Redwood Mountain. The Glad Cafe, Glasgow. Thursday 28th September 2017

20170928_201733 copy“It’s misery at The Glad Cafe,” quipped Dean Owens, as he described the contents of Run Boy Run, a song about slavery. It’s one of the songs Owens has revitalised from a book, The Penguin Book Of American Folk Songs, edited by Alan Lomax, which was given to him as a gift some time back. To accommodate his reimagining of the songs Owens has teamed up with Scots fiddler, Amy Geddes, the pair forming Redwood Mountain, a perfect vehicle for these songs from the past with Geddes’ fiddle the perfect transatlantic bridge connecting the Celtic roots of many of the numbers with the high lonesome sounds of the Appalachians and the plains.

Owens, a successful singer and songwriter in his own right, comfortably inhabits songs such as Katy Cruel and Rye Whiskey as he’s long had a strong American element in his songs, Celtic Americana he calls it. On the album they have recorded, and live tonight, he displays his affinity with his chilling delivery of On The Range Of The Buffalo. The song, which tells of the mass slaughter of the buffalo in 19th Century America, a ploy to starve the Native Americans, allowed Owens to lower his voice to a grim level before swelling in the cowboy yodel of a chorus while Geddes provided a mournful counterfoil to Owens’ vocals. Their rendition of East Virginia was another showstopper; another dark ballad, it summoned up ghosts of the past with a chilling intensity.

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It wasn’t all doom and gloom however as the pair joked back and forth between songs and even delivered a few upbeat numbers such as the stirring Railroad Man and Rye Whiskey while Delia’s Gone, perhaps the most familiar song of the night, was a delight with Owens delivering a very funny tale regarding the song. The audience sang along with Get Along Home, Cindy and Darlin’, a nonsense love song, not on the album but great fun indeed. Interspersed with the old folk songs were some Owens originals. Reservation Blues, another song inspired by the plight of Native Americans, tied in with the theme of the night while Strangers Again harked back to his first solo album. Geddes meanwhile offered up the wonderful instrumental, Amang The Braes O Gallowa before the pair delivered a beautiful version of Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song). Take It Easy, the one Owens original on the album and inspired by Woody Guthrie, ended the show on an upbeat note with the optimistic lyrics dispelling much of the gloom beforehand. Riding on the applause they then played on with a final song, This Land is Your Land, the audience joining in. A fine close to an excellent night.

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Martha L Healy. To Be Free EP

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Glaswegian Martha L Healy recorded her fine debut album Better Days  in Nashville and is soon heading back over there for an extended stay in anticipation of album No. 2. In the meantime she has brought a little bit of Nashville over to Glasgow in the form of this four song EP which was recorded “on a cold January weekend” at La Chunky Studios with producer Johnny Smillie. The EP, two original songs and two covers, features Healy in fine voice, gutsy and with just the right amount of high and lonesome yearning, accompanied by Rebecca Brown on fiddle, Sean Thompson, banjo and David O’Neill on double bass with backing vocals from Paul Healy.

The acoustic set up (and excellent playing) allows Healy’s voice to shine, tackling the Patsy Cline standard Walkin’ After Midnight excellently, her bluesy inflections mirrored well by Brown’s fine fiddle. Likewise on Hank Williams’ I Saw The Light where she and the band sound as if they’re veterans of The Grand Ole Opry, Healy in effervescent Gospel mode over the string band jubilations.  Of her own songs, Too Much Time (co-written with Paul Healy) is a reflective piece that recalls the likes of Gretchen Peters or Mary Chapin Carpenter with the band creating a sumptuous and sweetly flowing backdrop. Speaking of Gretchen Peters we know that Healy was a participant in the recent song writing workshops held by the award-winning songstress recently in Edinburgh. Hearing a song like Too Much Time one wonders why as Ms. Healy here manages to encapsulate an artist’s dilemma wonderfully, melody and hooks and all. Joking aside the EP’s title song, To Be Free,  does portray Healy as an excellent writer and performer with the song able to stand tall alongside creations from Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Here the band head into Appalachian Carter Family territory as Healy rails devotional and defiant, her voice as vibrant as her Nashville heroines, a staggeringly good song.

As we said earlier Ms. Healy is heading back to Nashville for a while but there’s a chance to catch her in concert this Thursday at the EP launch at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe. On this form it’s sure to be a great night. Tickets here

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Dean Owens and the Celtabilly Allstars – Settin’ the Woods On Fire (Songs of Hank Williams). Southern Fried Festival. Perth. Sunday 31st July 2016

 

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Dean Owens is a regular feature at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival where, in addition to hosting the late night Songwriter Sessions, he is a star attraction in his own right. Last year Owens and his band, The Whisky Hearts played a blinder of a show that drew heavily from his album Into The Sea, a finely crafted blend of Celtic Americana which received rave reviews across the board. This year Owens doffed his hat to one of his heroes, Hank Williams with a show that featured him in a trio setting, The Celtabilly Allstars along with guitar whizz Stuart Nesbit and his former Felsons’ band mate Kevin McGuire on double bass. As on a previous venture, his tribute to the man in black, Cashback, Owens and his compadres selected a bunch of Hank written and Hank related songs to perform along with a self penned number, Celebrate The Life that hymned Williams’ life and works.

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Despite the tears and tragedy of Williams’ words and life this was a joyous show. Stuart Nisbet’s lap steel playing along with McGuire’s dextrous bass work giving a fine hillbilly feel to the proceedings while Nesbit was in fine vocal form on the Gospel song Calling You. They opened with the excellent country lope and swagger of Setting The Woods on Fire which contrasted with the beer fuelled melancholy of You Were On My Mind, the music still at a fair clip but the youthful exuberance of Setting The Woods on Fire replaced by bitter experience. The show continued to alternate the exuberant side of Williams with his darker side. Hey Good Looking saw Nisbet switch from lap steel to his Gibson for a raucous ramble which was followed by a stellar version of Why Don’t You Love Me while My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It was a light humoured delight.

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Owens reminisced about his first encounter with Williams courtesy of a friend who owned a record shop back in the day who played him Ramblin’ Man, Owens’ version today quite excellent, his voice capturing Williams’ hi and lonesome vocal break on the line endings. He also recalled his attempt to write in Williams’ style when back in The Felsons on a song called Dave, a warning to a friend about a treacherous woman.  There were fine deliveries of Lost Highway and Your Cheatin’ Heart, the melancholia seeping through, Nisbet’s lap steel a mournful wail, before Owens sang his song, Celebrate The Life, a number delivered in the style of I Saw The Light with the audience joining in on the chorus as Owens entreated us to remember the “hillbilly Shakespeare” with his “songs of love and heartache, liquor, beer and tears“. The show ended with Owens alone on stage to deliver a spellbinding I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, a reminder not just of William’s genius but also that Owens has matured into a masterful performer, his voice rich and emotive along with a whistling solo that was just superb.

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Dean Owens has several other shows lined up over the coming weeks (see here) but currently there are only two further outings for this Celtabilly Allstars show. One is tonight at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe and then in Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall on Wednesday 24th August. Aside from being a tremendous show these will be the only opportunity to buy a limited edition CD that The Celtabilly Allstars have recorded of Hank’s songs, Settin’ The Woods on Fire (Songs I Learned From Hank) which features most of the songs from the show including Celebrate The Life. It’s a fine listen that enlivened our journey back from Perth.

 

 

Glasgow Americana Round Up Pt. 2

Back to The Glad Cafe for the evening’s entertainment and the small hall is packed to the rafters for this show.

Opener Curtis McMurtry is the 24-year-old son of James McMurtry and grandson of author Larry and tonight was his first show in Scotland. He delivered several songs from his debut album Respectable Enemy which certainly showed that he has his forebear’s gifts for words with his war veteran’s suicide note, Foxhole, the highlight of the set. Opening song, Sparks In The Wind was memorable for its melody and striking chorus and McMurtry’s deft guitar work more than compensated for the lack of the instrumentation on the recorded version while Eleanor’s House was a fine example of small town reminiscences that reminded us a little of John Fullbright. McMurtry describes his album as “songs about villains who think they’re victims” and tonight he offered the audience a choice at times of a sad or mean song. He seems to be attempting to inhabit the dark hinterland of Americana but he still has some gravitas to develop before he can drive down that dark highway without looking over his shoulder. Nevertheless he can be proud of lyrics such as “when we trust in constellations/we proudly admit that we made a mistake /and we muster disappointment /with everything we make” on his fine rendition of Chaplinesque.

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Lewis & Leigh have a bit of a buzz going on about them right now, reports from Nashville indicating that their set at the recent CMA awards was a cracker. Al Lewis, a Welshman, and Alva Leigh from Mississippi teamed up two years back and have released three excellent EPs (the latest, Hidden Truths is released this week). With Al on guitar and Alva on occasional keyboards they roamed easily around rockabilly, Everly Brothers’ harmonies and spooky night speckled tales. There are hints of X, The Walkabouts and Twilight Hotel in there but their songs transcend the influences with several tonight mesmerising the audience.

They opened with the rambunctious and rollicking Only Fifteen, a song that opens with some thrashing guitar on a tale of a kid looking for his birth mother, her plea that she was too young to look after him delivered in a dreamlike chorus with Alva sounding like Maria Muldaur on the soundtrack to Steelyard Blues. Next up was the wearied and blowsy Late Show, a late night waltz through Soho’s dreary neon nights with the pair riposting each other like a London based George and Tammy. Alva moved to the keyboard for the magnificent noirish Devil’s In The Detail, a song that surely marks the duo out as one’s to watch, atmospheric and laden with dread it’s a great song and tonight they performed it with some gusto.

Less one thinks that Lewis & Leigh are purveyors of an Americana nightmare there was humour aplenty in the between song chat with Little Chef restaurants especially pointed out as the reality of touring as opposed to the supposed glamour of being on the road and Al trying out his Scottish accent. However the spectral beauty of Rubble and the slightly southern soul feel of Please Darlin’ highlighted their harmonies and they capped this with a fine delivery of All Night Drive. Finally, there was a magnificent rendition of Heart Don’t Want, a song that has garnered some radio play for the duo and on the evidence of tonight it’s well deserved.

Thanks to Alistair Fleming for his photography.

Glasgow Americana Round Up Pt. 1

Blink and you’ll miss it. Well, not quite but Glasgow’s annual celebration of all things country and, well, Americana, is indeed small but as so often happens it’s also perfectly formed – five days of world class entertainment on your backdoor, what’s not to like about that. For Blabber’n’Smoke it was even smaller as diary engagements (including a commitment to review Pokey LaFarge who was in town as well) meant that we missed what one might call “the big guns,” Bruce Cockburn and Tom Russell (you can read The Herald reviews of these acts here). So it was down to four shows (and ten acts!) on the Saturday and Sunday, a concentrated dose of new and returning talent that at times was stunning and at the very least terrific entertainment.

Saturday’s action took place at The Glad Cafe on the South Side, an excellent venue for intimate shows allowing the audience an up close and personal contact with the performers, all of whom seemed to enjoy the intimacy.

Betty Soo and Danny Schmidt (with Carrie Elkin). Saturday Matinee

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A second generation Korean American, Betty Soo is a Texan so she comes already armed with that State’s innate gift of storytelling in song. A selection of songs from her new album, When We’re Gone, displayed her talent well; Last Night, a swooning lament of a betrayed lover was sung with a desolate sense of loneliness with Curtis McMurtry (up for this one song) adding some understated banjo notes while When We’re Gone was another tender song detailing the mementos we leave behind. Wheels showed that Ms. Soo can be defiant with this more upbeat song although again the lyrics, while celebrating life seemed to accept that we all hurtle towards the inevitable end.

Armed with only her guitar and beguiling voice Soo had the audience rapt with older songs (a tremendous Whisper My Name) and a new song that captured again the aftermath of a break up as she catalogued a list of daily activities, once routine but now perpetual reminders of loneliness (no one there to tell you to shut the cupboard door). As we said Ms. Soo is from Texas and she paid homage to one of the great Texans with a rendition of Butch Hancock’s Boxcars, slowing it down and infusing it with a fine sense of loss and regret.

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It was a welcome surprise to see Danny Schmidt arrive on stage accompanied by his wife, Carrie Elkin as she hadn’t been billed to appear. A fine vocal foil for Schmidt’s husky voice, adding harmonies to the songs Ms. Elkin also had the opportunity to display her recently established command of the mouth organ which led to one of the better quips of the days as Danny added “I could have asked Neil Young to marry me” after one of her “moothie” solos. An affable host Schmidt spent a good deal of time talking; about his songs, explaining their genesis with a sly wit or engaging in repartee with Elkin, obviously relishing his relationship with her and singing the song he wrote by way of proposing marriage (and you can see that song at the bottom of this article).

Aside from the obvious happiness of the couple Schmidt got down to business with a solid performance, his excellent guitar technique, bending strings and achieving some fine vibrato and tremolo effects, adding colour and dynamics to the songs. He opened with Paper Cranes from his current release, Owls and several songs from the album featured with Schmidt delivering his thoughts on ecology, god and gun control (on Soon The Earth Will Swallow, Looks Like God and Guns and The Crazy Ones) but his best was on the spooky and dusty ballad Bad Year For Cane while his solo rendition of an older song, Stained Glass was a masterclass in storytelling, the words pouring out like a torrent towards the end. Rounding up the show, the pair returned to the Texan theme with their rendition of Guy Clark’s Stuff That Works, a fine and comfortable way to finish off with.

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Bearpit Brothers. The Glad Cafe, Glasgow. Saturday 22nd August

Tonight was the release party/show for Bearpit Brothers‘ second EP, Something Cruel, the latest instalment in their ongoing reclamation of late 50s/early 60s pop and rock from the dead embrace of Family Favourites. On the EP the trio (Robert Ruthven, Jim Byrne and Larry Alexander, augmented tonight by drummer Angus Ruthven) recreate an era on the cusp of the morally rigid post war era and the sexually permissive Technicolor sixties. Songs about sex were veiled back then, the act itself only hinted at, seemingly innocent but with a dangerous undercurrent. However tonight was a cause for celebration and the dark underbelly was for the most part hidden beneath a lusty and jubilant delivery of very melodic songs with added lustre from Alexander’s dextrous fretwork, teardrops and rain dripping from his strings.

It was a sixties themed night with some of the audience dolled up in thrift store reclamations as shades of Roy Orbison and Cliff & the Shadows stalked the stage in a fashion not dissimilar to the Sheffield greaser Richard Hawley. Playing most of the songs from both EPs it was obvious the band were having great fun with the mini operas they’ve conjured playing up the melodrama in songs such as Love And Hate. A new song, Snap In Half showed that they’re steadily approaching the Merseybeat era although the template here seems to be The Searchers with Alexander playing some well-jangled guitar. An encore of Orbison’s Running Scared paid full tribute to the man although singer Ruthven just couldn’t manage the soaring immensity of the voice (but then again who can) and there was a fine countrified ramble through Byrne’s Daddy’s Car, a song that graced his album On These Dark Nights. They don’t seem to play live often but if you get a chance to see a show then grab it.

The band were well supported by poet Stephen Watt, winner of the Poetry Rivals Slam Championship a few years back. His observations on the plight of bats (without them there’d be na na na na na na na …Man), The Man who Wouldn’t Dance to Ska and the tragicomic tale of midnight buses from George Square were entertaining and well delivered and above all great fun, like listening to a local John Cooper Clarke. The other support, Ryan Morcambe, singer/songwriter, harked back to sixties frantic strumming with harmonica carrying the melody. His best song tonight was the folky thrash of 12 Rounds which had a fine whiff of Greenwich Village about it.

Bearpit Brothers. Something Cruel

When Blabber’n’Smoke reviewed the first EP from Bearpit Brothers we waxed about their kodachromed 50’s spangled pop. Two years on and their second EP is lined up for release and the brothers themselves say that they’ve moved onto the early sixties. Well, there’s a lot of folk who say that the sixties didn’t really start until 1964 when The Beatles hit global dominance while there does seem to have been a watershed with the advent of the Pill. As Philip Larkin famously wrote,

Sexual intercourse began/In nineteen sixty-three/ (which was rather late for me) /Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban/And the Beatles’ first LP.

We mention this because while the band might be dipping their toes into the rising tide of sixties pop they’re holding on to a lifebelt of innocence, a raft of teenage dreams with the hormones held in check, the songs limited to allusion and portrayed as melodrama. Musically they continue to inhabit a pre Beatles world, crooner vocals, old school married to a pop idiom, think of the Larry Barnes’ stable of brylcreemed balladeers such as Dickie Pride or Vince Eager. Next drop in a dollop of sumptuous guitar draped pop of the type purveyed by John Barry and Joe Meek, both influenced by Buddy Holly but able to add their own idiosyncratic touch. Cap this with Cliff and The Shadows and we’re somewhere near where Bearpit Brothers are at these days although a top notch production and some spectacular guitar playing rises the EP well beyond mere nostalgia.

On to the songs then. Say Goodbye is a pop confection of the first order, pizzicato type guitar underpins singer Robert Ruthven’s warm croon as he evokes tearful railway platform goodbyes. There’s a glorious melange of acoustic and electric guitar midway through which rings to the heavens. Love Born In The City is a paean to young love hit by Cupid’s arrows lifted aloft again by the deft guitar work which does recalls Hank Marvin strutting behind Cliff. Love And Hate moves into Roy Orbison territory, darkly dramatic with a flamenco flourish on the chorus with some low riding twang guitar to boot it sets the scene for the sour title song which follows. Something Cruel has an exotic touch, castanets clicking away as Ruthven realises he’s been taken for a fool, recognising clues too late. Here we’re reminded of Billy Liar, lured by his dolly bird, Liz, only to bottle out at the last moment. This kitchen sink cinematic touch continues on the closing song, Ruby Wine although here it’s the fatalistic element of Poor Cow that’s evoked as Byrne recognises the hopelessness entwined in the relationship.

It’s only 16 minutes long but Something Cruel grabs the listener and is a wonderful evocation of a more innocent time. The EP will be available at the launch gig at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe this Saturday, 22nd August.

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Mairi Orr. The Glad Cafe, Glasgow. Sunday 28th June 2015

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Morar raised, Edinburgh based Mairi Orr released her debut album this week and she was fortunate enough to have two launch parties celebrating this achievement. She played Edinburgh last weekend and tonight it was Glasgow’s turn. Reviewing the album, Jenny Does Burn Blabber’n’Smoke mentioned that Orr had gathered together a “dream band” whose playing, along with her fine voice and writing skills raised the album well above the bar. For the launch shows she was able to retain the majority of this gifted bunch with Steven Polwart on guitar, Dave Currie, Dobro and guitar, Nico Bruce double bass and Mattie Foulds on percussion while Danny Hart’s fiddle parts were handed over to a fellow Morar musician, Eilidh Shaw. From the off it was clear that the all acoustic ensemble were something special, the opening song, The Drover delivered with a haunting sense of mystery with Polwart’s guitar and Currie’s Dobro slyly weaving together over cymbal washes and delicate mallet playing from Foulds. As the song slowly unfolded they were spellbinding, memories of Fairport Convention, The Pentangle and other stalwarts from the heyday of folk rock were summoned up. The song itself is a tremendous invocation of ancient days but the playing was, simply put, gobsmackingly brilliant, sending shivers up the spine.

They played all of the songs from the album although the running order was rejigged. It was a hard task to follow the opening number but the brisk fiddle led country romp of Don’t You Wed Another Man, Maggie was up to the job allowing Eilidh Shaw to shine and featuring some fine counterpoint singing. The title song swayed exotically and hearing it live one felt that it was reminiscent of the late Kirsty MacColl’s ventures into Latin American music. In fact hearing the album fleshed out live offered insights into some of the songs that were not immediately apparent from the record. I’m Not A Gambling Man revealed its debts to Hank Williams and Western swing while Just A Fallow Year seemed to have more of Richard Thompson’s bleakness than was apparent on the album.

Orr was engaging as she introduced several of the songs explaining their origins. She spoke about growing up in Morar on Silver Sands, family memories on The Piper of Peanmeanach and Summer On The Clyde and of her mother’s search for a cluster of Ragged Robin flowers. The delicacy of the band playing amplified the sense of nostalgia (and sometimes, regret) embodied in these songs although there was also some welcome bawdiness on the rousing The Drinker’s Wife. However they kept the best to the last with an astounding version of Letting It Go, a song of regret that on the album again harks back to Richard Thompson like melancholy. Here the band slowly built to a climax with the instruments meshing together anchored by some muscular bass playing from Bruce as the fiddle skirled and Dobro snaked away to create a devilish din with Orr raising her voice over the maelstrom. A cracking performance it bookended the show perfectly. There was time for an encore and they ran through a grand version of Dirk Powell’s Moonshiner with Dobro and fiddle battling away and a definite Celtic air to the delivery.

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Robin Adams. The Garden. Backshop Records


If you live near the Shawlands area on the south side of Glasgow you might have seen Robin Adams striding along, usually with his guitar in bag strapped to his back, his lion’s mane head of hair flowing in the wind, he’s quite a striking sight. Fortunately, he’s quite a striking musician as well with his previous albums gathering a bit of a cult following, similar to that of the late Nick Drake three decades ago when Drake was known to only a few cognoscenti. Reviews of Adams’ previous works have compared him to Drake and John Martyn (the Martyn comparison is odd other than that they share a Glaswegian background) but there are some elements of Drake to be found here. There’s a melancholic feel to the lyrics and a bucolic air in the music but the comparison ends there, to these ears it’s the likes of Roy Harper, Robin Williamson, Bert Jansch and Will Oldfield who come to mind with beguiling melodies and lyrics that can be darkly beautiful.
Adams stares that The Garden was influenced by his thoughts on Vincent Van Gogh, the painter’s struggles with his internal turmoil, his darkness and light. However, the album’s hazy sameness, an almost repetitive search for peace recalls another painter, Monet who captured the likes of Reims Cathedral in different lights at different times of the day trying to capture the illusive nature of light. Monet ended his years obsessively painting his garden at Giverny. As with light so with sounds and Adams, perched in his bedroom overlooking his garden, offers variations on this theme.
Overall The Garden is the sound of one man and his guitar. Occasional harmonica, keyboard, percussion and bass intrude and there’s a cello on one of the songs. A fine guitarist with a wisp of a voice that only occasionally betrays its Glaswegian origin, Adams roots around in the soul of despair. He cites Rimbaud’s description of a soldier’s corpse (Sleeper In The Valley) as inspiration and this is most obvious on the apocalyptic lyrics of Collision Course that closes the album while the opening song, The Garden is full of foreboding with spilled blood fuelling the garden’s growth. Paint Me The Day is almost iridescent as Adams sings of “burning red skies over fields of gold flowing like rivers of colour all born from your soul.” Packed full of beautiful metaphors it’s a powerful plea for love. Throughout the album Adams displays a fantastic poetic bent, his words paint pictures, impressionistic, not story telling but allied to the slight Americana touch in Keep Me or the naked guitar lines of Troubled Skies he is riveting, demanding a replay to properly savour the songs. The Garden isn’t an album to put on as background music, it demands and repays close attention and the rewards are there with Street a magnificent meditation on the fragility of the human condition. With the devastating opening lines “your heart is made of paper, your life is made of glass so beware of those who reach for you” delivered over a rippling guitar that recalls Arthur Lee’s Love on Forever Changes, the end result is sublime. Meanwhile Need Not Turn is perhaps the best song Will Oldham hasn’t yet written.
The Garden is a wonderful listen for those who delve into the nooks and crannies of a songwriter’s mind, it flows, brackish and dark perhaps, but seeking an outlet.
Robin Adams is launching the album at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe on Saturday 4th April.

Robin Adams Facebook page

The Rulers Of The Root/Kings Of Cheeze. Glad Cafe, Glasgow. Saturday 22nd November.

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Trilogies are all the rage these days, a bit of a nasty hobbit I think but here’s Blabber’n’Smoke jumping on the three piece bandwagon with our third post on The Rulers Of The Root within the last fortnight. This flurry of activity was occasioned by the release of the band’s debut album, Porky Dreams which was given an official launch at the Southside’s Glad Cafe on Saturday. A packed venue saw the cafe’s staff running around looking for extra seating and a bit of a log jam at the bar, the only standing space available. Either the Rulers have a hell of a lot of family and friends or that the lure of picking up the album for a cut price one night only deal was too tempting an offer to refuse.

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Fired up by the very enthusiastic crowd the band turned in a stellar set with the majority of the songs plucked from the album while others hinted at a fine follow up. Singer Patrick Gillies was on great form with his bagful of props put to good use as he careened through the rousing I’m Spartacus and bellowed mightily on the piratical Rose Of Jericho. With Mick Murphy and Chris Quinn anchoring the sound guitarist John Palmer slashed and burned throughout, his guitar razor sharp with some fantastic Wilco Johnson like fury on I’m Spartacus. Cat Fur was a highlight with its Beefheart growling while I’ll Be Your Doctor If You’ll Be My Nurse came across like some bawdy lovechild of Boris Pickett and Ian Dury. As befits a special gig some guests were invited up to join in the musical mayhem with Palmer’s wife, Fiona, playing ukulele on the slinky voodoo of Colon Man while their daughter, Lucy, added some haunting harmonies to the cowboy lope along of Charlie. Veteran Southside keyboard player, Alan French (AKA the Great White Shark according to Gillies), was also on hand to add his expertise to Charlie and the Bossa Nova groove of Sinaloa. Despite the oven like heat album favourites such as White On Rice, Maillot Jeune and Murdoch Browns were despatched with a degree of fury as the band all but melted on stage. The queue at the end of the show at the merch table was testament to the audience enjoyment.

If you weren’t there then you can get a hold of the album from The New Hellfire Club in The Hidden Lane and Love Music.

We should mention the opening act, Edinburgh’s Kings Of Cheeze, an act new to me. Semi acoustic, they put on an energetic set that veered from Lena Lovitsch like vocals from singer Trish Murry to a kind of mutated Ry Cooder meets Pere Ubu contortions with guitarist Dave Gray moaning and whistling as he jerked out some fine jazzy guitar runs. An infectious bunch they were jumping up and down in their seats as they played and are well worth further investigation.