Good to see several Avalanche favourites are making an appearance during the Festival. Dan Willson and his band Withered Hand has spent the last decade establishing himself as one of the key artists to have come out of Scotland in that time and headlines today at Summerhall as NEHH (Nothing Ever Happens Here) teams up with Made in Scotland to showcase Scottish talent.
NEHH was founded as an answer to the oft-repeated statement that Glasgow was the place where everything happened and is curated by Jamie Sutherland who as a member of Broken Records, one of the more successful bands to come out of Edinburgh in recent times, knows that Edinburgh has held its own now for many years despite undoubtedly struggling with attracting touring artists to its venues.
Hardly a new talent but certainly not yet a veteran, Dan has already produced two albums that both stand out in what is quite a crowded arena of singer songwriters and he has been helped I think by having some very talented contemporaries in artists like Neil Pennycook of Meursault, Rob St John and Emily Scott.
Others of course such as King Creosote and James Yorkston have benefitted from being on the big indie label Domino Records, home of the Arctic Monkeys, Frightened Rabbit have fulfilled all expectations after signing to the major Atlantic Records and The Twilight Sad have recently returned from a world tour with The Cure.
Dan meanwhile has successfully toured Europe, played and had his albums released in America and even made it to New Zealand and with the right support and label will surely have great success in the future.
Those who have not seen Withered Hand before can judge for themselves tonight when he is joined by Iklan and Lost Map signings Savage Mansion.
The aforementioned Rob St John and Emily Scott themselves appear during the Festival having joined forces in a new band Modern Studies. Recently announced as signing to Fire Records who will rerelease their first album Swell to Great they are already showcasing songs from their second album in three performances from tomorrow, August 20 to Tuesday, August 22 at Stockbridge Church.
Sounding: Modern Studies and Lomond Campbell With the Pumpkinseeds Chamber Orchestra is an ambitious project funded as part of the Made in Scotland series of events.
“Two of Scotland’s most critically acclaimed new acts present their unique brand of pastoral and lyrical pop, enhanced by intricate arrangements for the renowned Pumpkinseeds strings, brass and voices, in a spectacle of contemporary indie talent,” says the blurb.
While describing them as new acts may be stretching the point – Lomond Campbell is Ziggy Campbell who has been plying his trade for more than a decade since his days with FOUND – certainly these are new ventures and well worth investigating. Emily, I should add, is not only a very talented multi-instrumentalist but also bakes a mean cake as I know well from when Avalanche in the Grassmarket also offered coffee. As with the Withered Hand gig, the good thing is that with so much on offer during the Festival events like this that would normally sell out straight away do have tickets available though both events already have strong sales and certainly booking in advance is advisable.
Withered Hand, Iklan and Savage Mansion appear in the Dissection Room at Summerhall tonight, starts 7pm. Tickets from https://www.tickx.co.uk/event/659388/withered-hand-iklan-savage-mansion/
Sounding is on at Stockbridge Church from August 20-22. Tickets from www.edfringe.com
Growing pains make band apart
I am slightly concerned in recommending both these events that as I have pointed out all the artists are well-established if not household names and while certainly having paid their dues and deserving to be showcased at one of the world’s premier festivals it might be a thought for the future to give younger talent a chance too.
Having said that, followers on Twitter will know I have been looking to recommend new artists for some time and have listened extensively to anything suggested to me. While it might be no surprise that those who sound at best like a good school band are often a good school band and those who show a little more promise are older it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.
Many of the Scottish post-punk bands that have received renewed interest in the light of recent documentaries were no more than teenagers and often school friends when they started and they produced some great music that still stands up today. Hanging around shops and sneaking into gigs does seem to have been more beneficial than today’s networking workshops!
The Tweet smell of success about Harry
Staying on the music and Festival theme I’ve heard good things about Harry on at Underbelly in the Cowgate until the 27th. Harry is indeed Harry Styles and is the story of two university students’ obsession with the band One Direction. It is billed as “a play about friendship and fandom, exploring the impact on young people of a celebrity-obsessed, Twitter-fuelled culture where fantasy and reality are dangerously close”.
When it was mentioned to me it rang a bell and then I realised it had actually appeared in my own Twitter feed as Caitlin McEwan who wrote and appears in the play is the daughter of Alan McEwan, best known in music circles for the seminal Deadbeat fanzine that had featured in the recent The Only Fun In Town” exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery.
Clearly writing and music and writing about music runs in the family!
Harry is on at Underbelly Cowgate at 12.20pm until August 27. Tickets from www.edfringe.com