All posts by yodamo

Celtic Connections Digital Pass 2022: Dùsgadh / Anoushka Shankar’s Orchestral Qawwali Project

What to do with Celtic Connections 2022 Festival Pass, which gives you 12 hours of streamed musical action. Last year the idea of a digital festival was pretty much the only way to keep the Celtic Connections alive, but it was done so well that it should hopefully remain a major part of the festival from here on in. Not everyone can get to Glasgow & on the day I was meant to go myself, storms prevented my leaving the Isle of Arran, but luckily I had my pass.

I watch’d & rewatch’d a couple of shows, the first being Anoushka Shankar’s Orchestral Qawwali Project. She is the world-renowned heir to her father Ravi Shankar’s iconic legacy, a sitar player and composer, she has spent her career mixing her own Qawwali heritage with a great variety of styles including flamenco &electronica, collaborating with such diverse luminaries as Herbie Hancock, Patti Smith, Joshua Bell and Sting.

On this occasion she has bedded in with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, which perfectly accompanined each Qawwali as it started gently & then slowly ramp up the vibes into a hypnotic reverie energizing musician & audience alike. Epic vocal sweeps from Abi Sampa, the UK’s first female qawwal, Amrit Singh’s tabla, hand claps & modern orchestral arrangements full of swirling strings together offer’d a soul-stirring & intricate journey thro Anoushka’s ouevre. A wonderful experience!

My second show was a multi-media collaboration between Scottish BAFTA-winning animator Cat Bruce, & Highland five-piece Breabach, call’d Dùsgadh (awakening). Created during the lockdown, when artists were straining to at least create something – I composed a musical myself, about Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow – something really beautiful arrived on the planet.

Its essentially a tradional Scottish folk tale set to wild celtic strains & bi-lingual narration by Margaret Bennett. You get the choice of either Gaelic or English, & despite knowing nothing of Gaelic, I preferr’d to listen to the piece in the language which sat more naturally with the music. This consisted of material from Breabach’s eagerly-awaited seventh album, due in spring 2022, as they continue to hone and develop their music’s brilliantly dynamic dialogue between tradition and modernity.

Damian Beeson Bullen

Gnoss: The Light of the Moon and Mairi McGillivray

The Mackintosh Church, Celtic Connections
3rd Ferbuary, 2022

Does it get better than last night’s concert held at the wonderful Mackintosh Church in the Springbank area of Glasgow? A venue of many years now the former church has a bar and is nicely prepared for gigs with the original seats and stage where an alter would have been. But it came to my attention that Church of Scotland buildings don’t have one.

Gaelic tradition was on the tongue of both performances by support act; Mairi McGillivray and the upcoming legends that are Gnoss. Their name translates as Knowledge of spiritual matters, a very philosophical sounding name and indeed they celebrate it through their very Celtic tunes, instrumental and vocal.

Mairi’ vocals went to bring the occasion into line to retell stories that she sang so personally of terrific passages in history where as she said herself greed was often the instigator of. I thought myself transposed by these stories and found a lot to be gained from the honesty pouring out of melodic flourishing and thrilling, unbelievable notes.

The mood of music was more than enhanced by the flexibility of performers who easily swapped instruments and even acts that had the ever present Celtic closeness between them as they shone forth and shared its power and in the case of Gnoss it’s supra happiness. 

My own interests were sparked as I saw and heard the rich and benevolent songs, even the view alone fixed a determined atmosphere and I couldn’t help but become very curious about Gaelic life in Scotland. So the far reaching yet traditionally based movement of sound was appropriated by the success of bands like Gnoss or singers like Mairi, and a key thing is in winning awards. In 2015 the Danny Kyle Award was given to them, the award for dedicated Celtic roots are a team for the advancement and popularising for this music and from the culture itself.

Gnoss were to play the entire song list from their star filled album ‘The Light of the moon’ not to be confused with ‘by the light of the silvery moon’. There were 4 musicians from the travelling band but the evening was to welcome 4 others to help fill the much enjoyed music in these restricted days. We may all reflect on the magnitude of organisation found in the hardships and obstacles that Covid has implemented in its restrictions. But had it not jumped into these waters we could have been without the festival for another year.

It is the live act trying to return that has this feeling of triumph for the gigs of this year’s Celtic Connections festival 2022 also dealing with a lack of staff. But maybe the magnitude of gratefulness is giving a special light for everyone to bask in. The relaxed performance, hung on the band and special guests cool, groovy, smiling and happy interactions also held the feeling of incredibly strong roots as they planted their feet or sat on a comfy couch.

The sound made by the ensemble was so revering, endearing as they loved just entertaining, with a wholly accomplished unbroken, unfaltering rhythm that followed just about every instrument as each took lead. 

All of the things were there happening as we sat in chairs to just soak it in. Gnoss are one of the more revered and famous of the Celtic traditional music scene. And they are very happily involved in reviving it by just being brilliant. These young men and woman had not a shred of nerves but certainly shredded into their instruments all of which brought something of a phenomenon. Let’s hope their music will ring in many places around the world, they are good enough and more than ready for it. 

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

Manran & Moxie

Celtic Connections

City Halls, Glasgow,

28th January, 2022

Manran translates into English as ‘melodic sound’ and for tonight it was main act of a Celtic Connection’s gig at the Old Fruitmarket in the Glasgow City Halls. As I stepped in to the hall it dawned on me that I was in for a great performance to come. I made my way up to the balconies that are on three sides of the hall.

The view from up high gave the spectacle a whole new light. Enter ‘Moxie’ the support band. ‘Moxie’ are a group who are touring worldwide with their magical vibrant music. They plugged the show immediately with the many fusions of sound and style and aspect. The place was pretty much packed on the ground level and the energy that the band was stirring up reached right across to the back of the hall where a voice without a mic could travel adding to the close bonds evident in the mood of the evening.

In their short performance they had warmed everything up perfectly for the Gaelic Band known as ‘Manran’ to take to the occasion. Their new, old and accomplished varying of different styles came together in Scottish folk music offering volumes of techniques skills. After ‘Moxie’ sang their own songs with ambient vocals, thumping rhythms and fantastic beats. The hall blew up to Manran’s traditional manic speed Gaelic music that was full of changes and instrument swaps with ease and certain naturalness.

 The electric vibe of ‘Manran’ flowed from their tight adherence created after good years of success in touring, recording  and bringing the music to a wide range of fans who were there for this concert. And the energy and tempos were appreciated with roaring and whooping gratitude from the crowd.

The five person act stood in a row at the tip of the stage for some numbers and dispersed sporadically for others. In changing the set up the vocal and instrumental input of songs had the strong thread of Celtic sounds behind it but the songs were so varied in their individual content covering oceans of tempos, and meanings. With for example love at their heart and loneliness the music swelled making soft expressions and then firing into cult like and determined jigs to revel and stir ourselves with wondrous dancing.

On the very lively, welcoming note the gratitude poured out of every corner of the hall. Set to entertain and even enthral its audience with a party of many, there was a great closeness at the vibrantly beating heart of the occasion. If you get the chance and have never heard them before, you would not be disappointed by the vibe and will be thrilled at the entertainment.

Daniel Donnelly

Scotland Sings Nanci Griffith

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall,
Celtic Connections
January, 2022

I stepped with untold wonder and as if back in time into the fabulous Glasgow City Halls main auditorium. We were greeted so well with the internationally familiar set with the hazy words ‘Celtic Connections’ lit up in its coloured light. Already the sight and occasion brought about a great mood in the audience that seemed to air, stir and grow as the evening’s music progressed.

This, for me, was the beginning of the Celtic Connections 2022 Glasgow festival, so the music reflected its 28th year on the world stage. And then of course as the artists took their places behind music stands and microphones; Nanci Griffith was about to see her songs brought to life by amazing Scottish folk & Country singers from their own Scottish musical roots. 

With no ado ‘The Road to Aberdeen’ began; the 5 vocalist of the show shared lines and sang in harmony kicking off with great vibrancy. The drone sound was the first note of the night always so effective in creating that very specific sound to base the song on. The Road to Aberdeen was a song written about travelling and yet always being at home (at least at heart). Brought to the world in 1998 it was performed as powerfully tonight as it had been when it was recorded. 

Nanci Griffith the Country singer from Texas played a big role in American Country and Western styles and developments made during her career saw her work with so many names of people she had collaborated with in some musical way. In the spirit of the evening short tales were told by our singers who were there as musicians as well as fervent fans.

Journeying with her music was almost an enlightening thing and the skill on show in the homage reached every corner of the hall striving as it should for the best and most capable performance. (Through the course of it the artistry of each singer’s song rose beyond all occasions). The stage was so alive with almost royally powerful thought that went into every detail of this epic show.

The levels of gratitude for everything went into the concert as it streamed into souring high times and there was a real feel of that. And at other times the music couldn’t be described as anything but beautiful. So stringently, forwardly Scottish a performance as the wooden floor itself joined in the dance. There were so many performers on stage, in a close band as it swept on.

Nanci’s lyrics read like poems as the songs each took their turns with her brilliance it was as if she was behind every bit of it. She is known for so many things personality, courage, performance, writing, often striving for a middle ground using her creativity to form what she meant to do. No question as to the meaningful reasons she is revered and loved, she and her great work have been described as genius.

And with that same passion the stories poured out with that creative genius. There was even an untold happiness from the band; that swapped instruments and led the way; in every way keeping the timely rhythms and so rightly and highly complimenting the singers in the emotions of the songs. Each gave differently but the strength came through better because of it, each one stealing the show.

To name but a few; Kirsten Adamson, Karen Matheson, Jill Jackson, James Grant were there, who if you know them well you could imagine just what commanding styles that they put in place for the concert right at the heart of Nanci’s own. The highland born Megan Henderson did her utmost to be sparkling and real. 

Appreciation was high and filled the large, spectacular room whose ceilings raise the volume to the heights. All on high, all having a wonderful time playing the music they love and that has the strong roots of the Celtic Connections at its heart. We may thank the efforts of everyone that made its masterful return to the famous festival.  

Daniel Donnelly   

The Chibmarks, The Smoking Jefferies, Willie Dug and Black Wolf Trap.

Bannermans, Edinburgh

Friday 3rd, December 2021

It had been a busy distant healing week, so setting off to witness Two acts for the first time. The Chibmarks and Black Wolf Trap. Had nae talked to many people at all. this week I jumped off the 26 at the West End and had a wander along Princes Street, The Markets were heaving with massive queues at either end it was quite a culture shockI was going to get a Salmon dish from Chef Ben Lane. Alas they were nae letting me in without a long wait and I had to be at Bannerman’s at 7pm. Had only just found out that the Chibmarks were opening proceedings in the Catacombs of the Old Town. Its the first time I have been in a beery establishment for a long timeeeeee. (sticky Keyboard) That was a culture shock too, I had to remind myself that I was here to witness something special. I have known of The Chibmarks for years. seen bits on you tube and have read Kevin Pearson hiding a great talent on Facebook, because that was what he has. A great vocal talent, Punk Rock but in Key and perfectly in tune. Along with Tony Grants expert Guitar licks and Rythme Section made up of Black Wolf Traps Bass and the SJs wonderfully versatile drummer. A combination that brought an explosion of Punk Rock brilliance. Warming the Venue perfectly. Divine is no longer a Chibmarks virgin. Punk Rock Vetrans 5 Stars.

The Smoking Jeffries

Next up The Smoking Jefferies a brilliant SKA Rock outfit of local musicians that have ripped up much much bigger stages of festivals in Scotland, Including Lindisfarne my most recent sojourn into Rock N Roll happenings. The Smoking Jeffries ripped up that stage too, really made my heart smile, with a Cameo rap from tonight’s host and voice of Black Wolf Trap Jamie Kiera. A Festival stage much suits the SJ’s with a big band and musical genius as big as this needs space to breathe. Tonight’s performance really got the intimate venue bouncing and Skanking.Great fun and whats more the SJ’s were thoroughly enjoying performing for us and their audience loved it. Oh Yes another 5 Star Performance on this bill of Rock N Roll delight.

Wullie Dug

The Third Band on this smorgasbord of musical delight Lead by the very wonderful Willie Dug, who again is another Scottish Festival stage veteran that has been delighting audiences for years with a fusion of blues-infused folk groove. Willie Dug always delights with smoking mellotron and keys, a passionate drummer and sexy bass. It was a swinging gig, Good Time. another 5 star groove.

Black Wolf Trap

And last but deffo not least. The much-anticipated performance From Black Wolf Trap, it was my first time and Divine was wet with excitement. Jamie And Shoony were a band of aspiring musicians that Divine has championed a lot over the years, Jamie’s gusto performance and lyrical brilliance always hooked me, I was at the last gig that the band played before disbanding and Jamie went on an adventure down under. The Rhythm section of Jamie and Shoony formed a power rock band that blew me away at The Meadows Festival in 2018, I spoke to the drummer after and said Aye that was brilliant dinnae worry your frontman will return, Shoony my fave guitarist of all time went down under too, returning to become a professional darts player.

Now this is the brilliant bit. The brilliant Rythm section Richy Neil on Drums. Lewis Linnington on Bass have been reunited with Jamie to form a new band called Black Wolf Trap, So tonight at Bannerman’s I was going to witness this new band, Is it any wonder I was wet? ❤

Richy Neil’s Power Drums and the Power Bass Licks of Lewis Linnington being the sole musical drive present. Black Wolf Trap are a drum and bass powerhouse and with Jamie in all-time superior form delivering his silver tongue word skills This is what I had been waiting for. Black Wolf Trap didn’t disappoint and lived up to my expectations and some. Deep inside, we all knew. Tonight’s performance was the stuff of Rock N Roll legend. The beginning of something massive emerging from Edinburgh, Black Wolf Trap have a massive fully engaging presence when they lock and create musical alchemy. Have always championed Jamie and his frontman performance skills and delivery. And I already knew how brilliant the Rythme section was. I have every confidence that Black Wolf Trap will have a swift rise to Global Stardom.❤ Really, Black Wolf Trap are that good. Well done lads you made Divine proud. 5 Stars ❤

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

The Masquerade Ball

Featherstone Castle
12th-13th November, 2021

Friday 12th November

The first party I had attended since January 2020, Of course, it was an important one. Parties at Featherstone Castle always are, so maximum preparation was in order, my lift wasnae arriving till 6pm. So had a full day to look my best. My Covid Test was negative and the absence of Party in my life was about to be rectified with a whole gathering of beautiful people that I havenae seen for two years. I knew that it was going to be a wonderful Bohemian experience.

My faithful carriage arrived on time, thankyou Cal Howland, a new friend made, and we were off in an electric car, another Divine first. Gliding down south with a stop in Carlisle to charge up the battery, we eventually arrived at our destination at 9.00pm sharp. I was so happy and ready to boogie, trousers and knickers off, kilt on and ready for the amazing Cenote Soundsytems that would provide sonic fidelity in three rooms for the duration of our entertainment. Happy Smiley people abound. Everyone knew that this was going to be a good one.

DJ Falex warmed up The Blue Room spinning golden oldies on the wheels of steel to take the groove through till Saturday. I hopped through to the ballroom for a catch-up and natter with Summer Lawson and we had some Healing time on the comfy couch as Hungry 4 Apples took to the stage, a brilliant band of musicians that hail from my native Yorkshire, wonderfully fronted by the gifted singer, Nathan Pies, and no strangers to the Castle.

This band of merry Yorkshiremen have gifted us with their collective muse in years past. After a two year break from performing live they brought Rock N Roll finesse to the Ballroom in fine form. The saying ‘a break is as good as a rest’ certainly rang true, & I was totally transfixed by this sterling performance for the entire duration. The last Song had me in raptures of joy with the perfect flavours of Primus. Hungry 4 Apples really do have something special.

By 3am I was growing weary and in need of a bit of rest and recuperation, so I returned to the Annex for a bit of a rest. Divine’s Sober now, so was pacing myself. I knew that I was on fire duty all day Saturday and the coming night I was very very excited for. Minerva Wakes, Erb And Ting and Sex Cakes. Three bands that Divine had been patient to review for some time and as if by magik all three were to be Gracing The Ballroom that coming night. Yeeeha.

Saturday 13th November

As Dawn Broke and the Autumnal Sun began to rise, I went to check the wood situation out. Hmmmm… indeed there was enough to cover the three fires upstairs and the Hearth in the Dungeon. Divine does take pride in his fire duties and keeping all the revellers warm is in Divine’s nature. It was a lovely day and the rolling green of Featherstone’s grounds were just breathtakingly beautiful (Sigh ❤ ) So I stocked up three wheelbarrows full and tended to the castle fires. Making sure each was glowing heartily, at mid day, I went for a shower and freshen up, a bit of a powernap before Mel Tiger Cats DJ Performance and yes it was a lovely skilled master mix of Disco Classics from the vaults of yesteryear further warming up a cozy Blue Room.

It was just as the Drum N Bass was revving up in the dungeon I lit the fire in the Hearth, making sure it was glowing heartily. Divine headed to witness the bill of pectacular Rock N Roll Brilliance that was about to unfold. But first it was Dinner time as performance artists and revellers rejoiced on hearty Fare, MacNCheese with a choice of Vegan, Vegetarian and meaty options available, along with some really really yummy heart and belly warming soup. Another 5 Star performance from The Masquerade Party Kitchen Crew.

To begin proceedings Minerva Wakes took to the stage of The Ballroom to deliver spoken word and contemporary performance art in a rather brilliant way. Minerva Wakes a one Woman powerhouse of creativity called Jo D’Arc, a lady who also plays Bass for the legendry Girobabies and fronts the sibling duo and power garage rock band “The Twistettes.” This is why my anticipation for this performance was so huge; Minerva Wakes I hadnae witnessed before so this is why it was extra special. The Castle Party Massive were blessed with a very entertaining Bohemian hour of brilliance, Trip-Hop Theatrical Amazingness and the debut of Minerva Wakes’ forthcoming album. This was the 5 Divine Star Opener of a night of 5 Star entertainment, Absolutely Brilliant.

During the intermission, I did a round of fire tending, stoking the fires and feeding them with the lovely Featherstone wood, grabbed a coffee and headed back to The Ballroom comfy couch to bear witness again to genuinely gifted talent. Now this one was a total surprise and completely new to Divine; a band (again from Yorkshire – Good Time! its always a good thing) called Masi Masi, fronted by a multi -talented instrumentalist. With the voice of an angel, called Joe McGrath, this young man would put Jamiroquai to shame, an absolute gifted soul. Another Star within The Ball Room, Massi Massi and Joe McGrath are gonna be massive… talent such as this always rises to the top.

This next performance I knew was going to be massive; Erb N Ting fronted by Groove Armada’s MC Mike Daniels on lead vocals and Jen Lynn Davis on supporting vocals. With the guitar and electronic wizardry of Al Roberts how could this not be a brilliant thing to witness, further blessing the Castle Massive with Rock N Roll brilliance. Jen blew me out of the water with her vocal range, totally complimenting Mike’s genius with a voice that appeared to be channelling Amy Winehouse. Honestly, this was the best night of my life since Groove Armada Headlined Lindisfarne. Erb N Ting even closed the set with Groove Armada’s classic, Superstyling. Absolutely brilliant and all in The Ball Room of musical delight.

As you can guess I was having the musical equivalent of Kundalini rising on the mega talent rammed night of excellence and just as I was thinking could it be any more brilliant, Sex Cakes took to the stage and climaxed with a performance that was just absolutely out of this world. Like all the bands on this stella line up, this was my first time of seeing them live. Oh my, how blessed could we be. Fronted by The Duchess, a poignant voice of truth that tells it as it is with no punches barred. This Goddess has something to say and it needs to be heard and indeed it will be. (All-Seeing. All-knowing Thats Divine ❤ ) And that’s just the lyrical prowess.

The Lynch Pin is the Electronic Mastery, Synths, Beats and Guitar by The Ploughman, a superior take on electronica in league with Orbital and Underworld, powered along with the Punk Rock power bass lines of The Baron. A collective of genuine performance art genius. No one was expecting this, performance art that is dynamite. Imagine Underworld with something to say words and beats that naturally grabs one attention with a resounding Yes!. Absolute Musical and performance art mastery. This was the climax to a night and weekend of performance art Orgasms, bubbling with delight insight and Bohemian Mastery. A night that moved my World and all I had witnessed for the first time in the flesh and not on a screen. Indeed the Cream Of The Crop Graced The Ballroom of 2021’s Masquerade Ball. A night that will enrich our souls forever.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

An Interview with Sam McGowan

Hitting pipes with Flip Flops has proven to be a great success for JunNk. The Mumble caught up with the man behind it all

Hello Sam, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Hello! Currently I am sitting in sunny Florida, enjoying being back in America after not being able to visit for so long due to the pandemic. I was born in Essex, England but live in the south in the heart of the New Forest.

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
As a kid, I was always a part of some amateur dramatic group; but it was when I first started studying Performing Arts at Brockenhurst College and being immersed with other talented performers where I thought this is something I wanted to do.

Can you tell us about your training?
My musical training is all self-taught, I learnt to play guitar first, and used this skill through school and college for bands and musical theatre shows, which increased my love of the arts. However, it was when I started JunNk that I learnt how to play drums and piano. A ‘learning on the Job’ approach; I knew early on that JunNk had the potential to be huge, so I didn’t want to hold back.

By 2021 you have become quite the polymath – a performer, producer, director, and manager. Why so many strings to your bow?
I have always strived for success in everything that I do; I want to deliver the best, which led me down a path of learning as much as I could, expanding my skills and knowledge in order to have the best understanding of everything I was involved in.

I started JunNk in 2008 with 3 of my best friends, from a performance point of view it was a 25% split on stage, however everything behind the scenes needed a lot more attention, everything from running the business, marketing, branding, bookings to building the equipment, arranging the music, casting additional performers. The list goes on, I quickly adapted the ability to do it all and I loved it. Producing and directing more JunNk shows as we started expanding, creating new ideas and opportunities for the company. It was, and still is, a rush and my passion for the show and my determination to ever expand makes it all worth it!

So, what for you makes a good piece of theatre?
For me, it is about being able to create a world that you can immerse yourself into, a complete interactive experience; I want to forget about everything else except what I am watching.

You’re also quite an award winner – can you run us through a few?
JunNk first won a Sky 1, TV show called Don’t Stop Me Now back in 2012 which was the start to our awards. Following that we went on to win the ‘Act of the Year’ award for our corporate engagements in the UK in 2013. Our Edinburgh fringe debut in 2016 led to us win the ‘Spirit of the Fringe Award’; fast forward to 2019 and our debut at the Orlando Fringe where we won 3 awards; Best Family Show, Pick of the Fringe and Best Marketing.

On to JunNk; where, when how & why did you get the initial impulse to create the show?
JunNk started as a college project, and we had a dance exam for part of our performing arts course; collectively we weren’t the best dancers, so we created a very basic form of JunNk to get past the exam.

It was laid to rest after college until we entered a competition on ITV’s tv show Dancing on Ice, they were searching for an act to tour with the production show; I pulled the guys together to take part and we were placed 5th overall. We then entered a local talent competition in Bournemouth, we came runners up however a talent scout watched our performance and later offered us some work if we could create a 45-minute show. This was the starting point to the creation of the JunNk you see today.

Can you give us an overall picture of the JunNk experience?
Truly like nothing you’ve ever seen before; using various items commonly found in a junkyard, the four hilarious performers energetically combine superb acappella singing, captivating percussion, innovative musical creations and mesmerising gymnastics to produce a lively, dynamic and fun show that consistently delights audiences of all ages and nationalities.

From using bottles as panpipes and watering cans as trumpets, to playing well-known tunes on drain pipes with flip flops and a PVC tube as a didjeridoo, a show that really is a unique and sensational whirlwind of pure entertainment that should definitely not be missed!

So its essentially a ‘rubbish-powered variety show’- how do the audiences react in every age group?
We have been very selective with the variety that we add to the show to make sure we can reach a wide spectrum of ages. The show is perfect for all and due to the lack of spoken word also makes it popular internationally for all cultures!

Who writes the material for the show – the jokes, the comedy, etc.?
The material normally starts with a basic idea, a song, a sketch etc and then we would workshop it in a rehearsal; essentially if we found it funny it would go in the show. Quite a lot of the show was generated by me and some of the guys just messing around. When it comes to the music, depending on the songs I would arrange some and bring them to a rehearsal and we would ‘JunNk-ify’ them.

Since its inception, then, how has the show evolv’d?
Most things have a ‘sell by date’ so I try to keep most things updated and current, some bits of material continually do well with the audience so have become classic parts of the show. The biggest part of the show that evolves is the creation of instruments, I’m constantly coming up with new ways to make music, building more equipment to deliver even more unique ways to make sound!

Tell us about China & Abu Dhabi?
Even though JunNk is based in the UK, we have done more tours in China and Abu Dhabi than England; both countries are unbelievable, I love them, and our show is always so well received. Incredible theatres and amazing people, I cant wait to get back over and tour them again.

So Covid. How big an obstacle did it prove to JunNk’s progress?
Live entertainment has certainly been one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, with ongoing and ever-changing restrictions plaguing its full comeback. Even in a pre-covid world, the entertainment business is far from easy, with live entertainment usually operating on a last-in, first- out basis, often being seen as a disposable luxury for most events. The pandemic caused the JunNk to lose two year’s worth of contracts overnight. Like many, the company was devastated, however persistence and determination managed to keep the company alive and growing and we are coming back stronger than ever!

In the dark days of the Lockdowns, did you ever feel like you wanted to give it all up?
Honestly Yes, but that was on a cold dark winter’s evening during a power cut… it didn’t last! I then lit the fire and got to it. I turned to the digital age and quickly grew a TikTok following of eighty thousand followers, generating over ten million views. This was the spark I needed to kick JunNk into our post covid gear and start to get the show back out there.

Tell us about your collaboration with Dana McKeon?
This started as a covid project, I met Dana while we were both performing on a cruise, she’s an incredible artist. We had similar goals and an equal passion for creating music, we started by covering Justin Timberlake’s – Cry me a River before deciding to write an original song together. We put our heads together and wrote ‘Love Language’ where I mixed the original sound of JunNk and the beautiful vocals from Dana to write a commercial pop / tropical house song. Love Language made it into the top 10 in the Malta PRS charts. Me and Dana have more in the pipeline so keep those eyes peeled.

You’ve now got an eye on America – what stokes the interest & what are your Transatlantic plans?
So I started JunNk in Orlando, FL in 2018, we have 2 teams that are set for Cruises, theme parks and theatres, touching a market that we hadn’t been able to do with the UK team. America offers a world of opportunities, we have strong connections with Disney due to the Cruises we have done with them over the years, so we are now working closely with another production company to open as many opportunities as possible. A very exciting time that’s for sure.

& Finally, you’ve got 20 seconds to sell your show to a stranger in the street – whaddayasay?
JunNk the manic love child of Stomp and the Blue Man Group, come immerse yourself in our zany world of comedy and music.

Mid Life Krysis @ Room 2

Mid Life Krysis
Room 2, Glasgow
4th November, 2021

Room 2 is an up and coming Glasgow venue, just round the corner from George Square. The basement room spreads out at the bottom of the stairs, making it a basement venue. On this dark and wintery night it was host to a promotional evening involving four acts that were as different as polar opposite in style of music.

I was personally there to see the Steven Vickers’ hip-hop creation, Mid Life Krysis. This would be my own second listening of his act that he is constantly touring with. I met him on a trip to Arran where he performed at a house in a behind-the-scenes kind of evening.

Steven’s genius in full flow

At the Room 2 gig his act was second to perform, after a folk music duo on guitar. But Steven’s gig set list was enough for a concert all of its own. His now well-chiselled style was all about breaking free from any and all limitation in ruckus libations of complete rap and soul. His accent enhanced his outbreak of intentions, and gave the whole space room to venture into his whipped up ideas that he classes his lyrics and determines his beats upon.

So it was fit for dancing, zoning out with a power mixed in on almost a heavy techno level. He was the perfect artist, struggling with himself, and with the lies he sees all around him all the time. Using his musical venture and prowess to complain but also having a sharp cutting edge on things in life in his own Mid Life Krysis.

A booming sound coupled with comical, serious, ironic and even street level streams of a hard hitting hip hop. He was alone on the stage with only his music to go on, and his dance was something like an antagonism, almost like a fully dressed African standing ready for war.

The crowd was enamoured to his beats of progression, and there were rumours flying about because out man Steven is more than a struggling artist but the vein of songs dealt with very real perturbations of isolation, being homeless, and many themes that cut to the bone.

He magically interweaves it all into a heightened state of affairs managing to gut him-self while also creating a performance and a good time for his up and coming audiences through thriving through his musical genre.

The liveliness was quite the thing for a solo act managing to cram a great night out into a matter of an hour. We took it in with a good enthusiasm and did our best not to feel sorry for all the lines he has come up with. Lyrics that on their own would seem devastating but when put passionately to music and his composition where well travelled and we hope he’ll have the realisation that he was not suffering them alone.

But it’s good to hear someone saying it like it is, unafraid to confront the living daylights out of it by using music. All of which he does with nothing less than bravado and accomplishment. A zesty, dancy time for adult consumption he offers a conundrum of musical spheres and untold life experience.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

Cathedral Lunchtime Concerts

Ivor Klayman

St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh
10 – 14, 16 – 17, 19 – 21, Aug, 2021

The heavens opened as I reached Edinburgh on Monday, but my spirits were not deterred. I approached the great Edinburgh Cathedral St Mary’s not far from Haymarket, for my first live Fringe excursion for two years I arrived early and in my prep I strolled the soaking grounds and entered the peaceful and magnificent building. The free, short concert between the larger than life Ivor Klayman (a native from Edinburgh) in baritone and on piano his compatriot Nancy Crook who navigated her way through Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire. We were very quiet and attentive.

It was the softest music to the ears as they played Schubert’s An die music, and Der musensohn and into Schumann with poems by Heine. It was sung in German where I could pick out things here and there but just as in operatic operates we found the gist to be in the tones of his baritone and the fleeing of the piano.

The well experienced voice had so very soothing and gentle a tone. He sang without a mic which really added a very personal touch essential in portraying the songs that were about sadness and joy and pain and happiness. Themes that still exist for us 100’s of years later. And the realised music was not lost on us, played as fresh as the date it all originally performed on.

He stood there throat and body open to the songs, a small figure with a large character next to Nancy seated and engrossed in the piano work. It really felt good to simply listen to this music in a dry and relaxed environment of a Cathedral who sees many visitors.

We can go into a musical concert like this to enjoy in whatever way you’d like. I personally closed my eyes for a bit and the music was no less potent if not more so as I sat with a clearer and clearer sense, what wonder music is. If you enjoy classical, opera, piano in any form, the human voice raised to emerge from the singer.

The Cathedral will be hosting other such performances for a few more dates. For me it was a most relaxing start to this wet but promising day. I was at ease and soothed in a no pressure gig of only the greatest quality. Thanks to St Mary’s in Edinburgh, and I hope you fill the seats.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

The Road Ahead

Brighton Fringe
28th May – 27th June

For today’s hour at the Brighton Fringe we were met with two musicians sitting in a meadow with guitars and mandolins surrounded by pine trees on the sky line. This set was called very aptly ‘The Road Ahead’ a title they came up with after being asked for by the festival. They came up with it almost on the spot but it suited the nuances of the twos music very well.

They were called ‘Glorieta Pines’ and their show was presented by ‘flying solo presents.’ On fiddle & mandolin was Lindsay Taylor and on guitar and harmonica was the enthusiastic Brian Nelson. Coming from the hills of New Mexico the sweet and tender music of Glorieta was fit for the pine trees around them.

Their songs and musical styles were strongly country but Brian in his wisdom called it folk music. Their warmth and friendly perspectives helped the stringent styles become unified by bond ship. As in their music it was clear that they had practiced well, having formed together for a long while.

The songs had the feeling of the nature of birds on hills and buffalo in the fields. And in a worldly concept they sang freely and outspokenly about life’s more precarious aspects. They sang with joy together; harmonising to make the sounds of their voices become so emotionally complete at least for a moment.

The style of lyric was of storytelling as is with folk music, but also played around with their positive outlooks and even giving advice as if for the road. They began with a wonderful song to sing with the lyric “love don’t come this way anymore.” As to her harmony with “will we ever see the sun?” and “love comes once, twice…slipped away again”. We felt the release coming from the music as it celebrated its forthcoming naturalness, especially with the surroundings. It was nothing less than a picture of happiness.

Their desire to be serious came from their abilities on their instruments. They swapped those instruments to suit the music that was folk music in its finest senses. Owning as they did themselves and their style, their original songs worked so well and had the strength and will to carry on; even if we may be stuck. The two were companions; they levelled each other off and with their music delved into the beyond that so well expressed their capability of living brightly, as their songs reflected.

They were both easy, even loving, and had a feeling of togetherness and knowingness that was of something special, relevant and in love with music. Singing for old age and whisky, it was a scene inside of a scene making music of such compassion as to change a world. Very relaxing like visiting a spa, the footage from America fitted in and set the scene with some truly great music.

Daniel Donnelly

Watch: The Road Ahead