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OOTB 22 – 28 Mar 2002

It made a change to have a mild Spring Thursday for the open mic night, and there was a plethora of musicians itching to display their talents.

Nelson & I came on first showcasing the brand new house tambourine on the song ‘ I Need To Know Your Rejection’, a Scatter favourite from a few years ago. For the uninitiated, ‘house’ instruments are available for all the musicians to use – we now have two microphones, a guitar, keyboard, bongos and egg shakers. We played ‘Cowboy Song 2’ next which I thought sounded fine but not quite as good as last week.

Our first debutante of the evening was next. Peter M Rowan is a well-known and respected musician in Edinburgh but he’d never before performed at The Waverley until Thursday. By his own admission, the bearded one writes at the rate of a song a year and he gave us his last three songs from the newest to the oldest. ‘Didn’t Ask Why’ is about being in love without doubt and questioning, ‘Just Wanna Hold You’ deals with the intensity associated with lust and ‘Chasing The Dragon’ is about chasing a girl whose Chinese horoscope is the dragon. There is an interesting wavering in Peter’s singing which is unusual and pleasantly affecting and you’ll find him hosting open mic nights on Mondays at Whistlebinkies (10pm) and on Sundays at The Blue Blazer (8pm).

The second and final debutante Ian came next. His smooth velvet voice and the resonant drone of his guitar get right under your skin and stay there. ‘Where Do You Go My Bonnie Lassie-o’ told of a girl expecting his child but living happily on the west coast with another man. Bummer. The line ‘sometimes a man hurts more than a woman will ever know’ is very true. When I nick my chin shaving it’s a pain no woman seems to understand. He sang a lovely lullaby, not a lyrical genre touched often on these nights, with soothing tenderness. Hope you’re back soon, Ian.

Derek played us his final set of songs from the future musical ‘Modern Times’ as he’s moving on to general songwriting for the time being. ‘It’s A Dream’ is written from the point of view of the daydreamer character and featured some gorgeous chord progressions. On ‘Low Low Down’ Derek had fitted his harmonica upside down on the neck brace by accident but somehow managed to play it okay showing true professionalism. On ‘Wishing’ the audience were completely silent, focused on the hushed vocal, arpeggio guitar and tender whistling. The character list from the musical is intriguing – the girl betrothed to a man she doesn’t love, the dreamer who she does love and the evil rich man. Can’t wait for the script, Derek.

Stewart followed up his performance last week with one equally as deft. On ‘Out Of The Dark’ he used guitar harmonics alongside some fine, jazzy vocalizing. Next song ‘Spring’ was about a guy who falls asleep underneath a tree. His last song was about being unemployed from the viewpoint of the artistic eye, not feeling guilty and walking through the park watching the senoritas. I’ve been there and done it and it sure as hell was fun at the time.

The G came up a-blazing with some mean ‘axe’ riffin’ and harmonica blowin’ on the fiery love song ‘Sold’. He’s recorded not one, not two but four CDs tastefully displayed in his large wallet at a very reasonable £3 each. I’ve bought his CD ‘funkycountrypunkypop’, it’s top drawer and is written, performed and recorded by the man himself which is mightily impressive. ‘Out Like A Hero’ was dedicated to the hapless Scotland football team who were slaughtered 0-5 by France the previous night. It’s a song that demands bongos and percussion and I shoogled an egg in appreciation. The great Muhammed Ali, Jesus Christ and David Bowie were mentioned and it finished on the line ‘like a star you will shine from wherever you are’.

The G stayed on stage as Alison and Norman joined him for the band I Looked Up. Norman is the main singer/guitarist with Alison on violin/backing vocals and The G on guitar/backing vocals. It’s a new, potentially awesome line up and that potential is beginning to be borne out in reality. ‘The Desert Was Better’ (from Norman’s CD) has never sounded better than it did tonight with a real Mexican flavour. ‘Winter Sky’, a recent song, was new to me and described by Norman as ‘a twee, sentimental pop song’ which is underplaying the shimmering melodic wondrousness of the piece. Alison’s backing vocals and violin were magnificent and The G underpinned the arrangement in his subtle way. ‘The Sea’ was a mesmeric finale; the audience were enraptured more by this than any other song of the evening. It built up surely from still waters into something much more dark and tempestuous by the end. Norman’s performance was beyond question and The G was immense on backing vocals and djembe. I’m looking forward to seeing I Looked Up in the very near future.

Freeloading Frank
was as memorable and in-your-face as ever. Will Frank ever consummate his love for ‘Scully’ from the X-Files? A more unusual coupling I couldn’t imagine. ‘Bloodshed On The Way’ seems more relevant each time Frank plays it as the escalation to war in the Middle East sadly continues. Although cover versions are actively discouraged at these nights, ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ is delivered with such primal conviction (and because it’s Frank) a blind eye can be turned. I don’t know if Frank’s hollering woke the neighbours but I wouldn’t be surprised if it woke the dead at times. That kind of volume comes straight from the gut.

It was great to see the charismatic Swede Olle step up to the mic again. His music is only part of the story as his between-song banter is second to none, hilarious and his English is very good. The theme for his first song ‘Nymph’ (sung in Swedish) is ’18th century Sweden where everyone is wearing a wig’. Some of the bass notes he sang I can only dream of hitting. ‘A Girl Like You’ (a title in the tradition of The Troggs and Edwyn Collins) is a good, old-fashioned love song including the line ‘when I first saw you coming through that door/ I’ve never felt like this before’. His last song ‘Smile’ was an open invitation to make people smile and due to its infectious optimism it certainly worked. Olle is normally a bass player and he’s looking for a band. If his bass playing is as good as his singing, guitar playing and songwriting you’d be a fool not to take him up on the offer.

Lynsey followed with a passionate set. ‘Breach’, aired last week, was sung with a tremendous sense of melancholy, lines such as ‘let’s smoke this last cigarette/I want to be rid of this city by nightfall’. Lynsey’s lyrics are very dense and probably need a few listens to take in (good way to get people coming back to your gigs!). I’ve done a little research on Benjamin Denton, subject of Lynsey’s ‘Benjamin Denton Blues’. His favourite colour is pale blue, his favourite toad is Baron Greenback, he’s a media studies student and is happiest when masturbating. Again this strong is a most hearfelt work. See Lynsey at Nicol Edwards open mics on Monday at 10pm.

Gordon Ballboy
graced us with his presence at the end. His band, Ballboy, are touring England next week and the USA for four weeks in September. They have a superb CD out called ‘All The Records On The Radio Are Shite’ and their John Peel session is still to be found on the BBC Radio One website. ‘The Angels, The Whisky and The Hill Of Beans’ came first and showed Gordon’s country side. Mum’s advice to avoid whisky and playing music for a living was, thankfully for us, ignored by Gordon. ‘They’ll Hang Flags From Cranes Upon My Wedding Day’ was one of John Peel’s top ten tunes of 2001 and who am I to argue? It’s very very good. Website: http://www.listen.to/ballboy.

The winner of the raffle prize, a book called ‘The Secret Thoughts Of Men’, was Ruth Palmer.

Jim

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