Another Friday evening….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

《wow, an extended jam of Sunshine, nice》

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all right? I’ll say!

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

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

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

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

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

Toodle pip!

How to start a year well…..

Happy New Year, dudes! Hope you all had a good one! Made any new year resolutions? Broken them yet? Did I make it up Arthur’s Seat? You bet I did! Just. I was in much danger of being blown over to Fife, it was a rather hair-raising experience. At least we had none of the rain that was previously forecast, the skies were clear and blue, a few clouds to whizz across the sky might have indicated how windy the Seat would be. Apparently the wind was around 20mph with gusts up to 40mph, scary stuff up high!

looking up realising there’s a way to go yet!

Atop Arthur’s Seat are a triangulation pillar and a toposcope (one of those compassy thingies that point out all the high surrounding landmarks), roughly fifteen feet apart; after making it to the summit many take a photo at one or the other. This year I very dubiously clambered on the toposcope, it’s one thing to head up a windy hill staying low to the ground, another to sit on a high point in high winds inviting the next gust to whisk you away! So here’s me, clinging on for dear life….

If you look closely you can see Edinburgh Castle in the distance behind.

You can imagine after my exertions I decided a little treat was in order. What better treat than an evening in Stramash watching the Willie Dug Band with Carl Marah on guitar?! With current restrictions in place, that’s a pretty good treat to keep spirits up; oh yeah, shots with every round helped too! Well, it was New Year’s Day and I had been well-behaved the night before. I rarely do shots any more, waking on Monday morning I remembered why. Hey ho, fun was had! I’ll leave you with a trio of pics of Mr Marah, well, a trio of the same pic after I tinkered about with it (I would have put up a pic of Willie Dug but it really didn’t come out well, I blame the camera).

I’ve never been to Barra

….. so Barra came to me, well, Storm Barra popped round. Luckily Edinburgh rarely gets the brunt of any bad weather, some poor sods had only just had their power reconnected after Storm Arwen to lose it again! (who chooses the names for storms?!) Arwen caused a right kerfuffle around the UK, she came the last weekend in November and set quite a high benchmark for the rest of the storms this winter! Storm Barra was never going to be as badass but he gave it go.

As I said, Edinburgh never gets hit as hard as other places, bad weather here is really just crappy weather, but, of course, folk will moan like it’s the absolute worst! Arwen brought Edinburgh cold high winds, some rain, and left a smattering of snow; I would have enjoyed a toddle around Holyrood Park but was booked to leave Edinburgh first thing on the Sunday morning, shame. At least there was snow where I was headed, and it was the easterly, powdery stuff, yay, and not so much as they had around Tan Hill in North Yorkshire, so getting about was fine.

The Tan Hill Inn, previously famous as the highest pub in Britain (1,732ft or 528m above sea level) is now famous for having a three day lock-in thanks to Storm Arwen. She brought 3ft of snow, but the high winds caused snowdrifts up to 9ft deep and downed a power line blocking the road, the pub was completely cut off – with over sixty folk inside, including an Oasis tribute band who’d been playing on the Friday night. The story made the news around the world, yesterday the pub’s Facebook page had an estimated audience size of 48M-56M, like wow! The tribute band Noasis (soon nicknamed Snoasis by the press) kept their fans updated on Facebook, finally announcing “Noasis have left the building”, hey, the story even got a mention in RollingStone.

This highest pub in Britain thing got me wondering about where the highest pub in Scotland is, the Highlands, surely? And how much higher could a pub in Yorkshire be than a pub up in the Highlands? It turns out, the highest pub in Scotland is nowhere near the Highlands, it’s actually way down in the south west in a village called Wanlockhead, goes by the name Wanlockhead Inn (no The for this Inn) and it falls 201ft short of the overall British title. Oh, and it’s not the second highest pub in Britain neither, that goes to The Cat & Fiddle in Cheshire at 1689ft above sea level. Have many folk visited all three as a thing, I wonder? Some years ago I may well have made it a challenge to myself, for now I’ll content myself with battling the wind blowing down the Cowgate!

I left Edinburgh after Arwen had swept through town and returned in time for Barra turning up. My trip away was also bookended by Carl Marah playing at Stramash, first with the Willie Dug Band ( I was going to see Willie Dug anyway, Carl was an unexpected bonus!) and then with his fellow Scat Rat, Scott Rough. After a full-on week it was so good to have a pint and listen to my favourite duo, the lads were on great form. I recall their rendition of Norwegian Wood was particularly fine, oh and they finished the first set with Del Shannon’s Runaway, don’t reckon I’ve heard them do that one before.

If I had to be stuck in a pub in the middle of nowhere for three days with a band, Logan’s Close would be my first choice, yes, above all other current bands (if we’re going full fantasy line-up, I’d need more time to think about it). As long as there was enough food in for full scottish fry-ups, oh yay, breakfast serenades!

I leave you with an attempt to replicate the plight of the Tan Hill Inn….

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!

That turned out pretty damn fine!

Last night wasn’t a good Friday night, it was a great Friday night! Oh yeah, I finally got round to seeing Free Guy and I think I may have to go see it again on the big screen before it disappears, I ❤ Ryan Reynolds. There’s a lot that I love about this movie – RR, Jodie Comer, Channing Tatum, Taika Waititi, great choices of music for some of the big scenes (especially the scene using Mama Cass’s Make Your Own Kind of Music), it is sooo visually stunning, a wickedly funny, witty script and, for me, great ideas and layers all delivered with a weirdly gentle innocence and charm.

I didn’t actually know much at all about Free Guy but it’s got Ryan Reynolds in it so that’s enough for me. I had heard stuff but had forgotten the details, like that Jodie Comer is in it. When Molotov Girl first appeared she made me think of Danni Minogue, then when I saw Millie, oh yay, it’s Villanelle, ah, yes, when you need someone who can do accents! The opening sequence with all the “sunglasses guy” stuff was such fun, and Channing Tatum too! Something of the premise came back to me, Free City is an online open-world video game and Guy is a background character who somehow breaks from his programming, game world and real world interactions ensue …. As I’m not a gamer at all I floundered a little, er, NPC? A non-player character? Ah, a background character within the game, yeah, I don’t play these games at all.

So, Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller, living a regular life, doing the same things every day, happens to spot the girl of his dreams – not part of his daily routine, it triggers something and he starts being more than he should be, he does the unexpected, he takes a pair of sunglasses off a bank robber, wow, the sunglasses let him see things he didn’t know were there (bit of an unwitting Matrix blue pill moment there). What Guy doesn’t understand is that the glasses are showing him what a game player sees, with them on the NPC becomes a game player and he moves away more from his programming, which causes Millie and everyone in the real world to think he’s a player/hacker. Guy finds Molotov Girl but she tells him he must level up to above 100 if he wants to speak to her again and shows him how to click the side of the sunglasses to see his level. He doesn’t really understand it but he really wants to see her again, how to level up? Take guns and money, she tells him, but he’s a good guy, and so begins the ascent of Blue Shirt Guy.

No more plot for you, just that Guy helps Molotov Girl in his world to help Millie in the real world fight the bad guy Antwan, played deliciously by Taika Waititi. Guy’s fight to be free to do whatever he wanted made me think of Wreck-It Ralph (another great film imo). There’s plenty in this film that sparks thoughts about other films, oo, a fresh one, remember Chris Hemsworth’s dancing in Ghostbusters and Bad Times At The El Royale? Channing’s moves in this made me think of how good he was in the tap-dancing sequence in Hail, Caesar! We need a film with the two of them in a dance-off – Mr Waititi, if you’re not busy?!

Yes, I need to see it again, there’s also Respect to see this week before it finishes, possibly Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings too. Thursday sees the new Bond film oot, that looked pretty good on the trailer. Oh yeah, I saw a trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage too, really looking forward to that!

You may be thinking that was my Friday night done, oh no, I hoofed it quickly down to Stramash to catch Willie Dug and his band (not the Cosmic Gents as seen at the Voodoo Rooms a couple of weeks ago). This was Willie on guitar and vocals with a drummer and a guy on harmonica, nothing more needed to make sweet sounds! Willie Dug is one magnificent hound, oozing style and charisma, shades of a young Malcolm McDowell, especially when he stripped off his shirt and put on a faux leopard fur jacket that was lying on a barrel just in front of the stage.

The Stramash crowd were really up for dancing, the band delivered and then some. For me the best of the bunch were Come Together (I notice it’s become a popular one to cover since the lockdowns), Roadhouse Blues and the final, one more song, Not Fade Away, ah, a song with many fine memories for me. The minimalness of the band recalled Bluefinger for me, Not Fade Away was a fitting number to head out into the night air on. To paraphrase from Free Guy.….

I may not be real, but for a couple of hours there I felt pretty alive