• fridayiminlove

A covers set full of variety, performed in a powerful and intense way by Andrea Triscornia, at the pub reminiscent of an older era, the Rose & Crown on Edinburgh's cobblestoned street, Rose Street.



"Then, as Andrea sang on, his voice became deeper, more intense. Darker, more melancholic, too, with gravelly vibes that recalled the fact that Andrea works on grunge music for himself. His voice, as it was darker and more melancholic, especially suited his rendition of 'Wicked Game' by Chris Isaac, as he sang, with depth and intensity, 'the world was on fire and no one could save me but you.'"

On Friday, 18 February, 2022, I got out of an Uber and turned onto Rose Street. Guarded against the rain by the umbrella that I held, I went down the pedestrian street in a bit of a rush, passing quickly upon the wet, shining cobblestones by the charming little pubs along the way to the classic pub, The Rose & Crown, where I would be seeing Andrea Triscornia play.

I was running late, to review his show, so I did not have the time, as I usually might, to look around me at the charming street in the centre of Edinburgh, where, at night, one feels like they have gone back in time, with the windows of the mostly-old-fashioned pubs on either side all fogged up, and the lights around are dim, and the street is emptied of the usual traffic of the city, taken up only by the people when they reemerge from the pubs and out back onto the cobblestones. The atmosphere resembling a scene belonging more to a Sherlock Holmes story or to the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, than to the modern day.

(It’s worth noting, by the way, that both these authors have connections to Edinburgh, which turns into even more of a setting for a gothic fairytale to take place in when the haar, a thick fog from the sea, takes over. But I digress.)


If I could have, that night, I would have used the power of time travel to take a little detour back in time, maybe have some drinks with locals back in the day when Deacon Brody (the inspiration for the Jekyll/Hyde character, by the way) was still around and up for a party. But then, I would have used time travel to return back to the present day in 2022, to arrive about 10 minutes earlier than I actually had.


For I arrived into the Rose & Crown in a flustered rush. I found a table, fortunately, right in front of where Andrea was playing Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” waved a small hello, put down my things to reserve the perfect seat for taking in his music. Then I rushed to the bar, ordered a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and returned to sit down.


I asked Andrea, when he paused during his set, how many songs I had missed. Just three or so. Not too bad. I pulled out my notebook. I pulled out my pen. And I began to take notes as I listened to his music.

*


Andrea’s show wasn’t your usual pub covers show. Sure, people were drinking and chatting as he played, but the music was original—he put his own spin on it. The sound of his guitar was clean and bright, and his voice, by contrast, was strong, with a darker, yet gentle, tone to it.


The songs he played, they included a great variety. After the Simon & Garfunkel tune, he played a sailor song. This went along well with the environment of the Rose & Crown pub itself, with was old-fashioned. With its exterior all grand and painted black, with its name in gold lettering, and its interior, with its long wooden bar, wooden tables and chairs to match, low lighting, accents of dark green, and the green moulded ceiling—and, of course, the large windows that look out onto the cobblestoned street, which you can look through to see passersby.

As Andrea continued to play folky tunes, the Rose & Crown felt like an old pub that’s been there forever. Where locals might go for a pint, to catch up like they have been every weekend for the entirety of their lives, generation after generation. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that, according to the Edinburgh Pubs blog, this used to be “almost [an] old man pub.”

But Andrea did not only stick to older tunes. He went on to play much more, including “Something Like Olivia” by John Mayer, a more contemporary tune, and then some classics from a variety of time periods: Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” Eric Clapton’s version of “Layla,” and the classic love song, “Fly Me To The Moon.” Then, back to John Mayer with “Can’t Get Stoned.”

Then the music changed again, as Andrea went on to play nineties tunes, including a Hootie & the Blowfish song, really bringing me back!

Then, as Andrea sang on, his voice became deeper, more intense. Darker, more melancholic, too, with gravelly vibes that recalled the fact that Andrea works on grunge music for himself. His voice, as it was darker and more melancholic, especially suited his rendition of “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac, as he sang, with depth and intensity, “the world was on fire and no one could save me but you.”

After this late eighties tune, Andrea went on to play many songs from the nineties, including the throwback, “Time Of Your Life” by Green Day. As he performed many of these songs, he played in a very nineties rock kind of style, his voice reminding me a bit of Chad Kroeger’s of Nickelback, with its power and gritty sound. (I promise that this is a good thing! I know that some people are not huge fans of Nickelback, but this was the only example I could come with as I’m not super-familiar with rock singers from that time—and there may be others that he sounds like, too, but this is just an attempt to illustrate Andrea’s voice as best I can, when he’s being rocky and making it intense and strong.)

During this first half, even though he played these nineties tunes, Andrea still mixed things up—for example, when he played “Mrs. Robinson,” returning to Simon & Garfunkel.

Halfway through the night of music, there was a break, and when Andrea returned to stage, he played a combination of nineties songs and crowd-pleasing tunes. There was a great amount of variety this time around, too.

As he played “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles, the vibe of the music was a little more country. As he performed this song, his guitar skills shone, as he played in a cool way, having fun as he focused on the rhythm that energised the song.

Then, he went back to the nineties, playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge,” and then he played some more tunes from different times—Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It?,” Elton John’s, “Your Song,” Disturbed’s version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.”

Somewhere during this second half of his show, after I’d asked him during the break, Andrea also let me get on stage while I sang some songs and he played guitar. I got them from a list of songs he showed me, and the songs I sang had some variety, too: Amy Winehouse’s version of “Valerie,” the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” and Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”


By the end of the show, Andrea really got into songs people in the pub could sing along to. “I Want to Break Free” by Queen, “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival…and then, after everyone chanted the usual, “One more tune! One more tune! One more tune!” he played Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).”

*


When I spoke with Andrea, during the break between his sets, I asked him some questions regarding his set and more. This interview began with me finding out that this set he played at the Rose & Crown was one that used to occur once a week—that is, until the COVID-19 Pandemic began. Now that he was playing the set at the Rose & Crown again, he wasn’t doing it as regularly anymore.


As for his musical influences, when I asked him about them, Andrea answered, “A lot of grunge and a lot of pop…like, old pop. Sort of like Toto and Elton John…mainly old rock and blues.”


Well, the grunge influence, it was certainly apparent to me. This could be experienced, I felt, especially in his voice, which would become low and intense, with these features of it heightening as the show went on.


As for the answer to the question, “What does Friday mean to you?”—the answer of which I attempt to answer at the end of each of my blog posts for FridayImInLove—Andrea had this to say:

“Friday. Ooh. That’s a weird question. I don’t know, it’s the start of the weekend. It can be fun. It can be stressful. But mostly fun.”


Want to find Andrea Triscornia online? Check out his music Facebook page here and his music Instagram account here. As for the Rose & Crown, if you’re interested in going there for your drink of choice or music (or both, at once!), you can check out their Facebook page here.

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Updated: Mar 25

An eclectic mix of jazzy, folk, indie, and a mix of genres at The Jazz Bar. After a classic jazz swing start, a nineties indie sound was a big part of this Friday night experience, as was an experimental vibe that took over by the end of the showcase.


[At The Jazz Bar], the music, it overtakes you, and the people who are sitting at the tables, the crowd on the dance floor, and those who are ordering and standing with drinks at the bar, and those who get as close as they can to the band, to the sound of jazz, or blues, or funk—or of an acoustic guitar and a singer, if it is the beginning of the evening and the musical entertainment is just getting started."

On Friday, 4 February, 2022, I found myself, yet again, at The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh. I showed up early, nearly an hour before the official start of the show I would be reviewing that evening, The Half Moon Medicine Showcase, a show containing a variety of musicians to kick off the weekend at this celebrated musical haunt.

I have described The Jazz Bar before in this blog, but that was years ago, and it is worth doing again—and so, here it is, a description of this place that is so close to my heart.


In the centre of the city, on Chambers Street—with the imposing buildings of the National Museum of Scotland, Talbot Rice Gallery, and the Edinburgh Law School on the opposite side of the street—and the bustling street of South Bridge just on the corner nearby, there is a recessed, unassuming black door, above which, in white letters, is spelled out what awaits if you walk through: “jazz”.


There is a sign above the door detailing what one might expect from The Jazz Bar, the acoustic and blues and funk and jazz, and that advertises that the place is open seven nights a week, with a bar open until 3.

There’s another sign just next to the door, which displays its name, with a shuttered red front upon which a trumpet is spray-painted just below it.


And yet, even these larger signs and displays are ones someone might walk by in broad daylight and not realise that one of Edinburgh’s best music venues is hidden right there in front of their eyes. It is only late at night, when the students start to queue to get in and the smokers huddle outside in the cold, that one would walk by and think, “Wait a minute—what’s that place?”


That place—it’s a place where, once you walk through those unassuming doors, you go down the stairs into the basement, into the dark lit up by candles on the tables and by the gleam of the onstage lights as they shine upon the players and then back toward those who watch, as that very shine is reflected off the instruments.


And the music, it overtakes you, and the people who are sitting at the tables, the crowd on the dance floor, and those who are ordering and standing with drinks at the bar, and those who get as close as they can to the band, to the sound of jazz, or blues, or funk—or of an acoustic guitar and a singer, if it is the beginning of the evening and the musical entertainment is just getting started.

*


As I mentioned, I arrived early that night, on 4 February 2022. Early not only for The Half Moon Medicine Showcase, but also for The Jazz Bar itself. There were no musicians yet onstage, the sound guy was checking everything, and slowly, as I sipped my port and tonic seated with a friend who sipped her cider, the musicians slowly began to filter in and set up.


And then, around 6:30 p.m., the Half Moon Medicine Showcase began.

That night, the usual host wasn’t able to be there. In her stead was Dr Dirk Ronnenburg, and he started off the music of the evening with a group of musicians who, as they played, made me feel like I was in Paris, at a bohemian jazz cafe down in a cellar where I had gone back in time.

They played jazzy, swingy music, the songs familiar and old-fashioned. Some mysterious, as if they belonged in the soundtrack to a murder mystery set in a foreign European country; others, “cheerful Friday tunes” as described by Dirk; others, love songs.

The players—on the electric guitar, violin, bass, drums—would take turns at solos, showing off their skills and having fun with the tunes. It was the perfect start to the evening, with music that made you want to dance a bit in your seat, that was welcoming, that was fun.

It was a mix of musicians from different bands, but some of the band members made up Edinburgh-based hot string jazz band, Viper Swing. You can learn more about them and check out their music on their website here.

*


After the set, Dirk went on to introduce the next performer: Maud the Moth. She sat down at the piano, and immediately began to play and sing, performing songs that were ethereal, mystical, slow and moody.

Her voice, it sounded all at once operatic and whispy, and the piano, it made one feel as if we were on a merry-go-round, or a music box, perhaps, with the way it led us around and around, from one emotion to another until it would return to the ones with which the songs had begun.


There was also a bit of an indie, experimental vibe to her songs.


With all these elements combined, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Tori Amos. This created a 90 indies vibe in the room, which would continue—though I did not know it at the time—with the next performer, too.

I spoke with Maud the Moth a bit about her music, to learn a bit about her influences and style. I learned that she had started out as a classical musician, introduced to music by her grandfather, an amazing singer who loved traditional Spanish music.


As she became more “[her] own self” as a musician, she began to be interested in grunge and metal, the dark underground music scene both in Spain (from where she hails) and the UK.


Two specific influences she cites are Fiona Apple and Tori Amos. She explained to me that it wasn’t just in terms of style that they influenced her, but also because they gave her the opportunity to “see a woman on stage doing their own thing.”


You can find Maud the moth on Facebook to learn about gigs and more, find her website here, and her music on Bandcamp and on Spotify.


*


The next people to go onstage were Susanna Orr Holland and Cristiano Mantovanelli. The nineties indie vibe continued as Susanna sang and played her guitar and Cristiano played the drums. Her songs were spiritual, including “The Guesthouse,” a song inspired by Rumi, about the different people who come in and out of our lives throughout the mystery that is human existence.


It was an indie-folk experience, one that reminded me, in terms of genre, of Joanna Newsom. Poetic lyrics, a folky sound, lyrics that were pensive and that added an authentic depth to the music.


Susanna’s voice was a bit on the deeper side, however, reminding me a bit of Natalie Merchant.


Specifically, I can’t help thinking of Natalie Merchant’s “Carnival”, which is a bit dreamy, and winding, whilst still anchored by the sound of the drums—and reflective, too, and comparing life to a carnival—as having a similar vibe to what Susanna was doing.


And that anchoring of drums, it was something that Cristiano Mantovanelli did incredibly well. These songs, which were cosmic at times with how spiritual they were, kept us in the audience from floating away completely, for his drumming, calm and steady, kept us grounded.


Nearing the end of the set, Susanna sat down and, instead of playing the guitar, played the Indian harmonium, which looked to me like a portable organ, or perhaps a sit-down version of a bandoneon.


And here, we were transported by the steadiness of the song. She pumped the instrument back and forth, playing the notes at a moderate pace as she sang. This time, she sang slow, exploring where the music took her, as if her voice were being carried on its current, and then floating off of it onto the breeze.

In the end, Dirk returned to the stage with his violin, adding his own sound to the music.


When I spoke later that night with Susanna and Cristiano, I asked them a bit about their influences. For Susanna, one of her biggest influences was the band Dead Can Dance. As for Cristiano, it was the drummers Stewart Copeland (of The Police) and Gavin Harrison (of Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, and The Pineapple Thief).

You can find Susanna Orr Holland’s Facebook page here, and her music is available on Apple Music and Spotify.

*


Suddenly, after a break for the band to set up, a crazy thing happened at The Jazz Bar. Suddenly, standing upon the bar, there was the lead singer, Dominic, of the band Dominic Waxing Lyrical. He was reciting words to us, setting up what would be an incredible last part of the Half Moon Medicine Showcase.

He continued to speak, poetically and loudly, as if he were leading us into the music or perhaps toward something, like a captain leading his troops to war.

But there was nothing warlike about Dominic Waxing Lyrical, other than, perhaps, the intensity with which the band, led by Dominic, played.


Once Dominic was there upon the stage, the band—made up of Dominic on vocals and guitar (and a couple of additional instruments), a double-bass player who started off the first song playing the mandolin, and a drummer—began to play.


With only three people in the band, what followed was a great surprise: for the music of Dominic Waxing Lyrical was great, it was grand. It was complex, experimental, dark yet dreamy—and incredibly strange. Notes I took as I listened included, “smart, funny, poetic, sad.” I also wrote “eccentric AF /// madness” and “David Bowie vibes?” regarding the originality, experimentality, and strangeness I felt was all occurring as a result of the band playing on stage. I also wrote, “cinematic, dramatic.” The combination of the original-sounding music and the lyrics—lyrical, indeed—were what resulted in the sound that is the sound of Dominic Waxing Lyrical.


The music of Dominic Waxing Lyrical, it was so unique that it is impossible. It was nearly sui generis. “Of its own kind,” as this Latin term literally means. This said, I will do my best to describe it here, by focusing on a song they played and exploring how it worked—after which I’ll write about artists that I find comparable, and the artists that Dominic told me, later on, influenced him.

It is “Laika” which I’ll describe in this review. It was one of the first songs the band played, and it had a great impact on me, this song about the dog, Laika, who was sent into space in Sputnik 2 and tragically died. (An unsurprising, cruel tragedy, as there was not much thought put into ensuring her survival.)


It was a simple song, instrumentally, with the loudest sounds coming from the double-bass strumming and the powerful voice of Dominic, which was at all at once low and delicate and knowing, singing in a melancholic melody lyrics such as:

“Who do you love?/ I love the clouds/ And the craziness of astronauts/ Think of a dog, flying alone/ Into outer space/ Without so much as a bone”


That last phrase—“without so much as a bone”—could seem callous, given the humour in the line, but it was dark humour that Dominic employed, which is so useful in situations that are so cruel or horrifying that the only option is to joke about them.


Combined with the beautiful, spare music, this song was, to me, a song about the tragedy of Laika’s death, yes, but also about great expanses. The great expanse that is existence when one is alive (even if that is the life of a dog), the great expanse of the universe in all its mystery, and the great expanse that is cruelty—how cruel we can be. And then, of course, the great expanse that is human emotion, which is part, I suppose, of the great expanse that is existence. And a reaction to the great expanse that is cruelty, for suffering is one of the greatest human emotions.

This was my takeaway, anyway, from the song. Someone else might have another reaction. But what I mean to bring to attention here in this review is just how much complexity, beauty, strangeness, and humour, there is in the original, interesting music of Dominic Waxing Lyrical.

It’s important to note, too, that at times his lyrics were also at times irreverent, at times cheeky. At a certain moment, he sang, “I should have asked you beforehand, but I knew what the answer was gonna be.” At another, he sang, “When I’m hot for you, I’ll reach out to you.”

In terms of sound, the music was highly experimental yet fun. It was pensive yet playful. Sometimes stripped back, at other times, weird, crazy instruments were added in. The double-bass player would sometimes pluck the strings, sometimes play it with the bow. And yet it wasn’t all over the place; everything felt it belonged to the vibe of the band.

In terms of comparisons, here’s what I’ve come up with. There was a bit of a punk rock vibe in some of the faster songs; I noted something similar to the aggressive, experimental vibe of Fiona Apple’s “Under the Table” in the bare, intense song, “Delilah”; in some of the songs that had fun, playful melodies, I thought of The Shins and Belle & Sebastian.

As for Dominic’s voice, I’ve thought for quite a while about what comparison I might be able to make, and the closest I could come up with was David Byrne of the Talking Heads. In terms of voice and sensibility, “Once in a Lifetime” could be seen as a pretty good comparison. Especially when Dominic sang about interest rates.

And yet, there is a softness, a sweetness to Dominic’s voice that differentiates it from the strength of Byrne’s—when he makes himself vulnerable at moments, which adds to the lyricism of his lyrics when it comes. Though, even then, is this part of the humour? Is he being sincere, or is there something tongue-in-cheek about the sentimentality? Well, just like one might at a loud pub, talking to a person they’ve just met, exchanging remarks that might be sarcastic or might be earnest, perhaps the meaning is in this mystery. Almost like the Schrödinger’s cat of meaning—if you significantly simplify and change the thought experiment to be about song lyrics and what they might mean instead of life and death and quantum theory and a random subatomic event and the cat, of course.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here, and going dangerously into the territory of getting into animal death in this review yet again.


So instead I’ll cover the last bit of what I promised to, which was what Dominic said his influences are. When I asked him, The Go-Betweens—an Australian band mostly active in the eighties—was one of his influences. Another influence was the Violent Femmes.

From my limited listening of The Go-Betweens, I can see that their songs are beautiful, questioning, and existential. And of my (also) limited listening of the Violent Femmes, I can see that they are humorous, playful, dark, and strange. So it makes sense that these are both big influences on Dominic Waxing Lyrical.

I also asked Dominic, as well as the other artists, what Friday meant to them—as I always do for this blog. Often, musicians will answer something along the lines of “work,” or “music creating,” or, if they like to party, might say something regarding how they like to party, such, “Friday means Bucky.”


Dominic’s answer, like his lyrics, was different. He answered, “It doesn’t mean anything to me…Go out on Wednesday,” and went on to explain the challenge of going out if one starts the process of going out on a Friday night.


You can find Dominic Waxing Lyrical’s Facebook page here, and their music on YouTube and Spotify.

As for The Jazz Bar, you can find out about the music played there on their “What’s On” page here.

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  • fridayiminlove

Updated: Feb 10

A rock 'n' roll journey on a Friday night, full of a rocky, country sound that took twists and turns with adventurous, lengthy solos. The Moanin' Bones, a cover band with an edge, provides a musical experience that is the perfect start to the weekend.


The Moanin’ Bones had a sound that was entirely theirs. One that was rocky, and electric, and playful, with a bit of an attitude that gave the sound bite and power, especially as the night went on and things became even more rock ’n’ roll."

That Friday night, on the chilly 21st of January just before 10 PM, I climbed out of an Uber with a friend of mine to see The Moanin’ Bones playing at Stramash. We emerged, steps away from the venue, in the beating heart of Cowgate, one of my favourite areas of Edinburgh. The bridges of the city above us, the stone buildings on either side, rising far up above that lower level of Edinburgh—combined with the fact that it is a place where nightlife, revelry, and music often converge—made this neighbourhood, as it must be for many, have a nature that felt all at once enchanting and mysterious. A place where, who knows what or whom you might see, where you might end up, what might happen.

So what better place, then, to experience music, amongst others out on a Friday night? With everyone feeling optimistic with the recent arrival of the new year and the knowledge that, soon, everything would be opening up again?

There were still reminders of the pandemic, of course. We had to wait longer than we might out in the cold because of spacing limitations, and when a table finally became free, we were wearing our masks as we walked toward it. It would be table service that evening—which meant no dancing. On the dance floor, anyway.

And yet, that night, we would have an incredible time. We would be swept away in the set, made up of songs both familiar and new, that The Moanin’ Bones played. Taking us on a journey, a time travel journey, through the tunes of rock ’n’ roll.

*

The journey that The Moanin’ Bones took us on was one that began, as they played the first song, J.J. Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze,” a country-esque rock song about freedom and being out on the road. With the strong Americana vibes, it felt like we were in a rock bar in the US.

The type of place where one might drink a bourbon in the middle of the night at a local watering hole whilst on a road trip along Route 66.

Right from the very start, the performance was incredibly strong, with the songs being played in such a professional way that they were easy to dance and sing along to. As if I had known them all my life, even if it was the first time I had been hearing them.

But The Moanin’ Bones is not just a cover band; they added, through their particular bluesy, country, rocky sound and the solos that they played from the start and very much owned, their own vibe, their own feeling, to the songs they were covering.


As a result—whether they were playing a song by The Beatles or one that had more of a country-rock vibe—The Moanin’ Bones had a sound that was entirely theirs. One that was rocky, and electric, and playful, with a bit of an attitude that gave the sound bite and power, especially as the night went on and things became even more rock ’n’ roll.

Some tunes played during the first half of the show included “Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bertha” by the Grateful Dead, “Easy Ride” by Relatively Clean Rivers, “It’s All Over Now” by The Rolling Stones—and so many more.

With each tune, the band managed to have such an original rocky, cool, fun sound that it pervaded no matter what song they were playing.

But what made the night so enjoyable was that, with such a varied set list, it felt that the rock ’n’ roll journey we were on take us to so many different places. Sometimes, we were at that roadside bar off Route 66 we started off at; other times, we were on the road itself, heading somewhere; other times, we were deep in the bayou, the fog lifting from the water around us.

It was a powerful experience, to be in Stramash that night, going on such a journey to different times and places through the music that transported us.

And it was an experience that got even better in the second half of the show. It was as if the band was saving the best for last. After the half hour-ish break between sets, our rock ’n’ roll journey took on even more power, more speed. It became more adventurous, too, as the band members had more fun with their solos, going on for a long time, taking twists and turns. During their solos, they also vibed off of each other, too, one band member picking up where the last had left off, which meant that the audience could continue to enjoy the tune in a new, surprising, exciting way.

The second half of the show, it was a real rock ’n’ roll dream. Starting off with the retro tune, Chuck Berry’s “Never Can Tell”—a nod to the beginning of the genre of rock—they moved onto other highly danceable, fun, classic rock ’n’ roll tunes.

These included “It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)” by The Rolling Stones, “Reelin’ in the Years” by Steely Dan, “Good Times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin, and so many more.

In this rock ’n’ roll dream, the music lifted us, as we danced in our seats as best we could, as we sang along, as we felt the energy of the night taking over, a night where things felt so much more optimistic than they had in a long time.

With those long solos, with the drumming that seemed to go on forever, one familiar, fun song played one after the other, we were able to stay longer in the heights the music took us to, forgetting so much of what had been difficult about the pandemic and feeling hopeful about what fun life might have for us.

It was exactly the right time for such feelings. That Friday, it was the last weekend that there would be restrictions in Scotland, and we were all celebrating a return, or perhaps an arrival, into a different type of reality, one full of music, of energy, of the unbridled joy that comes from celebrating life.

It was a thrill to be able to set it to music, that feeling of things finally changing, improving. Of us feeling free again, the same way one might whilst traveling, in an old American movie, along Route 66.

*

After the show and after the band, I went outside with the frontman of the band, Chris Buckley, to ask him a few questions about the band and the set and what it was like to perform at Stramash. We found a quiet place to talk, which, though it was only a few steps away from the venue, was a far cry from the noisy nightlife-filled street that was Cowgate. It was silent and still, this little alcove-like street, the way that so many of Edinburgh’s many small, hidden streets are. And it was there, surrounded by the tall, time-worn, stone walls of the buildings that rose high above us, that I learned a bit more about The Moanin’ Bones.

What I learned—or, more accurately, what was confirmed to me—was that The Moanin’ Bones was no ordinary cover band.

In fact, Chris explained that their aim was to put together an “alternative set of retro covers,” songs that people don’t get to hear that often, songs that, simply, are “not played.”

Additionally, the idea was to choose “challenging numbers,” which was something that would certainly explain just how powerful and impressive the music had been, with all its complexity, tight performances, and lengthy solos that had made the show so enjoyable to experience as an audience member.

I also learned, from talking to Chris, that he and the rest of the band members of The Moanin’ Bones had used the lockdown as a time during which they could rehearse and keep adding songs to their repertoire.

This would explain the impressive performances, too, with Chris on rhythm guitar and vocals, Alex Rey on lead guitar and vocals, Ryan Bonnyman on bass and vocals, Gian Paolo on the drums, and Nicholas Franck on the keys and vocals.

As for playing at Stramash, Chris described it as a “great” space, and that he “couldn’t ask for more of a venue.” It had everything a musician would want, with a proper stage and great facilities backstage.

I also asked Chris, as I always ask the musicians I review, what Friday meant to him. His first answer was, “Work”—which makes sense, considering that he works as a musician for a living. But when I pushed him for an answer that was a little more fun, a little more rock ’n’ roll, he answered, “Binkies.”

As in, Whistlebinkies, the Edinburgh venue where Chris often performs, and also runs the open mic where I first met him. That place might be considered his workplace, too, but it also could be considered—as many music venues are for musicians—his home away from home.

After the interview, we went back in, him back to where he had been drinking, me back to where I had been. Another friend had joined our table at this point, and another band was on the list of entertainment for the evening at Stramash. Energised and optimistic after having gone on the journey The Moanin’ Bones had taken us on, we felt, for the first time in so long, the power of a Friday night of which we did not know the ending—and which we hoped, with the kind of magical thinking that occurs during such a beginning to the weekend, that it never would end.


Interested in learning more about The Moanin' Bones? You can check out their Facebook account to learn about upcoming gigs or to get in touch, or their Instagram here. If you want to find out more about future gigs at Stramash, find out on their website here.

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