Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Letham Nights No.22

March 11th, 2012

The Banana Sessions

So. Another great evening of dancing and merriment at Fife’s foremost village hall shindig.

We’d been trying for some time to get Amy Rayner to the hall and we finally managed it on Saturday. Amy blew everyone away with a polished and confident performance which belied her young age. Her amazing composure and stage presence is a result of much hard work on the cabaret circuit but this was by no means music for the disengaged diner. A great selection of covers and equally strong original songs included one youthful call to arms which may have raised an eyebrow or two amongst the Letham Nights baby boomers. And what a voice.

Amy Rayner

Letham Nights is nothing without the community and it was a pleasure to welcome Lynne and The Letham Lullaboys to the stage for their ‘fifth rehearsal’. Inspired to start the band by attending Letham Nights (Lynne is practically an ever-present) they warmed hearts, raised smiles and packed the floor with their specially penned Letham Nights Blues.

Lynne and The Letham Lullaboys

All of which loveliness brought us to the bonkers and brilliant The Banana Sessions. Roberta Banana is no stranger to Letham Nights having once deputised heroically for a poorly Bevvy Sister. Tonight she returned with her usual amigos musicale to delight us once again. Musical nerds (such as your own humble correspondent although I prefer ‘aficionado’) will be rapt to note that the band utilised all four orchestral groups namely woodwind, brass, percussion and strings uniting them to toe blistering, shoe leather shredding effect. A mixing of tempos and musical flavours that one can only describe as a euphoric aural anarchy led the crowd down a rabbit hole and a Prodigy medley (all of this with acoustic instruments remember) very near took the roof off. Get your Buckfast here!

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Letham Nights 13, The Loveliest Night of the Year

September 8th, 2010

Talking late into the night we got onto the subject of recipe’s. The discussion went onto discuss the fact that recipe’s aren’t

always food related. There are recipes for, say, a happy life, a good book or a perfect day, I bet you have many more examples.

With these thoughts bouncing around our heads Claire, Michael and I thought about the recipe for the perfect Letham Nights.

This is what we came up with

1800g of Celebrating Fife
2 fl oz of Midsummer
7 visiting relatives, From the USA
70°F of fantastic weather
13 Locally sourced performers, young and fresh
6-10 seasoned open mic musicians, various ages
1 compere, preferably juicy
2 professional, performing arts-based practitioners.
100 burgers from Pillars of Hercules
25 punnets of free strawberries
4 pints of cream, optional.
1 Clap and Tipple bar, fully stocked and staffed
1 Luva Anna.

To start, early in the morning mix together the two Arts practitioners with the 13 young performers, leave to photosynthesise for the rest of the day, making sure the creative juices flow nicely. Set aside to marinade towards a performance.

Meanwhile, arrange the Hall, the Clap and Tipple bar, the Pillars burgers, the strawberries, cream and the 7 relatives along with the PA, the Celebrating Fife funding and weather. Leave to soak up the atmosphere.

Then, mix all the elements together for the food part of the day, Make ready the audience by serving great veggie burgers/salad and very tasty free strawberries, allow situation to relax until done. Mix in 70°F temperatures and sunshine.

When replete, start the performance.
It started in a “flash mob” style, no introduction, straight into the performance, the young people walking through the hall from the various entrances. It took the audience a few seconds to realise what was happening. The performance included the spoken word, both solo and collectively, singing and musicianship. They conveyed a surprisingly honest take on teenage thoughts, fears, humour and sorrow. Being in the “gang” or not, loneliness, body image were issues also touched. Haggis man being particularly poignant.
They had written a song called the Loveliest Night of the Year and sang it beautifully.
Huge thanks to the young performers, to the tutors Fiona Miller and Mick Slaven for their fantastic efforts. What they managed to achieve in a day was remarkable.

Next, allow the musicians to play and sing their hearts out. First up, and as a wee taster for the music side of the day Roy Campbell and Mick Slaven performed two songs one of which Roy knew and the other Mick knew, neither had been practised beforehand.
Rhythm Is a Dancer and Pills and Booze were well received.
Steven Tom Smith soulfully sang through his beautiful songs, You Burn, Invisible Boy and If This Song Had a Name.
Mick Pritchard – Wow, who would have thought that voice would have come from Mick. He played Soul and Blues classics as well as a new song about his tortoise Herbert.
Kevin and Karen Scott, half of Ladybank Supergroup Skin and Bones played “May you never”, ”Still haven’t found what I’m looking for” and a version of The Black Oil Brothers’ Wednesday Afternoon.
Xander Duffy. Well, this was Xander’s second visit to Letham Nights and his voice soared and soared. He is completely unique and engaging, a tremendous voice and song writing skills. His songs featured a couple of covers – Hit the Road Jack and Halo along with his own I Go Back To and the brilliant Freedom.

Then add the acoustic Anthill Mob to finish. They played through rock and Blues classics from AC/DC to Zeppelin, to get everyone dancing.
What a fabulous mix of people – we do have some brilliant talent locally.
All this was seasoned with “peppered” comments from our comedy compere, the very “fruity” Bruce Devlin as each musician took the stage. Thanks Bruce… no really, thanks!

Finally, place on stage, one of the best live band’s the world has ever seen, Luva Anna.

They played for us in November and were truly fantastic then. This time it was no different.
They kicked off with the chillingly beautiful Sea Shanty, a 4 part vocal harmony that had the audience stunned. They then “battered” through old favourites like Coma Girl, Angry Fat Bouncer, Pigeon Song and The Ballad O’ Boaby Smith as well as newer numbers like Dumba Dumba, Sober, This is F*****g Urgent and Postcards – and of course the wonderfully evocative love song ‘Hold Still’.

Two encores were demanded by the audience which had an insatiable appetite for Luva Anna.

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Letham Nights #11-Review of The Bevvy Sisters with Kirsty Keatch

May 31st, 2010

Mostly at Letham Nights the acts come to us. They see the website or someone recommends them. It is one of the delightful things about this venture that lots of people out there are great musicians and they just want to be heard. But with the Bevvy Sisters it was different…

How it happened…
Location: Falkland
Occasion: “The Big Tent” Festival Summer 2009
Reason: handing out flyers for Letham Nights
Outcome: The Bevvy Sisters appearing at Letham Nights 11.

Sheltering in a tent to avoid the rain we stumbled across The Bevvy Sisters set. Luck was on our side that day because we were blown away by the performers on the stage. The Bevvy’s and their band played with joy, harmony and humour. Brilliant vocals shone through, I can’t think of three voices that were meant to sing together more than Kaela Rowan, Lindsay Black and Heather MacLeod. David Donnelly, guitar and mandolin and James Mackintosh on drums and percussion provided the perfectly judged backing to the sisters. Their incredible musicianship gave a huge soundscape to balance the beautiful vocals.

Michael and I approached them after the performance, handed them our card and gave them a wee resume of what Letham Nights is all about. They promised to get in touch as they were booked for the rest of the summer. That suited us as we were also sorted for artists.

Subsequent investigation revealed a gathering of fantastic reviews, a CD release, The St James Sessions, recorded (in single takes) at The St James Hall in Innerleithen and then wowing the crowds at this year’s Celtic Connections, pulling huge crowds wherever they played.
The e-mail came through and the date was set. Around this time Michael had been contacted by Colin McLean of the Edenists, recommending a young singer songwriter called Kirsty Keatch. She has just back from Manchester after winning the prestigious MIBI songwriters award. Chris Martin from Coldplay awarded her 25 out of 25 and Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe commented that her song is a “heartbreaking, gorgeous, ethereal pop track”.

And so to Letham Nights #11
Kirsty gave us a very impressive and confident show of self-penned songs using her electric guitar and a bank of effects to create loops of soaring melody. She sang her way through Silent Voices, Riddles, Moonbeam, Little Butterflies, Teardrop and the beautiful Dragonfly to name a few. The audience were held in a quiet and reflective mood by these lovely songs and by this future star. If there is any justice in this world Kirsty will be around singing for us for a very long time.

The Bevvy Sisters then graced the stage. There are others who have waxed eloquent about the rich, magical, sweet vocals that flow through swing, jazz, folk and Americana. I cannot add much to what has already been written. Songs from their debut St James Sessions CD were fully represented, amongst them The Littlest Bird, 1000 miles, The Way You Know You Do, Draw the Line and Apocalypse. They also covered the classics, Mary Don’t You Weep, Rock My Soul and Leadbelly’s Cow Cow Yikkey. The Letham Nights crowd were keen to get up and dance and were even tricked into descending onto the dancefloor to a 20 second ad jingle in the style of 50’s American TV! If the Cohen brothers are looking for some tunes for their next film, they should have a listen to The Bevvy Sisters. Each song was greeted with enthusiasm by the Letham Nights full house. There was dancing and audience participation and during the song Smoke, lighters blazed as the song was sung. As we had seen from the gig at the Big Tent, where they are booked to appear again this year, this band are certainly going places, and deservedly so. A straw poll taken at the end of the gig and the results were unanimous…Utterly Fantastic!

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Letham Nights 10 Review

March 3rd, 2010

The traditional January blues were swept away when The Black Cat Jook Band and Zander Duffy braved the elements and played for an equally brave audience. The worst/best snow fall in years was a bit of a worry with regard to ticket sales/attendance, but the fantastic Letham Nights audience came out in force on the night.

We were treated to two rip roaring sets from The Black Cat Jook Band, interspersed by Xander Duffy and his quite unique style.

TBCJB returned as headliners after supporting The Black Oil Brothers in May 2009. One Black Oil Brother was heard to say to another “Wow, they are more American than us!!”
Playing songs off their albums and some classic Americana covers they soon warmed up the punters, Move That Thing, Long Tall Mama, Cocaine Habit, C C Rider, Kansas City and Scoop soon had some dancing going on. Doug took on most of the vocal duties, backed by Jan, Dave and Rod
The musicianship was spot on for the flavour of the songs, particularly the “Tea Chest Bass” and mandolin.

After a small break Xander Duffy, all the way from Glenrothes, ambled onto the stage, and played through his set. Some self penned numbers along with a surprising choice of covers were the mainstay of the set, Jungle Mood, Dragons and Forgiveness showed us a fine songwriter was on stage, Lilac Wine, Crazy and Halo showed us a unique voice and guitar style, truly superb. He had a bet on with his wife that he would play the Beyonce song Halo and asked us to log onto his MySpace site to confirm to her that this was played. She had had surgery recently and was unable to attend to see/hear for herself. Gnarles Barkleys Crazy was also superbly rendered.
Another example of the really good talent we have locally, the main act and the support are less than 10 miles from Letham.

TBCJB re-entered the fray notching up the tempo a little, Midnight Steppers, Digging my Potatoes, Winnie the Wailer, Diddy Wah Diddy and Walking Blues as a well deserved encore. There was much dancing and from my short duties on the bar had a chance to gauge the audience’s mood. No worries there, and hearing the applause at the end of each song was all I needed to know. Everyone went home with January firmly put in it’s dreary place.

Once again the Clap and Tipple were on hand to provide a fine selection of the best local beers and some excellent wines. Luvians, we thank you

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Letham Nights 9- LUVA ANNA AND THE BUMCLOCKS

January 14th, 2010

The ingredients of what makes a good Letham Night are hard to define but on 28th November, we got it right once again. The raw energy from the Bum-clocks and the sheer joy of Luva Anna combined with the irreverent humour of both bands gave us all another fantastic evening.

Is Tam Burn, lead singer of the Bum-clocks barking? Well he certainly was at Letham Nights #9. With a howl and a wuff , he introduced the first number in their brilliant repertoire in the guise of a demented dalmation and away we went – Iggy Pop meets Rabbie Burns in ‘A Tail O’ Twa Dugs’. “Noo ah wantae be yer dug” chants Tam, as Malcolm Ross’ jagged guitar and Russell Burn’s driving rhythm on the drums carry the song along. To our delight, we find that the relationship between the bard and other contemporary musicians is a strong one – ‘Lang Lang the Night – Panic in Detroit’ turns out to be a collaboration with Burns and Bowie.

Who the heck are the Bum-clocks anyway? And what is a Bum-clock? Here is the definition: A humming beetle, that flies in the summer evenings. (from Jamieson’s Scottish Dictionary -Edinburgh 1867). “So we are the Scottish Beetles” declares Tam – boom boom! All the band members have strong credentials in the Scottish alternative music scene of the 70’s and 80’s. Tam and Russell playing in the Dirty Reds and the Fire Engines, whilst Malcolm is an ex-member of Josef K and Orange Juice (Remember “Rip it Up and Start Again”?)

The band have been supported in their musical and poetic venture by the Scottish Arts Council as part of the Homecoming Celebrations. And what a brilliant way to weave together a simultaneous tribute to Burns and the godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop! No tired tartan formulas here but creative, genuinely poetic, entertaining and very, very funny . Thanks to the Bum-clocks for gracing the stage at Letham Nights.

Now over to Roy for the Luva Anna review….

Whilst sorting out the music for the Dundee College fashion show in June, Claire handed me a CD that one of her students had submitted for review and asked me what I thought. I popped it in my HiFi and within two tracks we knew that the answer was a no for the Fashion Show but an absolute, indisputable YES for Letham Nights. A wee bit of ‘tinternet trawling confirmed my suspicions. This is a young band with a unique sound and exuberance that most established stars would kill for. Finalists in the Channel 4 “Orange Unsigned Acts” show, playing 200 gigs over the last two years, they played festivals like T in the Park, the Wickerman, Rock Ness, and Connect. They also supported The View on the Acadamy Tour. Busy boy’s indeed.
It took a bit of ducking and diving to find suitable dates as they and Letham Nights have full books for some months ahead.

That date was the 28th November and I will remember what I did on this momentous night for, well, a very long time….

The set started with Sea Shanty, a fabulous four part vocal harmony with a folky twist, seamlessly moving into Hold On, an amazing vocal delivery from Dave Webster reminiscent of both the Buckleys, Jeff and father Tim. Truly goose bump stuff.
They then fired into a set of rhythm, pace, subtlety and harmony. Delivering each sonic ingredient with power and charm, catchy melodies and solid riffs, they played songs from the self titled Luva Anna and Made Without Compromise CD’s. Amongst Coma Girl, Dumba Dumba, Angry Fat Bouncer, Sober, The ballad of Boaby Smith, Arthur McBush, Bonny Little Girl and Granton on Spey they dropped in a few new numbers like Time to Laugh and Postcards.
Dave and Drewboy Gray shared the main vocals and Guitar parts, Robbie Ward on bass, bouzouki and bass pedals (the latter two, simultaneously), and Billy Fisher’s fantastic percussion. Superb musicians and vocalists, one and all.

Almost two hours later we were all wondering two things, why is the band not totally massive and where are they playing next? I’m not sure but I’m told that all the CD’s for sale were snapped up within 10 minutes of the gig ending.

Once again Geoff the PA man supplied us with superb sound for the gig. The “Clap and Tipple” provided the bar, keeping the thirsty crowd suitably quenched with a fine selection of organic, local and fair trade beverages and buxom serving wenches.

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