writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Monthly Archives: January 2016

Cool Cats and Super Moons: Gig Review

No disrespect or anything, but Beat Generator Live! (don’t forget the !) isn’t quite the image the name of the Cool Cat Club conjures up for me. There ain’t no jazz (thank goodness); the only smokiness came from a brief foray into dry ice production by second band Stoor; and if the barman had some bootleg moonshine tucked away somewhere the Feds wouldn’t find it, I wasn’t brave enough to ask for any.

However, as I wasn’t having to operate any automotive machinery for a good twelve hours, I was able to relax into Messrs Melville and Wood’s excellent musical entertainment with the assistance of some bottled beers, or they may even have been craft beers (what’s up with that now? Is that the same as real ale, or what? Is raffia work, some form of self-assembly jewellery, or throwing clay pots involved?)

Anyhoo, first up was Supermoon, in the person of Neil Pennycook, formerly the main guiding light behind Meursault. Musically a restless soul, Pennycook’s current incarnation on the night was a solo venture, with him alternating between Telecaster and keyboards, with added harmonica (ten extra points, obviously, for use of moothie in this reviewer’s marking scheme.) I loved the songs: melodic, clever lyrics, great performance too, even if not everything came off – a looper pedal (I’m guessing) was meant to do something in the case of a couple of songs, and steadfastly refused to do it; and a great performance idea of getting two people to phone each other on their mobiles, and then have your man sing into them when on speakerphone, didn’t come off. So everyone knows how to get their moby onto speakerphone, right?

No matter. This was great way to start the night, and if there had been a CD of the songs at the merch table, it definitely would’ve been snaffled. There is a limited amount out on cassette (of course) and digital – well worth a listen.


If Supermoon had suffered some technical problems, the gremlins were only getting warmed up for the next band, STOOR. Half way through a solid, well thought out set from this local four-piece, a string broke on the rhythm guitarist’s only guitar, forcing a frantic, and, ultimately, unsuccessful attempt to restring. Every fellow guitar player in the audience winced mentally for the guy as the bloody thing just wouldn’t tune up: fortunately, his bandmates followed the first rule of musical performance (known as the Titanic Principle, in deference to that band) – no matter what, just keep going.

Cruelly, a suitably spirited final number was further marred as the lead guitar, too, dropped out, but even then, the drummer and bass player/singer just kept going. They were very apologetic, but really, that never-say die approach gave their set a kind of heroic quality. It was a bit like that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the knight who refuses to give up, even when both legs and arms have been chopped off.


The gremlins had gone to bed, fortunately, by the time headline act De Rosa came on. Others more eloquent than me can tell you all about this band, and their new album Weem, so I’ll limit myself to saying they were a fine end to an enjoyable night. If I can cavil slightly (1) one minor criticism might be they could take a few lessons from Supermoon’s main man on engaging the audience.

But I only cavil slightly. You should totally check them out.



I hope to tip my trilby and lounge in a generally louche manner at the bar of the Cool Cat Club again sooner rather than later. Until then, next up is what I’m listening to right now.


Photos courtesy of ManicPopThrills – to see the entire set, go here



(1) do you cavil slightly? Sounds a bit like a rather effete character in a PG Wodehouse novel: ‘the Honorable Henrietta Walthorpe’s previous beau, Cavil Slightly, had been the food reviewer for the Times before an ill-judged lobster thermidor at the Savoy had cut his promising journalistic career short and he retreated, eating only raw vegetables and whimpering inaudibly, to his ancestral home in Sussex…’ anyway, I digress.


For those of you visiting the site for the first time, Andrew C Ferguson is a writer and musician who’s giving out free stuff at the moment. Go to About to get involved.

Anything below this is advertising for other people. Part of WordPress’s  well thought out business model, no doubt.


I Want You (or at least, your email addy)

So I’ve been struggling for the last while with the concept of marketing via social media. Although many people claim to have the secret, that secret generally seems to involve carpet bombing everyone you have any contact with via whatever means with constant reminders about what you’re doing, how your contact can buy more stuff/get free stuff/watch a video of you/buy more stuff/become a special, valued member of an exclusive inner circle of your fan club yada yada. Frankly, it all seems a bit … exhausting.

I’ve been on the receiving end of this and, trust me, it leaves me cold. Maybe it works more with our Stateside cousins who are more, how to put this, generally positive about the world in general than dour, Presbyterian (in a strictly non-denominational sense) Scots like me. It’s just that the digital equivalent of shouting look at me! Look at Me! LOOK AT ME!!! doesn’t feel like the way to go.

On the other hand, in this frantically overcrowded world of self-publicists when any idiot (even this blog) can master the basic tenets of recording and publishing material on the Internet, simply putting something up there and waiting for the world to beat a path to your door doesn’t seem quite energetic enough. And I am, of course, like any creative type, irredeemably convinced of my own genius – or at least that a few more folk than at present would enjoy, for example, Kelly’s brilliant renditions of the latest Venus Carmichael material to, ahem, arrive mysteriously through the post.

I’ve also noted that the giving out of free stuff seems to be the accepted wisdom of how to go about it.

So here’s what I’m going to do. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been steadily working away on some of my own solo tracks, and I’m now going to give you them for free. The only thing I ask for in return is your email address, something which, according to that same accepted wisdom, is the best way of reaching an interested audience. Having said that, I appreciate how annoying it is to get unwanted emails, so I hereby undertake (I was going to use the word ‘vow,’ but that seems a rather over-used term these days):

  • I will not spam you. Firstly, as I say, I know how annoying it is. Secondly, I’m just not that organised. Seriously. If you get more than one email a month from me, I’ll be more surprised than you are.
  • I will only use the email group if I have something to announce – a new publication, launch of a new Venus Carmichael/Isaac Brutal CD, or, of course, a show.
  • I won’t send you repeat emails about the same thing. That gets old really quickly.
  • If you get fed up of hearing from me, just email me with ‘unsubscribe’ and I’ll do it.

So, with all of that out of the way, here’s what you get in return for messaging me with your email address by means of Facebook, Twitter (@venuscarmichael) or venus [dot] carmichael [at] gmail [dot] com:

FREE – An actual physical CD of all the tracks below, as my EP taster for a much bigger solo project, ‘Songs in a Scottish Accent;’ or,

FREE – Download codes to all of the above in mp3 format (the CD files are audio CD format); or, if you prefer,

Tribute to Venus Carmichael’s debut EP, ‘Taking Names,’ in either physical CD or download format, for the special price of £2.50!

Here are some details of the solo tracks:

Scotland as an XBox Game – one of the older tracks, featuring the wonderful Halsted M Bernard in a cameo role. When I listened back to it, I reckoned I couldn’t improve on it, so it’s as published some time ago.

Cavalcade – again, one that’s been on Soundcloud for a bit, and has been described as Nick Cave-esque, by at least two people, one of whom isn’t even related to me!

Ambulance – more recent, a poem set to music: I’ve added in a bit of cello to the original version.

Somewhere You’re Out There – redone vocals for this, although Norman Lamont’s superb version is also worth checking out:

Right Here With Me – this has been a work in progress for a while. This final version still has the kantele in, but also your man actually singing.

Hyde’s Last Words (Live at the White Horse) – the original version is still up there on Soundcloud for download as well, but in many ways I prefer this one with Kenny Mackay’s blistering guitar at the end. I intend to work on a new recorded version with bass and guitar in the coming months.

I hope to hear from you!








Although this post is all about marketing, any marketing under here isn’t my marketing, it’s someone else’s. So there.