Weird Decibels would like to share the music of our fellow Falkirk acts. Here are some of the records that Pabs has bought, listened to and enjoyed lately. There are a lot of great acts and records in Falkirk just now.
All downloads listened to in full WAV format at 44Hz (or higher) using the wonderful program Foobar 2000. Downloads and CDs paid for through Bandcamp. There are also a selction of CD’s in Falkirk shop Noise Noise Noise.
(recommended listening on WAV downloaded from Bandcamp)
Recorded at a pace in typical punk fashion between August and September 2015 13’s album A Line Of The Dead On Deadline Day is classic punk driven by a tight drum sound recorded in a fairly small room that gives the kit a close up feel; there is FX added to the snare on some tracks. The sound reminds me of the late 80’s early 90’s punk/ grunge scene. The drums are knitted with bass, and in most tracks there is one guitar that delivers the riff. Most modern bands double up, so this record feels live, raw and wonderfully personal.
The drums were recorded at the bunker in Bonnybridge, with the guitars recorded at Dollys; (house i’m assuming) this album has energy and a real underground feel . Dolly is the dominant lyric writer, with a snarl to his vocal delivery there is a political air to his musings.
The beauty of this record is its underground feel, its rawness and its pure punk ethos.
(recommended listening on physical format, Vinyl, (CD, which I have), included is rather nice artwork)
Ewan MacKenzie grew up in the Falkirk area with the same dreams as the rest of us. A musician who would hope to get some recognition for his work. We haven’t quite got there yet but Ewan appears to have made some headway into realising his vision.
He started his musical career as the prolific drummer of Cage, one of Falkirk’s greatest bands. Cage’s life was short; but it burned bright. Post Cage Ewan went on to perform on a number of projects. Recently he drummed for Pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs, a band that is doing rather well. For whatever reason he recently left them in May 2017 and it appears that his focus has turned to Dextro.
In the Crossing is a wonderful, moody and atmospheric piece of electronica. Its production and scope stands at height with mainstream acts which could suggest that Ewan will realise bigger things. Its timing and structure is wonderful, rich textures sweep across the listeners headspace and of course there is the assurance of Ewan’s drumming. The track Clearing digs deep into your emotions, its a beautiful four minutes.
Take this record in, breath it, listen when the sun is setting, you’ll understand what I mean. This guy is from your town, take pride in that.
(recommended listening WAV downloads from Bandcamp)
Iain King, singer and guitarist of Ghost Writer towers over most people he meets. I met him briefly backstage at Shuffledown 2017 and he seems like a nice fella, however there appears to be a side to him that allows him to create the edgy compositions of Ghost Writer. They have two EP’s now. Their first Outskirts Vol 1 is a raucous affair with For Hire (Summer Never Ends) having a riff that has that ability to dig into your ear. Mags Dignan’s vocal are worth a mention, her tone is a good contrast to Kings but there is no doubt she could deliver a song on her own. Last track Way I’m Wired is an example of a band quite happy to take risks, with a distant guitar, backed by fuzzy keys and an exposed vocal. Very nice.
Their follow up Legends is a more measured and professional sounding affair. Recorded at Chem 19 studios Ghostwriter have rolled a dice, paying money to produce an EP that they hope will lift them above their peers.
Its an ambitious EP that throws guitars licks from ear to ear. The last track ‘I’m Not Trying To Get to Heaven’ is a highlight, the EP tries to avoid the formulaic approach of other bands, sidestepping verse chorus verse structures. Have a wee listen to Outskirts, it’s a fine vocal performance from King drifting from baritone to the upper mids with ease.
I don’t get gig nerves as much as I used to. Of course I still get jitters these days, usually just before we go on stage, when I’d be wondering if I’d forget the first line or drop the first chord. However I don’t get the crippling nerves I used to feel when we first stepped onto the Martell stage back in 96.
Shuffle Down (20th May 2017) was different, I’d been thinking about this gig for the last year.
Let me take you back. Shuffle Down 2016 was well in the the swing and I was tapping my feet, enjoying the bands, the craic and the ale. Rikki Tonner, one of the event organisers, is someone I’ve gotten to know over the past couple of years. I believe we share a passion for the Falkirk scene (he’s more pro-active than I am!) so he came over for a chat.
Towards the end of our blether he hinted that Weird Decibels would play Shuffle Down next year. I’m not sure if he was just being nice, but he said it and it got me thinking. A rock band on Shuffle Down? Would it work?
Rikki stayed true to his word, a few months later we got the invite and then the nerves started to gnaw at the back of my mind. Then came the doubts. Would we be on first? Would their be a crowd? Or would there be a vast empty space as people went out for burgers and fresh air as we played.
Fast forward a turbulent year of Brexit and Trump. Now it was the morning of May the 20th 2017, I hadn’t got much sleep the night before but I was full of energy pacing around an empty house. Kirsty had taken our boy out to to stay at her mums for the night so I had silence for company. The nerves really started to kick in. I opened the guitar case and the old golden Yamaha was resting in its cradle. I picked it up and started strumming some of the songs. I forgot the words to Speak…Now I was really nervous.
I packed my pedals and our merch into my rucksack and put the guitar in the case and grabbed a bite to eat. As I picked at my sandwich I wondered what lay ahead. I checked the train times. It was time to leave.
I booted up Spotify and played some Soundgarden; the amazing Superunknown blasted my ears as I walked to the station; I spared a thought for the late Chris Cornell. Gradually Soundgarden’s music lifted my spirits. Now i was getting excited.
On the train I sat down and checked out the instructions for arriving at the venue. The whole set up provided by Afterglow was very professional. We’d be on at five and I had a hunch that this time might work out well for us. The beer would be flowing and maybe we’d get a few people listening.
The Dobbie hall was just short walk from the station (I love those gigs where it’s you, a guitar and a rucksack) I entered the main door there was a busy but calm atmosphere in the venue. The sound crew had already started work on a drum sound and I took a moment to admire the stage on which we would play. It’s easily the grandest stage our modest band has played on for a view years.
I got a warm welcome from an understandably distracted Rikki who pointed me in the direction of backstage where I gratefully laid down my guitar which had now grown heavy. I had a wee peak from the side of the stage, it was a fine size of floor space, very pleasing to the eye of a musician.
Half an hour passed and my phone buzzed, Greg and Stu were stuck in the car awaiting for the rain to stop, it was heavy, bouncing of the pavement as the dark clouds above us emptied. Finally Stu hauled his large guitar pedal case which I rather stupidly offered to carry backstage. It’s a heavy burden of effects!
We had a look at the other room backstage which had a small selection of beers and food, this is a lot more hospitality than many bands are used to! Derek arrived and this was the first time he had attended Shuffle Down and he seemed to be impressed with the set up.
With the soundchecks done we took our place in the audience. I was now observing how many people were walking through the door, looking behind me every couple of minutes like a paranoid spy from a 70’s Bond film (all that was missing was the newspaper and a dodgy pair of sunglasses). At 2 when the doors opened there was a small crowd, my fears of an empty floor for our gig were not easing.
The first acts played, you can read about Shuffle Down 2017 here. More people started to filter in and fill the hall. Now I was starting to feel that there would be a decent crowd. However I was fretting that our music would not sit well among the acts of this years lineup.
Have Mercy Las Vegas we so different to us and the crowd loved them, my anxiety grew. Now I just wanted a beer…Pronto Mama walked on with keys and brass and I thought the worst. Would these guys play music so different to us? However there set was great full of surprising guitar driven indie rock which I felt would ease the listeners into our music.
Now I was starting to get excited. Their set flew past and as I walked towards backstage I heard the crowd cheer their last song, it was quite a noise so I turned around and saw quite a mass of people. I was praying they would stay.
There was a nervous excitement from Stu, he suffers terrible pre gig nerves and he really felt this one. Greg just seems to stroll up and take everything in his stride. Derek is often the most composed. Quietly adjusting the cymbals and snare before settling into his stool prepared to beat the hell out of the kit.
I had to hold to my nerves, I was playing in front of a neutral audience, our friends and of course our peers of the Falkirk scene. We had won best rock act of Falkirk 2016 at the AMIF awards and I didn’t want to let anyone down. (thanks for voting!)
So I didn’t look out to the crowd as I plugged in my leads. Then I strummed the guitar…nothing…I walked over to the Marshall stack…turned up the volume…nothing. Then a slight adjustment and just a faint whimper of distorted guitar could be heard. Time was passing. I took a breath and had a look at the setting of the Marshall amp head. There were presets and I started to select the various settings, one of which said ‘classic’ voila. Sound.
I quickly got a level then scattered the setlists at the four positions of the band, Stu was ready, Greg, kitted out with his Weird Decibels denim waistcoat was ready. Derek was poised. I got a level with Stu and then looked to the crowd. They had stayed.
Ben White was on the sound desk and he picked up our prompt and dropped the background music. Derek started the beat of Speak. I picked the notes…the correct ones. The band blasted into the intro then I stepped up to the mic and sang the first line. Then I relaxed
Once More With Feeling
Kill it Kill it
Who You Know
I Hear the City
The stage was superb, I had room to run around like it was our first gig. Stu and Greg looked like they were have the time of their lives. Derek, as usual, keeping it all knitted together. The nerves were now evaporated. It set up the rest of the show.
When we finished Speak the response was superb and that energised us further, it gave us confidence. The sound was fine for us on stage but I believe that it was well received in the audience.
Our half hour slot felt like five minutes. We extended I Hear the City and I tried to get the audience to clap along, we extended the solos and build up to a finale. The song finished and I knew then we had played one of our best gigs in our two decades together..
The stage, the audience, the setting, it was all superb. 22 years in and we often wondered if we’d ever play shows like this again. I guess we’ve been rewarded for sticking together through the highs and the lows and while we’ve never made any sort of impression on Scotland’s scene we can look back on days like this and take a bit of pride from it. We made some new friends and reunited with some old. There has been some great photos of us on stage having a bawl.
So if you are a young local act, don’t get too obsessed with breaking through, just know that if you stick to what you believe in then there will be good times ahead. You cannot beat the high of achieving something with your best mates. Backstage after the gig was testament to that, bands often feel a closeness that you cannot explain to those who don’t play.
So a huge thanks to Afterglow, Rikki, Laura and the team for having us, indeed for taking a risk. We feel it paid off and we hope you did to. It was an absolute pleasure to play.
Shuffle Down had a different feel about it this year as we were playing! Read more about that experience in our latest gig diary.
As I arrived at the Dobbie hall some two hours before the doors opened there was a surprising calm in the air. The various volunteers and stalls were quietly setting up their various stations, there was an air of anticipation, would it be as busy this year?
Shuttling back and forth from the stage was Ben White who once again had the duties of mixing and amplifying a number of different bands with a wide range of instruments; he did a superb job. Anyone who has ever provided the sound for a gig will understand how difficult this is to do for two or three bands never mind a festival roster! So hats off to Ben and his team they did very well providing a nice meaty kick sound that cut through the full range of frequencies that are needed for a balanced sound. Everything from the guitars to the bass sounded well knitted. I would argue that this year was the best sound, a couple of technical glitches aside (which you have to expect), it was clear the sound crew have got to grips with the acoustics the hall
In the background Jim Dunbar was once again overseeing the task, A stalwart of the local scene for many years. During soundcheck he reflected on his many years hauling speakers to various venues and hinted that it may be time to put his feet up.
He did the sound back in at our first gigs at the Martell some 22 years ago, now here we were in the Dobbie hall about to embark on another Shuffle Down and all the challenges that come with putting on a show that gives local bands an opportunity to reach a bigger audience on a grand stage.
Once the soundcheck was completed the lights slowly came on, the true beauty of the stage was revealed. Shuffle Down always has the personal touch of the loyal volunteers and of course Rikki and Laura Tonner. This year was no different with a waterfall of lights hugging the back of the stage and the ever present Afterglow Lamp, stage right, proudly illuminated..
The heavens opened outside, biblical rain fell as the last of the early bands arrived to drop off gear backstage and exchange handshakes. There was a good air between the artists, mutual respect and a common desire to entertain the crowds that were on their way. The doors opened and the rain started to ease, a good number of punters drifted into the scent of coffee from The Common Grind and a whiff of ale from the Tryst Brewery.
Up first wasKieran Fisher playing an acoustic set of originals and covers; his gravely voice reminded me of Kelly Jones I thought this was a lazy comparison until he nailed the Stereophonics. Kieran looked confident up in the big stage which is a hard thing to pull off given that you’re up there on your own. Continuing the acoustic theme was Robbie Lesiuk, when he took the stage the hall was starting to fill with punters. The noise of the crowd chatter grew as people greeted each other the atmosphere was starting to build; there was now a buzz about the place. Robbie played well, his subtle use of loops is always good to listen to and Fault Lines always gets stuck in your head
I was surprised to see Have Mercy Las Vegas on early but it really did help get the feet stomping. Their charismatic front man had the audience stamping and clapping and for the first time I felt genuinely nervous that our rock set would plummet to the earth like a dropped pint of real Tryst ale. Then up stepped Pronto Mama, whose dynamic sound no doubt tested the sound engineering skills of Ben but I felt that the mix held well. Their set was a good blend of synth, brass and guitars. I really enjoyed their show. There was an intense feel to it.
We were up next and you can read all about that in our gig diary.
We played a half hour show which felt like 5 minutes. As we stepped back stage and took a few photos and admittedly did a couple of high fives the Lonely Tourist stepped up to the mic. The stage curtains were drawn so he had a more intimate platform for which to share his tunes. I caught a couple and I really enjoyed his music; I love the full band sound on his record and I hope he ventures up here with the band in the future.
I headed out the the stalls to grab a fine burger and the sun peaked out from behind the dark May clouds, they broke and scatters of blue sky could finally be seen. Finally I could relax and enjoy some Dobbie Shuffle from the Tryst stall (can I by bottles of this somewhere?! It’s sweet!). The alcohol hit me pretty quick!
I was really looking forward to Ghostwriter who I believe are one of the best bands to have emerged from the scene recently. For Hire (Summer never ends) was a great opener and that guitar riff is one of the most infectious I’ve heard for a while. Technical issues distracted singer Iain King and it caused him frustration. To be honest I felt his anger added a little edge to the performance which I enjoyed; however it proved to be too distracting for him and sadly their set finished early.
Fly Jackson ambled up to the stage they seem to take these events in their stride, I saw them at the Trinity Church gig and enjoyed them but I preferred this performance. It was a very focused set by the band and the sound had a fine clarity to it. They have some great songs on their roster.
Iain King found his composure and joined Fairweather and the Elements for their set. Ross and co headlined a great night at the Trinity church, this performance seemed to have more energy, perhaps driven by the occasion, vocalist Deborah Lang was clearly enjoying herself as she danced about the stage. By now it was clear that the electric atmosphere of Shuffle Down was influencing the artists; the performances seemed more energetic and the crowd were loving it. This is why we need this event.
I felt myself glued to the main stage, the atmosphere, the bands and the beer. In previous Shuffle Downs I found myself wandering upstairs to see some fine acts but this year I couldn’t leave the big room as it was proving too enjoyable. It helped that the bands were really quick to switch over. The hall seemed to be as busy as previous years, those watching the acts seemed to enjoy the various genres and warmly applauded all that played.
Miracle Glass Company were superb, I was transfixed by the drumming of Andy Duncan, he was keeping these Ringo Starr esq beats going at a pace while aptly performing his singing duties. There was good pacing to their set, Trouble is a great song.
Then came a surprise. 57, a hard rocking duo from South Korea, took me by surprise.The crowd loved them. I liked the set it was impressive and it was a huge sound for just two people. I had no idea that this was coming.
By this time I was a little tipsy and thinking of work the next day (started in the afternoon folks) so my wife and I headed off into the night. The sounds slowly faded as we walked away from the Dobbie hall.
Perhaps I’m biased as we played Shuffle Down this year but I felt that this was the most enjoyable year so far. The first year had big acts, the 2nd found its groove but this year felt different. It felt like a big party, a gathering of people who love music and will come to Shuffle Down regardless of who is on the bill and every band benefited from an audience that was open to hearing something new and it was fantastic to witness this.
Was Shuffle Down 2017 a success? If success was a large group of happy people enjoying a wide range of music, surrounded by friends drinking local beer, eating local food and listening to local acts then yes it was a huge success.
I will probably attend another overpriced festival sponsored by Tennents at some point but I doubt that will enjoy it as much as I did Shuffle Down 2017.
So as the bands packed up and the Afterglow lamp was switched off, I do hope that next year it will illuminate the Dobbie hall once more. The Falkirk music scene would miss what is now becoming the most important date on our local live calendar.
Withered Hand paid a visit to Falkirk. 18th May 2017
The Wine Library has been an establishment of many guises; from the working man’s haunt of the Argyll to the Irish themed Finn McCools then turning full circle back around to the traditional feel of renamed Argyll. Then came 20 Rocks (where we launched Weird Decibels 1) before it briefly became a cocktail bar and now here we have somewhat surprising wine bar in the heartland of Falkirk, The Wine Library.
Admittedly it looked good, although quiet, there was an undiscovered vault of wines and a limited range of beer for plain old rockers like myself. Upstairs, where the event was taking place, was nicely filling up with attentive listeners.
Untitled celebrates the words and art of Falkirk’s finest poets and wordsmiths and they had organised a night of poetry and music titled Louder Than Bairns. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had booked Withered Hand and a rare gig from Sweethearts of The Prison Rodeo.
The sun shone through the blood red blinds and the stage looked like the final scene of a Blade movie with an additional disco ball spinning on the ceiling for Wesley Snipes to slay some vampires under, however tonight’s fare would be more down to earth.
Up stepped a slightly nervous poet by the name of Carolyn Paterson. She spoke of her fear of the current state of the USA and shared then shared her routes of her Polish heritage. John Kennedy mixed raw personal experiences with humour and delivered impassioned poetry.
Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo David King managed to have a wee chat before their set and explained that he is working on new songs but the process of recording a new album has been a bit fragmented (i know the feeling); however for tonight’s show they visited much their most recent album, Pigs In the Bull Ring (humans like beasts) and they threw in some older numbers. Adam Stafford also took the time to make a guest appearance. There are several changes to the versatile lineup and the gig was solid; Robbie Lesiuk looked confident and at ease on the guitar using a mixture of loops and floating riffs with the kind of dexterity that is heard on his solo work.
Withered Hand was superb, delivering a good mixture of stories from his travels to the songs he has written over the years including King Of Hollywood from his last album New Gods. He is well known in the Scottish music scene and it was great to see him deliver a fine solo set in Falkirk.
All the information about the festival is on this fine website
Back in 2015 I was flicking through the Falkirk Herald when I stumbled across an article about a new local music festival called Shuffle Down. I was aware of this event however they had added the band Broken Records to the lieup. At this point I decided to delve further. Now intrigued, I bought my tickets and was pleasantly surprised at how good the festival was and how good the artists were.
Shuffle Down grew in confidence in 2016; once again back in the impressive Dobbie hall it had a more diverse line up and once again I had a great day with my wife and my mates
Now approaching its third year Shuffle Down is back on May the 20th and we’re playing! So below are 17 reasons why Shuffle Down should take a place in your 2017 musical festival calendar. Please note these are not in numerical order.
It one of Falkirk’s best music festivals. The Falkirk scene is continuing to grow again which is fantastic news for local artists like us, Shuffle down started in 2015, created by Rikki and Laura Tonner with help from their friends including Gavin Brown . There are many great acts playing in a cracking venue and the vibe is brilliant.
It marks the start of the summer. 20th May? Its that time between the end of spring and the start of summer. Shuffle Down is a great day to celebrate the sunny weather we get from May to September (well it seemed that way in the 80’s when I was a kid). If it rains falls head back into the halls and watch the bands!
You’ll discover new acts. I have discovered a few great acts in the last two Shuffles including Iona Marshall, Yossarian, Paddy Steer and Dextro. There are moments when you are enjoying your beer chatting away in company when an artist plays a song that makes you stop, listen and discover which is a hundred times better than letting Spotify (et al) do it for you…
It has a personal touch. Organisers Rikki and Laura plus family and friends put this together; the hall has always been decorated to give the festival a personal feel plus on stage there is a lamp. A little lamp that illuminates the corner which can be seen at many local gigs. A quirky touch that adds personality to an event that is a million miles away from the corporate festivals that clog the calendar.
The craft stalls are a haven of gems. In the past couple Shuffle Down fests I’ve been drawn (pun intended) to the artwork of John Grieve. However there are many stalls populated by local people keen to display their talents.
The atmosphere is fantastic. From chilled out to pulsating to bouncing Shuffle Down has had it all. The crowd is friendly and there is a generally good atmosphere around the venue.
Dobbie hall is grand. This hall is a hidden gem in our area, I’ve been here a few times for various events and the decor is beautiful. From the carvings around the main stage to the high ceilings and decoration this is a hall the people of Larbert are proud of. Its here on the map
It’s easy to get to. Just 5 mins from Larbert train station (hit link map link above), within minutes walk of buses, a ten minute drive from Falkirk, Stenhouse taxi rank just up the road. It couldn’t be easier to get to. Leave the car at home and enjoy yourself!
The food stalls are ace and local. Local butcher R Browns and Sons are just one of the vendors who provide much needed scran to soak up the local craft ales.
Craft ales are yep…local. Tryst Brewery set up stall last year and are returning with a few kegs this year. What better to enjoy local acts while sipping a fine ale from a brewery just a few yards down the road.
The line up is increasingly diverse. 2015 Shuffle Down took its first steps, in 2016 it found its stride with a more diverse lineup from the mad Paddy Steer, the indie tunes of Yossarian and the jumping ska of Esperanza. 2017 promises more with soul pop from Pronto Mama, American country from Have Mercy Las Vegas acoustic loops from Adam Stafford and a bit of rock from ourselves.
You meet old friends. It’s a great day out for friends and family, we go to Shuffle Down as a group and have a great day out however being at a local music festival it’s amazing how many old friends I bumped into the past two years.
Its great for local bands. The first Shuffle down helped raise much needed awareness of the local scene I couldn’t believe how many great artists were on my doorstep (I had lost touch over the years). Looking back at the past lineups I discovered I had missed even more acts that have played locally recently. There are even more local acts this year including to fine acts in Ghost Writer and Robbie Lesiuk to name just two.
The festival contributes to charity. MND Scotland and Strathcarron Hospice have benefited from money raised by Shuffle down. This year the charity will be Kidney Kids Scotland
£19 gets you a day of live music. For just nineteen pounds you will get you a full day of live music on two stages; can’t think of better value than that.
You don’t have to travel to the other side of the country to see a decent music festival. Whether its Glasgow or Edinburgh or even to the middle of a muddy field travelling to a music festival eventually means you have to return, often with a monster hangover. With a local music festival you might still have the hangover but at least you can rest your head on your own pillow.
Weird Decibels are playing! Come on give me this one! You are visiting our website aren’t you? We are delighted to be playing Shuffle Down 2017 and we’ll put everything into this. See you there!!
After the high of playing the Artisan Tap I was looking forward to seeing more bands on the Saturday as part of the excellent One Weekend in Falkirk. Now that I was returning as a listener I felt part of a festival. Both playing and listening to the acts has been a brilliant experience.
Greg and I were keen to get to the Tap to see the first act Callum Baird, we had to drop some gear off at the practise room on the way to Falkirk. (the joys of being in a band, a gig can mean two days of work)
We arrived in time to catch most of his gig. Callum is a confident player who is keen to sing his message to the people who listen. He has a feel of folky blues and there is a brooding anger in his performance which gives him an edge over his singer songwriter peers. Callum thanked the crowd for listening. He politely explained that he had to head off to Linlithgow to play another gig. Here is an artist who plays non stop, hopefully the hard work will pay off.
As Callum Baird packed his guitar into his case to head out the venue a band that I have been impressed by, The Blue Lights, started to set up. Staying High is one of the best tracks I have heard from this scene in many a year. Unfortunately their drummer could not make the gig so they played a stripped back set. Kirsten Hamilton is a powerful vocalist, I preferred their original songs to the their covers. I got the impression that Kristen’s heart was in her own songs and I look forward to hearing the whole band live.
Fuzzystar, from Edinburgh, were amazing . Before they played I had went to the toilet (as you do) and this bearded man in a white tee shirt stumbled into the mens. I thought he looked rather unsteady on his feet as he looked for a cubicle, I smartened up and headed out to get ready for the next band. As I sipped on my Bitter and Twisted (now my favourite beer at the Tap) I couldn’t contain my surprise as the same fellow donned in beard and white tee shirt took up his guitar and proceed to lead Fuzzystar through a wonderful set of bittersweet melodies. Their clean guitar floated nicely then they would lace some distorted tones to change the mood. Their lead guitarist was superb, he provided focus for the band. One of the delights in exploring the live music on your doorstep is discovering bands like Fuzzystar.
After the bearded fellows departed the stage Patersani entered and these guys were slick and reminded me of a Scottish Kings of Leon (if there is such a thing). I was foot tapping to a nice blend of indie rock. Very enjoyable.
Last up was Grim Morrison, a band that I enjoyed at Behind the Wall as part of the Loft sessions last year. For various reasons unknown to me their regular drummer was absent so up stepped one of Falkirk’s best drummers Ian Simpson who is very adaptive and was able to stitch together Grim Morrisons sound. I’m not sure what has happened to their bass player, however the chap who was on the four strings handled his duties well. Lead singer James McManus blended into the crowd all night. He has a mop of jet black hair tinged with a streak of white. He does not stand out in a crowd however it is a different story when he steps onto the stage. While I’m not sure where his band is going he presents as an accomplished guitarist and vocalist. Again luck had departed him as a string broke (The worst thing that can happen to a musician) James had tried to string up this guitar but it wouldn’t play ball so he borrowed a semi acoustic from another musician and after this their set exploded. Whether it was frustration at the events that had unfolded James snarled and belted his way through the remainder of their songs and it was a superb recovery.
I finished the rest of my pint and headed out into the night to hastily catch the last train, it was at Falkirk High. The view from this station overlooks Falkirk. As I waited for the Edinburgh train I turned and looked over the town. In my drunken sway I had a smile for I knew that there is a chance we could have a music scene that we can call great again.
While the world around us was erupting in unexpected vote results, civil unrest and the Great British Bake off scandal; some of our music legends decided enough was enough and packed their bags for heaven. We released our 8th album Weird Decibels 2, we embraced the local scene and won our first award, although we didn’t play live as much as I would’ve liked. 2017 will be fun. (its got to be!!)
So we wish our listeners, friends and family a healthy new year. Here is our 2016.
10th. The master (of Weird Decibels 2) is finished but Pabs went and re-mastered…
Front cover leaked!
The first master
13th. January, front cover of Weird Decibels 2 is leaked!
17th. Firkin Outburst our second album written years ago in 1998, is shared across the world including Spotify.
27th. We told the story of how we made weird decibels 2 including our temporary studio in the Springfield cottage down in the Scottish borders.
4th. Kill it! Kill it! Video is unleashed. Cracking piece of work from Kevin Byrne and a great performance from the indefectible Ruari Pearson.
10th. We are featured artist on the Third Class Ticket. Tommy done us proud with this show. Sadly due to an increasing workload Tommy later closed the Third Class Ticket.
We had a good spread about the album in the Falkirk Herald big thanks to James Trimble and co for the article.
Its well documented on this site that I’ve been in Weird Decibels for over 20 years playing in the local scene and sometimes beyond. For a majority of those years I’d admit that I was quite insular and interested in promoting only our band. However time and attitudes have changed and I have found myself taking in more and more of the local music scene around me. I’m not out at every gig or bought every CD (although I’m drawn to downloading from Bandcamp!) from our town, I don’t have the time (and money!) but when I can take the sounds in I enjoy being a part of it So here is my brief look back at the local music and events I have personally enjoyed (and been a part of) in 2016. Pabs
Ghost Writer. I saw these guys at Behind the Wall and the Trinity Church, they have a dynamic sound and really bring something different to the scene. They have been busy recording and released a few singles this year. They’re worth checking out.
Bootsie Blue. These guys bagged best new comer in this years AMiF awards this young three piece lit up Behind the Wall a few times this year, I saw them in June but they also played as part of the Falkirk Live festival. Looking forward to hearing what they lay down in the studio.
The Sonic Blues. The Breens (and Douglas Campbell) have had a busy year in the town, they played alongside us in May at North Star and several other gigs. They have regularly been sharing their music to the Falkirk masses via Facebook. I admire their DIY ethic to recording (its what I do)
Robbie Lesiuk. There is a big acoustic movement in town at the moment and Robbie is very much at the forefront of this. An accomplished live performer, I caught him at the Trinity and Coffee on Wooer where he supported Stirling act Lefthand.
Blind Daze. Its good to see more rock bands appearing on the scene (Falkirk badly needs more rock bands), these guys are playing with us Jan 6th 2017 and have been busy this year.
I’m still an album guy and there were a few that I discovered from our Falkirk acts this year.
Dextro. In The Crossing. Discovered this sublime electronica while listening to all the acts nominated for the brilliant AMiF awards. This is a well crafted piece of work that flows from track to track. Hunt this down.
13 A Line of The Dead on Deadline Day. Great, raw garage sound, really like this album from punk rockers 13 they’ve played a few times in 2016 and I’ve not been to one of their gigs yet. Need to sort this 2017.
I have a soft spot for Shuffle Down 2016 and it was great to see the festival return this year. The lineup was more varied and better for it. Still grin when I remember how good (and bizarre) the Paddy Steer set was. Great to see SD is back 2017
The Loft Sessions. Very enjoyable and it’s good to see that BTW have adapted the ale house to have more of a music venue feel, especially when they get rid of the benches. I really hope this continues and it gets busier. There were a couple of times it was busy and a couple when it was quiet.
Fairweather and the Elements Falkirk Trinity Church. A heavenly evening was had by the impressive crowd that attended, read about it here This was another watermark for the scene, new venue, great acts and a great atmosphere.
Falkirk music business.
Big shout out to Noise Noise Noise a wee music merch shop tucked away in the Avenue on the High Street of Falkirk. Craig is also stocking a number of albums from local acts; he even sets up stall at local gigs which is an inspired idea.
Revolution Music. Just down the street from Noise Noise Noise is Revolution Music, I know you can get strings and stuff cheaper online etc but it is nice to hand over cash to a fellow human now and again. Falkirk has had a long tradition of music instrument shops this is the only one (to my knowledge) still standing.
2016 saw an upsurge in Falkirk acts releasing music videos; however a fantastic playlist has been created by Stuart Gray (Children of Leir fame) he has painstakingly scoured the internet for videos past and present and brought them all together in one place. I heard Belt songs for the first time since I heard their tape in high school (that as a while ago) Hit this link and give yourself a couple of hours to discover some great stuff.
AMiF. The constant local music news updates, spreading the word and of course the AMiF awards has really helped engage the people of Falkirk with the scene and raised awareness among artists. Big congratulations to Fly Jackson on winning album of the year, Nickajack Men on winning song of the year and Sarah Em who won video of the year. The full listing of winners and nominees can be found on the AMiF page (link above). Check them all out, including best rock act of 2016 😉
Falkirk Music Scene 2016
Pic Eindp Photography
Pic Eindp Photography
Lets raawwwk. pic Byrne
So this was a quick glance from my personal perspective of the Falkirk scene this year but I can guarantee that there is so much more in our town.
The Falkirk scene is in good health but it is still not held in the same light as Fife or even Stirling I have really enjoyed giving a wee bit back to the scene and hope that all Falkirk artists support each other. If this happens I reckon it’ll get busier and more people will sit up and notice. Download from Bandcamp, go to a gig, write a blog, spread the word, anything to help Falkirk music grow, after all it’s your scene.
Thanks to falkirkmusicscene Eddie McKenzie and David M Lowe. The historic content of this blog is sourced from this wonderful site
Where Melville Street and Vicar Street meet there is a corner and in this corner there is a bar called Freebird. Once it was called Burns Bar then Firkins which was our era. This pub would become one of Falkirk’s most loved music venues, not only for live bands but for those who liked to pump pound coins into, what was, the best jukebox in town. Many local musicians would converge on this corner of Falkirk and became a focal point for the formation of bands.
According to the wonderful but underused Falkirkmusicscene website The Burns bar was a venue for folk acts in the 70’s and 80’s. Davy Waugh started to promote blue bands before the Happening Club seeds were sown in 1987. The Burns bar changed names to Firkins in 1988. I was only 11 years of age when this re-branding took place, I would frequent the establishment some 8 years later and it would have a massive influence on my music and that of the band.
According to the falkirkmusicscene site (it will be a crime if this is lost) there were occasional bands played between 1997 and 2005, Punk bands like our friends Rabid Dogs would become the mainstay of the venue in future years.
It was in 2004 that we played a gig at our favourite pub (later we would play alongside Kranksolo). We were playing our comeback album One More Solo live. Our friend Kevin Byrne opened up for us with some acoustic songs. After he finished we headed to the make shift stage. We were cramped into the corner of the venue, tripping over each other. The place was hot and sweaty, with only the house lights on, there was no place to hide. The background was the large corner windows so passers by could catch a glimpse of us rocking out the Easy Way.
Firkins was an amazing place to drink in the late 90’s and early 00’s. On Weekdays when I should’ve been at college, I would blether with the late Chris Masson of the band Cage. As the week wore on Fridays would be a whole night playing tunes on the jukebox and Saturdays would be a meet and greet warm up before most of us would head down to Pennies (more on this venue at a later date).
The pub would be packed, not something that has been seen for years. People would sit on the floor, you knew everyone and you felt at ease. This was a crowd of people who repelled the dance scene of Falkirk. I was also Virtua Tennis champ, the arcade which starred Tim Henman and Tommy Haas (who I picked), this helped forge friendships.
One night in I headed into Firkins alone, I headed towards my usual spot on the bar to order a Calders 70. I was always confident that I would meet someone I knew. However a beautiful woman caught the corner of my eye. Her elegance made her stand out amid the hustle of the pub. This woman would eventually become my wife.
Slowly the crowds moved on and the pub lost its feel. Firkins became a shell of what it once was.I’d revisit occasionally just for was last taste of the old atmosphere but it was gone. Then the old corner window from which you would watch the traffic go past, got smashed boarded up and never replaced.
And Kevin Byrne for the photographs used in this blog entry
Thankfully the last time I was at church was for a happy occasion, i’m now at that funny age between christenings, marriages and deaths. I’ve never wandered along at 11am on a Sunday morning in a freshly pressed suit to attend service. My beliefs are another matter altogether.
I do believe the Falkirk Music scene has taken yet another turn in the right direction. This gig, four artists performing live in the Falkirk Trinity Church, a lovely ethereal building in the sadly unhealthy heart of Falkirk’s high street. (all things mend given time)
In my couple of decades frequenting and playing in various Falkirk venues the Trinity Church was refreshingly different from the usual stages within our town. I wandered up through the churchyard hearing the early Friday night revellers in the distance, clearly celebrating that another working week was at an end. An autumnal wind had chilled the air as I adjusted the collar of my coat and headed to the front door, there I met headliner Ross Fairweather who looked quite relaxed. He offered me a warm handshake as he headed out the door into the night.
I met with my good friend Kevin Byrne, one of Falkirk’s leading photographers he was asked to take shots of the pending event. We headed to the ‘bar’, a room set aside within the church for the supply of drinks by kind people who made us welcome and assertively reminded us not to take our alcoholic beverages into the main body of the church.
After a short blether (and plans for our next album) we headed into the main room to be greeted by the subtle but grand sanctuary, we took our seat. The air had a slightly musty tinge and hymn books were nestled neatly under every seat. The arena was an oval shaped room with high ceilings and the wooden pulpit was surrounded by the backline and instruments. The long white pipes of the organ dominated the back of the wall.Two large screens were on standby these would be used to project various visuals during the performances. It was a nice setting for the night that was about to unfold.
Robbie Lesiuk took to the stage and a small but appreciative crowd of early attenders listened attentively to his set. Using a loop pedal and some electronic beats to accompany his skilful guitar playing he played a very accomplished set, I found it very enjoyable. The silence during his set was impressive. I can’t remember enjoying this at a Falkirk gig before (artists love it when the audience listen and don’t talk all the way through sets. Slightly pretentious? I guess but we spend hours, blood, sweat and tears writing songs).
On conclusion of his set I nipped off for some wine and before I had time to speak about the grape type with Kevin we were back though to see Ghost Writer. I’ve seen these guys at Behind the Wall during the loft sessions so I was looking forward to this.
Iain King has grown in stature, he has been busy not only with this band but with Fairweather and the Elements he is a very accomplished guitar player. Scott McGregor donned in white was clearly enjoying the occasion. At the moment Ghost Writer are one of the best bands from the Falkirk scene. Their songs are well crafted and rise above many of their peers. The song I’m Not Trying To Get To Heaven ended their set in style and was apt for the surroundings.
Third act Fly Jackson were very good. mixing guitars, brass keys, drums, bass and vocals to produce grand tunes that the drew perhaps the biggest audience of the night.
The stage screens went black and a clever video of Fairweather and Elements walking towards the church, through the doors and then rather cleverly, the band appeared to take their places on the stage. The visuals would continue throughout the set with a mixture of wonderful art animation and sites of old Falkirk. A slight tinge of sadness overcame me looking at how grand our town once seemed, with bustling marketplaces and shops.
Ross and co played a fine set, if there was anyone who deserved a night like this then it’s Ross. He has grafted on the local circuit and his work appears to have paid off as this was a well attended show.
Deborah Lang has powerful vocals and this was the right venue; the large room would allow her range to be appreciated. I was glad to see the band at the Trinity Church, her vocals seem to thrive beyond the confines of the studio and this is the beauty of live music.
After the final song the hour was late and the punters quickly drifted off to various locations in the town. It was a great night of music in a brilliant setting. The people of the church opened their doors to the Falkirk scene. The church is about community, I saw many familiar faces from the Falkirk music scene. I hope we are cementing our own community to take us forward. We need to nourish our own scene, it has to grow if we are ever to have a chance to get one of our more talented artists to cut through the ever thickening digital mass of bands that swamp the industry. Hopefully with a little bit of divine intervention another Falkirk band will eventually rise above the flock.