Donald Macdonald and the Islands @ The Greenhouse review


Katie’s lovely handywork

It was a busy couple of days in The Greenhouse. Crazy night on Thursday for Fash’s Annual Christmas Extravaganza, a very well attended Saturday set in the afternoon and then on Saturday evening the final gig of the Donald Macdonald (and the Islands) tour. And the place was HEAVING when I got there. Standing room only, and in some areas barely even that. Mainly there for the main men themselves obviously but they were also in for a treat to start off with.

Sorry for the dodgyness of the pictures as usual. Let’s hope I have a better camera at some point in the coming year!


Solo sapling Alice Bentley

As with pretty much every gig there was some support on offer and it came in the shape on Dingwall native Alice Bentley from the Young Trees. Unfortunately it was a rather noisy crowd for the Greenhouse, felt more like Hoots really, but this didn’t put her off at all. After the set I was talking with Alice and she admitted to suffering pretty badly from stage fright before every gig. It doesn’t show in the least though. Alice came across as a very comfortable performer who belongs in front of an audience. Great guitar playing, lovely voice and a mix of covers in her own style and original tracks. Her own style being what I’d describe as pop folk, something that appears to be on the rise. A seasonal cover, Santa Baby, was given a bit more energy that the more famous versions, while her cover of U2’s With or Without You was more mellow. Alice doesn’t have a soaring voice, more of a delicate one, so none of Bono’s wailing just lovely lovelyness. I didn’t get a note of the names of the originals as I’m useless but they were all very good, and the one I do know the name of (Scottish Rain) sounds just as great solo as it does with the whole Young Trees forest.

2 other things of note as well. She doesn’t suffer from Fiddly Tuner Syndrome, will have a wee check to make sure things are sounding okay but that’s it. Very glad to see that. And while the between tracks banter was light it was present which is also a good mark. Despite what may be going on inside before a gig, and EVERYONE gets a bit of stage fright, what you see is a talented young lady who should go very far. And has a very proud mum.


Sexy McSexy (and the Sexys), random superfan on the left

After a bit of turn around setting up time it was time for the main event, Donald Macdonald (and the Islands). Who, as you can see from the caption, I’m reliably told are a very attractive group of young men. I don’t care about that myself, I like girls, but I do care about what kind of music they produce. Their first EP is very familiar to me and listeners to the radio show as they’ve had a few spins at this point. Live they are that but a wee bit more. Turned up a notch or two. Whether it’s just because it was the last gig of the tour or if they always do this live I don’t know but they certainly gave it their all. I mean look at the Jake Bolt rivaling sweat levels


Wet T-shirt contest

So they produce some loud folk rock then, with plenty of quiet bits thrown in. In many ways a bit of a north west answer to Fatherson in the varied pace and energy levels, with more subtle vocals from Donald than comes from Ross. Very distinct from each other, but a similar effort vibe. The crowd and this reviewer were loving it and the band were giving back their all. Bit of singing along and lots of clapping. There was waltzing. There was bouncing. AND there was crowd surfing. A challenge for some crowd surfing was put forth and local celebrity wild child Josephine Sillars (kidding about the wild child bit) stepped in. With a lift from Fash and a boost from myself, hence no picture, she was up on the sea for a bit and walked away the proud owner of a DMac t-shirt.

Not the first time there’s been crowd surfing in the Tea Posy btw but I do believe it’s a first for a folk gig!

The set was a mix of high energy folk rock with mellower ballads thrown in and a great time was had by all. Alas my notes are a bit sparse as I was one of the all. Plus I accidentally found myself in the midst of the sizeable crowd. I can tell you that they threw every last ounce they had in to the final number which was actually quite punky. Basically this isn’t your grandpa’s folk music by any means.

You’ve missed your chance for the year for either of these acts I think, but if you get the shot next year to see either Alice (slash Young Trees) or DMac and the I’s then get yourself along. You won’t regret it. You can pick up an EP from the main men here and they have another EP in the works for release….I dunno, probably a month or two. You’ll hear it on this page when that happens, and can keep up on Facebook here.

Music News 07/10/2012

Hey kids, here’s what’s been happening over the last day or so.

Do you have any footage from a Red Kites gig? If so they’d love to hear from you. Particularly if it’s from Bella or Rockness. Head on over to the page and give the band a shout. Stuff like this clip filmed in Hoots by Gordon Macleay.

The Greenhouse in Dingwall have a few open slots for Saturday Sets. The free dates are the 27th of October, 24th of November and 8th of December. Preferably you’d be able to do two 40 minute sets between 2 and 4pm. They’ve had some great acts in there this year and it’s a lovely wee venue. Give Matt Sillars a message (don’t normally link people’s pages but he’s the man for this) and/or drop by this group.

Get Lifted Tonight have an exclusive full version of Count Clockwork’s new mix. If electronical type stuff is your bag you can hear the Volta – Mossing remix here

Something a bit different from Rachel Sermanni today. Here‘s a video of Eggshells with The Electric String Orchestra filmed at Glasgow Oran Mor. Very rich sounds. If it’s too rich for your blood then there’s also a (bit rougher, Rachel’s voice is going a bit in it at times) version for Cock and Bull TV here. Mind you if I sounded half that good when my voice was at full strength I’d be a happy man.

It may seem like this place is a Rachel Sermanni/Cleavers fan site at times btw, but that’s just because the two of them post a fair bit of stuff that I can share with you. What a bizarre mash up of fan site that would be eh?! Bloody hell… Anyway, my list of people to draw from is up to 104 now which is slightly mental. Two added today, one of those would be Jemma Tweedie. Completely new to me, heard her on Marion Scott’s show on MFR and she’ll be supporting Charlotte Church at Bogbain Farm. She’s from Nairn and has an EP coming out on the 26th of October. Looking forward to getting my lugs around that, and you can check out a taster here. Bloody good. Cue everyone saying Amy Macdonald a lot because she’s Scottish and female….

And that’ll do you for today. Thanks for reading 🙂

Music News 15/09/2012

Hey kids, here’s what’s been happening with local acts since…Monday. This isn’t becoming a weekly post or anything, there would have been one on Tuesday but there wasn’t enough to justify a post. Been a busy boy lately but hopefully things will…ah bollocks, Loopallu. Well hopefully things will calm down EVENTUALLY as I’m really really skint. On with the news.

If you are looking for something to do and you are a fan of music of the dance persuasion then you should probably head along to the Ironworks for Rudimental. Wouldn’t mention that normally, but Inverness Gigs had a wee interview with Count Clockwork who are supporting. Interview is here. There’s also a wee promo video that was produced by the Music Works project ahead of the gig, it’s a bit mental and very well done. You may have to be pretty quick as this news post took AGES and it’s going up later than I thought.

Another gig that’s coming up soon is Fatherson, looking at my ticket right now. The guys have been up the road quite a lot this year, possibly because they were part of goNorth, and in this case I think it was by request cause we like them up here quite a lot. Well I do anyway. Mentioning goNorth probably gave you an idea of what this paragraph is actually about. That’s right another them/Netsounds Unsigned Rockhopper session from Bella. You know the artist already and this one is called Lights. You’ll be off to buy an Ironworks ticket now then aye?

Hoots/Mad Hatters have a number of support slots open over the next couple of months. Head on over to their page and drop Steve an email at the address supplied if you fit any of the bills. Not sure how many will still be available but give it a shot anyway. Email, don’t comment, to apply.

It’s outside my catchment area really but lots of acts from around here have played down there so I’ll include it, plus I wouldn’t mind going myself and if I do it’ll be reported here. Long intro sentence to just say Wickerman. Might be a bit on the large side festival wise for me actually, unless I can get a pass of some kind, but I’ve heard the vibe is a lot like Bella. Certainly looks like good craic going by this wee vid.

Rachel Sermanni was in that wee vid and her album appeared through my door this morning. Review coming soon. If you haven’t bought a copy yet and are a bit skint like I am the kind people at Thank Folk For That have 5 copies to give away. Details are here and you have until noon on Monday to enter. She also did a session with Dutch site Zubb. Breaking from the Waltz sessions this one is of The Fog, teeny bit wibbly in the first half, pretty blinding in the second. Speaking of Waltz it has been selected as Jim Gellatly’s Big One (track of the week) this week. Well deserved too.

James Mackenzie will be hitting the studio soon to record a full length album along with a bunch of other musicians. Really looking forward to hearing that. And as soon as he’s done he’ll be heading out on tour. No rest for the wicked. Keep an eye on The List for when he’ll be playing in Inverness and get yourself along to a gig as he’s rather good so he is.

Local band snapper Houdi has gotten in to the moving pictures business. Here’s Easy Tigers playing I’m not sure, sorry guys. Not familiar enough with their stuff to give you a song title and I don’t think it’s on the Songs From The Sun Room album. Anyway, video here. He was also there early and caught some Todd Cook on film, well digital video. Todd’s great as you can see and a lovely bloke to boot. Hes Australian, you can tell because he has his didgeridoo out. Unfortunately I’m not sure the name of the song as Todd didn’t have any albums available because the tax man wanted a crazy amount of money to let them out of customs. He also also filmed the end of The Merrylees set, here they are covering Riders in the Sky. Very cool, and check the lick of their guitars! Love em.

The Cleavers, along with Fraser from The Murderburgers/Fuck! (It’s pronounced shit!) have recorded a mini covers EP with S.L.U.G by the Ramones and Coffee Mug by the Descendents. It’s right here, it’s called Coffee Slug and pay whatever you want for it. The money goes to Prostate Scotland so chuck them a few quid. Great stuff.

Another interview from Inverness Gigs, this time with Matt Sillars the host of the Coffee Shop Open Mic Sessions in the Greenhouse. I LOVE their open mic nights, dragged myself along on Thursday despite tiredness and the weather. Some of the best music I’ve heard this year has been in there and it really is an appreciative audience so grab your instrument of choice and come along sometime. I may also be doing reviews, but don’t let that put you off. The format is explained in there and we’d all be very happy to hear you. If you turn up early you can also get a singing lesson from Emma Mitchell, who REALLY knows here stuff.

The Ballachulish Hellhounds have a mini album out. It’s called Red Eye’s Motorcycle Blues and you can hear/get it here. I shall be doing a wee review of it too once I’ve managed to clone myself so I have time.

The Slim Panatellas have uploaded a new track, We Are The Slim Panatellas which shows that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Haven’t managed to catch them yet and won’t for a while as their fairwell gig is in The Greenhouse while I’m at Loopallu. Farewell? Yes, they’re off galavanting abroad. Very much in theme with the kind of act they are, they’re jumping in the travelling camper van studio, making their way through France, Switzerland and Italy on an epic journey to Womax in Greece. Details here in Mags Chrystall’s piece for the Highland News.

Estrella have a new blog post out. Besides their recent award win and some other stuff it has two live gig videos from the Furyon gig in Aberdeen. Click here for some proper 80’s hair metal. The video was shot by Kevin Meldrum, thanks for that man.

Almost finally, Great White Elephant have released an acoustic demo on their Soundcloud from a jamming session the other week. It’s called Burning Blue and it’s very chilled and nice and that.

And finally, congrats to Lady MFR herself Marion Scott and Des Irvine on their engagement. No this isn’t becoming a gossip rag of some kind, but she’s lovely and I’ve heard he is too so thought I’d give them a shout out.

WHEW, this is frikkin huge. Couldn’t be quiet while I was busy eh? LOTS of stuff to come, like the Facebook page to keep up to date. I haven’t had my dinner yet and I’m missing Doctor Who so I’m off. Thanks for reading!

Music News 03/09/2012

Hey kids, here’s what’s been happening with local acts over the last couple of days.

Speaking of kids, I’ve been asked to let you know that the Greenhouse open mic nights have a few open guest star slots over the next few months that they’re looking to fill. It’s every second Thursday, in Dingwall, and is a lovely wee place to have a gig. You’ll get 40 minutes (I believe, maybe 30) instead of the standard 3 tunes and it’s always a very appreciative audience. I say kids because Matt is particularly looking for young up and comers to give it a shot. So if you are interested either contact Matt Sillars OR me and I’ll pass it on. And I’ll see you there as I go to every one I can and I THINK I’ll have most second Thursdays free for the next while. Which is nice.

Also nice, a couple of acts from this area have scooped up some SNMAs (Scottish New Music Awards). First off it’s Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers winning in the Jazz/Blues category and Estrella winning Loud/Metal recording of the year (jointly with Peepshow, who aren’t local so stuff em. Only kidding). Estrella’s Come Out To Play was also runner up for Record of the Year! Well done to both acts, lets hope it’s the start of a tidal wave for next year when the Highlands will sweep the SNMAs and leave the rest of the country weeping at our awesomeness, MWUHAHAHAHAHA!

The LED have released a new remix of Eva Simons Renegade. I’m not familiar with the original tune AND it’s not my kind of thing, BUT it’s no bad like and if it IS your kind of thing you’ll no doubt enjoy it.

Desecrator is looking for a support act for his gig in the Market Bar on the 12th. If you are a Death Metal band, or just a Metal band he’s not fussy, then head over to the page and let him know your up for it.

Cleavers time! 7 minutes of hard core punk for your face and ears from Rodstock. They rock it so hard that the stage bounces a fair bit, and insult the crowd. Punks eh? It’s a bit feedbacky as well. “Fuck your life” is a bit of a band motto btw, so feel free to shout it at them at gigs as they’ll no doubt…well they’ll say it back because they’re punks.

While we’re on videos the boys at Nut Productions have a couple of new ones out today. Two singer/songwriter ladies to be precise. First one is new to me. Her name is Joanne Summer, she’s from Moray somewhere and this is I Can’t Make You Love Me. Keeping on turning out stuff like that would be a start. Second one isn’t new to me, but I haven’t seen her perform in ages so the song is. Here’s Megan Blyth, who you can see on the acoustic bar stage at Jocktoberfest, with Bring Me Down. You need to get that second EP out!

If you read the Battle of the Bands preview piece REALLY QUICKLY then you’ll think Naked Red is playing. That’s what the posted says. They aren’t as they’ve had to step out due to drummer injury. Get better soon Jamie! Stepping in to fill the slot, oh err, is Silence to Medicate so we won’t all have to sit like idiots for a half hour. Yay!

And that as they say is that. Things will get a bit tricky over the next few days. On Wednesday I’m off to the Battle of the Bands. Thursday I’m off to the STV Appeal. Friday and Saturday I’ll be at Jocktoberfest. Sunday I’ll have possibly died (got day job work in there too). If there’s stuff there’ll be a post tomorrow, when the next one is I can’t say for sure BUT I will do my best to have not missed anything. Local acts feel free to have the week off 😉 Thanks for reading, give us a like on Facebook

Music News 22/08/2012

Hey kids, here’s what’s been going on over the last 24 hours.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, man, practice. Or a cab. The problem with band practice is it can annoy the neighbours a bit. The feelers of an idea have been put out by Barry Macfarlane that would negate that issue though. in his words “How many bands out there need somewhere to practice? How many bands out there would be interested in using the soon to be opening venue Upstairs at The Eagle for practice sessions during the week in return for gigs at The weekends? Just an idea at the moment, so feedback any comments you have.” If you know Barry give him a shout, if you don’t then post a comment on the news post on our Facebook page and I’ll make sure he see’s it.

If you are in Nairn I have your Friday night sorted for you. There’s a charity gig at the community and arts centre featuring music from Beauly Firth and Glens Pipe Band, Cameron MacIvor, singing trio ‘Suntach’ and Chris Donaldson (who’s organising it). It’s in aid of Maggies Highland and the Highland Breast Care Centre, and you can win prizes too. Check out the event page here and let them know you are coming.

Got a couple of videos for you now. This is the Coffee Shop Blues Revue Band, which as far as I can tell is a loose collaboration of some of The Greenhouse regulars (thankfully not me, I’d maybe be a Bez) performing Messing With The Kid before travelling Further On Up The Road (mic on the camera is a bit overwhelmed I think). Talented bunch of folks you get in there. And me sometimes.

We’re a whole four paragraphs in and she hasn’t been mentioned yet, so here’s some Rachel Sermanni for you. Grub Banjo Song is a gentle wee scrappy song, extremely lovely stuff. If you’ve got more of this kind of thing laying around then unearth it!

Time for another one of those goNorth and Netsounds Unsigned Rockhopper sessions from Bella. She’s not local, but Miss Irenie Rose IS extremely talented. This is her tune Creek Swinging. I met her before and after her set at Brew at the Bog. She’s rather quiet and was a bit nervous before playing. Seems to be a common thread with a lot of female folk acts. Shy, then they get on stage and hit you with a hell of a voice. Gutted I missed her playing and I won’t be making that mistake again.

While we’re on Bella, Houdi proves to be a man of his word with his recollections of Saturday at Bella here. As you’d expect plenty of photos too, he is a photographer after all, both in the post and linked galleries off it. Good stuff, and I missed it…

There’s only 300 tickets left for Loopallu so if you haven’t got one yet hurry up as it’s going to sell out again. More bands, and therefore another preview post, will be announced this week. Tickets are here and if you want to bring a campervan you are shit out of luck.

If you wondered what the Slim Panatellas sound like then wonder no more. This is Little Ray of Sunshine and it’s bloody brilliant. I couldn’t make it on Saturday what with bills taking a big chunk of money this week. Didn’t realise that Will Doig was involved, I know him from acting land!

The Red Kites are gearing up for this next EP. Currently planning Plans, Lizzy Jane, Midnight Lights, Cast Away and Granite City Sunshine. They’d appreciate your feedback on that on their page. My feedback? Well I don’t know the tunes of the top of my head but YESGETRECORDINGIWANNAHAVEMOREREDKITESINMYHANDNOW probably sums it up.

There’s an interview with Toby Michael’s Rolling Damned up at Inverness Gigs. Reading that I think I could end up being a rather big fan of these guys. And there’s a video in there for Save Me that was recorded in Heroes For Sale, Inverness’ very own comic book shop that I haven’t been to in far too long and you should all spend lots of money in.

And that’s where we’ll finish. No news post tomorrow as it’s Showcase time at the Ironworks again. So review of that instead, later on. Thanks for reading, feel free to share about!

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