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(A) 2 out of 74
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Acoustic mayhem (page 90)
Drams 0 - but it was so hot you needed as much liquid as possible!
Music A new alternative acoustic category – “mutant bog, swamp and concrete”
Musicians Lee Paterson; Scott MacDonald; Dave Arcari
Venue C (Venue 34)
Address 1/4rm @ Greenside (Sub-Sanc)
Reviewer Julian Davis – Sat 14 Aug
Lee Paterson; Scott MacDonald; Dave Arcari

Acoustic Mayhem brings together three of Scotland’s finest and most dynamic singer/songwriters in the wake of a very successful 9-date Scottish tour earlier this year. Separately, they are Perth’s Radiotones frontman and Music News’ scary man, Dave Arcari, Edinburgh’s singer-songwriter and angry young man, Lee Patterson, and providing some semblance of peace and normality amongst all the mayhem was Glasgow’s Scott MacDonald. That being said, when all three combined together on stage you get one rip-roaring uncompromising heavy bog-swamp sound. Even the Monkees’ I’m a Believer fell victim to this disintegration blues style.

This was one of the biggest pleasures and privileges I’ve had during this festival - to review an act in which two of its component performers were launching albums. After the initial introduction to all three, they broke for solo spots.

Dave took centre stage and immediately launched into Dreamt I was 100. the first track from his new EP Blue country steel. and continued to assault us with his gravelly-voiced smoky steel bottle-neck blues. There was a mix of finger picking and slide guitar and this was augmented by stamping and strutting around the stage to give this one-man wall of sound his element of percussion. At one point in the show, he played a country and western number (if anyone could have recognised it) and challenged anyone to come down the front and line dance to it. All this was done with supreme energetic effort – this guy has got real stage presence!

Scott’s performances were, in stark contrast, gentler, melodic and cool. With harmonica harnessed, he presented a mix of up tempo protest songs with left leg wildly pumping to beat, gentle “woolly” Donovan style songs like Waiting for the sun from his Where travellers go album, to a Dylanesque The years go by. He sings about This old town in a West Coast (of Scotland) folk-rock number and an observation of the Travelling Folk. The calm before the storm.

And then Lee comes on stage to shake us out of our complacency. Lee is accompanied by guitar, or a tambourine assault on the microphone stand, a bodhran or just his voice – he is just as effective with whichever he uses. Many of his songs are social comments on ways of life and responses from around Edinburgh. This is superbly illustrated in Wasting Time from his new album Razum Frazum which is a response to life in the more socially deprived areas. There are lighter songs like the one about man’s best friend – his barmaid (unless of course he is married, and then it’s his wife!). Working man is a comment on being made redundant a couple of years back and is dedicated to his old bosses and others of illegitimate descent. But the most poignant song for me was Human Suit inspired by the post-Dunblane situation of going to pick his youngest son from nursery in the pouring rain and without a coat, only to find the nursery gates locked.

Separately these guys are talented singer-songwriters and performers in their own right. Together, in their own version of an MTV unplugged concert, they are electric! Unfortunately and regrettably I only managed to catch up with them on the last night of their tour. I’m not sure on their future plans but if they are performing anywhere near you, go and experience this enigmatic blend of music. It may leave you panting for breath or black and blue from the acoustic assault, but one thing you won’t be able to do is sit in a corner with a pint and ignore them!

© Julian Davis. 15 August 2004. Published on www.edinburghguide.com See also www.acousticmayhem.co.uk

Run 6 – 14th August 2004


Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham (Page 90)
Drams 0
Music Their own and some Scots traditional music
Musicians JAly Bain (fiddle) and Phil Cumminham (accordion)
Venue Queen's Hall
Address Clerk Street
Reviewer Mark Meredith

I promise, promise, promise I will never call an accordion a “squeeze box” ever again. To hear and watch Phil Cunningham was a revelation as he turned the instrument into a flaming orchestra bless him. The show with Ali Bain at the Queens Hall might have been called traditional music but it wasn’t really as many of the tunes were refreshingly recent numbers written by Cunningham starting with a luxuriously sad and unnamed air (“in F” Phil informed us) followed by Sarah’s Song written on the back of table napkin but sounding like romantic feast and a song for his brother.

Ali Bain never disappoints. Every phrase effortlessly turned on his fiddle as he moved seamlessly between styles: correctness from a piper’s composition to laid-back North American.

These two mix like gin and tonic and a good line of banter made for a great evening: an essential event at every Edinburgh Festival.

© Mark Meredith 28 August 2004. Published on www.edinburghguide.co.uk

Run 27 and 28 August 2004


(A) 2 out of 74
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