Caledonian Folk and Blues at the Guildford – Yard of Ale

****

One of the best Fringe traditions is the free Folk and Blues show put on at The Guildford Arms, located off the east end of Princes Street. Each year, the show is hosted by the Yard of Ale, stalwarts of the Scottish folk scene. Indeed, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the band’s formation.

The four guys know how to entertain with an eclectic mix of songs. It all stems from their excellent musicianship on guitars, with some banjo, mandolin and fiddle appearing in the mix.

Naturally, they perform numerous Scottish and Irish favourites, opening their set with Braes of Killiekrankie. As well as their traditional folk song repertoire, they broaden out to include songs from Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, Rick Nelson and Lindisfarne. I particularly enjoyed their version of Guy Mitchell’s Singin’ the Blues. They end their set with the marvellous Girl from Belfast City.

All through the show, many join in the choruses with obvious enjoyment and good humour. The whole experience is enhanced by the wide choice of real ale available.

Reviewed by Ben

Guildford Arms: 107

16 to 25 August 2012

20.00 – 00.00

Fringe Programme Page Number: 206

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Zambezi Express

4 stars
****

I’m not really sure what this was about but it was brilliant! Essentially a tale of a boy’s dream of becoming a professional footballer with something about trains and mining at the start and gangsters later on. With some lines in English but mostly not, things were a bit confusing and the plot really seemed to be there to tie together the set pieces.

So what we have here is an african group of singers, dancers and drummers and they are absolutely outstanding. The voices are amazing, the harmonies beautiful and the energy and precision of, well everything, is a joy to watch. Often the drumming drowned out the singing but the whole show was a display of sheer talent, energy and enthusiasm and a joy to witness. Very loud but highly recommended.

Review by Alan

C eca
Until 27 Aug
15:45-16:55

The Showhawk Duo

*****

The Showhawks are acoustic guitarists Mikhail Asanovic (Lead) and Jake Wright (Rhythm). I first saw the guys perform last year doing a couple of numbers on Edinburgh Tonight with Joe Simmons and Lorraine Chase. For me, they stole the show that day.

This year they have a whole show of their own for the first time at the Fringe and what a brilliant show they put on! The two guys come from contrasting guitar backgrounds, Mikhail is a classically trained with leanings towards jazz and Jake has a rock background with leanings towards heavy metal.

They structured their show as a musical biography beginning with their coming together as a musical partnership. When their contrasting backgrounds are put together, they can cover a huge spectrum of music from gypsy jazz to rock classics to orchestral classics – Django Reinhardt to Jimi Hendrix to Tchaikovsky. This is only a sample what they perform. Since they are in Scotland, they have devised a combination of Celtic and Metal in one of their numbers which they term Cetal (pronounced with a hard C).

Their arrangements are inventive. Their playing is fast and faultless, and really, really tight.

What is immensely enjoyable about their musical style is they break down the barriers between musical genres and often with little twists of humour. A strong melody is worth celebrating whatever its origins. They mentioned they would love to return to the Fringe next year. Well, Haste Ye Back!

Reviewed by Ben

SpaceCabaret @ 54

3 to 25 August 2012 (not 13)

16.45 – 17.45

Fringe Programme Page Number: 232

Playing Politics

*****

This is a five star show all round. The music is impeccable: guitar, vocals, harmonies and solos. The sound across the speakers is great. The songs – which you’ll know the tunes to ‘but not the lyrics’ – are brilliantly adapted to suit their subjects: the Olympics, politicians (lots of them, but not always for negative things, though mostly), Prince Phillip, and Donald Trump. The explanations and introductions to the songs are natural and conversational, and the humour never sounded rehearsed. And the audience had a great time – there were two encores.

Playing Politics are two musicians: two acoustic guitars, vocals and harmony, and they deliver a very professional and very, very funny show.

Reviewed by Laura

Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride’s

23 Aug, 20:30 (1hr 15)

In The Pink – Fantastic Female a Cappella!

3 Star

***   

I do like a Cappella music. And judging by the crowd who attended the show I saw I am not alone.

For the eight year this troupe of all female singers are doing good business on the Fringe and it is easy to see why. Ten young women in a variety of little black dresses accessorised with a pink sash each took turns to lead the vocals and supply accompaniment when not in the spotlight through their 50 minutes.

The musical choice was varied and at times neatly merged from one song to another and back again and there is no doubting the vocal ability of the group.

I feel their only drawbacks are that occasionally the lead is swamped by the backing and I was sitting near the front, I dread to think if I was at the back and if I am being ultra picky then the occasional spoken links could do with being sharpened.

Still as always an enjoyable 50 minutes.

Reviewed by Geoff

C Chambers Street (-1)

Until 17 August

14-00 to 14-50

Free Fringe Music – Kristan Harvey & Tina Rees

****

Each day at the National Museum of Scotland there is a concert featuring different musicians from Scotland and around the world including Russia.

On Saturday 11th August, Kristan Harvey on fiddle and Tina Rees on keyboards were the featured performers. Their concert was staged under the LIVE MUSIC SHOW banner.

Free shows can be varied in quality. This was a real gem. The two young ladies are highly accomplished and confident performers. Kristan Harvey is a winner of the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year. She hails originally from the Orkney Islands and a selection of jigs, reels, strathspeys and airs from this part of Scotland formed the basis of their set.

They gave the music their own interpretation. Usually, it is the fiddler who has the lead with the keyboard player having the lesser accompanying role. In some of the tunes the melody lines were shared out. Thus Tina Rees had an equal share of the limelight.

There was a pleasing variety of music, especially enjoyable being a composition by Tina Rees. One large surprise was when Tina Rees during the playing of an Irish reel stepped out in front of her keyboard and performed in the Irish dance style.

The duo has performed around Scotland and they have various individual projects lined up for the future. Look out for their names. I am sure they are both on the threshold of successful careers.

Reviewed by Ben

National Museum of Scotland: 179

4 to 26 August 2012

12.45 – 13.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 212

Les Clochards: Dirty But Nice

****

Les Clochards are a rock’n’roll band. So what, there must be hundreds of rock bands on the planet. This band, however, has developed its own fun and idiosyncratic style.

To begin with, take their appearance. Imagine a bunch of musicians down on their luck, penniless and looking like tramps. They come across a rock’n’roll junk yard. They equip themselves with discarded instruments and clothes, and take to the road.

When they perform, they parody the posing, prancing and pelvic thrusts of numerous high profile groups. What makes their parodying work is that they can deliver a solid, driving rock sound whilst clowning about.

Their set consists of around a dozen numbers. Their choice of music is unusual. There is something recognisable from The Jungle Book and Frank Sinatra but given an AC/DC type rock treatment. I particularly enjoyed their version of Madonna’s Like a Virgin with that Stevie Wonder keyboard riff in there somewhere.

Any reviewer has to be influenced by an audience’s reaction. They enjoyed what they saw and I was tapping my feet and clapping along like everyone else.

Reviewed by Ben

Assembly/Bosco Theatre: 3

2 to 27 August 2012 (not 13 & 20)

19.30 – 20.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 217