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OOTB 281 December 13 2007

Posted 13/12/2007 By admin

OOTB 281 December 13 2007

Lindsay Sugden, Nelson Wright, Steven Brown (debut), Kevin O’Rourke, Electric White Boy, Angus Coull, Craig MacDonald (debut), Jim Igoe, Nyk Stoddart, Jordan Ogg, Big Jim Whyte.

The St Nick’s Night was reviewed by Jim Igoe with a bit of help from Lindsay Sugden- here it is.

The St. Nick’s night started off very quietly indeed for a Christmas night, and it was 8.45 before the first act took to the stage. However, the Canons’ Gait cellar bar got gradually busier as the night went on until it was practically a full house by the end; Daniel Davis enthusiastically guided us through the evening.

First up was Lindsay Sugden (www.myspace.com/lindsaysugden) resplendent in her red and black OOTB t-shirt designed by. erm, Lindsay Sugden.  ‘Bernard Drake’, partially inspired by Nick Drake (first ‘Nick’ reference of the evening), was played immaculately.  I think Lindsay’s recent Nepal trip has given her some mystical power as this was the most confident I’ve seen her on stage.  Ms. Sugden’s guitar and vocal nuances and lyrical inflections on ‘Time Stands Still’ were crystal clear.  Listening to this song was exhilarating, like being a child riding on a carousel.  This was a very enjoyable start to the evening indeed.

Nelson Wright (www.nelsonwright.co.uk) introduced ‘The Wind That Blows The Seeds’ as a song about windy Edinburgh.  A lady near me said “ah yes, the Scottish Seattle”, but surely Seattle is the USA’s Edinburgh?  Anyhow, this showcased Nelson’s excellent guitar playing and Ray Davies-like vocal style to great effect.   ‘Celebration Blues’, written by Nelson and me several years ago, and it was a very weird, slightly uncomfortable experience hearing the tale of my painful late adolescence being sung by someone else.  The humorous, raucous love song ‘You Really Shook My Egg’ encouraged the audience to beat along, with Big Jim on sleigh bells and kazoo and Electric White Boy on bongos.

First debutante of the evening was Steven Brown who started his OOTB career with ‘Superheroes’.  The witty lyrics featured superheroes called Homeless Man, Drug-Free Boy (“the hammer of the hippies”) and Humbug Guy (the ruin of Christmas).  ‘New York City’ was an enjoyable They Might Be Giants cover, written by all-female band Cub, with the brutally honest refrain “everyone’s your friend in New York City when you’re young and pretty”.  There were some references to snow, so full marks to Steven for keeping his set seasonal. ‘Jennifer’ was “a love song” about taking sexual advantage of a girl in a coma.  Steven’s lyrics on the subject were fairly graphic and representatives of both genders in the audience laughed openly at his derring-do.

After the first break Kevin O’Rourke, of Smoked Glass (www.myspace.com/smokedglass) fame, definitely got the audience thinking about mince pies, brandy butter and a big fella in a red hat with a lively, albeit abbreviated, version of ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’.

Electric White Boy (www.myspace.com/electricwhiteboy), back on the scene after a brief sojourn west, was still singing the blues and keeping it real. ‘I’ve Lost My Faith In Love’, about the difference between “faith” and “belief”, featured EWB’s trademark passionate vocals.  EWB’s cover of Nick Cave’s ‘People Ain’t No Good’ was sung in a low register and I thought it suited his voice really well.  The epic, earnest tones of ‘Hold Fast’ completed the three-song set from one of the strongest personalities on the Edinburgh music scene.

Keyboard maestro Angus Coull (www.myspace.com/anguscoull) wore a replica Scotland top for his slot and began with ‘Heart of Stone’.  It was clear that Angus prepares his three-song set more than most and his professionalism could get him far.  The instrumental ‘On The Water’ was an evocative, beautifully played soundscape, which rippled and flowed wonderfully.  Angus gave a stirring, emotional performance on ‘Christmas’, which was haunting and evocative with bucketloads of drama.  A top set.

Young Fifer Craig MacDonald was also making his debut and started with his tribute to heavy metal rocker Ronnie James Dio (yes, the ex-Black Sabbath / Dio vocalist).  Surprisingly, it was actually a jaunty, poppy number!  A cover of Bill Bailey’s ‘Midnight In Parliament Square’ had plenty of character, and animal noises!  His first ever song ‘The Loser of Christmas’ was raw, fun and entertaining.  The line about being sick in the dog’s bowl was particularly amusing.

Next up, after the second break, was Jim Igoe (www.myspace.com/jigoe), i.e. me, and Lindsay Sugden wrote this very kind review:

“It’s pretty difficult for me to be un-biased about Jim’s first song ‘Inga’s Eyes’ as it was always one of my personal favourites when I played the bass in Flowers For Algernon, Jim’s sadly deceased band.  I never thought a song about infidelity could be quite so beautiful.  ‘A Little Peace’ was a Nick-related cover (by Nicole) and apparently this was a Eurovision entry – I wish they were this high quality now.  It seems like a nice optimistic dreamy song about tomorrow.  Jim’s voice sounds better every time I hear it, so clear and melodic.  Finally, maybe Jim’s first famous song ‘Braveheart Beggar’ dedicated to his friend Tom McEwan who lost his son recently.  A heartfelt moment and a very emotional song. Man, I love his voice; did I say that?  Great stuff from the OOTB co-founder.”

One of my favourite OOTB acts of the year has been Nyk Stoddart (www.myspace.com/mutantlodge).  It took me a while to get into Nyk (as with Velvet Underground and Tim Buckley) but now I have “got” him there is no going back.  Nyk’s first song tonight was “a parody of a parody” and displayed his obvious guitar skills and interesting slant on life.  Nyk writes songs from somewhere deep within his (and, collectively, our) subconscious.  ‘Secret Santa’, a phrase that Nyk translated as “death to all”, managed to get audience participation on the refrain “ho, ho, ho Secret Santa”, which must be a first for Mr. Stoddart!  Great stuff.

This was the first time I had seen Jordan Ogg (www.myspace.com/jordanogg) and I was very impressed.  ‘Helpless Again’, about home in the Shetland Islands, gave his high-pitched singing voice free-reign.  I’m always impressed when a singer’s voice is unrecognisable from their speaking voice. It’s like Jordan sucked the air from a helium balloon before he came on stage!  Jordan has a very unusual, memorable and pleasant voice indeed.  His second song was about a girl from Shetland, ‘Muddy Boy Blues’, and ended a special set from the unique Mr. Ogg.

Big Jim 22 March 2005

Big Jim 22 March 2005

Big Jim Whyte (www.myspace.com/jimwhyte) closed tonight’s proceedings with two Christmas offerings.  A song from “Nick” Dando (aka Evan Dando) called ‘Jesus Rides With Me’ was played with passion and mucho guitar skills – an engaging, emotionally honest performance with a great deal of feeling. Jim closed with his reworking of ‘Jingle Bells’, where the original version was completely transformed into something much darker.  Craig provided jingle bell accompaniment to this intense, powerful performance. A fitting way, then, to end the evening. and 2007.

So, that’s all folks for another year – see you again at Canons’ Gait on 3 January 2008.

Compere: Daniel Davis Review: Jim Igoe, Lindsay Sugden Sound: Jim Whyte, David O’Hara

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OOTB 280 December 6 2007

Posted 06/12/2007 By admin

OOTB 280 December 6 2007

Carolyn Scott, Ghost Boy, Paul Gladwell, Echo, Ross Neilson, Tone, Nyk Stoddart, David O’Hara.

Our review was two-fold this week, as Rob Sproul-Cran picked off the first few acts, and a brave Nyk Stoddart was inducted to the OOTB review fold after the first break. Enjoy!

Carolyn Scott
Our compere for the night kicks things off with some very fine tunes. She mixes finger-picking and strumming fluently. The fact that she doesn’t feel the need to affect any other accent than her own speaks volumes, and is extremely effective. Moving on to a tale of torn love, separated by circumstance, it is a welcome departure from the tried and tested ‘I hate you now! I got dumped!.I ran off with your brother’s friend’s cousin’s dog!’ This is trickier territory to navigate, but Carolyn manages just fine. Her final talks of ‘going home for Christmas’, but not in the saccharine, Cliff Richard style one might fear. Rather than the soft focus treatment, we get a knowing depiction of being ‘crowded by nostalgia’ and a pleasant return to familiarity, though to ‘friends I barely even know’.

Ghost Boy
‘One’ is carried by a gravely voice that gives depth to quite cheery lyrics. It all feels quite familiar, though I can’t decide whether that is a matter of originality or just tapping in to common truths. His second retains a religious undercurrent with lines such as ‘Oh Lord, let me breathe’. Nice chords prevent Ghost Boy from ‘drowning in silence’.
Actually, he needn’t worry , a mobile phone ringing displaces any threatening silence. Funny thing is, it’s his own. I would love to say that’s the first time I’ve seen that happen, but it’s not. ‘Falling Down’
is neither a Muse nor Duran Duran song, nor a Michael Douglas film, but another solemn tale from Ghost Boy! until his phone goes again.

Paul Gladwell
‘Easy Street’ derides those who take all for granted and drift through life unfulfilled as a result. It’s ‘heaven or bust’, as everything must be perfect or nothing. This is clearly from experience, and benefits from some really interesting thumb-strumming. Next, Paul takes the proverbial and turns it into a song. We start out with love as a card game, and meander through great references in a new context. The stand-out line has to be ‘you are my flour, when I’ve got no dough!’ Genius. ‘Truth or Dare’
sees Paul liberated with a plectrum, and unleashes his satire as a more biting and earnest Jarvis Coker, were it possible.

I pass now to our second reviewer for the night, Nyk (with a Y) Stoddart.

Echo
‘You Can Use It’: Of groovy hair & leather jacket, ramshackly radiance abounds with a plaintive reggae thing about the music ‘taking control’
with some fantastic dark, chordy chords with some latino influence.
‘Waiting In Vain’: is a Bob Marley cover (boo! Hiss!) with some percussive elements & a vocal which matches its naturalistic elements.
‘Better To Have Loved’: a mournful ballad about accepting pain without self-damage-which transmutes to & fro into a rocky ballad utilizing skeletal chords with some flying descending bass notes.

Ross Neilson
Despite suffering from a bad cold Ross decides to try out some new stuff.
As is sometimes the case, his vocals only seem to benefit from his temporary affliction, giving them a more gritty realistic quality. ‘Shadow In Night Falls’ has such emotive singing , with lines like ‘Lines are drawn when you decide to steal her’ & the mention of a ‘fragile tear’; it has a lilt that pleases the ear. ‘Junie Come Home’ has Neil Young-ish chordings & ‘Stereolite’ is a catchy driving song , it’s good when a song tells a story.

Tone
With what sounded like new strings there was some great fingerpicking reminiscent of Paul Simon. ‘Feels Like I Told A Lie’ has much hummage & a rippling, cascading tone flowing like a river across the desert. ‘You Don’t Want To Be Alive’ has some mellifluous rippling guitar with some melodic hootage. All the songs benefit from that melodic catchy edge that keeps an audience interested.

(Dave O’Hara takes over review for the next one[- everyone take note, this is a definite first!])

Nyk
‘Scarecrow Man’ , Heavy Strumming [cheers Dave!!] ‘Lollipop Lady’ Dedicated to Wayne Rooney. He states that its not his best set tonight – being beerful as is sometimes the case with this chap.

(Nyk returns)

Dave O’Hara
And a very good end to the evening it was too! Flaming of cap, Dave O’Hara starts with ‘Song Before The 2nd One’, which is like sunsets boiling in the desert haze of tequila evenings reflecting on distant sorrows.
‘Arabian Nights’ is a signature piece for Dave with some fantastic runs & ruminating notes while ‘Flamenco Thing’ gets the handclaps going.

Compere: Carolyn Scott
Review: Rob Sproul-Cran, Nyk Stoddart and Dave O’Hara
Sound: Malcolm McLean

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OOTB 279 – 29th November 2007

Posted 29/11/2007 By admin

Events guy Rob Sproul-Cran scribed up last week’s action masterfully; gon
yersel, Rob!

OOTB 279
========
Sparrahawk, Tim Allen, Freeloadin Frank, Aaron Lowen Bemer, Lewis
Campbell, Starship, Ghostboy, Davy Watson, Tony, Ross Baird, Aaron Wright.

Sparrahawk
The right honourable Spamborskee, tonight driving proceedings, opens them
too with a set on behalf of his full band, Sparrahawk. Opens with
‘Seagulls’, which I’m more used to hearing unplugged at ear-shredding
close quarters. With the OOTB PA, Spam could afford to let his facial
muscles do the work – anyone with more animated eyebrows, please let me
know. The next is unaccompanied, and Spam makes the most of not being
guitar-bound to strut around the performance area. A masterclass in
compelling musicianship, you cannot look at anything else in the room when
he plays. A red light on the stage also adds menace to this, a celebration
of a misspent youth, rapped in poignance. “Get it up ya while yer young!”
–‘Carpe Diem’ has never been said so well. He finishes with a tale of a
‘Secret Squirrel’, which may or may not be a euphemism.

Tim Allen
‘You Fly, You Dream, You Cry’ introduces a beautiful tone in both guitar
and voice. Opens with muted syncopation but settles into American alt rock
of Counting Crows ilk, only without 17 instruments. More instruments could
be handy – Tim seems most at ease when not juggling guitar and vox at the
same time. A real lighters-aloft number. ‘She Tells You That She Loves
You’ is a biting Lou Reed-esque tale of betrayed love. I should have been
high to truly appreciate the chilled out angst, but with lines like “she
smiles and watches you bleed”, not sure I could have coped. Pretty sore
stuff – hope it’s not autobiographical. ‘Bullies of the World’ is a
cautionary tale, that laments the state we are already in. Tim’s voice
croaks satisfyingly, but the song could do with more drive, to hammer home
the point, rather than have us seek it out.

Freeloadin Frank
‘By The Rubble In Palestine’ bastardises ‘Rivers Of Babylon’ to great
effect. Tells the sorry tale of the West Bank. Frank’s far-from-dulcet
tones bring immediacy to a subject he clearly cares about a great deal. I
for one am just glad we can hear this stuff – if in the US, the
anti-semitism police would stop it in a second. This sh1t’s important –
thank you Frank. On a lighter note, ‘I Wanna Be A Guru’ extols the many
virtues of having one’s own ashram, most notably the “20st groupies”. Come
on – we’ve all thought about it. Right? Finishes with the best
should-have-been-in-the-soundtrack song of the night – all the versions of
the film would have been better for it. An ode to the purest love there
is: that between a girl and a 100ft gorilla. ‘Climbing up the Empire State
Building’ is catchy as hell – it’s always a good sign when the audience
sing along.

Aaron Lowen Bemer
Apologies if the name’s not right – it’s even sillier than mine. Aaron
does instrumentals, which means they have to pretty damn good to sustain
interest with no vox. Luckily, they are. Beautiful flourishes that
intrigue but don’t detract. The chords are complex and run up and down the
fretboard; a rock-steady beat maintains structure. Reminded me of Davy
Graham’s ‘Angie’ in the best way. ‘Waiting For You, Waiting For Me’. Opens
on a drone worthy of a double bass. His tone and volume control is great.
A comforting feeling of familiarity to it, but it still keeps me
interested.
His last shows off brave and flowing technique, combining full notes and
harmonics at will. It looks fairly easy. It’s not. Fast and fluid, it
builds as we go. If John Martyn played (perish the thought) Snow Patrol,
this would be the outcome. This guy will be pimped for accompaniments
before he knows it. I just hope he finds the time to do his own stuff too.

Lewis Campbell
“I’ve never done this before”, I think I heard him saying. I don’t believe
him – this guy is accomplished and, if not actually, gives the impression
of being totally at ease on stage. His first, about a break-up, builds on
a fine tenor voice to cut abruptly and effectively to spoken, then back.
It grabs you by the throat for attention. His second, about “some ugly
buildings”, portrays love found against a community lost, as urban
regeneration sweeps all before it. He has a fearless high voice, which can
only improve with more practice. ‘There May Be Trouble Ahead’ – I’m sure
he gets this a lot, but it’s not the opening line to a Morecambe and Wise
classic, rather a brooding tale. The spoken word he weaves into the set
again surfaces, but as always is delivered as well as his singing – it’s
not an afterthought. One of my standout favourites of the night. Cracking.

Starship
‘Scarecrow Man’ I always thought this was called ‘Skeletor Man’, and I
must say I’m mildly disappointed to find it’s not [me too- has Stoddart
changed his song’s names as well as his own????]. Nyk Stoddart doesn’t do
subtle (you should see the colour of his myspace), at least not in
delivery. I’m sure there are a few lyrics intricacies that I’m yet to
grasp, but for now I’m washed along by this hard blues with a twist…
Speaking of which, ‘Bad Blues’ rails against the “same old crap on TV
again” in a music-fuelled mania. As he careers around the stage and more,
Nyk proves once again that, regardless of whether you like his stuff, it’s
all about performing songs, not just playing them.

Ghost Boy
‘Where You Going With That Gun?’ is slow indie that talks of “too many
people killing, too many dying” and the sobering tale of a friend losing
their way in spectacular fashion. He confirms what I suspected, saying at
the end “but it’s true!”, and in doing so seems to miss the point that if
the song doesn’t speak for itself, a footnote won’t help. The authenticity
of the message is lost in delivery. A new one now, which sounds like a
slow ‘Girl From Mars’. I for one wouldn’t mind Ash axe-girl Charlotte
Hatherley adding some harmonies and sex-appeal as he sings “I’ve fallen
down again”. In his third, there are catchy licks, but a meatier sound and
a steady beat would elevate this one. I have never warmed to Ghost Boy’s
onstage persona, but then neither have I had the courtesy to get to know
him before writing this.

Yogi
‘Krakatoa’- utterly undaunted by hecklers, even if they are of the
pleasant OOTB kind. This angry song mixes palm muting with the brick wall
of a relationship to great effect. Drives along like a polar bear on a
Harley.

Tony
An unassuming presence who introduces himself with nice finger-picking on
‘Feel No Need’. It’s good enough to sustain interest on its own, and then
the vocals come in. A great voice, talking of a jealous man. Creepy but
soothing. A new one, think he said first time that night, is a mobile
phone advert classic. A stupidly catchy falsetto lick, sung in a high
throated voice like I’ve never heard. Happy strumming and accomplished
changes of tempo and timbre make a beautiful package. To be honest though,
he can relax – Orange et al will only use the first 20 seconds and still
pay him silly money for it.‘On the Run’ is a Clapton-esque minor blues. It
could do with high vox harmony, but lifts instantly with the harmonica. By
the end it is knee-slapping vitriol. Most satisfying. Altogether, bit of a
gem. I would buy his album. Simple.

Davy Watson
Segues neatly from drunken heckler to rambling blues man. Ably joined by
Aaron Lowen Bemer, this one’s minor with lots of augmented chords (they’re
the ones that sound like a raised eyebrow). Drudgery in lyrical content is
carried by exuberance and on-stage interaction. “I’m a shambles” says
Davy, not as lyric, more just as a comment on his own state. ‘Catch The
Foxes’ sees Spam join Davy for a top notch rendition, when it gets going.
There’s a lot of momentum in runaway trains. Lastly, Davy and Spam impro
over a slide riff from Davy, while Spam takes about two seconds to decide
on lyrics and launches into them. Davy’s moothie adds to Spam’s tornado,
and the whole thing is carried along entirely on the confidence of the two
performers. Who needs to write songs beforehand?

Ross Baird
mmm… Nice vest. Sorry, was distracted by Ross’s fetching threads. Hailing
> from that musical hotbed of (I believe) Iona, Ross produces a very tidy
package of vox and guitar. He has the control expected of a guitar tutor,
which he is, but a presence that is far from a given. When Darren
Thorn-logan-blackberry joins on harmony vox, things get sublime. Davy
Watson is making funny noises of excitement in the corner, and while I
can’t quite match his Barbarella impression, I do have goosebumps. Song of
the night – no doubt. I can’t remember the name, I was too busy listening.
‘Ode to Colum’s Jig’ lies down and drone on bass strings then lets the
melody shine through with some very fine guitar playing indeed. A
headliner before very long at all, I think. I hope.

Aaron Wright
Second Aaron of the night, though it doesn’t seem to bother him, he plays
‘Teardrops’. It features high tenor singing “I’ll never heed the signs”.
Alan on harmonica (must have jammed on stage with at least 500 Edinburgh
musicians – about as ubiquitous as a plectrum) adds to a nice arrangement.
‘Trampoline’ I haven’t heard this in a while, but as Aaron is no doubt
aware, this is his ‘Creep’. In the future, he won’t be aloud to leave the
stadium without encoring with this. He sings of having “nowhere to fall.”
Crowd-surfing will probably take care of that worry. It is a great melody
– I’m still singing it.

Compere: ACL Spamborskee
Review: Rob Sproul-Cran
Sound: O’Hara???

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OOTB 278 – November 22 2007

Posted 22/11/2007 By admin

OOTB 278 November 22 2007

Finally, Daniel Davis gave his toupee’s worth on last week’s proceedings in an interestingly coiffured style. Did he feel more Vidal Sassoon or Sweeney Todd? Read on and find out.

Rob Sproul-Cran, Susanna MacDonald, Nyk Stoddart, Chris Kaufman (debut), Calum Carlyle, Ben Young, Daniel Vzeu, Electric White Boy, Nick Smith, Ton (debut), Jim Tudor (debut), Ross Neilson, Stephen Harrison (debut).

‘Twas a winter’s night and all honour to those braving the cold to bring their wares to the music marketplace that is OOTB. After the last few reviews I’m puzzled as to how I could be equally surreal… but on proud display tonight were all manner of beautiful barnets the likes of which may never be seen in this town again. That said, I will at least try to mention the songs.

Rob Sproul-Cran

Our newly appointed master of events on the OOTB committee brings dreadlocks to the connoisseur of coiffeur.

Perhaps he didn’t look at the rota but never, and I mean never wander nonchalantly up to the reviewer and say ‘I wish I’d put some thought into what I’m going to play’. If you are as talented as Rob then maybe you can get away with digging out your greatest hits. He starts with ‘She Steals Away’ which starts with parallel 9ths which remind me of ‘What I Am’ by Edie Brickell. All this falsetto stuff is hard to achieve first song of the night, and would have been better after something simpler as a warm-up first, but it’s a great song nonetheless. Then he plays ‘The Father’ , a gripping if chilling spoken number which could be described either as touching or creepy (if you don’t know it, it involves scalpels and eyebrows and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination). As if to engender even more confidence, he then announces ‘a lively one to counterbalance the drudgery we’ve just witnessed’. He may have a point, perhaps we should stipulate that the first performer must play all happy songs! Lastly his best of the night, ‘One Day Soon’, a slightly jazzy number with considerable vibe in the accompaniment that could be Jack Johnston.

Susanna McDonald

Susanna MacDonald in 2005

Susanna MacDonald in 2005

Her first is inspired by a Noel Coward poem ‘Remembered Laughter’ which was found with his dead body. Susanna’s songwriting is musically sophisticated, and this song not an immediate crowd pleaser. It appeared to start in 5/8 and then lapse into 6/8, although at times indistinct. I think anything in 5/8 is making a point and should be consistent. This was its first public outing and I think I need a few listens to decide on this one, but I’m expecting it to grow on me as the performance gets more confident. Her second is ‘The Ba Ba Song’ which is more challenging lyrically but musically simple , this one gets the audience singing along.
She is joined for ‘I am Everybody Else’ by John Farrell, who always adds a touch of class with his exceptional playing. The introduction reminds me of ‘Drowning Man’ by The Cure. It is rhythmically driving and gradually builds , yeah, go ahead, scream- I think the speakers can take it. This is a woman in full flow, frenetic and forceful.

Nyk Stoddart

Some say the next performer has shaved off his hair and the straggles that emerge around his shoulders are in fact hair extensions attached to his pork pie hat. All we know is he’s called Stigg Stoddart, sorry make that Nyk Stoddart.

‘Misty Blue’ should really be listened to through the prism of a drug-induced haze. Unfortunately I’m sober as a judge. It is all swirling strumming and wandering chords, eventually it sort of stops rather than finishes. It is curiously evocative and effective. Next up is ‘Closer to Your Own!’ Lyrically I think this is about an act giving the performer pleasure whilst giving none to anyone else, at certain points, it could stand for the song as well [to illustrate the point?]! Still it was good to hear some new material.

Chris Kaufmann

Chris boasts a short back ‘n’ sides: ‘a proper haircut’ as my ageing father would say.

Come now, not the ‘I don’t have any names for my songs’ argument again. Go on, treat your audience with some respect , we’ve come here to listen to you and to be entertained, please think about us! Rant over.

His first song, which I will call ‘I Wanna Feel Your Body’ was somewhat marred by his nerves , starting three times and eventually giving up as he forgot the words. A pity, because what we did hear was actually rather good. The best cure for nerves is to just keep coming, you’ll definitely find a receptive audience here, but with the romantic material best bring some girl friends along. His second which I shall call ‘Before She Leaves’
also showed a lot of promise. For me, the guitar was too aggressive for the song and improved markedly when you got quieter towards the end.

Hmm, if one song is a squashee, what is two songs , a squishy perhaps?

Calum Carlyle

Calum has a tidy greased back affair with a hint of spikiness.

‘Usually I know what I’m going to sing’. Is this the theme of the night?
Aaargh. Honestly we didn’t need to hear that. Just pretend that it’s all planned and intended. We’ll thank you for it.

His first is a blues number, ‘I Belive In Rock and Roll’. OK, the title sounds a little cheesy, but Calum can really do blues. The second is a song about coleslaw , that’s right, no mis-print! The guitar work betrays Calum’s forays into mandolin playing with melody picked on the lower notes with lots of open strings above. I’m almost tempted to go to Thurso to sample the vegetarian delights “made by angels”.
His last is ‘The Sound Of Falling In Love At First Sight’ with a Jose Gonzalez-style guitar. If you must do drop-tuned guitar, you must do it like this. A real gem. Calum is quite the musical chameleon, three songs in three very different styles lyrically, musically, and vocally, but always managing to sound original and authentic.

Ben Young

Ben has lost the shaved extravagance of a political protester and since growing his curls looks more like Frodo than ever.

He performs a squashee of a new song to me , ‘Battle of the Bands’ written after his little brother didn’t win such a contest and ‘It was wrong!’ Ah, heaven. I love this stuff. Ben always manages to write songs about subjects ignored by others, quirky, original and brilliant as always.

Daniel Vzeu

Daniel sports a trendy messed up affair, bound to attract the girls , if only there were any in the audience.

Another squishee! first up, ‘The Girl And The Biscuit’. Crumbs! Daniel has an inexhaustable supply of songs about relationships. I’m not sure if I’m more concerned about the number of break-ups or about love songs involving
17 year-olds, or perhaps I’m just jealous. It has a tender, rocking accompaniment. The second is ‘Human After All’ which is back to his scat singing ‘diddly oop da dow’. He says it’s not finished and that half the words were made up. Presumably when it is finished all the words will be made up, if you get my drift. Quality as usual.

Electric White Boy

The acoustic white boy has had a trim, loosing his Neil from the Young Ones style, now adopting thoroughly sophisticated flowing locks which, only lacking for some flouncy attire, make him look extremely like Oscar Wilde.

‘Hold Fast’ sounds somewhat Led Zeppelin to me both guitar-wise and vocally. It’s a good impression, but I feel like I’m hearing an impersonation. ‘What’s A Boy Gotta Do’ is a blues number but starts with what I can only call a recitative. It has slightly odd chords , not sure the E works in the key. It also sounds like a cover. I’m impatient – you have all the chops and a good vocal range but I feel that we’re yet to hear your true voice.

Nick Smith

Nick is our compere for the night and thus beyond reproach.

‘Do You Want A Piece Of Me?’ witty and acid lyrics delivered flawlessly.
As our MC, he allows himself the indulgence of a cover ‘Jealous Man’ by Hoyt Axton.

Ton

A neat crop.

Ton(e?) delivers picking loveliness admired by all. With somewhat angrier lyrics than accompaniment, I thought it could do with a little more grit or growl vocally. The second song features even faster finger-picking- many oohs and ahs from the appreciative audience. Ton is a very good player needing just a bit more confidence performance-wise.

Jim Tudor

Jim has a hairstyle that last saw favour when white suits and platforms were de rigueur… yes, tonight he has the full Leo Sayer.

I’ve not seen Jim before, but I can only describe the sound as Billy Brag does love songs. ‘When the sun runs out of time we’ve got 8 minutes to flee’ makes you think. ‘The Doctor’ is a diatribe against doctors and plastic surgeons; mind you my neighbour thought the first verse was about a dodgy gynaecologist. In fact it was about a dentist, just shows how wrong you can be.

Ross Neilson

Ross Neilson was topped with a woolly hat.

He starts with ‘Summer Wave’, ‘cos it’s cold outside. He has a big guitar , some kind of Gibson dreadnaught by the looks of it, and his playing is rich and resonant. The second is ‘Shadow When Night Falls’ a good one that really suits his playing and vocal delivery. The third is harder and political. A well-rounded set from Ross who is also growing in confidence and stature week by week. One to watch.

Stephen Harrison

Stephen is a new performer to me, but he has the air of someone who has been doing this for a long time. The first is ‘Girl Come Home’. Oddly, he plays an electric DI’d but it works well with the material, his voice deep over the jangling chords. ‘Tomorrow’ has interesting voicings with lots of open strings, and the third ‘Who are they?’ has rhythmic strummings and again interesting chords. It’s as if he ignores standard chords, but always experiments on the neck to find some sonority with which he’s happy. It’s also obvious that he knows his way around a fretboard by the absolutely minimal movement between chords. Good songsmith too, by the way.

Nick Smith

Back for seconds, Nick treats us to ‘Deepest Blue’. It’s the sort of song that makes Graeme Mearns sound like an optimist!

Compere: Nick Smith
Sound: David O’Hara & Jim Whyte
Review: Daniel Davis

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OOTB 277 – 15th November, 2007

Posted 15/11/2007 By admin

Out of the Bedroom 277- 15th November, 2007

Last week was full of originals- here’s what happened.

OOTB 277
=========
Nyk Stoddart, Rosie Bell, Freeloading Frank, Hannah O’Reilly, Simon Kempston & Rosie Hunter (featured), Angus Coull, Chris Mossop, David O’Hara, Steven Carey, P Gondu.

A dog is not a dog. A house is not a house. After Calum Duchamp raised the Dada bar in this missive last week, there was a feeling (Electric White Boy, and your Gonzo journalism, this means you!) that perhaps we could start a new period of Post-Surrealism, recalling the styles embraced by John Magritte in his legendary “white jaguar” reviews, which were reined in by Norman Rosenberg, who questioned where this particular art form was headed. I toyed with this idea- making the review utterly abstruse and intractable, but opted against it (although you may disagree!), because Calum accepts no imitations. At times, the review may err towards surreal, not by design, but because the music itself was, on occasion, quite far out there…

Take for example, Mr Nyk Stoddart, a man whose very name prompts
questions- “Y?” indeed. I spoke to Nyk briefly after his set, and he claims that he gives his songs names like Skeletor Man because he’s challenging the standard aesthetic: “It’s the punk in me!” he said. “But you’re blatantly a hippy,” was my response. “That’s because I’m anti-anti-establishment”. Touche. After a long conversation about the Masters of the Universe toys and a quick look at his music (Fake Jazz was a wonderful re-reading of  Hendrix’s Woodstock performance, with acerbic quips against fretboard strainers; Skeletor Man featured a bunch of his inimitible vocal athletics), we decided that Nyk was a fine exponent of Post-Mortemism; expect a song by this title to exist by the time you read this. Our compere, Rob Sproul-Cran, referred to Nyk’s performance as
“sublime”- and I suppose if you take Kant’s definition- beauty contained in a boundless object- then I’m sure everyone would concur.

Next up was Rosie Bell, who clearly engineered a slot after Nyk to assert her “mainstream” side. If  Nyk’s a punk, then Rosie is decidedly New Wave- giving us the kind of keyboard noises Gary Numan used to batter out in the early 1980s, but with far pithier lyrics. Indeed, if Rosie’s friends are electric, it might explain the “screams and shouts from the girls allowed(/loud?)”, shocked and soaked from playing their part in the City Of Alcohol. She follows it up with a cautionary tale (which I’ve only heard her read before)- Don’t Sh*g The Man On Lead Guitar. Likes a list song does Rosie, and she rattles off all the instrument-players it’s ok to get involved with (“baby wipes to the man on pipes????”), before ravaging the egos of guitarists everywhere. She finishes her three songs with her current favourite, the sparse Dead Cool, Dead Hard number, which praises loads of pre-, mid- and post- punks, giving special props to a certain Lou Reed.

Freeloadin Frank 18 December 2003

Freeloadin' Frank 18 December 2003

Rosie actually stayed up to duet with another underground legend, Freeloading Frank Titterton. I’m not sure if F n’ C was written collaboratively, but it was memorably performed so. It’s hard to tell:
“Edinburgh Fringe/ awash with c*nt and m*nge”, seemed pure Frank, but “If you get a shock/when you see a c*ck/you are simply showing off your age”- that rings Bell. Totally X-rated, and unreviewable without the aid of a shift key; marvellous. Rosie then left Frank to play (unquestionably) two of his own classics, I Wanna Be A Guru, which nicely lampoons the likes of George Harrison’s Maharishi pal (“transfer money from you to me”), and the classic Scully (“don’t believe in ghosts or satanic toast”). John Barclay mentioned a similarity between Frank and WC Fields, who used words because he liked the feel of them- true, but I think Frank quite enjoys the meanings imbued as well….

To complete a first period of true originals, Hannah O’Reilly was next to the stage. She’s back in Edinburgh for the foreseeable, and has been writing new songs to boot. Nothing I’d heard before in her set: Foolish, Faith and Dimes. Foolish- which reminded me a lot of the angsty ambience of one of her older favourites, Strange Friend- was about being a fool for someone, but not letting them break your heart, and left me wondering if this was about the city she can’t give up. Faith, written and delivered with the flu, fell into Hannah’s other camp, the laid back side; loved the wee play on words, “Faith- I’ve never been there/ Faith- the final frontier”. Hannah closed with Dimes, a song she says she loves performing because she gets to say the word “m*therf*cker” in it- what’s with all the profanity tonight??! A nice rebuff to anyone that tries to buy her affection, she doesn’t want your “business, nickels, dimes”. Not one to take busking on the streets of New York then! She’s still churning out the hits though, which is great to see.

If we’d seen bits of Surrealism, and distinct Abstract Expressionism in the course of tonight’s set, we were taken back to The Scottish Enlightenment by tonight’s featured act, Simon Kempston & Rosie Hunter. We don’t see as much of Simon round here as we used to, but there’s no doubt he’s been busy working on new material; the very introspective style (though never ‘shy’ as such) has become a lot more direct, and while it’s more Donovan-tinged folk than jazz these days, it’s still highly suited to the late-night barroom ambience. This highly structured set tackled a diverse range of subjects, from James IV’s raising of the royal fleet at Newhaven (Ladies’ Lookout), through the port of Rosyth (To See The Lights)  to the freeing of the Baltic States (a recent holiday destination) (We Formed A Barricade). The tunes are strong and distinctive- see the Bert Jansch-like Carefree Prisoner- and the lyrics are highly thought-provoking (his musing on Scotland’s sectarian struggle is detached, and
non-judgemental- “do they march in war, or do they march in peace?”, “Christian sentiment feeds this angry crowd”). Simon was backed by Rosie, a classical violin player making a foray into folk with Simon (and his band, The Statements), and her wistful counter-melodies supported the songs nicely, giving a whole new level of atmosphere to them. Highly engaging set, and nice to see the room good and busy while it was on!

Keyboard wizard Angus Coull has been along a few times recently, and I felt that tonight was the best I’d seen him. He started with Nothing Is Going My Way- which starts off in Beethoven territory and moves effortlessly into New Order, presumably picking up Kratfwerk and Joy Division on the way, in senitment and sound. This was well backed up in the second number, which was very bleak: “she was your mistress/ you always knew and so did your wife/ where is she now/ under the raging sea”- Ian Curtis would have no qualms whatsoever about performing lyrics such as these. Angus maintained the bleak, visceral lyrics in the closing number, which featured such lines as “I’m tired and I’m lonely, my life is over, it was killed by you only”, although in this case, the upbeat, jaunty nature of the tune, with nice little flourishes, belies the feeling. Deep, dark, and engaging stuff.

Poor Chris Mossop bewailed the number of times he’s been reviewed as a debutant at OOTB- I can only assume this is because his appearances are well-spaced in frequency, and there are a lot of reviewers doing the job, as this is the fifth or sixth time I’ve seen him. Chris has a deep, soulful voice, which is similar to (though not necessarily influenced by) the likes of Billy Joe Armstrong or John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, and his songs tonight would fit in quite well across the pond. It’s all very listenable, generally up-tempo stuff- even when (in the case of the first song, about the Iraq war), the subject is quite bleak. The last two numbers dealt with relationships (“I can’t believe I’ve met someone like you”, “I don’t want to be second best”), and while the subject matter may be a well-trodden path, Chris kept the attention of the audience with a nice range of movement on the guitar.

Another terrific artist whose profile suffers a bit  because he appears at the Canons Gait once every six months is Andy Northall. Andy’s got a real knack for shutting the room up with expert guitar picking, and this was brilliantly in evidence tonight with a quality instrumental squashee that put me in mind of Dick Gaughan. We need to see a longer set from Andy, and I don’t just mean three songs!

Tonight’s raffle win went to Nicole, who picked up a box of revels. Let’s hope she had fun looking for the orange one.

You know when David O’Hara means business. That’s when he turns up with nylon six-string, not saying things like “the calluses in my fingers are a bit  shallow just now”. Dave was straight to work doing a bizarre Christine Keeler impersonation with a chair before propping his foot on it in true John Williams style. Tonight’s numbers justified the special effort- he opened with Let’s See How It Goes Op.34, “The Only Joking, I Know Exactly What I’m Doing Waltz”, a bleak, brooding number, fresh out of an Eastern European romance soundtrack. Arabian Nights has become Dave’s most lauded piece, it’s his own equivalent of Tom Waits’ Tango Till They’re Sore; not a note out of place, and Big Jim added a power of atmosphere from the mixing desk. Dave ended with a Cossack-esque number- if this was in support of the Russian football team’s efforts on Saturday, though, we now know it was in vain…

Simon Kempston’s partner in Southbound Sessions, Steven Carey, was along tonight, and it was good to see a hat-trick of new songs from him. Steven’s an expert at combining fairly simple melodies with confessional lyrics and an absolutely soaring vocal, so while the songs tonight didn’t represent a huge departure from his usual fare, they couldn’t have been the work of anybody else. No idea what the titles were (I’ll take a stab at You Couldn’t Be Any Easier To Like, Great White Shark and Leave This Party), but they engaged in areas of relationships, the state of the world (“the news is twice as vulgar as p*rn”), and, inkeeping with tonight’s seedy tour of the gutter, reasons for going to a party, “to be a total *rse” and pick someone up, because “I’m not in the mood to be a gentleman”.

Finally, to take us back into unusual, Syd Barrett territory was someone we hadn’t seen in ages: P Gondu. P used to play here under the Tom Waits-inspired moniker of Eyeball Kid, and it’s always great to see someone we thought we’d lost come back to the fold. Three songs tonight, Don’t Share Your Doubt, Wait A While and a cover of the Lemonheads’ Into Your Arms (hell, it was the last song of the night, we were hardly gonna stop him!). Mr Gondu would be the first to agree his delivery is unconventional- heading down post-Psychedelic Jennifer Gentle territory, but the songs themselves aren’t so unconventional: Don’t Share Your Doubt was a Johnny Cash-style tune, with a couple of really emotive minors, and Wait A While was similarly countrified, especially in lyrics which complained of “just another broken heart”. Good to get the crowd joining in on the Dando number at the end, and nice to see the one-time Eyeball Kid still doing his stuff.

Compere: Rob Sproul-Cran
Sound: David O’Hara and James Whyte
Review: Scott Renton
Raffle: John Barclay

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