Facebook, the way that it does, recently threw up a ‘memory’ from 8 years ago. In it, I had posted:
‘In the midst of a wee creative hurricane: last night rehearsal with Kelly Brooks, then planning world domination with Gavin Inglis; today having my poetry collection thoroughly critted by Jane Irina McKie; tomorrow recording spoken word with Helen Jackson and Kirsti Wishart; and then the music recording session on Sunday with Kelly again. Whew! So many mega talented people… sometimes I remember what a lucky boy I am. Note to 16 year old self: some dreams come true, just not quite how you imagined. The one about Karen Hazelton never will though…’
Leaving Karen Hazelton to one side, it does give a snapshot of my creative life then. Poetry, still writing for spoken word, acoustic music with Tribute to Venus Carmichael; and planning world domination with Gavin Inglis.
In November, 2013, I organised a solo gig, Duality Tango, at the Bongo Club. It had come about in a strange way, linked to that world domination plan. The initial plan, was, in fact, a three-person gig, consisting of words (Gavin and mine) and music (mainly that of Kenny, Gav’s brother). That gig had imploded due to reasons I won’t go into, but related to something called sibling rivalry. The Bongo had agreed to hold over our deposit, and I decided to go solo.
Man, I sweated over that gig. I promoted it to death – got a mention in the Skinny, and the List, which even drew some extra folk to it. I tried to combine music with spoken word, enlisting musician pals (Mark Allan and Kenny Mackay, if I remember rightly) and, inevitably, Gav. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but it wasn’t an outstanding success either. It did make me realise the bits I enjoyed best were when I was playing guitar, even if only in a rough and ready kind of fashion, with the other musicians.
Scroll forward six more years, and I recently organised another gig, this time to launch my latest album. It was in the cellar of a pub called the Argyle, and instead of trying to do all the heavy lifting myself, I had a cast of several to help me – both of the fantastic female singers I get to work with in the bands I’m in, Kelly and Emma; Mark; Jeff Sniper, he of the legendary Jefffest; Andrew Wilson, an old spoken word buddy; and, inevitably, Gav. Kenny Mackay didn’t play guitar this time, but instead took some fab photos. It was a great afternoon.
Some of the sharper of you will notice a common theme running through this story: yep, it’s this guy, Gavin Inglis. The other night he inveigled me down to Leith to a Tinderbox Lab, hosted by an outfit called Tinderbox Collective. Actually, it was more of a chat with a couple of people – who Gav, of course, knew – about what they did, described on their site as ‘building a vibrant, eclectic and diverse community of young musicians and artists in Scotland.’ The Lab is there to help you build electronic instruments, and I understood about one half of what they were talking about. I left with my mind expanded.
But then, that’s what tends to happen when you go on a night out with Gav. It was his vision that got Writer’s Bloc going, one of Edinburgh’s best spoken word groups (and I’m not even an active member any more!) He’s an inspiring teacher, has at least three unpublished novels in his drawer that are better than most novels you’ve ever read, writes games freelance now for a living, and is probably one of the best performers I’ve ever seen when he’s on his game.
On a personal level, it was he who turned me onto the possibilities of digital music editing, along with another pal, Harky. He used to play keyboards in a Blondie tribute band (introducing me to Kelly, who became my Tribute to Venus singer) and is perennially resisting my attempts to get him to spend more time on making music, which he’s also stupidly good at.
He is, as I once said when I introduced him at a Bloc gig, ‘comedian, chameleon and caricature; the annoyingly talented younger brother I never had.’ My own creative life is still evolving, but one thing I know: whichever way it does go, I hope I have Gav there to plan world domination with. He’s not the only pal I’ve had on this journey of mine all these years – Mark, Harky, Graham, Janie, Jeff, Kirsti, Kelly, Norman, and all the rest of you who know who you are – but if you’re looking for someone to take that journey on a left turn down a rabbit hole with some interesting scenery, Gav’s your man!