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OOTB 334 – 17 Mar 2009

OOTB 17/03/2009

An outstanding night, filled with so many new performers of great quality. We old-timers are wondering if the new vanguard has arrived.


Martin sports tea cosy hat like Cat Douglas, all around me are worried about what his teapot is wearing.

His first is called Gravity and is about measuring things.

He loses the knitwear for his second, which the very erudite Nyk Stoddart informs me is based on Cannery Row, the classic Steinbeck novel set in 30s depression America – the book is apparently great, the song is well – not so great.

Death by design is about being killed by your own inventions, I wonder if songs can be fatal.

Calum Carlyle

The webdude extraordinaire steps up to the mike. I might as well be positive because Calum is the one who posts out these reviews.

First up is a new song which is very high in his range – If I were you, I would put this later in a set, to give your voice a chance to warm up before hitting the ionosphere.

His second is rather funky, think about Stevie Wonder and you won’t be far wrong. Jim Thomson is enthroned upon a green settee, enhaloed by a spotlight, his flowing locks shaking to the groove.

There is a really cool imaginary bass player doodling along to Calum’s third. Calum manfully attempts to play rhythm, lead and bass lines all at once. I rather liked it.

Ross Neilson

Another tea-cosied performer – perhaps I am just behind the times. Tonight he gives us his new more folky material.

Camouflage Myths is out of Ross’ normal territory – it has a singalong chorus.

His second he performs differently tonight, more gently than I’ve heard it before – and it suits it.

Calum says it’s British Amerifolk, I think its rather like Jim Ponter with its insistent repetition of chords – no bad thing, although I’m informed that someone else complained about this, so I can’t be far wrong about the comparison.


Cameron tells us about being accosted in the street and told to work hard at uni and not be a butcher – which he has made into his first song. It laid back and he has a nice voice. He follows this up with a Christmas song – in March? His last is somewhere between Jack Johnson and Damien Rice and cool changing time signature with a repeating pattern of 3 3 3 4. I’m wondering if he’s had some vocal training because he has a middle voice – never heard one before at OOTB. Good job.


Mayhew are normally a 5-piece, but tonight are a 3-piece with two guitars and a cello. My instant reaction is that it is lovely – these guys are clearly the pros in the room. The cellist is the finest I’ve seen on the acoustic scene – lovely tone and sympathetic playing. The singer has a fine clear voice – they announce a gig in the Jazz bar on the 1st April – I’m hoping that is not a joke, and would strongly encourage you all to go along.

Mark Roper

Mark just has a squashee tonight, and has ditched the laptop for the evening and brought along a guitar. I think he is considerably more confident with this approach and connects significantly better with the audience.

Broken Tooth

BT has become an evangelical atheist and give us a wee sermon with touches of Hitches and Dawkins – can’t say the audience responded too enthusiastically, but I thoroughly agreed with the sentiments. He launches into ‘Sing at my Funeral’ with some fervour – probably the best I’ve heard him.

Greg Taylor (debut)

I’m not sure if Greg is American, but he looks like he just walked off a 1950’s TV programme – clean cut and big grin. The songs all have multiple sections in different rhythms and tempos. The powerpop bits are quite catchy, but his voice is rather pitchy in the more lyrical sections. If marks were given for confidence he’d win hands down.


Henryk is the singer from Chateaux Greyskull – which is a genius name, so I’ll not hear a bad word said about him. Strawberries and Cream has a jazzy backing, but harsh as sandpaper vocals. I rather liked the guitar. Fugue in G was his somewhat mysteriously titled second song – it was in G, but had no sign of a fugue, actually fairly straightforward blues. His third was a new song – and everyone agreed that it was almost Lou Reed. A good and varied set, I wonder what the band is like.

Sam (debut)

Sam and his girlfriend Hannah have just moved up to Edinburgh to be with Adam, and all three are making debuts tonight. His first is about getting your heart broken – it has touches of Noel Coward, but the falsetto passages are almost Matt Bellamy – this is a powerful and thick falsetto. His second lies somewhere between George Harrison and the Weepies. His third completes three tunings in three songs – always a nifty trick (I wasn’t paying enough attention, but from memory I think the first was standard, the second something open, and the third drop-d).

His music is all heavily jazz tinged, and it is great to hear such a variety of chords and clear understanding of harmony. I’d be hard pressed to think of another acoustic player of his calibre in Edinburgh. Hannah sings backing vocals – strong, good harmonies, great voice.

Adam (debut)

Adam (friend of Sam) has a similar jazz background. He is no slouch on the guitar himself, albeit in a rather different style. He has a nice voice with just a hint of smokiness. He plays ‘1984’ and ‘Coming Down Slow’, two fine songs. I have to say the debuts are the finest slots of the night tonight.

Hannah (debut)

Hannah plays ukulele in an uncomplicated but rather charming manner. She apologised for her skill, but I was rather taken by it. Whilst she can sing the jazz with Sam, her own material is slightly more country. She would sit quite happily on a bill between Lisa Paton and Emily Scott – in fact, I think I’ll recommend it.

Freelodin’ Frank

Frank gives us his Gaza protest song, I’m in Love with Scully from the X-files and I Wish Someone Would Kill Rupert Murdoch. Tonight the somewhat younger crowd seemed less interested than usual, but I’m a sucker for the funny ones.


Says he has a bad cough and indeed the voice is struggling tonight, he’s a bit croaky, so I guess we’ll excuse him that. Lets hope he’s back soon in fine voice.

Reviewer: Daniel Davis

Compere: Jonny Pugh

Sound: Dave O’Hara

One Comment

  1. Ping from Erlend Clouston:

    I think Daniel is allowing his acknowledged wit to cloud his judgment. I have never heard ‘Martin’ sing but it does seem slightly counter-productive, even mean, to jump in verbal tackety boots all over someone who has had the courage to open up a wee bit of his soul to the world. The idea of these evenings it surely to encourage creativity, not strangle it at birth!

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