Easter Showcases 2013 Preview!


Don’t worry, it’s just a guy in a suit

Showcase time again in the Ironworks and here I am, extremely late, with a preview for it. Won’t actually BE at the showcases themselves though as the first is on Sunday (the 31st) and the buses are horrendous on a Sunday. No point in showing up then having to leave at half 8. The second on Monday WOULD be fine, but I’m on air doing that radio show thing that I do. Assuming you listen to the show the lateness of this preview won’t actually matter as I banged on about them there plenty.

The seasonal showcases are a great chance to catch some established and not so established acts that you may not have seen before for a handful of pounds. In the past that sentence would have had local in it. This time it’s probably safer to say either unsigned and indie OR Scottish, as I think they are all from this country. Not quite all from the Inverness area but that’s okay. It’s also a bit of a mixed bag on each night which, if you listen to the aforementioned show, you’ll know I’m all for. Maybe not QUITE as eclectic as I can be at times but a nice mix all the same. Anyway enough blah blah, this is who you can here.


Thankfully not playing

EASTER SHOWCASE #1 SUNDAY 31ST OF MARCH

Or Easter Sunday, funnily enough. I assume the line up is just the reverse of the poster order as that’s what happens most of the time. Could be wrong though

MIR – I’m not sure if there IS a Facebook page for MIR, so I’ll link to youtube instead. Rock and roll in the traditional sense, 50’s style. Bluesy rock with some surf rock thrown in there for good measure. Whether it’s Miriam solo or the full band I don’t know, but I assume when the billing is MIR she’s got boys with her.
RED RONSON – Inverness’ premier ship builders (come and join us, the more the merrier. No I have no idea why either but it was important last time so I’m in) who also play music now and again. Poppy folk music, you should have heard at least one tune, and thoroughly nice people to boot. Quite a new act and I have yet to see them live. Will rectify that as soon as I can though.
NAKED RED – Red Ronson will then lose their clothes and….oh hold on. No relation at all really. These guys are a funky rock band, more rock than funk and a wee bit 80’s, who I first heard at the LAST Easter Showcase. So good they’ve been invited back again. Regulars on the Inverness gig scene so if you haven’t seen them yet now is your chance.
EMMA MITCHELL – And friends as Emma will have a number of guests with her for her set. Bit of a who’s who of Greenhouse people I think which is no bad thing. First person to play live on my show, Emma has a cracking voice and plays a range of rock, folk and blues type acoustic numbers. When it’s just her. Not sure if it stays acoustic when people join her. Join them and find out! Not on stage, in the audience.
LIONEL – Damned good rock band from Inverness who I first (and last I think though they’ve been gigging plenty) saw during the battle of the bands in The Eagle Upstairs. They were runners up if I remember rightly and if it was held just now would have won as the winners or on hiatus. Some great stuff, well worth the ticket price alone.
AGAINST ALL FLAGS – Dunno much about these guys at all to be honest but they have a couple of videos so now I know a wee bit. I assume they are local, and they play punk. Proper punk with no modifiers like you used to get on cassettes. Punk that’s loud, can be pretty fast, and is loud. Punk. Good stuff.
WASHINGTON IRVING – If you looked up Scottish Folk Rock in a….well it wouldn’t be in the dictionary as it’s 3 words. These guys are someone you could easily point people at as a solid example of the genre though. Not local but Inverness regulars. I’ll admit it was a surprise to me they were playing, but a pleasant one. Or it would be if I could go… *grumble*
IAIN MCLAUGHLIN AND THE OUTSIDERS – It was roughly a year ago that they released they’re first album We Are All Outsiders. It’s bloody good, you should get one. It’s on Spotify if you don’t believe me. Iain has told me a second one is in the offing (think it’s an album) so even if you are familiar with it they will no doubt be playing quite a bit of new stuff. Which I’m sure will also be excellent.

So that’s the first night then. On to….


You are going, roit mate?

EASTER SHOWCASE #2 MONDAY THE 1ST OF APRIL

It’s after noon so this can’t be a fool. Also, doors are at 7 and I’ll still be on air. Remember that ABC Radio Alness is available on the Tune In App. Bands won’t be on at 7, so I’m sure everyone would appreciate some good music till they do come on. Like playing a very good show through your phone for them to hear. Just saying 😉

When they DO start they’ll be these people:

ALICE BENTLEY – She used to be the front lady of the Young Trees, now she’s just a lady with a front. Had her in for a proper session and she’s very very good so you should make sure and turn up for the start or you’ll be missing out. Poppy folk solo acoustic performing person.
ALL HAT NO CAT – The IW page is wrong, I’m not. Anyway, Adrian and Lucy on guitar and flute respectively (and he plays the mouthy as well) with some singing, mainly from Adrian. Classic style folk music like what was common a few years back. Played them on the show, very good stuff.
DOUGIE BURNS – and the Cadillacs. That being what he’s calling his band, probably down to signature tune “California Cadillac”. And a fitting name for the style of blues rock that Dougie plays. Funky as hell, entertaining lyrics, very fun stuff. Dougie doesn’t have a FB page for the band. I suggested he set one up for his music about 6 months back and he doesn’t know how. Sarah, set up a page for your old man would ya?
BLUE GUM EARS – New ones on me though going by their Facebook they might have been knocking about for 8 years?! Anyway, also going by the Facebook they’re alternative rockers and not bad ones too. That’s all I’ve got.
AILSA JEAN LYALL MATHEWS – Know more about this one though. I’ve managed to catch her twice and she has a fantastic voice BUT isn’t really a musician. So that’s why you may not have heard her much for the last while. Not sure who will be accompanying her or if she’s just been practicing the playing side of things, but cracking voice on her.
THE LITTLE MILL OF HAPPINESS – If you are a fan of local music you are probably a fan of these guys as they’re one of those bands everyone likes. Rightly so. Dark and moody yes, epicly talented also yes. Caught them around a month ago I think and there was a lot of new material on offer (I believe a second EP is in the offing) so if you haven’t seen them in a while get yourself along. And if you’ve never seen them then DEFINITELY get yourself along.
CHASING OWLS – New one on me again, less than usual for a showcase I’m slightly proud to say. Similar GENRE to Washington Irving but not the same. I’d make a bit of a Ben Folds type comparison as well maybe? Also they have a lady person. More indie than last nights second last act. Good stuff though, if I do drag myself up after the show I’ll be looking forward to hearing them.
RED KITES – and I’ll also be very much looking forward to hearing these guys. Not local technically, but they are local in many ways and very much loved in Inverness and the Highlands in general. Honestly I don’t have to say any more do I? Thought not.

Doors on both nights open at 7pm and each night is a fiver. You are TOTALLY ripping them off at that price as each band if probably worth that all by thereselves. I’ve said more than enough, get your ass to Mar….the Ironworks.

Summer Showcase #8 review

Right, first off I only managed to get crap pictures of The Oxides after which my phone said “no more pictures, me sleepy”. However, there are 3 of them so I’ll spread them out a bit. Sorry Toby Michael’s Rolling Damned and Roadway, people will have to just hunt you out at the links I just provided if they want to see your pretty faces. Pictures there will be better anyway…


Jake and his box of peddles

SO last showcase night, going out with a bang with a selection of rock bands. If any act was a bit different from the other two it was The Oxides. I’ll get to the others in detail in a bit, but they are more of a classic rock sound. The Oxides are a much more alternative rock band. The made up history I’d give them to explain the sound was that they grew up in the north of England, formed a band in the late 90’s, buggered off to the states for Uni for a year, then came back. That kind of hybridisation of sounds. There’s only 3 of them, sounds like a lot more. Part of that will be down to Jake Bolt’s Amazing Array Of Peddles (TM). He has about 50 in front of him, I may be exaggerating, and flips between them like the pro that he is. This brings some fantastic variety to their songs, none of which I’ve noted down the titles for as I was down the front and too busy nodding my head and enjoying myself. When not switching around the peddles Jake controlled-stumbles around the afforded space, drunken boxer style guitar playing. And he gets a bit sweaty too. Enough on the main man. On bass we have Archie Stewart. Quite a shy guy, known to blush a bit, but boy can he play bass. This is the second time I’ve heard them play, and only the 5th gig for them as a group, and the first time I heard them I noticed the bass playing. Like really noticed. That doesn’t normally happen, I’m not a bassist and unless there’s some kind of solo us civilians generally don’t massively notice it (no offence to bassists, the music would suck without you). You notice Archie because he’s really really good. And to round it out Duff on the drums, who is a damned fine drummer. These three guys produce some ridiculously good music that would easily fit in to the mainstream and make it look effortless while they do it. At one point I turned around to see who was behind me (hi Duncan *waves*) and suddenly LOADS OF PEOPLE. Probably the biggest turn out I’ve seen at the showcases I made it to. Good for two reasons.

1) They got to hear at least some of a fantastic set by The Oxides, and the other stuff I’m about to describe. 2) Jake forgot what band he was in at the end. Jake: “We’ve been 28 Jacks!” Archie: “What band did you say? I thought we were the Oxides”. We all had a laugh, that’s what happens when you get really in to it I suppose. Wouldn’t have mentioned it but….well we all have to rip in to Jake about it for a while. Moving on…


Archie, from the band above

To Toby Michael’s Rolling Damned. Aka the band that features half of Kobi, no brass section though. For those who haven’t seen them, I hadn’t until last night, they’re a proper rock band. By proper I mean “a bit 80’s hair metal” kind of. Toby slings an acoustic guitar when he’s playing something, the rest are fully plugged. And they have FUN. While the set got a bit ballady at times, which is fine, the majority is the kind of bluesy rock that you can mosh around to. Front man Toby loves to get right in to the crowd, from riding the barrier to actually going up the stairs to the balcony, coming back down, singing to various crowd members, having a bit of a lie down, doing a bit more singing then getting the hell back where he belongs. And there’s a bit of light banter between tunes. The other members also occasionally barrier ride, particularly Jonny Gash who I’ll single out in a second, or get up on the drummers podium. Steve “wot’s in Kobi” Robertson was the first I saw doing it, and he also brought his dueling bass moves. While I’m mentioning the connecting members, they also have Gary “Dreamboat” Thain slinging guitar. I didn’t call him that, they did. And so did his fan club (I suspect some theatrics are in play). Now to single out the Gash(Oh dear). I love a bit of rock me, and I love a good solo. Jonny Gash plays a MEAN solo, proper soaring guitar licks. Thank you very much sir, I’ll have some more of that. I’ve bounced around there set a fair bit here so I’ll plunge back to the middle to close off and give some connecting tissue to the final band. During the ballady section the other band members had a bit of a break just leaving Toby and his acoustic on stage. He’s a big fan of Roadway, said how happy they were to be on the same bill as them particularly in light of events earlier this year and then played a tune specifically for them. Very nice it was too.


Very blurry Duff, who isn’t in Roadway but that’s they’re drums

Then, well not then as that was the middle of TMRD’s set, on to the boys themselves. Roadway. I’ve wanted to see them for a while now and I’m very glad I did. While I said the last act was proper 80’s rock, I think “influenced” would have been a bit more accurate as THIS is proper 80’s rock. With a keyboard. The boys are younger than I expected, thought they were closer to my age. Might just be baby faced. Anyway my inner 14 year old was very happy with the powerful guitar licks and soaring vocals. As was my outer 32 year old. While the singing WAS soaring with some truly impressive moments I do think at times Dougie might have been stretching for some notes occasionally. The sound mix was a bit off on my opinion too as the vocals sounded a bit TOO separate from the music. These are minor grumbling btw, they were excellent and I expect they will go on to very big things. I wasn’t particularly going to mention the elephant in the room but they did so I will. A few months back Ross and Bod were in a particularly nasty car crash. Both guys pulled through and are on the mend, but it was an air ambulance, lots of emergency blood and long physio (which isn’t over yet) situation. There was a shout out to the emergency services and a nudge to give some blood next time you can. Apologised for, but there was no need to. This led in to a song called “This is Why” originally written for Doogie White from Rainbow, which was given extra meaning by the situation and helped the guys through the tough times. It’s about soldiering on when things are hard, and was very very good. The whole set was. Next chance I get I’ll be picking up a Roadway EP in HMV in Inverness, as should you. And I was a bit skint on the night but on the off chance that you have a large T left knocking about give me a shout and I’ll take it off your hands for some pictures of the Queen.

Unfortunately I had to skip out slightly early, so I assume that Roadway then played the most epic rock song ever conceived by man. So epic that they couldn’t possibly ever play it again, and everyone who was there’s life was changed and improved for hearing it. Stupid buses…

And that brought an end to the summer showcase season. If you missed out on all of it, shame on you and don’t let it happen again. These gigs are two very important things. Cheap and good. Worth way more than you’re charged for them, so get your butt around next time. And if you did make it…..that was pretty ace wasn’t it?

Green Iron House Works this Thursday

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…