Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Music Festivals Just Don't Stop!!

Hey everyone, sorry it's taken so long to write another. Writing this dissertation takes priority and I'm really not up for my advisor kicking my butt over this. Plus, I've been under the weather for the last few days too. Damn Scottish weather...too many temps and seasons in one day....every day!

Here's a summation of the festivals I've attended lately. We've been busy every weekend with these events. First up is one festival we went to a few weeks ago.

Tartan Heart music festival
We took a 2 1/2 hr. bus ride up to Inverness (home of Nessie the sea monster of Loch Ness) for a music festival.
Scotland never seems to run out of music festivals.
This one was in a little hippy community of Belladrum and it's called: the Tartan Heart Music Festival.
It was very small, nothing like 70,000 raging kids at T in the Park. The Tartan Heart festival is family friendly, engaging kids of all ages.

Music featured was mostly rock, folk, country, indie and some weird crap that shouldn't be played anywhere.
You had your staple festival going groups too: the dirty, drunk-stone kids who roll around in the dirt because...I don't know, because it's there; young couples who find themselves extremely horny when surrounded by several thousand music fans bouncing to the loud, distorted music with occasional screeching feedback from microphones; the young, slutty girls wearing damn-near beach/club wear while it's 52 degrees and raining; the gang of guys that alternate between banging the heads or "wrestling" with their best blokes rather than talk to a girl.

Besides these folk, I also saw various kinds of families. The saddest were the ones where the poor 8 yr olds are having to play caretaker to their too-drunk parents. As I said before, there were old, local hippies in their purple velour pants with tamborines in hand. Some of the older men looked like cast-offs from 1950s motorcycle gangs...except they were in kilts and t-shirts. Their look was typical: rough and long grey beards and ratty ponytails with the three hairs on top of the crown doing a poor job of collecting the highland rain.

Fine people-watching all around!

As for festival food, you know how fatty and greasy fair food can be. So, I was pleasantly shocked to stumble across a Arbroath Smokies area. This was my favorite moment of the entire festival! Arbroath is a fishing town in the council area of Angus in Scotland. They're famous for their smoked fish and bless, I now know why. Andy had the smoked salmon while I was curious to try the haddock--what they are famed for. This tradition of smoking haddock fish -- "smokies"-- goes back to the late 1800s. They head and clean the fish. Cure it with salt overnight. And then they gets to the smokin'!! The old method was done in a barrel heated underground.

But nowadays, it's above ground. They smoked the fish RIGHT THERE on the festival grounds between 45-90 minutes until they are juicy on the inside and golden brown on the outside. Viola! hot, buttery, freshly smoked fish in your hands when you want it. Couldn't have been healthier or tastier! And filling too! You get an entire fish for just a few pounds. Damn, it was DELICIOUS!!

Call me a snob if you must but, I don't do festivals unless I have a guest pass. I'm just too old to deal with lines for toilets, lines for alcohol, no restful area to chill for a bit between acts. Being engaged to someone in the music business gets me that special wristband or necklass passcard. Besides, some of the best people-watching happens backstage in the VIP section.
Hanging out in the VIP area, you get to see a lot of interesting people, including some of the musicians before or after they get on stage. For example, I saw the legendary Lee 'Scratch' Perry and his crew hang out near us after their set. Perry is an icon. He's one of the founders of dub music and was producer for various reggae artists like Bob Marley and the Wailers, Max Romeo, Junior Byles, and The Heptones. I hear he's supposed to be off his rocker but he was kind enough to offer our friend's daughter a grape. But she declined because he's a stranger.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

After that festival, Andy and I were off to the Fringe festival. Lord, what an insane thing! 12 hours of music, events, comedy in and day out. I was exhausted. One night, I was so severely dehydrated that I thought an ambulance was going to cart me off!
And we only did it for 3 the middle of the week!
I can't imagine how insane the weekend shows must be.

We saw a variety of venues.
Some were so large that they could hold hundreds and hundreds of folk. Some venues were so small that they were (literally) two site construction trailers duct taped together so they could hold 20 people. Really bizarre.
My favorites: I saw a Soul Food show, "performed" by Momma Cherri, Philly-gal who's been living in the UK for thirty years now. She gave a lesson in history and cooking of soul food and had the audience sing a couple of gospel songs.

That was worth the price of admission right there. 50 white Brits clapping off the beat, repeatedly while trying to sign "This Little Light of Mine".

The other was Havana Rhumba. Great story-telling. Great music and dancing to Rhumba, Cha-cha-cha, salsa, Reggaeton, rakataka. And oh yeah, the dancers were as hot as they were talented. The best part of the show was watching them pick random people from the audience to "dance". Some of the funniest stuff I've seen in years.

Ok...I'm not really going to talk that much about the Fringe cause it would take too long. All the acts spanned the globe and spanned the realm of topics and talent. What we ended up seeing mostly (cause Andy has to always be on the lookout for acts to book) were the comedy shows. I'll spare you most of the crap (cause a lot of it was).

But generally, here's what I came away with: the Scots will laugh at ANYTHING!!!
Seriously, I couldn't believe what passes as comedy here. Now, maybe everyone was just drunk the whole time and even a man playing a guitar with strange computer-generated sounds could be entertaining. I thought it was f*cking bullsh*t!

There was another show where the performer just rambled....for a freaking hour! Just mental-consciousness vomit. For whatever reason, people loved it. He even peed on stage into a cup; pretended he was going to drink (but his lips did touch his piss) and he closed his act by standing on top of the stool, hands pressed together as if he was going to dived into the tiny cup. And of course, he leapt and spilled piss everywhere.
No wonder his wife divorced him.
But yet, this man has children. This man has a woman who lets him crawl up into her every night.


There were plenty of quality comedians. But they did like to bash America (and you know if I got picked from the audience, my US accent started something)--easy target and guaranteed to keep the audience on your side. The other interesting thing was all the morality they were constantly trying to push on. They wanted us to have character; for women to bond and stop beating on ourselves, etc. It was kinda strange.

One black female comedian from London was quite odd. Ava Vidal in her show titled "Responsible", talked about how she became a teen mother, all the abusive past boyfriends have been (one tried to stab her in the heart and luckily he only got her hand which still has and always will have that scar), and that she's trying to get her act together now. There were only 10 of us at her show and I felt obliged to laugh at her "jokes". Here again--Strange.

The only other black comedian I caught was "Pride and Prejudice and Niggas" Reginald D. Hunter. Needless to say, his venue was extremely popular...we were in an inflatable upside purple cow! It held several hundred seats. His explanation was putting "niggas" in the title of his show is because it's a word that people do use and don't want to admit so we should.
Uh. ok.

His show was... ok. But it would never work in the States. All his jokes werepretty much whatwe in the US would say..."ok, yeah, so what?" But here in the UK, it's novel; it's deliciously informative and nasty and the same time. Esp. in Scotland. There are so few black people here and just as it is in the States, not too many white people really know blacks personally.

Next year, I'll have a better idea of the shows I want to see. I'm not doing much of the comedy if I can get out of it.

We were supposed to hit another festival, this time in Glasgow. These festivals just don't stop around here! However, I'm sick and we're both tired. Gotta take a break.


At Sep 6, 2006, 12:23:00 PM, Blogger Aulelia said...

wow - ur a trooper...festivals are so intense, lol, i'd probably wilt from exhaustion. i was on the train a while back going from bristol to london. once we stopped at reading, it was swarming with the festival goers. needless 2 say, it was cramped lol!

At Sep 20, 2006, 11:43:00 PM, Blogger Pille said...

It was great to bump into you at Cherry Moma's, Peggy!


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