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OOTB 341 – 5 May 2009

A pocketful of Harmonicas”

or the review of 5/5/09

a multimedia play by Rego Gunloop the 17th

Chapter One – “Musos palace”

(Stage set: An open mic venue in the basement of the Tron, Edinburgh)

(Sound effects: baudy shouting from outside, whilst glasses clink, and a busty male barmaid laughs uproariously – the first character appears at the mic…)

Mr Broken

After thrashing Black Beauty to bits (metaphorically of course!) during the sound-check he starts “Summer Rose”. This reminds me of the time that a bargain basement sooth-sayer once said to me “ribbons and bows” but he was insane so I didn’t give him any money and he shot me with a water pistol. Oh, and Jim’s song is good – a sound about not getting any – esp. between 25-35. What a world!

He sounds like my gran on steroids sometimes though – “reach into the cage” he sings – I think he has a thing about hamsters – maybe not – next, he hoots like Little Richard with an improvised song. Finally, in “Guns in the desert” – the hero walks out of the saloon and out of the town because he realises we sold and they bought. We sold and they bought. The arms trade is an ugly business – and the less said about the leg trade the better….

Sam Barber

One of my favourite performers, who reminds me of haircuts – we see too little of him here, and so it’s most welcome to hear his songs at OOTB again. After trying to bribe me wiv 5p and a bit of chewing gum (students eh ?) I lied when I said I’d give a good review, so here it is:

“Story of my life” is a song that consist of C9ths as far as my myopic ears can tell – it is buskesque, but with a folky pop melody.

His speciality – his trademark is 12 string chordings which adds something chimey to proceedings. Whatever those are.

“Theory of everything” is an award-winning song – which has groovy key changes, and I’ll have a short back and sides please mate.

I wish I was intelligent enough to understand his lyrics though – but it seems like a mixture of Einstein singing a love song. Finally, “Thursday” – despite being sung on the wrong day, has a spangly and high-capoed sound with almost modal chordings – he also sings “yeah” in a hip way. We demand to hear more of your fine pop talents Mr Barber – please return soon! We also have a house pair of scissors…

Dave Robertson, aka Heroin in a Nutshell

A regular performer at OOTB who has been travelling all the way from Dundee just to play at our humble open-mic, Dave has been a most welcome presence here – one of the new van garde perhaps ?

“This is the real world” is a song about Celeb types – quiet intro then stabby loud/soft with some great melodic touches – proving Dave has much more talent than most celebs…

“Welcome to the jungle baby” he sings with a sincere & passionate vocal. Tarzan suddenly appears and draws a cartoon – or was that just in my mind ?

“Streets are fucking empty…you’d better hack it baby” is a fab catch-line – he sure can hit those high notes too – when the chorus kicks in it just sails away…

“Question” – Dave dedicates this song to OOTBs own musoprof Calum Carlyle, with some very striking and dynamic chords, and a mesmerising vocal. Has a delicious flamenco thing going in places as well. Nice key changes. And maybe a bit of “nu-Radiohead” perhaps (apologies for the comparison!) – which may mean mournful and reflective, but angry and dynamic. It’s always a worth-while journey for Dave to play here, for him and us, as we always look forward to his songs.


He states that this first song is his oldest surviving song – he writes loads apparently, but like Victorian children only some make it to adulthood…

“Mexico” – which has nowt to do with Mexico, with words like “bones structures mainly, god and love. Say once, once!

“Talk amongst yourselves” has some very intricate finger-picking here – which reminds me of James Taylor again, but it slides into a resolving major-fifteenth, so that’s all right then…James Taylor is the name of our sheriff in these parts by the by – he wears a badge, but has no gun…so that’s all right then.

Overall, some cool songs…hope to hear more soon!

John Watson (debut)

Driven up from Scarbourgh today – “Ace in my pocket” is a great picking blues – you can tell he’s played a few places – within a few bars – he’s captured everyones attention. “Slidey backshifting devil of a man” he sings whilst playing great, well-placed blues riffs. “Station master in this godforsaken town” is a slower tune but just as well played – even Billy the Kid would keep in his guns, and hide behind the busty male barmaid, after such great playing.

“We’ve got our problems” finishes with it’s jazzy, but bluesy feel – but with sophisticated progressions. Truly mind-blowing. We hope you return sir! – your amazing playing keeps us from complacency!

Bill Phillips

OOTB’s poet laureate recites his most famous poem

And we all say “Intermission!”

In a surreal twist of theatre, the narrator steps up to the mic. Darren Thornberry takes over the story…

Nyk Stoddart adjusts his spectacles mid-song like the consummate professional he is - 2 June 2009

Nyk Stoddart adjusts his spectacles mid-song like the consummate professional he is - 2 June 2009

Nyk Stoddart

MantlePeace is a pensive little ditty. Nyk hears footsteps in his head, which may or may not be a good thing. The tune here is funerary, mournful, lyrically abstract.

Mr. Sleaze – ahhh, this song deals a fatal blow to its subject. Nyk shows off some vibrato and the modulation is a nice layer to the song.

Kitten in a Bong. Who me? No one will own up to actually putting the cat there, but as Nyk indicts the ancient hippies it would be foolish to deny the funny fantasy. After all, it’s just a made up story.

The Narrator steps through the saloon doors, and as people dive into corners, expecting a showdown, a figure appears on the far end of the bar and the narrator faces him…

Jim Whyte

The ancient mariner of OOTB sings his new song “Ship” – “do de doo do dee do” on a stormy, jaunty sea – he’s trying to “fit my ship together” – like airfix ? – I do like those model planes. From the lyric “Sailing across the sea” he goes into a more plaintive mode…but soon it gets louder and louder…I think that’s called “rousing”.

“I’ve found love” is one of my favourite songs of his. Genuinely moving, it’s about finding something you didn’t expect…how love makes you act strange…

“Live feed” – this song may be about reality TV, where he “blacks out my windows – turn on my TV…there’s a fly on the wall…watching it all”…Then there’s the Jerry Springer bit…fab!

Jim has obviously not lost his talent to mesmerise an audience…more new songs soon Jim!

Darren Thornberry

I can’t possibly do a review of this man’s work, and do it any justice, but nonetheless:

Our very own Darren Thornberry plays us .”Chips and Curry”.


“Curry!” the audience scream.

Darren then plays his love song to Edinburgh, whilst mentioning “South and North Bridge” and the moving lyric “The silence has no mercy so we talk awhile instead”. Beautiful.

“Is it true ?” is a melancholy number with his signature heartfelt singing – class.

Darren has a rare talent for song-writing and performing, that combines honesty, catchy melodies, and memorable lyrics. When he departs these shores for the US pretty soon, he will take a part of us with him…not literally obviously, as that would be messy and painful…seriously though, OOTB won’t be the same without him.

Ha! I get the final word, maybe. I’ll dodge the bullet after all, thanks to the incredible writing skill of Darren Thornberry:

Nyk Stoddart

Mutant Zombies – the ultimate show closer goes down a treat. Nah nah nah nah nah. Full stop.

The director shouts “Cut!” – and the barber comes out – does everyone’s hair, and everyone leaves. Everyone’s forgotten the sheriff, however, and he’s gone wrong…in fact he now looks like Yul Brynner…

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