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In The Dark by Fraser Drummond

Posted 24/12/2008 By admin

In The Dark by Fraser Drummond

In the dark, in the night
I feel I have some kind of sight
I can see, things never meant to be
In the dark of the night

Every nameless fear that wallows
In every sunken hollow
Of every tear stained cheek
On every rain soaked street

A captured heart, vanquished in the dark
Trapped, like amber in a dream
Wrapped, in sheets, a silken shroud you weave
As this earthly realm you leave

Your every nameless fear
Every awkward sound you hear
Footsteps on an empty stair
By the open door to the demons lair

Come with me, vistas vast and free
Uncurl, behind your eye
Skies, unfurl, as far as you can see
We want you to be free

Another dawn breaks like a heart
Pumping blood as it tears apart
I only wish that we could see
The child inside who’s wishing he could be.

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Having Confidence on Stage

Posted 20/12/2008 By admin

Having Confidence on Stage

There are times in life when you will be nervous about performing. That’s just a simple, unchangeable fact of life. There’s nothing you can do about that. What you can do, however, is to think about how you handle the nerves when you are onstage.

One of the biggest points that sets beginners apart from seasoned pros is how they value their material while onstage. It’s all too common to hear someone saying “Sorry, that was rubbish” after a song, or “I don’t know why I’m playing this, its not really finished”. While it may sometimes come across as self-deprecating and humble, more often than not the audience finds themselves thinking “well if its not that good then why are you playing it?” You should try not to apologise for your songs – if you genuinely didn’t think they were any good then you would probably not be going to an open mic night to play them. Have confidence in your work, don’t try to judge it by other people’s standards, just write your very best songs and get them out there for people to enjoy.

There will always be times when you have to play after someone that you really like and respect. Sadly, we very often hear people saying “that last guy was amazing, I could never hope to follow that”. Instead of trying to compare your work to theirs, try to think about how your work differs to theirs, how your individual style can offer the audience something they didn’t get in the previous set. The whole thing can work to your advantage, in fact – if the previous person really did play a great set then they will have warmed up the crowd for you. Use this momentum to make a great start into your songs.

It’s true, there’s a fine line between appearing confident and coming across as just plain cocky. Just remember though, the audience are there to be entertained. They come along to open mic nights to see people play their songs, not apologise for them.

The most important piece of advice anyone can give you is just to have fun. I mean, really, it’s not like you’re pouring out your soul to a room full of strangers or anything…

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OOTB 325 – 4 Dec 2008

Posted 04/12/2008 By admin

OOTB 325 – 4th December 2008 – reviewed by Calum Carlyle (whoever he is!)

Ho there, traveller, and welcome to the haven known as Out of the Bedroom! None of your karaoke here, or those dodgy oasis covers you hear floating around the ether. It’s the final OOTB for 2008, if you weren’t there, you missed it. Never mind though, here’s a review of the entire night! just look up all the performers on myspace, then read the review for each one while their music’s on and you can sort of kind of not really approximate what it was like. Well, actually myspace is never going to be as good as live music no matter what happens, so you’ll just have to make the effort to come along to OOTB more often in future if you want to hear quality music such as the likes of these brave souls you’re about to read the review of (go on, read it, you know you want to!)

OOTB will be back in 2009, and no doubt we’ll badger you with emails before then telling you all about it. Till then, here’s my review of Out of the Bedroom number 325 to give you something to read on those long cold winter nights:

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NICK – “I love you, England, you’re a diamond geezer”

Nick starts the evening off with three lovely scratchy jangly folk tunes. He detunes the guitar quite shockingly but to good effect. Ray Davies style lyrics (at one point he rhymes “butter” and “nutter”, lovely!) and John Renbourn style guitar are in evidence, both of which i very much approve of. His voice is very distinctive also, i keep trying to think who he sounds like, but can’t work it out.

AL YOUNG – “Being in your own space can be a positive thing and it can be a negative thing”

Al plays us three songs of what i’d call ethereal acoustic pop – like Coldplay if all their awfulness were harnessed and somehow used to do good in the world. It’s like hearing a song on somebody else’s radio that you try to sing along to, but find you’ve never heard it before. His second song, Africa Dancing, has seven beats to the bar, nice. Two protest songs in Al’s set tonight, mainly because he’s plugging an evening of protest songs that he’s hosting at Forest Cafe on Sunday 14th December. His final song has a hint of good old psychedelic chordal improvisation and Al’s trademark unpredictable chord sequences.

MISTER BROKENTOOTH – “ninety nine names for God, not one of them is ‘father’, for what kind of parent would ask his son to be a martyr?”

Toothy starts with old favourite, Hold Fast, he gives us a spirited rendition as usual, i’m always impressed by his ability to be about twice as loud as everybody else. He’s a bit tired tonight, but this doesn’t detract from his performance, instead he incorporates it into his style. Toothy’s a Scottish bluesman. He doesn’t sing blues in an och-aye-the-noo accent or dress in tartan, but he does play blues, instead of mimicking the American mode of blues he puts his own life experience into his music, which really is what blues is about. His final song, Summer Rose, breaks the mould a little, acoustic pop with Toothy’s usual broken vocals. Somehow nostalgic. The first half’s like hearing a Billy Bragg song sung by Tom Waits, and the second half’s like hearing a Black Crowes song sung by, well, Brokentooth!

AILEEN – “I’m a ghost in the queue at Haddows”

Tonight’s only first timer i think. Lovely voice, lovely songs. The first song was quite mysterious and curious. Aileen’s got a lovely voice. As she’s playing her second song, Nobody’s Daughter, i’m thinking she sounds like Tanya Donnelly if she was from Glasgow. That’s definitely a good thing in my book. More nice acousticness with the third song, and this time it’s mysterious and curious, but also slightly insidious. Also, maximum points for using the word “dystopia” in a song.

MILO – All day i’ve been sitting here waiting to be given some work that is humiliating.

Later on this evening, Milo will win a much coveted OOTB T-shirt in tonight’s raffle but for now, in these early innocent hours, he plays us some interesting music. He stops during the intro to his first song to comment “That was obviously wrong”, and then carries on immediately, into a song reminding me of 80s ska, like The Specials or the Beat. Second song was the hit single out of this set, in my opinion, I’m Not Your Mailman, plenty of interesting tempo and pitch changes and imaginatively written too. It’s almost like he’s doing all his own backing vocals as well. More tense depressingness for the third song (and i mean that in the nicest possible way). “You’re going to want your money back when you find out what’s wrong with me” he sings, well i didn’t think there was anything wrong with him, myself!

NYK STODDART – “Ho ho ho, secret Santa”

Nyk does a quick squashee (what a word!), and sings his Syd Barrett style song about Christmas in Edinburgh. Also featuring surprise (even to him!) special guest Robbie Sprout-Cranberry on bongos (yes, very seasonal). Everybody sang along of course, well you would. Life’s too short not to.

*** NICKY CARDER *** – “What we do we just do and I don’t know why we do, we just do”

Nicky is tonight’s featured act, and i for one am very pleased about that. Nicky’s really impressed quite a few people since appearing almost from nowhere a very short time ago. She’s got a lovely voice. This is the sort of honest voice i think pop singers should have. She has lovely songs too, full of syncopation and interesting chord voicings, setting the scene for Nicky’s huge vocal delivery. Nicky’s second song, Ice Cream, could be my favourite of hers, but it’s tough to decide. As i said she keeps up the quality the whole way through her set.

Her third and fourth songs, Pacing Shoes and Your Words, come and go and she maintains her power throughout, managing to move effortlessly up and down her dynamic range. She’s no slouch in the rhythm department either, with several of her songs changing rhythm quite effortlessly. Everything’s there, all the ingredients. This is the sort of thing that Radio 1 should be playing. The fifth song, Trees, had some crazy augmented or suspended chords in there. Nicky’s songs remind me of my favourite songs from back when i was still young!

Powerful + Honest = Impressive. I could have listened to Nicky Carder for another half hour yet with no complaints to be honest, but the show must go on.

YOGI – “The inner rage is inside of me, getting higher in intensity”

Go on it does, with a squashee from Yogi, he attacks his song, Prevail, playing lots of interesting suspended chords and other curious things. This is a triumphant no nonsense rock song on one acoustic guitar. Good stuff

ROB SPROUL-CRAN – “She thought my piety would last and she was wrong”

Rob Sproul-Cran in 2006

Rob Sproul-Cran in 2006

Possibly tonight’s quietest performer. He starts off with a groovy swing number, but done in Rob’s signature minimalist style. Everybody’s rapt, but somehow i want to hear a screaming electric version of this. Maybe that’s a sign of good songwriting. His second song, I See Stars, was written tonight while Nicky Carder was playing! That does impress me. There’s actually been quite a lot of “improvisation” at OOTB recently, and i certainly applaud it, honing a song actually in front of an audience. Well, that’s what you’d do in your actual bedroom, so why not bring it out of the bedroom to… well, Out of the Bedroom? Anyway, the song’s lovely, but it does veer precariously close to Coldplay at times, but not in a bad way.

SAM BARBER – “There ain’t no millionaire made it by playing fair”

Sam Barber regales us with pop ditties from a land where guitars smile but singers know life’s bitterwseet aftertaste. I detect the ghost of Ray Davies in here too, and possibly Donovan as well. All his songs are good, his second song, Equals, is a protest song, a good few of them being played tonight now i think of it, nothing wrong with that, quite the opposite in fact. I wonder if all these protest singers are popping along to Forest on the 14th of December. A solid performance from Sam.

MARTIN – “The stratosphere won’t let me know how it was born. The alphabet is less complex, but I use it more”

Martin’s stuff is a bit weird. Not weird bad, and not even weird inaccessible, but weird in a sort of indefinable way. You can’t actually hear why it’s weird, it just sort of suggests weirdness somehow. That’s great though, for me weirdness is a prime ingredient for a performer and/or songwriter. Spread the weird, i say. His first song’s about the aplhabet. Lovely Bert Jansch style fingerpicking and a nice harmonised chord progression. I’d like to hear this played by a duo, just to see how it could be developed. His second and third are just as good, and just as imaginative as the first, the third one being quite bluesy. Imaginative is the word with Martin, actually. His second song’s a bittersweet tale about a laughing asthmatic, for instance. Don’t go away, Martin, you’re good.

TICA DOUGLAS – “Nineteen years old is the perfect age to give your old heart a thrill!”

Tica’s a relative newcomer and yet somehow it’s almost like it wouldn’t be OOTB without something from her! Anyway, she plays a squashee (!) song, Five Years Isn’t Bad, that she wrote on the piano, and which she plays standing up (a first for Tica at OOTB) on the guitar. Hadn’t heard this song before and it’s a little different from her usual, though still recognisably Tica. Jolly, nice long lines, clever song construction, bouncy accompaniment, smooth vocals. Tica comes across as a relaxed and confident performer. she recently threatened to go back to the USA but i think somebody must have blackmailed her to make her stay, which is no bad thing.

HENRIK AND CONRAD feat DOCTOR BARNEY – “I’m red like the devil, I’m blue like the sea”

No messin’ stompy jugband bluegrass rhythm and blues, including some great blues harp, played with real feeling, as well as some highly extravagant rug cutting, and special mention must go to the excellent tambourine playing. the amount of times i’ve heard a tambourine actually being played well in my life can be counted on one hand, but that number’s increased by one tonight, good stuff. Sometimes a bit ragged, these guys really make it work for them rather than against. A nice skiffle combo, they really get it going.

CALUM CARLYLE – “You were the one true thing that i could believe in”

I finished up the night with three songs, and when i’d come offstage i found that Jonny Pugh had helpfully reviewed me as i performed! So here’s what he had to say about me:

1)Living Proof, Nice to hear with a fresh audience who really appreciated the whimsical lyrics. Well delivered by Calum tonight, guitar work had some nice embellishments which sounded delicate high up on the fretboard. The song works particularly well because of the elegant musical backing.
2) The Sound of Falling in…, This song washes over the listener with a beautifully warm timbre. The lyrics speak of an aching loss made all the more poignant. Emotional honesty on show, “I wanted to be there just to see you smile”. Peaceful music, anguished lyrics.
3) Ain’t Gonna Look Back, Foot tapping stuff, quick pentatonic runs lending a bluegrass feel to the intro. Sense of emancipation in the lyrics matches the excitable guitar work, which shows off both Calum’s dexterity but also his ability to craft a catchy melody.

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OOTB 323 – 20 Nov 2008

Posted 20/11/2008 By admin

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The Weather Underground kick us off tonight with a song about the singer’s
“girlfriend’s orgasm” amongst other things. The violin (or viola, I can
never tell the difference) provides a piercing introduction, while the
chord alternates between hammered on chords. I thought the double
stopping towards the end thickened the sound well, and maybe could have
been used a bit more. Their second entitled “Matter of Time” begins with
some intricate interplay between the guitar and the violin’s pizzicato,
before exploding into a thumping, rock riff, and lyrics about the
“passions of youth”. The singing style is unique, in restraining itself
where others would turn to shouting the lyrics, and it works well here.
They finish with “Father Forgive Them”, which had some interesting lyrics
such as “The Government deals with the devil’s hand”, over the contrasting
staccato chords on the guitar and the flowing violin line. Enjoyable start
to proceedings.

Sam Barber gives us a quick squashee performance with new song “Catch”,
which is (quite fittingly) very catchy indeed. “I wouldn’t want a piece of
your shadow” he sings over confident strumming. I think this would work
well with a band, but the songs stands well in solo performance as well.
Would have liked to have heard a few more, and I hope that I will soon get
the opportunity to do so at OOTB soon.

Calum Carlyle The newly appointed webmaster begins with an instrumental
entitled “walking through the shallows”. It has quick sequenced runs
through the scales which showcases Calum’s proficient technique, without
descending into over indulgence and keeps a fine melody as well. I
particularly enjoyed the brief allusions to an augmented chord in some
parts. Next, Calum takes to the mic and belts out “Drinking and Driving
(My Car)”. This is a real bluesy number, it almost has a show tune quality
to it. Whatever, it had the audience feet tapping and finger clicking.
Calum has a great voice for this sort of thing, and can reach the falsetto
notes most proficiently. Finally, we hear the techno influenced “Acid
Test”, which shows a different side to Calum’s guitar playing, using
intelligent chord voicing to build up a menacing sound, whilst he laments
“I still need you”. Cracking.

Colin Milne This is a first for me…. Colin is taking to the stage without
his world famous glute!! Instead we are treated to some songs on a nylon
string guitar. “Lunchtime” tells the tale of a gentleman’s affair with a
younger lady. Colin really is adept at creating pictures of the story in
the listener’s head, with great humour as well. “Folks I didn’t mean to go
that far” sees Colin put on an outrageous American accent for some lines,
as we hear of a farmer who had 6 daughters and….well I’m sure you can
guess what happens. Peals of laughter ring out as Colin assures us that
“when I climbed into that car/ I didn’t mean to go that far”. His last
sees Colin revert to “granddad” tuning (brilliant), and a song more
serious in tone entitled “The Attic of the Mind”. Here he sings of certain
thoughts which are best left in the metaphorical attic, such as “The
things you’ve done, you’ve left undone.” Colin carries this off possibly
even better than his more comical material, which given the laughter in
the room previously is no mean feat.

Darren Thornberry Our illustrious chairman takes to the stage for the
first time in quite a while, and shows us immediately what we’ve been
missing. He begins with an absolutely mesmerising a capella, whose lilting
melody would be enticing, were it not sung in such anguish. “Where is the
substance to this abuse?” he asks. This sort of thing requires a powerful
voice, but also exceptional control, and Darren pulls it off superbly. For
me, and I’m sure many others, definitely one of the most memorable
performances I’ve seen at OOTB in quite some time. To follow, Darren
accompanies himself on guitar with a gentler song, with real pathos: “The
wind is without mercy and maybe so am I” he contemplates. The song is
peaceful, which contrasts the sadness in the lyrics effectively. His last
uses a nice descending sequence on the guitar as sings “I just wanna walk
with you/ why is that so hard to do?”, which sounds more like frustration
than desperation. A really top set from Darren, hopefully much more of
this to come now he’s back with us!

Rosie Rosie describes herself as “an almost open mic virgin”…I only wish
that I could manage the vocal control she does tonight some day, let alone
after my first few performances. The chords are gently strummed with the
thumb, which provides a tender backing to the warning that loaded words
are “much to dangerous to let out on their own”. Her second is called
“Nothing to Fear”, which has a more rhythmic feel to it, with some nice
diminished chords knocking about. After a dramatic recall to the stage,
Rosie leaves us with a song about “Letting Go”. The descending major,
major 7, major 6, chord sequence adds an enticing quality to Rosie’s soft
vocal, which complements lines such as “I know that its right, but its so
hard to do” well. A superb (almost) debut, and I hope that Rosie will
return in a matter of weeks rather than years this time!

Furious George 19 April 2005

Furious George 19 April 2005

Furious is up next with a quick squashee performance with “feelings define
our chemistry”. The song is forceful in spite of the sparse arrangement
given Furious strong vocal. Some good lyrics on show as well, I
particularly liked the idea in the line “speak to me visually”.

Tica (Featured Act) Tica really is one of the most unique performers on
the circuit at the moment, so it was a pleasure hearing her give us an
extended slot. She begins with a new song which demonstrates her
inimitable lyrical and vocal style, the conversational approach mixing
acute observations with fine storytelling. Not many can write a song about
being mistaken for an Australian by a drunken punter. Really liked the
‘favourite book’ motif as a lyrical device. “Hip Hop” sees Tica sing over
a quick staccato riff, (which, by the way, is much more difficult than
Tica makes it look). Again some great lyrics (“its not that I’m unhappy/
my life just feels too planned“), which begin with the banal, (discussing
music taste), before exploring heartbreak and relationships, and back
again in one effortless swoop. Her third is a new one, which is a
monologue over syncopated picking, and rhythmic slaps on the guitar. The
long sustained chords of the chorus offer a good contrast, and offers the
song a strong structure. This is followed by “Sandwich” which sees some
good old fashioned strumming, and a fantastic allusion to a Simon and
Garfunkel classic. Again the lyrics are well crafted, describing a day out
to the beach with a crate of coronas (sounds good, especially in deepest
darkest November), a really upbeat, singalong number. “Crazy Bitch” is my
favourite of the set. The bitter words in Tica’s nonchalant vocal is
really effective, and the chorus sounds really pained, but also
incredulous. Again, I am impressed by a lot of the lyrical ideas in the
song, but I am constantly having to remind myself to listen to the guitar
work, which is really quite complex. Her penultimate song is in a slightly
different style which is well placed in the set, singing about karma and
that “it is all about energy”. The set finished with another upbeat
number, about choosing music in the front seat of a car, before Tica
assures herself “things must look up now”. The thing that strikes me when
I listen to Tica is the structural intelligence of the lyrics, which can’t
really be reflected by quoting a few random lines. Whilst most confine
themselves to either straightforward storytelling, or purely confessional
lyrics, Tica is an expert in crossing the boundary between the two. In
conjunction with her unique singing style, this causes the listener to
become totally immersed in her songs. Tonight was no exception, as we
heard a polished, versatile, and thought provoking set.

Not Andy begins with a protest song about those killed in war. Really
powerful stuff as he begs “let no more names be added”. I believe this
refers to a wall in Stafford according to ( not) Andy if I remember
correctly. This is followed by “The Ballad of Bob and Rose”, who make
“sweet music all of the time”. Good for them. This song had a good tempo,
but did sometimes rush the vocal. Really did get the foot tapping though,
and the lyrics told a convincing tale. The set finishes with what I
thought was the strongest song overall, “50 things to do before I die”
about “being pissed off“. This sees (not) Andy let rip with a rockier
sounding riff, and an anger which strengthened the vocal line. “I’ve found
a new website” he sings confidently, before listing the eponymous 50
things. Nice idea for a song, and well delivered.

Henrik (debut). This debutant begins with a song he wrote for an ex
girlfriend. The dom 7 chords lend a bluesy feel to the swaggering punchy
lick. There is a touch of the Jimi Hendrix to the part in which he sings
“It’ll all blow over”. This is followed by “Strawberries and Cream”, which
in spite of the pastoral title, mutates into a menacing, snarling
rant….albeit minus a tuba. This lamentable state of affairs is soon put
right in his final song “A wee waltz”, where a small orchestra of OOTB
members provide a tuba sound at the appropriate juncture (I wish someone
form the bar had walked in at this point). The song itself was written in
the rhythm and style of a waltz, which gives the song an almost cabaret
feel. A strong and memorable debut performance.

Martin Brooks (debut) Martin’s first is about the Bermudan tradition of
catching a shark, and using its oil to tell whether its going to be
stormy….music and cultural education tonight! The song is folky, and
suitably off wall given the subject matter. “White Rabbit” has some
interesting imagery, with lines about “electric fences”, before asking
“have you cast a spell on me?”. Not entirely sure what it was about, but
this may well be the point. His last is about Ospreys (the birds I
presume, not the rugby team), again using natural imagery, over some
delicate runs between the chords. An intriguing performance, and with the
confidence that will come from future outings, I think Martin will develop
into a really unique, quirky performer.

Cameron begins the long line of squashees that finishes the evening. He
plays a song of his brother’s (which I for one can’t complain about) which
is a pleasant listen, and provides a good platform for Cameron’s strong
voice. Don’t know the original, but Cameron gives a hearty rendition.
Would like to hear one of his own soon!

Rosie returned to the stage for the third time of the evening. Her song
has a warm timbre, with a nice spider/fly metaphor. “Have I ever told you
how wonderful you are?”, she sings softly. I can almost imagine this as a
Morcheeba, trip hop sort of song. Nice one.

Toby (debut) Toby gives us a song about a young lady, hope and whiskey.
“Angel’s share” is a cracking lyrical idea for a metaphor about lost love,
and Toby give a really strong performance. From the Ryan Adams school of
songwriters, I hope to hear a full set from him soon.

Nicky finishes the evening with “In Hiding”. This was a really raw,
assured performance. The song would sound great with a band, but tonight
Nicky takes up the stage and the song completely by herself, given the
great power in her voice. She is getting better each time I see her. Look
out for what I’m certain will be an explosive featured act slot from her
in December!

Compere: Jim Whyte
Sound: Daniel Davis

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OOTB 322 – 13 Nov 2008

Posted 13/11/2008 By admin

OOTB 322 – 13 Nov 2008
Performing: Rosie Bell, Nicky Carder, Ross Neilson, Duncan, Pip Robinson,
Lorraine McCauley, Calum Haddow, Nyk Stoddart, Charlie Scuro, Steven
Lundy, Johnny Pugh, Freeloadin Frank, Hannah O’Reilly.

Rosie Bell
“Sally picks up her notes and puts them in a pattern” What a fine way to
begin. Rosie talks of the ‘American Golden Age’ in a manner half
reminiscent of between Tom Lehrer. ‘Hallelujah’ is a biting attack on
those who murder that song – “Leonard Cohen would tear his hair and scream
and moan.” She finishes with ‘Always Never’, which is, I think, a metaphor
for a long journey. Much like the mic stand, as it moves inexorably
downwards during Rosie’s set.

Nicky Carder
She improves every time I see her. “Swear I met you, swear I knew you
before”, she sings. Time and tempo changes are becoming more fluid with
more performances, and her voice goes from a whisper to full-on roar. Her
second song is a fairytale rooted in real life – “there was a boy who
lived in a bouncy castle.” Her last highlights a vocal control for pitch
intervals. This girl needs a Featured Act slot sometime soon, methinks.

Ross Neilson
“Have you ever felt the darkness?” he croaks. I don’t think he means the
band. I hope not. Ross sings with a hoarse voice that certainly adds
passion and character, but it’s clear it’s not his own. He might be losing
some authenticity unnecessarily as a result. His second sounds like
pounding Smashing Pumpkins “Running faster all of the time”. He could
afford to shave a verse off for impact. His voice remains angry to the
last.

Duncan
‘Crown of London’ is a soothing folk piece. “I was singing softly, proud
as a young man can be.” And so he was. He follows this up with the first
contender for dirtiest song of the night – ‘The Four Whores of Baltimore’
Crude doesn’t quite do it justice. He finishes with ‘Black Douglas’, a
historical epic of a song – “Horses charge down, horses fell.” And “I’m on
the road to Jerusalem”. The crusades retold as they were – rampaging
zealot hordes. In an acoustic world where ‘Folk’ gets bandied around more
than it should, this set truly was, and all the better for it.

Pip Robinson
She shows us what a covers night is all about – making a song your own. I
don’t think anyone expected Nirvana’s “…Teen Spirit”, but Pip’s version is
enchanting. Drawing out all the dark emotion of the song, by the end I can
scarce remember the original.

Lorraine McCauley
“A great big hole in the middle of my life shaped just like a heart” So
she sings on a Karrine Polwart number. I’m afraid I didn’t know the
original, but it compliments Lorraine’s voice well. ‘Haunt Me’ is her’s,
though, and on lines like “Her angels shrugged in fear”, succeeds in being
bewitching and spooky. The guitar tick-tocks. Her last sounds like a
music-box twinkling, but the normally soft vocals get to breathe here.
‘Light in the darkest corners’

Calum Haddow
A tender offering. “We do what we can”, he sings. This is supposedly a
cover, called ‘Still Alive’, but to be honest it sounds like someone must
have tried to write a song in the style of Calum Haddow, so fitting is it
to his delivery. The perfect mix of dark humour, heartfelt lyrics and all
sorts of timbre is entirely Haddow territory.

Nyk Stoddart
‘Burn like a Calypso’ Not only is the title, but also the least surreal
lyric from one of Nyk’s latest efforts. I’d love to tell you what it’s
about… I have no idea. ‘Fake jazz’ is more obvious – a coruscating
piss-take of self-indulgent playing at its worst. I can’t help but feel he
needs to be even more OTT to carry off the joke, though. He ends with a
bizarre version of ‘Knockin on Heaven’s Door’. Bizarre in its straight
delivery. I think everyone was waiting for him to mash it up, but as a
standard telling, it certainly had the melancholy.

Charlie Scuro
New to me and, I think, to the night. Charlie mixes biting lyrics with
blistering guitar play. He uses his own nylon string, and to good effect.
All to often, these are made to sound like second-best steel string, but
not here. There’s a running debate on who had the dirtiest lyrics that
night, but given that one of Charlie’s more publishable ones is “Girl, I
couldn’t be happier than when you’re on your hands and knees,” you suspect
he’s in with a shout. He finishes with ‘Gonna build the biggest bomb,’
which is brave and satirical, and way closer to the bone than most would
dare. You can guess what its about.

Steven Lundy
Given that Steven has travelled all the way from California just to play
at OOTB, I hope he felt welcome. ‘Mama rock me’ is a strummy country
number that deals with the epic journey of crossing the US. He follows it
with one which, as its covers night, I have to mention sounds identical to
Rocky Racoon. He’s usually with a band, though, so I have to think that
would help to disguise such similarities. His last is enjoyable and upbeat
– “She and he were meant to be.” Hope we see more of this guy.

Johnny Pugh
Again making a song entirely his own, Johnny takes ‘Build me up,
Buttercup’, and tells it like the wrist-slitting goth anthem that it truly
is. It raises some giggling from the audience to start, but as the song
progresses you do get what he means – its pretty depressing stuff. So, I
think he walks the humour/melancholy tightrope ably. His next and final
offering, however, had me straight-out weeping. Tears of laughter, that
is. Never ask Johnny Pugh to sing Enrique Englesias’ ‘Hero’ and not expect
to wet yourself a little bit. Quality.

Freeloadin Frank
Treats us to ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’, and he garners easily the finest
audience participation of the night. Who’d have thought? Enjoyable, as
ever, from the freeloader.

Hannah O’Reilly
She closes with ‘Yesterday’, but her own, not the cover. Nice jazz chords
match a finger-clicking rhythm. We end the night on the soon-to-be classic
that is ‘Killed a Man’. I once tried to harmonise from the audience on
this one and came off like a ten-year old. This tune has more balls than
The Hoff, and Hannah lets rip. A fine end.

Sound – Big Jim
Review – Rob S-C
Compere – Daniel Davis

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OOTB 321 – 6 Nov 2008

Posted 06/11/2008 By admin

OOTB 321 – 6 Nov 2008

Now, the review from this week, brough to you by Steve Osborne, who is
brought to you by Calum Carlyle, who is…

OOTB 321 Out of the Campfire

Hi there, Calum Carlyle here, reporting on Out of the Bedroom number 321,
on November 6th 2008, or as it may become known “Out of the Campfire
episode two”. I think there were about ten people in total, including the
performers. At half past seven we decided not to bother with the PA, and
we all sat round a table and had a jolly good sing song. Satsumas were
consumed by anyone who wanted one and at the last minute, I asked Steve
Osborne to write the following review (and I’ve put the myspace links for
all the performers for those of you who missed this gem of an evening).
Don’t be too shocked but we actually played a few covers and
collaborations once everyone had had a shot at playing, but don’t worry
nobody dragged out Wonderwall or Redemption Song, though there was a
version of Sultans of Swing and I’m sure I heard the intro to Hallelujah
at one point…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. Freeloadin’ Frank
http://www.myspace.com/freeloadinfrank
Frank began with a sprightly political song concerning bloodshed and
bullshit (what you can easily get with politicians), then followed it with
a love song (nice contrast), although it was about Scully from the
X-Files…..?! ‘Paranormal’ rhymed with ‘hormonal’? His third song then
had it in for Rupert Murdoch, which is fair enough….

2. Marcie’s New Haircut aka Kieron
http://www.myspace.com/marciesnewhaircut
Marcie’s first song (his newest) was intriguing focusing very much on the
words, but seriously, his second (his oldest) was utterly bizarre but
funny. The third, ‘Dream’, just as bizarre and including whistling,
rounded off his set – could be described as oddly whimsical.

3. Sophie Ramsay
http://www.myspace.com/freeloadinfrank
Incredibly childlike music that sounds like it’s from another time.
Imagine Rose or Valerie of the Incredible String Band doing their own
songs. Quite remarkable.

4. Rob Sproul-Cran
http://www.myspace.com/robsproulcran
Rob plays us a delicate folkie piece with high-pitched vocals, ‘Stealing
Away’.

5. Calum Carlyle
http://www.myspace.com/calumcarlyle
First an intricately constructed piece – ‘Sleepytime’, which goes from
softly sleepy to loudly awake, fittingly. Followed by a vibrant,
rhythmically varied piece with some very unusual chords. Like Davey Graham
on acid. Lastly an extremely frenetic, strangely chorded piece, ‘Sex (it’s
a dirty word)’ which gets aptly orgasmic very quickly. Ear grabbing stuff.

6. Johnny Pugh
http://www.myspace.com/twocarvedstones
Firstly, a folkie song which Johnny puts his own individual stamp on
making it a bit less Paul Simon-esque than it would have been, followed by
‘Splinter’, a more emotionally “confessional” piece.

7. Pip Robinson
http://www.myspace.com/piprobinson
Pip plays us two movingly melodic songs with heartfelt vocal delivery.

8. Calum Haddow
http://www.myspace.com/calumhaddow
To this listener, an original oddball eccentric. The air smelling of snow?
Second song ‘no one gets left behind on my watch’. Very funny and hugely
memorable.

9. After the break, including Nyk Stoddart
http://www.myspace.com/nykstoddart

After the break there was a cover version (!) from Rob, Calum Carlyle
doing his Nyk-inspired ‘My Penis is a Gyroscope’ and ‘Politics, Politics’
(an early song of his). Frank (for me excruciatingly) did Pete Seeger’s
‘If I Had a Hammer’. God, I hate that song! Nyk then arrived and did a new
song ‘Surprising’, which was rather. Calum Haddow continued, as quirky and
oddball as always, with a jaunty cover, then Kieron again with an amusing
cover this time, and finally Frank finished the evening off with one of
his own songs.

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OOTB 320 – 30 Oct 2008

Posted 30/10/2008 By admin

OOTB 320 – 30 Oct 2008

A very warm welcome back, and congrats in his new apointment, to Mr Darren
Thornberry, who fittingly provides the review this week…

Out Of the Bedroom 30 Oct 08
============================
Ian Sclater, Ross Neilson, Ms. Fi, Norman Lamont, Broken Tooth, Main act:
Alistair Kilgour, Duncan Drever, Wahid, John Fink, Steve

Ian Sclater takes the listener on a sentimental journey. Is he plucking
heartstrings or guitar strings? “Days Go By” is a tale of four seasons
represented by characters like Dr Winter, who pronounces Autumn dead. I
know this imagery is true when I step outside at the break. Brrrr! “This
Time Around” is a strummy number that asks for second chances and promises
to do things different.

Get Ross Neilson to tell you the funny story about the lyrics in “Change
of Heart.” No spoilers here. Anyway, his marquee title goes down strong;
then he moves on to a first-time-playing-live-ditty, “Heavy Head.”
Something feels wrong and it might be that the chorus has him singing and
playing in very different keys. Anyhoo some fine-tuning will put it right
or maybe it’s just my hearing is going. Ross’ last song, a sad outing,
turns a cool phrase about every time the sun bled in her eyes. I like it a
lot.

Fiona Thom aka Ms. Fi makes me want to waltz to “Afterglow.” Number two
is a short song, so short that I miss taking notes while distracted by
someone speaking to me. “Rise” is a song we all need to hear at 6 a.m.
when the alarm sounds. Great song about an everyday morning done with a
hint of joy, like when toast pops up to greet the day.

Norman Lamont dazzles with Ms. Fi on percussion, BGVs and bass. His songs
wink mournfully, pregnant with irony, and Norman sounds a bit like Mark
Lanegan but with a better voice. Tonight he’s playing songs from his new
album, “Roadblock,” and the barnburner is “When I Came Home From Egypt.”
This song is badass. Norman is a very engaging singer whose knowing lyrics
definitely punch a hole. If this review seems particularly rosy, then
you’re getting my point. Above average set, with groovy bass by Ms Fi, and
songs from a worthy new album.

Taking the moral high ground, Broken Tooth announces that his new cd will
be available for one night only, at Secret Cds this week, and that all
proceeds will be given to Amnesty International. So stick that in your
rainy day fund! Toothy rips into “Riding on the Rail” and before you know
it you’re mixing it up with hobos somewhere outside New Orleans.
“Borderline” begs you to think about Jimmy Paige with some beefy riffs and
would be an absolute scorcher on electric guitar. I like the line about
going out to the ocean to let the tears roll down. I would like to do
that.

MAIN ACT: ALISTAIR KILGOUR

“Letter” has a gorgeous instrumental intro, so long in fact that I briefly
believe it to be its own song. The lyrics, about a letter of application
and how there’s no going back once it’s read, are surely metaphor and I’d
be curious to know what’s under there. Next “Woodland” is a touching song
that promises it would take snow-capped mountains to keep the writer from
the object of his desire. There’s a true instrumental thrown in now, very
fast and furious, and the audience loves it. (Also the room is packed.)
The next three songs serve up well-placed key changes, great lyrics and a
dynamite finishing instrumental flourish. Alistair is a sound guitarist
and may as well consider this OOTB gig the first of his Scottish tour.
Then, the world.

Hullo Duncan Drever, singing a folk tale of sorts called The Black
Douglas. On first hearing The Black Douglas is on some sort of pilgrimage
and seems to be a pretty self-aware guy. A quick glance at Wikipedia … the
Black Douglas is none other than Guid Sir James, soldier and cohort of
Robert the Bruce who fought in the Scottish Wars of Independence. Pretty
sweet. Clever song. There’s also a tune about being lonely for his Orkney
Islands. I really dig the word pictures … sailing ghosts, ancient cliff
face … and I love the line about “shuffling home when I have nothing.”
Duncan Drever impresses. He’s flippin’ tall, too.

Wahid the Squashee. Man this cat has some energy. It’s bluesy, reggae-ish,
aggressive, and uplifting. A rallying cry to “our people” to get up, free
your mind and find a reason to keep believing. Fair enough. The OOTB
audience eats it up.

John Fink is competing now with some chatty folk, but he holds ground. His
second song is cool. “Put things back, put them right. Things will turn
bad if you don’t.” I’m a bit frustrated for John because we’ve reached
that very unmagical time of night when people start buggering off mid
song. All in all great potential and I hope he comes back and gets an
earlier start. John’s third is a well-played, lovely tune.

I think Steve is a bit surprised that there’s time for him to play, but
here he comes like a sardonic court jester. He’s funny, but that doesn’t
make him funny, if you know what I mean. His songs go for the big-chorus
jugular. Sample topics include sleeping till he’s dead, pulling s*** out
of pensioners’ bums, and a hatred for smelly deadlocks. I can’t do the
tunes justice here – you really need the context. When Steve finishes, I
rattle off a thank you and goodbye, but there’s nothing more to say,
really.

Review/Compere: Darren Thornberry

Sound/Tech: Malcolm Mclean

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OOTB 317 – 9 Oct 2008

Posted 09/10/2008 By admin

OOTB 317 – 16 Oct 2008
============================
Sam Barber, Neil Watson, Ross Neilson, Nyk Stoddart, Hannah O’Reilly, Dave
o’Hara, Broken Tooth, Gustav Gustav Gustav Holst, Bill Philip, Calum
Carlyle, Johnny Pugh, Sophie Ramsay, Stewart Maclenan and Graham McLeod

Sam Barber
‘Breadline’ is timely angst, economic or otherwise – “when those who win
rely on us to lose.” The words are spat out over chunky, aggressive
guitar. ‘The Choice of Heracles’ is not a Greek epic, but is more rousing
folk anthem “Easy to turn a new leaf, harder to plant a tree.” I don’t
remember Heracles having to plant trees, but whatevs. It’s been a wee
while since Sam graced our stage, and it’s a pleasure to see him back.

Neil Watson
Likewise with this chap, who begins with ‘Candlelit Wood.’ A hoarse voice
hovers over sparse strumming. ‘Alone’ is a song of extra-denominational
love pulling apart other relationships – “I can’t believe you let us stand
alone, now she’s gone.” Romeo and Juliet, basically. “You want us to make
it,” he protests on his last one. Ah – a good old tale of lopsided love.
When so often its passion that gets lyricised, it’s nice to see a bit of
apathy as song.

Ross Neilson
His style has been evolving over his time at OOTB, the performance more
polished, while the delivery harsher. He holds a long, raspy note for
effect, and lyrically, it’s about release – “high enough so I can ease my
mind.” High in the general sense, of course. “I don’t know bout Sunday
nights without you,” from his second, a slower tune that makes more of his
vox, which is improving. “I’m searching for an answer I’ve tried so hard
to find,” he sings on his last. Quick, get that man a self-help course.
Anyone have the number for a Buddhist retreat?

Stoddart
Manic plucking (not chickens, mind) is counteracted by lyrics of the
everyday – “when I’m on the phone, talking to you.” Interesting
combinations, though I prefer his more obscure stuff. Speaking of which,
when his second song includes such pragmatism as “it could be worse… I
still have my hands”, then you know you’re onto a winner. Such is ‘How I
met myself’. He ends with the crowd-pleasing Green Monkeys. He’s got a
schism in his prism, don’t you know.

Hannah O’Reilly
Just a squashee tonight, so I’m delighted when it’s a new offering – what
the night is all about. In fact, this is its first ever outing. “You were
a comfortable stranger, til you damn well knew me too well.” Clever lyrics
and an original theme. Soaring vox completes the package. It’s a keeper.

Dave o’Hara
He’s like one of those farts you used to do at school – silent but deadly.
Dave treats us to nylon-stringed instrumentals, on those rare occasions he
deigns to oblige. Cap down, eyes on the fretboard, his first is Spanish in
flavour. His second builds from simple, single note melodies. Timing has
to be precise with such a sparing arrangement, and is. It sounds like
Crocodile Dundee. His last, ‘Arabian Nights’ is tense and evocative. I
feel like I’m in the Aladdin Disney film. Where’s that monkey gone?

Broken Tooth
“I’ve lost my faith in love”, he sings. Sorry to hear that from such a
fresh-faced lad. Hope he recovers soon. Harsh muted strums cloud his next
– “you’ve got me weak in heart, so weak in the brain.” It seems to be
called ‘Going to the ocean’, but I’ll have to listen for more clues as to
why next time. ‘Miller’s Daughter’ is his final, and I must say, I was
most taken by it. Soft and harmonic, with interesting guitar thrown in.
There’s a lot to recommend it.

Gustav Gustav Gustav Holst
The ginger ones yells, “I’m made of dirt and clay and triumph and disgust
and failure…” And it’s all quite breathtaking. No-one puts more into a
performance than Calum Haddow. ‘Tetsuo’ (hope I spelled that right) is an
awesome epic of a land crushed by a lack of love. I think. For take-home
lyrics, look no further than “Wrong, little pig, you’ve gone wrong”, from
his final offering, ‘Death to the Animals.’ Gauntlet down. The depth,
variety of styles, and sheer power astounds.

Bill Philip
A couple of short poems from Bill this evening. The first might even be a
Haiku, and features few more lines than, “I’m angular, she said.” Bill’s
stuff is shrouded in metaphor then let loose. If there was ever a girl to
have said that, I suspect it now means more than it ever did then. ‘The
shortest day’ is a rallying cry never to clock watch, effective for its
attention to detail – “a death before midnight, or a birth just after.”

Calum Carlyle
Voice on top form tonight (for more of that, Calum is Featured Act this
week – do not miss), he squashees-in ‘Don’t go Away’. Calum revels in
taking a finger-twisting guitar part, then layering a howling vocal on
top. Add some audience toe-tapping, and you’ve got yourself some funky
acoustic cake. Probably cheesecake.

Johnny Pugh
The boy is a trooper. Having been highjacked to compere at about 5 minutes
to 8, he had a night of that to get through before playing his own set.
Worth the wait, though. “She comes to me in twilight” sets the tone for a
tale of desperation – “I asked her for rope, she gave me the noose.”
‘Don’t ask me more’, his second, is a timeless ballad with such gems as
“let the broken hearted ones forgive, though they won’t forget.” The trick
is in delivery, and you believe every lyric. The guitar plays perfectly to
the voice – never over each other. ‘Inertia’ continues the ear candy, and
when he sings “this love is unstoppable, when it’s on the way down,” there
is pin-drop silence.

Sophie Ramsay
The first time I’ve seen Sophie, but not the last, with any luck. “Your
soul is gone, and all there is, is body for me to see,” is a fine
metaphor, if it is one, on ‘Reverse Ghost’. Her lyrics are wonderful –
“Brown cow buildings rustle and ruminate and dream” – and all the better
for having some of the clearest enunciation I’ve ever heard on the
acoustic scene. It’s all so quiet and endearing, especially on her last,
‘Sorry’. It’s about apologising for not loving someone back, but put like
this, how would you not forgive? “If there was any sense in my heart, I
would love you, the way you love me.”

Stewart Maclenan and Graham McLeod
“Love, in a mist, surrounds us”, like the harmonies which are used
sparingly, but effectively by this pair. It’s very catchy stuff. ‘One way
street’ is a chilled little number, where the guitars play in harmony.
“Another lovely day spent dreaming,” it goes. Stewart tends to settle on a
decent lyric then go with it for most of a song, which highlights melody
over all else. Just when we relax, they finish with the finger-clickingly
good ‘Living on borrowed time.’ I’m been looking forward to seeing these
guys for some time. Hope they come back.

Compere – Johnny Pugh
Review – Rob Sproul-Cran
Sound – Jim Whyte

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OOTB 316 – 2 Oct 2008

Posted 02/10/2008 By admin

OOTB 316
Ms Fi, Nelson Wright, Tica, Nicky, Paul Hughes, Susanna and Gudrun, Calum Carlyle, The Weather Underground, Broken Tooth, Ross Neilson, Jenny, Kevin O’Neil, Casey Graham

Rob Sproul-Cran needs no introduction, and is on top compering form with musical trousers and all. He kicks things off with “I saw you cry, the day he died”… well I don’t know if that’s it’s name, but it is a beautiful, sparse and empty emotional landscape, over which his fragile voice flows (Rob can belt it out at times, but this seems to be a fragile voice song). Beautiful teary stuff.

Fiona J Thom in 2008

Fiona J Thom in 2008

Ms Fi treats us to two, I thought, new songs, but it turns out they may have been kicking around in a dark corner of her lair for months, nay years. I don’t know why they haven’t been out in the open much of late, because they are some of the best I’ve heard. Wonderful classical-style guitar parts with walking bass-lines and arpeggios and Ms Fi’s trademark Fi-rhythms. “Rise” delves into the grim world of having to get up for work on winter mornings in the dark, and the chaos ensuing from not being able to match up your socks. The second song is probably my fave, with a crisp clear vocal lamenting lost love (i think). It’s beautiful, the combination of guitar and melody. “Seems I’m false again, when I tried so hard to be true”. Truly top quality songstress-ing from the Fi, which literally has the crowd transfixed in silence.

Nelson Wright squeezes one song into a packed evening – “The Dream” is a musical re-creation of that weird confused state we sometimes find ourselves in when we awake from a bizarre dream. It’s atmospheric and other-worldly, with immaculate finger picking and slight discordance resonating through the spoken word verses to create a bewildering, intriguing eeriness which envelops us all.

Tica is relative new-comer to the old scene, and very glad she’s popped across the pond to see us. She has a unique take on the singer-songwriting thing, and I am already a big fan. Her funky little chord progressions and lyrics & vocal style which vaguely reminds me of Stephen Malkmus (Pavement front-man, this is a good thing, he is practically a god) are, well, very cool. Plus she is wearing a sideways baseball cap, which has to be cool. Probably the one of the most memorable songs of the evening is her first, where she asks “does she make you happy / does she make you crazy happy? Cos she’s he craziest bitch i ever knew”. Strong emphasis on the “bitch” bit. I tell you, I’ve had this song in my head for days since. The American twang and apparent randomness of some lyrics (“did we break his brain today?”), and melodies which veer into almost spoken word (but not quite) are refreshing – I recommend you get your hands on her CD!!

Nicky has only been on stage properly twice – this being the second time. She looks so confident, and her voice is so strong, you would never ever guess. She’s never had a guitar lesson but has been making stuff up for years, which results in some inventive guitar playing – not a G, C or Am in the house folks, which is one of the things that appeals so much to me. The first song features some pretty frantic guitar playing, and shows off the power in her voice. I didn’t totally catch the lyrics but there was definitely something about slippers (?!). “Ice Cream”, she tells us, is a kind of fairy tale story about a boy who lived on a bouncy castle and a girl who lived on the edge of time. This is not the sort of thing you hear every day, and it was an intriguing story. Another of my evening’s favourites was the third of her set, which had an amazing guitar riff using unusual chords and seemed to jump around all over the fret-board. ‘We can(’t?) stop the rain from falling’…her voice soars over the crazy chords. I’m sure Nicky will be back, a very promising OOTB debut from possibly the youngest performer we’ve had for a long time.

Paul Hughes is testing out 3 new songs on us tonight – solo rather than with his other half McQuade – who together did a storming featured slot recently. These are all well-constructed songs which don’t give away the fact that some of them or only 2 days old – an assured & confident performance. They all deal with that old love – the first one may be a celebration of new found love “hey hey, you take my breath away”, and the second (“falling”?) seems to be a lost love song – you can feel the pain in his voice, he cant get on his feet again cos he’s falling. Or is it ‘falling in love’? In the third song he asks “are you over me?”. Another heart-felt plead. I know these subjects are re-visited a million times by singer-songwriters, but you can never really have too much of it when it’s well done like this. We’ve all been there.

Susanna and Gudrun et a squashee slot and it’s really nice to have a break from the guitars for a bit, as Susanna takes out her trademark harmonium, and together with some breath-taking harmonies from Gudrun, they set about creating a whole new atmosphere – dreamy, angst-ridden yet beautiful couple of songs. The two vocals swirl around each other, with harmonies drifting in and out. It was hard to catch the lyrics and I wouldn’t like to guess what these were about, but the atmosphere is definitely one of something fairly dark and sometimes intense, yet sometimes gentle and serene. I was momentarily transported to a different world.

Calum Carlyle kicks things off with a bit of a comedy number, for whose existence we can be thankful to the one and only Nyk Stoddart. Nyk provided the title of this song, and Calum defied belief by creating the song, named “my penis is a gyroscope”. Apparently you can get to heaven even if you have a you-know-what – a bit of a revelation for the women in the audience perhaps (kidding). I learned quite a lot during this song, I have to say, I didn’t know a you-know-what had so many uses. The song’s only 28 hours old and he didn’t even forget it! In fact he played with his usual confidence and top quality guitar playing. Second song “The Acid Test” has crazy rock-n-roll strumming and you can hear the drum-kit in his mind. ‘I looked inside your mind, to see what I could find…’ he yells. I’m not sure what he finds, but this is ROCK. Man. Finally the epic “the sound of falling in love at first sight” is a beautiful heart-felt song with an extended intro on the old 12-string. You can see in his face that he means every word… Great to hear this song again, even if he does quite often play it.

The Weather Underground kicks off with “when the morning comes”, a vaguely Dylan-esque vocal style, and perhaps a nod to the man lyrically (‘gotta find a place to shelter form the storm’). I couldn’t quite follow the lyrics but they drew you in – they are intriguing and often random-sounding, with references to Venus and Mars . . . The second song has a nice wee chord riff with stream of lyrics over the top in story-telling style. It seems to be telling someone to go and get “that thing called life”, which could be a lesson to us all. He fits a lot off words into a short song, I’d like to read them all written out to find out what’s going on in these stories! Finally “I think I” … ”might be losing part of my soul” – oh my god, I hope he managed not to lose it. The vocal has hints of Lou Reed here and there. He’s cooool.

Broken Tooth starts with a song he’s been writing on stage rather than with pen & paper, over the last few weeks whilst performing in various places. That’s something you have to be pretty confident to try! But you could never tell this song may not have been fully formed. It has a punchy and confident METAL riff!!! Pretty catch wee riff with stop-starty bits and BT’s crazy lungs yelling out “was not the devil…?” Everyone’s twitching in their seats – you can’t sit still to a song like this, makes you want to be head banging or something. Next song is “Hold Fast Boy”, fast becoming a Tooth favourite, with its epic meandering tale about a ship not sinking yet, and Abraham and Lord Nelson and all sorts of characters popping in. It has a guitar whizzy intro and extended outro and shows off the Tooth’s incredible fret-board whizzery.

Ross Neilson plays a rather nice looking Guild guitar, and sings songs which seem to seek better times & escape from the mundane realities of life… ‘going to a place where I feel I can breathe again’. Quite repetitive and strangely catchy melodies. He’s vaguely reminiscent of Elvis Costello in his second song, where he exclaims ‘you think I’m selfish, but I just want to do it alone’… and it has a ‘lee dee dee’ instrumental singy bit. Never heard such a thing and it induces interest from the audience. It works! People should use random variants of ‘la la laa’ more often! His last song. “sunbled”, continues in a similar vein to the others, and has some hint of Wreckless Eric, I am told. Ross Neilson is definitely becoming a more and more assured performer and his songs are getting more addictive with time.

Jenny was a performer I had never seen before but I certainly hope I will see again. The first thing that got me was the soft and under-stated quality of her vocal, which reminded me a little of Dido. It envelops you in a warm blanket of calmness. Or something. There’s a nice groove to her songs in the rhythm of the strumming. I liked the line ‘she never told the truth but she never lied… she must have been a rebel’. The melodies stick in your mind – I am humming it as I type! ‘Time & Tide’, the second number, has a similar tone to it. Jenny explains it’s about how, no matter how hard the wind blows, the mountain will never bow down to it. Nice metaphor and the song has imagery which transports me to some kind of sea shore with lapping waves on the shore. The last song takes on a flight with dabbled light on our faces. Again, imagery that transport you out of the city and into the air. She sings in her luscious voice about “tingles down [her] spine” during the flight. This song, and her voice, send tingles down my spine!

Kevin O’Neil appears to be a man with a few things to get off his chest. He plays a beautiful looking semi-acoustic orangey red coloured guitar, which survived an earlier incident during Nicky’s set in which it crashed to the floor. Phew thank god it survived! “After the fall of man…” he exclaims “…what is wrong and what is right?”. There’s some big life-changing ‘future of human-kind’ type questions in here. The songs do not reach epic proportions but the lyrical content certainly does. After that cheery stuff he plays a ‘non-autobiographical miserable song’, in which the narrator goes to the bar, and er, gets a drink. Kevin stands stock-still for his whole set. I don’t know if this is nerves, or just the fact you can’t see a damned thing when you’re glaring into the lights on that stage. Either way, he seemed to be starting to relax towards the end, so let’s hope this continues.

Casey Graham is our final performer of the evening, and what a good way to end… he is an assured & quality performer who is new to OOTB, but we certainly hope he’ll be back soon! Another from across the pond, he has only recently come to Edinburgh, and begins with a song he apparently wrote 2 years ago but had absolutely no memory of writing it whatsoever until he came across it that morning. Well we’re glad you found it! Immediately kicks in with some of my favourite picky guitar playing and descending bass-line, hinting at the folk-tradition but definitely with its own thing going on. It’s about the ‘last troubadour on the street’, and there’s a part of him in all of us. Though not a topical singer, he gives us a comedy rendition of “the ballad of sarah palin” who will ‘fight for the right… until all the ice caps melt’. Couldn’t be a better time to sing this song, it’s all over the news, and as Casey rightly points out, he only has a few months in which to sing it! A very insightful and amusing, yet political song. Finally we go back to a theme of tonight: Dreams. In “Dream song” he ‘caught a glimpse of the sacred melody’… again reminiscent of 60s protest singing in style & lyrics with ‘I heard a story of youth revolt and fighting to be free’. This was a brilliant end to a brilliant evening. I hope he comes back.

Review: Lindsay Sugden Compere/sound: Rob Sproul-Cran

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OOTB 315 – 25 Sep 2008

Posted 25/09/2008 By admin

OOTB 315 25/09/08

Calum Carlisle, Mick & Jeff, Tica Douglas, Broken Tooth, Hughes & McQuade, Pan Am, Craig Hood, John Fink, Nyk Stoddart

Calum Carlisle
Calum sports his new baby; a lovely 12(oops 11)-string guitar. His set tonight shows Calum at his most chameleon-like. ‘Piper on Princes St’ is a nationalist song along the lines of Flower of Scotland. (I would argue that Scotland IS a nation although sadly it may not currently be a nation-state. Discuss)
This is followed with no transition by ‘Superglue’ which I rather liked. It is in Placebo territory for the most part with an unnerving chromatic section which is more like Nirvana. And if this wasn’t enough of a change his third is the perennial favourite ‘The Sound of Falling In Love at First Sight’. This is more a mellifluous indulgence in guitar sonority than anything else, but on a 12-string all those rich chords are even more so. Drop-D loveliness.

Mick & Jeff
If you haven’t seen them for a while, Jeff & Mick are just back from Peru and Portobello respectively. M&J apparently have an average age of 70, and if you imagine what they must have listened to as teenagers it will give you a fair indication of their style; blues/boogie/skiffle with Everley Brothers style harmonies. It may not be cutting edge but it has with plenty of entertainment value, and I for one would be well chuffed to sound this good at their age, and obviously still enjoying it “ and we did too.

Tica Douglas (debut)
Tica has just arrived from Portland, Maine. I’ll admit it’s going to take me a few listens as its soo different to anything else around, but a warm welcome to a very distinctive performer. Yep, so she’s younger than a lot of us and has therefore been exposed to very different music – its acoustic and it ain’t R&B, but it is certainly Hip Hop ‘aware’. Imagine a big saggy kick sample behind everything and you won’t be far wrong. She has a conversational style with considerable charm and wit. This music was the topic of much of the evening’s discussion during the breaks.

Broken Tooth

Broken Tooth 18 Dec 2003

Broken Tooth 18 Dec 2003

It is another confident and competent performance from BT, but not on a par with a few weeks ago when I was doing sound and he looked really pissed off at me (probably something to do with my last review) and put all that energy and anger into his performance. So I guess my aim with this review has to be to get him sufficiently riled to put in a better show next time. Here goes.
The blues is (musically speaking) all cliche. Not a good or a bad thing, that’s just what it is. It’s what happens within that framework that counts. Do you have to be black to sing the blues? No, but it probably helps. The power of the blues is in the performance, and is magical when the emotions are and upsurge from a deep personal well of oppression. I just don’t feel this from Jim tonight – sure I bet he does have an impressive knowledge of this genre, I’ve never agued against that, but when you use clichés without that level of passion it always feels like a cover version: competent, but not exciting and not personal. Are you mad yet?

Oh, by the way, ‘what’s a boy supposed to do’ is the best of the set. It’s a 1920s/30s pastiche along the lines of Queen’s ‘Good ole-fashioned lover boy’. It needs a few chord corrections to make the harmony believable, but it made a refreshing change from the blues.

Hughes & McQuade
I’ve only seen this paring with acoustic guitars before, so it’s a nice change to add a bass. Anyone who can play fretless has my admiration, and always seems to attract looks of admiration and hate in equal measures from the audience who can’t imagine life without frets. Too talented by half. This is uplifting sing-along music along the lines of Del Amitri. The problem with performing sing-along music in a pub is that sometimes drunks start singing along. And that was the case tonight as a rather pickled local periodically interrupted the proceedings. Hope you weren’t too put off. His voice has that Travis-like quality of getting better as it goes up. Lovely songs: ‘Walk on’ had everyone reaching for their lighters.

Pan Am (Debut)
A warm welcome to Pan Am on their first performance at OOTB. The songs had an in-yer-face swagger and stomp much like an acoustic Arctic Monkeys. I’d like to see their performance grow to match their material – they seemed a little nervous tonight (we’re really not that scary people) – best keep coming or drink more beer in future. After a few weeks it’ll seem like child’s play. This is the whole point of OOTB giving new performers a platform and dragging fresh material out of hiding. So please keep it up.

Craig Hood
It has been a long time since Craig last played here – too bad, its interesting material you have. Again, playing in public will really help your nerves and help you to perform. 3 interesting songs: ‘Swing’ had an ostinato pattern over pedal notes – it was a little cookie or perhaps psychedelic, ‘Travel House’ had nice classical harmony – this time it was very like Bach. His last song also had nice harmony, this one a more fragile song. Great set overall.

John Fink
John apologises for his finger-picking and has a couple of false starts and I’m wondering if he is too nervous to play, when he reverts to his strumming songs and plays a blinder. His third song ‘You stand to loose’ is the best of the set, I was wondering if it was a Nickleback cover, whilst Calum thought it was Incubus – but no it was a Fink original. John has possibly the best voice of the night; if all his songs are of this quality I’m sure he’ll be due a main slot soon.

Nyk Stoddart
Well it wouldn’t be a OOTB night without Nyk’s presence – he starts by instructing us to ‘listen to my new direction’ and playing some random notes – we all fall for it, be fore he says ‘only joking’ and tears into some favourites. A good way of identifying the OOTB debutantes in the room is by observing their reaction to ‘Gimp Boy’ as they try to ascertain whether Nyk is mad or a genius. Of course, we all look on with nods and knowing glances.

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

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