Fringe Benefits: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 Picks Of The Edinburgh Fringe…

For many of us August means Edinburgh and its attendant festivals. As ever, the Fringe in particular has so much on offer that it can be tough to see past the big names, sort through the plethora of posters, and separate the wheat from the cultural chaff.

To help you do so here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten picks of the Fringe. There’s comedy, poetry, theatre, music and more – hopefully, something for everyone.

This Script – (Jenny Lindsay) – Scottish Storytelling Centre

At a time of schisms within feminism, where sirens are the soundtrack to our newsfeeds, This Script combines poetic memoir with a fierce call for empathy. With Jenny Lindsay’s trademark wit and lyrical dexterity, this is a show delving into often turbulent contemporary waters with an ultimate striving for understanding, empathy and action. From #MeToo to ageing in a gendered world: can she rewrite this script? Can you? ‘This Script is sharply written, charmingly performed, and needs saying’ (Luke Wright). ‘One of this year’s most necessary spoken word performances’ (TheWeeReview.com).This Script – (Jenny Lindsay), Aug 4 – 11 – Scottish Storytelling Centre

Big Wendy – (Emily Benita), Sweet Novotel – Novotel 3

2018 was going to be Emily’s year. Finally starting to do stand-up and on track to being more funny ha-ha than funny peculiar; maybe even become a fully functioning adult human woman. But when her mum’s cancer diagnosis becomes terminal, she finds herself on an awfully big adventure. Featuring grief, boys who never grow up and jokes, promise. As seen on BBC Scotland’s Short Stuff, one-third of sketch outfit Ambush, and co-host of Glasgow’s grassroots, idiosyncratic comedy night The Salon, this is Emily Benita’s debut solo Fringe hour.

Suffering From Scottishness – (Kevin P. Gilday), Assembly Roxy

Citizen Scotland cordially invites you to take part in a focus group that will define the very future of the nation – for better or worse. An immersive theatrical experience that confronts the unique absurdity of Scottish identity. Award-winning writer and spoken word artist Kevin P Gilday (Sonnet Youth, National Theatre of Scotland, BBC) turns a hilariously caustic eye on notions of nationhood and patriotism. From history to inventions, language to neighbourly relations, the independence referendum to the toxic mire of present political debate – we gleefully dissect the still-beating dark heart of the countrySuffering From Scottishness – (Kevin P. Gilday).

Bible John – (Poor Michelle and the Pleasance), Pleasance Courtyard

1969 at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow, three women are murdered by an Old Testament-quoting serial killer, nicknamed Bible John. He has never been caught. 2019, four women bound by their obsession with true crime want to change that. Immersing themselves in the world of Bible John and his victims, they try to solve the case, once and for all. A riotous, furious, joyful exploration of violence, gender and one of Scotland’s darkest mysteries from Poor Michelle (Samuel French New Play Award 2017). Recipient of Pleasance’s Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve 2019. Previous praise: **** (Scotsman). **** (Stage).

Young Night Thought – (Kirsty Law), Pianodrome at The Pitt

How do you climb a tree without worrying about the fall? Why do you dream up the monsters in the shadows? Kirsty Law’s Young Night Thought binds Scots folklore, song, film, artwork and dance in an exploration of the inner child. Driven by an extraordinary live band this show leads you across the threshold of the supernatural and back again. ’Weaves a dexterous path between the animated vocal mannerisms of Ani Di Franco and the wide open instrumentation of early Massive Attack’ (Acoustic Magazine). ‘Spellbinding’ (Max Reinhardt, BBC Radio 3, Late Junction). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

From When I Wake The Want Is – (Kathryn Joseph), Summerhall

An intimate and provocative live performance that ‘evolves into a hypnotic whirlwind of warring emotions’ (Herald), Cryptic’s critically acclaimed, poignant staging of award-winning singer Kathryn Joseph’s second album returns by popular demand. Renowned for her spellbinding vocal style and strong lyrical aesthetic which showcases both vulnerability and strength, Joseph moves and engages in equal measure. Complemented by Cryptic’s ‘intense, intimate, immaculately stylised presentation’ (Scotsman), From When I Wake will ‘ravish the senses’ and reach right to the soul with a performance where ‘hearts are broken and stolen in equal measure’ (List). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com. Seated.

Islander: A New Musical – (Helen Milne Productions), ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

Eilidh stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever. Epic storytelling, intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score. The cast live-record and layer their voices to create an ethereal adventure for the ears and imagination. ‘Superb’ (Herald). ‘Lush, harmonic voices’ (List). ‘A real treat of a production’ (AllEdinburghTheatre.com). Originally developed in association with Comar. Part of the Made in Scotland 2019 showcase. www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

Dreamboat – (Christopher MacArthur-Boyd), Gilded Balloon Teviot

The wee speccy future of Glaswegian stand-up returns to Edinburgh with a brand-new hour. As seen on BBC Scotland’s Up For It, and as heard on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4 Extra. Live support for Kevin Bridges, Jason Manford and Russell Kane. Recently listed 59th on a list of the 60 funniest people in Scottish history. ‘Endlessly enjoyable’ **** (Skinny). ‘Genius writing’ **** (List). Intelligent, articulate, and incredibly funny’ ***** (TheWeeReview.com). ‘Downright impressive… no spare moment lacks a laugh’ ***** (ShortCom.co.uk).

#GIRLHOOD – (Cat Hepburn), Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Award-winning writer and spoken word artist Cat (BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC The Social, Radio Scotland, STV) debuts the stage adaptation of her hit poetry book. Nostalgic, hilarious and heartbreaking, her performance deconstructs and satirises the milestones, conventions and pressures that girls and young women face. ‘Hepburn’s new collection is the lovechild of slam poetry and the snatched rant over coffee or in the loo… Bittersweet, irreverent and to-the-point, these poems speak of life’s knots and identity pitfalls all too clearly’ **** (Skinny). ‘Cat Hepburn helped make poetry cool again’ (Scottish Sun).

DRONE – (Harry Josephine Giles, Rob Jones, Neil Simpson and Jamie Wardrop), Summerhall

A live jam of music, video and poetry, this multimedia theatre show tells the true story of a military drone’s life and fears. The Drone is a weapons system, an office worker, a background hum. The bleak humour and tender fury of Drone sees the unmanned aerial vehicle as the technology of a neurotic century, asking how anxious people can live as part of systems of such astonishing destruction. Drone is mixed new every night: a cabaret band of a video jockey, an electronic musician and a spoken word performer. ‘A state of the nation address’ (Scotsman). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

You can download the full Fringe programme here.

Paisley Patter: The SAMAs Come To Town…

One of the highlights of last year was the Scottish Alternative Music Awards night at St Luke’s in Glasgow which showcased not only the best of new Scottish music, but also how the SAMAs have grown in stature and ambition. But that was then and this is now and the SAMAs show no sign of letting up. On the 15th & 16th March they are taking over Paisley (in partnership with Renfrewshire Council and Paisley First) with the promise of events, live music, workshops, seminars & spoken word.

On Friday 15th at the Paisley Arts Centre there is a Festival Welcome with writer Chris McQueer and poet Leyla Josephine followed by music from C. Duncan + Special Guests, while over at The Bungalow the Pleasure Heads, CRYSTAL and Sweaty Palms will be taking to the stage.

The Saturday is a full and varied schedule which includes Stuart Braithwaite in conversation, live sets from Megan Airlie & Michael Timmons before the weekend finishes on a high with the inimitable Kathryn Joseph. See the poster above for the full line-up, times and venues.

Here’s what SAMA’s founder Richy Muirhead has to say about the Paisley Takeover, “The festival is jam packed with music events – we’re thrilled to add the likes of CRYSTAL who recently played a sold out King Tuts, Megan Airlie who won Best Acoustic at last year’s awards, author Chris McQueer and lots more! I hope the festival brings a burst of energy to Paisley and excites music fans around the country!

Tickets are on sale now from £7 – £12 from Eventbrite UK, SAMA’s Website:http://officialsama.co.ukand Paisley Arts Centre 0300 300 1210

For more information about the festival and SAMA’s visit: http://officialsama.co.uk @officialSAMA

Here’s footage from the Awards night at St Luke’s to give you just a taste of what the SAMAs are all about:

That Was The Year That Was: It’s The Best Of 2018 Podcasts – Part 3 (Music)…

For our final Best Of 2018 podcast Ali, Chris Ward, Wesley Shearer, accompanied by our very own Young Father, Ian, discuss their favourite records of the year, and the best gigs of 2018. What do they choose? Well you’ll just have to listen to find out (although the tags at the bottom of this page give some clues), but we can say that there are a hell of a lot of winners, and nary a loser in sight as they decide that the year in music was a rather fine one.

You can still listen to our review of the best books of the year, with Vikki Reilly, and the review of the year in film, also with Chris & Wesley. And in the new year we can promise you even more special guests and discussion about all things cultural which are happening in and around Scotland, starting with the muscian and writer Beerjacket, (also sometimes known as Peter Kelly).

If you are new round these parts there is also quite a substantial number of previous SWH! podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

That’s yer whack of podcast fun for 2018, but we’ll be back in the new year with new guests to inform, entertain, and delight you.

The Tracks Of My Year: SWH!’s 10 Best Songs Of 2018…

a4136536009_101Without a doubt 2018 was a year of exceptional albums from start to finish, from such as The Gracious Losers, Starry Skies, Modern Studies, The Scottish Enlightenment, Carla J. Easton, L-Space, Kirsty Law, C.S. Buchan & Friends, Roberts/Skuse/McGuinness, Zoe Bestel, Kathryn Joseph, Aidan Moffat and R.M Hubbert, Vive La Rose, Errant Boy, and many more (some of which have tracks which feature below). Here’s hoping for a similar high quality return in 2019.

But before we get ahead of ourselves – if you can fit in one more ‘Best Of The Year’ list, small but perfectly formed, this is our annual choice of the 10 best songs reviewed on these pages over the last 12 months. As ever, it’s a list which focuses on individual tracks, but if you like what you hear you should investigate further as most of them are to be found on equally awesome albums or EPs.

That’s enough preamble – here’s the countdown, listed in order of their date of release, and what we thought about them at the time, with a few relevant updates…

Carla J. Easton – Lights In The Dark

Carla J. Easton has made music as a member of Teen Canteen, under the name of Ette, and on multiple other collaborations. In 2018 she released the album Impossible Stuff under her own name which made it clear that no matter the moniker it is business as usual as Easton continues to prove she is incapable of making music which is anything other than magical. Exhibit A is ‘Lights In The Dark’, and it is a moody and mature slice of electro pop which shows others just how this sort of thing should be done. Carla J. Easton deserves to reach the widest audience possible and this could be the song to do just that. Take a listen and see if you agree:

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New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

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This is proving to be a summer of love with a soundtrack to match. With incredible albums already from SWH! favourites Modern Studies, The Scottish Enlightenment, Tracyanne & Danny, Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert, and Kathryn Joseph (more of which below), and the promise of releases from The Gracious Losers, The Starry Skies, L-Space, and Carla J. Easton this long hot summer is shaping up to be a memorable one in terms of Scottish music. You want proof? Keep on reading and be convinced.

I first heard Lynnie Carson at one of Warren McIntyre’s Seven Song Clubs which are held at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre every month. It was a solo set and I was immediately blown away. Her voice has a warmth which is rare and welcome, and this is to the fore on her latest single ‘Love Is’, which she recorded with her band, the excellently monikered Hawking Gimmicks, made up of some fantastic musicians as was shown with their set at the recent Seven Song Club Weekender where they were a highlight. If you get the chance to see Lynnie, either on her own or with the band, don’t miss it as this is someone with music in her very bones, and the love she has for what she does is infectious. This is ‘Love Is’:

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New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

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Most of our music reviews are a mixed bag when it comes to style and content, but the one you are about to experience definitely has a theme. It features great singers and great songs – deceptively simple yet they are all the more powerful for the manner they are produced and presented. This is music which stays with you longer after the last note sounds. Put simply, all of the people you are about to hear – they mean it, man.

Stay on till the end for a bonus track which is a fitting conclusion to this review. It’s not just thrown together, you know…

Alasdair Roberts has featured on these pages many times before, either for one of his many solo projects or in collaboration with others, such as with Ross Whyte, and The Furrow Collective. The latest of the latter sees him alongside composer Amble Skuse and Concerto Caledonia head-honcho David McGuinness for the album What News which the three played in full at the launch at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe. Roberts is known for staying faithful to the folk traditions, but this latest record, with McGuinness’s wonderful piano and Skuse’s understated electronica, breathes new life into old songs.

To my untutored ear, there is something about the loops of all three which works together beautifully – the structure and format of the ballads enhanced and developed by the new accompaniment, and lending the stories themselves extra strength and vigour. Whatever the reason, the result is a quite remarkable record – one of the best of the year, and one of the best of Roberts’ career to date. I urge you to seek it out, and if you get the chance to see them live then make sure you book your seats in good time. To give you a taste as to what to expect, this is ‘The Fair Flower Of Northumberland’:

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New Musical Success: The Best In New Music From The Last Month…

9b215b_3d1f580c06494419966330296a2a0a46The summer’s almost here and the time is almost right for dancing in the street – but not quite yet, and this month’s music roundup reflects this as great big pop tunes and excellent electronica mix with more reflective musical musings.

It’s also a welcome combination of old friends and “new to us” acts, but what unites them all is that they will bring you joy. In fact, I would venture to say that this is the most purely pleasurable roundup we have posted in some time, if not ever. It’s certainly been one of the most played. It’s all about the balance, and the following is just right…

First off is ‘Good Reason’, from HQFU‘s new mini-album. This is one of the most anticipated releases of 2016 for those with a love of the melodic, electronic and magic. It’s the sort of record that made many of us fall in love with dance music in the first place, enticing you in with the opening bars and then proceeding to throw you around the room in a manner that can only be described as gay abandon with a hint of menace – and those are the best nights, right?:

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Get Yersel’ Connected: A Preview Of Celtic Connections 2016…

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If it’s January, it must be Celtic Connections, and it’s the perfect way to blow away the new year blues, often with the blues. Arguably the world’s greatest roots music festival, it continues to offer up a programme which is quite extraordinary in terms of its scope, and we should not take that for granted.

This year is no different, and you can peruse the full line-up at your leisure, but before you do here are some suggestions as to what to spend your hard-earned on.

The first ticket I bought this year was for The Bathers, who are playing two nights at The Mackintosh Church. The Bathers have made some of my favourite records, music that’s on my ‘save from a fire’ list. If you’re not aware of their work you should change that situation, and once you’ve fallen for the songs be assured that they are even better live. It’s rare for them to play these days, so this promises to be something special. Here they are playing at the peak of their powers with ‘The Belle Sisters’:

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April’s Guys: The Best New Music From Last Month…

I apologise for being a bit later than normal with this, but I seemed to go on a week’s holiday by mistake. Won’t happen again. Anyway, welcome to the best new music from April of which there was quite a lot. As well as what follows, we had the long list of this year’s Scottish Album of The Year Awards (more of which below) which once again highlighted how deep and wide and tall Scottish music is at the moment.

Last month saw a lot of electric dreams, melancholic musings, and moving melodies. A track which exhibits the latter two comes from The Deadline Shakes with their new single ‘Phonecalls In The Bath’. Always an interesting band, this shows a real leap forward in their songwriting and confidence in their music. Starting slowly it builds to reach epic proportions while never going over the top, and is packed so full of hooks you could do yourself an injury. Classic pop in the tradition of The Go Betweens, The Woodentops, Camper Van Beethoven and Sugar, this gets better with every listen and for me is the first classic pop song of summer 2015. Sun out, windows down, this is the perfect accompaniment. Good work fellas. Have a listen for yourself:

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