I’d make a joke about waiting for a bus and two coming along at once and how gigs are like that, but it happens all too often around these parts. This Thursday presents this dilemma. In fact it’s possible it’s WORSE than that and there’s even MORE on but I’m just going to talk about two that happen simultaneously and a dozen or so miles apart. It’s one thing to have to jump from one band to another in the same town, but I’m not fast enough to go from Dingwall to Inverness in any kind of suitable time frame and I don’t drive.
Before I get stuck in, this site isn’t and probably never will be in the business of gig listing and I won’t be plugging everything coming up so please don’t be offended if I don’t mention your gig. If I’m at it I’ll probably review it though. Anyway.
Every fortnight The Greenhouse in Dingwall hosts an open mic session. I love The Greenhouse, it’s probably my favourite venue in these here parts. Mainly because it isn’t really a venue. Gigs are held in “The Tea Posy” for the most part which is a tea/coffee shop. But there is a dedicated wee stage and I’ve never been there NOT for a gig so I guess it IS a venue. The furniture miss matches as it’s all “vintage” (pre-owned, random, pick a term), the tea comes in fantastic china cups and the staff are all friendly. It’s small, once you get past about 20 people seating gets a bit tricky, but that just leads to very intimate gigs. And next to this, behind the curtain if you will, is a massive array of second hand books, clothing, vinyl, CDs, DVD and random brick-a-brack. While walking to the Bella fringe event a few weeks ago with some Brew Dog in a Tesco bag (it’s not licensed but it’s okay to bring your own adult drinks) I over heard some people referring to it as “a meeting place for hippies”. That’s not STRICTLY true but it isn’t far wrong either.
As I’ve said it’s not licensed so it means any artists don’t have to deal with people who are hammered. It’s a relaxed joint, but there’s some unspoken rules. Shut the hell up, or at least keep it really down, when people are playing and don’t come in the door unless it’s between songs. In return you get some great music and a smile on your face. This holds true for the open mic sessions as much as any other gig. When I first went along to one, maybe 5 months ago, I hadn’t really been to an open mic so I expected…well not much really. Boy was I wrong. Yes, over the however many I’ve been to there’s been the odd slightly ropy performance by someone inexperienced who’s a bit nervous but I’ve never seen anyone BAD. And even if you ARE a bit shaky at times it’s a friendly crowd, your mistakes will be laughed WITH not AT (most of us have BEEN there) and you’ll get a round of applause after.
There’s also generally a guest star of some kind. I’ve missed a few, had to skip out a bit early with others, but they’re always good. This weeks guest is a Greenhouse regular, Dougie Burns who you can hear some of right here. That first tune is somewhat of a signature, singing along is encouraged. Who else is playing? Well I dunno, it’s an open mic. Whoever turns up. Maybe you. Gwan. The whole thing is to raise some funds to help the Red Hook Rapids go on a tour around the pond. See, a hat gets passed around and you chuck in whatever you think is fair for the guest star and that’s what they get to take home with them that night (how awesome is that, it’s a pretty kick ass hat too, kudos to Rob Ellen). Dougie is donating his hat contents to the Red Hook Rapids, very kind of him.
Further South at the Ironworks it’s Summer Showcase #6. Now before I get to that I should probably say something about the Ironworks. It’s an actual venue, so….there ya go. Don’t get me wrong, I love the place. It also has friendly staff and it has a license so there’s booze on sale. It’s great for big rocky gigs as there’s loads of space for everyone to bounce about (unless there’s loads of everyone, then it’s tight bouncing about). And if there’s a more mellow folky gig there’s a bunch of tables out and tea lights on each table, somehow making what is basically a big room feel pretty intimate. The stage may be a might bit too high but apart from that it’s a place BUILT for music. Which is nice.
What does Showcase #6 have in store for us? Rock. First up it’s Naked Red. I have to nab their own description for this. Rocking, rolling, funking, folking. Ace. That sounds like a bit of a tall order really but once you’ve listened to a couple of tunes it’s pretty much accurate. Their a bit too rocky to just be folk, but they’re too folky to be a pure rock band. Wouldn’t say they were funk though but it doesn’t really work as well without that in the description.
They’ll be followed by, and this is assumption based on the running order of the last couple of showcases, KOBI. Not sure if the name is an acronym, but it is all caps. They describe themselves as alternative rock but that’s always a little vague. There single “Fight” is the musical version of a sunset, all twiddly guitar and steady beats. In fact I’d say that the general vibe that they give me is of travelling somewhere, the preparatory calm before some kind of storm. And, and hopefully this will be taken as good as it’s what I mean, a wee bit gothy. Wouldn’t go amiss on a Vampire movie soundtrack. (I said “and” twice at the start of a sentence there, possibly killed a few English teachers. I write how I talk, it’s a blog, sue me (don’t sue me)).
To round things off it’s The Little Mill of Happiness. Bit of a an Invenerness super group that’ll blow your ass off. I’ve listened the hell out of their EP since getting it in March after a great gig in the Market Bar. I’m completely blanking on the main comparison I’ve heard, but it’s mainly down to singer Steve’s throaty voice. They’re lyrics don’t compromise, there is some amazing playing all round and “Drying Out Wishbones” is one of my favourite tunes of the year.
All that will cost you £3.
What is a boy to do?! Well technically I shouldn’t go anywhere as I’m pretty skint, but I’ve already taken the money out and it doesn’t cram back in to an ATM. Just hold on to it you say? Crazy talk! I COULD go to the Greenhouse for a bit, give my apologies to Naked Red who I’d probably miss all of and Kobi who I’d miss half of but turn up for the second half at the Ironworks. Or I could go to one or the other. To add to the dilemma it’s a mates birthday and she’ll be at the Ironworks. SO I’m not sure what I’m going to do either. And I thought I’d share that joy with the rest of you. Now you have two things to choose from on Thursday. My kingdom for a TARDIS…