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Out of the Bedroom 662 review – Thursday 8th February 2018

A mild February evening brought a few fresh faces and some welcome returners to Woodland Creatures this evening. Themes of the evening included historical characters, both real and apocryphal, Brexit, alcohol and chips. A good mix of topics!

Running order: Jim Bryce, Tina Louise Avery, Samantha Preis, Rosie Smith, Colin Whitelaw, Cloudland Blue Quartet, Note To Self:, Jacob O’Sullivan, DB Hews, feature act: Conor Michael Riordan.

Jim Bryce was host for the evening and started with ‘The Rap’, a wry take on the modern world incorporating a witty lyric with some very creative rhymes. The off-the-cuff scat singing in the middle eight would give Baloo from The Jungle Book a run for his money. I think we can guess when ‘Song at 00:18 hours, 20th January 2018’ was written – probably one of the most matter-of-fact titles for any song played at OOTB. The song itself was psychedelic and reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett circa 1967. Discordant, though played mostly with one chord on the guitar, the lyrics were slightly paranoid and maybe what you would think of on a cold night in January? ‘I’m Going To Walk To The River’ was a song about dreams and prayers and things that ancient cultures, prior to colonisation by miserable Europeans, would write about. An Eastern melody, atmospheric and soothing. Nice reverb from Malcolm McLean, on sound desk and photography this evening.

Tina Louise Avery started with an early song of hers entitled ‘Mrs. Fouracre’ about her first ever music teacher. This pleasant song painted a vivid picture of a lady who was clearly inspirational as many music teachers are. Nice floaty chords as Tina moved up and down the fretboard. ‘Skidding’ was inspired by Tina’s teenage son riding his bicycle. Beautifully picked and sung. The lyric “a panic by the bay” being a nod to the regular theme of water in Tina’s songs. Some interesting melodic changes. ‘Open Sea’ was inspired by refugees crossing the Mediterranean for the hope of a better life. Written from the perspective of the refugees, this was one of Tina’s best performances of this song that I have seen.

First debut was from Samantha Preis (pronounced “price”) from the USA and based in the UK. ‘White Buffalo’ was a song about native Americans from her album ‘Good News’. An utterly pleasing vocal which was expansive as well as gentle, controlled, hypnotic and passionate. ‘Sugar’ was essentially a love song with hints of Jeff Buckley. Sample lyric: “you couldn’t resist my sweet taste on your lips”. Jazzy chords and smoky, soaring vocals, always controlled. ‘Cleopatra’ was played at a slow, almost funereal pace and was my favourite song of the evening from Samantha. Carry on Cleo, this was sung straight from the heart with a hint of new country and could have carried on all evening and I wouldn’t have minded. The yappy dog in the main bar voiced its approval, too!

Second debut of the evening came from Rosie Smith, not just making her OOTB debut but also her open mic debut. We’re honoured! Started off with the “most miserable” song of her three, sample lyric: “are you lonely or is it just me? / is this how life will always be?”, Rosie played unplugged and sounded terrific. There was a touch of Belle and Sebastian in the sound, reminiscent of the band’s excellent guest vocalist Catherine Ireton. ‘Tea for Catherine Howard’ was written after watching a documentary on the six wives of Henry VIII. Rosie’s deeply poetic lyrics, e.g. “the truth of my sad story/ is etched in your rise and fall”, neatly dovetailed with her pleasing vocal timbre. ‘You and Me and The Great North Sea’ was very romantic and I could hear this on national radio – Vic Galloway, are you reading? Simple and glorious “constant and unchanging as an old oak tree”. Lovely, well-written songs.

OOTB favourite Colin Whitelaw played a couple of his top tunes, starting with the sublimely melancholic ‘I’ve Been Thinking’. Sample lyric “I’ve been thinking that maybe drinking is what’s getting me down”. The descending guitar run was akin to the descent into inebriation; both pleasant but maybe the latter decent is more fleeting. ‘Chips for Tea (The Scottish Tango)’ took us nicely to the break. A very Scottish tale, with loads of humour and fast food references. One of the two best songs about kebabs to feature at OOTB.

After the break, we welcomed back Cloudland Blue Quartet after a hiatus of several years. It quickly felt like CBQ had never been away as he launched into ‘Twenty Twenty Vision’. The pleasantly familiar vocal tones and classic chord sequence and strumming pattern felt like a warm bath. Lyrically, CBQ should be writing for Morrissey as his lyrics have the right level of melancholy for the ‘80s indie legend and his songs are simply better quality. ‘A Nice Job In A Small Town’, inspired by a Brian Eno interview, was the first song CBQ played at OOTB – number 59, he reminded us – and it is a cracking tale of Little Britain with the sample lyric “every day when the whistle blows / you make your way to your favourite bar”. The country-ish ‘I Rearranged The House (On The Day You Went Away)’ completed an excellent set from someone who I, for one, have missed hearing play in recent years.

Note To Self: made his debut this evening, having been a regular performer on our sister Woodland Creatures open mic night The Critter Session. ‘To Change’ was about his aspiration to create a better world and a call to arms. we certainly need to hear more songs to make that happen. Nice choppy guitar style, with a hint of reggae. ‘Alva Street’ was his ode to Scotland although he commented that the Edinburgh West End isn’t necessarily the most inspiring! Strident and passionate, vocally I thought there was a hint of Nick Drake which is certainly a good thing. The title of ‘Uncertainty’ told the tale. As Bertrand Russell said ““The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.” Note To Self picked and sung this one beautifully and this was my favourite of the three.

Final debut of the evening came from Jacob O’Sullivan. His first song ‘Dawlish Yard’ (correct spelling?) was about a true story of an Isle of Man farmer in the 19th century who threw himself and his family down a well. The morbid subject matter was delivered in a very pleasing baritone and a John Martyn-esque guitar style. ‘Quayside’ was a love song about a man waiting for his love to come back from far flung shores. Another dense lyric was performed in an engaging, wistful, romantic and soulful fashion. I look forward to hearing Jacob again soon.

Squashing in before the feature act was Dubliner DB Hews, who will be the OOTB feature act on 8th March. DB showed off his personalised capo, a Christmas present from his dad, on his opener ‘Blood’. Effortless, smooth playing and singing – neatly strumming the guitar without a plectrum. Sample lyric: “you’re coming for my blood / you’re welcome to it”. ‘Farewell, Great Britain’ was inspired by Brexit and written from the perspective of an Irishman. A genuinely heartfelt goodbye and not bitter, for example: “my heart is splitting / on cause of his quitting”. DB rocks a cardigan, too. Could we be looking at the successor to the late, great Val Doonican?

Completing the show tonight was our feature act Conor Michael Riordan mixing poetry, guitar and banjo. ‘What Will The History Books Say?’ was a poignant, hopeful poem about immigration, including Catholic immigration from Ireland to Britain – a case where bigotry was generally overcome, outside Scotland at least. An allegory for Brexit and EU migrants too. ‘We Are All In This Together’ was a song of injustice and hypocrisy of the words of politicians. Also, a genuine comment that we are all in this together; this crazy world that we live in. ‘Come Now, Katie’ was a song about “a fella who is in love with a girl and he’ll never have her… but he’s a bit weird”. Top quality 12-bar blues playing with a great, discordant ending and sung in a very pleasing Scouse accent. Next up was a humorous poem, ‘An Ode To The Fat and Vain’ about people who publish their mediocre lives across social media. Isn’t that a bit like you and me? And Katie Hopkins, too. ‘This Love’ (a song) featured some superb analogies in the lyric – too many to name – delivered in a deadpan style. ‘Go On’ was not a tribute to Mrs. Doyle from Father Ted but a song encouraging someone into romance with some fierce guitar strumming. ‘Trendy Young Tories’ (a poem) was about people who get rich quickly and who are incestuous and look very similar. While Conor’s politics chimed with my own, I was conscious that not everyone in the room was a leftie (no names!). ‘Pissed Again’ was about alcohol – a recurring theme of the evening – and “a fella who thinks he’s fallen in love with a barmaid but it’s actually the drink she’s served him”. An honest song about drunkenness and the drinker-barmaid relationship. ‘Do It All Again’ was a blues about ennui and going to try to feel alive but he will kill himself one day (please not too soon, or ever, Conor). The final song of his set was played on his banjo. ‘The Ballad of Phoebe Rose’ was a about losing a girl to self-centredness and having to chase the work. This was a classic ballad and we definitely need more banjo songs from Conor. Encore: ‘Five Minute Friends’ was a drinking song about being someone’s best mate in a bar for the evening but forgetting their name. I’m guessing it was written in Aberdeen with the line “Maybe we could meet again / drunk in Café Drummonds at half past ten”. An amazing lyrical and musical journey from Conor and I hope to see a lot more of him in future.

James Igoe

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