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!

Movies, music and a little light rain

Last night I went to see Top Gun: Maverick, nothing unusual there, I am a regular cinema-goer; the thing is, I’ve never particularly liked Tom Cruise and I’ve never watched Top Gun all the way through (even on telly, the bits I’ve seen have never enticed me to sit and keep watching). I still don’t get the guy’s appeal, but Top Gun: Maverick was an enjoyable watch even if it was fairly predictable. Yes, yes, the flight scenes were great but that’s only as expected from a Tom Cruise movie.

I saw a much better film on Sunday afternoon, I was dragged along for company (why are some folk unable to go to the cinema on their own?!), certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it I as much as I did. The movie? Good Luck To You, Leo Grande a film about a retired widow who hires a sex worker so that she might finally experience all the things she missed out on through her very unfulfilling marriage. It helps that the widow is played by Emma Thompson, who once again turns in an amazing performance; and Daryl McCormack as Leo, he’s well grand, acts as fine as he looks (in his case I can see the appeal).

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is intelligent, funny and frank, hats off to Katy Brand for creating and writing such a great grown-up film. All the self-doubts, fears, overanalysing of Emma Thompson’s character will be well recognisable to many, myself included; oh, to have been more gungho and fearless through life. The denouement of the film was perfect and completely satisfying (he said with a wink), of course I say this as a moose, what older human males will make of it I really couldn’t say.

The cinema wasn’t my only outing on Sunday, in the evening I went along to La Belle Angele for the launch of Nicole Cassandra Smit‘s debut album Third In Line (that’s Nicole as in the one with the back up crew). Tonight the crew weren’t backing her, instead they were all out front in the audience. Wow, she sure gave a captivatingly awesome performance with a fine brass section on the side. The album will be released on 8th July, there’s already a single off it on Spotify. Yeah, I really should get on and book a ticket for her show at the Jazz Festival.

Let’s just go back one day further to Saturday, a fine afternoon – until I trotted along to Waverley Bridge to see if The Kennedy’s Project were playing. They were, with extras, and they kept playing through the shower, it went on for a good (or bad?) ten, fifteen minutes or so, but it was fairly light. Lucky for me the person behind put up a brolly which nicely sheltered me from much of the precipitation. The band retaliated against the weather with Have You Ever Seen The Rain? (I’ve put a clip of it on Instagram, you can indeed see the rain on it). The extras? Dara Watson trying to keep her harp relatively dry (yes, she from Whistlebinkies a few weeks back with Bart from TKP) and Jay Supa (frontman for Supa & Da Kryptonites).

Even after the sun came back out during Hound Dog, the rain refused to give up for a while, not that anyone was driven to seeking shelter elsewhere, most stayed to watch. Finally the band outplayed the rain and finished the set in glorious sunshine. Ah, the joys of a Scottish summer!

was it something I said, guys?

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!

Are you ready?

Hey, yay! It’s that time again – Eurovision!! Just over an hour to go. I have marinated chicken thighs in the oven, parboiled spuds to be sliced and sauteed, bread garlic buttered to be put in the oven later, mixed salad all diced and refrigerated, prosecco in the fridge, hmmm, have I forgotten anything? Score cards printed out, yup. I did fancy making something nice for dessert but I was distracted a while this afternoon so that ain’t happening.

For the first time in ages I caught the Kennedy’s Project busking on Waverley Bridge so I just had to linger. The sun was shining and it was a gorgeous afternoon, the combination outweighed the idea of even more time in the kitchen. It was so good to see the Kennedy’s Project again, they make it easy to hang around awhile, great music as ever. And on great music, Logan’s Close are back in Germany; tonight they’re playing the Sonic Ballroom in Köln, just the name sounds amazing!

The lads flew over on Thursday to Berlin for a radio interview with three live songs thrown in, nice! Luckily it wasn’t just on radio, it went out on Facebook Live, you can check it out on Chocolate Soup’s page, Logan’s Close Interview & Liveset. All the songs are from the upcoming album which is mentioned, of course. LC will be back over on the continent in June for Spoorpark Live at Tilburg in the Netherlands. I’m really gonna have to get myself over sometime. They hope to do a big tour in Europe once the album is released, hmmm, a moose on the move, a travel blog. Maybe?!

Oo, best check my chicken thighs. Good luck, everybody! Let’s face it, everyone will be fine if Ukraine wins – that’ll be a big two fingers up to Russia!

So 2021, any highlights?!

Oh 2021, we started the year thinking we might get past Covid and all the restrictions, ha, here we are a year later! After all the lockdowns of 2020, more of the same just made 2021 drag. This time round it just got boring, lethargy set in, no point trying to look forward to anything as it would most likely be cancelled, at best postponed indefinitely. So, were there any highlights? Hmmm.

Highlight numero uno, the snow in January and February, all from the east, so lovely powdery stuff, snowmen everywhere, sledges, snowboards, even skiing in Holyrood Park! Yes, decent snow in Edinburgh, again! Okay, so slippy as hell, but beautifully scary is better than greyly dull.

Highlight number two, finally being able to head down to see family in May. It felt so different to other journeys home, and so nice to see faces right in front of me and not on a screen. And hugs!

Numéro trois, cinemas re-opening, yay. I like seeing movies on the big screen. Oh what? Pubs were re-opening too? Sorry, not a highlight for me – too many constraints, the new normal; being able to go back to the cinema was way better to me. Tied for my top cinematic highlight of 2021 are Free Guy and Last Night In Soho both brilliant in very different ways.

Nummer vier, enjoying the beautiful summer weather at Portobello beach. After spending so much time in solitude in Holyrood Park, it was great to be among people on the beach, and so many nationalities, it felt quite cosmopolitan. Oh, I love the wildness and nooks and crannies of the Park but sometimes I do need company, to hear voices and laughter, a sunny day at the beach ticks those boxes.

Numero viisi, it had to be there, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2021. Okay, so it started real slow and I was dubious how good it would be, how many actual live In Person shows there would be, but as it progressed more acts came up (as the line from Field of Dreams says “If you build it, they will come”). Every few days more shows would be announced, more venues opened up, more seats became available at previously sold out shows because of the restrictions being eased; it was exciting and unpredictable, regular checks for updates were vital (I have no idea how the Online version went, I was done with screen-watching). The lack of the Half Price Hut meant I had to adjust my sights to fit my budget, Pay What You Can and Free Fringe shows featured a lot for me.

The Monkey Barrel Comedy Club was a highlight hosting weird and wonderful comedy; including John-Luke Roberts, Rob Kemp and two thirds of the Privates, all of my Fringe highlights! Oh, except one, the only show I saw at the Pleasance Courtyard, Tim Fitzhigham: Here Now. Tim’s always entertaining but he really was on top form for this one show in the Cabaret Bar, almost manic with glee at sharing his stories with a live audience.

August saw highlight numer pięć – live music back again! A band had started playing almost every day on Waverley Bridge, like, why not? It was good weather in general, the road was closed to traffic, plenty of room for people to pass by while others hung around and watched (generally safely distancing). All this fringing and good music got me itching for more, Stramash was open again with bands playing, I had to go along; and who was playing my first time back? The band from Waverley Bridge (aka The Kennedy’s Project), oh joys! They were such fun.

The autumn months of 2021 were as good as any time I can ever remember for seeing great live music: the Voodoo Rooms (especially The Courettes ❤); Stramash, of course; I became reacquainted with Whistlebinkies (I’m not sure why I didn’t go there for years!?); and, a particular highlight for 2021, Fur at Sneaky Pete’s! Yay! I’ve discovered the likes of Jed Potts and Willie Dug these last few months, it’s like a new vista laid before me; there’s been old friends in new guises, The Scat Rats, aka Scott Rough and Carl Marah from Logan’s Close, playing covers with a few of their own songs thrown in (bloody marvellous as per usual).

Sadly, what promised to be the highlight of the year, Logan’s Close Presents … A Christmas Pudding had to be postponed because of the latest covid variant. Mind, even without that shindig Logan’s Close take the top highlight of 2021 spot with the wonderful Logan’s Close on LimbicTV (Live from Aluhpasonics) back on the 27th March 2021; still available to watch on YouTube and I think there’s still a way to donate if you feel inclined to show your appreciation. I could wax lyrical about how great it was, or I could attempt a pingback to the post I wrote at the time So Close so fine, let’s see, by George, I think I did it! Hopefully if you click on the highlighted post title it should open up in a new tab [EDIT If it doesn’t open, try twice more, it may need coaxing], I hope (or you could scroll right to the bottom of this page and do a search for it).

If you do read about why this live music session takes the prize for 2021, you’ll notice my pleas for the audio recordings, well…….. I’ll tell you later.

Toodle pip, and may your god smile upon you in 2022 💛

Bags, uke, that’s me ready!

Just time for a quick catch up before I head off for a wee while, bags are packed, ukulele by the door so I won’t forget it. Yay, I did get to see Free Guy again! Still great on second watch. I also got to see the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, like wow, WOW!! Jennifer Hudson is sooo good. The film ended at the time when she recorded the live album Amazing Grace, the recording of which was filmed, a film I saw two years ago in the Filmhouse, sweet!

This week I luckily spotted that The Green Knight was on at the Filmhouse, a “last chance to see” Facebook post . It’s a re-telling of Gawain and the Green Knight, in this version Gawain is played by Dev Patel (the reason I wanted to see it, he’s getting better and better as he ages). Sumptuous and kinda arty, lots to enjoy, but I did feel it lacked a bit towards the end.

Stramash have very kindly released a lot of gig dates for October and November, so there’s Jed Potts, the Kennedy’s Project and Willie Dug to look forward to, and yay, the Scat Rats (aka Messrs Marah and Rough) will be back, and, double yay, not until after I’m back in toun. Ah, thinking of the Close, I recently went on a coastal meander and popped by Dunbar, look what I found, yay!

Just a jog away from Dunbar is Belhaven Bay, plenty sand, sea and surf. Oh yeah, the surf was up! A great place just to idle a while, shame I didn’t discover it midsummer, ah well. Beach Boys songs swam around in my head as I strolled across the sand; it struck me that it could well have been the Beach Boys sound that heavily influenced the Scat Rats if they’d spent more time on the beach…..

Toodle pip!

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 💛

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!

💛

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).