George Tucker, Liam Ferns, Coogs and Stonedyke live at Liquid Ship in Glasgow
A man needs a plan. A dastardly plan at that. If that plan involves beer then so much the better. Mind you, coming up with a plan that involves beer is not that difficult. Especially when you are the Bluesbunny. We have our reputation to think of. Blundering through life as we are prone to do whilst waiting for anything resembling inspiration, we once more found ourselves downstairs in the Liquid Ship just in time for another Free Candy Session. Tonight our ears were to be treated to the delights of George Tucker, Liam Ferns, Coog and Stonedyke.
George Tucker is on first. He looks like he has been around and apologises for having a smaller than normal band. It isn't the size but what you do with it that counts and George knows what to do. Abandoning the mandolin due to technical problems, he picks up the acoustic guitar and encourages his two cohorts into that folk goes funky kind of groove. He hands over the lead vocals on the next two songs to the delightful Kate. She has a strong, bluesy voice in the style of Jo Ann Kelly and delivers the goods on "Heaven". The dim ambience of the Liquid Ship makes our George wonder if there is a need for night vision but it does not stop him making with the quality guitar picking. The band veer off into proper Patsy Cline style country for their closing song "Sleep No More" to provide a suitably dramatic ending to their set. Can this be classed as a good start? Oh, yes!
Next up is Liam Ferns. A young, intense man, he starts off at full speed and stays that way for the majority of his set. There is an Oasis meets Elvis Costello feel to the lyrics and the songs therefore show seriousness at odds with the up-tempo, upbeat melodies. Try "Amsterdam" for an example of this. He rushes gems like "The Piano Stops" barely giving the song time to take shape. "High Heels" has some neat, pointed lyrics but it disappears as fast as it had appeared. All is forgiven on the closing number "Unreliable" as he hits the brakes and lets his voice and the song synchronise themselves. He has potential, for sure.
Following on is Coogs. Time for the social commentary and some gut busting humour. Coogs is Michael Coogan who - it would appear - is from that exalted land known as Lanarkshire. This mythical land once had jobs but now has something called enterprise zones. He is a natural performer and the stage could easily be his home. There is a sign of this if you care to look. Two bars into any one of his songs and the audience stop talking and listen. Stardust, that what it is. His singing is right on the money but it is his humour that impresses. "Pullin'" causes much mirth amongst the audience with its fearsomely accurate description of working class mating rituals. The middle classes are too uptight to have a mating ritual, by the way. That is possibly a blessing. Sensing there might be a Lanarkshire boy or two in the audience, he reprises the soon to be legendary "Coatbridge Boys". Name checking all the nightspots in the Las Vegas of the central belt of Scotland, he nails that Saturday night experience. His good spirits, fine voice and black humour win the approval of the audience and of the Bluesbunny.
Rounding things off are a folk band from Fife called Stonedyke. Normally Bluesbunny avoids folk music. Our standard sartorial elegance is at odds with Aran sweaters and holding one ear whilst bemoaning the after effects of the Highland Clearances. Consumerism is not a new thing apparently. They were having clearances in the 17th and 18th centuries according to the history books. Long before they had retail outlets. This band has a bit of class though. They manage to be sentimental without being twee. They claim to sing songs of death and destruction but actually bring us warmth and humanity instead. The songs are not just thrown together. "Not Alone" impresses with its intelligent lyrics and sensitive arrangement. Kellie Buchanan's voice on "Maybe Someday" would charm anybody. They even manage to squeeze in some humour with a song about the trials and tribulations of having ginger hair. Whilst folk music would normally have Bluesbunny reaching for a gun, this band would make him reach for his credit card. We don't know if they have a CD available but we would buy it if they did. One fine live act and that's a fact.
Topped up with the bonhomie that only beer and quality music can bring, Bluesbunny aims himself at the door. The Free Candy Sessions. Free Candy. Now he knows why that is the name for this fine night of musical entertainment. Bluesbunny is glad that he has a sweet tooth.
July 19 2007
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