Home » OOTB Reviews » OOTB 345 – 2 June 2009

OOTB 345 – 2 June 2009

Review by Darren Thornberry

Story time with JOHNNY GUITAR. Did you know he once performed nude in Hair and protested Princess Anne in an episode of Rebus? We learn all this before the first string is plucked. My love is like a feather in the night: melancholy tune written on Arran. Following are a couple of bluesy numbers and a drop down to D with a slide. “To be developed …” Johnny smirks and I agree. He mentions Busking for Cancer, which is worth a look at buskingcancer.co.uk.

A trio of dedications from MUTANT LODGE aka Nick with a Why? Songwriter is tops with many forgotten lines and a couple of truly funny false endings. Mr. Lodge plays a tidy instrumental piece written for none other than our very own web dude. I am interested in this lovely piece of music. Bad Blues – the finger does not make it all the way up the nose during the “self respect” refrain, but geez the man is on fire! Great performance by Nyk.

RODDY RENFREW turns up with his shiny new left-handed guitar, and what a sweet sound it makes! Step Outside is a playful tune that has a, well, sunshiny feel that is right for Edinburgh this week. Then comes Family, a tune that describes the misery and glory we all experience in our dysfunctional families. What is pleasure and pain? Renfrew croons, leaving some meat on the philosophical bone for us to chew.

Douglas - 2 June 2009

Douglas, standing next to an enormous pint glass - 2 June 2009

World traveller DOUGLAS finds similarities between trying to find God and trying to get sex. Despite soundman Malcolm finding the sweet spot on Douglas’ Yamaha, making it sound lovely and bright, the melodies on the first two songs are hard to track. In fairness, these are very new tunes Douglas is testing and that’s exactly what OOTB encourages. He returns to familiar territory in a song he wrote in Morocco and it is indeed nicely polished. “Wake me in the morning with a prayer …”


Sam Barber exits the stage after a job well done - 2 June 2009


It’s a treat to have Sam here. Not only is he a nimble guitarist, but his songs also leave a high watermark, both lyrically and melodically. Sam can take on love, mythology and politics and wrap it all in memorable, upbeat tunes that stay with you. For me, the highlights of his set are the guitar walk down in the chorus of Sophia; the devastating lyrics of Over by Christmas; the booming 12-string hook in Theory of Everything; the tenderly played Non sequitur; and this phrase “tears fall like acid rain from a god” in the set opener.

Not only does JONAH debut with a nylon stringed guitar and harmonica, but he also gets to stick his hand in the silver bag of dreams. More on that later … Jonah is a nice surprise. Some really delicate playing and moody lyrics. Best song is Purple Sky, a tale of meeting a restless American lassie at the train station and all that unfolds from there. Wonderful stuff, Jonah. (Fruit pastels – that’s what he pulls from the S.B.D.)

RYAN – most improved!

I’ve been listening to Ryan play for a number of weeks now, and I have not been that impressed with his songs because I get the feeling he’s not convinced either. But tonight I hear and see marked improvement. His singing is better, stronger, and he seems more at ease than in previous weeks. Maybe the string of performances at OOTB has helped his confidence. It’s a treat to see someone coming along and getting better. I love it. Gun Metal Blues is quality. Ryan’s got a few tricks we haven’t seen, and I expect he will continue to reveal more of the songwriter that’s in there. Good job mate.

Hello again JOHN WATTON. This fellow is a seriously great performer. His set has the place hollering. He leaves it all on stage with Gambler – an absolutely thunderous song by a seasoned talent. “Don’t need no lucky ladies to watch my sevens land!” This blues riffin’ ace has undoubtedly graced other stages in his day. Awesome.

One of the better vocal performers of the night, CAMERON has a nice even tenor. The timbre of his voice and songs remind of one of my all time favourite bands – Jellyfish. Cam’s had shoulder surgery since his last OOTB performance, but he’s playing away with nary a wince. I will see him later, much later, in the evening, eating chips outside Whistlebinkies. He even offers me one.


Hmmm. Floyd plays a brooding three songs, but vocally things are rough and I am straining to hear what he’s singing. Floyd says his last song is special to him, and I’m paying close attention. He’s singing about getting no rest, no sleep, and he does indeed look tired. Really nice guy, and I hope to see him back once he’s had some kip.


Sunglasses hide his eyes, but the irony is on display. Musically speaking, there is room for improvement, but that’s true of us all. Sample lyric from Keep Your Friends Close: “You made out with my friend Euan / I must look like such a goon.” Explore the mystery further at myspace.com/bessiethumper.

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