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OOTB 17 – 21 Feb 2002

Posted 21/02/2002 By reviewer

The inclement weather may have put some people off from coming, but not Derek, whom I last saw play at the Tron tavern a few years ago.

In fact, Derek is so hard that he left afterwards to get the bus without his woolly hat, and if he doesn’t reclaim it by next week, we might well offer it as a mystery prize sometime. He kicked off his set with a delicate love song, and followed it with “Go Down”, a gentle, picked piece but with a serious lyric that reminded me of some of John Cale’s work. “Make It Pay” and “Operation Overload” continued the delicate and melodic style, and I’d have to say that Derek has obviously been practising, as he’s improved beyond all recognition. His voice is a lot stronger now, and he’s developing his own style on the guitar in the folk-pop tradition. Apparently he can tinkle the old ivories a bit too, so I’m very interested to see what he might come up with next. I’m fairly sure he’ll be back next week to satisfy my curiosity, because for one thing he’s left his hat.

Newcomer to OOTB (although he played at the Tron) Kieran was up next, and he had a majestic, soaring voice not dissimilar to Jeff Buckley’s. And for anyone who doesn’t know JB, that’s praise indeed. The guitar playing was equal to the task of keeping up with him, and provided a very effective accompianment, often using augmented and suspended chords to give a slightly otherworldy feel to proceedings. He varied his style for the cockney spoken number “Living With A Psycho”, the narrative of which centred around precisely that, and the consequences thereof. He said he’s coming back in a couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to hear him again, and any other songs he’s got.

Riley wasn’t put off by the weather either, and gave some great renditions of songs to warm our hearts. “Half-One . . . ” (despite accompanying bongos by me) was it’s usual regal self, and “Surly Girls” was preceeded by the comment that it was for his girlfriend. Glancing over in the hope that they were having a public row, I was disappointed to see that she was smiling, and it transpired that she’d suggested the memorable title. Damn. “Blue Horizons” surely must have one of the catchiest riffs in the whole of Christendom, and non-Christendom too, for that matter. Just how the Devil does Riley play that and sing? Answers on a postcard please. As ever, it was a pleasure to listen.

Audience member Jason won the mystery prize raffle, gaining a brass (no cheap plastic, mind) kazoo in the process. Will he be tootin’ and a ‘ buzzin it down at the OOTB in future? Only time will tell.

Nelson

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OOTB 16 – 14 Feb 2002

Posted 14/02/2002 By reviewer

Before I commence, Norman Lamont enjoyed the 12 Bar Club in London’s swanky west end, despite the rather unusual arrangement of having some of the audience very close and below you, and some of the audience very close and above you on a balcony, so he didn’t know where to look when performing. But he said he enjoyed the whole experience, and there is a chance to get paid as well, if you bring enough people to watch you. I don’t think they have an open mic night as such, but If you want to know more, their website is at www.12barclub.com.

Despite it being Valentine’s night, there wasn’t a surfeit of songs which celebrated the joys of love. Norman Lamont‘s “The Beggar Of Love” certainly didn’t, as the protagonist is “more candle than fire”. It’s the same with his new song, the atmospheric and totally brilliant “When I Went To Your House”, a Brel-ish piece that uses a sense of space to convey drama and emotional tautness. Maybe Norman had had an argument with the wife or something, as he followed that with “Living Waters”, which is an up tempo raging ragnarok of a work, drawing on a bluesy base with a hint of swing thrown in, and is all the better for it. “Bells Are Ringing For You Now” was more poignant, conveying a sense of loss with the melody and mid paced strumming. This man never plays a bad gig, as was evident from that performance and Saturday’s in The Maltings.

Riley and Ian‘s performance of “Surly Girls”, despite it’s sheer melodic beauty and comedy mouth-trumpet from Riley, wouldn’t be rallying anyone to the banner of Love either. Neither would “Half-One, All Of Your Money’s Gone”, with the lines “That girl, she’ll give you the world / One day, she’ll take it away”. Come to think of it, “She’s Looking For A Millionaire” doesn’t sound too promising either. But the effect as a whole was quite mesmerising, Ian’s beats and fill-ins on the djembe perfectly complementing Riley’s vocals, and the prairie twang of his guitar.

Colin Donati had an excellent set, ranging in style from the sing-a-long of “Daniel” to the Tom Waits -inspired “Euphemia” to an extremely original, end enjoyable version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”. We let him off with a cover because as well as being a pulsing, jazz-picked wonderful arrangement, Colin’s delay pedal was beset by gremlins, and he simulated a delay manually whilst singing. Now that’s what I call talented, and as audience member Bruce remarked when alluding to his guitar, “He can certainly play the thing”. Colin’s singing and playing have certainly come on a lot in the last few months, so I can only assume that he’s been locked in a basement somewhere with only his guitar for company.

Les Miseres were a cajun three piece with a line up of Riley on guitar and vocals, and a fiddle and accordion player. They made an impressively full sound for just three people, and it was foot-stompin’ fun. And, some of the songs were sung in that archetypal language of love, French, so I think we can say that they created a Valentine feel. Apparently their fiddle player has only been Brucehappy1playing it for 9 months, having switched from the bass, but I thought he’d been playing it all his life. The accordion player is equally good, and plays a most unusual looking squeeze box, impressively loud. Their gig on Sunday at the Forest Cafe was bloody good, and I can recommend going to see them when they play again.

Bruce Blacklaw finally achieved his lifetime ambition of winning the mystery prize, netting himself a shiny new mouth organ. Now the fellow’s got no excuse not to form a band and bring them down to OOTB.

Nelson

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OOTB 15 – 7 Feb 2002

Posted 07/02/2002 By reviewer

Before I launch into this weeks review, I’d just like to say that there’s an extremely good open mic night if you’re ever in London of a Wednesday night. How do I know this? Well, I was there last Wednesday, at the Virtually Acoustic Club, a very well run evening, and ably presented by the friendly Stephen Chin. Two (original) songs at the most per artist meant that a staggering 31 performers booked in for the night. I had a great evening of entertainment, and best of all, it was free. If you want to know more, look at the website or email Stephen Chin on stephen@thevac.co.uk . I’m also looking forward to what Norman Lamont thought of the 12 Bar Club (also London), as he played there last Thursday.

Our own evening was no less entertaining though, featuring a fair variety of performing styles and personalities. After two songs from Jim and I, Jill from Falkirk stepped up to the mic and unleashed her astonishingly clear, pure voice onto an unsuspecting audience. A new song was aired for the first time “Words Don’t Matter”, but in this case they did, as they carried the song by the way they were sung. The song was so new that there was a slight hesitation in the guitar playing at one point, but it didn’t mar the beautiful effect of the whole. The other two songs she played are being performed more confidently every time, and are just as good. If Jill carries on like this, then that hypothetical £10, 000 a day studio will have to make room for another performer.

Scott Reilly was next, but as he’s forbidden me to talk about his performance, I’m going to say that he wore his damned fine crushed velvet purple shirt again, like he did last week. It didn’t smell or anything, so he must have washed it. We also noted that orange juice in pubs isn’t anywhere near as good value as beer in pubs, but why this is, we couldn’t say.

OOTB newcomer Ian followed, with a song called “Where Are You”, delivered with a throaty, folk-bluesy vocal, slightly reminiscent of some artists around the turn of the seventies. His guitar playing was pretty impressive too, with a chiming, picked guitar style that occasionally used the more percussive side of the instrument, pinging his strings off the fret board in time with the beat. I liked “She Said It’s All Gone”, and the way he used the capo to vary the sound of the songs generally. They obviously train them well down at Kin, where I believe Ian often plays.

Then it was the irrepressible Freeloadin’ Frank‘s turn, and he started off with his guitar sounding as sweet as a bird. Then the gremlins struck, causing Frank to uncharacteristically forget some of the words. Totally in character though, he turned it to his advantage, and sang about how he’d forgotten the words instead, which amused the audience greatly. After the old favourite “I’m In Love With Scully From The X-Files”, Frank detuned his guitar to perform “Cars” which thankfully isn’t a Gary Numan cover, but a swirling, ethereal, otherworldly masterpiece about the evils of cars, money, and capitalism. I personally think that it was his best performance of that song that I’ve heard, it has a very unique sound and was performed superbly. Normally you wouldn’t say that a song that could possibly be about an acid trip (“The Magic Cornflake”), and a song called “Bloodshed On The Way” would be lighter, more sing-a-long numbers to follow, but bizarrely, that was the case. Only Frank can do this, so don’t try it at home, folks! A rousing tour-de-force all round.

After the interval, Jed (who I think also plays at Kin) played for the first time at OOTB. He had a very nicely-shaped acoustic guitar, and he could certainly play it. An even more percussively picked style than the aforementioned Ian resulted in a rhythmical pulsing of the strings, with some droning thrown in for good measure. The singing was equally good, and delivered with passion, I especially like the song about the Edinburgh homecoming that he played. And anyone that can play an extremely intricate arpeggio whilst looking up and greeting a friend that walks in deserves respect, in my book. Come back soon, and teach me how to do that.

Philly and Callum then came on to the stage, and although had been drinking heavily, turned in a fine performance. Despite “Don’t Kill The King”‘s serious subject matter, they couldn’t resist a laugh or two along the way, and the crowd seemed amused by Callum’s bent notes too. Apparently they’d been in the studio recording that day, hence the visit to the alcoholic beverage establishment later. Gentleman, if that is what happens after imbibing prodigiously, then please keep doing so, as it was an extremely enjoyable performance.

Riley Briggs then performed two shiny brand new songs, apparently fresh out of the box. They wereRiley Briggs up to the dizzyingly high standards that Riley’s already set for himself, and continued in the twanging, country-tinged mould familiar to regular OOTB-goers. Picked patterns and bent notes coupled with Riley’s expressive singing and knack for a great melody meant they were very fine indeed. I liked “That Girl Will Give You The World”, and Riley’s use of 2/4 time to give a different angle to proceedings. If that’s the sort of quality that Riley can come up with in a week, then I say let’s lock him in a room for a month with his guitar and a bottle of whiskey, and we’ll probably end up with the best song ever written. I’d love to hear those songs again, so I hope he returns soon.

Philly and Callum then generously played again to “keep the party going” in Philly’s words, Playing “Teardrops Will Fall” which I hope was one of the ones they recorded, as I like that one.

The raffle ‘s mystery prize was won by none other than the mysterious Scott Reilly, of the aforementioned purple shirt. Strangely enough, the prize was “Purple Ronnie’s Little Guide for Lovers” or something similar (I don’t know, Jim bought it, but it had “purple” in the title), and it brought quite a few laughs when passed around the table afterwards. Mind you, we’d had a few pints by then.

So, as you can see, no shortage of great music, humour and bizarre coincidences abounding once again. If you fancy it this Thursday, then come on down.

Nelson

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OOTB 14 – 31 Jan 2002

Posted 31/01/2002 By reviewer

A more experimental Thursday night than most saw the performers pushing those pop boundaries ever further.  No less than three stringed instruments (2 violins, cello) made their appearance with three different acts, and varied the sound in a most pleasing manner.  The vast bulk that is the OOTB house keyboard was also used twice, which I think is a record.

Jim and I played a couple of our own songs to get things going, then came Scott Reilly, sporting a very dapper purple crushed velvet shirt.  He’d changed his set from last week, but the style was pure Scott, a sound of aching loneliness set somewhere between Edinburgh and Kentucky.  New songs (to me, at any rate) included “This House Ain’t big enough For The Both Of Us” and a brilliant minimal blues called I think “My Baby Left Me Last Night”.  As Scott said himself, his voice and guitar playing have improved a fair bit of late, and this despite not having the Devil tune his guitar at a crossroads at midnight.  And, to show that songwriters are not always gloomy depressing people without a sense of humour, Scott stopped his last song halfway through, and explained that the chorus came next, but as we’d already heard it before, we could imagine what it sounded like.  I demand that the relevant authorities record this man in a £10, 000 a day studio now.

Next up were a male/female duo called The Abrahams (Rick and Joanna), new to OOTB, but who have been playing together for over a year.  Keyboard, guitar, violin, backing vocals and sharing of main vocal duties ensured that their sound was always intriguingly changing.  I particularly liked the rolling, bassy left-hand part on the piano that was employed by Joanna in one song, and the violin and guitar combination worked very well too, I thought.  To do them justice, we’d probably need a grand piano and about 10 mics, but their sound was original and interesting nonetheless, and I certainly want to hear them at OOTB again.

Someone whom I was also glad I could hear again was Riley, this time djembe-less without his percussion partner Ian.  I can’t remember 3/4 time ever sounding as good as it does on “You Don’t Even Know What You Do”, a beautiful, fragile country-tinged waltz around a broken heart.  The more up tempo “Older Women” came next, a topic not too often touched upon in song writing, but which in this case makes for that best of juxtapositions, an intelligent pop song.  The more haunting “Love Is A Word” finished the set, and as well as the customary great singing and lyrics, also had some very fine picked guitar playing.  I’ve been singing the song ever since, it’s seeped into my brain juices and won’t go away.  If this man isn’t recorded in the same studio as Scott soon, then I’m writing to my MP.

Someone who probably doesn’t need that studio is Julie Dawid, as she’s putting together a CD of her own.  Back from her trip to London, she brought with her a cello, of all things, plus luckily a friend to play it.  It sounded great though, played with the bow one minute and then the pulsing picked style of pizzicato the next, and set off the fine voice and guitar playing of Julie.  One of their songs was a strumming, Jacques Brel-ish number which I liked very much; it had a very “continental” feel to it somehow.  Julie invited me to play bongos on the next song, and then she finished with “My Fingers Strum Strings”.  I think that even in the short time that OOTB has been running, Julie’s singing and guitar playing has improved, and after this performance, I’m looking forward to what she can come up with next.  A guitar/tuba combo, perhaps?

Not to be outdone, Norman Lamont also brought his violinist friend Alison along to accompany him.  “Why Don’t You Come Back” also featured Alison on backing vocals to great effect, and “Crying In The Street” (one of my favourite NL songs) appeared in all its stark, moon-lit beauty before us. “Only The Sea”, (another song I like very much) was next, and what a superb rendition of it they gave.  Norman’s de-tuned guitar conjured up images of shifting sands and waves, while Alison’s violin was the moaning, spray soaked wind blowing over bleak grassy cliff tops.  The whole thing though, was infused with a raga-like droning, from both the guitar and violin, and combined with Norman’s Indian-influenced vocal, it sounded brilliant.  And to prove the point again that songwriters aren’t depressing fellows, he started the next song in the wrong key, then sang “I’m Changing The Key!” without missing a beat and promptly modulated the song, much to everyone’s amusement.  Norman has also been in the studio recently, so watch out for his CD when it comes out.

Claire has been to OOTB before, and is one of the few people brave enough to play the monstrous House Keyboard, kicking off with a song about a bridge in London.  “Beside Me Tonight” had a great rolling, bluesy feel to it, and showed Claire’s clear voice off very well, I thought.  One she’d played before, but which made a welcome return was “T.I.B”, not a song about her cat, but which stood for “This Is Britain”, a tale of repression of expression between the sexes.  Monstrous though the house keyboard is, it wasn’t quite monstrous enough for one of Claire’s songs, as she suddenly stopped playing halfway through and exclaimed, “Oh, it’s not big enough” meaning that the keyboard did not possess a full, piano sized range.  Rather amusing, but it luckily didn’t put Claire off.

Newcomer Tam was up next, with Riley helping out on BV and some light bongo duties.  I think the first song was called “You’ve Come Out Of The Sun”, and it was a very atmospheric song, slightly menacing in feel and featured some good dynamics which gave it a dramatic quality.  Tam’s voice had a harder, more rockier edge to it than the country twang of Riley’s, which meant that their vocals complimented each other very well.  Some nice guitar work by Tam on this song and the next means that I’m hoping he comes back to OOTB again soon, as I was very interested in what he was doing.

You might think that two of our staunchest non-performing supporters, Bruce and Graham might have won the mystery prize at the raffle by now, seeing as they come just about every week.  They think that too, but no, this week the truly splendid prize of a wooden recorder was won by none other than Norman Lamont who was overheard to say “You’ll regret this later when I play it on stage!” or something similar.

Joe was next, and played whilst stamping his feet at the same time, a feat of co-ordination never before attempted at OOTB, but which he managed with aplomb.  Some nice strumming and pleasant singing meant that Joe was appreciated by the audience, and as I think that as he just turned up at the Waverley for a drink, without suspecting he was to perform later, he acquitted himself admirably.  I think Joe may be working on some new material to bring down in the near future, so watch out for him.

Completing the evening was Tron stalwart Iain, opening with a breezy, up-tempo song called “Vodka and Red Bull”.  I might be wrong, but I don’t think anyone’s written a song about that before, and it showed his pop sensibilities at their best.  He finished with “The Kid Who Couldn’t sing”, a Bowie-esque pastiche (or rip-off, in Ian’s own words), about a kid who doesn’t like hearing his own voice through the speakers on stage, and suffers a lack of confidence as a result, but comes through in the end.

So, an evening of experimentation, string sections, high comedy, mystery prizes and sheer song beauty (there’s no other word for it) was had.  I’m certainly looking forward to what next Thursday will bring, but if you happen to be in London on that day, then Norman Lamont is playing at the 12 Bar Club, 22 Denmark Street, Soho at 9.20.  If you can’t make it but know someone who would like to go, I’m sure Norman would be happy to see them there.

And with that, I’m gone.  See you next Thursday,

Nelson

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OOTB 13 – 24 Jan 2002

Posted 24/01/2002 By reviewer

Just when I think that OOTB at the Waverley can’t get any better, it goes and does precisely that. The standard and variety of performers on Thursday was a wonderful thing to behold, and indeed to listen to.

After Jim and I opening proceedings with a single song, the first act on stage was Jill Hepburn, who travelled all the way from Falkirk to play. And I was very glad she made the trip, as her jazz-tinged breaths of cool, wistful pop transported me from the mid-winter blues of Edinburgh to somewhere decidedly pleasant and with a lot more sunshine. She also broke her previous personal best of one song per set at OOTB, this time playing the standard three. I would like to see more of this young lady in the future.

Next up was Martin Chiesa, who made the decision to play without any amplification. I think it was the right decision, as he certainly filled the room with his well-projected voice, and rhythmic and tuneful songs. He varied the more normal OOTB 6-string sound by playing a 12-string guitar with energy and volume, in an up-tempo catchy fashion. I always like to see a 12-string being played, perhaps because I’m too lazy to play my own, and full marks to Martin for carrying on after breaking a string in the first song. Perhaps all this change came about because in his own words, “I didn’t get pissed like I did last week”. Spoken like a true musician.

Scott Reilly is a man who had previously impressed me when the now defunct Edinburgh Songwriters was at The Tron Tavern. His individual sound is hard to describe, but if a bald madman brandished a sawn-off in my face and ordered me to do just that, here’s what I would say: His voice and guitar carry tinges of Country music, but not of the Tammy Wynnette variety, more of the bleak Hank Williams type. Having said that, there’s a definite pop sensibility in there too, with an ear for a catchy tune and melody. His song “Shades of Blue” particularly had me whistling like a moron and annoying my flatmates all day on Friday. I’m not sure if Scott’s recorded any of his material, but if he has, then I’d definitely like to reserve a copy.

Graeme ‘The G‘ McDonald played last week with Norman Lamont, providing BV and harmonica, but this week came on his tod. And he proved that he’s no floating sideman, delivering a set with panache and no mean skill, by playing a guitar and harmonica in a neck brace, normally something which reminds me of Bob Dylan, but on this occasion Graeme’s performance blotted out any comparison. His last song, called I think “Going Out Like A Hero”, was a particularly fine piece of songwriting, and not even my joining in on the bongoes (I’d had a couple of pints by then) could ruin it. And anyone who knows my bongo playing will realise what a compliment to a song that is.

After the interval, Riley and Ian came up to share with us some more of their strange and beautiful world. On paper, it doesn’t sound like it would work: an acoustic guitar, a djembe, and a voice touched by country and blues. The reality? It sounds bloody fantastic, even when the djembe (played expertly by Ian) is swapped for a duburka (not sure of the spelling), as on the opening song “Jennifer”. The bass boom of the djembe was used for my personal favourite of theirs, called “Older Women”, which careered around inside my skull for two days solid, especially the lines “Don’t you take her for granted, Don’t you ever make her blue, She can always find another young fool like you”. Riley’s way with a melody and a hook will surely gain them more attention in future. Great stuff.

Philly and Callum had the unenviable task of following that, but by thunder, they damned well did, producing a set displaying sheer mastery of the voice and guitar respectively. Philly had a way of singing that although it didn’t sound like him, reminded me of Horace Andy in that you felt the words, rather than heard them. High and soulful, it went straight to the heart and didn’t come out again for love nor money. Callum’s guitar had dynamics galore, ranging from a delicate plucked arpeggio to a full-throated strum, and never took the easy route of well-trodden pop melodies, preferring instead the narrower, more dangerous path, but one which they traversed with ease. The duo always left enough space for each other to show their talent, and judging by their reception, could be back again at a future date.

The raffle was well patronised, but there can only be one winner of the Mystery Prize, and this week that winner was Callum (of Philly and Callum), winning a splendid black “Eggz” percussion instrument, which came all the way from the good ol’ USA. Will he be shaking his egg down at OOTB this Thursday, I wonder?

Finally, to round off the evening, a performer known simply as A.D. played two songs, neither of which could be strictly said to be wholly original compositions, but which were played with sincerity and feeling. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur A.D.

Well, I think I can say it was an extremely enjoyable evening on Thursday, and I’m looking forward to more of the same this Thur. If anyone wants to play the house keyboard, then feel free to do so, like the house guitar it’s always available.

Nelson

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OOTB 12 – 17 Jan 2002

Posted 17/01/2002 By reviewer

Jim & Nelson, Iain Roberts (debut) , Norman Lamont & Graeme McDonald, Martin Chiesa (debut), Freeloadin’ Frank, Matt’s band (debut), Riley & Ian, Colin Donati.

No review this week.

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OOTB 11 – 10 Jan 2002

Posted 10/01/2002 By reviewer

It was another busy night at The Waverley with a full card of performers. The standard was exceptionally good, possibly the best night yet.

Trip Fontaine came back after a month away and it was good to see the hairy Mancunian again. “Freeway” has to be one of the most melodic songs I’ve heard at these evenings. There’s a pleasant, cathartic pain in his voice which chimes with the 12-string guitar in a very pleasant fashion. Trip won a demo competition on Radio Scotland and consequently has a session on Monday, 11th February at 10pm. Make a date in your diary now.

Scott Reilly has come on immeasurably since I first saw him at Edinburgh Songwriters a couple of years ago. The tunes are great, if the Lightning Seeds had interesting lyrics and an edge they’d be comparable to Scott but they don’t. “Tell It Like It Is”and “End Of The Line” are top quality songs. More of this please, Mr Reilly.

I don’t know how many songs Norman Lamont has in his repetoire but he always plays one new to me which is amazing. One of the opportunities these open mic nights have is to let people bring new songs to try out. Norman uses this artistic license to the full. “Singing Nothing” is a very happy tune with a melancholic lyric partly about waiting to meet people in London in the rain (know the feeling). “(I’ve never gone down on a) Submarine, Girl” (important comma) is a fun song to end any set. Glad to see Norman back from his cold.

Free Loading Frank, freshly shaven and looking younger than his 29 years, was in ebullient mood. “Bloodshed On The Way” is becoming a singalong favourite in the Waverley. I imagine Frank, like millions of others (including myself), raised a smile at George W Bush choking on a pretzel. I don’t wish anyone ill but…Back to music. If anyone hasn’t heard “Scully” they’ve missed one of the most memorable and amusing songs played in Edinburgh’s open mics in the last five years. Will Frank ever record his music? I hope so, we shall see.

Lynsey Hutchinson seems to get better each time I see her. Sometimes when I do the sound I don’t get a chance to listen to the performers very well but going over the tapes it was a pleasant surprise to hear how very good Lynsey’s voice is. “Brother Grimmer” is a dense, symbollic lyric much like the old Brothers Grimm tales themselves and a heartstring-tugger it is too. Her new song was also a densely lyrical piece with more than a hint of melancholy. You can’t sing lyrics like these without feeling and this young lady certainly delivers. Look out for her new band Brundelfly. I would advertise their gig but it’s on a Thursday night so I can’t do that. (By the way, apologies for calling you Lesley, Lynsey!).

The raffle was won by Stephen McMurray. The prize – a kazoo that lights up from the USA.

Iain Firth came on with his customary energy; admirable as he comes straight from his top chef job in an Edinburgh restaurant. Another performer with a large collection of songs, with lyrics containing a lot of “ba-ba-ba”s (didn’t do the Beach Boys much harm). One song (“Electric Shocks”?) was a romantic piece about sex and flowers, his “ba-ba-baa” number was about foxes not sheep. A Dan Mutch tribute song “I Wish I Was Something Different” was indeed reminiscent of the style of the ex-Khaya frontman’s own compositions.

The first debutante of the evening was also the last act. Riley Briggs (and friend Ian Stoddart on drum) came on and, while I don’t like to single anyone out, blew me away. His first song “Jennifer” was an absolutely gorgeous genre-crossing pop song about a girl from Dumbiedykes. An obviously natural guitarist with a golden voice and some of the best melodies I’ve ever heard. “Older Women” highlighted a love of country music in style and the subject matter of love for older women is someting I can currently relate to. I think the audience’s very positive reaction was understandable. The next song – a new song “Love” – is a beautifully understated, sentimental (in a good way) piece. “My Love Is Blind” ended the evening and achingly fantastic it was too. These guys will definitely be at Out of the Bedroom again if I have to drag them there! Wonderful stuff.

Another landmark musical evening then. Hope to see more performers, new and old, over the coming weeks and you, too.

Take care each and everyone of you,

Jim

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OOTB 10 – 3 Jan 2002

Posted 03/01/2002 By reviewer

The new year at The Waverley started off with a bang as the biggest crowd yet came down to The Waverley to see a packed programme. It was great to see a lot of first-timer performers at Out Of The Bedroom, hopefully this year will see these singer/songwriters develop into even better musicians.

Helen Woods & Frank Macdonald came on first with Frank on guitar and vocals and Helen on lead vocal. Songs such as “Blue Jeans” and “Dreaming Of Berlin” may be familiar to regulars at Mondays at Whistlebinkies but they haven’t lost any of their quality with time, quite the reverse. It was the best I’d seen Helen sing, particularly, in a while.

Scott Reilly has a great set of understated melodic pop songs and again he was on form tonight. “Shades Of Blue” is a gorgeous slice of melancholia sung with genuine ache. “This House Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us” is a singalong on the topic of separation.

A young chap with a booming bass/baritone voice by the name of Fraser Calder was up next. A very energetic, fiery, angst-ridden set reminiscent of the best of Pearl Jam at times. It’s fascinating the way Fraser stretches and bends words; coupled with the voice, it makes for a very intense experience. Look out for his band ENKI around the music venues of Edinburgh.

Gordon Ballboy played an entertaining set with his usual quality patter. “Stars & Stripes” was as mesmerising as I’ve ever heard it. “I Wonder If You’re Drunk Enough To Sleep With Me Tonight”    (and we’ve all been there) was most poignant. Look out for a new single from his band ballboy in the next couple of months and a warm congratulations to the band who had two songs in John Peel’s Festive 50 for 2001. Their website is at http://www.listen.to/ballboy and I urge you to visit it.

Fee Brown & Wez both from Australia (you’ve got to have Aussies at New Year(s)). Fee’s first song “A Child Carrying A Child” was about believing she was pregnant at 17 – a powerful song indeed. Fee’s voice is a fine instrument to behold sailing between anger and tenderness expertly. Wez’s very fine drumming featured on Fee’s next track (a newie) and Wez ended with an expertly-played instrumental – a gifted man.

Mike Evans from London won two differently-pitched little bells all the way from New York in the prize draw.

Lynsey Hutchinson, who debuted two weeks ago, played a top set. Her tribute to “The League Of Gentlemen” TV series, “Benjamin Denton Blues”, is a legendary track and showcases Lynsey’s unusual, interesting lyrical style. An instrumental “I Am Legion” was the first to be played at O.O.T.B. and a fine tune it is too. Lynsey has a residency at the Fire Station pub in West Port.

Young Stephen Watkins, from the band August 81, was next with the aforementioned Fraser on drums (another multi-talented musician!). He managed to break the bottom e-string – the thick one – on the house guitar but I won’t hold that against him. “Back To You” and “In The City” had bags of energy and I think you should keep an eye on the listings to see when the band’s next playing.

A Swiss trio – no less – were next. Called Momma Would Like It adapted their bass/12-string/drums to two guitars/three vocals/drums. This band were very off the wall indeed; I don’t think their first language was English. “The Secret”, a song about friendship, had a loping, melancholic feel (influenced by cult Welsh band Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci?) and the vocals were all excellent and almost complimentary. “The Man With The Pan” (co-written with Paul McCartney apparently) about cooking. I enjoyed the pronunciation of gourmet (goor-mate). This was an outstanding performance and the kind of thing that makes these nights special. If you’re ever in Corcelles or Neuchatel in Switzerland, look out for them.

Iain Firth, who kindly loaned his guitar to the Swiss boys, played one song, “Harriet” devoted to his fiancee (written last week).

The next show is on Thursday 10th, starting approximately 9.15, and is free.

Jim

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