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OOTB 372 – 10 Dec 2009

Posted 10/12/2009 By reviewer

Dan Collins, Mo-Medicine, Coral, James Whyte, Cat Called Paris, Michael Patrick, Luis.

No review for this evening.

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OOTB 358 – 1 Sep 2009

Posted 01/09/2009 By reviewer

After the hoopla of the Festival Fringe this was a somewhat shambolic but fun OOTB evening. The decision was made not to set up the PA due to lack of numbers at start up, so the acts would have to be good at projecting their voices across the space.

Compere Freeloadin’ Frank ensured the show went on and played three brand new songs which, unfortunately, I missed as I was too late. I also missed Zee Zee, who apparently played a Greek instrument, and Stephen Harrison, who I found on MySpace was part of the Edinburgh art college scene which spawned the legendary Josef K in the 1980s.

Nyk Stoddart played some new material alongside ‘Kitten In A Bong’ and ‘Another Song’. James Igoe was asked to perform and he obliged playing ‘Humanist Wedding’, ‘Cowboy Song 2’ and ‘Braveheart Beggar’. By this point the audience has almost doubled in size, and Yogi played some new material from his new CD, including ‘Slow Down’. Broken Tooth played a mixture of familiar and less familiar material, with ‘Hearts and Spades’ being the standout.

After the break, and a sudden influx of young and curious audience members, Nyk Stoddart played ‘Tombstoning’ and ‘… Zombies …’. The audience members left as we’d run out of fresh performers so a short pass-the-guitar session ensued which was fun but not particularly interesting for the casual punter. After fifteen minutes or so, the bartender called it a night and that was that.

James Igoe

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OOTB 354 – 4 August 2009

Posted 04/08/2009 By admin

OOTB 4th August

A hugely enjoyable night at the the Tron as we experience life upstairs for the first time!

Nicky Carder – Our compere debut kicked us off tonight, however yours truly had had a nightmare tuning the guitar…sorry Nicky. The song however certainly has potential and I look forward to hearing it again!

Matt Norris – The first of many ensembles tonight, and Matt’s is a cracker, treating us to a folky bluegrass romp of a set. The first begins with furious strumming, tagged back by the serene bass line, whilst Dave Law’s trumpet adds a truly rustic sound to the piece. Throw in the tight three part harmonies, and it’s evident that we are watching three highly proficient musicians. Their second has a slightly more intimate sound, which sounds (dare I say it, given their lamentable rarity at OOTB) like a happy song. It has a gorgeous outro, with a simple reiterated line on the trumpet carried along by the guitar and bass, as Matt pleads “Can’t you see I try?”. Their last veers into Fionn Regan-esque territority (if you haven’t heard of him, amend that state of affairs post-haste); the key to the performance from the trio is that they play upbeat songs without rushing, something which is easier said than done. An original and brilliant sound: look out for a featured act slot from these guys soon.

Jen – I’m not certain that I have the correct name here as I was trying to fight my way through the crowd from behind the jukebox as she was introduced (apologies if I’m incorrect). ‘Jen’ has a haunting, lilting voice which is well suited to her gentle songwriting style. The sparse backing of her first truly allows her delivery to shine. Her second has a beautiful melody, effortlessly carried by Jen’s almost nonchalant vocal. The last song also shows Jen has some skill on the guitar with some intelligent syncopated picking. I think that Jen would have benefited from the quieter surroundings of our usual environs, however I was glad to have paid attention to a most enjoyable set.

Hannah O’Reilly  – The key to any performance tonight was to wrestle the attention from the audience and Hannah gives a masterclass in how to do this, opening with a powerful a capella song of frustration. This is followed by “Kill the Man” , a bluesy groove which allows Hannah to showcase her trademark growling vocal. Foot-tapping sassy stuff.

Amy – Amy begins with “Aeroplane”; the hammer-on chords lend a spritzy rhythm to the song which builds into a really catchy chorus. A really controlled performance, with some nice strain in the voice, juxtaposed with some smoothly delivered lines (“we’ll fly off to the moon”). “Break up in Paris” is a song of yearning, a paeon for love lost. The performance is honest, as Amy forlornly sings “if they loved you like I love you”, certainly tugged at the heartstrings! Her last drops into a minor bluesy sound, with applied dominant chord structures and harmonics. It’s a real roof-raiser, and she clearly enjoys the performance as much as we do! Good stuff.

Jump Press A – When Dave had recovered from a small heart attack when asked to sort the sound for these guys, we enjoyed a unique set. Jump Press A could perhaps be described as acoustic nu-metal with a glockenspiel…what’s not to like?! The chromatic shifts of  “You Are” and melodic minor passages lend the song an almost middle eastern air, as the song loses itself in layers of sound. The only thing that could be said is that it would have been great to really hear the vocal really let loose of its restraints and belted out. Understandable though given the hushed vocals we are used to at OOTB. Their second is a really dark number, with some cruel sounding cello lines; “I like you like I need a shot in the head”. A song of dread and hopelessness. “Masquerade” again reintroduces swirling lines of music to a hard rock sound. The glockenspiel, instead of sounding incongruous, gives an interesting counterbalance to the harsh tones of the other instruments. Really enjoyable, and original set.

mayhew (Featured Act) – Tonight was the first time I heard mayhew in their full incarnation and I was not disappointed! “Come Through” is a sublime start; I was particularly struck by the lyrics on this one, the lyrics flow together beautifully. Cathy delivers them expertly, her voice at once sultry then anguished. “Broken Alarms” erupts in the chorus into an aching and evocative melody which washes over the intricate guitar work on the nylon string. “Spin” is my personal favourite of the set and is perhaps the band’s most commercial. The song is constructed by layers of separate musical ideas, which form a delightful whole. The bridge is particularly affecting, seeing Cathy sing “there’s something on my mind” as the music builds around her lamenting vocal. Stunning songwriting. “When Starlings Scatter” is an acoustic epic, you can almost imagine the chorus being accompanied by a full orchestra. Again, some intelligent lyrics on show (“will you teach me how to wait?”), packed full of natural imagery, which is well in tune with the epic sound on this one. “Shallow Water” is a slightly more downbeat song, with a busy jumping vocal in the chorus. It struck me as a mood song, the cello creating a real ambience. Their penultimate was another highlight of the set for me; the guitars are insistent, whilst retaining the intricity of their interplay. The song is one of quiet desperation, the lyrics urgently begging “just say something”. They finish with “Massachusetts” which as well as being one of the most difficult to spell songs that this reviewer has come across, is a song which for me sums up what mayhew do best. This band craft songs of such musical complexity that one can become lost in their sound, yet remain accessible enough to stay long in the memory. Tonight has been a testament to their growing and deserved reputation.

Yogi – Next we are treated to a set from this erstwhile Edinburgh performer. “No Man’s Land” is a palm muted rock song of angst. As ever, the performance from Yogi is wholly committed as he cries “I am stuck in no man’s land”. “Not Far Away” has a slightly more laid back feel, with a pleasant outro; I can imagine this sounding great with a few more layers, which you can probably find on Yogi’s newly released CD. Yogi finishes with “Blood from a Stone”, which sees Yogi sing over quick changing and furiously strummed chords. It’s an angry, and engaging set as ever from Yogi.

Rab – I’m not entirely sure what happened in this 15 minutes of my life but it was the funkiest quarter of an hour in my life. Blues riffs, scat singing, and truly mind blowing guitar playing…I can’t do it justice, you had to be there. Rab, you are a hero, please return one day.

Cameron – Cameron begins with a horrendous foot joke; fortunately for everybody involved the songs are infinitely better. Cameron’s songs are packed full of acute observations and delicate lines; “It’s time to slowly slip away” he almost sighs on his first. His second uses sliding suspended chords to create a flowing feel, which breaks into a pained falsetto in the chorus. Some good lyrical ideas on show; I liked the line “I stayed up and waited for the sky to change”. His last is an upbeat catchy number, which gets the audience’s feet tapping, and is destined to be a real sing along. As I get to know his songs, I’m enjoying Cameron’s sets more and more each time… I look forward to his next one!
review: Jonny Pugh, Sound: Dave O’Hara, Compere: Nicky Carder

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OOTB 352 – 21 Jul 2009

Posted 21/07/2009 By reviewer

It may or may not have been the recent appearances of the likes of Springsteen, Crosby/Stills/Nash or Young, but there was a distinct thread of Americana in the music tonight. With the festival vibe and only one national lager available on tap, the evening could easily have been called T in The Tron!

Unfortunately I missed the majority of Steven Carey‘s set but tonight’s compere Calum Carlyle kindly filled in… “Steven has intriguing lyrics “I’d pull my teeth for your love”. It’s captivating folk music; very sensitive, very dynamic. He has a lovely soaring voice, very pleasant to listen to. He keeps up the wistful folk spell for his whole three songs. Quite slow and mesmeric [drat, Calum – you stole one of my favourite words!], lovely just the same.”

New face Michael played driving rock music on the house Takamine, which featured some unintended house fuzz distortion on his opening 12-bar rocker. It actually worked quite well. ‘Dress So White’ is romantic and reminded me of ‘Tunnel of Love’ period Springsteen. Michael mentioned the sunshine on Leith and I noticed Steven Carey had a song about Leith Walk – a sub-theme to the night, perhaps? The ghost of Johnny Cash haunted ‘Lord Come and Wash Away Our Sins’ – raw and bluesy; an apocalyptic tale of the perils of gambling. Michael was apologetic for some reason – no need it was great stuff.

Mike Barnard chose the smoother Tanglewood house guitar and delighted the audience with ‘You’re Not Around’, his tale of a lost love. Soundman Mally did a sterling job of holding the shoogly mic steady for the song’s duration. Mike’s lively strumming again imbued his second song ‘Oh Oh Oh’ about a girl who’s lost her way (“brother, sister/ someone blow a kiss to her”). Mike kept his best to last with the soft, Neil Young sound of ‘Lonesome Man’ – I felt this was Mike at his most soulful and open (“how’d I get to be such a lonesome man?”).

One of the more intelligent and quirky songwriters on the scene Paul Gladwell was next. ‘Repent and Die’ is a challenging, slightly confrontational lyric (“I’m the one who turns the virgin to the whore/ …I’m the one who takes the hammer to the cross”) and the song rocks, a lot. Switching tack, a romantic ballad ‘But I Won’t’ which I got lost in as the singing was so endearing and the guitar played so consummately. An untitled, dramatic song about being human and in touch with nature (“you are what you are”) ended a most pleasant set from this good friend of OOTB.

After the break came tonight’s featured act Broken Tooth. Having reviewed Mr. Thomson many times in the past I wondered what more could be said but tonight Jim was ON FIRE. Starting off with ‘Sing At My Funeral’ was blues-drenched, rock-fuelled and powerful stuff with a riff-mongous, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink middle 8. ‘Hearts & Spades’, written when investigating Tarot cards, was burning with energy and Jim’s vocal was impressive. The calming ‘Miller’s Daughter’ featured some amazing guitar playing, and I wasn’t the only audience member with eyes transfixed on the fretboard. One of Jim’s older songs ‘Borderline’ was dedicated to his ex and throbbed with raw emotion. The medley with Neil Young’s ‘F**ckin’ Up’ added an extra edge. ‘Hold Fast’, about getting on with life when no one is looking after you, was passionate and almost desperate in its resonance. ‘Muse’s Song’ was mellow, almost poppy, and ended what was probably the most intense set I’ve ever seen from a featured act at OOTB.

Newcomer Ibi didn’t bother with the guitar, or any other instrument for that matter. He didn’t need one – he has an outstanding singing voice. Purely a cappella, ‘This Is Not My Dream’ was written at University and the vocal was as soulful, controlled and confident as anything I’ve ever heard at OOTB. Ibi’s second song was written for his wife in his native language (I’m not sure what language, Ibi didn’t say) and was totally captivating. An amazing debut performance from Ibi.

The young, bearded Ian Tilling last played at OOTB about a year ago but was new to me. Ian’s guitar playing and pleasant singing voice exuded confidence and he was very engaging. ‘Be’ was a warm, welcoming love song with dense, quirky lyrics (“I Love you till the day you drop dead”). Just written last week, Ian’s final song was obviously well-rehearsed because it fitted seamlessly with his more seasoned compositions. I think Ian could do well as a busker as he is a very engaging personality and knows how to put a smile on your face.

David O’Hara won a book from the silver bag of dreams – ‘Cheers My Arse!’ by Ricky Tomlinson.

The legendary Freeloadin’ Frank started with ‘Bluebottle’ (“spreading germs wherever he goes” – a nod to the swine flu epidemic?). The ending of “buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz” and a kazoo is pure Frank. One of Frank’s earlier songs ‘Scully’ got an airing and his passion for Gillian Anderson remains undiminished. A rare serious song ‘Cars’ about the ills of capitalism – written well before the recent stock market collapse – closed an excellent musical trilogy from a precious jewel in the Edinburgh singer-songwriter crown.

Cam Phair was ill in bed all weekend but it didn’t appear to affect his mightily powerful voice. Cam started with a jazzy number – nice – and followed it with ‘Welfare Staying In’. This was a song about being on the dole, which he rightly said is something most musicians have experienced. The energetic final song ‘No One To Follow’ was full-on, uninhibited joy. Cam’s is a very engaging performer whose personality gets people onside immediately. Cam is getting better every time I see him and I hope to see and hear more soon.

A chap called Harry had left the building, which allowed Graeme Laird to step in. Graeme used to play in the early days of OOTB and I don’t think I’d seen him play for years. ‘The World Gets In Your Way’ was consummately executed with some neat jazzy guitar licks. Graeme has obviously honed his talents over months and years playing Nicol Edwards, the Jazz Bar and elsewhere. Cam played bongos on the upbeat, reggae-tinged ‘Queen of Jamaica’ which brought a smile to my face. The Deep South Americana of ‘Easy Chair’ (“kicking back on my easy chair/ with my boots off”) was a great way to end a great, and long-overdue, slot from the excellent Mr. Laird.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that, apart from the Americana theme, there was another constant through the night – no female performers. No backing singers, nothing. Lady musicians – I know you’re out there, all is forgiven! Please come back!

James Igoe

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OOTB 351 – 14 July 2009

Posted 14/07/2009 By admin

It’s a surprisingly populous evening tonight, and a varied one at that. Let’s find out what happened…

Nyk – Nyk starts with a newer song, “Misunderstandings”, which is slightly mystical in a George Harrison kind of way. “Tie my hands underground” he intones. I do think Nyk has become typecast to some extent and so when he plays non-comedy numbers, he’s got a steep hill to climb. In my opinion he’s reaching the summit with this song. Many of the audience haven’t heard Nyk before, i think, and they receive him very well in his non-comedy guise.

His second, “You Are Not Here” is in a similar vein. Looks like Mr Stoddart is embarking on a change of musical direction, into something like prog-folk. He finishes with “Kitten In A Bong” which has almost become 2009’s “Mutant/Killer Zombies”. The audience is strangely sceptical however. I suspect many of them are new to the more traditionally delivered Stoddart experience.

Michael – soft voiced folk songs. His subject matter ranges from joblessness to religionlessness. He reminds me a little bit of Bruce Springsteen, though a little bit more folky, more like John Renbourn? “I like your shoelaces” he croons as he veers towards country music for his third song.  “Is it irrational to bet on all the horses in the Grand National?” – his lyrics give us something new to ponder…

John Watton – He’s back, for one week only, and he’s playing a blinder. “Gamblin’ Man”, his first, spirals through some very interesting multiscalic riffs. His alternately gravelly and smooth bluesman voice is the perfect complement as well. He cranks up several suspicious looking metal boxes with wires in for his second song, and sings us a mysterious blues-folk number. I don’t know whether his boxes were the cause but there were some technical issues with the guitar during this song. John copes well. This song featured a very effective instrumental section, a long dreamy post-prog solo, which got its own round of applause!

He finishes with a bouncy jazz number full of Coltrane chords and modal runs, very good. He’s made the most of his visit North. One day we hope to get John to visit Edinburgh long enough to do a feature slot for us. Stay tuned.

Calum Carlyle (review written by Nyk Stoddart) – “Atom Bomb Song” – I’ve only heard this one once, written for 50/90, you can hear it at http://5090.fawm.org/songs/634/ – it’s an impressive thing to be able to write so many songs in such a short time – but this one has a lot of potential, and I demand to hear this one again. It may seem, as Calum states, a “long gloomy song”, but it’s highly effective at moving my emotions anyways. Next, “The Sound Of Falling In Love” – I’ve always loved this piece, with lyrics anyone can relate to. “I saw you in the moonlight”. Sweet dreams. Nice one, Calum!

Pocket Fox – After a crazy and entertaining introduction Pockets and Fox begin by firmly wiping their behinds on the ‘no covers’ rule with a smile on their faces, though it was highly unique and entertaining to hear their anatomically correct version of “Sweet Child Of Mine” as performed on two ukeleles. Heaven or Hell? You decide. Pockets takes a second to announce the arrival of the world’s most pierced lady, Elaine Davidson, who has indeed just arrived, and who stays for the rest of the evening (unlike Liam Gallagher a couple of weeks ago!).

I was hoping that Pocket Fox would leave it at one cheeky cover, but no, they go on to do a cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Ah Hoo Yah Hin Yah Oh” on two ukeleles. They then actually do have the nerve to finish their set with a version of “Freebird”. It’s a very good version but somehow it seems to besmirch OOTB’s principles to have someone doing a version of “Freebird”. These guys are very tight, very entertaining and great performers. I still think they should stretch their talents to writing some original material though. After all, Edinburgh has 22 open mic nights, and we’re the only one which actively showcases original material. At least three other open mic nights do run on a Tuesday that allow you to do cover versions. I’d hate to think that someone didn’t get a chance to play their own material at OOTB because someone else was busy playing a cover of Freebird. So, Pocket Fox: very very good, but their material simply doesn’t fit the brief.

Broken Tooth – He’s grimacing at having to follow Pockets. “It’s like playing after Spinal Tap” he quips. At least Toothy can write his own songs. He tunes for a minute, then launches into “Keep My Damper Down” with admirable conviction. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, Jim’s a bluesman, who happens to be from Scotland. If the Water of Leith had a delta, that’s where you’d find him, LedZeppelining away on his starvation box. He quickly launches into his octavetastic epic “Sing At My Funeral” featuring a very interesting Indian influenced instrumental break. He’s in good form tonight, though i still prefer his music in the homey environs of the Blue Blazer.

He finishes with “Muse’s Song”. Not blues, but jazz influenced folk. A nice departure of style though i think some of the audience lose interest a little. Maybe they’re more of a rock crowd. You can catch Toothy easing himself into the shape of a feature slot at OOTB next week on the 21st July.

Jen – “You Missed Me” is her first song. She has a nice resonant voice, and she knows how to smile at the audience (which is very important and lots of people don’t do it at all!). This song’s growing on me, this being the third time i’ve heard it. I’d prefer to hear a more varied arrangement for this song though, ideally other musicians, but if not that, i think the song could be very effective if the guitar accompaniment were more dynamic. I’d love to hear this with bongos and a second guitar (or ukelele maybe?).

Her second, “Harbour Street”, is a little groovier, a little bit more Latin. Again i like her vocals, the lyrics (she has some crackers: “buy a police box, paint it pink and sell candyfloss”… good advice!), the melody, but i do think the song could be broken up more with an instrumental bridge perhaps or some finger picking, to give a more dynamic effect. It’d be nice to hear harmony vocals in this one actually. Her third reminds me a little of Four Non Blondes. Clever songwriting but again i’d love to hear more variation in the accompaniment to really set this off.

Yogi quickly begs a capo and starts a good solid singer-songwriter song full of angst and repressed emotion. Excellent! “There’s no point trying to explain, you will never get inside of my brain”, he plays the incredibly-quiet-verse card and people actually shut up and don’t talk over him. Nice work. He goes ahead to play two more honest hard rockin’ acoustic numbers, “If I am evil then so are you” he growls, that’s the familiar repressed bitterness that we singer-songwriters know and understand so well! It’s been a while since i’ve seen Yogi at OOTB, come back soon.

Calum Haddow surprises us by playing a few songs, to a diehard but rapidly dwindling audience at this late hour. I love Calum’s music. His set is all the more vital for the fact that he is emigrating to Australia in a month’s time. He begins with a very emotionally moving version of “Tetsuo”. Calum Haddow really rocks. He should be performing to audiences of thousands rather than dozens. “Death To The Animals” next. Disturbing but excellent. I could listen to Calum H’s music on a much more regular basis, given the chance. A masterful delivery. With a tear in his eye he finishes with “First Aid”, the perfect choice. Very well done.

Charlie Scuro plays on his nylon string guitar with no mic and no amplification. He’s got the goods. He plays us quite a sophisticated jazzy ditty about Armageddon. His second is a bouncy, and accomplished, anti-war song, or as Charlie says “it’s more of an uncle war song”, called, possibly, “Do You Want To Die Today?” or “The Biggest Bomb”. This was really good, with closing line “It only takes an idiot to flick a switch and all of us are gone”.

His last, the final song of the night, is a very clever and jazzy introduction song. Oddly enough Charlie reminds me of a jazzy, acoustic These Animal Men. This song’s equally proficient as his other two, and even includes a little bit of rapping too. Very bouncy.

Compere – Calum Haddow

Sound – Daniel Davis

Review – Calum Carlyle

It’s a surprisingly populous evening tonight, and a varied one at that. Let’s find out what happened…

Nyk – Nyk starts with a newer song, “Misunderstandings”, which is slightly mystical in a George Harrison kind of way. “Tie my hands underground” he intones. I do think Nyk has become typecast to some extent and so when he plays non-comedy numbers, he’s got a steep hill to climb. In my opinion he’s reaching the summit with this song. Many of the audience haven’t heard Nyk before, i think, and they receive him very well in his non-comedy guise.

His second, “You Are Not Here” is in a similar vein. Looks like Mr Stoddart is embarking on a change of musical direction, into something like prog-folk. He finishes with “Kitten In A Bong” which has almost become 2009’s “Mutant/Killer Zombies”. The audience is strangely sceptical however. I suspect many of them are new to the more traditionally delivered Stoddart experience.

Michael – soft voiced folk songs. His subject matter ranges from joblessness to religionlessness. He reminds me a little bit of Bruce Springsteen, though a little bit more folky, more like John Renbourn? “I like your shoelaces” he croons as he veers towards country music for his third song. “Is it irrational to bet on all the horses in the Grand National?” – his lyrics give us something new to ponder…

John Watton – He’s back, for one week only, and he’s playing a blinder. “Gamblin’ Man”, his first, spirals through some very interesting multiscalic riffs. His alternately gravelly and smooth bluesman voice is the perfect complement as well. He cranks up several suspicious looking metal boxes with wires in for his second song, and sings us a mysterious blues-folk number. I don’t know whether his boxes were the cause but there were some technical issues with the guitar during this song. John copes well. This song featured a very effective instrumental section, a long dreamy post-prog solo, which got its own round of applause!

He finishes with a bouncy jazz number full of Coltrane chords and modal runs, very good. He’s made the most of his visit North. One day we hope to get John to visit Edinburgh long enough to do a feature slot for us. Stay tuned.

Calum Carlyle (review written by Nyk Stoddart) – “Atom Bomb Song” – I’ve only heard this one once, written for 50/90, you can hear it at http://5090.fawm.org/songs/634/ – it’s an impressive thing to be able to write so many songs in such a short time – but this one has a lot of potential, and I demand to hear this one again. It may seem, as Calum states, a “long gloomy song”, but it’s highly effective at moving my emotions anyways. Next, “The Sound Of Falling In Love” – I’ve always loved this piece, with lyrics anyone can relate to. “I saw you in the moonlight”. Sweet dreams. Nice one, Calum!

Pocket Fox – After a crazy and entertaining introduction Pockets and Fox begin by firmly wiping their behinds on the “no covers” rule with a smile on their faces, though it was highly unique and entertaining to hear their anatomically correct version of “Sweet Child Of Mine” as performed on two ukeleles. Heaven or Hell? You decide. Pockets takes a second to announce the arrival of the world’s most pierced lady, Elaine Davidson, who has indeed just arrived, and who stays for the rest of the evening (unlike Liam Gallagher a couple of weeks ago!).

I was hoping that Pocket Fox would leave it at one cheeky cover, but no, they go on to do a cover of the Foo fighters’ “Ah Hoo Yah Hin Yah Oh” on two ukeleles. They then actually do have the nerve to finish their set with a version of “Freebird”. It’s a very good version but somehow it seems to besmirch OOTB’s principles to have someone doing a version of “Freebird”. These guys are very tight, very entertaining and great performers. I still think they should stretch their talents to writing some original material though. After all, Edinburgh has 22 open mic nights, and we’re the only one which actively showcases original material. At least three other open mic nights do run on a Tuesday that allow you to do cover versions. I’d hate to think that someone didn’t get a chance to play their own material at OOTB because someone else was busy playing covers. So, Pocket Fox: very very good, but their material simply doesn’t fit the brief.

Broken Tooth – He’s grimacing at having to follow Pockets. “It’s like playing after Spinal Tap” he quips. At least Toothy doesn’t give us any cover versions! He tunes for a minute, then launches into “Keep My Damper Down” with admirable conviction. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, Jim’s a bluesman, who happens to be from Scotland. If the Water of Leith had a delta, that’s where you’d find him, LedZeppelining away on his starvation box. He quickly launches into his octavetastic epic “Sing At My Funeral” featuring a very interesting Indian influenced instrumental break. He’s in good form tonight, though i still prefer his music in the homey environs of the Blue Blazer.

He finishes with “Muse’s Song”. Not blues, but jazz influenced folk. A nice departure of style though i think some of the audience lose interest a little. Maybe they’re more of a rock crowd. You can catch Toothy easing himself into the shape of a feature slot at OOTB next week on the 21st July.

Jen – “You Missed Me” is her first song. She has a nice resonant voice, and she knows how to smile at the audience (which is very important and lots of people don’t do it at all!). This song’s growing on me, this being the third time i’ve heard it. I’d prefer to hear a more varied arrangement for this song though, ideally other musicians, but if not that, i think the song could be very effective if the guitar accompaniment were more dynamic. I’d love to hear this with bongos and a second guitar (or ukelele maybe?).

Her second, “Harbour Street”, is a little groovier, a little bit more Latin. Again i like her vocals, the lyrics (she has some crackers: “buy a police box, paint it pink and sell candyfloss”… good advice!), the melody, but i do think the song could be broken up more with an instrumental bridge perhaps or some finger picking, to give a more dynamic effect. It’d be nice to hear harmony vocals in this one actually. Her third reminds me a little of Four Non Blondes. Clever songwriting but again i’d love to hear more variation in the accompaniment to really set this off.

Yogi quickly begs a capo and starts a good solid singer-songwriter song full of angst and repressed emotion. Excellent! “There’s no point trying to explain, you will never get inside of my brain”, he plays the incredibly-quiet-verse card and people actually shut up and don’t talk over him. Nice work. He goes ahead to play two more honest hard rockin’ acoustic numbers, “If I am evil then so are you” he growls, that’s the familiar repressed bitterness that we singer-songwriters know and understand so well! It’s been a while since i’ve seen Yogi at OOTB, come back soon.

Calum Haddow surprises us by playing a few songs, to a diehard but rapidly dwindling audience at this late hour. I love Calum’s music. His set is all the more vital for the fact that he is emigrating to Australia in a month’s time. He begins with a very emotionally moving version of “Tetsuo”. Calum Haddow really rocks. He should be performing to audiences of thousands rather than dozens. “Death To The Animals” next. Disturbing but excellent. I could listen to Calum H’s music on a much more regular basis, given the chance. A masterful delivery. With a tear in his eye he finishes with “First Aid”, the perfect choice. Very well done.

Charlie Scuro plays on his nylon string guitar with no mic and no amplification. He’s got the goods. He plays us quite a sophisticated jazzy ditty about Armageddon. His second is a bouncy, and accomplished, anti-war song, or as Charlie says “it’s more of an uncle war song”, called, possibly, “Do You Want To Die Today?” or “The Biggest Bomb”. This was really good, with closing line “It only takes an idiot to flick a switch and all of us are gone”.

His last, the final song of the night, is a very clever and jazzy introduction song. Oddly enough Charlie reminds me of a jazzy, acoustic These Animal Men. This song’s equally proficient as his other two, and even includes a little bit of rapping too. Very bouncy.

Compere – Calum Haddow

Sound – Daniel Davis

Review – Calum Carlyle

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OOTB 350 – 7 July 2009

Posted 07/07/2009 By admin

OOTB 350

It is serendipitous that Darren Thornberry’s last night with OOTB, before he flies off Stateside, is also one of our grand birthdays, so it is only fitting that he compere. Darren enjoys these sorts of events so much, he always proposes fancy dress. Tonight is no exception. It is also no exception that he is the only one wearing any fancy dress, which consists of a wolf mask. Papa Bear to Werewolf in one easy step.

Calum Carlyle
There is ambiguity as to whether the beach-chic Calum is rocking tonight is an attempt for fancy dress, or merely his over-optimism about the weather. Regardless, he makes the most of our covers-encouraged stance for tonight and gives us ‘Sad Songs and Waltzes’, a country song that tells of loss (of course) and not knowing how lucky you are. He follows with a very touching rendition of Thorn’s ‘Connections’, and there’s barely a dry eye already.

Nick
A debut, I believe. His first has an easy lilt to it, whie subtle guitar sits under the vocals nicely. Almost Bacharach. His second highlights that fact he sings with his own accent, which lend the songs authenticity. He sings on his third, “God bless that feeling of truly being alone.” It’s an upbeat number, and a fine end to the set. Come again, Nick.

Anna
Also a debut, maybe. I didn’t get a chance to chat to her in real life, but her stage persona is timid. Or maybe that’s just when she’s being loomed over by a man in a wolf mask. It really does look like Little Red Riding Hood. Her voice, though, is one of a pure tone that carries effortlessly. “We could elope, run away and get married – oh, how happy we’d be.” You’d believe that. Her second is a knowingly quaint waltz  – “Peter will take you to tea”. Which makes me want to hear more.

Geoff Chandler
Another debut, I think. I confess – I prejudged Jeff, and thought we were getting some jazzy number about fly-fishing. No, what we actually get is comedy gold. His first is supposedly a true story, about a guy and a girl on a bus. He’s unable to express his feelings, “so he sent an email to the Metro.” The best part is that it’s told from both sides – “Some creepy guy was smiling at her.” His second is about stalking an ex – “You were kissing outside MacDonalds” By the end, you couldn’t help but be grinning. Brilliant.

Chapman & Chapman
These guys usually play with a band, but tonight’s foray into acoustic territory begs for a repeat performance. Their first is a heavy shuffle about Scotland – “You are who I am”. We have a great deal of softly-sung songwriters here, so it’s great to see someone with a proper pair of lungs. And this girl can sing. “Do I have it all?” she asks on their second piece.  ‘Yeah, pretty much,’ would have to be the reply. Awesome range. Their third shows off some fine details in the lyrics, this time about a grandad – “He puts on his cap, and quietly closes the door.” Cracking stuff.

Lindsay Sugden
When you play around with guitar shapes at the top of the neck, it can so often feel contrived. Somehow Lindsay manages to make it all sound not only orignal, but stirringly beautiful. Always a gem.

Lorraine McCauley
She has one of those voices that makes boys feel funny in their stomach, and when she sings ‘Haunt Me’, you happily would. Casper can take a back seat. “They sway between the shadows of two worlds.” And the guitar strikes like a clock at midnight. Truly haunting.

Nelson Wright
“There’s gonna be flashbacks and bad trips all summer long.” No, not his prediction, but lyrics from his cover ‘Please Stay Close To Me’, which combines love and Class A drugs. Naturally. Who knew of his wild past?

Jim Igoe
He starts with an OOTB classic – ‘Listening To The Flaming Lips’ Good to hear covers of other OOTBers. For his second trick, he brings out a piece he’s written specially – ‘No Wonderwall’. Given the title, and that the lyrics feature “last month, OOTB had a bump with a musical celebrity” you can probably work out who it’s about. Genius, and a great singalong.

Sam and Hannah
“One of us will die inside these arms” The first time I’ve seen this pair, and I see what people are on about. Perfect close harmonies that fit so well, it sounds like one enveloping instrument. Not easy to do, and very well done.

Cam
He begins with ‘Give A Little Love’ by Noah and the Whale. Good stuff. His second is a high-register Bon Iver number. He claims it’s out of his range, but he copes admirably. The awesome drone sounds from the guitar actually feel like being licked by a whale. Mmm. His third is a Neil Young song. Popular enough choice to start with, but improved by the fact that Cam is actually a much better singer than Young. If you’re going to do a cover, may as well improve it!

Pockets
Thorn cannot effuse more about this guy, and you can see why. This song is creeping and infectious – “So I know just what to do with your life.” Good stuff. Please search for Kazookeylele on YouTube. You will not regret it.

Rob Sproul-Cran
Here’s what Sam Barber had to say about me: His first song is Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Only Livin’ Boy In New York.’ It is subtle and heartfelt, and dedicated to Darren Thornberry. His second, dedicated to Calum Carlyle, is a cover of his ‘Glad Rags’. It features beefy power chords and power hollerin’ [and only one line of the lyrics]. Dynamic.

Jennifer
Her vocals trampoline all over the place (in a good way), as she sings “Look into your eyes – there’s something missing.” She has a great presence on stage. The performance is sultry but ballsy.

Nyk
‘Kitten In A Bong’ is a true story! I’d never quite believed him, but sure enough – look on the internet. “A nun-bong-kitten song”, ‘Waiting’ is dedicated to Calum Carlyle and Darren Thornberry, and has to be one of his more obscure gags – you wait through the 5 minute intro for the song to start, and… that’s it. For his last, he pulls out one of the medleys he’s becoming so used to – he has to play these for crowd pleasing – so tonight it’s Bad Blues and Mutant Zombies. If U2 could whip up this sort of crowd involvment, they might actually start playing some reasonably sized venues.

Sam Barber
Gives us a fine cover of ‘Way Down In The Hole’, by Tom Waits. It’s sung as lively blues. Next, Sam proves himself to be a total legend, with the Huey Lewis and The News classic ‘Power of Love’. The audience were instantly back on their skateboards, hitching a ride on the back of a passing truck. Superb. Finally, ‘Notes for a Speech’ provides a change of pace. “You took my finest hour, and crushed it like a flower.” Excellent cover choices, and a cracking set.

Cameron Phair
A confident cover of The Smiths, who he clearly holds in the highest esteem – “It’s the bomb that’ll bring us together”. ‘Sparks’ by Coldplay is heartfelt, and a fine choice. All the girls start to cry. This is nothing, however, compared to the sheer joy that is ‘Disco 2000’. He enraptures the crowd, well this reviewer at least, and carries them along on a wave of elation. And he gives it his all. Top banana.

Julien Pearly
Accompanied by Lindsay Sugden tonight, Julien sings the ‘Franglish’ tune ‘Everyone Kisses a Stranger’. Amazing what you can get away with if you’re French, clearly. It is good to see Julien back at OOTB, and it’s a fine end to the night.

We’ll see you at OOTB 400.

Geoff Chandler
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OOTB 349 – 30 June 2009

Posted 30/06/2009 By admin

Nicky Carder

This was an impromptu set from Nicky. Her first song, ‘In Hiding’ was by request. She instantly hits us with her stunning voice and I get goosebumps. Her second song was about her favourite pair of purple shoes. I just love the fact that she can write a song about shoes, it really does say how talented she is. She finishes with ‘between the floorboards’. It starts off with a sultry low tone but then she breaks into her full voice, which is so powerful I’m sure it will stick with me for the whole night.

Jonathan Holt

This is Jonathan’s first time playing at the Tron. His first song was short and sweet. It also showcased his gravely voice. It was a great start I thought. He then moved on to a beautiful love song called ‘Shoreline’.  However, it was his last song that was my favourite. ‘Soldiers Lullaby’ was heartfelt and beautifully sung. I hope he comes back to play more.

Clare Carswell

Clare is not only an ootb debut but this is her first time ever playing in public!  I really enjoyed her set. There were some nerves at the start but she soon settled into it. Her first song had some great lines in it. I particularly enjoyed ‘don’t wake me up on a Sunday to break my heart’. She announced that her second song is ‘quite difficult’, which is very brave for a debut. This is my favourite of the two, I loved the honesty in her lyrics. She didn’t hold back, with lyrics such as ‘I wear a dress for easy access’!

A great debut!

Freeloadin’ Frank

Just a squashie from Frank tonight. A song about killing Rupert Murdoch. It was in true Frank style

Ron

His first song is called ‘Superstition’, which is a funky wee tune that demonstrated his range. He brought the tone down with his second song about the two last people in the world. He finishes with ‘Deeper than the ocean’. He apologises for the lyrics not being that ‘deep’ but I think simple is sometimes better. I enjoyed this song very much.

Sam and Hannah

I had heard such good things on the grapevine about Sam that I knew I was in for a treat. He started with a high energy number called ‘Waiting for Elvis’. This was the perfect start as it got everyone’s attention, which he didn’t lose throughout the whole set. For his second song he invited Hannah on stage. It was called ‘Murder Mystery’ and was about having a broken heart. It had a kind of country feel to it. I really like his voice on his own but when Hannah joined in with the harmonies I just melted. It was pure joy to listen to. I particularly liked the Kazoo sounds that they made. Hannah stayed to accompany him on his third song. This was a slower song with a luscious melody.

His next few songs had, in true ootb style, never been played before. He seemed unsure about them but I really enjoyed them. The first one he had a cheat-sheet for but even with the lyrics in front of him the performance was faultless. The second new one was about a photographer and an actor. The harmonies were hauntingly beautiful.

His final song, again, is one that he isn’t really sure about but Hannah likes it so he plays it. It was brilliant – so much so that our compere for the night decided that they deserved an encore. I was glad of this because it meant that I got to hear those gorgeous harmonies one more time.

I simply just can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this set. It was a true delight from start to finish. Each song different but constructed wonderfully and sung so sweetly. I am officially a fan of Sam and Hannah!

Roger Emmerson

He starts with a love song called ‘Venice’ which wasn’t his usual rocking number but I still enjoyed it. Next he played the bluesy ‘Photograph’. It has a great riff which gets you toe-tapping and head bopping. This was great but I do miss rocking out with the ‘Blues Father’ and we hadn’t done that yet with this set. Luckily towards the end of his last song, ‘Medea’, he let rip. I’m glad.

The Wright Brothers

Comprising of Nelson Wright and Norman Lamont, this is the first time I have seen these two play together. I was intrigued to see if their two distinct styles would work together. Their first song is called ‘The Dream’. I love Nelson’s unique delivery of the story and the combination of the two guitars really added to it. Next is Norman’s time to sing. It is a sordid song called ‘The Last Man’. I thoroughly enjoyed the last song about break-ups, called ‘I’m leave me’. There was a great beat and the two guitars were such a great complement to each other.

Broken Tooth

This was a set of some older material. He started with a song that I think is called ‘Borderline’ but I didn’t catch the name. His second song was ‘Sing at my funeral’. I liked the chorus and the instrumental. This was typical BT classic guitar playing. With his final song he really started to show off his guitar skills. You could tell he was enjoying it, however it may have been a bit self-indulgent for the audience.

Cameron Phair

Cameron’s first song was heartfelt and nicely constructed. I really like his voice on his second song, which had a catchy melody. His third song had a blues feel. He has a powerful voice and a good range, demonstrated by the falsetto in his third song. This was definitely my favourite song of his set and I particularly enjoyed the sharp contrast of loud and soft.

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OOTB 348 – 23 June 2009

Posted 23/06/2009 By admin

OOTB 23/06/09

Calum and Jimmy Carlyle

Orkney’s finest kick us off with a jaunty tale of childhood games and playing soldiers in the street, named eerily ‘Commando’. Their second is a protest song which talks of ‘the promise of better days’. Jimmy has the rhythm on guitar, while Calum embellishes on Mandolin, giving warmth to the whole. On their third, though, they swap instruments and pick up pace for a slip-jig. Its got a beat that Bongshang would be proud of. Finally, ‘A Place To Hide’ features great interplay and harmonics. Very fine.

Freeloadin Frank

‘Empire State Building’ is a love story of epic proportions, featuring a particular gorilla and his gal. ‘Cannabis is very good for you’ is fairly self-explanatory – “the perfect antidote when you are blue.” Frank is on form tonight – by the end of this number, he has them in his thrall. ‘Bloodshed On The Way’ voices a deep distrust of politicians, as humour takes a backseat to the satire. How better to end the set than the legendary ‘Magic Cornflake’? It is “the only way to travel”, apparently, and is dedicated to Darren Thornberry (who will be traveling, not tripping his little socks off as the song suggests).

Ron (debut)

Just a squashee this time for Ron’s OOTB debut. ‘Deeper than the ocean’ shows off Ron’s energy and voice, even though I feel I’ve heard the lyrics before. In contrast, his second, which talks of “whisky where the bible used to go”, is more original, and better shows off his songwriting. More of this would be welcome.

Harry (debut)

“I like to bike, you like to stab old men” Yeah, nothing like a bit of random killing to put a dampener on a relationship. Harry is a comic singer, and surprisingly enough appearing in the Edinburgh Film Festival in ‘Baraboo’. His second piece is “a lullaby”, but features not only the same acoustic ska of his first song, but enough terrifying tales to petrify any youngster – spiders, vampires, their mother. Clearly a fan of Sublime, his third is more ska, and also wonderfully twisted – “if you tried to leave, I’d kill your family.” It’s funny stuff, although his stage persona could do with being reigned in a wee bit. Finally, a break-up song, of sorts. “Everybody hates you” It’s nice to see an antihero in a song for once.

Paul Gladwell (Featured Act)

Antiheroes are something that Paul almost specialises in, but throughout his set tonight he adeptly shifts gear and mood between just about every song. He starts with delicate fingerpicking – “Your guilt is hard to swallow.” It’s a curiously low-key number to begin with, but it seems to work. His second is all word-play, with the stand-out line being “you are my flower(flour) when I have no dough.” Cracking. Next one is fast and desolate, and talks of “Actors on a stage”. Following this, he shifts mood in a second, back to beguiling melancholia – “For me, it seems, an ordinary life is not enough.” Paul writes intelligent lyrics, and packs them in. I could fill reams with those worthy of note. It’s a good approach to songwriting – take as many good ideas as would fill three songs, then fit them into one. Paranoid Android did just that. ‘Tell me what to believe’ is a pertinent comment on the state of the media, or rather the media of the state. Satirical and biting. He then makes 7/8 sound like the most natural time signature for an enveloping love song, or sorts. “When whispering sweet nothings for the thousandth time feels like nothing.” Emotive. ‘If you let me tag along’ is bouncy and attention-grabbing. Again a complete shift of gear. All the while, the guitar play is complex but never overshadowing the lyrics, and played to a tee. For his penultimate, he settles an unusually straight guitar part, almost Dylan-esque, for more melancholy. Finally, antiheros to the fore, as he unleashes his dark and malevolent ‘The End is Nigh’. It is positively throbbing with coiled energy. “Don’t read your holy book – I’ll just rip out the page.” Suberb.

Cam and Ed

A possible first for OOTB – a guitar and drum combo. It may even be their first outing together, I’m not sure. They start with ‘We’re Hanging On’, which is impassioned. Head and shoulders above, however, is ‘An Early Call’. I’ve seen Cam do this solo before, but never noticed the lyrics, which are about being a GP. “Our lives had barely touched, but the poor soul seemed resigned.” Beautifully emotive – helped by Cam’s distinctive vibrato and fine voice. On ‘Keep It Going’, he sings “we’re almost out of time.” The drums add an urgent metronome, but due to unusual time signature changes they are ragged in parts, though this will no doubt improve with practice. For their last, they cheekily pull out a cover (gasp) of Tim Buckley’s Dolphins. Whilst a shorter version than I’m used to, it has to be said that Cam’s voice IS Buckley’s, so he suits it perfectly. The full version on OOTB 350 (July 7), perhaps?

Broken Tooth

Before giving us what I consider to be the best ever rendition of his epic ‘Hold Fast’, Tooth addresses the sometimes misunderstood lyrical content, which focuses on religious bigotry among other things. It is articulate and passionate, and lends huge weight to the song’s delivery. The stand-out lyrics are still “to spread their message of peace, they write it out in blood and sword.” Awesome.

Douglas

“I’m not going to lie to you, so I don’t make a sound” He can certainly craft some fine tunes and words. He seems new to performing, but he makes up for any inexperience with an engaging liveliness. His second song was written in France, and is full of optimism. His voice is best when he lets rip – with practice this power should find its way into all his singing. His third was almost never performed, so worried was he about the fingerpicking. Well, he shouldn’t have fretted – it is a quiet lullaby of s song and he seems to play it faultlessly. Beautiful. His last is dark and funky, full of ringing high notes. Again his voice benefits from roaring a bit. Much potential.

John Watton

Fluid fingerpicking of the highest order. “I love to walk the Cleveland way” he sings on his first song. Folk music with integrity. ‘Standing Tall’ is a heavier piece, and uses an effects box with great subtlety. No easy task. Clearly a hugely experienced performer, this is a very polished set, and a joy to watch. ‘Station Master’ is blues, but again done very well. “I didn’t say goodbye, I just kept on moving on.” And indeed, this will John last performance at OOTB for a wee while. Hope he returns as soon as possible. Top notch stuff.

Cameron Phair

He opens with a big sounding guitar: all open 5ths. “So I’m older now – what have you got to say for yourself?” Good start. His second is a ballad in the best Scottish/Idlewild style. “waited for the sky to change”. This is the best I’ve seen Cameron so far – he certainly looks very comfortable on stage, and enjoys good banter with the audience. A skill in itself. His last is something about letting footwear govern your view of the world. Maybe I wrote that down wrong. “You’re walking with your mind too fast”.

Colin Brennan (debut)

His style is a mash up of country-folk, so he says. “Home is where the heart is,” but it means different things to different people, as he illustrates. His second is all escapism and aspiration – “Adios to all this concrete” Some of his lyrics can tend towards the pedestrian, but occasionally he’ll pull out a gem – “love’s a gift that’s surely hand made” His last piece is anything but light and optimistic, but again he produces some quality words – “I’m not in the ground today, but it sure feels like I’m on my way.” I’d like to hear more.

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OOTB 347 – 16 June 2009

Posted 16/06/2009 By admin

OOTB 20090617

It was a quiet night at the Tron compared with the exceptional throngs we have had in recent weeks, but all the best people were there. In fact Liam Gallagher popped in: I didn’t have the gall to ask him if he knew any Oasis covers, but if you are reading this, then there is a good chance you missed it. That’s your fault. Man, you should have been there.

Sean Donnelly

It’s the first time I’ve seen Sean and I was very much impressed. His sang an unaccompanied number followed by two with guitar. Despite singing in a pronounced Scottish accent, the style was very much the faux English folk song and reminds me of all those 1970s folk revival bands. The material all sounded like it was about love and meadows and generally good-for-the-soul stuff. Actually we get very little folk music at OOTB so it’s a welcome change. The standard is set very high for the rest of the performers.

Broken Tooth

Haddow waxes lyrically about Sean’s accent and BT is cornered. He insists that the blues cannot be sung in a Scottish accent – he won’t do it, and instead surprises the lot of us with his most outrageous stunt to date:

Tonight the tooth-father riffs his way magnificently through a blistering set egged on by the eager crowd who are wowed by this lithe sinuous figure enrobed modestly in a thoroughly blues –appropriate posing pouch and anointed in what can only be described as a petroleum-based substance.

You had to be there.

Iain Roberts

I’ve not heard Iain before, but I’m guessing that the first song is usually played with a band and somewhat heavier guitars. It’s a slightly dark indie with more delicate verses and heavier riffing choruses. His second is called Lent. Unfortunately I can’t hear the words and the meaning is lost on me – sounded nice though. His last again has multiple changes of time and tempo  – something I’m more accustomed to hearing in thrash metal than folk. This is a risky move – if it’s done confidently and accurately with a really tight band, it can be really effective, If not if can be slack or it can just sound like you can’t decide how the song goes. I’m hoping he has a good drummer. Fingers crossed.

Bunmi

‘You can drown your melancholy with a bottle of beer or a Bob Dylan track’. This song had its debut last week when Bunmi had just written the lyrics and improvised a melody for us – then (as you would expect) it wandered a little aimlessly albeit with a lot of promise. Tonight it sounds more like a melody – it has clearly been worked on and is much better developed. Without any backing it doesn’t quite feel like the finished product, but I for one could happily listen to his voice for hours. If you’ve got soul, you’ve should check out this performer.

Hannah O’Reilly

There’s not a lot I can say about this popular OOTB perennial. Hannah’s songs are often sad – and achingly beautiful with it. But tonight catches her in a different mood. She’s in lurve and the songs (off her new album Stiletto) reflect that change in her. Ms O’Reilly is renowned as a prolific songwriter and Stiletto is only one of several albums she has planned for release this year. The benefit of writing a lot of songs in a compressed timespace is that they hang together as a body of work in a way that an 18-month slog can never achieve. Hannah insists she has a cold and won’t be able to sing – but tonight she actually sounds the best I’ve heard her.

If there was any criticism – and I don’t want to be too harsh, there’s beginning to be a pattern in the piano-based songs of open fifths in the left hands and repeated figured in the right and they are all very similar – I’m think the vocals and lyrics are sufficiently varied to keep interest. I’m just hoping the songs come across as more as a album of work rather than being too samey. I haven’t heard the album so I’ll reserve judgement on that one.

Songs included ‘Two Hands’, ‘Foolish’, ‘Storyville’, ‘Galloway slap’, ‘Bones’, ‘What’s left of me?’, ‘Conversations with break’, ‘Round’, and the cheeky ‘Dimes’ finished the set.

Calum Carlyle

The room has become noisy – yes, Liam Gallagher did wander in and this has caused a little flurry of noise which is frankly making it hard for the performers, Calum has to attempt to play over the worst of it.

His first is ‘Living Proof’ which seems to get half the room singing along – it’s probably my favourite of his at the moment. He insists that it sounds better with the band – but in my mind he performs better tonight.

Walking through shallows (shadows?) is an older song and as with some of CCs songs the guitar has more than a hint of mandolin-playing style about it. One Hit Wonder is tight and cool – it may be an early song, but the playing is skilful. Calum may not have enjoyed playing over the rabble, but a bit of aggression did wonders for the performance.

Sam Barber

No Exit : Sam says he has been recording this song all day so it should be fine – and indeed it is – I’d certainly have accepted his live performance as a take – it is punchy and rhythmic.

The choice of Heracles: Wikipedia informs me it is a painting by Carracci where Heracles is depicted with two women flanking him, who represent the opposite destinies which the life could reserve him: on the left the Virtue is calling him to the hardest path leading to glory through hardship, while the second, the Pleasure, the easier path, is enticing him to the vice. Admittedly the choice seems to be between whether you prefer your women to wear fine clothes or just underwear. One should note however that Heracles is the only one with no clothes – so make of that what you will.

I’m not sure if Sam is facing the same dichotomy – most of us would simply love the choice.

The song: I could take it or leave it.

Sophia : Sam is back on fire for this last one – its just strumming, but he’s making the guitar sound much more expensive than it is.

Sam Hird

1st song is a little like a quiet Muse or Radiohead number – it has the most involved and interesting harmony of the evening so far.

His 2nd is in an open tuning and in a totally different style. Its not stairway to heaven, but if I say it builds as it goes from a gentle start up to  raunchy riffing, you’ll have an idea of what’s happening here. It’s the pace, the poise, and the performance of the song which make it work so well.

Tokyo is his last – which is in a different style again: more Simon and Garfunkel territory here. It’s a varied and well balanced set. I’m a fan.

Darren Thornberry

Darren has trimmed his beard and tonight looks more like Yusuf than I’ve ever seen him. Actually the sweetness and gentleness with which he sings make it not such a bad comparison.

He sings ‘This Thing I Do’ which is cute in the extreme, but always makes me feel like I’ve intruded on something that should be sung to Rebecca alone.

Whereas the first is a romantic song about the start of a relationship, his second, a new song, is more of a confessional about a mature relationship.

He ends with Hovering – at which point I’m running for my bus – my apologies to anyone who sung at the end of the night.

Compere: Calum Haddow

Sound: Calum Carlyle, David O’Hara

Review: Daniel Davis

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OOTB 345 – 2 June 2009

Posted 02/06/2009 By admin

Review by Darren Thornberry

Story time with JOHNNY GUITAR. Did you know he once performed nude in Hair and protested Princess Anne in an episode of Rebus? We learn all this before the first string is plucked. My love is like a feather in the night: melancholy tune written on Arran. Following are a couple of bluesy numbers and a drop down to D with a slide. “To be developed …” Johnny smirks and I agree. He mentions Busking for Cancer, which is worth a look at buskingcancer.co.uk.

A trio of dedications from MUTANT LODGE aka Nick with a Why? Songwriter is tops with many forgotten lines and a couple of truly funny false endings. Mr. Lodge plays a tidy instrumental piece written for none other than our very own web dude. I am interested in this lovely piece of music. Bad Blues – the finger does not make it all the way up the nose during the “self respect” refrain, but geez the man is on fire! Great performance by Nyk.

RODDY RENFREW turns up with his shiny new left-handed guitar, and what a sweet sound it makes! Step Outside is a playful tune that has a, well, sunshiny feel that is right for Edinburgh this week. Then comes Family, a tune that describes the misery and glory we all experience in our dysfunctional families. What is pleasure and pain? Renfrew croons, leaving some meat on the philosophical bone for us to chew.

Douglas - 2 June 2009

Douglas, standing next to an enormous pint glass - 2 June 2009

World traveller DOUGLAS finds similarities between trying to find God and trying to get sex. Despite soundman Malcolm finding the sweet spot on Douglas’ Yamaha, making it sound lovely and bright, the melodies on the first two songs are hard to track. In fairness, these are very new tunes Douglas is testing and that’s exactly what OOTB encourages. He returns to familiar territory in a song he wrote in Morocco and it is indeed nicely polished. “Wake me in the morning with a prayer …”

http://www.outofthebedroom.co.uk//images-misc/2009/sambarber-2june2009.jpg

Sam Barber exits the stage after a job well done - 2 June 2009

MAIN ACT: SAM BARBER

It’s a treat to have Sam here. Not only is he a nimble guitarist, but his songs also leave a high watermark, both lyrically and melodically. Sam can take on love, mythology and politics and wrap it all in memorable, upbeat tunes that stay with you. For me, the highlights of his set are the guitar walk down in the chorus of Sophia; the devastating lyrics of Over by Christmas; the booming 12-string hook in Theory of Everything; the tenderly played Non sequitur; and this phrase “tears fall like acid rain from a god” in the set opener.

Not only does JONAH debut with a nylon stringed guitar and harmonica, but he also gets to stick his hand in the silver bag of dreams. More on that later … Jonah is a nice surprise. Some really delicate playing and moody lyrics. Best song is Purple Sky, a tale of meeting a restless American lassie at the train station and all that unfolds from there. Wonderful stuff, Jonah. (Fruit pastels – that’s what he pulls from the S.B.D.)

RYAN – most improved!

I’ve been listening to Ryan play for a number of weeks now, and I have not been that impressed with his songs because I get the feeling he’s not convinced either. But tonight I hear and see marked improvement. His singing is better, stronger, and he seems more at ease than in previous weeks. Maybe the string of performances at OOTB has helped his confidence. It’s a treat to see someone coming along and getting better. I love it. Gun Metal Blues is quality. Ryan’s got a few tricks we haven’t seen, and I expect he will continue to reveal more of the songwriter that’s in there. Good job mate.

Hello again JOHN WATTON. This fellow is a seriously great performer. His set has the place hollering. He leaves it all on stage with Gambler – an absolutely thunderous song by a seasoned talent. “Don’t need no lucky ladies to watch my sevens land!” This blues riffin’ ace has undoubtedly graced other stages in his day. Awesome.

One of the better vocal performers of the night, CAMERON has a nice even tenor. The timbre of his voice and songs remind of one of my all time favourite bands – Jellyfish. Cam’s had shoulder surgery since his last OOTB performance, but he’s playing away with nary a wince. I will see him later, much later, in the evening, eating chips outside Whistlebinkies. He even offers me one.

FLOYD

Hmmm. Floyd plays a brooding three songs, but vocally things are rough and I am straining to hear what he’s singing. Floyd says his last song is special to him, and I’m paying close attention. He’s singing about getting no rest, no sleep, and he does indeed look tired. Really nice guy, and I hope to see him back once he’s had some kip.

BESSIE

Sunglasses hide his eyes, but the irony is on display. Musically speaking, there is room for improvement, but that’s true of us all. Sample lyric from Keep Your Friends Close: “You made out with my friend Euan / I must look like such a goon.” Explore the mystery further at myspace.com/bessiethumper.

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