Cultural Stuff

The Hidden Door Festival

There’s nothing better than having a great, wee arts festival on yer doorstep and no, I’m not talking about the Fringe. The Hidden Door Festival is an alternative programme of events which has been on the go now for four years. Luckily for me, this year it’s being hosted at Leith Theatre.  This gorgeous building has been closed to the public for almost three decades and after a great deal of restoration work by Leith Theatre Trust is now ready tae rock once more! Cue the Hidden Door festival commandeering it for it’s annual, May jubilee of new and emerging art, music, theatre, film, spoken word and mischief-making!

This year’s event has featured some fun, installation art by Lotte Fisher whose delightfully bonkers world of Tenzing has taken up residence in the old toilets of the building.

Tenzing by Lotte Fisher, installation artist at Hidden Door Tenzing by Lotte Fisher at Hidden Door Hidden Door 2017, Tenzing by Lotte Fisher

Other acts have included an excellent spoken word evening hosted by Flint & Pitch and multi, award-winning, site-specific theatre company (and Leith locals), Grid Iron whose play, South Bend has been picking up rave reviews already. This year’s musical artists have been particularly impressive in Bossy Love, Hidden Orchestra, prolific composer, Anna Meredith the compelling, Kathryn Joseph (check out her thoroughly mesmerising version of Radiohead’s Street Spirit) and the mighty Idlewild who headlined the opening night.

Hidden Door Festival 2017, Leith

The vibe is really nicely, chilled-out with local, independent food vendors and a bar selling cheeky libations ahoy to keep yer laughing gear lubricated.

The spirit of Hidden Door is for me, embodied in the way they use unusual venues with the past few years seeing them take over a disused lighting factory and the dilapidated, arches on Market Street by Waverley Station (since transformed into shiny, retail units). This year’s venue is a particular gemstone though and having the performances breathing life back into the place is a wonderful sight to behold. I would urge everyone to get behind the events being held here and support the Leith Theatre Trust.  It needna’ be hidden any longer.

Hidden Door Festival at Leith Theatre

This year’s festival runs from Friday 26th May until Sunday 4th June. http://hiddendoorblog.org/

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Neu! Reekie! – Edinburgh’s avant-garde, cultural cabaret of delights

Neu! Reekie! Bill Drummond

Once a month in Edinburgh, a most wondrous gem of a-happenin’ happens and it goes by the name of Neu! Reekie! Imagine a cultural smorgasbord of entertainment which showcases Scottish live music, spoken word, poetry, short film and animation all packed into a four hour programme. Hosted by poet and publisher, Kevin Williamson (whose Rebel Inc imprint launched the careers of Irvine Welsh and Alan Warner) and award-winning poet, Michael Pedersen, this is one of those arts events which started in a typically underground, word-of-mouth way and has amassed quite the following over the past seven years. There’s always an array of fascinating acts and I’ve made many a discovery such as the poetry of Holly McNish, the animated films of Ainslie Henderson and Will Anderson and the eccentrically, soulful voice of Law Holt. Do check them all out for they are all superbly talented humans.

Young Fathers play Neu! Reekie! 2015

Neu! Reekie! events are always held in inventive and often, unique locations such as Edinburgh Central Hall where my favourites, Young Fathers headlined two years ago and the National Museum of Scotland where Charlotte Church‘s Late Night Pop Dungeon brought the party with an array of genre-spanning covers. (I mean, she did a version of ‘Hometown Unicorn’ by Super Furry Animals. What’s there not to love about this alone? Best. Night. Ever!)

Charlotte Church's Pop Dungeon play Neu! Reekie! 2016

As well as the fabulous live performances, there’s usually other novelty things to do at these events, such as dressing up like vikings, replete with crazy wigs. Exhibit A.

Neu! Reekie! Celts 2016 dressing up as Vikings

As well as Edinburgh, Neu! Reekie! have been popping up all over Scotland recently, hosting events in Glasgow, Dundee, Elgin and even noising up smaller towns such as Hawick, Anstruther and Ullapool. They even left their beautiful trail of chaos in Smoo Cave, Durness which having visited, I would have loved to have seen!

Keep yerselves in-the-know with what’s coming up from Neu! Reekie! here: https://www.facebook.com/neureeking/ and here: https://twitter.com/NeuReekie

Head along to one of their nights – you can thank me later 😉

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Where You’re Meant To Be (Film, Directed by Paul Fegan, 2014)

Last June, my boyfriend and I decided to go and see director, Paul Fegan’s Where You’re Meant To Be on a whim. We were both already fans of Arab Strap, Aidan Moffat‘s band as well as his solo stuff, so knew that we’d be in for an expletive-ridden and most likely, humorous 76 minutes at the cinema. It’s spirit seemed to chime with our annual Midsummer jaunt (you’ll hear all about his soon.) So, armed with some obligatory-but-oh-so-necessary booze, we headed to The Cameo Cinema (more on this wonderful place in a future post) to see it and were so surprised by its emotional depth.

Where You’re Meant To Be follows Aidan and chums on a folk-singing tour of Scotland with a difference. His renditions of traditional ballads and tunes are given a typically, potty-mouthed spin and turned into hilarious tales of being arrested in Blytheswood Square for consorting with prostitutes, attending a swingers party in Kirriemuir and a feckless, would-be Don Juan and his pursuit of a lassie. On his travels, he meets up with the late, great Sheila Stewart OBE, a folk singer who believes that the traditional way of delivering these songs should be upheld. Aidan however, is all about the now and what follows is a tale of two cultures: the old and the new with their conflicting ideas of what folk songs really are.

The film features some of Scotland’s finest musicians in multi-instrumentalist, Jenny Reeve (Bdy_Prts and Strike The Colours), composer, Michael John McCarthy (Zoey van Goey), singer, James Graham (The Twilight Sad) and Bill Wells (Bill Wells Trio/ Octet/ Big Band and Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat) who could only bring life to a slightly detuned piano, played on the banks of Loch Ness.

However, the real heart of it all, lies with the people he meets en route – the widower from Skye who we meet dealing with the loss of his wife, the rival Nessie-hunters, the gallus fella in the kilt and Ramones t-shirt who turns into a one-man dance routine – for it is the people who make this film.

Where You're Meant To Be film

I can’t even begin to tell you how much you need to see this. Not only is it tender and completely moving, it’s also filled with some stunning cinematography which showcases Scotland’s beautiful and varied landscapes. Add in the fact that it’s a total hoot and filled with many an unforgettable character who will stay with you forever, and you have a thoroughly entertaining film which ticks all of the boxes.

So, here’s a health to the company … cheers, Sheila and Aidan.

Where You're Meant To Be film

Buy the film and superb soundtrack here: http://whereyouremeanttobe.com/

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