writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Category Archives: progress reports

Forthcoming Incoming

I’m off to Edinburgh for a couple of days, to soak in the atmosphere through a straw. Stay tuned next week for news of upcoming projects, reviews (maybe), and my next blog entry – The Coldplay Effect: or, when good bands go bland…




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Festival Dad-dom beckons

One last push uphill of the Sisyphean rock that is my day job tomorrow, and then I run away on holiday before it rolls back down on top of me.

Which means, I hope, dear reader, you’re in for a virtual feast of blogging as we approach the trip to Latitude Festival next week. Planned are:

Diary of a Festival Dad Part Deux: what not to eat; and

Diary of a Festival Dad Part the Third: your actual music.

However, this blog reserves the right to be utterly capricious and write something else entirely. I might post a picture of one of the resident goldfish, who has partially changed colour from chocolate brown to black (too much nitrate in the water, apparently – not good) and now sports a Hitler moustache. I might well post about Tribute to Venus Carmichael’s new EP – a thing of beauty. I might write a poem in praise of modern Germany’s mighty footballers: probably feels more like a prose thing, that, though.

Whatever, it’ll be unsponsored, unpasteurised, and under 2,000 words. Keep the dial here.

Right better go for now, and stop that fish trying to invade Poland. I’m convinced he’s got a Panzer Division hidden under that artificial cave thing at the bottom of the tank.




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Forthcoming Attractions

Spoken word events don’t necessarily have much in common with the number 23 to Morningside, but like the buses, two of them are coming at once for me this week, and it would be great to see you there.
On Sunday, I am part of Illicit Ink’s latest offer, Word Games, which has the theme of game playing. I’m reading a story called Organic Geometry, which is actually the only story I’ve ever published twice in two different anthologies. That was a few years ago, although there’s still a couple of reviews up there which were nice about it.
Illicit Ink goes from strength to strength. Benevolent dictator Babs and her minions, Tom and Rhi, have a good thing going, and the great attraction of doing Illicit Ink is that you know the quality’s going to be high. It’s at 8 o’clock on Sunday, 4th May at the Bongo.
Then, on Thursday, 8th May, I venture to Stirling, at the request of the Stirling Makar, no less, the lovely and super-talented Anita Govan. This is Word Up, 8 till 10.30, at Mediteranea, 4 Viewfield Place, Stirling.
I get 20 to 25 minutes, so expect a mix: I’m working on something new for it, and subject to the tech working, I may have one or two pieces involving music. Either way I’m really looking forward to it, especially as it takes place in a restaurant so I can combine performing with one of my other favourite activities, eating.
Although probably not at the same time. No one wants to see that.



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Dawn Breaks Over The Scottish Lowlands (well, more like mid-morning, really…)

A healthy and happy 2014 to all my readers. The crystal ball’s a bit cloudy this morning, but I hope to have The Surrealist Year Ahead finished up in the next few days. As they say, you heard it here first!

Andrew xx

Why Duality Tango?

I remember once acting for a client who was buying a flat in another part of town without his wife’s knowledge: a bolt hole, he said, for a marriage going wrong. I didn’t stay at the firm long enough to find out whether he quietly sold it a year later, or needed me to act for him in the divorce.

Everyone has dualities, different selves we shuffle for the people we’re with or the place we’re in. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or Confessions of a Justified Sinner, are just extreme expressions of the double lives we all sometimes lead. Most of us don’t go that far, but have different faces for our work colleagues, our friends, our nearest and dearest; little singularities, copies of ourselves we have to hand, either in the flesh or online. You don’t have to have a safe house in London’s East End, like Henry Jekyll did,  or even a small town flat to escape your wife, to have a duality,.

And sometimes, one self has to dance with another.

I’m not so different, then. Similarly, the last couple of years I’ve been through, with a health scare, a Big Birthday, and losing nearest and dearest, isn’t such an unusual set of life events. What has surprised me is how it’s affected my creative output.

I was learning and listening to music long before I started trying to sell my writing. 30 years on, I’ve got a box of fiction and poetry magazines in the attic, a few anthologies I’ve featured in on my bookshelves, and three unpublished novels in a digital drawer. I also have three guitars, and a keyboard hooked into a digital audio interface. The latter’s down to Gavin Inglis, who got me into music editing and recording the way I imagine a drug dealer gets one into crack cocaine.

This show is the result of all of that, and meeting other musicians, such as my Tribute to Venus Carmichael collaborator, Kelly Brooks, and guitar players Mark Allan and Kenny Mackay. They say music uses a different part of your cerebral cortex altogether, and over the past two years that part has been lighting up more than it has for years: I wake up with tunes, rather than poems, running through my head these days.

Words alone can be powerful; but for me, the right music behind them turbo-charges the emotional impact. A three-chord progression on a Telecaster tends to reach parts of me most poetry never will. What this show’s about, then, is blending my wordy and (ahem) musical selves. A duality of creativity, if you will.

If that sounds all a bit intense, don’t worry – this ain’t no misery memoir. There will be bits of the show that are meant to be moving. But it’s also meant to be funny. Then the second half Kelly and the boys come on to back me, and we aim to knock you right out of your socks.

If you’re ever heard anything of mine at a show and liked it, please come. If I’ve ever done you anything remotely resembling a favour, consider it called in. You know performers need an audience to feed off, right? Honestly, honestly, I think this is my best work so far.

Bring socks.

Forthcoming Events

Preparations are going well for the Bloc show on 30th October at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, The Year of Unnatural Scotland. After an initially slow start the guys have been lobbing in some real smart bombs of material to me, and I now have the – actually rather pleasant – task of corralling it all together. Invite coming to a Facebook page near you (and Twitter, and goodness knows what all what) shortly.

I also wanted to share news of my  Andrew C Ferguson + friends show in November: Duality Tango The spiel goes something like this: Spoken word you can actually dance to

Using a mash up of handcrafted loops and live guitarists, one of Edinburgh’s best known spoken word performers creates a new set of soundscapes for his storytelling. Literary heft meets rock gig in a show that explores the duality of the soul with stories in turns funny, moving and surreal.

Ferguson has combined his words with music before (Kabarett, Unbound at the Book Festival, Illicit Ink) but this full length show is the culmination of a year’s preparations. Meet Spoken Word 2.0.

Is it rapscallion wordsmithery riffing on an A minor chord? We think so. Is it the long undead bastard twin lovechildren of punk rock and Fleetwood Mac squalling over a red Gretsch guitar? Quite possibly. Will you come out humming the tunes? Yes you will.

Hear the other side of the Jekyll and Hyde story; the new Old Testament Book of Bob; and those cheeky Utter Ballingristani nose flute players.

Duality Tango will feature Kelly Brooks (Gentlemen Prefer Blondie; Tribute to Venus Carmichael) and Mark Allan and Kenny Mackay (Isaac Brutal and the Trailer Trash Express; Shock and Awe).

Also special guests Gavin Inglis, and Dickson Telfer, bring their own unique combinations of spoken word and music to the party.

Reviews of Andrew C Ferguson:

‘Hilarious…’ Peter Ross, Scotland on Sunday (Literary Death Match)

‘Very cool…’ Kevin Gilday, Subcity Radio (Hyde’s Last Words)

For more info, go to

For demos of some of the tracks, go to

Duality Tango, Bongo Club, 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JX

14th November Doors 7.00 pm £7/£5 advance

The Autumn Forecast: Slamming, Caving, Tattie Howking, and Fast Bowling

Keats may have said autumn was a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but then he never lived in Scotland when it can be a constant diet of monsoons, high winds, crops rotting in  fields, and the inevitable heavy drinking. Keats almost definitely didn’t meet Nick Cave either.

Which is a roundabout way of saying the next few weeks are going to be a bit busy. First off, I’ll need to prepare for Slam Factor Fife, which is bringing the gentle art of the poetry slam to the Magic Kingdom. It’s at the newly reopened Kirkcaldy Galleries on Thursday, 3rd October.

On Saturday 5th, of course, there’s Cry of the Cave People, a celebration of the work of Nick Cave. Four bands, three spoken worders, one night of Gothic magic. Much rehearsal has already been had, and trading of song titles … the Cave People’s FB event page is now open for business.

In the midst of all this, I hope to blow the lid on my latest expose: how the Potato Famine of 1847-8 changed the face of fast bowling forever, or The Scots-Irish Conspiracy Theory of Cricket. You heard it here first.

No self-imposed pressure then!

Just two days left for me to finalise both Markheim and Hyde’s Last Words, two audio files that I promised to let loose on the unsuspecting world on August 28th (for no better reason than it’s divisible by 14). The latter, being my own work, is just about there – I faffed about yesterday adding a bit of guitar to the end of it, inevitably getting a (very short) lead part down first take, and then agonising over the simplest rhythm part you will ever have heard. Subject to that being fixed out, it’s done.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Markheim is a bit trickier. Firstly, it’s quite long. Secondly, it’s set in London, so I have the choice of either going for the accent, or, er, not. Mind you, I did hear once that the morningside accent we hear nowadays is the product of nineteenth century Scots trying to ape their posh London counterparts, so maybe it should all be a bit Miss Jean Brodie.

Thirdly, though, there are the sound effects. Boy, are there sound effects you could put in Markheim: RLS uses the background noises in the shop after the murder extensively, and just how much I follow that will be partly down to how much time I have. I might even just put up a beta version on Wednesday, but I’d rather it was the final one.

Either way, it’ll be mid evening at the earliest I suspect. In the meantime, the links above will take you to the trailer versions.

14, a Magic Number

I’m not really into numerology, and I’m the opposite of into Maths. All the same, the number 14 seems to feature rather prominently in most of the shows I’m involved in for the foreseeable future.

First, on Wednesday 14th August, I’m taking part in the Writers Bloc collaboration with musicians John Lemke and Poppy Ackroyd at the Book Festival, as the Jura Unbound event that night. It’s on from 9 till 11, and is absolutely free. I’m really looking forward to this, and not just because I’ve booked a night at Hostal Inglis and will therefore, for once, be able to have a drink after the show.

It’s also the first time for a long time Bloc has collaborated on a story; the early rushes are looking good, and next week, the 8th, we rehearse with John and Poppy and see how it all comes together. Their material can be played on the Denovali site.

I’ve previously posted about my Virtual Fringe (see separate page). I’ve decided it’s now traditional for me to release an audio version of a Robert Louis Stevenson story as part of this, so this year it’s Markheim. As an extra bonus I’ll be sharing at the same time my own RLS-influenced Hyde’s Last Words. The Markheim trailer version is now available. And so, indeed, is the HLW trailer version. The full versions will go up on 28th August – weirdly, a number divisible by 14.

It gets spookier. Edinburgh may be filling up with bright, happy, shiny people just now, but come September the nights will fair be drawing in, and how better to celebrate the oncoming darkness than an evening dedicated to the Gothic Grandmaster itself, Nick Cave? Well, if there is a better way, I don’t know it – four bands, three spoken worders (self, Gavin Inglis and MC Andrew Wilson) on 14th September at the Citrus Club. More details to follow on the separate page for this gig.

Rather spoiling the sequence is the Writer’s Bloc Halloween show, on Wednesday 30th October. However, that’s going to be the only disappointing thing about the gig – on a theme of Unnatural Scotland, you can expect the usual mayhem from, amongst others, the returned (from France) Stefan Pearson. We don’t think he’s been anywhere near Lake Pub

Finally, the solo show I’m planning of music and spoken word has a provisional date of Thursday 14th November. I’ll post more about this in the coming weeks, but trust me, it’s going to be something special.

Virtual Fringe 2013: beautiful plumage!

August is a strange time of year for indigenous Edinburgh performers. Their normal habitats are invaded by bright-coloured, exotic species from England and elsewhere, squawking and preening in huge numbers, making it hard to catch the amount of audience attention the natives need to keep going through such lean times.

There are two survival methods. One is to burrow underground (the Cowgate, for example) and see out the month living off the reflected glory of these noisy incomers; the other is to dust down one’s own feathers, spread one’s wings, and squawk with the best of them.

In common with last year, I intend to do a bit of both. I have the (still press-embargoed) Bloc show (or is it a Bloc show?) on 14th August; I’m also planning to record another audio version of an RLS short story for release in August (see the RLS page).

Other than that, I intend mainly to go to, and enjoy, a variety of Fringe and Book Festival events. So far I’ve signed up to an eclectic mix, bearing in mind these may not all be my first choices, since I’m going with others and we’ve had to find that interlocking bit of our Venn Diagram of tastes that means we’ll both enjoy it:

7th August: Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two, at the Cowbarn, Underbelly;

9th August: Henning Wehn’s Authentic German Christmas Do, at the Caves;

11th August: Oliver James – Is the Office a Malicious Place? Book Festival

11th August: Jesse Norman – Edmund Burke: A Hero of our Time; Book Festival

I might go to other stuff. I might write reviews, particularly of the shows which are not just a one-off. If so, they’ll be collected on the Virtual Fringe page.

In the autumn, I will be seen swooping and cawing in the Edinburgh skies as the sun sets. Updates on what I’ve planned for then soon.