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Graham Knight

Michael Marra at the Blue Lamp - April 20th

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Each Michael Marra show is a unique musical experience and his solo performance at Aberdeens Blue Lamp on Sunday was no exception. It was a master class in showing how a talented musician can entertain a packed audience while performing his own compositions.

From the moment Michael bounded on stage and took his seat at a gleaming concert grand piano the audience knew they were in for a very special evening.

He began by making announcement in Creole French and after pounding out a few New Orleans second-line riffs he began his show with the self-penned tale Dr John Is Playing Blairgowrie Tonight.

If this title seems a little incongruous his wit, ingenuity and originality were further demonstrated by numbers that references to Bob Dylans Visit to Embra (Edinburgh), Grace Kellys Visit to Tannadice and the most far out of them all a composition about a famous Mexican painter: Frida Kahlos Visit to the Taybridge Bar.

Marras acutely perceptive lyrics combine humour with at times a bitter, ironic tinge that reflects on the darker side of life. His Chain Up the Swings, He Gets The Beefheart, She Gets The Stones and The Lonesome Death of Francis Clarke were outstanding in this genre.

The linking material he used between numbers was equally quick-witted and hugely entertaining. When a phone in the audience began to ring Michael said, I hope thats an incontinence alarm as thats the only kind we allow. This got a great laugh but Michael managed to top it by saying, I said that at a show last week and it was an incontinence alarm!

A tale about the hanging of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was cleverly linked with a story about Mussolinis pianist son playing a gig in the fifties with jazz trumpeter and heroin addict, Chet Baker. According to Marra after a show Chet said to Mussolinis son, A bit of a drag about your old man!

Michael Marra played piano, harmonica and guitar during the show and wrote 23 of the 25 numbers he performed. It was a magnificent performance a tour de force by a true original.

Aberdeen Folk Club and Interesting Promotions are to be congratulated on organising an excellent show and I look forward to another evening with Michael Marra.

http://www.marra.me.uk/

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Yep...'twas a fine night:up:

Jo Foster was her usual cheerfully nervous self, and took a wee while to relax, but, again she was charming, and entertained us with eminently hummable songs on guitar and piano.

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Guest idol_wild

I really wanted to go, but a solid week of gig-age last week condemned me to financial ruin.

:swearing:

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Yep...'twas a fine night:up:

Jo Foster was her usual cheerfully nervous self, and took a wee while to relax, but, again she was charming, and entertained us with eminently hummable songs on guitar and piano.

I agree with Alan Cynic. Jo Foster was good, played the piano well and added value to this very entertaining night at the Blue Lamp.

Re Michael Marra's song about Dr John - detailed above - I believe Mr Rebbenack really did play a gig in Blairgowrie - does anyone have further details. Apparently it was a long time ago. Ask your Dad!

Graham

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Wish I could've seen him when he did! I missed him in New Orleans by a day (although I did get to see Irma Thomas, Snooks Eaglin, Ernie K-Doe, Jerry Jeff Walker, Eugene Chadbourne and some other cool stuff!).

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Wow - tell me about Snooks Eaglin

Wish I could've seen him when he did! I missed him in New Orleans by a day (although I did get to see Irma Thomas, Snooks Eaglin, Ernie K-Doe, Jerry Jeff Walker, Eugene Chadbourne and some other cool stuff!).

I wish I had seen Snooks Eaglin - I did try to see him over 20 years ago at the Dew Drop Inn way out on La Salle (I was the only "honky" in there but they all realised I was there for the music). Snooks didn't show that night - the house band was great and apologised for Snooks non-appearnce - said he was "caught in a bottle-neck - again".

What was Snooks like? I know his music but what was he like live?

And Eugene Chadboure... he is really far-out - he is so far out he is in space.

I've not seen him either. What was he like on a show - did he have his electric "rake" with him?

Tell us more. This is very interesting.

Graham

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*Settles into cosy armchair, and sits Graham on his knee*

Well.....Snooks was ace...great, piercing sound. I saw him at the Mid City Lanes Rock 'n'Bowl, which was a perfect venue. The bowlers were busy bowling, and there were loads of folk dancing to Snooks (including me and my g/f.....which is unusual for me, as I don't often dance). He had a very warm stage presence, sitting in a chair mid-stage....I think he was backed by bass, keyboards and drums (but I may be wrong about the drums...it was a few years ago). His set was fab......I remember particularly enjoying 'Take me to the Mardi Gras' and an unexpected cover of 'Winchester Cathedral'. He seemed to be getting as much of a buzz from the music as the audiene did...smiling all through the songs.

The next day, I was wearing my newly acquired Mid-City Lanes T-shirt as we entered St Louis cemetery No 1, and one of the little old ladies welcoming me at the gate told me she often drove Snooks to gigs. She told us to try and stay with a group as the cemetery could be a bit dangerous....needless to say, being unwise to the ways of the world we didn't, but, within 5 minutes we heard screams when a woman a few rows above us was robbed at gunpoint, so we listened to advice after that.

The Chabourne night was also 'different'.....I really like his stuff, so I went to the venue (I think it was called the Mermaid or something) expecting a big crowd, but it was very quiet..I think there were less than ten of us in the audience. Eugene was playing with the drummer Paul Lovens, and I had a wee chat with them before the gig (and got my photo taken with them). The gig was a great mix of tunefulness and weirdness....the rake was broken out and utilised well. Can't recall much of the set, apart from him covering Donovan and Nick Drake songs.....and there was a fun bit while Eugene and Paul threw something back and fore while they played (I think it was fruit of some kind). On the way home, slightly wobbly through drink (lesson still not quite learned), I walked through a downmarket, dodgy poorly-lit area, with next to no-one around....a large black guy and 2 women were coming along the other side of the road, and he said "Hey, this guy's drunk!", and started moving menacingly towards me. I automatically stuck my hand into my pocket to stop my camera falling out when I ran, but the women pulled him back, probably assuming I was 'going for my gun'. When I sobered up the next morning I made a mental note to stick to well-lit, well-peopled streets where I would be less likely to get 'rolled'.

Apart from the acts I mentioned earlier I also saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (in Preservation Hall), Kermit Ruffins (great!) and a jazz/electronics outfit who were VG too, but whose name escapes me for the moment. Oh...I also saw a New York hip-hop bill at Tipitina's (I've the names written down somewhere...there was lots of breakdancing in the place) Needless to say I rubbed the bust of Professor Longhair's head when I went in.

I think I had a typical New Orleans trip....great music, great food & drink, near-death experiences:up:

*Graham slides off knee and calls social services*

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*Settles into cosy armchair, and sits Graham on his knee*

Well.....Snooks was ace...great, piercing sound. I saw him at the Mid City Lanes Rock 'n'Bowl, which was a perfect venue. ..........

I walked through a downmarket, dodgy poorly-lit area, with next to no-one around....a large black guy and 2 women were coming along the other side of the road, and he said "Hey, this guy's drunk!", and started moving menacingly towards me. I automatically stuck my hand into my pocket to stop my camera falling out when I ran, but the women pulled him back, probably assuming I was 'going for my gun'. When I sobered up the next morning I made a mental note to stick to well-lit, well-peopled streets where I would be less likely to get 'rolled'.

Apart from the acts I mentioned earlier I also saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (in Preservation Hall), Kermit Ruffins (great!) a......

Needless to say I rubbed the bust of Professor Longhair's head when I went in.

I think I had a typical New Orleans trip....great music, great food & drink, near-death experiences:up:

*Graham slides off knee and calls social services*

Thanks for that - I thought it was an older Al that sung "Climb upon my knee"

You certainly had a great time and I appreciate your report on Snooks - I must get to see him one of these days. And you heard "The Rake" too! - marvellous. Thanks for the insight into their performances.

Re your near-death experience: I have never had any trouble there and I was in some truly low-life places long, long ago to see people like Esquerita or Eddie Bo etc.

Mind you I am amused at the way the New Orleans paper always reports on the previous night of crime.

Just for fun I am posting below the police report for Wenesday night in New Orleans - it seems just like any night in Union Street. I hope it brings back memories of your escapades in New Orleans. Again thanks for updating me on your visit.

NEW ORLEANS POLICE REPORTS

For Wednesday April 23, 2008

ARMED ROBBERIES

Ben Weiner Drive near South Claiborne Avenue, Wednesday, 11 a.m. A man with a gun and wearing a black mask with either white trim or a white design robbed a vendor on the Tulane University campus of money. The robber ran north to Claiborne Avenue and got in a black pickup occupied by one or more other people. Tulane police couldn't be reached to find out whether the vendor was robbed inside his business.

6800 block of Tara Lane, Wednesday, 1:50 a.m. A 32-year-old woman was robbed near her house by a stranger with a gun.

ARRESTS

3800 block of Constance Street, Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. NOPD major narcotics officers served a search warrant at a residence and found 126 grams of cocaine powder and two loaded AK-47 assault rifles. Four suspects were booked with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of guns while trafficking in narcotics. Police provided this list of the suspects: Johnathon Nions, 4057 Chipwood St., Marrero; Alton Ruth, 28, 1017 Antonine St.; Raphael Stevenson, 18, 2301 Loyola St., and Calvin Dominique, 57, 3815 Constance St. Stevenson wore a house arrest ankle bracelet from a prior conviction.

300 block of Burgundy Street, Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Gregory Trott White, 33, was arrested by 8th District officers Jason Hickman and Adam Garner and booked with burglary of a car parked in the French Quarter on Burgundy Street, a police official said.

1000 block of Decatur Street, Tuesday, 2 a.m. Marty Montgomery, 51, and Melissa Montgomery, 30, were arrested by 8th District night watch officers and booked with attempted burglary in an attempted break-in at a business on Decatur Street, a police official said.

SHOOTINGS

2100 block of Second Street, April 13, 2:05 p.m.

ARMED ROBBERIES

5000 block of St. Anthony Avenue, April 13, 11:30 p.m.;

8200 block of Birch Street, April 13, 11:09 p.m.;

600 block of St. Louis Street, April 13, 8:57 a.m.;

Decatur and St. Philip streets, April 13, 5:56 a.m.;

6800 block of Colbert Street, April 13, 12:10 a.m.

SIMPLE ROBBERIES

Mazant and North Rampart streets, April 13, 12:39 p.m.;

Foucher and Tchoupitoulas streets, April 13, 3:07 a.m.

CARJACKING

6700 block of Gen. Diaz Street, April 13, 12:07 a.m.

AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS

2600 block of Hamilton Street, April 13, 10 p.m.;

2200 block of Clio Street, April 13, 7:57 p.m.;

2200 block of North Roman Street, April 13, 5:18 a.m.

ASSAULTS/BATTERY

7500 block of Jahncke Road, April 13, 10:16 p.m.; 2200 block of Clio Street, April 13, 8:47 p.m.; 1700 block of Tchoupitoulas Street, April 13, 7:34 p.m.; 4000 block of Ulloa Street, April 13, 8:09 a.m.; 4800 block of Hickerson Drive, April 13, 2:05 a.m.; Chartres and Madison streets, April 13, 2:05 a.m.; 900 block of Chartres Street, April 13, 1:51 a.m.; Canal and South Rampart streets, April 13, 1:26 a.m.; 3100 block of Cherry Street, April 13, 12:23 a.m.

etc etc

Graham

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Not too different, granted, but I'm hoping there are less AK-47 assault rifles in the possession of Aberdeen bams:laughing:

Still...at least that 32 year old woman was robbed by a stranger.....I hate it when friends hold me up near my house!

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Yes & No

Yes & No - Michael and Jo good but not superlative - If Jo is going to add ditzy to her already complete performance she should go about it professionally and her style don't need percussion - The sound amplification for both was awful - Why do so many performers persist in believing that loud is good especially in a small back room like the Blue Lamp? Song is music and LYRICS and the amplification muddied the lyrics so that one was straining to catch them. Suggest that all performers make a point of going out front and listening to another performer doing a song where the lyrics are not well known and see if they can decipher. Better still trim down all non-essentials like sound amplification and percussion and let the pure art shine through please.

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I doubt if the volume of the amplification was the choice of the performers....that would be the sound engineer. It didn't sound too loud to me (about half-way back), but then I'm used to Tunnels gigs where it can be unpleasant on the ear-drums, volume wise (and, occasionally music-wise, if I'm playing).

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I was at the back and the sound was perfect for me.

In fact I went up to the sound engineer afterwards and said "Nobody ever thanks the sound man but it was good".

It was a very fine piano and I liked the way it was amplified with a proper pickup on the soundboard rather than using microphones.

It all sounded fine to me.

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