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!

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!

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.

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

Five long gloriously juicy years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

late night in Binkies

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

Dance like no one is watching

…. Oh, but they are. I mentioned in my last post that I was up dancing to The Buccaneers last week, not just tapping a foot or swaying to the beat, full on dancing, shaking it baby! Man, it felt good. Friday night saw me in Stramash for The Scat Rats doing the early evening slot; the lads were on top form, the audience (scant as we initially were) were audibly appreciative but no one danced. I know I praise Messrs Marah and Rough a lot, but really, In The Morning was sooo good – are they getting fired up now that their mini-tour is getting closer?

Second set started with a bang, One After 909 by the Beatles (great song, a regular inclusion in Bluefinger sets back in the day), still no one dancing. The place was starting to fill nicely, everyone was having a great time tapping fingers and feet, not even Listen To Your Mother could entice anyone up (and it really should have), and then, too soon, the final song You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover. The Buccaneers finished with that in Binkies, I danced then, by god I was going to dance now, so screwing up my courage I headed over to where a vague acquaintance was showing increasing signs of needing to dance. Would she like to? – Oh no, not just us two in front of everyone. She clearly wanted to dance! – But her friends wouldn’t. Turning around there was a line of folk all itching to move more than just a shoulder to the beat, if we got up they’d follow – Really? So I asked them, will you dance if we do? Yes, hallelujah, we started dancing and they joined us, as did plenty others.

Amazing what desperation will make you do, but someone had to get the ball rolling and last night that someone was yours truly. After that the ball stayed in play and any half decent tune got people dancing, the crowd were raring to go by the time the next band came on. I took my leave and headed home some time after midnight, if I’d been wearing socks they would have been well and truly danced off! That was truly a moment of happy for me, I miss my dancing days, or rather, nights. Oh, I never chose to stop dancing but, well, places close down, friends’ lives drift apart. But Brucie, you go out to see bands plenty, why not just get up and dance if you want? Because, because, like the lady and plenty others last night, I feel the fear.

The fear is a powerful deterrent, it can be subdued by copious amounts of alcohol but that can often result in the fear plus a dose of shame the following day, not good. My fear was drilled into my psyche in my teenage years good and proper; twice, a few years apart, I learnt that others are watching, judging, mocking, condemning you as a wierd freak. I learnt that if you’re out alone, but still trying to make the best of things, without the protection of a bunch of buddies, any hyenas nearby will sniff you out. Yes, that was many years ago now, but it can be hard to shake these things off. And hey, everyone has their own doubts and fears – next time someone tells you your fears and worries are irrational and daft, ask how they feel about spiders! Now that would be irrational, to fear spiders (here in the UK anyway).

And while I’m letting off a little steam, here’s another thing ……. a relative of mine recently accused me of being obsessed with a certain band! What?! Me? At the time, I made some feeble, mumbling jokey retort. Well, he’s just a scornful old misery guts, always out to deflate others’ enthusiasm because he feels none for anything anymore. Wish I’d turned round and asked when was the last time he felt passionately about anything! Certainly never in this century. Yes, my enthusiasm when I find something I love is amusing to others, but sorry, not sorry, that’s just the way this moose is.

Must go now and tidy round a bit before I head up to Stramash for the late set after midnight – it’s The Buccaneers, yay! Will I be dancing? Who knows what the night will bring, but probably not. In the morning though, I totally intend to do something that’s really scary to me but is water to a duck’s back to others. Wish me luck!

Toodle pip!

Driving with Elsie

Today has seen bright sunshine and blue skies over Edinburgh, very chilly with it, as the forecast predicted. Annoyingly they got it very wrong for yesterday morning! The forecast had promised snow from the early hours, some heavy, awoke all expectant and excited I did – bloody none! And I’d come back up on Thursday for it. Well, and also to avoid Eunice, that’s Storm Eunice (who came up with Eunice?! What sort of name is that for a storm?).

I was down in deepest, dampest Yorkshire again. Very damp indeed, not much time was spent out-of-doors, it was ‘orrible! The few hours of fine were spent wandering round Hebden Bridge, note to self, some shops are closed Tuesdays as well as Mondays. Still a tasty lunch was had and a few purchases made, I do like Hebden Bridge, and there’s usually a fine calibre of busker in the Square.

Naturally, my choice of travelling audio accompaniment included my new Logan’s Close Live CD, at 63 minutes its perfect for the last legs down and up. In the gathering dusk I hurtled across the moors to Scott letting rip on I Want You, followed by the classic Listen To Your Mother – that’s when the low fuel light started flashing (yeah, yeah, mother, make sure there’s plenty in the tank, I know); after that first, oh bugger, I reasoned there was actually around 40 miles worth left so no worries. On the homeward leg it takes about an hour to get from Abington services (junction 13 off the M74) to home, that is, without slowcoaches on the road; so perfect, with a second playing for Eleanora as I pulled up.

Eleanora is a bouncing upbeat babe of a tune, a catchy infectious earworm so it is! Everything a good Logan’s Close song should be, and also something slightly new, different but still undeniably LC. Sean Keys’ (that’s what he gets called, anyway) keyboards are at times reminiscent of Jon Lord on early Deep Purple, noticeably so on Mock Marble Linoleum. I’ll admit it’s taken me a while to get into this track, my original take was “fine but nothing special”, I’d like to update that, Mock Marble Linoleum is fine and dandy, like a mid 70s rock opus, swirling keyboards, grand majestic riffs, Scott going for it, yeah, it is pretty special.

Paralysed is a whirling dervish of a tune with Carl taking lead vocals this time. This lady who “reached inside and stripped you of your core” sounds like AC/DC’s Soul Stripper; two very different songs but the same female lineage (in my head, anyway). Gallus Laces is great, a lackadaisical swing and hook to it, love Scott and Carl’s vocals together on the chorus.

Probably (at least at time of writing this) my favourite track is Babe Station, from the opening drumbeats, sultry keyboards, offhand guitar, and then Mr Marah plaintively narrates the girl’s nightlife; the spacious sleaziness and Carl’s vocals almost echoey, with added Scott on backing, omg, it’s like sliding into a hazy drug-addled dream state! I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing The Scat Rats take on this song a number of times ❤

Mind, Give It To Me is a very close second on this, right from Sean’s piano intro and Scott’s and Carl’s harmonies; the guitar sound, the space, more beautiful desolation from the lads. I Want You is always near the top spot at any gig but the competition is tough here, even with Sean back on the piano and Scott’s sublime vocals. It would be hard to place all fifteen tracks in an order of preference, really, after my top five I couldn’t separate the others. God, I love this CD! Will this recording, this moment in time, ever be made available to anyone else? I don’t know, but if it is, no self-respecting LC fan would be without it!

Toodle pip!

Sum pluses + minuses

Three weeks into 2022 already; three weeks of tighter restrictions again in Scotland, thankfully they’re ending on Monday. Its been back to table service and strictly no mingling in bars. Hence I’ve only been out for a drink once since New Years Day, that was a midweek drink in Whistlebinkies as Willie Dug was on and I really needed a break from the moose cave. On entering I was leapt on by a member of staff who proceeded to escort me to a table, oh boy was it quiet in there! Just as well, the staff didn’t seem to be in a rush take orders and serve drinks. In some ways I quite like good table service, but I prefer to have an option on it.

I even gave a miss to seeing the Scat Rats in Stramash, well, they were on the ten o’clock set on a Saturday night; an ordinary Saturday night has a queue outside the door by ten, so with restricted numbers allowed in, hmmm, I stayed home (with a very precious new toy, more later). At least the restrictions will be lifted in time for Carl Marah‘s latest thang, The Buccaneers, playing Stramash in the late night slot next Thursday. They were meant to play a few weeks ago in Whistlebinkies but a case of covid got in the way, fingers crossed all will be well this time. Their bio on Facebook reads “Blues/Rock/Soul 4-piece based in Edinburgh …” who promise to be “an exquisite late night sandwich”, oh my! I’ll let you know just how tasty they were next week (touch wood).

At the start of February Scotland will have a new regulation on smoke and heat detectors come into force. It was meant to start in 2020 but, well, the nation was kinda busy with other things. All homes will be required to have interlinked fire alarms, that’s a heat alarm in the kitchen, a smoke alarm in the most used room and a smoke alarm in every hallway or landing (also a carbon monoxide detector in any room with a carbon-fuelled appliance). While it will be the law to have interlinked fire alarms in Scotland, it won’t be a criminal offence not to have them, so no penalties, however, if you have a fire and no interlinked alarm system in place, good luck with any insurance claim. Of course, there’s plenty of opinions about this on social media from the downright bolshy to the paranoid – like Scotland’s gonna light up like an octogenarian’s birthday cake on the 1st February!

Way more important to many Scots – can Scotland beat England on the 5th February? Yes, this year’s battle for the Calcutta Cup takes place at Murrayfield on the opening weekend of the Six Nations Championship. Auld Reekie will be packed out that weekend, fun will be had.

More later, toodle pip, mes amis

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 💛