Horse: Review of Careful, The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, August 2016 and Winter Tour Preview

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“Be yourself, and others will find you”
 This stage show, shown at this year’s Edinburgh Festival was the story of Horse’s life. Born Sheena McDonald (the Sh-he-na part she hated), in one of Scotland’s market towns.
And as a fellow Lanarkian, the feeling of the town felt very familiar, but while I might have experienced the usual teenage angst, Horse’s experiences growing up were very different.
First of all the name that she hated. She decided she was going to be called Horse, she identified with those lovely majestic animals, and she knew in her heart she was different from the other girls, as she struggled with her sexuality, feeling misplaced in the world.
The set was minimal but effective. Two chairs on stage – representing her home life – one for mum and one for dad – both empty. Her parents, Vicky and Dugald, both passed within six months of each other, leaving Horse bereft. The experience somehow cemented even more firmly her compassion and ability to connect and empathise with other people.
During her show we hear about the simple things, and the things you remember growing up. We hear tales of her mum and dad and how they would sit in their chairs, drink tea and eat Rich Tea biscuits.
We hear about the angst of growing up in a small town where Horse stood out, was subjected to bullying and the odd advice from a lady on a train who tells her of a doctor she could go to to “help” sort out her problems.
There’s lots of laughter too among the tears, as Horse talks of her two tone loons “as experimental as it gets in Lanark” and having to go to the school disco in her mum’s Paisley patterned shirt.
 But there’s an escape and a sanctuary which Horse finds in music. Oddly not realising at first the gift she was born with. But then success comes as she appears on The Tube, gets the record deal and is asked to perform at the Stonewall gig at the Albert Hall.
There are still dark periods though – the operation for vocal nodes and the agonising wait as she fears she won’t be able to sing again.
And then we somehow come full circle. Horse meets her soulmate Alanna. she returns to her birthplace to marry, and she attends the equal marriage vote at the Scottish Parliament on 4th February 2014. And we feel a lovely sense of love, acceptance and peace.
This was a heartfelt and soul-baring play, delivered bravely by Horse, beautifully written by Lynn Ferguson and expertly directed by Maggie Kinloch.
While I know Horse and the town she grew up in, what would the couple from California I got talking to in the queue make of her? They visit Edinburgh every year and stay for the duration of the Festival, packing in as much as they can. They knew nothing about Horse, stumbled upon the play and decided to give it a go.
I met them afterwards. They were enthusiastic and moved to tears. The lady was desperate to get her hands on a Horse CD and loved the song Careful – which Horse sang and referenced throughout the show. I caught Horse’s play on the first night, and if this was anything to go by, all those festival goers who stumble upon shows will have felt like they discovered a little Edinburgh Festival gem.
Horse is now back at the “day job” and getting ready for a tour in November and word is that she’s going to be touring Careful next year.
Meanwhile catch her at:
Dundee Rep 5th November

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Filed under Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Music, Previews, Scotland, Theatre reviews

Preview: Tenement Trail – Saturday October 8th 2016

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1 Day / 9 venues / 50+ Bands / 1 Ticket / £20+ booking fee

I can’t think of much out there that gives better value for money than this year’s Tenement Trail – organised by those doyens of music, Glasgow-based Tenement TV. This is their fourth multi-venue music festival held over one day in the city.

One ticket gives you access to more than 50 bands across eight venues and 12 hours of music. It’s a brilliant way to see some of your favourite bands and also discover new music.

There’s been some recent additions to the line-up. Bands including The Spook School, Louie and The Lochbacks, and Declan Welsh. They’ll be joining newly reformed indie rockers Milburn, who will headline proceedings alongside the excellent Crash Club, The Bar Dogs and Gangs.

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Crash Club

It’s always good to see what Barrie-James O’Neil is up to and I’m hoping he’ll pop in and join Emme Woods on stage and perform a duet. Get yourself to Nice n’Sleazy in the afternoon for Emme’s set. She’s on the Last Night From Glasgow record label, who are supporting some great acts and putting out some exciting new albums, including the excellent Teen Canteen‘s Say It All With A Kiss, who you can also see perform at The Art School. A great live band, with cracking tunes, and highly recommended.

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TeenCanteen

I’m also looking forward to seeing Be Charlotte, who are about to bring out their second single called “Machines That Breathe”, also on the Last Night From Glasgow record label. The band headed up by 19-year-old Dundonian Charlotte Brimner has attracted the attention of One Direction star Louis Tomlinson, who Tweeted about her. She’s also just been nominated for the prestigious Big Apple award at this year’s SSE Scottish Music Awards, which is the fundraiser for Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland.

Lucia Fontaine‘s voice blew me away when I saw her perform with composer Craig Armstrong, and I know the hugely talented HQFU will bring a storming set and get the crowd dancing.

There’s lots of venues to get around on the day, including 02 ABC1, 02 ABC2, The Art School, The Art School (Vic Bar), King Tut’s, Broadcast, Nice N Sleazy and Flat 0/1.

This is a brilliant event with a cracking line-up. Where else can you see all this music for £20? The only problem you’ll have is co-ordinating your day and trying to pack in as much as you can.

Tenement TV, who continue to break new music, as well as entice established acts to play in their famous Flat 0/1, also celebrate their milestone fifth birthday this month.

Watch teaser video for Tenement Trail  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2hcJfuXlHQ&feature=youtu.be

Tenement Trail Festival Director Chae Houston commented: “We’re really building an impressive line-up for TT this year, with a great mix of new, touring and established bands. It’s the perfect day out for music lovers, offering music across all genres and really giving fans the chance to discover new talent whilst checking out old favorites.”

Tenement Trail 2016 | @tenementtv | #TT16

Buy Tickets Here

 

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Filed under Events, Glasgow, Music, Music Festivals, Previews, Tenement Trail, Tenement TV

Ette: Homemade Lemonade – Album Review and Launch, The Old Hairdresser’s, Glasgow – June 2016

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Carla J Easton

Ette is the solo project of Carla J Easton one of the all girl foursome from Glasgow who call themselves Teen Canteen. Here she’s teamed up with Joe Kane from Dr. Cosmos Tapelab and the result is a brilliantly harmonious album called Homemade Lemonade.
At an album launch in the Old Hairdresser’s in Glasgow, we heard a run through.
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Joe Kane and Carla J Easton of Ette

Carla wears her unabashed passion for 60s girl harmonies on her sleeve and it shines through the album. From the sublime Fireworks, with its dreamy wistfulness and trombone, to the cheerful jauntiness of My Mother Says, to Bones, which makes you feel like doing a few side swaying dance moves, and Bonfires, which even includes some rapping.  And would could not fall in love with the fantastically titled Attack of the Glam Soul Cheerleaders (Parts 1 and 2).  It’s pure pop perfection and finger clicking heaven with an L-O-V-E mantra.
Meanwhile, in true Spector fashion there’s nostalgic festive dreaminess in Spending Every Christmas Day With My Boy, with its gorgeous bells and jingles.
This record is a strong body of work and an incredibly catchy collection of songs. Amazingly the album was recorded in only five days at Joe Kane’s garage studio. All songs were written by Carla, with Joe playing multi instruments on every song as well as working on the production. He also co-wrote the disco led Heaven Knows.
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Ette – Carla J Easton and Joe Kane

Performed live it’s fun, bold, and loud, with a psychedelic rocky edge that makes this gig more spiky than sweet.
And while there’s lots of love, happy-go-lucky handclaps and harmonies, underneath there lurks a dark reflection, sadness, pain and anger, which gives much added depth to the songs.
We see this in the lyrics of Bones:
I only want to see the best in you
But you only give me all the rest of you
You’re a constellation that I’ll never know
Cause you’re missing each and every star that glows
And in the fiery I Hate You Song:
I hate you but I hate that I once loved you even more
I’ve got a score to settle
And don’t be fooled by the slight frame of Carla, she’s got a massive voice accompanied by a commanding stage presence. A confident performer, when she sound blew at the end of the gig, she carried on and improvised with a great a Capella.
A winning combination backed by an excellent band, let’s hope we hear much more from Ette.
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The album ‘Homemade Lemonade’ is released on Olive Grove Records.
Listen to the album here:

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Record Store Day at Tenement TV, Glasgow – 16th April 2016

DSC05225.jpgRecord Store Day, an event to honor the UK’s independent record shops was founded in 2007. It’s held on the third Saturday of April. This year Glasgow’s Tenement TV opened their doors and put on a great collection of bands to celebrate.

With a line-up that included Crash Club, Barrie-James O’Neill, aka Nightmare Boy, Other Humans, The Bar Dogs, Gangs and Strawberry Wine – the tenement was rocking its foundations all day. Here’s a selection of photos and videos from the day.

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For a list of the records released for Record Store Day 2016 – see Record Store Day Website

 

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Filed under Events, Glasgow, Live Music Reviews, Music, Photography, Record Store Day 2016, Tenement TV, Videos

Scottish Ballet, Swan Lake. Bloggers Event with NARS Make-Up, April 2016

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Picture Credit: Scottish Ballet

For the first time in over 20 years Scottish Ballet will bring Swan Lake to the stage. This world premiere adaptation is a modern and imaginative retelling of the timeless tale.

It’s the love story between Siegfried and the beautiful swan queen Odette, but he betrays her by mistakenly declaring his love for the dark seductress Odile.

Odette forgives him but the trust between them can’t be repaired.

At a bloggers’ event held at Scottish Ballet headquarters in the Tramway in Glasgow, we got behind the scenes and watched a rehearsal. Precision seems to be key. It’s not just enough to get the movements in place. The choreographer gets under the skin of every move to nail down minuscule details. A very subtle adjustment or emphasis really does make a difference even something such as “lead with the foot, not the thigh”. Meanwhile a dancer is told “I want feel like I don’t want to meet you in a dark alleyway and just now I’m feeling like I could take you”. Very subtly – the movement and emphasis changes as the dancer conveys an air of jerky, aggression and menace.

And what’s the difference between Odette and Odile, the good/bad swan? There will be many ways to convey these idiosyncrasies which will be carefully scrutinized by choreographer David Dawson – who knows exactly what he is looking for.

But apart from dance, other factors will come into play to differentiate between the two swans. One white and one black costume … and a quick change of lipstick.

Scottish Ballet have enlisted the help of NARS make-up artists, who have their work cut out to ensure that make-up stays put under the testing conditions of stage lighting, heat, sweat, close body contact with other dancers and many performances.

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They also have to convey the differences and changeover from Odette and Odile, often portrayed by the same dancer, in a minimal amount of time. And a quick change of lipstick does the trick. With the make-up base in place including a classic smoky eye, Odette the white queen is luminous, natural and beautiful with a subtle nude lipstick.  A quick wash with a bright red lipstick and she becomes Odile – dark, dangerous and seductive.

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Swan Lake premieres at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow on April 19th, and tours thereafter. For tour dates see below.

For more information on Scottish Ballet and Swan Lake, see Scottish Ballet Website

NARS lipsticks used were: Velvet Matt Lip Pencil in Belle de Jour (nude) and Cruella (red). You can book an appointment at the NARS counter of Frasers Glasgow for advice and a make-over.  For more information see Frasers Glasgow / NARS

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr 2016
Box office: 0844 871 7647
Book online

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Wed 27 – Sat 30 Apr 2016
Box office: 01224 641122
Book online

Eden Court, Inverness
Wed 4 – Sat 7 May 2016
Box office: 01463 234234
Book online

Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Wed 11 – Sat 14 May 2016
Box office: 08448 11 21 21
Book online

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May 2016
Box office: 0131 529 6000
Book online

Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Wed 1 – Sat 4 Jun 2016
Box office: 0151 702 7320
Book online

 

 

 

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Filed under Dance, Events, Make-Up, Scotland, Scottish Ballet, Theatre Royal, Tramway Glasgow

A Mother’s Day Story – 2016

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Today is Mother’s Day and I am grateful I have a mum to visit. I will try not to feel sad when I see her, because I know she will not recognise the significance of the day. She will not know when she last saw me or spoke to me, she can not engage in conversation – but for now she sees me and knows my name. I know that ability, like everything else, will disappear. But I am holding on to this recognition, this small sign. Whenever she says my name, it makes me happy. There must still be something of her in here, behind the tired confused eyes and the mouth that struggles to find words. I’m clinging on, trying to understand, trying to appreciate the small things, savoring them before their eventual disappearance into a mysterious swirling abyss.

My mum, Nancy, has dementia. This cruel disease has slowly eroded her personality and I struggle to recognise the person that sits in the chair. Silly things – she is wearing slippers. This means nothing to most people – but she hated slippers, and despite all my attempts, the various ones I would buy her – would never wear them. Claimed she couldn’t walk in them. She always liked to wear smart shoes with a small heel, even around the house. She has bare legs – she would never go anywhere without her tights on, which often meant me going to the shop for emergency supplies – and as for trousers – don’t go there. But not only her appearance, her personality has changed dramatically.

We always had a strange mother/daughter relationship. Sadly plagued with various mental health problems throughout her life, often giving way to bouts of erratic behaviour, we tried to salvage some kind of relationship in between the chaos. She had a strong, forceful personality, we clashed a lot, I’m not sure I did a good enough job of trying to understand her. And the guilt eats at me.

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Mum with her friend Ann, July 1992

And I’m angry because I always felt she needed a break. She is an incredible 88 years old and I consider myself lucky to still have her – but life gave her a hard time with mental health issues and now she has been dealt the dementia card. I always wished she could find some some happiness in life. But if there is such a thing as a silver lining when it comes to dementia – she seems to have reached a peace of mind. I have been told this can happen to people with strong personalities and with mental health issues. I am trying to be grateful for this “side effect”.  But I am grateful because I am often reminded that when other people experience dementia it brings anxiety, frustration and out of character aggression. I am so grateful my mum seems to have dodged this bullet. But it does make me smile when people in the care home say “your mum is lovely and so gentle, is she always like this?” I just smile in acknowledgement but the truthful answer is no – she had a feisty, often argumentative and opinionated nature.

And I am guilty because while my mum seems to be dealing quite well with her dementia, I am not. I am ashamed to admit I’m struggling to cope with all these changes. I am floundering in the dark, eternally confused, trying in vain and failing miserably to understand what is going on in her head. I am trying to make sense of something which is nonsensical. I try to make conversation and fail. I don’t know how to engage with her. I don’t know what to do. I feel a failure. I don’t want the dementia to become all about me and my feelings, it’s not about me, but I have absolutely no idea how my mum feels, and she can’t tell me. It’s all guesswork and I try to understand and make sense of all of this in any way I can.

And I am grieving and missing the person I knew. Yes, even that argumentative person I often clashed with. We drove each other crazy. She was opinionated and stubborn but she could also be kind and display acts of kindness to those she liked – and you always knew if she liked you or not. Often unpredictable, with a quick and fiery temper to match her red hair, she was never shy of giving someone a short shift, often much to my huge embarrassment. I am grateful for the things she taught me – good manners, good grammar, a love for books, newspapers, reading, animals and birds. She had beautiful handwriting and loved to write letters. One of the saddest moments I can recall is when she was trying to write me a Christmas card (this was in March – you just have to go with this) and she couldn’t remember her alphabet or the letters to write. I just glossed over the incident but when I left her, I cried all the way home. She also had a sharp brain when it came to numbers and would mentally add up all the items in her shopping basket, so that when she got to the checkout she knew exactly what the bill would be. Sadly she didn’t pass this mental mathematical agility to me.

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Mum with her friend Ann, June 2004

After a slow start, her dementia has advanced dramatically over the past year. She was admitted under emergency respite care to a nursing home in August 2015, where she will remain. I desperately wanted her to return home to her sheltered housing complex, but her needs were too great. It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Is this what she would want? I do not know, and she can not tell me. She seems to have no memory of where she lived before and doesn’t seem to miss it. It is a confusing world and I am confused also.

I have Power of Attorney, which I am grateful for, and I am responsible for making all decisions on her behalf, but the enormity of this decision weighs heavily on me. You want to do what’s best, I worry, and I still don’t know if I am making the right choices for her.

But she is looked after, she is close to me and I can visit her. I am grateful for this.

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Packing up her home was a heart-wrenching, weird experience, because it’s what you do when someone dies. I did this for my dad – who died in October 2014. It felt the same – but my mum hasn’t died, she is still here, albeit a slightly different version of herself. She was always fiercely private. It felt wrong to be going through her things, like a burglar with no right, and then deciding what to throw out or keep. I remembered the day we bought that stained glass owl picture in a charity shop on a rare weekend visit to Aviemore. Memories which now seem all the more precious, memories which are now lost to her. And although she is still here, she had no say in what stays or goes, or knowledge of what was going on. Needless to say I now have boxes of her things in my house. Random ornaments, terrible plastic flowers and horrendous trinkets I’ll never display, but can’t bring myself to throw out.

So where does all this leave us? I like to think of myself as a positive person, but yet I can’t escape the fact that dementia brings no hope. It’s only release is death. And I already have regrets. There is so much I don’t know about her life and there’s so many unanswered questions that will remain a mystery. But if dementia teaches you anything, it’s to live in the moment and to be grateful for any small things. Which is actually a good philosophy to have in life. My mum and I have a different relationship now, we can’t go back, we can only go forward. And while I’m missing and grieving the old her, I’m grateful she’s still here – and there are parts of this relationship I’m learning to appreciate and love. We are more tactile, she likes me painting her nails, she can sometimes look happy to see me, and she’ll tell me. And she laughs. I love when she laughs, often randomly and at things I can’t comprehend – but I don’t care. I cling to all those moments and take them when I can, and I know this is likely to be short lived. I’ll be grateful and enjoy the all times I have with my own children, my 19-year-old twin boys. And although it’s difficult, I try not to worry too much about the future, and pray we find a cure.

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Mum and me, Lanark High Street

Notes on dementia: The Scottish journalist and broadcaster, Sally Magnusson’s mum had Alzheimer’s disease and she wrote a book about her experiences called Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything. In her book she stated that  “If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy”.

There are around 36.5m people in the world suffering from dementia, 800,000 in the UK. The annual cost of care stands at around £400 billion a year – 1% of global GDP. In the UK that figure is more than £23bn, twice as much as cancer.

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Dementia, Mother's Day

Glasgow Wood Recycling, charity/social enterprise – showroom launch – February 2016

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Peter Lavelle gave up his job as a social worker to found charity and social enterprise, Glasgow Wood Recycling – and he continues to help people – but in a different way.

Founded in 2007, the company not only gives old pieces of wood a new lease of life but people who may be struggling to get back into the job market, can also get a lifeline.

Glasgow Wood Recycling collects wood from all over Glasgow and surrounding areas. The wood is brought back to the workshop in the city’s South Street and lovingly crafted into gorgeous bespoke furniture, befitting of any designer home. They make an array of mirrors, coffee tables, shelves, chairs, benches and more. And there is a huge benefit to the environment as the amount of wood ending up in landfill is reduced.

“Bespoke, hand-crafted furniture. Ethically produced in Scotland”  Glasgow Wood Recycling

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Previously employed as a social worker for many years, Peter continues to help people at Glasgow Wood Recycling through a 10 week programme called Making Wood Work – it’s where people are given a chance to train and to make progress towards employment. They get back into the workplace, learn vital skills and their confidence and self-esteem gets a huge boost. After the course many people go on and find full time employment.

Through word of mouth the company is thriving from their workshop space. They are rightfully proud of their work which deserves to be shown off – but they did not have the facility to do this – until now.

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Now GWR have a showroom, a newly converted portacabin space which allows them to showcase examples of what they do. Buy or order a piece and know that it comes with a story. You’re saving a beautiful piece of reclaimed wood, protecting our environment and helping someone to find work. Plus the furniture is gorgeous, exceptionally well made, sturdy and made to last forever.

Making Wood Work – Making a Difference.

Peter joined the Making Wood Work programme in 2015. He said:

At Making Wood Work we were making things that customers would purchase, so it’s not like you are involved in pointless tasks. You are in an actual work environment and you are expected to meet certain standards. This was good for me, as being out of work for a while I needed a sense that I was working towards something useful.

The really good thing about this programme is that it doesn’t end after the 10 weeks as they are really motivated to progress their volunteers into work or further advancement through courses and I was really impressed by this. My confidence got the boost it needed and I learned new skills, and ultimately I found paid employment, which I am over the moon about.

Here’s a selection of images from Glasgow Wood Recycling open day and Showroom Launch – 26th February 2016.

Glasgow Wood Recycling, Unit 6, Barclay Curle Complex, 739 South Street, Glasgow G14 0BX

0141 237 8566

info@glasgowwoodrecycling.org.uk

Useful links and follow:

@GlasgowWood

Glasgow Wood Recycling Facebook Page

Glasgow Wood Recycling

Zero Waste Scotland  Inspiring change for Scotland’s resource economy

Glasgow Wood Recycling are members of the Glasgow Social Enterprise Network

Initiatives such as Making Wood Work are helped by Big Lottery Fund Scotland

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Filed under Charities, Charity, Glasgow, Scotland, Social Enterprise