As a little surprise for my dear ladyfriend, Cat, we took a four-day jaunt up to Scotland’s unfairly beautiful capital for the bank holiday weekend. Whilst we fitted in the usual tourist trips, seeing as most of my favourite music of the moment is coming out of the city, I crowbarred in a little music here and there, and what follows is a small account of the kind of aural treats we encountered in various forms.

Our first night ended with a (belated, due to poor, poor map reading skills on my part) trip to The Wee Red Bar for the Unpop club night. As an indie-pop night, we knew what to expect, but the main reason for my insistence on attending was down to the fact that none other than Pat Nevin, ex-Chelsea player, commentator extraordinaire and “indiepop conoisseur” (as the flyers proclaimed) was the DJ all night. Quite apart from his self-evident good taste, Nevin was a very nice man indeed, even asking our opinion of what to play later. Cat asked for this:

Camera Obscura – Honey In The Sun (YSI)

Of course, no trip to a new city would be complete without a scouring of the local record shops, and in the process I picked up a couple of delights. From the rightfully acclaimed Avalanche Records in Grassmarket I finally picked up Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and from a “rare records” emporium on the Royal Mile, I was given a John Lee Hooker collection by Cat after she watched me hanker over it for too long.

Pavement – Cut Your Hair (YSI)
John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom (YSI)

Whilst planning the trip, I’d frantically tried to find a gig worth heading to whilst we were in the city, but hadn’t found a suitable choice. Luckily, Matthew at Song, By Toad had me covered and posted about the Grassmarket festival, a three-day “micro festival” I suppose, free to enter, with craft stalls, food and, most importantly, live music. Taking Matthew’s advice/cowing to his threats (you can see this in the comments of the linked page above), we headed down on Sunday to catch Edinburgh School for the Deaf. Despite never wowing me beforehand, their particular fuzzy, punky tones were perfect for the sunny day and drew a great reaction out of the pretty sedate crowd (including one well-dressed drunkard who insisted on dancing directly in front of the stage throughout. Later, he was arrested). Unfortunately, we’d got there a little late and for no apparent reason, the plug was pulled after a couple of tracks. After a nifty pint, we headed back to the stage for The Second Hand Marching Band, who somehow managed to cram an uncountable number of musicians and bulky instruments onto the small stage to perform an uplifting set of brassy singalong numbers that swelled the crowd steadily throughout. We had to shoot off shortly afterwards, but the Grassmarket Festival has, in my limited experience anyway, set a precedent that could, and should be followed. Tiny events like this would be relatively easy to organise in an area with a good enough music scene, and with the cooperation of local small businesses, it’s a perfect way to draw attention to an area’s music or location that might otherwise be ignored.

Edinburgh School for the Deaf – 11 Kinds of Loneliness (YSI)
The Second Hand Marching Band – We Walk In The Room (YSI)

Of course, it all had to end sometime, and on the train home, Cat managed to infect my brain with this apposite number:

Adam Buxton – Holiday Blues (YSI)

Let me just end this little account with a message to anyone who lives in Edinburgh. I envy you. And Because I envy you, I hate you. So lock your doors, because I might want to steal your house and live in it myself sometime, and you’d better not get in the way of my doing that. Bye!

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