Gigs · Music

Blue Rose Code – Live at St Pancras Old Church, London 2014


Blue Rose Code - Live at St Pancras Old Church

This is a 9-track live CD by the excellent Blue Rose Code available from their website and Coda Music in Edinburgh.

Blue Rose Code is Ross Wilson, sometimes with others, sometimes not. He seems to have come out of nowhere for me; I first saw his picture on Coda’s website, posing with a copy of Songs in the Key of Life in his hand, so I realised there was something good going on.

He may have a back story, but it’s close to his chest. He is not a young man, but I’m not aware of him having been around the Edinburgh music scene forever. What I can piece together from the songs and from comments made at shows is that he is from Edinburgh, had “issues,” went to London, got better, then came back to Edinburgh. Edinburgh certainly means a lot to him and crops up either explicitly or by allusion in the work. His beautiful Edina (Robert Fergusson’s poetic name for Edinburgh,) opens with this stunning couplet, before asking “Would you forgive me? What do you say Edina?”

I often think about the nights,

the times before I learnt that all my days’ve got a number…

I first saw him opening for Ethan Johns last year, just him and a female co-vocalist, it piqued my interest and I got his second album “The Ballads of Peckham Rye,” (noting the Muriel Spark, so obliquely Edinburgh, reference) and loved it. Saw him with a band at one of three sold out shows at The Edinburgh Fringe last year, then again with a better band toward the end of the year when I got his first album North Ten, which I also enjoyed.

And now we have this live recording, which in many ways consolidates where he has got to with his work – songs from each of the albums are given unique new readings, harnessing the talents of the (unaccredited) musicians with whom he was playing that night…it’s all grand stuff, although I would have lived without the thing that sounds like an Omnichord…

Blue Rose Code are appearing at The Voodoo Rooms on Sunday 26 April and I look forward to the next chapter.

Gigs · Music

Nearly Dan again


Nearly Dan and their van at The Voodoo Rooms
Thanks to my friend Chris for the photo

It’s becoming an annual ritual, no less sweeter through familiarity.  The clocks go forward, it gets a little lighter at nights and Nearly Dan return to play The Voodoo Rooms on a Friday evening; once again we can marvel, watching and listening to mortals recreate and re-enliven the works of the immortals Becker, Fagen and Katz.  The faint and probably spurious optimism engendered by the arrival of spring is bolstered by the visit of the Stoke wizards.

I usually manage to persuade at least one new person to go – this year’s inductee was blown away although surprised when told at the interval that the band weren’t quite reaching the heights which we had seen before.  Still, the interval fight in the dressing room to which front man Steve Hays always alludes must have been a particularly good one, because the second set was dynamite.

Next year they are talking about two nights at The Voodoo Rooms with two separate sets.  I’ll be there twice, if God’s willing.

Gigs · Music

Ethan Johns in Edinburgh


Ethan Johns in Edinburgh

Ethan Johns, producer of Laura Marling and co-producer of The Staves played in Edinburgh tonight. Great set, some great sounding songs from his new album The Reckoning, including a song called “The Roses and the Dead.” Maybe I wasn’t the only fan of The Dead in the room tonight…

Producer Ethan Johns with Stuart Ferguson

The man’s uncle produced Marquee Moon…this case is closed.

Books · Gigs · Music

Eminent Hipsters and Nearly Dan

Eminent Hipsters Donald Fagan

I enjoyed Donald Fagen’s Elegant Hipsters, which was happily as witty and mordant as you would expect from the man.  A slim volume (or no volume at all the way I read it, on my second broken Kindle,) the majority of it documents a US tour with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs and the incongruity of these frankly older men out doing a “rock” tour.  As Irv Azoff, Fagen’s manager, likes to remind him at every less opulent hotel or every bus journey between “selective appeal” venues, “This ain’t Steely Dan…”

The rest of the book uses essays Fagen had already written for music and film publications and like a lot of the books I read now, will end up costing me money buying music I’d not heard before; the first essay is about The Boswell Sisters and Fagen’s enthusiasm is so big and clearly expressed, I need to investigate soonest.  Who knew.

Something else that “ain’t Steely Dan,” but might be more fun, is the wonderful Nearly Dan, who are about to tour again in April, coming to Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms on the 25th and Oran Mor in Glasgow the night after.

This will be my third show and it’s always been a great night out before…LA and NY’s finest jazz rock played with perfection and grace, or, as Nearly Dan have it, “less tribute, more homage…”

Eminent Hipsters Nearly Dan Edinburgh