Sep 222017
 

Review and Photography by Craig Chisholm.

As the darker nights draw in at the start of September, there was still time for one more music festival in Scotland. But, unlike your TRNSMT’s, Enjoy Music’s and Electric Field’s, this was one that didn’t require waterproofs and sunscreen as it wasn’t outdoors but in the more comfortable surroundings of His Majesty’s Theatre, The Lemon Tree and The Tivoli Theatre, right here in the heart of town.

True North is now in its third year and has drawn at eclectic range of artists over the years – from Tom O’Dell to Richard Hawley, King Creosote to Laura Mvula, a Neil Young Tribute to a night of Kate Bush songs.

This year continues that eclectic mix with sets from Arab Strap, Pictish Trail, Public Service Broadcasting, Wild Beasts and 2015 Scottish Album of The Year winner Kathryn Joseph.

And this year’s tribute? A evening of Fleetwood Mac songs that included a full live performance of their classic, mega selling 1977 album ‘Rumours’.

Pictish Trail at The Lemon Tree.

As well as the main headlining sets the festival also offered a range of fringe events for all ages – acoustic performances at the Maritime Museum by Pictish Trail and Neon Waltz; gigs at local record shop & bar, Spin, by The Great Bear, Willson Gray, Katie Mackie, The Sea Atlas and Leanne Smith; talks and panel discussions at the Lemon Tree and, most impressively, a Sunday afternoon gig for children aged 9-12 at the Lemon Tree featuring Be Charlotte and Findlay Napier – one that even provided a day care crèche in the bar downstairs for adults whilst the kids rocked out upstairs.

Lunchtime sessions at The Lemon Tree also had The 101, Harmonica Movement and The Deportees play sets for those that like a bit of music whilst having a drink and bite to eat.

It’s the headline events that are the big draw though – and these kicked off on Thursday evening at the grand environs of His Majesty’s Theatre as Public Service Broadcasting and BDY_PRTS played to a large crowd of theatre goers and rock fans.

Support act BDY_PRTS, dressed in matching eye catching yellow and green outfits are a beguiling mixture of indie pop tunes mixed with Bjork style weirdness and some nifty choreography.  

The female duo, consisting of former Sparrow & The Workshop singer Jill O’Sullivan and ex-Strike the Colours musician Jenny Reeve – who has also guested on tracks by artists such as Arab Strap, The Reindeer Section, Idlewild and Snow Patrol among others.

With a new album, due later in the year, you’d be wise to check the band out as their infectious, quirky songs will see them go from strength to strength in time.

Headliners Public Service Broadcasting are no strangers to Aberdeen, this being their fourth visit to town.

However, the crowd at His Majesty’s Theatre is much larger than the previous concerts at The Lemon Tree.

Not that this daunts them – they’re a much more polished act, used to the big stage and more confident than the they were on earlier visits, three or four years ago, when promoting their debut album.

Since their last visit, they’ve released a further couple of albums – 2015’s ‘The Race for Space’ and this year’s ‘Every Valley’, which is a concept album based on the Welsh Mining Industry.

If that seems to be quite a dry and boring idea for an album then you’d be wrong, as the band mix spoken word samples from old film and radio with a light, Kraftwerk-esque, danceable pop sheen.

There’s a pathos and depth to their music that can be sometimes be lost by instrumental electronic bands. But you can dance to it as well – although in the all seated environs of HMT there’s no real rush to do this by all audience members. But, by the end, the crowd are on their feet in rapturous applause as the band power through set filled with tracks such as ‘Progress’, ‘Go!’, ‘The Other Side’ and ‘Everest’ from their three studio albums.

Special mentions must also go to the horn section and the spaceman that appear onstage with the band for their own individual brand of enthusiastic dancing.

Hopefully it won’t be another three years before we see them back in town.

The night isn’t over yet though. For the brave, foolhardy and those without work the following day, there’s still a late-night gig at The Lemon Tree to attend.

Those quick enough to hot foot in down from HMT would have hopefully been able to catch the bulk of C.Macleod’s opening set. Hailing from the Isle of Lewis, the singer songwriter is alone on stage with only his electric guitar and rootsy, raw vocals to fill the space.

And it’s the voice that grips you – a deep rasp that has hints of Springsteen, the authentic roar of heartfelt Americana and the raging howl of the seas of his native shores in there. It’s a voice that has no business coming from someone so young – it’s the sound of experience and age. Check him out now before he goes on to bigger things.

Headliners Wild Beasts are a different proposition – flanked either side of the stage by banks of keyboards, the band are an exciting mix of indie synth pop and art-rock cool.
Singer Hayden Thorpe is a confident front man, standing centre stage commanding the crowd. Unlike opener C.MacLeod, his voice is a high falsetto that fits well over the band’s music. He jokingly interacts with the crowd and engages them in a friendly, jovial manner that endears him to them.

It’s well after midnight when the band finishes but the night is not over yet as a late-night set by Hot Sauce DJs keeps the stragglers entertained well into the wee small hours.

Friday night and it’s down to The Tivoli theatre and a double bill of Geordie folk singer Richard Dawson and Falkirk’s finest miserablists, the mighty Arab Strap.

Calling him a folk singer doesn’t do Richard Dawson justice – he’s a much more bamboozling and entertaining performer than that. Singing either a cappella or accompanied by a guitar that constantly goes out of tune he is a revelation, winning over new fans in his 30-minute set.

Apparently inspired by Faith No More’s Mike Patton, his vocal range is enormous – from low depths to soaring highs, all in the space of verses and choruses of the same songs. The music is traditional but also experimental and Avant Garde – accessible but difficult, impenetrable but melodic.

Between songs, he is funny, self-depreciating and, quite truthfully, a bit mad. Random tall tales include staying at the ‘doggy hotel’ and getting showered down in the yard, about how in the future babies will be made on spaceships by computer and of confusion as to the fate of Judas Iscariot (Dawson preferred the gorier version of this particular tale).

And, to top it off, he introduces his last song by saying that after it he’s then going to “get drunk…. And have a poo”. And that sums him up really – there’s no boundaries to him or his music.

Arab Strap at The Tivoli.

Not many performers have trod the boards of the Tivoli and opened with the couplet “It was the biggest cock you’d ever seen / But you’ve no idea where that cock has been” – but, then, not many performers are Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap.

A year after the bands reformation, vocalist Moffat and guitarist Malcolm Middleton have finally made it up north, a full 11 years after their last performance here. Good things come to those who wait,
however, and Arab Strap are a good thing tonight
for sure.

Moffat, stage front and centre, is an amiable and friendly frontman and he’s in a buoyant, good humoured mood tonight with his between song tales. One highlight being a story of buying a parachute jump as present for a girlfriend who he subsequently found out was cheating on him so they finish. Next time he sees her she’s on crutches – after breaking her legs doing the parachute jump.

But it’s the songs that are Arab Strap’s greatest strength, as they should be. It’s a great feeling to hear classics such as ‘Girls of Summer’ and ‘Here We Go Again’ live once more. But it’s set closer ‘The Last Big Weekend’ that’s their stone cold classic and it’s still as thrilling and exciting nearly two decades after it was first released.

Late night at The Lemon Tree on Friday offers up another double bill of live acts as well as Radio Scotland DJ Galloway spinning tunes till late at night.

The opening act are Indigo Velvet, a young band from Edinburgh who first made a splash on the scene by playing T in The Park’s T Break Stage last year. Headlining are Manchester band Dutch Uncles.
It’s their first time in the Granite City and, according to singer Duncan Wallis, “It’s very grey”.

A lone voice pops up from the crowd to say “Aye, 50 shades of” to his bemusement.

It’s Wallis that’s the centre point of the band – his bendy legged dancing and high pitched, androgynous vocals proving to be quite a talking point.

Come Saturday and it’s time for the main event of the weekend at HMT as a stellar line up of guest vocalists perform Fleetwood Mac’s classic magnum opus in its entirety to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Previous years have seen similar tributes to Kate Bush and Neil Young and proved to be a great success and this was also to be the case tonight.

Backed by musicians Start to End, the singers include luminaries such as Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines), Be Charlotte, Duglas T Stewart (BMX Bandits), Martha Ffion and last year’s compere and band leader, Emma Pollock.

The first half of the night comprises of a Fleetwood Mac greatest hits set with cuts such as ‘Rhainnon’, ‘Seven Wonders’, ‘Big Love’, ‘Little Lies’, ‘Tusk’ and more given an airing.

After the interval, it’s straight in ‘Rumours’ from beginning to end with a different singer taking each song before everyone takes to the stage for an encore of ‘Everywhere’.

It’s a fun experience that drew a mixed crowd – older HMT regulars that you wouldn’t necessarily see at the Lemon Tree gigs; gig regulars that are there to see the singer of their favourite band and, of course, Fleetwood Mac fans that are at the venue for the first time that might not be going to any other event.

I’m generalising slightly, but it’s good to see such an eclectic mix of punters and it’ll be interesting to see which singer or band gets the tribute next year.

Once that is over, it’s time to head to the Lemon Tree for the True North After Party, with headliner Pictish Trail and newcomers Neon Waltz.

Neon Waltz are tipped for big things – and it’s easy to see why.

The band are based in Thurso and John O’Groats and were subject of an article in The Guardian just days after their appearance here.

They have the looks – and the adoring female fans – that will take them places. Their sound is reminiscent of The Verve, Stone Roses, Oasis and Britpop – a pleasant, keyboard drenched indie sound with 90s influences and the polished sheen of current pop.

Behind the dry ice and red lighting singer Jordan Shearer could pass for a young Tim Burgess of The Charlatans – hunched over the mic in a similar fashion with that distinctive bowl cut.

This will probably be their last support slot in the Lemon Tree – they’ll be headlining it soon enough.

Headliner Pictish Trail is no stranger to this venue, having played it numerous times. And if you’ve never seen or heard him before then you’ve missed out.

His music is folky, electronic and rocky – sometimes all in the same song. Between songs, he could pass as a comedian, such is his wit – droll and downright funny. He has a toy plastic horse on stage and changes into what can only be described as a psychedelic orange dress.

Oh, and he has a large beard and is wearing sparkly makeup.

All of which would mark him as a novelty act but he is anything but. Tracks from albums ‘Secret Soundz Vol 1 & 2’ and the recent ‘Future Echoes’ sound fantastic tonight – especially the wonderful and haunting ‘Far Gone (Don’t Leave)’ written about “The greatest film ever made” according to the man known to his Mum as Johnny Lynch.

The movie is question is ‘Fargo’ incidentally. There’s a good chance he’s completely correct as well.

It’s always a pleasure to see him live and tonight was no exception.

Despite this being the festival after party, there’s still one major gig to come on the Sunday night at The Tivoli theatre – and that’s a double bill of 2015 Scottish Album of the Year winner Kathryn Joseph and Frightened Rabbit front Scott Hutchison.

Hidden behind her piano with a glass of red wine and accompanied by percussionist Marcus Mackay, Joseph is first on stage.

Her songs are objects of beauty – her whispery voice plunging the depths of despair and depression whilst floating poetically over the haunting music.

She genuinely takes you places sonically and emotionally, with tracks that are, at turns, poignant and angry but somehow comforting and warm.

Soul baring lyrics are sung with a whisper, but are an inner scream to her fragility, to her openness and to her wounded soul.

It’s easy to compare her to Kate Bush or Tori Amos but such comparisons are superficial and lazy – based purely on her voice and her gender. But her music, and her words, transcend gender and classification – she may not sound like Nick Cave or Tom Waits vocally, but these are good comparisons. There’s a Gothic bleakness in there, beneath the melodies, and subjects so weighty that no 3 minute could do them justice.

The crowd are rapt – silently trapped in her songs, only taken back to reality by her whispered between song monologues.

Her next Aberdeen date is on December 28th at The Tunnels – don’t miss it.

Headliner Scott Hutchison has an equal depth to his words and emotions – something that can sometimes be hidden when backed by a loud rock band.

But tonight, accompanied only by acoustic guitar, the emotions are there to see. His music, and musings, make a perfect accompaniment to Joseph. As well as similar themes and emotions the two share a genuine friendship and camaraderie as shown by their joking conversations during the gig as he talks to her in her seat on the balcony.

His acoustic renditions of Frightened Rabbit songs are equal to, or in some cases better than, the originals.

If there’s any complaint, however, is that his band have sold out both the Music Hall and Beach Ballroom in recent years but tickets remain for tonight. Sorry, but if you’re a Frightened Rabbit fan and you weren’t there then you genuinely missed something special.

And after Hutchison leaves the stage that’s it all over – the gig, the weekend and the wonderful True North Festival. It’s been an overwhelming and impressive few days and praise must go to the attendees, the artists and especially to the unsung organisers behind the scene who have made it a fantastic weekend of music and song.

Here’s to next year and to more of the same.

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Sep 022017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

Stand-up comedy fans from across the north-east will be able to laugh along with their favourite comedians as tickets for Aberdeen Comedy Festival are now on sale.

Launched by Aberdeen Inspired in 2016, the eleven-day festival will run from Thursday, October 5 to Sunday, October 15.

Full of laughs from start to finish it features local, national and international comedians who will perform over 50 comedy shows in the Granite City at more than 25 city centre venues.

The festival will also include free stand-up shows, comedy workshops for children and adults, kids shows, local talent showcases and comedy films screened at the Belmont Filmhouse.

Sponsored by McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, the festival format has been changed this year to include a selection of one man stand up shows as well as mixed bills where several comedians take to the stage.

Shows will also be staggered so comedy fans have the chance to attend several without having to choose between events starting at the same time.

Described as the Canadian Billy Connolly, Craig Campbell will headline the launch of the festival at the Lemon Tree in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA).

Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay, who performed at the festival last year, will make a return alongside other comedians, including Daliso Chaponda (pictured above) who reached the finals of Britain’s Got Talent this year, Justin Moorhouse, Gary Delaney, Andrew Maxwell and Shazia Mirza.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We’re delighted to have launched the second year of Aberdeen Comedy Festival and are looking forward to the opening night at The Lemon Tree in October.

“There has been a fantastic buzz in the city since we announced that the festival would return for a second year and we are sure there will be great interest in the wide range of comedians and shows that will be on offer.

“The first year of the festival was such an overwhelming success we expect a high demand for all of the shows and would recommend people buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment.

“Our ambition with the festival is to source the best comedy for both residents and visitors to enjoy and we hope the public will take advantage of this opportunity to see a varied range of comedy in the city centre.”

More than 3,100 tickets were sold during the laughter filled extravaganza in 2016, as well as over 1,500 tickets from APA and Beach Ballroom promoted events.

This year the festival also has comedy workshops and shows for children and young people. A School of Comedy workshop for teens will be held at The Lemon Tree on Saturday, October 14 from 10am to 1pm.

The event is for young people aged between 12 and 18 and will be hosted by young comedian Andrew Sim who will lead workshops designed to encourage and support new stand-up comedians.

A kids’ comedy hour will also run on Saturday, October 14 at 2pm at the Belmont Filmhouse. Comedians Tiernan Douieb and Bec Hill (pictured left) will perform a child friendly show suitable for those aged 6+.

On Saturday, October 7 the Belmont Filmhouse will also host a special Filmhouse Junior screening of Disney’s Aladdin at 11am, starring the unforgettable Robin Williams as the voice of the Genie.

Free lunchtime shows will also be held at McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale at 1pm on Tuesday, October 10 and Wednesday October 11.

‘Lunchtime Laughs,’ which are suitable for those aged 18 and over, will feature talented Scottish comedians Rosco McClelland, Gary Faulds, Gareth Mutch and Ross Leslie.

Alan Aitken, Operations Director of McGinty’s, said:

“As a local business, it’s great to welcome cultural events like Aberdeen Comedy Festival to our city and following its very successful debut last year, we’re very proud to support the event again.

“It was great to see the people from Aberdeen and around the north-east out in force and enjoying a laugh during the festival, and we hope to see even more this year.”

Tickets for Aberdeen Comedy Festival which has been organised with programming partner Breakneck Comedy can be bought in person at The Lemon Tree or HMT Box Offices and they are also available online at: www.aberdeencomedyfestival.com/whats-on/

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Aug 252017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

The two-day pop-up festival is being delivered by the team behind the world-famous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

We’ll drink to that! Countdown on to Speyside food and drink festival.

If you’re looking for beer that promises to be – in the words of a Speyside brewer – a refreshing change from “mass produced mouthwash” or cool ideas like adding a slice of apple, rather than a wedge of lemon, to enhance a gin and tonic, then Spirit of Speyside: Distilled is the place to be.

Keith Brewery and Caorunn Gin feature in the 30-strong line up of exhibitors taking part in the two-day celebration of the region’s gastronomy on September 1 and 2 at Elgin Town Hall.

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled offers the chance to meet the producers – like the chocolate maker from Favour-it Flavours who is isn’t afraid to experiment with new tastes, with crushed Oreo, caramel biscotti and jelly bean being among the most recent trials, and she’s never short of volunteers to help with a spot of new product sampling.

Find out the best cuppa to start the day, with Cairngorm Leaf and Bean and discover how Macleans Highland Bakery add a twist to their oatcakes offering ranges that have a touch of chilli, haggis, seaweed and black pepper or vanilla.

Bartenders, baristas, brewers, whisky makers and foodies will be there so expect to find samples and tastings, demonstrations, food and drink pairings, storytelling and masterclasses.

It’s the second of the new-breed event celebrating the vibrancy of Speyside’s food and drink producers, from artisanal operators to the globally renowned drinks brands.

It seeks to show the region’s wide range of gourmet delights with surprising flavours from alternative producers who, alongside the region’s well-known whisky brands, are keeping the region at the fore of the Scottish food and drink scene.

The craft producers join the big hitters and they all have one thing in common – people passionate about making great tasting food and drink.

The two-day pop-up festival is being delivered by the team behind the world-famous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Festival chairman James Campbell said:

“A new generation of people want to seek out artisanal products while enjoying the produce of pioneering businesses that placed the region on the food and drink map.

“What makes Distilled stand out is that food and drink producers come together under one roof. There are so many great food and drink companies operating in the region and this event is a good way of highlighting that diversity while making it easily accessible to visitors.

“It’s a chance to discover new tastes and products, and to try some punchy tastes and flavours, some of which may be familiar and some which will be new. Tickets are selling fast and places are limited so pre-ordering them is the best way to ensure you don’t miss out.”

Distilled is sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers and runs over four sessions, from 1-5pm and 6-10pm on both the Friday and Saturday. Tickets are priced at £20 and this includes entry, six vouchers for tasting samples of gin, whisky or beer, a lanyard and a Glencairn crystal nosing and tasting glass.

All whisky, gin, beer and foods on offer will have a Speyside provenance and there will be the chance to purchase products from stand holders. Festival merchandise will also be on sale.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.distilled.scot

Distilled is active on social media at www.facebook.com/distilledscot on Twitter and Instagram @distilledscot. Follow the festival at #distilled17

 

Aug 202017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled is a celebration of the region’s whisky, gin, beer and food.

Glasses are being raised for the return of Spirit of Speyside: Distilled – a celebration of the region’s favourite drams with a dash of food, gin and beer added for good measure.

The mini-festival, which brings together Speyside’s leading distillers under one roof and on their own doorstep, is being held for the second year running.

Speyside is the beating heart of Scotland’s whisky industry: it is home to more than half of the country’s distilleries and a host of internationally renowned brands.

Many of those will be taking part at the event, which takes place from 1 – 2 September in Elgin Town Hall.

Visitors will have the chance to taste whisky from the distillers attending, but Spirit of Speyside: Distilled has much more to offer than malts. It will also feature local gin distillers, breweries and food producers.

The event reflects the broad range of food and drink on Speyside, and global companies will exhibit alongside small producers that are just starting out. There will be an opportunity for visitors to sample all that they have to offer.

In addition to visiting the dozens of exhibition stands, those who go along will have the opportunity to attend masterclasses on a wide range of topics related to Speyside whisky, gin, beer and food – some of which will feature exclusive and rare malts – led by industry experts.

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled is split into four separate sessions taking place from 1pm-5pm and from 6pm-10pm each day. Tickets for each session cost £20 – masterclasses are an additional £15 – and include vouchers for six 10ml tasting samples of whisky, gin, or a tasting measure of beer, a Glencairn crystal nosing and tasting glass and a lanyard.

Tokens, costing £1, will be available at the event and these can be used to taste an extensive range of additional samples.

Tickets are on sale on the website www.distilled.scot

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled is active on social media at facebook.com/distilledscot and on Twitter and Instagram @distilledscot

Distilled is an offshoot of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which has been running for almost 20 years. The Festival takes place over the early May bank holiday weekend each year and comprises around 500 events across the Speyside area.

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled
1-2 September, 2017
Elgin Town Hall. Speyside, Scotland

Entry: £20 per ticket

Aug 112017
 

Food and drink producers blend together to give festival fans a taste of Spirit of Speyside: Distilled. With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Now in its second year, Distilled aims to showcase the region as a true foodie paradise offering so much more than whisky

Beer, beetroot and berry-flavoured gin – it’s an unusual combination but some of Speyside’s best food and drink producers are about to blend together for an event that will tantalise tastebuds. Over 30 exhibitors have confirmed they will be taking part in Spirit of Speyside: Distilled – a celebration of the region’s gastronomy – next month.

Small producers such as Simpson’s Ice Cream, Berry Good Gin, rum distillers Beach Craft Spirits, Spey Valley Brewery and chocolates from Favour-it Flavours will set up alongside globally renowned brands including Baxters, The Glenlivet, Walkers Shortbread and The Macallan for the two-day event.

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled, which is staged in Elgin Town Hall on September 1 and 2, is an off-shoot of the popular annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Now in its second year, Distilled aims to showcase the region as a true foodie paradise offering so much more than whisky.

Festival chairman James Campbell says the fact that Distilled blends together household names with small one-man operations proved to be a real talking point at last year’s inaugural event, and organisers are delighted to introduce new exhibitors this year.

He adds,

“It is only when so many food and drink producers are gathered together under one roof that people really begin to realise how many fantastic companies we have operating right here on our own doorstep.

“The feedback we got from visitors last year was that they really enjoyed being able to wander around, sampling cocktails, gin, whisky and beer and getting a taste of the food that has also put Speyside on the map.

“And, of course, it is a great opportunity for them to come face to face with the people who are critical to our food and drink industry – the master distillers, distillery managers and innovators – which is also a hallmark of the main Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.”

As well as producers, visitors to the event will be able to enjoy the products served up by some of Speyside’s best bars and eateries. The Copper Dog – part of the Craigellachie Hotel – will be re-created in the hall’s Supper Room and will have cocktails flowing, live music and food.

The Station Hotel, Rothes, will have a team of mixologists on hand to pour its signature range of whisky and gin cocktails – including the specially created ‘Distilled’ in honour of the event – while Elgin-based bar The Drouthy Cobbler will be giving visitors a taste of what it provides along with some Speyside-themed street food.

And – showing that Speyside is not all about hills and glens – the team at Harbour Lights in the coastal town of Lossiemouth will be showing off local seafood by serving up smoked salmon canapes and other treats.

In addition to the wide number of exhibitors, there is a programme of masterclasses giving visitors the chance to enjoy rare and cask strength drams, learn how to pair food, and discover more about Speyside’s other drinks producers. Tickets for masterclasses must be bought in addition to entry tickets.

Distilled, which is sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, will run for four different sessions, one from 1-5pm and one from 6-10pm on each day. Tickets are priced at £20 which includes entry, six vouchers for tasting samples of gin, whisky or beer, a lanyard and a Glencairn crystal nosing and tasting glass.

All whisky, gin, beer and foods on offer will have a Speyside provenance and there will be the chance to purchase products from stand holders. Festival merchandise will also be available to buy.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.distilled.scot Distilled is active on social media at www.facebook.com/distilledscot on Twitter and Instagram @distilledscot. Follow the festival at #distilled17

Aug 042017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Comedian Justin Moorhouse will hold his show at NOX nightclub.

Organisers of Aberdeen Comedy Festival have signed up several new venues across the city centre as they announce a new and improved format for this year.
A total of ten new venues have signed up to host stand-up shows in the Granite City later this year, bringing the total number of venues to 27.
Launched by Aberdeen Inspired in 2016, this years’ festival will run from Thursday, October 5 to Sunday,
October 15.

The eleven-day festival, which has been organised with programming partner Breakneck Comedy, will feature national and international comedians performing across the city centre.

New venues for 2017 include, the Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen Douglas Hotel, Sing City, La Lombarda Basement Bar, The Shack, The Wild Boar, Spin, NOX, Lemon Tree, and the Wee Glen situated in Glentanar Bar.

Venues for the festival now range from a capacity of 30 seats at the Wee Glen to 350 seats at Aberdeen Arts Centre, giving organisers venues around the city centre to suit to suit any act or audience.

Comedian Justin Moorhouse will hold his show at NOX nightclub and the Belmont Filmhouse will screen several comedy movies throughout the festival, including Airplane! and Wayne’s World.

Sponsored by McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, the festival will comprise over 50 events, including five free stand-up shows, comedy workshops for children and adults, kids shows, and local talent showcases.

The festival format has been changed this year to include a selection of solo performances as well as shows with several comedians taking to the stage.

Shows will also be staggered so comedy fans have the opportunity to attend several without having to choose between events starting at the same time.

Described as the Canadian Billy Connolly, Craig Campbell will headline the launch of the festival at the Lemon Tree in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA).

Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay, who performed at the festival last year, will make a return alongside other comedians, including Patrick Monahan, Gary Delaney and Shazia Mirza – who have all recently featured on a range of panel shows on TV.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We’re delighted to welcome our new venues to Aberdeen Comedy Festival this year. It’s great to have more businesses involved after the festival’s very successful debut in 2016.

“It really captured the imagination and people turned out in large numbers for shows across the city centre which had a positive knock-on effect for businesses. As well as Aberdonians, we welcomed people from the wider north-east area and beyond who were keen to see comedy shows.

“The full line-up will be announced soon and we hope people will take the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic range of comedy which will be performed on their doorstep.”

More than 3,100 tickets were sold during the laughter filled extravaganza in 2016, as well as over 1,500 tickets from APA and Beach Ballroom promoted events.

Gavin Paterson, general manager of Aberdeen Douglas Hotel, said:

“Aberdeen Comedy Festival is a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the city centre to showcase their venues and host stand-up shows for the public.

“When we saw how successful the festival was in its first year we were very keen to play our part in 2017 and we are delighted to be hosting both Australian comic Damian Clark and the returning Billy Kirkwood who really impressed Aberdonian crowds last year.”

Colin Farquhar, Belmont Filmhouse cinema manager, added:

“We’re very excited to be involved in this year’s Aberdeen Comedy Festival. It’s another great string to the city’s cultural bow and we’re delighted that as well as screening some classic comedies, we’re able to host a few stand-up performances too.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jul 282017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Denise Middler with her miracle baby Owen and partner Darren. She has completed a year of tough challenges to celebrate Owen reaching his fifth birthday.

Little Owen Farquharson really is a miracle baby: conceived on a third and final attempt at IVF and then born in breech in the back of a car with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, his parents feel blessed that he is about to celebrate his fifth birthday.
So, it seemed fitting to mum Denise Middler that she would mark the milestone occasion with a year of personal challenges to give thanks for Owen growing up into a strong little boy and to show how he has helped to turn her own life around.

Over the past seven months she has taken a leap of faith on white-knuckle zip lines, walked a half marathon, completed an adventure obstacle course and ran her way around numerous 5K and 10K races.

Her year of fund-raising and self-challenge will come to an end on September 24 when she takes on the River Ness 10K at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.

It will have added significance to Denise as Inverness was the place where she and her brother Richie – who died very suddenly 10 years ago as a result of heart disease –  grew up together. It will be an emotional journey, but little Owen will be there to walk with her hand-in-hand as she crosses the finish line.

Denise (42) from Inverurie in Aberdeenshire has suffered from severe endometriosis since she was a teenager and was warned that the condition – which leaves her in crippling pain – would mean she would find it impossible to conceive a child naturally.

The condition, which is thought to affect as many as one in 10 women in the UK, results in cells like those found in the lining of the womb developing elsewhere in the body, building up and then breaking down and bleeding.

Denise and partner Darren, (39), had almost given up all hope of ever having a child of their own. They were over the moon to discover she was pregnant after undergoing three rounds of IVF treatment.

“I had suffered for many years with what was believed to be pelvic inflammatory disease, but I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early 20s. Medication helped initially, but over the years I’ve had to have open surgery and keyhole surgery to remove cysts,” she explains.

“It’s a difficult condition to manage because one day I will be fine, and the next I will be doubled over in pain and not even able to walk. To look at me, most people would never even know that I was ill other than my tummy swelling up.

“I became really depressed when I was told I would not be able to have children. I wanted more than anything to be a mother, and wondered what my goal in life would be if it wasn’t possible for me to have a family.

“After settling down with Darren we looked into options and were offered IVF. We were left under no illusions that it would be very difficult because the endometriosis had left my body in such a mess, but it was still absolutely soul destroying when the first two attempts failed.

“When I fell pregnant at the third attempt we were incredibly happy, but terrified. I was scared to move: I wanted the baby so much and I was worried that something would happen. During my pregnancy was the only time I never experienced the pain of endometriosis because all of the blood supply was concentrated on helping the baby grow.”

Denise enjoyed perfect health throughout the pregnancy, but Owen decided that he was going to make his entrance into the world 11 days earlier than planned. Darren and her parents drove her to hospital in Aberdeen, but were forced to pull over to the side of the road when Denise reached down and felt a foot.

In an amazing stroke of luck, they were able to flag down a passing police car and the officers took over midwife duties until an ambulance arrived. Owen was in the breech position and, terrifyingly, was not breathing when he was born because he was being choked by the umbilical cord.

Denise, however, remained perfectly calm throughout and knew within her heart that her little boy was going to be fine. He was whisked away to hospital, and her instincts were proved correct when a message came over the police radio to let her know the paramedics had found a heartbeat.

The endometriosis returned when Owen was about nine months old and the only treatment now available will be a hysterectomy. She says she will only consider surgery when her son is older and more able to do things for himself.

Denise refuses to be beaten by the condition and set out this year to show what can be achieved by a determination to overcome the pain. She has completed many fund-raising challenges with Darren and a close group of friends, raising money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of her brother and the MS Society for a friend who was diagnosed with the condition in her 30s.

After completing the River Ness 10K, she will also stage a fund-raising dinner dance with the proceeds going to the Aberdeen Fertility Clinic.

Denise says,

“I am by no means an elite athlete and it is only through the support of my family and friends that I have been able to complete all my challenges so far. But I have been determined to do it to show what can be done when we put our minds to it.

“The River Ness 10K will be very special, not just because it marks the end of the year of challenges, but because it has a special place in my heart with so many memories of my childhood in Inverness with my brother, whom I miss so much.

“To have Owen there at the finish will be truly amazing: by the law of averages he really shouldn’t be here and he genuinely is a miracle. I think it just shows that miracles really do happen and if you want something badly enough you should never give up hope.”

Many runners taking part in the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running – renowned for its scenic beauty and family-friendly atmosphere – will be taking part for charity. The main charity partner of the event is Macmillan Cancer Support and there are three lead charities – Chest Heart Stroke Scotland, Highland Hospice and MS Society.

Runners can also support 15 other affiliate charities, although hundreds of participants will use the event to raise money for good causes close to their own hearts.

In addition to the 10K, the event also incorporates the marathon, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and the Wee Nessie fun run for pre-schoolers. The finish line is at based around the Event Village at the Bught Park in Inverness where runners and spectators can enjoy the Baxters Food and Drink Fayre, a Sports Expo, live music and activities for children.

Entry is now open for all races online at www.lochnessmarathon.com until September 4, with places available in the Loch Ness Marathon for charity, club and overseas runners. The event is active on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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Jul 212017
 

With thanks to Kieran Booth.

Following her hit 2015 show, Miss Myrtle Throgmorton OBE (pending) is returning to the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe with a brand new production.
The critics, in 2015, stayed away but the audience came in droves and through word of mouth, a brief stint with the Really Terrible Orchestra and some energetic flyering, the show was sold out most nights – and everyone had a hoot! [“Very, very funny” – STV]  

So the game old trout, ancient heckler and exuberant enthusiast for all things Scottish, is back, Stuffed and Mounted, mad-rabbiting on about the delights of a long life – giddy aunts, Burns, beards, Creamola Foam, Zimmer Zumba and much more.

Myrtle is created by former BBC Comedy producer Jennie Campbell / Chalmers, and has been developed over many years although Jennie admits that the original bag-for-life is now, worryingly, more ‘ego’ than ‘alter’.  Since her Fringe debut, Miss Throgmorton has been making appearances across the North East of Scotland at charity gigs, Burns Suppers and two sell-out runs at the Haddo Arts Festival.

Myrtle’s accumulated years are off-set by the youthful vigour of baritone, Colin Brockie and pianist, Richard Bailey who join her for the three-week run at the Fringe. The production could also be unique on the 2017 Festival as the cast and crew all come from rural Aberdeenshire: Colin from Ellon, Richard from Udny, and Jennie, Kieran and Mary from Barthol Chapel.

Myrtle is still chairman of the Surrey Association for Lonely, Misplaced Or Non-Domiciled Scots [ALEX] but has been rusticated from her sheltered housing scheme [a minor misunderstanding over a game of sardines with her friend Midriff Bulge] and now lives as the permanent resident in a once–grand hotel.

The audience will be her ‘fellow diners’ and much conversation and banter will ensue as she shares her opinion on pretty much everything [advanced age is so liberating], punctuated by live and original music from Richard, some ‘proper’ singing from Colin and a little nifty hip work from Myrtle herself.  

Once again, every show will end with a surprise guest joining Myrtle for cheery chat over the coffee and mints. The audience is completely unaware who the guest will be – indeed Myrtle herself may not be entirely up to speed until just before the off.

2015 guests included Rory Bremner, Arnold Brown, Lieven Schiere and Alan Cumming. 

It could be a TV celebrity, an acclaimed author, the face of a familiar radio voice, a rising star, an unknown character with a story to tell, someone with a great, undiscovered show or the joker from the café on the corner…  A truly potluck surprise, in the spirit of the Fringe, and every one a guaranteed delight!

After a brief career as a London lawyer, and a briefer one cleaning houses, Jennie Campbell joined BBC Radio Comedy as a producer of such programmes as Week Ending, The News Quiz and The Edinburgh Festival Compilations, scouting the Fringe in the 80s for hungry new young talent.
On moving to Scotland, she switched from satirical news to the real thing and has been variously a radio presenter [Newsweek Scotland], news and current affairs producer, director of theatre, opera and musicals, drama teacher, arts organizer, serial committee member and session clerk.

With Myrtle Throgmorton, Jennie makes a long overdue return to her comedy roots.

Venue: Mint Studio | Greenside @ Infirmary St. [Venue 236]                   
Dates: 4th – 26th August [not Sundays]                     
Time: 18.25 [55 mins]                                                          

Tickets: £10/£9/£5 

Box Office: edfringe.com / 0131 618 0758
Website: www.myrtleproductions.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/myrtlethrog
Twitter: www.twitter.com/myrtlethrog   (@myrtlethrog)

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Jul 142017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

A leading north-east of Scotland business organisation is celebrating European success after scooping a prestigious award for its work to revitalise Aberdeen city centre.
Aberdeen Inspired has been crowned European Business Improvement District (BID) 2017 by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The award ceremony, which was held in Berlin on Tuesday, July 11, was attended by representatives of the eight finalist organisations, European business leaders and government officials from across the continent.

Aberdeen Inspired’s leading role in delivering the successful Nuart Aberdeen Festival in April played a significant part in the judge’s decision to declare the organisation as the winner of the 2017 award.

As well as lobbying on behalf of its levy payers and supporting festivals and projects in the city, the success of other Aberdeen Inspired projects such as the first Aberdeen Comedy Festival, Summer of Art, and the Aberdeen Christmas Village also helped the organisation to stand out against other finalists, including Amsterdam and Hamburg.  

Each year the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry recognises successful initiatives which increase the attractiveness of and strengthen and revitalise city centres, residential districts and commercial areas.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, was in Berlin to represent the organisation at the European BID awards.

He said:

“We are very proud to be European BID of the year 2017. Being shortlisted as a finalist was a great recognition of our work for Aberdeen but winning outright is a fantastic achievement which we hope will serve as an inspiration to the city, the wider north-east, and across the country.

“To make it to the final we were up against organisations from across the continent, ranging from Albania to the Nordic countries, so the field for the award was wide-ranging and very competitive.

“All our efforts with projects like Nuart Aberdeen and the comedy festival are focused on improving the city centre to drive footfall there and boost traders in the area. During the Nuart Aberdeen Festival 87% of visitors to Aberdeen stated it was completely or very likely that they would return to the city for the festival if it was repeated next year, and we are delighted to be in discussions to secure the festival for the coming years.

“To be recognised as best in Europe for our innovation and success is very satisfying and we are determined to achieve much more.”

The European BID award success follows fast on the heels of UK recognition for Aberdeen Inspired which achieved notable success at the UK and Ireland Association of Town and City Management’s (ATCM) annual awards in June for innovation and best BID.

Mr Watson added:

“Our success in the UK and now in Europe has been made possible through a strong joined up approach with our partners including Aberdeen City Council and our city centre businesses.

“Despite the challenging operating environment in our city and wider north-east they have all rallied to the cause and shown the rest of the country some excellent practices to boost economic and cultural activity that lead the way.

“We should all take a great deal of confidence from this success and it brings the right kind of recognition that our great city deserves. However, we all understand that we cannot stand still and there is still much to do as the city continues its transition, but be sure Aberdeen Inspired will continue to play its part.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available at: www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jul 062017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Some of the most popular stand-up comedians from UK and beyond will return to the Granite City later this year for the second Aberdeen Comedy Festival.

Launched by Aberdeen Inspired in 2016, this year’s festival will run from Thursday, October 5 to Sunday, October 15.

The eleven-day festival, which has been organised with programming partner Breakneck Comedy, will feature national and international comedians performing at more than 20 venues throughout the city centre.

Sponsored by McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, the festival will comprise around 50 events, including five free stand-up shows, comedy workshops for children and adults, kids shows, local talent showcases and comedy films screened at the Belmont Filmhouse.

Described as the Canadian Billy Connolly, Craig Campbell (pictured) will headline the launch of the festival at the Lemon Tree in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA).

Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay, who performed at the festival last year, will make a return alongside other comedians, including Justin Moorhouse, Gary Delaney and Shazia Mirza – who have all recently featured on a range of panel shows on TV.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We’re delighted to launch the second Aberdeen Comedy Festival following its tremendous success last year. It really captured the imagination and people turned out in strength for shows across the city centre which had a positive knock-on effect for businesses in the area.

“As well as Aberdonians, we welcomed people from the wider north-east area and beyond, and a group even travelled from Norway to see their favourite comedians perform on stage.

“Our aim is to provide the best comedy for both residents and visitors to Aberdeen to enjoy. We have some fantastic comedians already confirmed and the full line-up will be announced soon.

“We hope the public will take the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic range of comedy which will be performed on their doorstep.”

Alan Aitken, Operations Director of McGinty’s, added:

“As a local business, it’s great to welcome cultural events like the Comedy Festival to our city and following the success of last year, we’re really delighted to support the event again.

“It was great to see the people from Aberdeen and around the north-east out in force and enjoying a laugh, and we hope to see even more this year.”

More than 3,100 tickets were sold during the laughter filled extravaganza in 2016, as well as over 1,500 tickets from APA and Beach Ballroom promoted events.

Aberdeen Performing Arts’ director of programming and creative projects, Ben Torrie, said:

“We’re very excited to be supporting the Comedy Festival and we are looking forward to kicking things off with the gala launch night here at The Lemon Tree.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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