Rose Room

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Gyspy swing quartet kick off Falkirk Live!
With a barnstorming gig five out of five

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As the CEO of Tesco said to his disgruntled counterpart at Unilever earlier in the week: I don’t do labels. The terms “gypsy”, “swing” and “jazz” have been used many a time and oft to describe the Glasgow-based quartet which opened the three-day Falkirk Live! music festival at The Faw Kirk aka The Trinity Church in the heart of the town. But as lead guitarist Tom “flight of the bumble bee” Watson said of Chinatown, My Chinatown by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Jean Schwartz and William Jerome, the year in which it was written is up for debate, but “all that matters is that it was written”. Continue reading

Ali Affleck and The Copper Cats

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Alison Affleck and The Copper Cats
Raised the roof with Louis, Billie and Fats

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After Rose Room’s barnstorming performance at The Faw Kirk on the opening night of the inaugural three-day Falkirk Live! music festival by Jazz Scotland and Falkirk Cultural Trust, Dundonian exponent of vintage jazz with a well-travelled drawl Ali Affleck and her quintet of distinguished musicians The Copper Cats featuring the terrific trumpet player Colin Steele raised the roof of Behind The Wall and then some with a blistering gig which would have prompted Andy Scott’s iconic Kelpies to unhinge their steel-fixed heads from their towering necks, shake their impressive manes and stomp their thunderous if unseen hooves to a beat which suggested that the spirit of Alberta Hunter (one of Affleck’s all-time favourite singers and greatest influences) is alive and well and still earning royalties from beyond the grave on the track made famous by the late, great Bessie Smith: Downhearted Blues. Continue reading

Aoife Doyle Band

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Jazz quartet from across the Irish Sea
Make pretty blooms from clouds of misery

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I first discovered the Aoife Doyle Band in the summer of 2015 while working for a few days in Dublin. Always one to stray from the beaten path, I product-placement searched “theatre” and “music” listings in the surrounding area and stumbled upon a tour of their first album This Time the Dream’s on Me at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum. Continue reading

Churchill

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Cigar-chomping PM fond of a Scotch
Fears Allied invasion will be a botch

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Think Sunday, think 9 pm, think BBC 1. For that is where director Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man) and first-time screenwriter Alex von Tunzelmann’s pedestrian film belongs. Not at the Herr Flicks, not even on DVD, but just after Songs of Praise, Countryfile and Antiques Roadshow. Though, if the snooker was on BBC 2, I’d swap the green baize for this beige biography of Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) any day. Continue reading

Mr Taxman

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Bung-bung, bung-bung, bung-bung, bung-bung,
Bung-bung, bung-bung, bung!
Bung-bung, bung-bung, bung-bung, bung-bung,
Banker’s bonus bung!

Mr Taxman, give me a break.
I’ve never had a tax rebate, yet all you do is take.
We’re all in this together, but I’m going through the mill.
My food bank parcel’s empty and I’m eating Blue Eyes’ Trill. Continue reading

Death of a Salesman

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Riding high on a smile and a shoeshine
Salesman falls victim to the bottom line

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Brooks Atkinson, the legendary American critic who it was said for 31 years on the drama desk of The New York Times had the power to make or break a Broadway opening, described the original 1949 production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman as an “elegy in a Brooklyn sidestreet” which “looked with compassion into the hearts of some ordinary Americans and quietly transferred their hope and anguish to the theatre”. Continue reading

Whitney: Can I Be Me

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Black girl from da hood who’s manufactured
Into a pop princess feels so fractured

Watching Rudi Dolezal and Nick Broomfield’s warts and all documentary about the first and only artist to release seven consecutive number one singles in the American charts (surpassing even The Beatles and the Bee Gees who mustered an impressive but second-placed six), one word struck a chord: “moldable”.

Continue reading