Posts Tagged ‘ Cafes ’


The Great Hip Hop Hoax


At first the tale of two students from Dundee who adopt American accents and pretend they are Californian in the ruthless pursuit of fame as rap stars  simply because their Scottish accents had them laughed out an A&R meeting and referred to as the ‘rapping Proclaimers’ seems unbelievable.,However this ploy which enabled them to a attain a lucrative recording deal, convincing and fooling everyone they met may seem even more highly implausible but it is in fact a true story. Jeanie Finlay delivers this documentary in a style which recalls the tale of Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain-whose stateside doppelgangers went under the pseudonyms Silibil ’n’ Brains- at the apotheosis of their deceit -around nine or ten years ago- intercut with more serious recent hindsight interviews from the duo. It is a fascinating watch and one which details the sheer determination and chutzpah necessary in achieving fame.

 Naturally charismatic, Billy Boyd attracted the attention of Gavin Bain the first time they met and an inseparable friendship was forged. Discovering several things in common what became apparent was they both had musical ambitions so joining up with a third party they formed a rap group singing in Scottish accents and became a local cause celebre due to the individual nature of their act.

Dreaming of bigger things they travelled to London and wangled an audition but were laughed at because of their Scottish accents. Disheartened, but not out, Bain-a natural born mimic- started talking and performing in an American accent. Partly  act of revenge and partly wanting to have their talent recognised through whatever means it took, the pair then both adopted Californian personas and started living, talking and breathing these imaginary characters twenty-four seven.

 Of course such a tactic is not without its drawbacks and the more attention and success which came their way, the more the chance of being discovered also hovered in the background.  Therefore some necessary self sabotage was necessary every time things looked like becoming too big whilst drug and alcohol abuse did not help to assuage the paranoia which was lingering in the air, but merely aggrieved it.

 Eventually the constant  living  a lie became too much for Boyd when abandoning the pursuit of fame in favour of marrying his childhood sweetheart and raising a family became a more attractive option thus spelling the end of the duo as a working entity.

 It is hard to imagine how two canny lads from Scotland were able to pull the wool over so many eyes but it does make an amusing tale. Particular highlights are Boyd’s blagging his way backstage into the Brits-photos with everyone fom Siouxie Sioux, Kelly Osbourne and Kasabian confirm this- where drinking with Daniel Bedingfield the first realisation that he is involved in such a grandiose  lie emerges during a heavy drinking session wherein the singer casually comments ‘I thought you were Scottish’. It is then he realises the whole ruse has a limited time frame and desperate to capitalise on this pressurises the perfectionist and reluctant Bain to rush a record out but all to no avail.

 A great exposé on the gullibility of the music industry The Great Hip Hop Hoax is an enjoyable ride which reveals that gall and chutzpah are sometimes all it takes to succeed. Despite this Boyd and Bain never actually achieved all they could as the pressures of the lie they were living eventually overtook any ambitions or creativity. This is a shame as it would have made a better ending if they had actually attained international success and then revealed the truth. This is a minor quibble though and it is still a worthwhile docufilm

The Great Hip Hop Hoax is on BBC2 Scotland at 9pm Friday October 11th.


Just An Observation Friday April 5th


The arrival of Spring-I’m being the eternal optimist here-this week also saw the most draconian overhaul of the benefits system in recent years from a government who consistently inform us ‘we are all in this together’ but probably more so if you are on the lower end of the social spectrum. Whilst a sense of perspective is required- a ridiculous list of  taxes which didn’t exist 100 years ago did the social media circuit as a form of protest without taking into consideration that neither did a National Health System or Benefits of any sort- the so-called Bedroom Tax defies any logic whatsoever.

Especially as we still support a family who are allowed to have various palaces left standing empty at our cost and it would appear that Muslims are exempt if they keep a spare room for prayers. Whilst I have no problem with other peoples beliefs it does seem more than a little like political correctness gone mad and hardly reinforces the doctrine of us all being in it together.

There has also been a lot of speculation about the Michael Philpott case this week and a lame attempt to tie it in with benefit scroungers. Whilst there are some people out there who choose and manipulate the benefits system as a way of life treating it as a career – and do very nicely out of it- the vast majority have no choice and live on the measly amounts handed out to them whilst still putting themselves forward for every job available in a frustrating attempt to improve their circumstances. People like Philpott only represent the small minority who use any means at their disposal- children and illnesses (real or exaggerated) seem to top this list- to defraud the system and tarnish the reputation of the genuine claimants.

People such as him do not see them as benefits but an entitlement and know how to work the system. The fact that six of his children died in his latest scheme to frame someone else has nothing to do with him being in receipt of benefits and everything to do with him being a reprehensible and vile human being. It did however give George Osborne and the Daily Mail fuel for the fire to ignite further animosity towards any other benefit claimants and in the week when the system had an overhaul this went beyond opportunistic and came across as cheap, petty, vindictive and spiteful. How very unlike this government!

Elsewhere sad news was received concerning the revered Scottish author Iain Banks who announced via his website he was suffering from terminal cancer. Apparently the author of ‘crow Road’, ‘Complicity’ and ‘The Wasp Factory’ has been given only a matter of months left to live. It is however warming to learn that he is out there making the most of his time left by living the high life on his honeymoon in Italy- after a proposal which went along the lines of ‘Will you do me the honour of becoming my widow?’ in typical Banks macabre humour-and intends to fight his illness for as long as is possible. Our thoughts are all with this man who has been one of the most revered and successful authors in recent Scottish literature.

Out at the cinema the best film on the circuit at the moment has to be Compliance. Based on a true story-aren’t they all these days- concerning a case at a McDonald’s in Bullitt County the film focussed on how compliant- and utterly stupid it must be said- people become when faced with an authoritarian figure. In this case the authoritarian figure is little more than a voice on the end of a phone that claims to be a police officer and offers no evidence whatsoever to authenticate this claim. Having always had a flagrant disregard for authority I watched this film with a mixture of disbelief and discomfort. It is a very unsettling but also compelling film and surely already a contender amongst the best films of the year so far. A full review is here. I do have high hopes for the latest Ryan Gosling offering ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ due out on April 12th as pre-publicity and trailer have done their work of sparking my interest.

The big news this weekend however has to be the opening of The Breakfast Club-occupying the site formerly known as Negociants- in Edinburgh. Promising a much needed breath of fresh air its proprietor, Warren Deighan, already has impeccable credentials and having enlisted the services of a young crew with their eyes and pulses on the zeitgeist his experience and their nous look like creating a winning combination. A full look at this exciting venture can be found here.

I am now off for a weekend that will start at the Breakfast Club this evening and very likely find me up back there on Monday morning. What will have happened in between is anyone’s guess


The Breakfast Club


Walking around town over the last few weeks my eyes have been immediately drawn to several billboards and posters with snippets of witty remarks surrounding black bold face set against pure white proclaiming TBC which I assumed was an acronym for To Be Confirmed. At first glance I surmised this was the powerful use of subliminal advertising whetting our appetites for further information which would be revealed in the very near future-which it was- but then a chance encounter and an invitation to an exciting new venue which sets out to up the ante of city centre nightlife and live music revealed that TBC actually also stood for The Breakfast Club.

Taking its name from the eighties classic movie The Breakfast Club is the latest brainchild and project from Warren Deighan who has played an impressive role in different styled ventures on the Edinburgh scene  over the last twenty years. Perhaps his most notable contribution is that he is the individual who created the original Honeycombe venue in Blair Street- now known as Cabaret Voltaire- and from there extended his repertoire to include Pop Rokit –The Street-, gave the Vaults a much needed make-over-confusingly renaming it the Honeycombe and now referred to as the Hive- as well as a short tenure at The Southern in South Clerk Street.

Getting bored with the scene which he in part created and had a huge input into Deighan stepped back out of the limelight and withdrew from a scene he considered to be on its dying legs ten years ago around the time clubbing lost its real impetus and showed little or no sign of progressing. Incidentally he reached this conclusion around the same time as myself and we both saw a scene which had once crackled with energy, enthusiasm and vitality being replaced by tired, predictable DJ’S and promoters who were just involved in the alcohol and drug sated manipulation as their punters were. Thus no new ideas were being offered up and stagnation and ennui set in.

Taking a few years off from the scene – family bereavements and emotional upheaval consumed much of his time and energy in this period- when Deighan eventually made forays into Edinburgh nightlife again he was shocked and disappointed to discover that ten years on from that boring and disillusioning time very little had changed. Believing that perhaps it was maybe him who was too old his opinions were completely revised after stumbling into the underground evening which houses several different factions of the city’s arts community on a regular basis once a month, Neu! Reekie.

What this evening taught him was that Edinburgh still had a burgeoning underground scene where ideas and concepts are exchanged and worked on by like –and even not so like- minded individuals. Re-invigorated by this experience he set about enlisting the services of some of the people he met – Neu Reekie’s Michael Pedersen and Carla Easton  are both heavily involved in the new project – and listening to what they had to say and what they were actually looking for in a night out and most importantly what they were willing to contribute.

Like Neu! Reekie  The Breakfast Club will house a very broad church but the similarities end there with live music and club nights-not featuring the Jurassic DJ’s who I have often complained about who refuse to move over and give the scene a chance to grow- which promise a new scene ushered in via a new generation with ideas of their own.

There is a clear sense of the back to basics ethos which has been missing from the Edinburgh scene for nigh on a decade, before clubs became just somewhere else to go for a late night drink, drawing on a time when the music and crowd were what was actually important but with its sights aimed squarely on the future. The idea of a club as an exclusive-but simultaneously inclusive to like minded souls- enclave for people to congregate and have a good time is what lies at the heart of this venture and the experience from Deighan alongside the enthusiasm of his team combined are what makes The Breakfast Club an essential addition and necessary kick up the arse to a flagging Edinburgh scene which has not only rested on its laurels, at times falling into a narcoleptic state, for far too long.

Opening this Friday April 5th The Breakfast Club is situated at 45-47 Lothian Street, Edinburgh.

 Open daily from 9am -3am


Woodland Creatures


An exciting and intriguing new proposition opens its doors to the Edinburgh public this week, namely Woodland Creatures a much needed alternative addition to Edinburgh’s café bar scene. Located midway down Leith Walk-formerly Balfours Bar- Woodland Creatures is the brainchild of the combined and collaborative talents, ideas and influences of its two founders Christopher Mooney and Louise Thomas.

Louise will be familiar to many on the scene in Edinburgh as the co- owner of the Street in Picardy Place which has held sway at the corner of Broughton Street more than successfully for several years-they recently held their eighth birthday party for the bar at a site which few have been able to make work in the past so this indicates something of her business acumen – whilst Chris has his feet more firmly rooted in the arts community working away privately on his sculpture work. It is the combination of their talents which has resulted in the pulling together of resources to create the unique and individual entity which is Woodland Creatures.

The birthing process of this particular baby started its gestation nine months ago- a further reference to the human touches which make this enterprise stand out- with a singular idea that Edinburgh lacked a bar which offered a gallery space which was just not an after thought or a cheap way of decorating the walls. Mooney then invited Thomas to offer her opinion on a property which had piqued his interest and as she heard his ideas and realised how they correlated with her own decided she wanted to be involved. Thus what had previously been a close friendship evolved into a strong working relationship and a further bonding process which took their friendship to a new level and remains as strong and resolute as  ever despite the stresses and strains of getting such an adventurous project off the ground.

One thing which has repeatedly cropped up since the pair announced they were embarking on this venture was the unusual name Woodland Creatures. If effect was what they were after then they certainly managed to succeed on that level, as quizzical eyebrows were raised and furrowed brows struggled to restrain a lack of comprehension, whenever anyone was told the name.

Admittedly I was sceptical myself on first hearing it but after repeated hearings,  plus the reality of the actual bar itself taking shape, I have become used to it almost to the extent I can’t imagine it being called anything else now.

Despite this it was therefore inevitable I asked the pair what encouraged them to choose what is, on initial hearing, an outlandish and ever so slightly off the wall moniker. I was duly informed that such a name challenges preconceptions- true in the light of my being won round- and that it will act as a metaphorical door steward in itself as it is an effective deterrent to the less- shall we say- salubrious elements which used to frequent the premises. That mystery is now explained therefore solved and trust me the name does grow on you.

Other stand out features of the enterprise is the different beers etc. on offer. It will be the only Edinburgh outlet offering both Innis and Gunn beer on draught as well as environmentally friendly Puro Coffee which works alongside the World Land Trust- backed and supported by none other than David Attenborough- as alternatives to other bars/cafes in the town. This promotion of the coffee side of the business correlates with their ideologies of making this a bar for all age groups and culturally aware types. Thus parents are encouraged to bring their children in- up until 7pm- and dog owners will be pleased to hear it is also a dog friendly environment. Add to this a selection of  fresh smoothies combined with an on the premises prepared small menu operating to offer something different  throughout the day/ evening then all markets are being catered for.

As for the design itself the bar is a spacious and airy space which utilises itself to its best advantage. The gallery doubles up as a function room space which will have a split sound system separating it from the regular activities of the main bar area. Come March a small beer garden-the only one in Leith Walk- will be fully operational away from the front street and at the back of the premises. As for the exhibition space the first exhibiting artist is local talent Tim Parker.  Callum Reid  were enlisted and are responsible for translating the ideas and visions of Mooney and Thomas, bringing them together to create an already instantly recognisable brand.

Another encouraging factor of this venture is the confidence that both parties involved have in their ideas. So much so that talks are already underway about taking their ideas elsewhere and not only in Edinburgh but also expansion into other cities. Thus Woodland Creatures is only the start of something new and its future looks assured even before it has opened its doors to the public.

Woodland Creatures  260-262 Leith Walk, Edinburgh Scotland. 0131 629 5509.

It will be open to the general public 11.oo am -1.ooam daily as from February 14th