Making music on the Mound

Walking through Edinburgh on the way home from work the other evening and came across this trio on the Mound, right by Princes Street Gardens, in the space next to the Royal Scottish Academy. They are called Marama and consisted of two drummers and a bagpiper, kicking out the jams to a fabulous beat, folk music but with a more modern edge, which reminded me of bands like Shooglenifty we used to go to see back in our student days who took Scots and Irish folk music but reworked it in a modern style (we danced all night to those, irresistible beat).

They were having a ball, drummers whacking away and the piper frequently dancing around them both as the beat rolled out across the city and the crowd cheered along.

Great fun to come across things like this just ambling home, another sign of moving properly into spring and summer (despite the weather!) as street performers start to appear more often.

And here’s a short video clip of them in action – sorry, being a street scene the audio isn’t that great and doesn’t do them justice really, but was only way I could try and grab at least a bit of of their sound to share:

Going medieval

A little medieval music in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh recently (an area of the Old Town directly below the Castle, which boasts inns which were centuries old even when Robert Burns came to town), part of a wee medieval fayre which was taking place among the regular farmer’s market that takes place there at weekends, and included some re-creations of Medieval music and instruments:

going medieval in the Grassmarket 01

going medieval in the Grassmarket 03

going medieval in the Grassmarket 04

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And here’s a short video if you are wondering what it sounded like:

Of course there were also some knights on hand…

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going medieval in the Grassmarket 07

And a rather fine selection of replica Medieval swords, which they were kind enough to let us pick up and try – rather heftier than the kinds of swords I trained with in my fencing days!

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We were having a good walk about taking in Doors Open Day when we saw that this was on, a perfect autumnal day too, beautiful, golden autumn sunlight and unseasonably warm for the time of year too, nice little extra bonus seeing this as we ambled around the city.

Al Fresco album browsing

Ambling through Edinburgh’s Old Town on a Saturday afternoon recently with a friend we noticed a stall set up on Middle Meadow Walk with second hand albums, CDs and DVDs. I used to go to second hand record shops regularly when I first moved here years ago, but prices for CDs and DVDs in places like Fopp or online have dropped so much over the years that the second hand places are often not worth it, although I do find myself still going for wanders through second hand and charity bookstores (and I certainly don’t really need more books, but it doesn’t stop me!).

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It’s funny though, as soon as my fingertips started flicking through the racks, especially the plastic-wrapped albums, it was like the fingers remembered this exercise from many years of browsing and I felt a curious satisfaction, half memories of browsing through old albums with pals in Glasgow or Edinburgh of a weekend in our late teens and 20s. An enjoyable way to spend some time; raking through boxes of second hand comics has a similarly satisfying feeling. And I think the fact you can come away with some purchases but only spend a small amount is kind of nice, especially with things so tight – the feeling of having bought something cool but not having made a hole in the wallet to do it. I think I came away with second hand White Stripes album and a jazz one by Courtney Pine, plus a DVD of The Goonies for the princely sum of about 7 quid. Then we wandered over the road to Sandy Bell’s for a few pints and listen to some live folk music.

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folk music in Sandy Bells 01

Sax on the streets

Several times walking home I’ve heard some wonderful saxophone music drifting up from below the bridge that takes Johnstone Terrace (the road which curves up and around the back of Edinburgh Castle) over King’s Stables Road. Each time I think I must go down the steep stairs and get a photo of this player, but usually I am on my way somewhere and don’t have time. Guardian Edinburgh‘s blogger Tom Allan followed those lovely notes – amplified with a lovely tone by the arch of the stone bridge overhead – to shoot some video of Gordon Jones playing his soprano sax.

City notes – Gordon Jones plays Soprano Sax on Kings Stables Road from Tom Allan on Vimeo.

blowing your own trumpet

jazz trumpeter on the Mile 3

In early to work, out late so feeling a little narked; beautiful, golden autumn evening outside so decide to enjoy slow walk home to unwind, wander up the Royal Mile, camera in hand, coming across this bloke playing some jazz on his trumpet. Nice autumn evening, cool breeze, cool jazz, nice. Put some coins in his instrument case, took a couple of pics then just settled nearby to listen for a few minutes and enjoy it.

electric ukulele land

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A couple of buskers on the Royal Mile doing the rock thing but with ukuleles instead of electric guitar, but doing the full guitar heroes movements; as I listened to them rocking out on their ukes I realised they were giving big licks to Queens of the Stone Age! First time I’ve heard QOTSA on ukuleles – I had to shoot a brief vid clip so I could share the sound as well as grabbing a photo:




The Ukulele Lady

Amanda Palmer warming up in the basement of Forbidden Planet in Edinburgh this afternoon before a signing (and singing!) session for her and Neil Gaiman’s book “Who Killed Amanda Palmer”. Amanda has a music gig later this week as part of the Edinburgh Fringe (and is doing smaller gigs during the week as well), Neil is in town shortly for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, we’re helping her sell the book while she’s here and today was a nice chance for the fans to come and meet her – really good turnout, city centre buzzing with Festival goers plus a big line of fans waiting to meet Amanda adding to it all. This was Amanda getting into her zone before meeting the fans by performing a song for us all; I’ve videoed her performance (with her permission) and will add it here once I have time to sort it and upload it to YouTube.
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