The Soundhouse Choir, found its origins in 2016, when Heather Macleod, a singer, teacher, arranger and producer. Began The Soundhouse Choir Project, which has continued to grow, with its heart in the Edinburgh community, with an ethos of inclusion and give it a go spirit. Everyone is heard and music is made. Soundhouse Choir’s ripple effect of well-being and positive energy flows far beyond the rehearsal room or the stage. The experience is an exciting and creative joy ride; a choir for all voices, driven by dynamism, professionalism, good humour and musical inspiration. It has the heart of a community choir and the soul of a big band.
Tonight’s performance is a fundraiser for The Soundhouse Choir Project, with all profits going to fund their championing of live music. The theme of the concert is inspired by Fair Saturday. The day after Black Friday, thousands of artists and cultural organisations around the world get together in a unique festival and support social causes through their event. The global Fair Saturday movement’s aim is to promote social inclusion, kindness and sharing.
Fair Saturday places art and culture at the centre of society. In these uncertain times, it is more necessary than ever to acknowledge the work of artists and cultural and social organisations and to support their work so they can continue to create and generate a positive impact.The Queen’s Hall is proud to have been a supporter of the initiative since 2018.
Presented by The Queen’s Hall and the Soundhouse Organisation As I took my seat for this evening of groundbreaking musical excellence the ambience of The Queens Hall relaxed me, the stage bathed in a beautiful blue light and with a capacity audience in collective excitement and anticipation of what was to come. The enormous in numbers and talent, Soundhouse Choir took to the stage. Introduced and directed by Heather Macleod The Queen’s Hall was filled with vocal harmony with beautiful renditions of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Starting Over, followed by Moloko’s “Sing It Back With Inge Thomson on electronic treatments, Keyboards and beautiful vocals taking the lead for the final song from this art house massive, Anise Pearson joined the collective as The Queen Of Harps, to deliver a beautiful piece called Fractured Hearts, dedicated her late Mum, Heidi Exquisitely moving, angelic harmonies of musical grace.
As the choir left the stage. sparsity became the setting. with Phil Bancroft on Saxophone, and Graeme Stephen on guitar. Tom Bancroft on drums providing a fusion of Jazz-tinged genius and poetic magic by Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery. Performing her epic poem, “Edinburgh” the audience were totally soaking up this cultural fix, which led us to the interval.
The performance’s second half kept the experimental Jazz flowing with a different fusion. this time with beautiful Gaelic renditions of songs performed by the amazing Kathleen MacInnes, This was a deeply moving night of explorative avant-garde entertainment. Totally gripping from start to finish.
Continuing Damian Beeson Bullen’s retrospective adventure thro’ the Birth of Britpop; with a trip back to Burnley for his 18th birthday (11-06-94), on which occasion Oasis had kindly obliged to play a free concert in Preston for all his pals…
After being surrounded by so many familiar accents, suddenly we felt a little homesick. I then realised I was just about to turn eighteen – June 11th – & mentioned to Nick going back up North for a few days. We had been in Wales for a month, half of our free-rent-time, & so far we had done some pretty mad stuff. We had some proper tales to tell. Besides, there wasn’t a decent chippy for miles around Ynyssdu & Nick was growing sick of fish finger butties.
One of those stories was of course I meeting with The Stone Roses, a garbled account of which was now leaking out into the world – or perhaps the Geffen boys actually thought we were members of the band.
1994 was a very different place – the height of the analogue age, but on the cusp of the digital revolution. In 1994, for example, there were 67 mobile phones for every 1,000 people in Britain. By 2004, there were more mobiles than people. Back in 94 the metrosexual revolution was in fill swing with Oddbins making wine-tasting available to anyone via 200 wines being quaff’d by the ‘less civilised’ members of society, leading to a serious surge in street-mooning & gutter-puking.
Meanwhile, out in the world of golf, the 19-year-old Tiger Woods was hurtling around gossipy player circles as ‘that brilliant black kid.’ Tiger, real-names Eldrick (his nick-name came from his dad’s Vietnam War buddy) was from Cypress, California, & at the age of 3 was shooting his dad’s 9-hole course in 48 shots.
I’ve never been materialistic at all. I just want to be the best golfer around. And I don’t mean the greatest black golfer around, I mean the best, period. Tiger Woods
Unfortunately Tiger was living in the same era as Kim Jung-Il, whose biography tells us he first picked up a golf club in 1994, at North Korea’s only golf course, and shot a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one. Satisfied with his performance, he reportedly immediately declared his retirement from the sport.
Before we headed north, we had to back to Wales first to sign on, so we decided to break up the train-jump with our first visit to Stonehenge. We got off the train at Salisbury, dominated by her cathedral’s massive spire, then caught a bus up to the stones. It was nice enough, but fenced off so we couldn’t get stoned among those ancient monoliths, & like kiss ’em or summat. Instead we skinned up a couple of spliffs & spent a nice hour on a little rise not far away from the circle, the wide sweep of Salisbury plain all around us. In our reefer-haze we even wrote a new tune, called Blowin’ a Reefer on Salisbury Plain – tho’ lacking Weed’s classic status, we thought it would make a perfect b-side.
Meanwhile, in the world of philandering royalty, we were all still trying to get our heads around the separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. In June, Charles finally admitted his extramarital affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. He’d been secretly seeing her for years, but had been forced by higher powers to create heirs with Diana Spencer, some crazy Zionistic shit most likely.
After signing our souls away to the Man, we set off for Lancashire, knowing there would be couple of fat giros waiting for us when we got back. On the way up we heard that the Scottish MP Gordon Brown had pulled out of the Labour leadership race, leaving the door wide open for Tony Blair. They had decided to share the power, Blair getting first ‘dibs’ on the premiership, while Brown got the house next door.With hindsight, if Brown had realised he would have to play understudy for well over a decade, he might have changed his mind. But to two young lads in the middle of a Teenage Funkland, the news might as well have been in French. One bit of news did catch my attention, however.
“Yo Nick, Oasis are doing a free gig on my birthday in Preston.”
“That’s lucky Damo,”
“Aye, it is innit!”
So we set off, me & Nick, plus a few friends in tow, including Jane – the girl I was seeing before I set off to Skegness. She was a bonny blonde & suffice it to say I woke up on the first full morning of my nineteenth year with her beside me. It was in the attic bedroom of her mum’s house in Brierfield, which is no longer standing. It was not far from a bridge over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, & a year or so later, when we split up, I remember after one last night of farewell lovemaking, I took a ‘couple-photo’ from her room & threw it symbolically into the canal from the bridge – where it might be to this day!
Back in 1994, on the morning of my 18th birthday we had all bobbed along the East Lancashire train-line the 20 miles to Preston, where I quickly realised that train-jumping with 8 people was a lot trickier than with two. In the confusion half of us got there without paying, & we were soon approaching Preston’s Avernam Park. It was a free festival in the old Castlemorton tradition, sponsored by Heineken Festival – a huge inflatable beer-can of whose over-shadowed the site. It was a Saturday & the third day out of four – The Charlatans had played on the Friday. This was also the first Heineken Festival of the summer, they’d be up & down the country for months.
It was interesting to see that in a matter of a month or so since Newport, the Oasis crowd was getting bigger & more boisterous. When they took to the stage, a deep mooing footie chant kick’d off, the first time I had heard the now famous “O-A-SIS, O-A-SIS!” terrace-song. One prat chucked a beer at the stage, with Liam throwing a wobbler; “we’re not fuckin’ ‘aving that – were not playing,” he spurted out, but of course they played. kicking off with Shaker Maker.
Altho’ we were too young & bouncy to notice, the tent was also full of critics from ‘That London,‘ all finding themselves tapping their feet to the cultural phenomenon exploding before their eyes. The fact that none of them could understand Liam’s incoherent ramblings between numbers made them like the band even more. By the end everyone was buzzing, including a guy who climbed 50 feet to damce precariously on a metal strut on the roof of the marquee, before being chased Beny-Hill style by two security men off the park.
I feel a real twat with Oasis, because the’re the first other band I’ve really loved since I joined a band myself. We’ve played with them a lot lately & I love hanging around with ’em, but I can’t talk to ’em properly cos I keep thinking ‘You bunch are fucking ace!” Martin Carr (The Boo Radleys)
After another barnstorming, intoxicating, belligerent, blistering, mouth-full-of-chips-AND-gravy gig, me & Nick got the Gallagher brother’s autographs on the back of the same sheet of paper that the Stone Roses had signed, like proper starry-eyed fans. After Oasis came the Boo Radleys, who were alright. As Avenham Park began to empty me at the end, Jane & I said our goodbyes as Nick toddled off to Barlick with Ezy Ste, while my other mates went back to Burnley.
So I was off on a romantic birthday surprise trip to Blackpool, to where we caught a train at Preston.. As it was so packed after the free festy, the conductor never came & soon we were soon searching for a B&B in the English Vegas. As it was so packed the conductor never came & soon we were searching for a B&B in the English Vegas. Finding a suitably cheap & cheery one, we rushed to the Pleasure Beach for a birthday go on the recently opened Big One. It had put the Pleasure Beach back on the map after a decade of Alton Towers’ supremacy & was – for a while – the tallest roller-coaster in the world. It was also a good place to splice a wee snog with your girlfriend with innuendos about big ones – teenage foreplay at its most effective.
Back at the B&B & indulging in some drunken pillow-talk, Jane she mentioned she was going to Newquay with six other girls for a weeks holiday at the beginning of July.
“Is the Pope polish?”
The day after the day after my birthday, Oasis released their second single – the cocky superior sonic sneer of the copelling & addictive Shakermaker – & the Pyramid Stage burnt fireball-down at Glastonbury. The former, recorded & mixed in only 8 hours, would reach #11, while the latter was gone forever. Also released on June 13th was Shed Seven’s second single, Dolphin, two months before their debut ‘Change Giver’ album. I love Shed Seven me – the city of York’s wicked wee, pimp-rolling contribution to the 90’s soundscape -; Rick Witter was an oddball, dusky pixie with a stunning voice, whose Dolphin is a well funky track & A Maximum High (1996) is a fantastic album. Brit Pop at it most pearliest – beautifully posed, epic music that brought the movement’s ethos to a true perfection.
Not having a TV in Ynyssdu, I watched a bit of telly while up in Lancashire, including Chris Evans’ Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. Between his stints fronting The Big Breakfast and the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Chris Evans had devised and began hosting a Saturday night gameshow that bundled winning contestants off on holiday directly at the end of the show. It was a conceit that generated unprecedented levels of hysteria in the studio, not least on the occasion when they revealed they were sending the entire audience on a coach trip to EuroDisney. Suddenly the atmosphere was something akin to the away end when your team’s just scored a last minute winner. The only person not going completely wild was the somewhat perplexed studio guest, Barry White. Only in 1994.
Me & Nick were now buzzin’ about another gig that had rolled onto the horizon, like they do in the seemingly endless roll of parties that is the English Summer. Both Bjork & Oasis were playing the Saturday night at Glastonbury. We had never been to a proper festival before, but the time seemed right, especially with Jane & the Girls being a only a short train jump away in Cornwall just afterwards. We were young & at liberty to enjoy the keenly-felt experiences which were piling rapid-fire into our lives.
After a week or so we borrowed Ezy Ste’s tent & set off South. We spent a couple of nights in Stratford-Upon-Avon en route, calling on an old mate of mine from Accy Road, Mark Hancock. We found him in this candlelit park where a load of actors were having a rather la-de-da party. He was raving about Prozac, popping open a blister pack of green-and-white capsules and declaring he had seen the light. We declined – we preferred pills that made us dance, preferably to Techno. But we had some beers & it was reyt enough to see him – I had just turned eighteen after all, & felt like a proper adult talking about Shakespeare & all that stuff. So Mark got us tickets to see a play called Peer Gynt at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
It would be hard to imagine a face less likely to stoop to gloating than the noble wreckage of Barton’s countenance. Prodded about the entirely negative critical response to Ninagawa’s mammoth god, though, he admits: ‘Of course it was heartening if one was taking the opposite approach. But one also felt for the actors and for the main fellow (Michael Sheen) who was so valiant and good. I mean, you can’t do international casting as Peter Brook does unless you can really communicate with everyone and work together. It looked like a Great Dictator production – you know, ‘I’ve got my lighting; I’ve got my design; I’ve got my concept; I’ve got my film of onions. And in between there are some scenes.’
Paul Taylor (The Independent Newspaper, May 1994)
It was a curious experience, watching high-brow theatre proper stoned like. In later years I would develop a definitive appreciation for the dramatical arts – I’m a theatre critic for example – but for the 18-year-old Damo watching Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece found no amplification, no guitars & no catchy choruses. It was time to get to Glasto.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Monday, January 21st 2019
I took my seat at the back of the main concert hall, taking it all in. The setting was striking, with the marvellous Celtic Connections signature logo projected in black on the left hand stalls and in red on the stage’s back screen. As the lights dimmed, the musicians of the support act calmly took their places and the magic began.
Spotlights picked out each performer as they embarked upon their tender and emotional musical journey, sometimes individually, sometimes in combination. The theme was ancient Scottish culture, portrayed through poetry – ancient stories in ancient music had the performance travelling through tragedy through to childlike joy. The solo singer carefully stood her ground as she bathed us in her beautiful voice, enhanced by an accompaniment performed in perfect harmony, like an organ being played by several people. Whole songs were written on the one tone like a melodic drone with the instruments effortlessly guiding each other to make the chord swell to fill the hall and dance over its high walls. She was joined by a second singer for two songs of her own composition. A fitting prelude to the main performer.
Mariza and her accompanying musicians, on guitar, Portuguese guitar, acoustic bass – and accordion – performed their first haunting song in darkness. The mood had changed to Fado, an old musical genre with its roots in Mariza’s native Portugal. There was an almost ephemeral quality about the singer’s amazing gown in a light grey/blue which seemed to echo the lightness and ever-changing quality of the music, and to subtly promise an equally well-crafted evening, which indeed it turned out to be, with production values that could not have been bettered.
Mariza held the audience in the palm of her hand as, moving easily in that gorgeous gown, she spoke to us, introducing each song and drawing us in to the stories she was telling through her music, now sad, now joyously happy. Fado seems to embrace many genres of world music, moving between them with mind boggling fluidity as we were continuously introduced to yet another facet, another possibility that the music could embrace. And yet there was a great unity between them which Mariza captained and conducted. We could hear the Portuguese side but could also see the African element of her heritage.
The early promise was more than fulfilled in the performance, from the vocals and the intense musical accompaniment, to the visual impact created by the singer and her band, to the first class set. There was a presence there that lifted and conquered the hall, with a voice and music that was compelling and variable. Her intimacy as a performer was matched by her vivacious vocals. She moved around, she sat on the edge of the stage sharing her heart with us, talking about love and her goals in life, telling us that for her music is all about love. And living up to each and every point of celebration she wished to make in the marvellous uplifting music.
This was a haunting and lovely celebration of the beauty and power of music with a world class performer genuinely happy to be taking part in the Celtic Connections Festival. As she left the stage she took a walk round the hall, greeting friend and stranger alike (friends had come from home to see her). She opened herself up to everyone, come what may. Totally captivating.
The last time I heard Duncan Chisholm play was in Perth Concert Hall, when he supported the exquisite voice of Julie Fowlis. This time round he took the limelight and offered to a rapt Perth audience a selection of familiar compositions as well as a few from his new album “Sandwood”, named after the isolated beach in north-west Sutherland. Chisholm has spent the past few years visiting there and drawing inspiration for his new project. If you are lucky to have been to Sandwood Bay you’ll instantly understand the music. It’s magical.
Chisholm’s work is intensely evocative of land and sea, and he captures in sound the Celtic idea of “thin places’ – places in the landscape that are closer to the spiritual than others, in pieces like the opening “The Light of Tuscany.” Chisholm’s fiddle soared above a rolling soundscape of piano and uilleann pipes. The music is mesmeric, almost numinous, but always with a directness that belies Chisholm’s sheer brilliance with the bow. The second composition, “Haze across the sun,” is the musical distillation of a Highland Summer morning where “everything” as Chisholm explained in his lilting highland accent, “is bursting with life.” The piece explodes with the combined talents of Chisholm’s “Gathering”: Jariath Henderson on pipes and whistles, Donald Shaw on piano, Innes Watson on guitar, Su-a Lee on cello, Donald Hay on drums and Perthshire’s very own Patsy Reid on violin. The driving traditional rhythms of this piece build to a climactic shout of sheer energy and joyfulness.
“A Precious Place” brings the tempo to waltz-time. The simple refrain sees Chisholm and Hay (who wrote the piece) lyrical, wistful, and utterly without sentimentalism. But this is just a pause for breath before the Gathering is called again for the jubilant “Dizzy Blue’. Chisholm draws his inspiration from Scots and Irish poets, and the title of this piece is from “Summer Farm” by Norman MacCaig, – “A swallow falls and, flickering through/The barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.” You could be just there, listening to this. “Running the Cross”, “An Ribhinn Donn” and “The Farley Bridge” saw Chisholm returning to the “Strathglass Trilogy” of albums – “Affric”, “Canaich” and “Farrar”. Again, the evocation of place and the keen feel for the essence of a moment are Chisholm’s recurring idées fixes. “An Ribhinn Donn” is particularly beautiful – a lament for the lost beauty of a brown-haired girl.
It is always a thrill to be exposed to artists new to the ear. Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill opened the evening with wickedly skilful Irish fiddle music. The two play together with the speed and dexterity of the Irish Rugby Team. It was a real joy to listen to new tunes and watch two wonderful performers who held a packed concert hall hanging on each note, as they communicate their own sheer enjoyment through the music. The Gathering were joined on stage by Hayes and Cahill for a finale, introduced simply as a “tune from Donegal”, that was utterly gorgeous and will be one I’ll be searching for just to remember how beautifully a very entertaining evening was rounded out. I left the concert not only wanting to revisit all of Duncan Chisholm’s past work, but to comb again the beach at Sandwood.
Across Scotland this Summer, the words PEACE, LOVE, & MUSTARD will be utter’d over a million times. About 100,000 of these will come from the bouncy lips of Mr David John Blair, the iconic Dijancer of the equally iconic Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5. The Mumble managed to catch a wee blether with the laddie, & thoroughly enjoy’d the experience…
So David, nice to meet ya, can you tell us where you’re from and where you’re at, geographically speaking?
Yo D! I’m (made) from the recycled atoms of collapsing stars. At One with the Cosmos. Geographically on this third rock from the Sun; a wee village called Chryston, North Lanarkshire, Alba.
What’s the best photo of baby David you possess, and can we see it?
I’ll need to ask me maw for that… take yer pick!
We’ll use both. So, as far as the Scottish cool list goes you’re pretty near the top. Have you always been cool or were you a late developer?
Ha! Cheers bro 😉 I find the concept of being “cool” a weird one. I’m just doing my thing and trying to help folk along the way and enjoy myself as well. Spreading a wee bit of peace, love and Mustard wherever I go. I like using the word ‘cool’ but I’ve always had an outsiders non-conformist attitude and a Timothy Leary approach to life i.e. THINK FOR YOURSELF. QUESTION AUTHORITY. I love the 60s and am heavily influenced and inspired by that decade through The Beatles, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground; The Monkees, blah, blah, blah and the whole hippy and flower power counter-cultrure movement spearheaded by legends like Robert Anton Wilson, Terence McKenna, Alan Watts et al. As one of my hero’s, John Lennon, once said, “If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.” In 2015 I was in Perú to do an ayahuasca ceremony with Quechuan shamans in the Sacred Valley outside Cusco in the foothills of the Andes. When I met Pachamama during that She (“God” is obviously a She) showed me my past lives so in terms of development I think I’ve been kicking about as some form of energy neither creating or destroying but changing form for a good 13 billion years ha! Or, I could be wrong about that and it was just a phenomenal trip! Guess you’d need to try it yourself for experiential evidence to corroborate or refute my “story”. I have known Colonel John Thomas McMustard (Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 frontman) since we were 5 (he was just John back then) from starting Primary 1 together so maybe we’ve been hatching plans for the Dijonverse since then. Maybe. I’m sworn to secrecy on that one until we both synchronously touch the ancient megalithic standing stones outside Dijon in France and then we can reveal The Truth!
Cool! So what were your favorite confectionary as a kid (crisps, sweets, chocolates)? Crisps; two bobbers e.g. Tangy Toms, Dinobites, Space Raiders. Sweets;loved flumps! Chocolates;Topics and Ripples.
Tasty. So David, where the fuck did you learn to dance like that?
Under 18’s raves, over 18’s raves, watching Keith Flint and Leeroy Thornhill from the Prodigy and umpteen B-Boys and B-Girls and Alan Partridge dancing to Kate Bush and ABBA medleys.
As an integral member of the Mustard Gang you can often be seen surfing the crowd in an inflatable dinghy, wearing a crash helmet. Have you ever fallen off?
Yes! A few times. But like a metaphor for life; it can sometimes get you down. But when you look around, you realise that you have a lot of support around you when you need help who can lift you back up and help you reach your highest potential. We all get by with a little help from our friends.
The first time I saw your band was at Kelburn on a sunny afternoon a few years ago. I said to myself at the time you were a great outfit, and in the interim it seems everyone else in at least Scotland has caught on. Can you describe the rising of the Mustard star?
We’ve been playing live. A LOT. About 100 gigs (50 festivals) across Scotland, Ireland, England and South Korea in the last three and a half years. The legion of 6th Dijons (our affectionate name for our loyal following) has grown after every gig and festival.From a capacity 1,900 at our Yellowland Barras gig in March 2016 with our Yellow Movement brothers and sisters The Girobabies, Jamie & Shoony, Have Mercy Las Vegas and The Twistettes; to be voted the highlight of Zandari Festa in Seoul, South Korea in October 2016 to 9,000 watching us at the Garden (main) Stage at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival last year, the support just keeps on growing! It’s been incredible and word of mouth adds to that. We all want to have a laugh and enjoy ourselves when we go out and what better way to soundtrack our ‘Peace, Love & Mustard’ than with the power of music!
So how did the name come about?
The name Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 was gifted to the Colonel, when he was just John, at the Glastonbury Stone Circle by a shaman from Dijon in 1997. It was prophesised. John had already mentally formed the band then manifested us into the physical realm earlier this decade. It was an idea whose time had come.
Right… So, what does David Blair like to do when he’s not being musical?
Activism, reading, running, yoga, meditating, avoiding the mundane, plotting how to overthrow the Tories.
What are your favorite Mustard songs to listen to, and your favorites to dance to?
To listen to would be ‘These Are Not The Drugs (You Are Looking For)’. Lyrically it’s a journey and asks a lot of questions about drug use and it’s effects and how we treat it and those who it affects. I particularly love the masked frontman from Mickey 9s, St Cool’s, contribution; “”(Health giving or medicinal properties, Partake to intake for love’s sake of a pair of E’s, The woes of the world caused by hate are all laid at ease, The eyes of your friends will be blessed to remember these, It’s not about the method but about what you love more, The ego of your self or your compassionate core, It’s the key to perception will you open up the door, These are the fucking drugs that I’m looking for…” And ‘Peace, Love & Mustard’ because that’s our mantra.
To danceto would be ‘Dance Off’. Getting a circle at the front and having a dance battle with The 6th Dijon always throws up some interesting shapes. It’s not about who has the best moves, it’s all about feeling free to express yourself and dancing like no one’s watching.
Cool! So where will the Yellow Juggernaut be rolling to this summer?
May is BIG music industry showcase month for us. First up is FOCUS Wales in Wrexham with international delegates from BreakOut West in Canada to Australian Music Week. Two countries I would LOVE to spread the peace, love and Mustard in! Then we’re playing The Great Escape and five days in Brighton! We’re part of the Creative Scotland Scottish Showcase with some of the best talent up here right now. One’s to watch are Declan Welsh & The Decadent West. Like a cross between Mark E Smith and The Fall with the political leanings of Billy Bragg and societal observations of John Lennon in his solo years and with the musicality of Arctic Monkeys. Then we have, deep breath, FyneFest, Enjoy Music Festival, Eden Festival, Cream o’ the Croft, two weeks in Korea as International Peace Ambassadors to play the inaugural DMZ Peace Train Music Festival between the North and South, North East Chilli Fest, Audio Soup, MugStock, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Party at the Palace, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Lindisfarne Festival and… Live@Troon! I think that’ll be the end of festival season for another year!
Busy, busy, busy… Who are the organisational maestros behind such an intense itinerary?
The Dijon spreadsheet takes an absolute hammering ha! We all chip in. We have also thankfully been working with our booking agent, Antidote Booking, since the tail end of last year. I would personally like to thank them for everything they have done and for all the help they’ve given us. I used to manage and organise a lot of our bookings and it was driving me insane ha! Some might say I always have been but in the immortal words of Alice (in Wonderland), “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
So David, for any future converts to the cause, what does it take to become one of the 6th Dijon?
To become one of The 6th Dijon is easy. You just need a desire to be a part of a music loving community that comes together to be as One. Looking after one another in celebrating the live music experience and having a party with hearts and minds full of peace, love and Mustard. You may say we’re dreamers, but we’re not the only ones. One Love.
The final question comes from the wife, who loves you! She wants to know what do you think of first thing in the morning?
I wake up every morning (when I’m home) and look at this amazing painting in my bedroom of one of my all time heroes by the incredible Glasgow based artist Marcus Raynal Hislop (The Notorious Gasoline Company)… The comedian and philosopher, Bill Hicks. He entertained and educated me as much as The Beatles, John Lennon and Rage Against The Machine. That line, “It’s just a ride.” comes from my favourite quote of his and is well worth sharing with your readers and memorizing…
The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun, for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because… this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people! “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This HAS to be real.” But, it’s just a ride. And we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But, it doesn’t matter because, it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as One. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and ‘defence” each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
This Friday sees Edinburgh-based storyteller Daniel Allison, Dundonian fiddle-player and composer Eilidh Firth, Mumbai actor, writer and director Sheena Khalid, and Kashmiri poet and songwriter Mohammad Muneem Nazir begin A New Conversation. The Mumble managed to catch a wee blether with the Scottish contingent
Hello Eilidh, so when did you realise you were musical? EILIDH: I started getting violin lessons at the age of five, but I definitely wasn’t up for practicing! When I was ten I joined a local group called the ‘Tayside Young Fiddlers’ when I began to enjoy playing and after that my playing improved more and more.
Hello Daniel. You are a true international troubadour. What is it about travelling that thrills you the most? DANIEL: It’s very easy for us to get stuck in habitual ways of doing things, seeing things. Going to a place where nothing and no one is familiar frees you from outdated routines and perceptions, giving you the chance to experience the world and yourself anew. Unless you bring your phone…
You have worked as a chimpanzee tracker. What does that entail? DANIEL: I worked on a chimpanzee habituation project in a developing nature reserve in Uganda. The job was to habituate chimps to human presence so that eventually tourists could come along and see them. So, we would walk through the forests listening and looking for chimps, in silence, all day, every day.
So Eilidh, you are a relatively recent graduate of the RCS; how did you find your studies there? EILIDH: I loved my time at the RCS. It was great to be surrounded by people who were so passionate about traditional music. It gave me a grounding in the context around the music – the history, folklore and language – and they encouraged me to start writing my own tunes as well.
Back to Daniel. Creative Scotland have funded you to give four Scottish tours to date, visiting schools as if they were Dark Age courts & you were the travelling bard. Can you tell us a little about the experiences? DANIEL: I love working as a modern-day bard, but I wanted to have a go at being a ye olden day bard, so I organised tours in which I would walk coast to coast across the country, wild camping and stopping to tell stories at schools along the way. The first one was very hard as I made my schedule too tight, so at one point I walked 28 miles in a day, slept and then got up at 5am to run for miles across the hills in the rain – with horrendous blisters – to get to my next gig. But I learnt from my mistakes and had wonderful experiences, like telling stories outside a chambered cairn on a hilltop on North Uist at sunset, and dancing Strip the Willow down Stornoway harbour at sunrise.
How does travel inspire your creativity & can you give us examples? DANIEL: I love how people often begin creative practices while travelling, even if it’s just writing down what they’ve seen. I think somehow you can leave self-limiting beliefs at home. For me, I see or do things that stir my imagination, and then at some point they come out in a story. Based on that period in the forest, I wrote a story years later about a Tanzanian boy who is possessed by a chimpanzee, and a novella about an English girl encountering a local shaman while living in a Kenyan nature reserve.
Eilidh, you are in integral member of the Scottish folk band ‘Barluath.’ Can you tell us about the experience? EILIDH: We formed ‘Barluath’ while we were still at university and I feel like we’ve really grown up together. It’s been wonderful to travel and perform and I love making new music with them.
What is it about traditional Scottish music that makes you tick? EILIDH: I love traditional music because every player can put their personal stamp on the music. No two performers will play a tune in the same way. I also think it’s great that the music has so much history surrounding it but it’s still as vibrant and relevant today.
…& Daniel, which instruments do you use when you add music to your storytelling? DANIEL: My main instrument is the didgeridoo, which I play in traditional and contemporary styles, but I also use Tibetan singing bowls, rattles, chimes, drums, jaw harp and a few other bits and bobs to give texture to stories.
What does Eilidh Firth like to do when she’s not being musical? EILIDH: I love getting out into the countryside with the dog or up a hill – he keeps me fit! I’ve also recently taught myself how to knit so you’ll usually find me cursing under a pile of yarn!
Can you tell us about A New Conversation? EILIDH: A New Conversation has brought together two artists from Scotland and two from India to create new work based through storytelling and music. I didn’t have any experience of storytelling before this residency, so it’s been fantastic to push the boundaries of what I do. I’m particularly excited about part of the show that looks at the links between mill workers in Mumbai and Dundee. The stories from the other artists have been really inspiring and I’ve loved experimenting with music for the show. We decided to call the piece ‘Where I Stand’ and it looks at our connection to our land and place through ancient myths and a reimagining of contemporary stories.
What will be your contribution to A New Conversation? DANIEL: The meeting of the mythic and contemporary is a strong current in our piece; I think my job has been to hold the place of the mythic, choosing the right stories and presenting them in a way that shows their relevance to Scotland and India now, and to our own lives as individuals. One story I tell is the legend of a poet who went to live in the otherworld but returned because he missed th madness and sadness of this world. Mohammad and I worked together to explore how his own story of a growing up in and later escaping a conflict zone reflects this tale.
Are you finding connections between European music and stories & that of India? EILIDH: I knew there would be links between our two countries and cultures, but I couldn’t have imagined how many similarities there would be. I think both countries are going through periods of change and in some ways uncertainties and it’s been fascinating to see the parallels reflected in the stories brought together in ‘Where I Stand’.
To which places will an audience member’s imagination be taken through the event? DANIEL: A lot of places! Audiences will experience the murder of a giant, Iron Age warfare, industrial Mumbai, cosmic turtles, Urdu poetry, soul-stirring music and an erotic proposition from the goddess of war. I think that’s plenty to go on.
What does the rest of 2018 hold in store for Daniel Allison? DANIEL: This year I’m going to be working hard to get my novel ready to send out into the world. It’s a dark and bloody adventure story for younger teenagers set in prehistoric Orkney.
What does the rest of 2018 hold in store for Eilidh Firth? EILIDH: I’m really passionate about music education and when I’m not performing or composing I love to teach. Over the next few months I’m going to be taking some courses to give me some new approaches to working with young people and taking on some outreach projects to widen access to music. I also have a few jumpers I want to finish knitting and a couple of Munros to ‘bag’!
I grabbed the opportunity to see this wonderful band earlier on this week, when I stumbled upon the Mumble’s interview with Luke Oldfield. He is the son of Mike Oldfield. How cool is that? Imagine having Mike Oldfield as your dad! I first witnessed Gypsy Fingers back in September, when while on a Mumble Mission to review the rather amazing Australian duo Tubular Bells For Two, Gypsy Fingers were the support act. This is where I fell in love with them. In the interim the band has expanded in numbers. The other two members of this brilliant band, Pat Kenneally on drums and Tali Trow on Bass Guitar, complimented the two front stars with a musical chemistry that is bewitching to behold. Of their arrival, Luke told the Mumble in a recent interview;
I posted on Facebook asking if there were any drummers or multi-instrumentalists who would be interested in joining Gypsyfingers and Pat Kenneally replied saying that he plays drums and keys sometimes at the same time, which we thought would be perfect! I had met Pat on a recording session previously so I knew he was a talented musician and that we would get on so we went to see him playing with another band so Victoria could see and meet him. We had a rehearsal and it just worked Pat has been an integral part of the band and a great friend ever since. Finding a bass player was more tricky! We had three bass players before we found Simon Hedges, who used to be in a great grunge band in Bristol called Airbus. Simon hadn’t played bass for 15 years since he left Airbus but we were having a beer telling him about how our bassist had spontaneously combusted (by suddenly moving to Japan) and he piped up with “I play bass!” and he was the perfect fit. He is currently working in Brussels for the BBC so we have our fifth bass player Tali Trow playing for us currently, who is also a real asset to Gypsyfingers bringing an extra layer of vocal harmonies with him.
The Voodoo Rooms was the perfect venue to take Gypsy Fingers in for a second time. Intimate dark, warm and very welcoming. The opening song of the performance was “Eating Me” Gypsyfingers had me totally for the next 90 minutes. The most outstanding track in their repertoire “Eating Me” has been part of Divines DJ sets throughout Autumn, Winter and Spring. The whole of the debut album “Circus Life” Is fantastic and joyful on the ear. However “Eating Me” is a work of perfection. Written by and sung by the very beautiful Victoria Coughlan, Its infectious and Funky and the lyrics deeply meaningful. It still blows me away that the band opened with Eating Me and dedicated the song to myself.
The whole song is choreographed. Its great to dance to. I am a mime artist and Dancer, Bowie is my god, & Eating Me has the same descriptive quality in Victoria’s vocal content and delivery, & is very conducive to dance interpretation of the song. I love the Dancefloors in the Voodoo Rooms. Wooden and sprung. Aye this was Divines fave song of 2017. And it will be part of my Set in the Vishnu Lounge at Eden, in June. Because I knew the source material so well. It was a real treat to be so up close and witness these young masters displaying their art so beautifully. The Oldfield musical genes were very present in Luke’s expert guitar licks and treatments, while Victoria’s unique and folky, vocal delivery and beautifully played keys brought Circus Life to life. I knew that I had just witnessed something very special and that this band would not be playing venues as small as this for much longer.
Venue Choice. 5 Stars, Entertainment Value. 5 Stars. Presentation. 5 Stars. So thats five stars all round.. 5 Stars. Divinexx
Following their critically well-received slot as the opening act on Tubular Bells For Two’s UK tour last autumn, Gypsyfingers now embark on their first ever UK tour, with a brand new single, Half World, released to coincide with the dates. A week before they set off on the road, The Mumble caught up with the band for a wee blether.
Well hello Gypsyfingers I hope we are all well! First question to Luke I thought I should clear up the Oldfield question first! Just how cool is your dad and what was it like to grow up the son of a Legend? LUKE: Dad is cool in a very down to earth way. He has never enjoyed drawing attention to himself or being in the spotlight and to me he is just my dad. I think people have some preconceptions about what it must be like to have a famous musician for a father but its not like that at all for me. My parents separated when I was very young and whenever I used to go and see Dad we would usually spend some time in the studio. For me it just seemed like a very normal thing that my dad was a musician. When I saw him perform live at The Albert Hall in 1993 was perhaps the first time I realised that my Dad wasn’t like everyone else’s Dad!
What age were you when you first saw the Exorcist? LUKE: I was 14 and I stayed up late with a few friends to watch The Exorcist in the dark and were all pretty spooked by it. Obviously the music was very familiar to me though so it didn’t have quite the dramatic effect it must have on most people.
What does Dad think of the band? LUKE: He doesn’t listen to a lot of music as he is always writing and creating his own music but he likes Gypsyfingers and is pleased that I have revived his old studio – Tilehouse Studios – where he recorded Five Miles Out, Moonlight Shadow and other records in the 80’s. We record Gypsyfingers there and I produce other there bands as well using lots of nice analogue gear including tape machines.
He has obviously been a major influence on all of you. Do you still work closely with him or are you a completely separate entity? LUKE: Victoria started Gypsyfingers as a solo project before I got involved so Gypsyfingers is definitely a separate entity from Mike Oldfield. Obviously I grew up with his latest releases – the Blue Peter “Sailor’s Hornpipe” Theme Tune is the first one I can remember – and I saw him play live several times so the influence on me is probably pretty strong. Everyone in Gypsyfingers has slightly different tastes in music, which I think is what what makes Gypsyfingers sound interesting. Victoria prefers classical and dance music; Pat loves 60’s and 70’s rock and my background is in rock and folk so there is a healthy melting pot of musical tastes and ideas between us.
Do you believe that Gypsyfingers’ star is ascending? LUKE: It certainly feels like it is! Victoria and I recorded our debut album “Circus Life” as a duo and it took a while for us to find the right musicians to play live with who could help us translate the album to be performed live. We had a great tour last year supporting Tubular Bells For Two and playing some fantastic venues and shows. The reaction from the audiences and press on that tour was brilliant so that has really spurred us on. We are now working with a booking agent and we want to keep the momentum going behind Gypsyfingers and to get our music out to a wider audience so we have our first UK headline tour starting on 26th April and we are currently booking more shows for later in the year.
With the launch of your new single, forthcoming gigs at The Isle of Wight Festival and Hyde Park and the recent success of ‘Belle Voci’ reaching the voice finals. Do you believe that it is now your time to be loved by the masses and are you ready for Superstardom? LUKE: Our new single “Half World” picks up from where a song like “Circus Elephant” on our debut album “Circus Life” left off and shows off a bigger sound thanks to Pat and Simon who play drums and bass on the record. We really hope people like it and we hope that we are taking folk-rock into slightly new territory with it. Our live shows are getting better and better and more opportunities keep coming up for Gypsyfingers. The important thing for us is to keep putting music out and playing shows as long as there is an appreciative audience. If that leads to superstardom then that would be fantastic and yes we would be ready for it.
This question is for everyone; opening last year with Tubular Bells For 2 must have been immense. How do you keep it real? LUKE: We had a great time on that tour and it was an exciting opportunity for sure. We are all good mates so its always fun being on the road with Gypsyfingers. We had Simon’s partner Sally Low with us on tour taking amazing photos so the tour was beautifully documented. We like to have a few beers after the shows to hang out and wind down. Funnily enough during that tour Victoria and I drove the van while Pat and Simon took the train, which they really loved. Thankfully none of their trains were delayed!
What is the one thing that lets you switch off, be you and help keep your feet on the ground? LUKE: I meditate a few times a week. It really helps to keep me grounded, particularly when things get a bit stressful. I also have a lovely bedlington-whippet called Bonnie who is constantly reminding me of the simple things in life.
What is your favourite moment so far with the band, was there one precise moment when you thought we have got something here! Or has it been very much a natural progression and you have realised what you needed to take you to the next level? LUKE: When Victoria and I started working together we didn’t have any rules or deadlines so we were able to experiment and find a sound that we liked and that we thought was interesting and fresh. From the start it has been a very organic progression. In 2014, quite soon after we released “Circus Life” we were offered a gig opening for James Blunt in Warsaw by a Polish promoter. The offer was very much out of the blue but it made us realise that we must be doing something right! It was a great opportunity and we rose to the occasion playing in front of 6000 people, selling lots of CDs afterwards and returning the following year to Poland for an 18 date tour!
How have the guys got on joining the band? I bet it was strange at first; Victoria and Luke were already very established, did you go out and actively seek the additional and members. They ‘rock’ let’s go get them or was it some kid of audition? LUKE: Victoria and I were playing a few acoustic gigs here and there as a duo and we felt that our folky acoustic set didn’t reflect our studio sound, which is more textured and ethereal. I posted on Facebook asking if there were any drummers or multi-instrumentalists who would be interested in joining Gypsyfingers and Pat Kenneally replied saying that he plays drums and keys sometimes at the same time, which we thought would be perfect! I had met Pat on a recording session previously so I knew he was a talented musician and that we would get on so we went to see him playing with another band so Victoria could see and meet him. We had a rehearsal and it just worked Pat has been an integral part of the band and a great friend ever since. Finding a bass player was more tricky! We had three bass players before we found Simon Hedges, who used to be in a great grunge band in Bristol called Airbus. Simon hadn’t played bass for 15 years since he left Airbus but we were having a beer telling him about how our bassist had spontaneously combusted (by suddenly moving to Japan) and he piped up with “I play bass!” and he was the perfect fit. He is currently working in Brussels for the BBC so we have our fifth bass player Tali Trow playing for us currently, who is also a real asset to Gypsyfingers bringing an extra layer of vocal harmonies with him.
Is there anything that you actually suck at? LUKE: Probably lots of things! Being vegetarians we are all terrible meat eaters but I think that is a good thing.
You all seem super talented and can all play multiple instruments and Victoria can even sing while playing everything! Who is who in the band? VICTORIA: We can all play a bit of everything! Our arrangements vary according to which song we are playing. Pat plays drums, piano, keys and he sometimes sings backing vocals as well. Luke plays electric guitar, acoustic guitar and sings, mostly backing vocals but sometimes lead. LUKE: Victoria is the lead singer and she plays piano, acoustic guitar and french horn. Tali plays bass and sings backing vocals.
Who is the funny one, who keeps you going when things get a bit serious? VICTORIA: Pat! LUKE: Definitely Pat.
I really like the preview of the new single ‘Half World’, can I ask who wrote it and what is it about? VICTORIA: Thanks so much! I wrote the original demo when I was playing around with guitar and came up the opening riff – the song just came naturally from there. The lyrics were inspired by recent stories about migrants. People and families forced to make the decision to flee their homes, the painful journey, inspired to survive by the hope of a better life. I have no idea whats that’s really like, I can only imagine. The song title Half World and lyric “my worlds been halved” illustrates the sense of loosing almost everything you knew and dreamed about… including loved ones. It was great taking this song from my demo to the band and then recording it in the studio. Once we played it through as a band on tour the form really took shape and that rocky guitar solo outro emerged. I think the song demands it, and its a lovely contrast to the breakdown vocal section. The march like drum rhythm is symbolic of marching footsteps, and the momentum of the song reflects the long relentless and arduous journey. Luke’s production and direction really helped to bring that to life, and adding the mellotron was fun too!
What are you looking forward most to the Isle of Wight festival or Hyde Park and why? VICTORIA: I can’t choose… both are amazing festivals and well known to us, and we are incredibly lucky and honoured to be taking part in both!! LUKE: They will both be great but Isle of Wight maybe has the edge for me because of its history and also we might get to stay on and check the festival out.
You guys are set for a very busy year any holiday plans or is it all just work, work, work at the moment and where would you go if you had the time? VICTORIA: We are super busy at the moment, and love every second of it but we realise its important to step away sometimes, take a break and come back to projects with a fresh pair of ears to make sure you are doing good work. Getting out of the studio is essential but holidays and breaks are always spontaneous. I hate making plans in advance as I often find it heart-wrenching having to leave my instruments behind. I’d love to travel round Iceland for a month or two, maybe convert a bus into a little studio and just travel and record along the way… and then carry on driving round the whole wide world for a few years!
Prelude : Having caught the first leg of this monumental tour, back in October last year at the ABC in Glasgow, I found yet again the venue was heaving. Numan’s Scottish shows have been sell-outs for years, such is his rebirth and rise in popularity. So when the dates for Savage part 2 were released, seeing the Assembly Rooms as one of the venues, made me think wow, Good Time.
Gary Numan:vocals, guitars and synths Dave Brooks: keyboards Richard Beasly:drums Steve Harris:rhythm guitar Tim Muddyman:bass
The Event: I arrived early with eager anticipation of collecting the golden tickets for tonight’s capacity show. The Night’s opening act a trio of musicians from Los Angeles. Who took their musical lead from classic goth, The Mission and Sisters era. Nightmare Air played a short but very well received set. that warmed the room up nice. I absolutely loved Savage Part 1. At the ABC in Glasgow. Its darkness complemented the Lyrical feel and the Eastern Menace. within the album and its stage interpretation. Savage (Songs From a Broken World) Punched high and its releases heralded rave reviews everywhere for the first time since the Early 80’s. Numan was back, Sending waves of excitement amongst Gary’s Numanoids. It was a fantastic gig. Glasgow always rocks, but it is a venue built for Rock N Roll Purpose.
Unlike The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Rhe last time I was there was in my professional capacity of Clairvoyant. I had a table on the stage that Gary was performing on. I always did love the chandeliers. So I wondered beforehand. Would Savage Part 2 work in The Assembly Rooms? Well that is a really good question. Having been a long-serving Numanoid myself and seen him perform live regularly since the first time in 1983. I have to say that he has always cut the mustard live, no matter how dodgy some of his mid period musical output was. Live, he was always awesome. But The Assembly rooms is just not built for Rock N Roll. The sound engineer deserved a medal last night, I didnae envy his job. It pushed Gary though he had to put that bit more effort in to deliver, Savage Part 2, I was expecting the tunes he didnae play on part 1. It was pretty much the same, Only without the Sound production of a purpose-built Rock N Roll venue. And more like Gary on the stage of the church hall. The venue swallowed the sound. It is very nice to look at, but it distracted from the reason we were their man.
Numan’s touring band are brilliant and they are part of the reason Gary has risen up the Rock N Roll ranks, in recent years his stage performances have seen the dark lord of gloom become much more fluid. The album before Savage (Songs From A Broken World) was Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) As the titles suggest, the work that they embody is nae joy and salvation, But it is very good. The band perform them with musical dexterity and complete rock n roll grace. Dripping Darling, soakin’. The chemistry of the band is very evident, It was hard work for all the members because they knew the limitations of the sound..The overall tune selection was captivating and yes it was exciting. But yet it wasnae The ABC in Glasgow. Interestingly, the last time I saw Numan in Edinburgh, was at the HMV Picture House, on The Pleasure Principle 30th Anniversary tour. that felt flat too.
So the Divine Verdict…
Performance effort: 5 stars
Venue (although very pretty): 2 2tars Stagecraft: 5 stars
Lighting: 5 stars
Overall Enjoyment: 3 stars (It was the wrong venue for the show)
Arturo Tappin, the flamboyant jazz and reggae musician from Barbados and graduate of Berklee College of Music, is quite a legend across the Caribbean, popping up regularly at the various Caribbean music festivals from the Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago. Not just known in the Caribbean either, having played for Presidents Clinton, Obama as well as Castro and all over the world. Best known for being a master of the saxophone, he’s performed and recorded with many reggae greats like Eddy Grant and Maxi Priest, and has played with Roberta Flack and Luther Vandross.
He comes regularly to perform in Edinburgh during the Festival, at a great little hideaway along a tiny lane off Broughton Street called the Outhouse. He has a strong Edinburgh following too, judging by the anticipation, the sell out concerts on the first weekend and no doubt, a packed room for the each of the ten consecutive nights. In just an hour’s performance, he and his band manage to smoothly transport us around the world with classic jazz from Acker Bilk, to contemporary pop, onto well-loved, energetic, cheerful and humorous Caribbean tunes. All with his own striking and imaginative twist.
The three other members of his band are also top class musicians, on drums, double bass and keyboards, and could see they were having as much fun as we were. The night began with classic jazz, in which he has a thorough grounding, and the calypso element grew stronger and stronger as the night progressed. He gave us his version of an Acker Bilk number, surprised us with a truly flavourful and unique version of the much-covered Ed Sheeran ‘Shape of You’, and then began to cross the Atlantic to bring us some well-loved Caribbean tunes, enjoyed just as much by the non-Caribbean folks in the audience. Then a delightful traditional folk song from the French Caribbean, which I know he particularly enjoys performing, ‘Ban mwen an ti bo’. Knowing some of my musician companions that night come from a French Caribbean background, he hoped they knew enough patois to sing along to this much beloved tune, now spiced up with true Tappin flavour.
Arturo’s glittering, dazzling saxophone sparkles in the light and seems only fitting for this genial showman in his dapper suits, now trademark handlebar moustache and full grey beard. He connects as well with his audiences as he does his instruments, creating a party atmosphere from the beginning that continues to build throughout the show. With quite a few people from across the Caribbean in the audience, and other enchanted listeners, it didn’t take long for everyone to get up and start to dance. As a contrast to the sax, Arturo pulled out a rather special antique clarinet that had a story behind it. It was found in pieces and then painstakingly restored by careful hands spanning continents. “Who knows what mouths this has been in?” he quipped, just before he began to play this decades-old instrument. To complete his trio of expertise, he took out a flute as glittering as his saxophone and displayed some more of his versatility. Though not as strong as his main instrument, he continued to dazzle us, especially with the rhythmical, percussive sound effects he created with his lips.
As he moved deep into the territory of classic calypso tunes, he gave us a cheeky one by famous Lord Kitchener which had those of us in the know singing along and the rest laughing at the double entendre in the lyrics, which old-time calypso is known for. Although he has such a compelling presence, it’s never just about him. It’s about what he inspires in all of us as we come together. One hour gives us a joyful, exuberant blast of the sweet Caribbean and we are left, as we sing along with him, pleading, “Don’t, don’t stop the Carnival!” One lucky person will win the prize draw of a holiday to Barbados offered by the Barbados Tourist Board, who are sponsoring the concerts. Even those of us who won’t be so fortunate to take part in Crop Over, Barbados’ annual summer festival, will be left humming these Caribbean tunes for days afterwards. Go while you can!