25th July is a Friday night. It’s also a summer night. King Tut’s Summer Nights as it happens too. The City is full of buskers and scam artists, tourists and people here for the Commonwealth games. It’s what we call “Taps aff” weather. However the Council and the Cops have been pro actively moving on beggars and making homeless people feel even more homeless, as if that could even be possible, just so the City presents a nicer veneer to our visitors for the games. I think they may even be prohibiting the traditional fat guy with no T shirt custom that is a part of the Glasgow summer (like it or loath it, it happens on the 2 or 3 days of summer we usually get here.) I’ve only seen a couple of them this week, they might be an endangered species.
But that is what happens when they open up a City to the world. They only want to show the good bits and ignore the rest, we all know our City is great though and so do our visitors and people who come here. Be it for the games or the music or the patter. We also know that there is a lot of problems with OUR City too. We don’t need to airbrush them out of the equation.
This is our City and anyone else’s too, if they want to be a part of it. And one huge part of it is King Tut’s. It’s a venue that has hosted bands that took on the world, and won. I don’t need to tell you who played there unless you lived under a rock for the last 20 years or more. Some of the best gigs I’ve ever been at were in Tut’s. I’ve seen maybe 40 or more bands that I can think of right now in that venue. Some went on to greater things, others didn’t. That is how it goes in the music firmament, it’s all a bit of luck and talent and good timing that either works for or works against you. You almost need to just do it and fall into the net of chance, in the hope that it doesn’t break you but you get to bounce back up, like a gymnast and get the applause. Or you miss the net and break a few bones and decide to have a real job and a real career and call it quits.
So tonight we have four distinct people on the bill for King Tut’s Summer Nights. All of them play acoustic sets but each of them approach their music from different directions.
First on is Paul John MacIver, an intense young man from Inverness-shire who leans into his guitar and the crowd with a lot of energy. I don’t really know a lot about the guy although we spoke briefly after the gig, but I liked his set and you can hear more of him at his Sound Cloud link in my preview on the gig here.
The second artist on the bill is Aaron Fyfe, and his set is lovely to my jaded ears. I’d like to write more about him and his music, but again I don’t feel I know enough to write anything worthwhile so I’ll look out for his next gigs and try to pop along and maybe do him justice. Again see my preview piece for his Sound Cloud and have a listen. Here.
So for me the next two people are why I’m here tonight. Jamie Coleman is now a friend of mine after I saw him play King Tut’s and then Pivo Pivo a few months ago. Since then Jamie has supported Alabama 3 and also John Power. Jamie’s strength lies in his songs, each one is a story about life, from the day to day mundane stuff to the tragic and almost hopeless. He described his singing as sounding “like a guy who swallowed an ashtray”. And I’ll grant that he does have a rough tone to his voice. But that just adds to the overall effect of his music. He doesn’t do much banter between songs. The message is in the music here. Most if not all of the crowd know the lyrics and sing along too. Jamie has touched on that essence of life’s ups and many downs that people instantly identify with. Some people do crowd interaction, Jamie doesn’t. His intensity is in the words and the chords and the ashtray voice.
Standout songs tonight (well all of them are) include “Welfare State of Mind” – A song that is a masterpiece even if you didn’t know the background to it. Even if you thought Jamie had just made it up (he hasn’t though it is based on his personal experiences.) This is a song that had a music industry rep approach him as he loved the song, but wanted the title changed… I think Mr Coleman told him where to go, precisely and succinctly. As it happens Jamie was at the social a few weeks ago to sort out a claim (how many of us have enjoyed that experience?) and when he came out a protest against benefits sanctions was happening. So he ended up playing some songs and joining in. It’s not quite Rock n Roll, it is real life though.
I don’t need to hammer on about how “real” Jamie is. Anyone who knows him is aware of what he does for society above and beyond writing and playing his music. He doesn’t do charity shows and donate proceeds from record sales to appear as if he is from the people. He does it because he is that type of guy. He could get exposure by just playing his stuff. He is from and of the people. Like millions of us. Just he is a talented guy with a big heart who wants to give a bit back.
It’s not at all downer music though, it is uplifting. “Remember the Old Days” has become a staple at Jamie’s gigs. A rousing ode to a misspent youth when you could go down the park with your mates and have a great time (God how I miss those times…) when life was that bit more free and fun and just felt that much better.
There is an overriding theme here. A look back at the good times, and a document on the current not so great ones. But at the same time “Sit down Skin Up” is all about the moment. Taking the time to realise that life happens right now, so grab it while you can. It is not a rehearsal you only have one shot at it.
Rather than bore you with more words though, courtesy of John McKinlay here is Jamie’s closing song from the gig – “Die My Own Way”
Jamie Coleman has a lot of gigs coming up. So treat yourself and go along with an open mind and an open heart.
Jamie Coleman is playing :
Dullatur Golf Club Cumbernauld : 1st August for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Ivory blacks Glasgow : 7th August : EFC Events ( Events for Charities ) https://www.facebook.com/EFCEvents/
Supporting Nick Mercer at The Buff Club Glasgow : 29th August.
Also Jamie will be appearing at a few dates for The Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year.
Jamie Coleman on Sound Cloud : https://soundcloud.com/jkdtunes-1
Next up for this sold out King Tut’s Summer Nights gig, is the one and only Gerry Cinnamon. I was aware of Gerry through some mutual friends, but also the aforementioned Jamie Coleman spoke about him in an interview I published a while back. Mr John McKinlay (who makes cracking live videos, camera in one hand, pint in the other) had also urged me to go along to Gerry’s open mic nights at The Priory. I took them up on this offer and had a brilliant night, but that was more about Gerry getting people to play and play alongside them. Tonight was the first time I’d seen Gerry play live for a “real” gig.
The word enigma is over used. But I’m using it here because I can. By definition it means something difficult to explain or understand. Gerry Cinnamon’s talent and general star quality is not what the enigma is for me. It’s how bloody good he is at being an enigma that is the enigma itself. Have you ever met someone and the first thing they do is hug you and make you feel welcome, then go on to play guitar and drum boxes and harmonicas and compère an open mic session with great people playing, and get that greatness out of them too? That is what Gerry does. And this was weeks ago at The Priory open mic night.
Tonight Gerry comes on with the audience shouting his name like a football chant. One that is derived from KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Give it up”. The roof seems to swell in the venue almost to bursting point. Gerry is genuinely astounded as his tall frame approaches the mic. “How good is this? Really?” Then he jams along with the crowd for a few chords. Well we all know the answer. The Venue is excellent, the people are up for it, the atmosphere is giving me the shakes and I’ve only had two rum and cokes. I see loads of familiar friendly faces and have met a few new ones outside. It’s gonna be a BELTUR!
I knew this gig was going to be a good one, the line up dictated that it must be, but even then my high expectations were surpassed. I posted on social media when I got home that “I’ve seen many gigs at Tut’s, but this one was amazing”. Okay I’m sometimes over enthusiastic about live music, but trust me. I know people will be wishing they were there. It just had that feeling of something on the cusp of greatness. Something about to happen. Something else?
Before he plays “Kampfire Vampire” Gerry urges people to do what they do, not to get hung up on the money makers. Then gets tore into the song with guitar and harmonica and a huge smile. His Mod looks and poise suggests a younger Paul Weller, but Weller never smiled a lot at his gigs. Gerry has a big cheesy grin on his face for most of the show.
Case in point – with thanks again to John McKinlay –
Most of the gig for me is a blur, I’m trying to take pictures for this review, but also trying to soak up the ambience and the feeling. I’m in the pit then at the sides and then one of the staff tells me I can shoot from the stage too. I pop up for a bit but drop back down soon as I want to see the gig the same as the rest of the people here. I want to soak the event into my mind. I want to lose myself to the wisdom of the crowd. I end up at the back so I can just watch the event unfold. Standing on a bench seat surrounded by like minded people. Popping a shot and sipping another rum and coke. Smiling like an idiot at anyone giving me eye contact. I’m almost lost for a while as Gerry Cinnamon plays like a holy demon and just keeps upping the ante. There is an air of almost messianic fervour and it is evident all around me. Not in a bad way, just as a unifying force binding people together for a part of an hour. We all know it has to end soon, but we are grabbing it while we can. I look into my tumbler to make sure no one has added something “extra” to it. It looks clear, it’s just rum and coke.
Forget about the timeline – I hear “Flickering Flame” begin with a some rasping guitar chords and a non apologetic lyric. “Dead Man’s Shoes” meets us on the other side but only if we get there. And then a drumbeat from his pedals gets another chorus of “Gerry Cinnamon nana nana na na” going to take us into a cover of “Good Feeling” but done the Gerry Cinnamon way and not Flo Rida.
Gerry does covers in his set, Beck’s “Loser” gets a good workout. But for me his cover of Dougie MacLean’s “Caledonia”, as imperfect as it was, is just perfect anyway. Some people only know it from adverts on the telly. Others know it from late night parties, when we are not in Scotland. Usually played by the least drunk mate in the room with the rest of us waiting for the chorus. In King Tut’s we are still in Scotland, but we all join in the chorus anyway. Why? Because it’s a great song and Gerry gets us to “take the roof off!” It was “pure dynamite” Gerry, it was.
(With thanks again to John McKinlay)
After the gig, a few of us retire to The Priory and meet up for post gig drinks. I’m heading out for a smoke and hear a round of cheering and applause. I’ve never heard that much joy at me leaving a pub before. Then I realise it’s because Gerry has just walked in. He gives me a handshake then a hug and his eyes are watery. Genuinely surprised at his reception. As I lope up the steps I hear the chant again… “Gerry Cinnamon, Cinnamon nana nana nana na na!”
Gerry has some gigs coming up :
Glasgow Green as part of the Commonwealth Games Festival : 31st July and also 3rd August.
Prestfest in Prestwick on 2nd August.
He also has an EP due out this Autumn so check his FB page for more info :