Tuesday, 20 April 2010

So much things to say

Having something to say musically is certainly a good thing, but the other side to that is having people willing to listen.  Usually, the willingness of people to listen can be influenced by the performer to a degree.  In the right circumstances, a performer can still an entire room (cf. Jill Hepburn).  In the wrong circumstances, it can barely matter what the performer does, e.g. Rum Club night down at the Blazer, after midnight at Nicol Edwards, etc.  What may work in a noisy bar, may not in an art cafe, and vice versa.

So, it was with some interest, and a little trepidation, that The Storm played in The Hootananny in Inverness on Sunday, a venue previously unknown to us.  How receptive would people be?  The outside of the venue seemed to proclaim it's folk heritage, which made me wonder if the crowd would take kindly to us, not being traditional folk and all.  I also wondered if there'd be any people there, as we didn't start until 10:15 on a Sunday night.

I needn't have worried on either count, as there were people, and they were willing to listen. Were there more receptive people than an equivalent Sunday night in Edinburgh?  It certainly seemed so.

I'm still musing over why that should be the case.  The layout and d├ęcor of the place helped: a wide welcoming room, seats where people could sit and see/hear the stage, no massive screens showing sport, photos from music festivals on the walls, volume at a level where people could still converse if they chose.  I'm wondering if the stance of the promoter helped too; as well as the traditional folk sessions, he was interested in good quality original music, and there seemed to be a long-term strategy of encouraging that.  Over a period of time, I'd imagine a venue gets a name for itself as having decent music, and people might pop along even if they didn't know the band.

It made a refreshing and encouraging change from the usual pressure to bring along a vast crowd of people, and never mind the musical quality.  Despite obviously not being able to generate a massive crowd, we were still put on as the main act.  People enjoyed it, people bought beer, venue made money, band even got paid (gasp).

Once again it seems it's worth it to leave Edinburgh when performing.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Some CD's

So . . . what would be your favourite CD's by Lothian-based artists . . . ?  It's a tough pick.  I've gone for some below, but they're naturally skewed towards the more recent releases, and memory being the fallible instrument that it is, I have doubtless forgotten some which are very noteworthy.  I've picked ones which have received a fair number of plays on my CD player.

Given the disclaimers above, we have, in no particular order:

Emily Scott - Longshore Drift
Jill Hepburn - Snowflake (hmm . . . is Falkirk in Lothian . . .?  At any rate, I'm including it here)
Ben Young - Englandland
Machar Granite - Lost In History
Norman Lamont - The Wolf Who Snared The Moon
ballboy - Club Anthems
Aberfeldy - Young Forever
Ms Fi & The Misfits - Songs from the City of Edinburgh
Townhouse - Times & Tides

 . . . and I cannot resist mentioning Lindsay & The Storm - Lindsay & The Storm EP.  I'd like to mention Flowers For Algernon's "Organic" LP, but that would definitely be not so much veering towards bias, as driving to Biasville at 100mph whilst tooting my horn all the way.

Given my comments in my previous post about how important it is to vary arrangements and what-not, it may seem surprising to include Ben Young's CD, as it's just him and a guitar.  In his case, I don't get bored, for some reason.  Possibly because Ben combines many styles from around the world in his guitar playing (which is excellent), and possibly becasue I find his lyrics interesting, as they encompass sarcasm, humour, and observations about relationships.

If I was forced at gunpoint to pick one, in terms of the overall quality (leaving aside The Storm and The Flowers), I would be tempted to go for Jill's CD.  Every song on it is of high quality, and it's been well recorded, with some interesting arrangements.