October 1, 2012 in Ka-tet

Alrighty folks. So its been a busy year so far for the Ka-tet. We’ve had a huge amount of fun playing a bunch of festivals and a bunch of venues in town other than Jazz Bar. This, as you can imagine, is a super big deal for us. As much as we love our home stage in the Funk Dungeon, its such a thrill to play for folk who don’t neccessarily know the band or the music. Its a great pleasure to see them go nuts on the dancefloor.

The first big gig of the summer was at Knockengorroch World Ceilidh. This ¬†was one of my favourite gigs ever. We had the Tet-ettes back in to help us bring it home and Stacey Bell and Donna Maciocia did a sterling job. We had the drums shared by ‘partners in time’ Calum MacIntyre and Jamie Graham with Dougie Coulter and Andy Chisholm completing the rhythm section. Our ever-amazing horn section was headed up by Tom Pickles with Matthew Hawke and Charles Dearness along side. This gig was a powerhouse and pretty soon we had the crowd on their feet, just as the sun began to split the sky. We stuck around for Stanley Odd and had a dance with the midgies.

Next up was the long-awaited Insider Festival. This homely affair took place up at Inisriach Farm just outside Aviemore. We had a blast last year and this year was even better. Such amazing musicians. Such a magical setting. Such great organizers. After a great set on the Friday, featuring new and proud addition, Jed Potts on guitar, we played ‘You Can Leave the Light On‘ with Donna Maciocia as part of the Insider opening ceremony. We also played the rocky theme tune as the soundtrack to the table tennis final. What fun! Another highlight of this weekend for me and a big portion of the Ka-tet was playing with Stu Goodall and the Paul Simon Experience on the Friday night up at the Lawn Stage. This was hilarious fun, if riddled with drunkeness. Anyway, can’t wait for the next one.


Kelburn Garden Party has turned into a very cool festival. When I was there with Freaky Family 3 or 4 years ago it was still finding its feet. I must say I had a totally awesome time this year. We spent most of the night, including our performance, up at Astroboy’s Viewpoint Stage. This is where it was happening. Great bands, djs, food, booze and craic. This was another early evening slot but i think we hooked the crowd from the off. For this set we employed the legendary double-guitar technique with Chisholm and Potts playing side by side. This is something I’ve been meaning to try out for a while with a few experimental sessions at the Jazz Bar to test it out. Worked a treat and I envisage the two guitars to become a firm fixture at some point in the future.

On to Fife and, just before the beginning of our Edinburgh Festival Jazz Bar residency, we tore it up at Big Tent Festival. This was an afternoon slot and it was funny entertaining a crowd where the kids almost outnumbered the adults. After a few tunes and a bit of persuasion we had most folk jiving on the dancefloor. Including the self-conscious youth ceilidh band who were up next. Spent the rest of the day wandering through this lovely festival enjoying food, booze and our friends, The Horndog Brass Band, who played a great set on the main stage.

All in all we had an immense time this summer playing the festival circuit. We look forward to the same again next year, and then some. For me¬†personally, one of the most enjoyable aspects of these gigs was the opportunity to try out the next generation of ‘Suggesture’, our gestural system for conducted improvisation. Week to week to week at the Jazz Bar, sometimes for worse, but more often for good, we’ve been developing our gestural language to incorporate complex chords, faster rhythmic motifs, time changes, pushes, pulls, big pushes, big pulls and middle-finger Bankais! The locomotive has very definitely passed the point of no return. Its not so much a case of looking forward to what this system will become, more a case of realising that it won’t ever stop developing. I’ll teach it to my kids. And it’ll keep changing, growing. These are very exciting times we live in. I’m happy to be here.