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OOTB 289 – 21 February 2008

OOTB 289 – 21 February 2008

Darren Thornberry, Colin Milne, Starship, Hannah O’Reilly, Johnny Pugh, Aaron Lowen Berger, Rossco Galloway (Featured Act), Yogi, Colin Donati, Nigel Ashworth (debut), Ian Petrie

Our compere, Darren Thornberry, kicks things off with ‘In Theory’ which features his trademark  soaring counter-tenor. The tentative early days of a relationship trusting nothing   do not last and the novelty cannot sustain forever, love was meant to hold us.

Colin Milne Describes these songs as cathartic, with which most musicians purging demons through song can well sympathise. The first is a song of love, I believe for an offspring, your tootsies sure they’re tiny  . Either that, or a very small woman. ‘Divorces r us’ is a stung husband talking of a predatory ex wife, and of her new prey, is it pity or envy, I can’t make my mind up.   His third starts with some fine chords before moving towards more flourish with flowing arpeggios.  This man grows with every outing: more, please.

Starship Squashee Stoddart regales with ‘Another Song.’ I’d like to print his opening gambit, but I’m not OFCOM wouldn’t allow the blasphemy. Oh, sod it… this wind today, like God farted…   Thanks Nyk. Anyway, the song is blistering hard (acoustic) rock, highlighting both Nyk’s acute awareness of how he may be perceived, and his ability to parody it: I’m a fool ’cause I don’t play by your rules.   Anarchy in the OOTB.

Hannah O’Reilly She looks at us like a schoolmistress over her specs, then goes on to sing a song called ‘Bound,’ though there’s no dodgy stuff here. Rather, an enchanting tale of love as enthrallment, in the true sense of the world. ‘Dirty Angel’ is about rising above one’s circumstances, she’s a side show freak, but this dirt angel flies,   and named after a great compliment from a punter. Throughout, Hannah mixes original lyrical themes with a beguiling and assured stage presence, and her last, ‘Strange Friend,’ is typical of this. About a conversation with a crow, it is rich with metaphors. Hannah is masterful in mixing full voice and falsetto; light finger-picking and freefall strumming; and shifts the mood between verse and chorus with ease.

Johnny Pugh Wastes no time on stage, his first is lively and earnest, you can say these words as if they were once written by your hand… but I know this song.   Johnny starts in quiet mode, but can let rip when he wants to, and with great effect. ‘On fire’ highlights Johnny’s voice as one which is naturally full of tune and tone, annoyingly so. What a beautiful mess,   he sings to ascending chords, about a love that was. The last song manages to balance a difficult topic and not sounding trite. The bruises on you face shine in this light.   He has to muster excellent control and technique to carry it off, which he does.

Aaron Lowen Berger Aaron leaves the country tomorrow, so I can say what I like, but seriously, another fine display from the mute axeman on crowd-pleaser Last Man’s Jig. Always an inspiration for learning how to play guitar that bit better, I will miss it when he’s gone.

Rossco Galloway in 2004

Rossco Galloway in 2004

Rossco Galloway, Featured Act Our main man begins with ‘Fish Wife’s Tale’, which summarises perfectly Rossco’s ability to blend the familiar with the fantastical with the stuff of legend. I’m hanging round in a fish wife’s tale  . Includes tonight a beautiful intro, reserved for quieter occasions, which belies the driving beat to come. A new song follows which lilts along like a cowboy blues. Although she’s seen the world, she’s barely just a woman.   We all know one of those. ‘Pick a field tonight’ is all jazz chords over indescribable, untranslatable lyrics. I’m amazed if he knows what it’s about. Following, ‘My balance has stopped working.’ Happily the guitar hasn’t, as it follows the melody with not a note to spare. Bit like a folk psalm. ‘The Willow Tree’ is self-proclaimed Rossco folk, and a lively jig at that, dance a helter, dance a skelter  , before the chorus hits with real intensity. Reminds me of the party at the start of Lord of the Rings. ‘Love songs are ten a penny these days.’ And he doesn’t lie when he sings I wrote you eleven just to throw away,   – the man has written about 90 odd songs in all. This one is slow and restful with superb lyrics. Of love: easy to imagine, but hard to describe.   His next, ‘Iona’, talks of the island of which he is most fond, a haven in times of sin and unrest. the devil took one look and cried.   ‘Jemima and James’ is a wide-screen epic of hurt and redemption. Delivered with conviction. His last is a minor departure, with a quiet boogie/funk about trying to gain citizenship. A wide eyed man in a new world, I think I’ll pop a cork, and drink a toast to old New York.   Enjoyed the whole set immensely, and kudos to a man that can play 9 songs in 30 mins (!)

Yogi ‘Can’t go on this way’ Usually berating the world, for once Yogi turns his anger on himself, with this ultimatum of a song about opportunity lost. Not a shy man.

Colin Donati I can’t decide which I like better; his fret-work or his foot-work; as he begins with a good ol’ country song, ‘Black and White’. Unlike proper country he doesn’t lose his house, his wife, or his dog. It’s more chattering monkeys   and crocodiles. Jumanji, then. Sounds a lot like that song ‘Flowers on the Wall’. ‘Shadow in Summer’ is a very successful setting of a Norman McCaig poem to music. A minimalist arrangement which is any but straightforward, combining all sorts of time signatures effectively. Raises all sorts of questions about the authorship of a piece. ‘Various Moons’ is staccato and bare. a fading sky glows emerald green   Fine picking jazz/blues.

Nigel Ashworth, debut His first time Anywhere, apparently. Don’t know, he seems far too good for that. ‘You are’ starts with him picking a melody before he’s strumming chords up and down the neck, with great hammer-ons. About a beautiful girl. Not all schmaltz, though, as on his second he sings I know there’s no such thing as perfect love.   His finger-picking accompanies I’ve got to find the right way to love you.   ‘Curiosity’ starts soft and light, with a catchy chorus All you need is curiosity  , before getting bold and angry by the end (presumably from the gross over-use of reverb on the part of the sound-desk). Still, if this is his first time, in a couple of months from now…

Ian Petrie Making the long and arduous trip from Northumberland, Ian begins with a power ballad of sorts, ‘It comes and goes’. His soaring vox describing how it ebbs and flows.   Vocal gymnastics. ‘Steal Away’ carries on the vein of memorable melodies and a cracking counter-tenor. ‘I’ll stay by you’ New single, but one which I’ve heard before and thanks to the stupidly catchy tune, instantly recognised fondly. Great to see Ian at OOTB again.

Compere: Darren Thornberry

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