Lach’s Anti-Hoot – Henry’s Cellar Bar – 31/10/13

Henry's Cellar Bar

So the night after my Bannermans night out I went back through to Edinburgh to attend and perform at Lach’s Anti-Hoot Open Mic at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

If you read my previous blog you will know that I had arranged to meet a German girl called Sabrina beforehand and to take her with me. However, she sent a text at 5pm to say she couldn’t make it as she was too busy.

Oh well, such is life. She was leaving Scotland the next day anyway, so it wasn’t exactly going to go anywhere. I enjoyed dancing with her the night before and to be honest I was a little bit relieved as I wanted to focus on performing at the Anti-hoot.

I had an hour and a half to fill before the start of the gig though as I get the last bus that leaves Bo’ness for Edinburgh at 5.30pm which gets me there for 6.30pm. So I took a walk around town in the cold, looking for interesting things to take photos of, for this blog.

Billy and Frankenstein

I ended up in the Grassmarket where I went to Bar Salsa cause the Guinness there is only £2.50 a pint. In there I found a machine that sells Whisky flavoured condoms!

Whisky flavoured condom machine

I didn’t buy any as I figured that a girl is probably drunk enough if she wants to blow me. 😉

I had a conversation with Lach during the Edinburgh festival about the fact that I would actually like to stop drinking and smoking and clean my life up. He was very supportive in this regard and he has been through similar things himself. He is actually a bit of an inspiration in that regard but I still fall by the wayside now and again. That night was one of them because as I had time to kill and it was cold outside, going to a bar for a cheap beer seemed like an appropriate solution.

I mentioned at the start of my set there that Lach’s Anti-hoot was part of the reason for my moving back to Scotland. I love the vibe he has going there whereby he gives you the stage for 8 minutes and lets you have total freedom to do what you want. I know that is the point with open mic anyway but the atmosphere he creates around it makes me feel very comfortable with being myself.

Before I left Scotland 7 years previously to go to Turkey, I felt somewhat ostracised from the comedy circuit after being banned by The Stand and having had a very public fall out with another promoter there, so it is important for me to feel supported. Granted, I may have brought those things on myself by either being not funny enough or too out there in what I was trying to do and I accept responsibility for that. You live and learn as they say.

Lach had put the word out on Social Media that day that you would get bonus points if you performed anything Halloween related. Obviously this was not a strict order but a gentle nudge to maybe give the night a bit of a theme.

On arriving I noticed that he had prepared a playlist of Halloween related songs to be played beforehand although he hadn’t went as far as dressing like a Zombie or putting a Pumpkin on the stage. As I had the taste for it I ordered another Guinness and took a seat.

The crowd that night was incredibly sparse. Indeed, Lach said it was the lowest turn out ever for an Anti-hoot with only 6 audience members, all of whom were performs. A seventh member , who wasn’t a performer, did arrive not long after the start and he took a seat at my table.

Lach is a consummate host. He has a bit of banter at the start to relax people then plays one or two of his songs before introducing the first act. I always enjoy every song he plays and I love the stories he sometimes interjects before them. He reads the occasional poem too which I also appreciate.

Lach at the Anti Hoot

Here are the songs and poems of his that I videoed throughout the night.

I should probably write down the names of the performers whom I video tape so please excuse me. I am not a quite as professional as I should be on that regard.

Here is the guy who was first up. I have seen him perform during the Anti-Hoots I attended during the Edinburgh Festival and I again, I always enjoy his songs.

Indeed the level of talent that is on show at these Anti-hoots and at the open mics I have recently attended recently actually blows me away. There is such a great cultural scene going on in Scotland these days and I just wish that more people would come out to enjoy it.

I feel it is vitally important for people to escape the lure of Tell-lie-vision, Play-(with-yourself)-Station and (Anti) Social Media to actually engage with each other on a human level and appreciating each others art is certainly one way to do that.

I think I was next up and I decided to go with the Halloween theme and start with a poem I wrote called Truthful Fiction, if only because it mentions Werewolves and Vampires in it. I wasn’t sure what poem I would read after that one but flicking through my ebook on my kindle, the word Zombie popped out at me from a poem entitled Animal Instincts. So I used them and read that one.

I knew I had about 3 minutes left and so rather than read another poem I decided to talk about the time I got thrown out of a Lou Reed concert for dancing! Yep, I know, crime of the century. I hadn’t prepared the story so it is maybe a bit short of punchlines but as I said earlier, I felt relaxed enough to just go with it.

I would actually like to just be myself on stage and tell stories without trying to get to a punchline all the time and that is in fact what puts me off doing comedy as I feel it can be a bit contrived when I do that. Maybe I should use the Anti-hoot stage more often to explore that side of myself and perhaps I could build up improvisational comedy muscles in doing so.

On returning to my seat the guy beside me, who’s name I found out later was Ernie, said to me,

“Two things. First thing is you look like Jimi Hendrix and not in a good way.” I laughed and said, “That’s the second time in the past few days someone has called me Jimi Hendrix.”

Then he said, “The second thing is, you are loose and cool.” I said, “What?” “You are loose and cool. Is that bad?” I said, “No, I was just surprised to hear it. I haven’t been called that before. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome” he said.

Lach came back to the stage and told a funny story about the time he got thrown out of a Billy Bragg concert and then read a poem called ‘In 82′ which mentions Lou Reed. You can hear Ernie give his approval toward the end.

James was up next and he introduced himself by saying all his songs are slow and boring.  As Lach said afterwards, he should stop putting himself down as the two he played were quite enjoyable.

The next act who were actually two guys, one of whom had a large double bass, called The Forgotten Works. Well, all double basses are large aren’t they. Must be a bit of a bind to carry that around town but the small crowd certainly appreciated their set, as did I.

The Forgotten Works

Next up, was the wonderful Leanne Smith. She had actually brought two guitars with her because the two songs she played required different tunings and she has broke many a guitar string trying to adjust the tunings in between songs. So it’s easier for her to bring two, even when travelling from Perth!

I was really taken with her set. I thought her guitar playing was quite unique and her songs really good. The second one she played she has released as a single with all the proceeds going to charity. You can purchase it here.

It was then time for a break and Lach informed us that as there weren’t any more performers that the list would go around again with each act getting one song or 4 minutes on stage.

Ernie then offered me a smoke of his joint. Well, what’s a half drunk person who looks like Jimi Hendrix supposed to do? So I went outside and helped him smoke it.

I really liked Ernie. He was an old school type geezer who I think is actually quite clued in, although that night he was slightly worse for wear but I didn’t hold that against him. Even though, in the second half he developed a habit of punching me on the shoulder when he enjoyed what he was seeing on the stage.

On returning to the bar I chatted to Leanne and she was curious as to the times of the trains, so I sparked up my Kindle Fire and when she saw how long it would take to get back to Perth she decided she had to leave as she was up early the next day. Shame, as I would like to have seen her perform some more.

My camcorder batteries had died so I had to use my normal camera to video my second set. Fortunately one of the performers offered to hold it for me. I didn’t want to read anything from my Kindle this time, so I just recited a poem that I knew called The Plane Facts. Being slightly stoned and fairly tipsy though, I struggled to remember it but fortunately I think I pulled it off ok.

Billy Watson – The Plane Facts

When I am reading as something as directly challeging as that I can see some audience members not engage with me and turn away psychologically and in in some cases physically. That could be because they don’t agree with what I am saying, which is fair enough or because it is almost too truthful and people just don’t want to acknowledge it because to do so would mean facing up to the hard facts that we are getting fucked on a daily basis and it is easier to live in ignorance….well, for the time being anyway.

When I got back to my seat Ernie told me he loved it, which meant a lot to me. If one person gets something from my performance then I feel it is worthwhile. That philosophy has got me through many an Edinburgh Festival. Lol.

As I still had some battery power left I videod antother performer who I believe is a regular at the Anti-hoot as when Lach saw him enter the bar, he encouraged him to the stage. Here’s his performance.

Lach then with some time on his hands was able to do a sort of extended set which went down well. A few of the songs you can see in the playlist above but I never recorded one which Lach explained that he had co-written but not yet recorded and which went down particularly well with Ernie.

By this time, as well as punching me occasionally he had taken to shouting ‘Stop it’ at the end of every song Lach played. This I believe, was in fact his way of saying ‘You’re good, please continue’ but I think the barman didn’t see it like that and after Lach had rounded up the night the barman told Ernie he wasn’t getting any more drink and told him he wouldn’t be allowed back.

To be honest I felt that a bit harsh and so did Ernie as he let the barman know in no uncertain terms exactly what he thought of him. The barman said he was being too loud to which Ernie said ‘It’s a fucking Rock and Roll bar ya cunt!’ or words to that effect. Ok, he may have been a bit over exuberant but all in all he was fairly harmless.

I said Goodbye to Lach and as I passed Ernie outside I told him ‘You’re right Ernie. I don’t think you were causing a problem at all.’ Ernie said ‘I know I’m right. I’m never wrong.’ Ah, I knew there was a reason I liked him so much. A man after my own heart. Lol.

Quick Round Up

I recorded this brief video as I waited for my mother to pick me up from Linlithgow train station.

When I got home Lach had posted on facebook that he hates quiet nights which is a bit of a shame as I really enjoyed myself.

Maybe compared to most nights he hosts, it didn’t quite rock as much but I certainly didn’t regret going. Maybe next time I’ll stay sober and see how that goes, especially as for the next few weeks there are two £25 prizes up for grabs for the best performers. One is an audience vote and Lach chooses the other. If you are a performer you should get yourself along there and take some friends to help your chances. 😉

Anti Hoot Poster

The Photos

Most of the photos here are from me wondering around town before and after the gig, including a Whiskey an advert for a deep fried Mars bar. Yep, Scottish culture at it’s best. 🙂

Cheers the noo……

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