Tribute to Venus Carmichael


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Gig News

Hi everyone,

Just a quick one – we’ve now booked the function room at the White Horse (pictured: it’s our fave venue) for our next gig on Saturday, 14th May, so if you can keep that evening clear, that would be great! It’ll be a joint gig with Isaac Brutal, one of whose band members you might recognise…

white horse gig 24.04.15


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Venus’s Life Story: The Chicano Moratorium

Funny how some stuff comes around again: with Trump’s rhetoric about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and making the Mexicans pay for it ringing in our ears, here’s the next instalment of Venus’s autobiography, as she tells of an encounter with a lesser known part of the anti-Vietnam movement: the Chicano Moratorium; and how a later classic image from the War inspired her song, ‘Girl in the Picture.’

To read an up to date Guardian article on how the real life girl in the picture is gradually overcoming the scars of that fateful day, follow this.

‘The Chicano Moratorium

The guy looked like a fish out of water. Literally. He was drenched from head to foot. He’d walked up into the Canyons from West Hollywood in the rain.

“You gotta come to this, really,” he said. Water dripped off his Zapata moustache onto the rug. “This is gonna be huge. The biggest anti-Vietnam march in L.A., period. Entiendes?”‘

To read more of Venus’s story, go here

 


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Venus’s Life Story (as far as we can make out so far…)

So, while Kelly and I work on some new songs which have, yet again, mysteriously turned up at her door by unknown means, I’ve been thinking. Venus’s own blog, which she randomly contributes to, has some tantalising glimpses of her life story: but they’re in no particular order. And I thought it might be easier for everyone to read if they were.

So what I’m going to do is, every week publish the start of one of the blog entries on here, with a link to the rest of it. It’ll be a bit like getting her life story in instalments, but not quite as organised (and we may have to back track if she surfaces again and publishes something out of sequence)

Ready? Here’s the earliest chronological entry I can find on the blog. It’s called ‘Waking Up To Dylan:

Bob Dylan at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, it must have been 1966. Julie and I were 16, for goodness’ sake. We’d made it down from Arbroath, don’t know how. I think we told our folks we were staying with Julie’s sister in Edinburgh or something, but instead we blew everything we’d been saving for a year, and got the train to Manchester. It was the first time either of us had been away from home.

First half of the concert was the Sermon on the Mount for us. Just Dylan, his guitar, and a concert hall full of his charisma. I remember him playing ‘Visions of Johanna,’ and it was like nothing we’d ever heard before. The chords looked simple enough, but the lyrics! How on earth could I remember them? In the interval, I tried writing some of them down on the back of my ticket, with a pencil I’d liberated from school. The ticket wasn’t big enough, of course…

To read more, go here.


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Taking it to the Bridge

Kelly Brooks is made of stern stuff, let me tell you. As we prepared for the last gig, she didn’t let being actually technically homeless stand in her way; this time, the combination of being in the middle of exams, suffering from flu, and on the other side of the Forth from the rehearsal rooms didn’t stop her either. In the absence of a passable Road Bridge, I half expected her to swim across: fortunately she found an alternative route by means of the train, and I picked her up at North Queensferry, where the ghost of Iain Banks gave us a cheery wave.

As a band, we’re probably in a slightly odd position of not having a lot of tracks out there other than our EP, so even regular attenders at our gigs might not recognise the names on our set list. Nevertheless, here’s (in no particular order yet) what we’re rehearsing in the teeth of infrastructural failures and viral attacks for next Thursday night’s gig at the White Horse:

Needle and the Knife

Helter Skelter

Girl in the Picture

Barricades

Taking Names

Highway Tonight

Katerin

The Prediction

Tank Song

Running Song

Icarus Wings

Heartlands

Spit in the Rain (Del Amitri cover)

It’s a mix of older stuff, some of which we’ve not done for a couple of shows, and the new material. The cover of ‘Spit in the Rain’ came together quickly on Tuesday night. All I need to do is work out the harmonica part they didn’t put in!

forth bridge


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Next Show

More news about our next gig, on Saturday 19th September at the White Horse in the Canongate. Unfortunately it looks like Kirsti Wishart, can’t make it, so Halsted Bernard, who shared spoken word duties with Kirsti last time, is putting in a double shift with the storytelling elements of the show.

Meantime Kelly and I have added a couple of previously-unheard songs to the set: ‘Icarus Wings,’ and ‘Heartlands.’ We think it’s the strongest set of Venus material we’ve ever put together, so why not come along and listen?

Here’s the spiel for the Facebook event:

Edinburgh audiences have been hearing the story of Venus Carmichael, lost 70s singer-songwriter from Arbroath, for some years now. According to the legend, she had a brief moment in the sun amongst contemporaries like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne, before disappearing off the beaten track in every sense.

But is she real, or just a figment of her so-called tribute band’s imagination?

In their latest show, Tribute to Venus Carmichael combine a retelling of Carmichael’s remarkable life story with a whole bunch of her songs. Venus in Orbit blends spoken word with the band’s own version of her music, all in the intimate surroundings of the White Horse Bar’s back room. Hear of her travels from sun-drenched California, to Communist-era Yugoslavia, via southern Spain, to places much closer to home.

The band say Venus’s latest, unreleased material, reaches them via cassette tapes mysteriously delivered to the singer’s house by an ageing intermediary. Sit back, listen, and decide for yourself!

Venus in Orbit
White Horse, 266 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8AA
Saturday, 19th September, 2015 20:00
£4/£3 conc.

PS Ticket price includes free entry to a prize draw to win an exclusive Venus Carmichael mug!

photo 1


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Voyage to Venus – the Radio Play

We’ve been very lucky with our collaborators and friends in the band. Harky Harknessian, aka Craig Harkness, who recorded this radio play for us, is a multi-talented musician, engineer, producer, sound technician, and all round good guy. How and where he got that original footage of Venus herself being interviewed we’ll never know…

Thanks again to Harky, Andrew Wilson, Kirsti Wishart, Gavin Inglis and May Stocks for their help.


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In The Works

Following our gig at the White Horse on 24th April, the band’s been laying low, mainly due to Kelly’s upcoming exams. However, you may have seen on Facebook and Twitter Andrew was recently snapped at Backtracks Music Shop in Brougham Street, up at Tollcross, with the Mad Hatter – he’s been snapped with all the famous musicians about town, dontcha know…

In the meantime, we’ve extended our offer of a free bonus track for you if you sign up to the mailing list or order our EP for now – the track’s ‘Wedding Dress,’ which we played live at the White Horse for the first time. It’s one of the new songs we’ve been working on from Tape 9, but there are more – one of them, ‘Tank Song,’ also featured in our set, and just needs some tweaking production-wise before it’s ready for release. Expect some activity on Soundcloud soon.

madhatters