Sep 072012

‘Such a night….’ sang New Orleans giant of voodoo, Dr John. Indeed it was. Voice’s David Innes reports from The Blue Lamp where The Night Tripper’s fellow Crescent Citizens Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns sang, blew, rattled and Lindy-hopped their way into a packed Lampie’s hearts.

The loch that gave the street behind the Gallowgate its name is long gone, yet it seemed that a little of Lake Ponchartrain’s warm muddy waters had seeped through the antique brickwork of a beloved venue that has seen its fair share of memorable shows. This was among the best.
Sandwiched between a rousing swing opening treatment of Miss Otis Regrets and a hectic, passionate encore Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank sure never done it this way – was a mesmeric aural and visual performance of blues, swing, jazz and a dozen minor genre request stops on the way.

Meschiya’s presence is remarkable. Surrounded by a band of stellar players, all eyes are drawn to her. Yet there are no shape-throwing histrionics; her visual and vocal dominance alone fill and control the room.

She has a voice of considerable power, but it is not all gritty blues shouting, although Electric Chair Blues was a particular highlight. She croons, purrs, testifies and, in Lucky Devil, confides, ‘I am no angel, my wings have been clipped…I’d like to burn with you’. I suspect that this is what Julia Lee shows were like.

And the Little Big Horns? These are remarkable players, all seated but leader and sousaphonist Jason Jurzak, who wore his instrument like a boa constrictor, its halo-like horn offering an alternative visual attraction as it towered leviathan-like over the band, its operator blowing bottom end tones as a subterranean bedrock.

Whilst trumpet, saxophone, clarinet and acoustic guitar enmeshed as accompaniment for Meschiya, they each took regular passionate diaphragm and finger-straining solos. These are artists at the top of their game and visibly savouring every joyous moment.

Out front, Lindy Hoppers Chance Bushman and Amy Johnson jived and jitterbugged, tapped, strutted and danced what looked like sensuous-heavy variations of the tango, occasionally bringing in the singer who demonstrated that her feet are as talented as her larynx. This wasn’t a gig, it was a show, a monstrous show.

That the normal placid Aberdeen audience roared its appreciation gives measure of the reception this ensemble demanded and which seemed genuinely to astound them. Trumpeter Ben Polcer asked, in obvious bewilderment at one inter-song reception, ‘Are you ALWAYS this fired up on a Tuesday night?’ It wasn’t quite Mardi Gras, but it was Mardi, Ben.

They have promised to return. Start queuing now.

With thanks to Loudon Temple and Vocoustic Promotions

Dec 012011

By Kathryn Reid

On the 27th November Aberdeen City Youth Brass Band gained a well deserved gold medal at the Premier Section of the Scottish Youth Brass Bands Championships.

Congratulations to all the members of the band and their conductor Mr Richard Kidd. Aberdeen City Youth Brass Band is the senior brass band within the Aberdeen Instrumental Music Service.

( Lewis Catto, pictured right,  came first in the Open Slow Melody Contest playing Myfanway by Joseph Parry. )

On the 6th November two members of Aberdeen City Youth Brass Band had great success in the Northern Counties Brass Band Association Competitions – both coming first in their section.

These two young lads will also be taking part in the Scottish Challenge Shield playing for Granite City Brass Band in the Bonnar Hall, University of Dundee, on 3rd December.

( Callum Reid, pictured left,  came first in the Youth section playing the First Movement from the Gregson’s Tuba Concerto. )  

Dec 012011

Last year Aberdeen City Council proposed the complete closure or privatisation of Aberdeen Instrumental Music Service. After a strong campaign, the council was persuaded of the senselessness of its proposal. We were assured that the existence of the Music Service would be safeguarded, provided the Music Service made cuts requested by Aberdeen City Council. It did. The service was saved for a year, but it is once again under threat. Kathryn Reid tells Voice about the Come and Play Protest

On Tuesday 6 December, the Council’s Finance and Resources Committee will meet to discuss Priority Based Budgeting: Draft financial budget 2012-2013 5-Year Business Plan budget.

Once again it contains a proposal to ‘withdraw music tuition’.

We want to demonstrate to councillors how much musical talent is thriving in Aberdeen thanks to the Aberdeen Instrumental Music Service, and we aim to do this in the most obvious way – by playing and singing!

We are planning a Peaceful Playing Protest in Union Terrace Gardens, from 12noon to2pm at the same as the budget meeting is taking place. We are inviting as many people as possible to attend so we can really make an impact. If you are a member of an instrumental or vocal musical group, please come along with your friends and lend your talents.

More information and details are available from


This is a peaceful protest. Bring a smile and your best behaviour!

Union Terrace Gardens doesn’t have facilities for an orchestra, so take along music stands if you need them.

Neither chairs nor a PA system can be provided, so remember this when planning your performance.

Union Terrace Gardens managers have been kind enough to let us use the space, let’s show our gratitude – don’t leave behind litter or damage the area!

It’s Aberdeen, and it’s December….wrap up warm!


Write to councillors on the Finance and Resources Committee giving your point of view

Write to your MSPs

You can find addresses and links for councillors and MSPs at

Sign the online petition at:

Tuesday 6 December,
12noon – 2pm.
Union Terrace Gardens, 


Nov 142011

With thanks to Kathryn Reid.

Here We Go Again! (not) Happy As Can Be!
It was extremely disappointing to read in the newspaper that Aberdeen City’s Instrumental Music Service is again under threat by the proposed budget cuts.

After the demonstrations and campaign of last year, assurance was given that the Music Service was safe – albeit with a massively reduced budget. Once again, it seems that an important educational service is back on the table as a possible cut.

The Music Service in Aberdeen costs less per child than in any other Scottish music service. Compare this with the fact that more than 40% of the children taking part in National Orchestras, Brass and Jazz bands come from Aberdeen City – value for money indeed!

Last year the Music Service had its budget slashed by £520k – not the £170k claimed in the new Priority Based Budget on the ACC website – and it now operates on a budget of £789k from Aberdeen City Council for its 3000 pupils.

For clarity it should be noted that the Music Service and the Music School (ACMS) are two separate entities receiving their funding from different sources. ACMS, which is based in Dyce Academy, receives an annual grant of £1million from the Scottish Executive for its 40 pupils. It receives no funding from ACC.

Although the ‘Withdraw Music Tuition’ option is below the red line and is therefore under the heading of “ undesirable to progress,” it is precariously close to the red line and would become a very real option should any of the cuts above it fail to get approval.

Aberdeen’s excellent Instrumental Service should be protected and taken off the table as far as making budget cuts are concerned. Withdrawing Music tuition completely will impact on many of our children’s lives. The vision for Music in the recently introduced Curriculum for Excellence for Scotland is “Performing and creating music will be prominent activities for all learners.”

The Aberdeen City Council’s proposal to withdraw Music tuition is thus completely at odds with the Scottish Governments stated entitlement for children.

More information re.  F.A.I.M. (Friends of Aberdeen Instrumental Music), and how you can help, can be found on their web site:

STOP PRESS: A petition has been launched in opposition to the withdrawal of music tuition in Aberdeen.
Sign the petition here: