Something going by the name of ‘concert’.

Short of corporate sponsors and barely hidden back-handers to elected officials, it seems that the idea of the concert is coming back, albeit with a fragile sense of optimism. So it is with that warm, fuzzy feeling of positivity that I was really pleased to see the ‘going ahead of’ Hidden Door Festival.

There was once a time when musicians would advertise their presence in some sort of location, outside or in, with the express intention of playing some music for an allotted period of time. On coming to know of said musician’s intentions, members of the public (onetime referred to as fans) who felt some kind of intangible affinity with the music, would seek to be present for the duration of the musical performance (set), even going so far as to pay for the privilege of just being there. This whole affair was called a concert.

To those who have come into, or even have got used to the world of live music over the past 18 months and counting, the kind of atavism described above is nothing short of a pipe dream. Surely, watching live music is a solitary, bedroom-bound, bandwidth-permitting experience that occurs via the wonderful worlds of whichever streaming service is a la mode?

It’s not like there has been much of an option for musicians, try as we might to play live. Indeed it just seems that getting loads of people into a venue for an allotted period of time to witness something they collectively enjoy is an impossibility, a complete no go, something that shouldn’t be addressed. Well, unless it’s sport and sponsored by Heineken or MasterCard or whatever, then it’s no problem apparently.

Short of corporate sponsors and barely hidden back-handers to elected officials, it seems that the idea of the concert is coming back, albeit with a fragile sense of optimism. So it is with that warm, fuzzy feeling of positivity that I was really pleased to see the ‘going ahead of’ Hidden Door Festival.

Granton, a part of Edinburgh that conforms neither to the city’s Prime of Ms Jean Brodie climes, nor to the Brigadoon-inspired mess of the city centre, has already been at the forefront of progressively-minded creativity this summer. Granton Hub, a community-based project that despite having its wings clipped in terms of the activities it can provide during the endless pandemic, has continued as a community pantry and outdoor space throughout the endless restrictions.

Through events such as ‘Doon the Water’, a collaboration between artist Marta Adamowicz and the wonderful Plastically, Granton’s community-led art puts it at the forefront of creative expression in a city which has been so paralysed by the ongoing health crisis that folk were genuinely excited by the opening of a flood -prone, turd-shaped hotel and mall complex.

Shite

This brings me to Hidden Door, due to take place from the 15th-19th of September. The location? Round the corner from the hub, by the old Granton gasworks.

“A revelation… a community arts festival that actually revolutionises and invigorates the community it takes place in.” 

Miss Fogg Travels

On this blog I drone on about the musical revolution all the time, tired tropes about overthrowing the inherently unfair status quo and seizing the means of production, and on it goes. Maybe there will be a time for this, but I think what is needed now is some degree of optimism with regards to live music. This is what Hidden Door brings, a degree of locally sourced, sustainable music. That makes it sound like smoked salmon, and though both the music and salmon industries suffer from several of the same ills imposed on them by consumer capitalism, that’s a story for another blog. One I imagine that no-one will read.

I will keep it simple. Here is the line up, and here are the tickets. This is live music as it once was, and will be again. I welcome it both as a musician and as a fan.

Nearer the time I will be previewing a few of the acts who will be appearing at Hidden Door 2021. Watch this space.

A wee musical update

Well, it has been some year. We’ve had some good times…well not really good times per se, but I did find a pack of mandolin strings in my sock drawer back in April. if that isn’t a musical high point for a year of lows, then I don’t know what is. Anyhow, it’s not all doom and gloom and before the ruling powers of Giliad, or Westminster to revert to anachronism, lead us into more red, white, and blue soaked crap times, let’s have a look at what’s going on musically. 


The music is starting to be picked again by what I would call the glue of grass-roots music; community radio. Special mention goes out to the team at Sunny Govan, and I will leave you with the prospect that maybe, just maybe in the future, and if they let me of course, I will maybe get behind the desk again. Imagine that, a radio show.

To conclude, a couple of pals stick out as shining examples of how to manage music during this time, and I’d like to make special mention of Fiona Liddell and Jack Hinks. The former’s ‘Local Heroes’ list is a ‘go to’ for new Scottish tunes, while the latter’s humorously titled ‘Hot Singles in Your Area’ features an interactive take on the concept of the new release. You might even hear a bit o’ yours truly.


For bookings, info, or my award-winning discount catering service please get in touch. You can find me across the board online, or in person to the right of the gate at Alexandra Park and Cumbernauld Road, my chosen busking location. Come one, come all!

This could be yours for only £4.45/head +VAT!

God – Jack Hinks

Scotland + Organised religion. To say that this storied double act has had a complicated relationship would be quite the understatement.

A while back, while a’wandering round the dormant volcano that sticks out the middle of Edinburgh, my gran, my girlfriend, and I stumbled across a strange iron contraption stuck to the wall of the local church. Shaped like a snare, with a length of chain to tether it to the kirk’s wall, it begged the question from my better half:

‘What the hell is that?’

Nonchalantly, my gran replied that the unknown piece of masonry attached to the church was in fact a ‘Scold’s Bridle’, a bleak concept in which women who dared to express opinion could be chained up in order to receive a dose of public humiliation; in this case ecclesiastically-sponsored public humiliation.

Here is a typically progressive pamphlet from the time.

Unbelievably, this ritual punishment continued until terrifyingly recently, with the Calvinistic notion of Scottish Presbyterianism fuelling the idea of the submissive women, bound to a life of grisly servitude. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200. Complaints to be addressed c/o the Witchfinder General.

Scotland + Organised religion. To say that this storied double act has had a complicated relationship would be quite the understatement. From the notions of church goers’ ‘come for the service, stay for the torture’, to the mob that destroyed Glasgow cit centre last weekend in the name of a Dutch monarch who died over 300 years ago, I think it would be safe to say that old Caledonia and the praying game has been a pretty volatile combo.

Maybe it was probably better before all this malarkey eh?

There’s always good in pain, that much I have learned

God, Jack Hinks

Jack Hinks is deep into a cyclical series of tunes that focus on the grieving process, and we currently find ourselves at the stage of bargaining, hence God.

Lyrically the above line spoke to me, a blatant reminder of the wee figure of John Knox that appears on my shoulder every time I consider my path as a musician. My interiorised 16th century clergyman usually hits me at the low points (busking in a downpour, an empty gig venue, a friend’s wedding with loads of graduate trainees) to tell me to get a real job, or that enjoying what you do is fundamentally wrong and sinful or something. Is this just me? Is there more to it? A bigger picture? Should I set up a helpline for artists plagued by a constant feeling of inadequacy and shame due to a deep-rooted history of Calvinistic brainwashing?

Well in the meantime, there’s probably no need, as Jack Hinks’ lyrics sound out the frustrations felt by many:

God damn these eyes, these eyes that prove me blind
God damn these eyes, they fail me by design.
God damn this mind, this mind that knows me best
God damn this time, I’ve pinned it to my chest

God, Jack Hinks

From an artistic point of view, I think Scotland has a really weird relationship with creativity, given that it is arguably one of the most creative nations on earth. The idea that we are blessed with all this talent and ability; the eye to see, the mind to imagine, and the time to do it (especially now!), yet we have this bizarre sense of self-discipline and fundamental shame, is a really Scottish concept. Like having an abundance of something great but not being able to really use it properly, a bit like trying to play Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney in the same starting XI.

I might be miles off the mark here, my music writing usually is, but that’s what I got out of Jack Hinks’ latest piece.

I ask God what they mean
She says they’re both the same
I say you’re no god to me.

God, Jack Hinks

Great lyrics, god as ‘she’ too, ace. Get those words sent to the Church of Scotland General Assembly laddie! See what they make of them! Turns of phrase that once may have left the author chained up outside the wee church by Arthur’s Seat, but now represent a move away from the superstition and pointless discipline of the path towards a more progressive future perhaps.

I eagerly await the next instalment of the song cycle.

Support Jack Hink’s directly by purchasing his music via Bandcamp.

Get in touch with me if you want an irreverent review of your music.

Pass Me M(m)y Matches – Grammar and Music

Hold up. I set out to write this blog to avoid just spinning out the same clichés of music writing worldwide. ‘Dark, broody, full of soul and body’ could describe anything from Oscar nominations, to craft beer, to a fucking Audi commercial. So let’s steer clear of that pish.

I’ve committed the blogger’s cardinal sin; not posting for a while. So many great blogs lie in stasis, or worse, in the hellish limbo of having no recognised domain. Derelict and directionless, these former fountains of opinion, ill-informed or otherwise, now lie at the mercy of the cruel Internet, an online society that devours content at an alarming rate.

Well, that’s a cheery picture of the future, but here at Scotland’s #586 most popular music blog I say:

NOT TODAY!

Leggi tutto “Pass Me M(m)y Matches – Grammar and Music”

Knowledge is Power: Save Whiteinch Public Library

Whiteinch is a community that is in the process of seeing its services stripped, a social scarification that paves the way to private development and a complete sidelining of its current residents.

*This article originally appeared on Bella Caledonia. Read it here and support independent journalism in Scotland.

There is a light on a Whiteinch library, G14. The gates are locked, and have been for over a year, but from time to time, there is a light on. There’s smoke from the chimney occasionally too, a wee hint of life on the corner of a Glasgow street that has been dead for a long time.

Greg Sheridan via Flickr
Leggi tutto “Knowledge is Power: Save Whiteinch Public Library”

Felix and the Sunsets – Leaving on the Next Train

As for spending your life doing something you despise. Well for any born and bred millenial, the line isn’t so much a statement of fact, but a mantra.

I was thinking back to primary school the other day, a bunch of annoying wee pricks crammed into a hall and forced to sing along to songs that were supposed to be non-denominational, but usually featured some kind of bigging up of the Bible etc. There was the usual turgid fair of musical parables of some of the Old Testaments’s greatest hits (Jonah, Noah) plus a smattering of so-called ‘new religiously-themed tunes’. Whichever vacuous, loveless human, void of all imagination could come up with such guff music as ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’ or ‘Think of a world without…’, will one day reap the collected ire of a generation.

Leggi tutto “Felix and the Sunsets – Leaving on the Next Train”

@buskersofglasgow – Sunshine with a Soundtrack.

In writing about music, and the music scene I always come back to my base belief that community movements in music trump 21st century individualism time after time. Carolyn’s genuine passion to propagate and support the musicians featured on the page is a perfect example of how working together with passion can create a sustainable side to grass-roots music.

It’s a testament to the times that we live in that the only time I hear music in a public space is when I go to Morrison’s. I would listen to the piped shop radio station, replete with various 80s hits, usually upbeat pish like Wham! and Cindi Lauper, lest something more pensive should make you consider shopping less or something.

In any case wasn’t expecting Joy Division or Mudhoney to accompany the buying of suspiciously cheap pineapples. This experience of hurried, masked, panicked, musical consumption, limited to aisles of beans or biscuits, is in my opinion quite representative of our musical dystopia; indeed from capitalism’s point of view, using music as a lure to keep consuming has been a depressing staple for a while.

Leggi tutto “@buskersofglasgow – Sunshine with a Soundtrack.”

Randolph’s Leap – Up in Smoke

I (naively) always thought that in an age of such readily available technology, just throwing together a wee video would be ridiculously easy.

As a musician, plugging my trade in the modern music industry, the importance of a visual presence quickly became evident. Sadly for dinosaurs such as myself, the emphasis on aesthetics has some sort of relevance to most music in this day and age. With this in mind, I reluctantly signed up to Instagram about 3 years ago.

Leggi tutto “Randolph’s Leap – Up in Smoke”

Choose Eggs. Choose Local Radio.

So over to radio. Semantically speaking, the mere idea of ‘radio’ has become so dated that we can barely bring ourselves to refer to it in the vernacular, instead using the medium of podcasts to somehow detract from the fact that the majority of podcasts are, if not ACTUAL shows from the radio, then a segment of talking and/or music within a specified time frame; i.e. a radio show.

I’m in love with the radio on
It helps me from being alone late at night
Helps me from being lonely late at night
I don’t feel so bad now in the car
Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on

Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

I always drone on about this musical utopia, one in which all aspects of making, writing, performing, reproducing, listening, and talking about music all exist on this hitherto absent level playing field. The results of which would be a flourishing and sustainable music scene etc etc. If that’s what you want to start your Wednesday by reading about, then you can find that piece here.

For grass-roots musicians in this day and age, when it comes to gaining ‘exposure’ (I hate that word) for the music that you have bled into, sweated over, and torn from your being, the options are certainly more varied than before.

Leggi tutto “Choose Eggs. Choose Local Radio.”

Felix and the Sunsets – The Mushroom Song

Frankly, I really appreciate an LP that can go from paying homage to one of the defining social movements of the current age to a song about mistakenly drinking a cup a magic mushroom-infused tea. It is a rare ability to offset the relevance of global affairs with the opening of the doors of perception via a psilocybe brew.

Today’s post is brought to you in association with:

www.mymushroom.com – Your go-to site for all things fun(ghi).

Felix and the Sunsets will be familiar to yous from last month’s single ‘This Will Change’, an introspective voyage through the #BLM protests in Scotland last year. You can listen to that here. It’s pretty to the point, and certainly preaches a hopeful message, one in which musicians can still reflect the spirit of the times.

Leggi tutto “Felix and the Sunsets – The Mushroom Song”