming ….

…. the goose is getting fat, but this moose is keeping trim. After lapsing somewhat from my daily walks, I’m getting back in the swing, after all it’s just three weeks to my annual NYD hike up to Arthur’s Seat. Well, that and the smattering of snow we had yesterday morning enticed me out, so two days on the trot I’ve been up in Arthur’s foothills. There is more snow forecast over the next week, yay. I do hope there’ll be enough for sledging. One time recently when I was down in Yorkshireland, I snaffled the old tray sled from the garden shed, well, no-one else uses it; bought years ago it was, in Aviemore when I was but a wee calf.

Christmas plans seem to be going well, cards all sent, presents mostly bought, the date is set for heading to the mothership. I’ve decided not to make a christmas cake this year – shock, horror! I know! Instead I’ll make plenty of parkin, it’ll be good sustenance when I’m freezing in the bleak midwinter! And, a cake is in the process down Yorkshire way, so I will get some of that (yeah, it won’t be a patch on mine, but I applaud the effort).

At the cinema they’ve reissued Elf, you know I’ve never actually sat down and watched it all the way through. I must have seen all of it over the years, bits here and there when it’s on telly, so I reckon this maybe I should take the opportunity to see it – I was going to add with no distractions, but, have you been to the cinema recently?! I went to see The Menu last week, a brilliant, dark film but the amount of noises from rustling various food packaging, folk unwrapping sweets, aargh, atmosphere flattened time and time again!! They obviously not really into it that their attention was on putting something it their mouth, rather than was what about to happen next. And breathe, rant over.

I’m almost tempted to see The Menu again, hope for a better crowd. I do fancy seeing Matilda at the flicks too, I wasn’t bothered about it but then I went to see Tim Minchin: Back when it was in cinemas last month – wow, he’s so good, and he wrote the songs for Matilda, I’m going! Back is bloody excellent, the man is so sickeningly talented and brilliant. I got home after seeing it, wondering what I put in my Fringe diary when I saw him, I had the feeling it wasn’t an outstanding review….

Ah, yeah. Thinking back that may well have been more about other stuff than Mr Minchin. Bud and I had just seen Aeneas Faversham Forever by our favourites the Penny Dreadfuls earlier that evening, the night before included Dead Cat Bounce … Late Night Radio. Our Fringe starter had been Sammy J‘s brilliant first Edinburgh Fringe appearance; the bar was set very high, our fourteenth and last show of the opening week, I was probably pooped out at that point (oh, it was 2008).

There’s also Violent Night in cinemas, I’ve enjoyed the preview clips and it is a christmas movie. I’m one of the few who quite enjoyed the other Hellboy film starring David Harbour and not Ron Perlman, I recognised him immediately, even under the Santa garb. Yeah, it looks like fun, switch your brain off time. I probably won’t be making it to the cinema until next midweek, mind.

There’s way too much good music around this weekend to go to the pictures! Tonight The Scat Rats are at Whistlebinkies at seven (well, the website says that, time enough to go see something if not, I suppose). The late afternoon slot at Whistlebinkies tomorrow is Jed Potts with Jon Mackenzie, followed by The Moanin Bones at seven. Annoyingly, Black Cat Bone are playing Stramash at eight, what to do?!

On Sunday Chris Buckley is back at Stramash doing a solo set at seven, then just a minute down the road, Jed & Nicole will be at Bannermans from eight thirty. Another slight overlap with The Buccaneers in Stramash from ten. So many good sounds, a great build-up to Monday and Tuesday when Logan’s Close finally play again in Edinburgh at Sneaky Pete’s. Sooo looking forward to that!

I’ll leave you with a pic I took this morning in Holyrood Park, adieu!

Never leave the dishes piling up, just don’t

It’s oot, Heart-shaped Jacuzzi is out there (on all good music streaming sites), the brand new single from Logan’s Close and, in my opinion, it’s rather damn fine. I had a first listen as soon as it launched as I headed from Binkies down to Stramash at midnight – not a complete coincidence that I wasn’t in a noisy pub just then! I mentioned in my last post that the Scat Rats were playing at Stramash Friday night, this week they also played Whistlebinkies late Thursday night and after midnight Carl was in Stramash with The Buccaneers (Scotty was there with a beer). Busy lads!

I reckon Heart-shaped Jacuzzi is set in the same district as Never Bloom and Mock Marble Linoleum, these folk are neighbours, bumping shoulders in the street unaware; facades of chirpiness hide creeping despair, each numbed by feelings of inadequacy and inevitabilities that are seem unescapable. The songs are like a voyeuristic camera sweeping through the neighbourhood spying on their little worlds; I see the last riff of Mock Marble Linoleum as a montage of his day, ending with him setting out again into the night, the camera pans away from him, swooping up through an upstairs window to the first strains of Babe Station. 《BTW this is one of those very late night train of thoughts that I climbed on-board and went with. Just a personal, moosed up idea inspired by the music of LC and a lack of sleep》

It’s now another day in the Close, another house to peer in, who lives in this one? The intro suggests early 70s sitcom with a slightly creepy edge, then those last two chords, uh oh, “Stale beard…” and Scott paints the scene for us. Messrs Marah and Rough always have great lyrics and even when they’re on the bleak side, there’s still a lightness and wit; and the arrangements of their music combine with their words perfectly to enhance whatever scene or story is unfolding. Here Scott is letting us in on how disillusioned the wife is feeling about her husband and how her life has turned out, “golden days distant memories for you”.

Scott’s vocals are as gorgeous as ever, like a coarse velvet (ok, that may sound odd, if I ever think of a better description I’ll edit it), narrating the wife’s turmoil, almost like her own subconscious dispassionately assessing her life choices. The discord builds up with some dark moody guitar, the keyboards reappear, finally the thoughts break back in, everything is swirling around building up and up (okay, I haven’t yet deciphered all the words in this part of the song yet, but I reckon safe to say, the lady is not in a good place, the video really can’t come out soon enough!) then it all cuts out to a sparse guitar ending, plaintive, but our lady has survived to, hopefully, move on.

Plenty of keyboards in this one, plenty space too. The production on this is brilliant, still the LC sound (definitely worth the Hamburg trip to get it right) but there’s been gradual shifts as the band grow together. The lads do like a tempo change or two, well, they help with scene-shifting, cutting to another camera. Talking about cameras, on first hearing this I thought, oo, another Lynchian tune but on further listens it’s more Edgar Wright to me (a game I play, matching music with film directors).

Of course Heart-shaped Jacuzzi gets 5 stars from me, heck it can have a few more!

Toodle pip!

one sexy red heart-shaped jacuzzi

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!

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

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

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