Sep 072021
 

By Craig Chisholm.

Young British guitarists Mikhail Asanovic and Jake Wright, together known as The Showhawk Duo, have dazzled audiences worldwide with their spectacular approach to playing the guitar, breaking down barriers between acoustic and electronic music.

Whether playing old-school trance classics or modern funky house, their live show knows no boundaries and will leave you amazed.

Mik is a classical guitarist at heart, having studied at Manchester’s RNCM whereas Jake is an electric junkie and grew up playing in rock and metal bands. Mik’s classical foundation shines through in the music with Jake’s raw percussive approach always keeping the crowd moving.

Together they create a truly unique and impressive sound, and have turned many “acoustic” nights into a thumping rave. 

Together, they started out as buskers and have since gone on to play all over the globe.

They have appeared on BBC Radio 1 on the Nick Grimshaw’s Breakfast Show,  did a 40 minute live broadcast for the LAD Bible, BBC Radio Bristol, and have performed at most of the UK’s large festivals including Main Stage at Bestival, Glastonbury, Isle of Wight Festival, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness, Somersault, Lost Village, Boomtown and more.

They played sell-out shows on their 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019 UK tours, headlining The O2 Forum in the most recent, and five star reviews followed an official sell out show at Edinburgh Fringe.

International performances include F1 Grand Prix in Singapore, Seychelles, club tours in Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands and a 20 – date residency at Pacha in Ibiza. 

Now, the duo will perform on stages across the nation, as they embark on their mammoth UK and Ireland tour.

Spanning 26th different dates – including a date at Unit 51 in Aberdeen on Saturday, October 9th – the duo will unleash their fiery acoustic sound to audiences far and wide, as they turn soft acoustic guitars into the ingredients for an unforgettable night of raving.

Support comes from Zen Lewis.

Ages 14+ // Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets available now at Skiddle.

Mar 022021
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

Marc Ellington, musician, philanthropist, climate change activist, author has passed away. He leaves behind his family and many friends.

Dr Ellington, or Marc to his many friends, was a singer, songwriter and guitarist.  He occasionally performed with his lifelong friend Richard Thompson, and with Fairport Convention. 

Marc had not often performed in recent years, but joined Richard on stage at the Royal Albert hall in September 2019 for Richard’s 70th birthday party show along with many members of the Thompson family, and artists including Dave Gilmour, and Harry Shearer.

Marc and his wife Karen lovingly restored Aberdeenshire’s Towie Barclay Castle and gardens.  From its great hall he worked on his many projects. 

He founded and ran the charity The Scottish Traditional Skills Centre.  The Centre ran some of the first-ever courses on how climate change threatens our cultural and built heritage. 

Presentations were made by experts from various disciplines including the Met Office, focusing on historic properties and sites such as Skara Brae. 

The Centre ran courses for professional and amateur alike including topics such as gardening, dry stone walling, and property repair.  Perhaps its greatest success was running courses for young people with a variety of needs. 

Young people learned from different specialists about the environment, wildlife, botany, and enjoyed hands-on activities from dry stone walling to building lean-tos at locations such as Fyvie Castle grounds. 

Passionate about Aberdeen city’s and shire’s architectural gems, Marc edited The Lost City: Old Aberdeen by Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson. 

Marc knew any number of little-known historic jewels, and greatly enjoyed showing these off to his guests.  He was a keen student of the area’s history, not least its importance to folk music from the past through artists such as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.

Along with Charles MacLean and Daniel MacCannell Marc Ellington was an editor on the book, Scotland’s Secret History: The Illicit Distilling and Smuggling of Whisky.  The book paints a vivid picture of whisky’s history and the Cabrach. 

He was instrumental in the creation of a memorial cairn in the Cabrach dedicated to those from the area who lost their lives in WWI and subsequent conflicts.  Whisky giants The Gordon family were the main funders. 

Marc said:

“Each and every aspect of the construction of the cairn has involved members, both young and old, of the Cabrach Community working closely with master craftsman Euan Thompson.

“As well as being one of the finest memorial cairns to be built in Scotland in recent years, this is an outstanding example of what a local community, working together with energy and determination, can achieve.”

Marc spoke at an exhibition of international artists in 2018 held at the Glenfiddich Distillery. 

He talked about the role art plays – or should play – in education and in our culture.  As part of the speech he applauded the creators,  rebels, movers, and individuals who stand up for what is right, who follow their passions and dreams.  Indeed, this was how many saw him.

As the historic landlord in Gardenstown and Crovie, he was shocked when in 2015 salmon farmers were illegally shooting seals from the land in order to stop them eating salmon. 

He was actively involved with stopping the destruction of wildlife, and cared deeply for the sea and marine life.

He acted as announcer and master of ceremonies for the annual Portsoy Boat Festival, often sailing his craft to the harbour. 

Marc never missed a chance to help people when it arose; he always had a hilarious, apt anecdote for whatever social situation he found himself in. 

He sought to impart his passions for the environment, culture, history, music and arts, and succeeded in influencing many.  He is greatly missed, but his music and his many accomplishments will continue to influence.

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Dec 082017
 

By Fred Wilkinson.

“Aaaah Grasshopper, you still have much to learn … you must first try to listen … and feeeel!”

Once upon a time there was a young man who fancied himself as the rebranded Anarcho Dennis The Menace.

Unfortunately, he did not have the means to put enough calories into his person in order to avoid being laughed and sneered at by the bespectacled Walter and his crew of ‘softies’.

So he developed a defiant, unflinching pose in order to look hard.

He got a punk band together and generally scared the crap out of folk … his relatives mostly,

Then he got a wee job doing sound for a band called Mabel Meldrums Ceilidh Band.

Working alongside his chum, and punk band colleague Frank Benzie, nephew of Mabels’ guitarist and vocalist, Ian F Benzie, the young man in question came to know and refer to the Benzies as ‘Frunk an’ Unc’ – which neither ever objected to.

But their influence on the stoic, stripey one was not only significant, but equal and opposite!

This brought about much confusion. Whilst Frunk would lead young Dennisesque astray, and goad him into strange and perilous situations, Unc would be much more a source of a calm and enlightenment – particularly with regard to the realm of music. 

Words of wisdom were dispensed freely:

“If the music is ‘at loud ye canna hear yersel think, then how d’ye ken yer actually listenin tae music?”

“The words ‘I love you’ should be spoken close up, and whispered ….. if ye scream them oot til there’s snotters comin oot yer mou’, yer likely tae get a blind date wi fower or six coppers wi big sticks in the back o’ a van”

“It’s nae jist the notes min, it’s the space in atween”

And ither such hippy stuff and fluff.

However, it sunk in eventually, to the point that young hardened cynic began to appreciate the understated and the subtle alongside the “in yer face wi a big slab ya ****” aspects of music and art.

But then, not long after, Ian F Benzie, along with Mabels’ bassist/banjo plucker Buzzby McMillan parted company with Sandie Wyles (fiddle/mando/vocs), Andrew MacDonald (keys/concertina/caller) and Ian Wilson (Bodhran/ percussion/whistle), and went on to form the notorious Old Blind Dogs.

Sandie continued playing with a new Mabel Meldrums line up with a very different approach and sound.

As for that defiant, unflinching, skinny, stoic, cynical, spikey, stripey, cartoon character wannabe, tribute act? Well that was me (still is I suppose) …. your Aberdeen Voice editor.

Which brings me to the purpose of this one off spontaneous and unusual Aberdeen Voice article.

In the last few hours, I discovered a forgotten, presumed lost (or borrowed and not returned) cassette tape which was recorded by myself and Frunkie B from the mixing desk we were charged with the task of operating … or at least, preventing teuchters from plonking/spilling their beer, or stubbing their fags out on.

And so, 30 odd years later, I decided, if I had gone to sleep when I should have … like about an hour before I found that ‘lost’ tape … it might become ‘lost’ again ….. maybe forever!

And so, instead, I lashed a load of wires and boxes together, and now have a digital copy of the whole gig, which I hope to share soon.

However, I felt, when listening to one particular track, which was not part of the band’s set, but performed ‘off the cuff’ while some technical problem was resolved, that there was a wee bit of magic which transcended the background noise and the tape hiss.

Therefore, I felt compelled to ‘splice’ it out, and with the bare minimum of processing, offer it here without any further delay. 

Westlin Winds by Ian F Benzie. Live at Premnay Hall, 86/7 … as part of Mabel Meldrums’ (ceilidh band) show.

Apr 012017
 

A guitar once owned by Hendrix has been put up for auction in Aberdeen, following a council hunt for heirs. Duncan Harley reports.

When council housing officer Dennis Potter was called to the home of a council tenant on Aberdeen’s Kincorth Housing Estate he thought that it would be simply a routine house clearance.

The elderly male who had lived there for over 30 years had passed away and, with no relatives on hand to see to his affairs, it fell to the council to clear the flat and prepare it for a new tenant.

“I was pleasantly surprised” said Dennis “to find that the place was clean and in good order.”

“It’s not unusual for us to enter a property where someone has died and find that they had perhaps not been coping during what may have been a difficult end of life period. But, in this case that was definitely not the case and our tenant had taken really good care of the property.”

Initially, the council had assumed that relatives would come forward to claim possessions and see to the estate, but after a three-year hunt for heirs no-one came forward.

“We knew that Mr Brown had no surviving friends in the locality” said Dennis “but we thought that maybe he had relatives somewhere who might have kept in touch.”

“But as his birthdays came and went, there were no cards, and even at Christmas the deceased only received a few begging letters from the likes of the Salvation Army and a charity specialising in promoting paintings made by limbless artists from North Korea.”

Eventually council bosses asked Dennis to dispose of the few possessions left by the tenant and an Aberdeen auction firm was asked to provide a valuation.

“We needed to cover the costs involved” says Dennis.

“There was a very small amount of outstanding rent, but on top of that there was the matter of the burial; and we felt we had a duty to recover what we could to protect the public purse.”

The valuation, however, far exceeded expectations, for in amongst the few possessions left by Mr Brown there was a guitar.

“I had assumed that it might be worth just a few pounds” said Dennis.

“I mean, it was badly scratched, the frets looked worn and the strings had seen better days. But you never know at auction since maybe someone is looking to get a real bargain.”

The auctioneers were initially unimpressed with the item and consigned it to the weekly general sale in expectation that it might be worth something to someone willing to restore the neglected instrument. However, and quite by chance, musicologist Jim Hawsworthy came to preview the lots for sale.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes” he said “at first I thought I was dreaming, but there right in front of me was a genuine Strattofaster!”

“I mean these instruments are the Stradivariuses of the guitar world. There are probably only around fourteen known examples worldwide, and this one is completely genuine.”

Seemingly Jimi Hendrix owned two of these instruments, but after his death aged 27 in September 1970, it emerged that one was unaccounted for.

In a strange twist, it transpired that Mr Brown had been drinking red wine with Marmalade stars Gary Farr and Jimmy Cregan, together with Eric Clapton at the Scotch of St James bar in Mayfair on the night of Hendrix’s death.

“When Jimi came in” said Clapton “he had no dosh and neither had the rest of us.”

“So we asked Bennie the roadie to bung us a few quid – just to keep the party going you understand. By that time the bar bill was astronomical and to be honest we were all a bit keen to get more wasted, so to calm Bennie Brown down, I suggested that we bung him a guitar as collateral. That’s how it all happened really. He was pleased as punch and went off strumming Jimi’s guitar.

“I know that ‘cause I was there. Or at least I think I was. That is until I awoke to find that Jimi had, well you know – gone off somewhere and died basically. Never forget that night really. What year is it today anyway?”

Be that as it may, the auction of the Hendrix Strattofaster takes place at Aberdeen Auction House on East Silver Street on April 1st with all proceeds going directly to the council.

The sales catalogue reads as follows:

LOT 405
FENDER STRATTOFASTER, JIMI HENDRIX SIGNATURE MODEL, 1967
Serial number CZ510969, maple tarnished finish, maple neck with skunk-stripe routing, red paper dot on back of headstock beside “Sandy Klaus Fender Custom Shop” transfer, twenty-two fret fingerboard with dot inlays, three pre-Vintage Noiseless pickups, three rotary controls, selector switch, tremolo/bridge tail block and white pick guard; and a black Harry Fender hard-shell bright-contour case with black plush lining and cream cloth sticker inscribed in hazy purple felt pen “Good luck Jimi from your good old pals Otis, Eric and Shanker” and tie on paper label inscribed on both sides in black felt pen “FENDER STRAT CZ510969 MAPLE  1”, one red and one green paper dot on two case latches.”

A reserve price of £2,500 has been placed on the item and international interest is expected.

Words and images © Duncan Harley
Additional reporting by April McGinty

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Mar 022017
 

David Innes reviews ‘The Wren and The Salt Air’ – a new E.P. release by Jenny Sturgeon on Fit Like Records.

In September 2016, commissioned by The National Trust for Scotland, Donside’s own Jenny Sturgeon visited the abandoned North Atlantic Hebridean archipelago, St Kilda, to derive inspiration for a musical release to commemorate this wilderness’s thirtieth anniversary as a World Heritage site.

The Wren and The Salt Air, a four-track EP, inspired by the island’s bird life and history, is the impressive result.

Maintaining the distinctive writing and performance style of recent release From The Skein, Ms Sturgeon imbues haunting Celtic melodies with her trademark natural imagery and unobtrusive, custom-fitted arrangements.

‘Seabird’ is a word painting describing the majestic movement of the colony’s thousands of birds in flight, and at rest, in almost architectural terms, and the title track takes on the vibe of an ancient folk tale, as the juxtaposition of unforgiving weather and the frailty of a tiny St Kilda Wren paints a vivid picture of the stoicism of living creatures “where salt air pinches skin”.  

The bird life of St Kilda assumes co-billing with Jenny, Jonny Hardie and Pete McCallum, to the extent that on the final segment of ‘St Kilda Set’, after some fine, evocative blue-edged Hardie fiddle-led tunes, the local Kittiwake and Leach’s Petrel are given a featured ninety-second solo spot. The St Kilda Wren’s urgent song too, provides unusual but fitting counterpoint to the melody of ‘The Wren and The Salt Air’

With 10% of the profits of the CD sales going to support conservation work on St Kilda, The Wren and The Salt Air is even more worthy of your small investment.

JENNY STURGEON
The Wren and The Salt Air
Fit Like Records

This review was originally posted on the reviewer’s own website www.bluesandmoreagain.com where the old fool gamely attempts to be some sort of tastemaker.

 Links:

www.jennysturgeonmusic.com
www.fitlikerecords.com
www.nts.org.uk/seabirds

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Oct 312014
 

Ags ConnollyBy David Innes.

With a growing reputation for giving classic country writing and performance a new, contemporary British sheen, Ags Connolly impressed a respectable Blue Lamp crowd keen to see if the favourable reviews could be borne out.

It should never have come down to his competing with the Dons re-arranged Friday evening home game against Motherwell.

This show was trailed months ago, but promoter Martin Raitt is a Dons fan too and has no plans to organise gigs for 3pm on Saturdays, if they are ever played at that time again.

Coincidentally Ags revealed that his favourite player is Dons legendary ‘keeper Jim Leighton and wore red since he was in Aberdeen.

The songs from his debut album How About Now were the core of his interval-scorning 90 minute set, interspersed with classy songs from Connolly’s heroes and influences, including Kris Kristofferson, Shel Silverstein, Robert Earle Keen and Guy Clark.

Responding to audience requests, Ags delivered Johnny Paycheck’s ‘Trusty Companion’ immaculately, and led a Dale Watson singalong of ‘I Lie When I Drink’. The autobiographical ‘I Saw James Hand’, from How About Now paying homage to the ‘hillbilly spirit who appears as a man’ was followed by a Hand song in tribute. His single ‘When Country Was Proud’ was enthusiastically received, ‘my rant’ as he described it.

It is heartening that the original Connolly material, including the road-tests of new songs which he claimed tongue-in-cheek would ‘be on a bootleg within hours since this is no doubt being streamed to a pirate website’ stood up very favourably in the company of those of the giants to whom he paid tribute.

It was a delight to spend a couple of hours in this hard-working and affable man’s company. That second album promises to be a treat too.

Links:

www.agsconnolly.com
www.almostbluepromotions.com
www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPiEWhI_YaM

Oct 282014
 

Mark Ayling 1 Acoustic artist Mark Ayling released his second album, ‘Out Of Step, Out Of Time’ this week, following on from his 2011 album ‘Memories and Ghosts’.

The Turriff-based singer-songwriter played with Justin Sullivan (New Model Army), Robb Johnson and Tracey Curtis at the 2011 ‘Raise Your Banners’ Festival and with many other fine musicians at various gigs throughout the past three years.

A lifelong drummer, with lyrics that range from personal to political, he has branched out to play acoustic guitar, taking the energy of punk and rock music to make his own style.

He will be embarking on a UK tour next month to promote the album.

The CD album will be available from http://www.markayling.net/, Four Dogs Music, Ethical Wares and Amazon. A download will also be available from iTunes and Amazon.

Oct 242014
 

Ags ConnollyfeatWith thanks to David Innes.

Ags Connolly, described as ‘the closest we’ve ever come to an English Willie Nelson’ by Duncan Warwick, of Country Music People, makes his Aberdeen debut at The Blue Lamp on Friday 24 November following on from his last Scottish show at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival in July.
His debut album ‘How About Now’ was released in February 2014 and reviews have been incredibly positive, especially for a first outing, and he has just released a video for his first single ‘When Country Was Proud

Almost Blue Promotions are excited about their coup in bringing Ags north, and this show is guaranteed to add to the agency’s already-excellent reputation in the city and its hinterland.

What the reviewers have said:

“One of the best records you are likely to hear this year…so strong is Connolly’s writing, dare I suggest that Ags Connolly is the closest we’ve ever come to an English Willie Nelson? Yes, he’s really that good, and his voice is unique.” – Duncan Warwick, Country Music People

“How About Now is a masterpiece of British country” – Maverick

“A compelling debut” – Independent on Sunday

“One of the most promising new talents on the Brit country scene” – Record Collector

“Drop all the qualifiers, discounts, and rhetoric about origin, Ags Connolly deserves to be considered right beside his Stateside counterparts as one of the carriers of the country music holy ghost whose carefully-crafted songs can speak to the human heart universally, irrespective of borders” – Saving Country Music

“Extraordinarily accomplished…hard to believe that it’s a UK product. As good a country record as you’re likely to hear from anywhere this year” – Flyinshoes Review

Tickets are available now for £8.80 from

http://www.seetickets.com/event/ags-connolly/the-blue-lamp/803674/ or http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/events/ags-connolly

Buying directly from www.almostbluepromotions.com/#!buy-tickets/cq91 will avoid the booking fee, or, if there are tickets left, they’ll be available at the door for £10.

Links:

www.agsconnolly.com
www.almostbluepromotions.com

Apr 252014
 

Patrick Duff brings his remarkable skills back to Aberdeen on 30th April, but this time with some exciting added extras. Esther Green writes.

Patrick Duff BnWPatrick Duff returns once again with Craig John Davidson as Special Guest, but this time as a collaborator in an exciting new venture – a white vinyl 7” split release single.

Because of the special connection the Bristol-based singer now has with the Granite City, The Blue Lamp has been selected for the Launch Party for the record.

2013 saw Patrick release two albums; Visions of the Underworld, now available through Rough Trade and Seven Sermons to the Dead, a record originally commissioned by Bristol City Council.

With that in mind, here are seven reasons why you ought to come along to what promises to be a fantastic night…

1) The Songs.  Patrick has an incredible body of work behind him, whilst trying out new material all the time.  He may include the occasional cover in his shows, rarely – if ever – dipping into his extensive Strangelove back-catalogue, but mainly taps the rich vein of his solo career.

2) The Stories.  He’s a man of many stories, all of them fascinating, many of them almost unbelievable and some hilarious. As well as the eloquence of Patrick’s delivery of these tales, their intensity and personal nature is something to savour.

3) The Atmosphere.  If you have ever attended one of Patrick’s concerts, you know what this is about.  The audience silence means something, an experience he often refers to “deep listening”.

4) The Special Guest.  A Fat Hippy Records favourite, Craig John Davidson’s talents are outstanding.  A great songwriter and musician in equal measure, he never fails to impress audiences with his finely-crafted guitar style.  He recently toured successfully with label-mates in Los Angeles and can be found playing various venues around Aberdeen.

5) The Single.  It’s a celebration of the friendship and musical brotherhood of its collaborators and we’re all invited. Patrick’s “Thought Birds” and Craig’s “Mr Manners” are popular live tracks among their respective fans and you will have the chance to grab a copy of this very limited edition collector’s item.

6) The Voice.  Patrick has the most beautiful singing voice – often unexpectedly courageous and cavernous, it is a soulful, pure and expressive sound.

7) The Experience.  You will never forget it.

Links and Info.

Tickets

Pre-order the single

Upcoming concerts

Patrick Duff on Facebook

Patrick Duff on Twitter

New interview with Bristol’s Artscare Records

Craig John Davidson on Facebook

Craig John Davidson on Soundcloud

Links to previous Aberdeen Voice articles about Patrick Duff

https://aberdeenvoice.com/2013/04/dandy-of-the-underworld/

https://aberdeenvoice.com/2013/09/man-downstairs-flies-high/

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Feb 072014
 

By Bob Smith.
800px-Pete_Seeger2_-_6-16-07_Photo_by_Anthony_Pepitone lopro

Last wikk we lost a legend
Pete Seeger wis his name
The chiel he wis aged 94
Fin oot wis snuffed his flame
.
Awa back in his young’r days
The lad he wis a commie
Atween him an yon McCarthy
There wisnae much bonhomie
.
A folk singer o warld renown
An an activist forbye
Supportit the Spanish Republicans
In a war far mony wid die
.
A singer fa fair protestit
The arms race an Vietnam war
He supportit the Civil Richts
An wis agin the colour bar
.
His singer sister Peggy
She mairrit Ewan MacColl
A bet at faimily githerins
They wid hae hid a ball
A freen o Woody Guthrie
An a early backer o Dylan
Fin Bob wint aa “electric”
Pete didna fin es thrillin
.
A lover o the environment
Tae es life he wis a giver
An got thingies fair stairted
Tae clean up the Hudson River
.
A ca’ed the chiel a legend
O es a hiv nae doot
A singer o folk sangs
An an activist tae boot
.
Seeger, Guthrie an Dylan
Protest lyrics wis their thing
Sangs fer the common man
Wis fit es three did bring
.
.
.
.
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014

Pete_Seeger2_-_6-16-07_Photo_by_Anthony_Pepitone.jpg 
licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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