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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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

OOTB 344 – 26 May 2009

Posted 26/05/2009 By admin

Matt Snyder

Matt is our first debut of the night. His set is purely instrumental piano which is a refreshing start to what is almost always a guitar-fueled evening. His first tune is a jazzy number. This really demonstrated his passion for playing. I’d love to see him on a real piano, I think he would totally rock out! His second is a half improv classical piece, which was beautifully melancholic. He ended on another jazzy number which was definitely my favourite of his.

Jim Bryce

Jim’s first song was his self-proclaimed ‘screechy’ number. Played on the keyboard I loved his screechy, almost bluesy song, and with a bit of scat singing thrown in I thought it was brilliant. His second was an incredibly poignant ballad for an old friend. He finished on a comedy number about the British abroad. It was perfectly perceptive and funny.

Anna

As our second debut of the night, Anna silenced the crowd with her a cappella intro to her first song. She has a unique style which I enjoyed a lot. Her second song was equally as captivating. I’d definitely love to see more of her here.

Ryan

Bravely Ryan is performing a brand new song this evening. The subject is something we can all relate to; not turning into your parents. The lyrics were quite chilling. I’m guessing he really doesn’t want to turn into his Dad! In contrast Ryan’s second song is a very old one. He just plays two verses because apparently it gets a bit boring. I don’t agree at all, in fact it’s probably my favourite of his set. He ended with a song called soldier, which is a song about sex. ‘Not in a bad way’ he informs us……whatever that means!

Roger Emmerson

In the music circuit this guy is known as the ‘Blues Father’. I wasn’t sure if he would live up to this huge name but he did not disappoint. He started with a song about drinking and stereotypes. It had some great finger picking and that classic blues instrument, the harmonica. I am a total sucker for any tune that has a bit of that in it. He then moved on to a beautiful song called photographs. It was here where I really gave in to the ‘Blues Father’. I am now a fan.

Roger gives us a wee story about the name of his next tune, when he promptly tells us that it has nothing to do with that! Its called ‘Media’. With lyrics like ‘You are my Media…….. I am your Jason’, It sounds like a love song to me. He moves seamlessly on to a song about redemption. Roger assures us that he is old enough to sing this. No comment…..

He then picks up the tone with his summer song. As soon as it starts I know I’m going to love this song. Then he lets rip. ‘Lets dance!’

In contrast ‘A cut away’ was an incredibly poignant song about his brother. I enjoyed the passion that went into this song.

To finish Roger announced that he would do a cover. There were lots on sharp intakes of breath by the crowd at this but personally I loved it and thought that it was the perfect end to a great featured act.

Broken Tooth

Toothy, getting into it - 19 May 2009

Toothy, getting into it - 19 May 2009

With lyrics such as ‘If hell don’t want me, I’m going to crawl back to your side’, this was a true Broken Tooth set. I have to say though, I think this was probably one of my favourite times seeing him play. It was quite a diverse set with some, true to form, brilliant guitar playing. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Miller’s Daughter’ as I felt he connected more with the lyrics.

Jonny Pugh

Jonny, in true Pugh fashion delivered a set of beautiful acoustic tunes and accomplished guitar playing. He played the classic ‘On Fire’, which was sentimental and heartfelt. He then played two new songs. The first of which was slightly more melancholy but it was his last song that really did it for me. It was a great tune which left me singing the ‘hey, hey, hey’ part for a long time afterwards.

Furious

Although this is not his debut at OOTB, I have never seen him play before. It is an impromptu set he informs us, and if this is true I am pretty impressed. He starts off with a song called ‘Russian Dolls’, which is about what is going on in the world today. He then moves on to sing about being grateful for being alive. He also has a slight Scottish twang in his singing voice, which I do enjoy listening to. I hope to catch another set soon.

OOTB 343 – 19 May 2009

Posted 19/05/2009 By admin

OOTB REVIEW 19/05/09

The Weather Underground.

The Weather Underground starts out with a bold guitar riff. His bouncy
chords slide nicely into some distinctive harmonics that his voice whispers through. He punches out signature sequences throughout the song, which are particularly effective. Nice bit of edge but not too in your face.

His second song “rain” was definitely appropriate for the evening, as we all
walked in “soaking wet through.” It has a nice mellow sound, and moves along nicely like the rain, as well as compassing a good use of repetition in
“rain, rain, rain” he seems to word paint himself away as his slot fades
out.

Calum and Jimmy Carlyle

It’s nice to finally hear the echoing voice of Jimmy Carlyle, as I had only
heard it on CD until now. Their first song opens up with the unusual sound
of the mandolin, it really shines through this unplugged evening, making its mark immediately, but yet it maintains a lovely flowing sound with Calum’s well played guitar part.

This happy, nice sounding story ironically turns out to be a song full of
angsty, Scottish Pride and it doesn’t take any crap. No-one can argue while it’s being proudly sung out.

Their second song is also a political song, this time it’s much more laid
back but yet still interesting and full of charisma. Calum and Jimmy open
this song with a very powerful yet cheering accapella verse that really
enhances the sound of their harmonies. The vocal melodies weave in and out of each other as the bassy guitar part drives the song along, leaving space for the mandolin to fill in the spaces.

There were some great gaps in the vocals, which really allowed the two
instruments to show us what they could do and definitely makes the most of the overall sound.

Calum and jimmy’s lively songs have a brilliant folky undertone and they
really brought the best out of their distinctive sound tonight. I thoroughly
enjoyed listening.

Neil

Neil’s voice immediately changes the sound, a great contrast to Calum and
Jimmy’s very lively performance. Neil’s gentle voice is quieter but yet still heard. He has a few subtle leaps in the vocal melodies which keep the
songs interesting, and despite the mellow sound in the opening the guitar
has drive and builds up into some firm strumming that keeps the song bold
and yet still maintaining the lovely gentle sound in his voice.

“I dance like a loon at 3 in the morning” “the red eyed monster in your
living room”

His quirky and interesting lyrics work well, keeping the attention on him. I
had the urge to sing harmonies throughout this song, especially during a few of the repeated melodies. I particularly like how Neil inverts the vocal melody as he ends his song; it is a really nice touch.

Neil also used some complex guitar parts though out the rest of his slot
which give a nice contrast to his gentle stuff and really enable the voice
to stand out, he keeps the beat well when he kicks in the strumming on the
guitar, then before ending the song he takes a different route up the fret
board and fades out nicely.

Broken Tooth

“If hell don’t want me, I’m going to crawl back Onto your side”

If anyone had fallen asleep, Jim definitely woke him or her up.

He opens with a gritty and involved guitar riff. Jim has a bit of a country
feel about him when he sings, reminds me a little bit of Jack White.

He has a really nice instrumental section where he really shows us what he can do on the guitar before layering his distinctive vocals on top.

“Caught up in a loop hole before you man the fuck up and move on”

It’s really nice to hear a guy sing about his weakness rather than his
strengths, because I find, it’s sometimes quite easy to forget that men have emotions.

I particularly like Jim’s passion and how he speeds up his guitar in the
guitar solo bits, it really changes the dynamic of the song for a while
before he returns to his original style. This makes the song more interesting especially as he maintains the stomping rhythms through out the
changes. The length of his songs seem to be the only thing that lets them down but he does however, maintain the use of interesting lyrics right the way to the end, which I think is particularly effective.

“There is a demon in the moonshine” and “I believe my time has come”

A great performance from Jim Thomson.

Ryan

Ryan gets more confident every time I see him. He is full of potential and
he’s lyrically brilliant, if not a little strange at times, but in a good
way of course.

It’s such a relief to hear people sing about stuff other than love… and
even when we heard his “love” song, it definitely was different to every
other love song I have ever heard.

Ryan starts off with an up beat guitar riff, his edgy voice cuts through the
guitar. He uses a nice mixture of bold singing and more beautiful melodic
vocals throughout his song, creating a nice contrast.

“I lost my faith, might, god and love and law.”

He uses a few nice pauses to great effect throughout which direct his
passionate words through well, delivered guitar playing.

“I don’t know how to tell you this” “I’ll say it once”

The word “once” creates a really nice dramatic stop.

His funeral song was short, sweet, and lyrically impressive and well, those
of you who missed it, your loss, you should have been there.

Ryan definitely makes an impact with his individual style and unusual, yet
interesting lyrics. I really enjoyed his slot again and I’m looking forward
to seeing how he progresses over the next few months.

Hopefully he will still be, “Running around with a butterfly net.”

Jamie

Jamie is another performer with drive. He has a very sophisticated voice.

“I don’t turn every corner in this maze of emotion”

The song changes only subtly throughout but yet he still manages to keep the attention on him. It was very well performed indeed; I wish I could convey such a presence with such little change in my music.

The pauses break up the guitar part well and make it more interesting.

“You walked away from me”

“Only wishes come true in fairytales”

This fairy tale song, he played because the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest sang a song about Fairytales… I have to say, that Jamie’s fairytale song is much better than the Norwegian, Alexander Rybak’s song.

Jamie’s second song was a very moving song about his daughter.

“In my life I try to be the best I can be, I provide for you and keep you
safe.”

His conversation style lyrics you would imagine would be spoken but he sung them, keeping them profound and full of emotion.

“I thank you” the lift in pitch in the voice towards the end of the song was
nicely done and worked well.

Jamie’s last song was even more moving. It was about the late Billie Mackenzie who committed suicide after the death of his mother.

“I hope you found what you were looking for.”

“So many people cried, the day his music died”

Jamie uses a simple but consistent guitar riff throughout this song, the
emotions conveyed and the tone hides the simplicity before he ends on a the
question “why?”

A very powerful and enjoyable slot from Jamie.

Angus

Angus breaks into his first song with the sound of a keyboard. This is the
first electric element we have experienced so far tonight. He does really well singing over the keyboard without amplification in the voice.

His conversational style singing really stands out and makes the song
interesting from the very beginning. He has a great sound and these
individual and well thought out lyrics stream out over some hammered on yet lovely sounding keyboard sequences.

“Bus to appear” “downtown San Francisco checking on your money”

“There is really only one solution do I have to spell it out?”

I really appreciate it, when songwriters ask questions in their music; it creates a lovely ambiguous feel. Despite this, and the content of his lyrics, his songs are still happy sounding and are easy to listen to.

The chorus in his first song is only subtley different to the previous part
of the song but it is very effective. His booming vocals keep everyone’s
attention as this San Francisco story is sung out.

“you’re never gonna change that law”.

I’d love to hear some of Angus’s music on a grand piano. His second song has
happy innocent vocals that work well with the keyboard and convey a little
bit of musical animation.

“My head’s full of strange ideas”

An inverted ascending scale in the higher register gives the song a grand
finish.

Bouncy, involved and with a consistant rhythm and good dynamic contrasts, Angus firmly ends a very enjoyable set.

Nyk Stoddart

Nyk starts with something mellow! Yes you heard me right, something mellow.

I like it, it’s nice to hear his softer side.

The first song has a finger picked opening.

“footsteps echo in my dreams”

“I feel the colour of evening, It’s nice to feel the wind”

Some lovely lyrics from Nyk here.

I love the gentle guitar playing that you would never expect from him.

Humming in the middle of some softly strummed guitar parts is another great
contrast to his normal sound.

His new song opens with muted chords, he sings out some words straight off an envelope, which is much more interesting than having lyrics written on a piece of paper.

The strumming in this song is a little harder than the previous mellow
sounding one, but yet it’s still not quite the crazy, normal sounding Nyk
song. This does give him the perfect opportunity to play his ascending and
descending gentle guitar solo’s which flow along nicely.

“Mr Sleaze” a requested song by myself of course.

Nyk’s bouncy chords open one of my favourite songs, partly because it was
written for me but also because it’s and awesome song!

“Mr Sleaze is an outragous and bad, really, really bad man”

“Mr Sleaze gets under the skin”

“Hey hey hey” is the returning theme that everyone likes to sing along to.

A great performance from Nyk.

John

Funky, intricate guitar part starts off John’s set.

This song has a happy feel and a folky storyline.

The catchy opening guitar riff is repeated throughout the song between the verses to great effect. This man is very good at the guitar indeed.

John has a nice voice, it’s full of character and conviction.

“We love to walk the cleavand way”

“I swear I could not love you more as these shadows lengthen”

A Happy unrequieted love song is next with an interesting guitar part and a
nice charisma.

“I used to be creative”

“I’m losing my grasp and I’m all burnt out”

John jumps about the register vocally aswell as with the guitar creating a
very folky, yet soulful sound.

Another happy sounding song ends his set, which is great at the end of the
night, I really love Johns style, if only there were more happy sounding
songwriters about.

“You’ve not got the decency to get off the floor”

“Pull up that blind and see the light”

“Forget these lies when you wash them all away”

These well written lyrics, full of imagery, lend themselves well to the
songs.

The rhythm is constantly challenged, breaking tonights boundaries with
interesting, effective and involved guitar parts, every single note falls
perfectly in time, even in his great spikey rhythms.

After a couple of taps on the guitar his song fades out, ending his set and leaving a mark on the Edinburgh Acoustic scene.

Nicky (written by Johnny Pugh)

Nicky is completely unfazed by the lack of vocal amplification, She blows
the audience away with this rendition of my favourite song of hers, “In
Hiding”.

This song really benefits from the accompaniment of the two guitars (since she is joined by Calum Carlyle)

The song conveys a sense of freshness and change.

“it’s been a long time, but my heart still seems to move”

“Catch my eye on you” is her second song. It begins with tense, broody
chords;

It’s a testament to Nicky’s vocal that she can over power the terocious
strumming of two guitars. Nice overlapping vocals from Calum. Songs of frustrated desire I guess, the angst of the lyrics are delivered
convincingly by Nicky’s vocals.

Nicky’s last song is “Between the floorboards”

The song starts with Nicky being poetic and reflective before exploding into a rock refrain.

“Because everything feels like… I can’t describe”

Excellent use of dynamics throughout the song, some intelligently plucked
chords from Calum add a touch of depth in the accompaniment.

A polished performance once again!

Review written by Nicky Carder with help from Johnny Pugh.

OOTB 342 – 12 May 2009

Posted 12/05/2009 By admin

Debutants ‘Fitzroy Soul’ kick off tonight’s OOTB. They have a real ‘smoky bar’ sort of sound, with plenty of rock and blues influence on show. Nice harmonica playing as well. Their second is somewhat darker, a gently iterated fingerpicked guitar line gradually builds into an almost grunge-like sound. Some great guitar interplay at the end, in what I thought was the duo’s strongest of the set. The set ends with “Journeys”, which drops the tempo and reverts back to a bluesy sound. An interesting and unpredictable chord progression keeps the listener interested. Some nice lyrical ideas on show in this one; “as my world falls on a spindle”. Some really tight playing from a clearly well rehearsed duo, with some interesting and original songs.

Roger – It’s a real pleasure to see Roger return to OOTB after a couple of months; he is both a hugely talented musician and a gifted songwriter, which makes for an extremely entertaining set. “Cutaway” begins with furiously strummed chords which provide ample backing for Roger’s virtuoso harmonica playing, the harsh tones of which mirror the lyrical content; “I can’t sing about you” he bitterly laments. “Venice” has a different feel, the vocal line follows the staccato riff of the guitar. The lyrics tell the story of a doomed love; “strange love, so young is what I said”. Again the guitar work is highly proficient, with intelligently used hammer-ons and pull-offs. His last is an instrumental homage to gaffer tape, which has some purely inspired playing; most guitarists struggle to solo over the altered dominant chords Roger uses, so to do so on a harmonica in such an unpertubed manner is a little mind-boggling. Cracking stuff!

Calum Carlyle– Playing tonight under his alter ego Caramel Curly, Calum begins with the enigmatic “My penis is a gyroscope”- this is full of observational gems such as “you can get to heaven even if you’ve got a penis”. The whimsical lyrics and Calum’s adept performance make it easy to forget that this is quite a complex piece to perform. A great, fun start to the set. This is followed by (the now poignant) “Living Proof”, which has now become engrained in OOTB folklore. I say poignant because the ‘hippy’ in question now looks a lot less hippy-esque. However, the song is still a cracker, and it had the audience singing along as ever. Again, Calum is really skilled at writing lyrics which are equally humourous but also thought provoking, with some astute observations about nuclear power. Calum ends with one of his new bandmate’s, Nicky Carder’s songs “Ice Cream”. Calum brings out a different side to the song which I quite enjoyed; the vocal is perhaps slightly more restrained, which places the focus on the intelligently crafted lyrics. Another strong set!

Bobby - 12th May 2009

Bobby - 12th May 2009

Bobby – “Things to do when Nothings on the Telly” is a hilarious piece, with some excellent folky guitar. I always enjoy Bobby’s performance of this song, he always conveys the cheeky charm of the lyrics perfectly. His second is slightly more biting, taking electoral apathy as its topic; “Blame it on the martians/ they weren’t even there!” is a memorable line. Again, the use of finger-plectrums allows Bobby to pick out some complex rhythmic patterns, which make his songs sound all the more authentic. His last is an ode to the joys of busking on Rose Street “to pay for food and drink and hash”. As ever, Bobby supplements his performance with a great stage presence, an enviable trait for any performer.

Rob Sproul-Cran with Johnny Pugh (review by Darren Thornberry)

Rob Sproul-Cran and Johnny Pugh - 12th May 2009

Rob Sproul-Cran and Johnny Pugh - 12th May 2009

1. Japan – this song is a delicate, delicate thing. The guaranteed hush occurs as Rob finds his ghostlike voice and the lyrics spill out in a remarkable melody. I’m humming along, trying to be objective, but I can’t. I love it.

2. The Day He Died – Johnny plays some sweet harmonics; Rob sings “Memories you forgot you had come bubbling to mind.”

3. I See Stars – this may be Rob’s strongest song. It has grown on me a lot over the past couple of months. The live version tonight is a beast and shows off their collaborative talent. But still, you MUST hear Rob’s immense recording at www.myspace.com/robsproulcran

4. A Nice Day at the Beach – Very cool and yes breezy tune with interesting chords. Johnny unleashes the monster of rock and the duo hits their stride. Awesome.

For the last two songs, Rob stands alone and brings out some very special stuff.

5. The rock song with unintelligible lyrics. There is a Zeppelin-flavored beat throughout and while I cannot understand the words I don’t care because I am filled with surprised glee at the sound of Rob’s blues. This is what makes him standout – the ability to stop your heart with one lilting song and then plunge a needle full of adrenaline into it with the next.

6. Father. So quiet tonight that I strain to hear what’s being said. This short, quizzical, lovely song always gives me a knot in my throat. I’m afraid to know what it’s about.

Wonderful set from someone who will go far. Were you lucky enough to have his website written on your arm?

Nicky Carder and Calum Carlyle

2/3 of the new supergroup around town Neoviolet take to the stage for a couple of numbers next. Although they have only begun playing relatively recent, their first song shows that their collaboration has all the ingredients for success. Calum’s assured musicianship compliments Nicky’s natural songwriting extremely well. “The Train Station Song” is another example of this; Calum’s accompaniment is never overbearing, and adds depth to the song which allows Nicky to really let rip in the vocal. Some great harmonies as well. I very much look forward to hearing a full gig from this outfit very soon.

Jim Whyte

A quick squashee from Jim next who provides us with a tub-thumping new song. I’ve never heard Jim sing like this before, and I must say it’s absolutely brilliant! Great to hear him doing angry bluesy stuff! Its a cracking song as well packed with (self referencing) nautical imagery. Good to see that Jim is on fine songwriting form and I hope to hear some more where this came from!

Jonny Pugh (review by Darren Thornberry)

Listening to Flux, I find myself thinking that Pugh is a songwriter in the Dylan tradition. He’s a very poetic lyricist and wonderful guitarist. My partner describes his voice as “warm chocolate.” Loose ends, written in his angsty period, is actually a pretty sweet song. “Am I holding you down? My love what will become of these loose ends?” Mmmm, pensive stuff. Lyrics on his last song are irresistible. “Your forgiveness when it’s blind won’t see you through. I hurt you the most, it’s true. And I don’t know why you love me, but you do.”

Johnny’s approach to the stage is humble and subtle, and that makes his grace as a songwriter fill up the room.

Cameron

Cameron’s first is an adaption of a poem written by his granddad. It has a really laid back sound, which belies the wistful tone of the words; it is testament to Cameron’s performance that the words sound completely original to him. Its one of those songs which really benefits from the sparse accompaniment of a single guitar. Great start. His second is a new one, but its played like its been part of Cameron’s set for years. Using intelligently placed harmonics, Cameron creates a dark brooding atmosphere, with long pedalled notes in the chorus. The tension is allieviated in his third with an up-beat carefree number, with a stupidly catchy chorus. “The only thing we fear is love” he sings. Nice, well balanced set.

Matthew

Another debutant, Matthew’s first is in D. It has some interesting musical ideas (I particularly like the move to the Gm chord), and the confidence grows as the song progresses. “This Town ain’t the best” begins with insistent strumming has some lyrical gems; “They left me no choice/ I stole a Rolls Royce” is frankly close to Shakespearean. Brimming with confidence in his last, we are treated to a good old fashioned rock and roll romp. Great to hear yet another new face at OOTB.

Slicewings

Another confident debut. His first is reflection on the human condition, to which there is “no easy way out”. Again, some nice lyrical ideas on show. On his second “Walking Along”, he is accompanied by a mysterious bongo player, which complimented the rhythmic style of the music well. A real foot-tapper. His last is the strongest of the set; it has a really psychedelic sound, with prolonged drawling vocals which had my head reeling (this may or may not have been helped by the fact I was on my 5th pint at this stage). An really original song which I enjoyed. My only comment would be perhaps to learn the songs a little better to ensure that the performance remains uninterrupted. Otherwise a strong debut.

Cracking night at the Tron, I thought it was a really high standard; see you on Tuesday!

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