NHC Gonzo Division – Edinburgh Fringe

Featuring:

Jamie & Shoony / Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5

Mugenkyo Taiko / Irie Yo-yo

Edinburgh Fringe Festival / Yellow Movement

Chicken Movement / Global Minorities Alliance

Stramash / St. Johns Church

'Vilhelm Gonz-Tone' otherwise referred to as Will Johnstone

Vilhelm Gonz-Tone reporting for duty on behalf of NHC Glasgow, incorporating the sole representation of NHC Gonzo Division at The Fringe... While the whole team were celebrating the NHC Music Shop's 2nd Birthday in Glasgow, I was out working... Aye... Well you know the script. It's partly shits n giggles and part gigs n partly parties n shit, the actual work comes later with writing and editing, provided you can remember what happened (that's the hardest part for me). I actually made a mistake thinking the Birthday Bash was the weekend before the weekend that I booked this gig cover. In the mental turmoil that ensued in the aftermath of my double booking, the decision came to me with the reminiscence of the offer.

On the 28th of July I was asked to cover a Taiko drum band called 'Mugenkyo Taiko' who were playing The Edinburgh Fringe Festival at St. Johns Church on Saturday 27th August. It had all began with a charity gig for GMA – Global Minorities Alliance - at Stereo in Glasgow. A fund raiser for the #Books4Future campaign spearheaded by the Khan family at GMA. I was involved in promotion, assisting the organizers as well as singing some songs solo n sexily strumming six special strings sideways. The charity concert also featured the Gonzo Division's most lucrative literary asset, the inimitable C.T. Herron as our host and compare with live performances from Kirsten Easdale, Lord Of The Mountain, me - Will Johnstone, Daryl Sperry, Baby Taylor, and our headliners Bigg Taj & Gurjeet Singh - a unique paring of traditional Eastern rhythm and hip hop that would easily blow the minds of any city revelling, gig-going veteran of the scene.

As I ended my set and exited the stage to the excitable sounds of Mr Herron and applause from a room of charity campaigning musical peers, I was greeted with a smile and an ego massage in the form of verbal praise from the elegantly resplendent Maja Munivrana. As we watched Daryl Sperry, she informed me (between songs) about her role in a Taiko band. My eyes lit up when she mentioned Taiko because this is something that I have really loved for a long time and never before had a chance to see it performed live. Maja told me the date and I thought – this is amazing and it doesn't coincide with the NHC Birthday Bash - going on what date it was on the previous year, forgetting that it needs to be over the closest weekend to the actual birthday date, as it is a 3 day bender packed with gigs and mayhem, awesome mayhem. The kind you can't really get anywhere else, except in space... But that's another story... So... I procured a couple of press passes (many thanks to Maja) for St Johns in Edinburgh on 27th August. Now all I needed was a partner for this mission and to plan travel and accommodation and a string of meetings around this gig...

I contacted one of the best miscreant degenerate misfits that I know to see if she was willing to cover the Taiko band with me... She said aye, nae bother and by the way... Then... Another gig was mentioned... Jamie & Shoony and Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 @ Stramash for the - Yellow Movement Friday's - take over. I was now going to cover two gigs and crash at 'The Chicken Coop' courtesy of the aforementioned best miscreant degenerate misfit... Maryann Parry-Jones aka The Chicken Movement... P.R and Promo Queen of 'Auld Reekie' (that's the affectionate nickname for Edinburgh, for those less educated in Scots colloquial patter). I actually had a short interview with her on the Dictaphone... Before I delve into the bargain memory bucket, here's what the Chicken had to say...

Interview: Maryann @ Raze The Roof Unsigned Music & The Chicken Movement & NHC

Maryann: What can I say about the Colonel Mustard And The Dijon 5 gig at Stramash except from holy smokes Batman and ouch my back hurts.

Vilhelm: Is that it? Fuck sake mate. I've had P.E shorts longer than that! Hahaha. I'm only bammin' ye up. Please continue...

Maryann: (no words, just staring right at me with an expression that says you better shut up Vile Helmet)

Vilhelm: Ok, I apologize profusely amiga hahaha!! What about from the start of the Friday then? Give us a wee introduction to your experience of The Yellow Movement Friday Fringe Takeover at Stramash.

Maryann: Aye... Sure ye do... Yer on thin ice baw bag! Haha! Ok, well, I suppose it started off with my lunatic foursome Jamie & Shoony, who as always blew the roof of the joint with their energetic and thoroughly entertaining set.

Vilhelm: Was it during the Colonel Moustache and the Dodgy Fiver or Jeremiah n Scooby that you shat yer back out?

Maryann: HAHAHAHA!!!! Aye!!! But fuck you anyway ya absolute fan dan. Yeah this is where the sore back stemmed from, being the walking walloper that I am.

Vilhelm: (interjects with) Walloper eh... and how do you spell that?

Maryann: I am gonnee burst you like a bag of Space Raiders ya dick!! Hahaha!

            At this point, Maryann actually punched me. Quite hard. It was actually pretty painful. I want compensation. This wasn't in the contract when I signed up for this shit. Hahaha.

Vilhelm: Right I'll stop it. So this is when you hurt your back?

Maryann: … Aye... I eh... I found myself falling off the stage... yet again, backwards! Straight onto the floor but luckily my left kidney cushioned the blow a wee bit so I'm OK. You know, it's not often you get a god-dam chicken lobbing itself into a mental crowd upside down.

Vilhelm: Na, it's not. Unless hangin' about wi' a madgyin like you. I remember that really pickled ma biscuit at first when you hit the deck. I didn't know what to do coz I was stuck right up the back. I can't believe those fucking bell ends just stood and watched you fall when they could easily have caught from where they were. I wouldn't have dropped ye amiga!

Maryann: Aye Will, you're special. Like that shite the jakies drink (Vilhelm: Oooooooh!!! BURN! Hahahaha!!!) but this chicken was dropped like an outta date KFC sitting next to a pure fusty turd on piss stained pavement in the sun.

Vilhelm: Aw wow... That's amazin'. Serious. I have always wanted to try one of them...

Maryann: (Looking slightly unimpressed at my sarcasm, she raised an eyebrow, raised a finger, then she went to Raze The Roof) Truth be told, I'd still do it all over again.

Vilhelm: You're pretty fuckin' hardcore mate. I have a lot of respect for what you do. I've seen plenty people get an injury like that and then you don't really see them out on the madness again. Kudos. Ya dick. Haha

Maryann: Well, fuck it. I am definitely not one to be put off by a burst back.

Vilhelm: Aye I saw it with my own eyes fuck sake, you bounced back up on yer feet and started dancin' about. That was when my relief kicked in and a new found need for a higher alcohol intake. Hahaha. Didn't you end up on stage again like right after that?

Maryann: Yeah I did haha! I found myself back on the stage with the almighty yellow brothers and sisters of Colonel Mustard And The Dijon 5!... I'm just a glutton for punishment I know, but who wouldn't want to be on stage with these legends. I couldn't be more proud off these two bands. They have brought a whole new dynamic to the unsigned scene and have brought such positivity to Gladinburgh!!! Hahahaha!!! I love that. Gladinburgh is my new favourite place.

Vilhelm: I couldn't agree more. The scene has been growing, expanding and imploding like a big fuckin'... Hingmie. (Maryann: Hahahaha!! You are such a bell end!) I know but everybody loves a bitta Willy! Hahaha!

            And now, with all that in mind, let's take a swan dive into the full experience of the final weekend of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival...

The Edinburgh Fringe: Yellow Movement Friday's @ Stramash – 26/08/16

The coach pulls into the station like a fat man on a partly deflated bouncy castle with polio and a balance disorder... Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 - “How Many Manys” suddenly plays on shuffle. I take this as a sign of much awesomeness on the horizon. I was running late, as per. I hiked it straight to Stramash in the Old Town and waded through a sea of Yellow Movement supporters until I found that mad journalistic counterpart of mine, sweating more profusely than I like to apologize. I grab some drinks and turn around just in time to see Maryann being pulled backwards off the stage into the crowd who then moved out of the way and stood gawking at her as she fell on her back. Now... Normally, I am all about disgusting photos and making folk boak, but this time I am refusing to divulge the image in fear of fear of fearing at a fear fair with a fare of fear for a fearful farce from ferrying frightful folk fleeing fights at the fringe... Or something... Beer flies across the crowd as the mosh pit spreads like wild forest fires through the crowd... I see the Chicken Heed pop up with arms raised in a V. She's ok... Well... Not dead, which was nice.

Stramash is literally heaving. No room to move, nowhere to stand... There is only... Mosh pit or a pile up style queue for drinks at both downstairs bars... Upstairs is even heaving. Jamie Keira has 700+ people eating out the palm of his hand as he winds everyone into several levels of frenzied hair flailing pogo loco. They blast out several tunes on the half of their set that I managed to catch and the place is literally fuckin' rockin' man! Alas... The set is over all too soon in a blur of applause and coloured lights and we regroup outside for a smoke before being smattered with mustard like a French hooker's ham sandwich...

Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 don the stage in full yellow regalia to a crowd warmed up so much you could cook an egg on em... But let's not... That would be disgusting. Nobody wants egg when it's got wee manky bits on it, and hair. Let's set the scene... I am drunk. Phenomenally drunk. I am toting my camera phone as I record a couple of 15 minute long excerpts 'From The Pit' amidst the cries and full audience synchronized dancing to the delightful, reggae-influenced 'Bouncy Ball'... Mr McMustard has everyone do the moves with the aid of Dijancer who is perched on the edge of the stage like The Stig on LSD, gearing up for a stage dive. The hands all rise and the beat drops in and everyone from the front to the fucking street outside is bobbin' n skankin' with five digits raised above theirs heads... Next thing I know we are clearing floor space for 'Dance Off'... For those uneducated in the ways of the Yellow Soldier this is where the crowd get to strut their stuff and try to out-dance Dijancer (if that is even possible). Basically, this is not to be taken too seriously and is just a bit of fun for the good folk in the pit to get a wee bit of air round their nether regions for a few minutes before we all get stuck back together like bugs on fly paper in a steam room with a cup of ice wrapped round the thermostat to make it go fuckin mental... Wee trick ma pal showed me once in the Vikingar Sauna down in Largs Vegas back in the days when no one had mobile phones...

Anyway... Some lassie got glassed. So ma mate Francis jumped down and shouted 'Right, that lassie got glassed and no cunt leaves here til we find out what cunt done it' Then I realized that happened in Train Spotting and what actually happened was 'These Are Not The Drugs (you are looking for)' became exactly what we were looking for and it felt like being in the lung passage of Pavarotti as seven hunner-odd boozed up party merchants vocalized feck out the chorus together. It was quite a moment. At some random point, and I forget exactly where this happened in the set, the Colonel turned to the crowd to my left, shouting out to Kev Pearson, front man of the Mississippi Chibmarks and The Colonel and Little Wing get the crowd chanting one of Kev's band's songs... “Ma dug's gay get fuckin' over it”, which was nice, then we sang happy birthday to China. It was quite an intimate moment really, I realize how wrecked I am coz I stand on someone's foot for nearly 10 seconds. I'm actually kind of surprised that I am compus mentus, right side up and still standing to be honest. Somehow, I haven't actually passed out and am still diving about with a camera and the theme tune from The Golden Girls – 'Thank you for being a friend' is belting out and I'm left staggering around in circles as the crowd disperses, asking everybody if they've seen a chicken with a bad back... Needless most people ignore me at this point until someone took pity and helped me outside where I found said chicken, and some of our crew... and so a new adventure began... Featuring, me as drunk bloke, Maryann as the Chicken wi the bad back, Jay Coleman as Hannibal from the A Team, Ben Bainbridge as Mutha Fuckin Ninjitsu Warrior Man, in case we met Chuck Norris in a dark alley, and Lachie... aka... The Gonzo Gardener... Together we only just made it across town to the Chicken Coop where a party ensued like no other...

Flashes of madness... I realize I am awake after being unable to pass out at this indecipherable time... Might have been morning, but I'm really not sure. Wee curer. I... Am... Rough... Like Brixton in '81... More curer... Eventually I am upright and it's sunny outside. I smoke out the window for a while, pondering. After a few hours of gathering strength I leave the coop and head off to see an old friend Gary McLauchlan and his kids Kai and Amira and catch up with my legend of a sister Emily Johnstone for dinner. After what felt like delving back into sensibility I felt the yearning pull of the Fringe and I jump on the bus out of Leith and aim for the city centre...

The Edinburgh Fringe: Mugenkyo Taiko Band @ St. John's Church – 27/08/16

As per usual I am running pretty late, but much like a Wizard arrives precisely when he means to, I manage to make it to St John's Church about 5 minutes before the music begins. After a brief 5 minute farce trying to get hold of someone who understood what I meant by a press pass and what NHC was, they flung me through some old double doors and the vast expanse hit me in the face like a lubed up Walrus belting down a particularly steep flume with my face being it's first point of contact at the bottom of said flume...

I am impressed. Seriously impressed. The architecture throughout this building is truly awe inspiring. It felt strange for me being in a church and not for a funeral or wedding. Last time this happened I think I was still in the 80's... Like Mark Hately's hair. I am shown to a seat by a courteous host and I wait to see what comes next...

As I was ushered to my seat, I had noticed people in masks either side of me, creeping around the pews in a calculated fashion like a dance in slow motion. 'Ignore this terrible drug'. A solitary drummer stands at the front, making very slow, precise motions towards a giant drum which is situated centre stage at the very back. I feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The dancers now move in time with his slowly quickening tempo. The crescendo in this piece eventually builds up to war-like explosive volume, made ever more powerful by the infinite acoustics of the Church. My mind is blown. I just stare in awe and yield all thought process to the magic of this performance, enjoying the feelings like rushes which this intricately delicate, yet massively compelling music is having on me. I am lured into feeling like I have experienced this in some eidetic dream-scape and it genuinely takes a while before I realize that this is the effect the music is having on me, coupled with the skilful poise and grace of these performance artists around me. I would say dancers, but feel that due to the nature of their roles, combined together with the undeniable talent which they portrayed that 'performance artists' serves a much more fitting title.

We are treated to a unique grouping of drummers from many countries around the world. There are 33 in total, all performing in certain pieces in different combinations, culminating in one massive group for the finale. The interlocking rhythmic control and symbiosis between these musicians and artists, the presence, performance skills, attention to detail and entertaining comedic interjections make for my absolute highlight of the Edinburgh Fringe and one of the most amazing live music experiences of my entire life without a shadow of doubt.

I can not recommend Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers enough to you!! This is bucket list material, and you don't just need to go see them in concert, you can actually take part and even become part of the Dojo. They run various courses allowing anyone, even with zero rhythmic skill to take part and learn Taiko. This is an ancient Japanese art form that encompasses music and art while fusing dance and martial arts and is as visual as it is rhythmic. Every piece takes you on a journey, telling a story without words. Some pieces have very deep meanings behind them and some are steeped in history spanning thousands of years. I had learned of Taiko drums a few years ago and always wanted to see a Taiko band perform live. My love of drum bands being ignited initially by the genius of 'Samba Ya Bamba' a large Brazilian Samba band at The Kelburn Garden Party around 2012. I never thought I would actually get a chance to see a Taiko band in Scotland until I met Maja Munivrana at the gig I was performing at in Glasgow for GMA – Global Minorities Alliance which I mentioned earlier. A fund raiser for a Kenyan slum library to bring educative books to poverty stricken children. Maja approached me to ask about NHC, as my good friend Chris Herron was on stage hosting the gig between acts and had mentioned NHC and our wing... NHC Gonzo Division numerous times. She wanted to ask what exactly we do and if I would come through to Edinburgh to cover their show at The Fringe, so a plan was hatched instantly. The rest of the weekend had happened after organizing somewhere to stay, the final night was a spur of the moment thing, but I will get to that in a minute... First...

The Mugen Taiko Dojo is the first of it's kind in the UK Mugenkyo was established in 1994 by Neil Mackie and Miyuki Williams on their return to the UK following two years of rigorous training in Japan with Masaaki Kurumaya Sensei, the premiere Taiko Master of the Hokuriku style. From small beginnings, Mugenkyo have grown to become the most influential Taiko organization in the UK through their performances and teaching work, helping to establish the beginnings of a blossoming Taiko community across the country. Mugenkyo relocated from their original base in London to the Scottish countryside in 1998 where they founded the UK's first centre for Taiko Drumming, the Mugen Taiko Dojo. Here they run an extensive training programme including residential workshops for members of the public, master-classes for percussionists and Taiko players as well as educational outreach for pupils of all ages and abilities.

Check out their website for more on performances, courses and tour information. Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers should be on everyone's Bucket List for a live concert experience like no other, but if you would like to get involved or just give it a try then you should visit their website (www.taiko.co.uk).

After having my mind blown down the other end of Princes Street, I met up with Lachie – The Gonzo Gardener outside for a few minutes to talk about the gig, all I recall him allowing me to quote him on was 'fucking banging' hahaha! Fun-gi... He was really impressed by the venue and the sheer scale and quality of the performances from each individual artist, to the group ensemble as a whole and the attention to detail. The drums, the costumes, the symbiosis between the performers and the dynamics of every piece and of course the ever-humble hosting between each performance. Me and Lachie give Mugenkyo - Zen out of Zen. Humbling genius coupled with modest excellence. A resplendent reminder of just how powerful an effect on the heart and mind that music can have.

We shook hands and parted ways and I went in search of food to feed me and the Chicken, who was lying nearly paralysed back at the Coop. We sat for a while watching tv and talking about the last two nights on the fringe until inevitably passing out like a couple of auld yins wi' the three bars on...

The Edinburgh Fringe: Irie Yo-Yo @ Stramash – 28/08/16

I awake at the Chicken Coop once again... Wondering what day it is... Maryann's back is beyond bruised (it was like seeing the formation of a Black Hole as it darkened like Ghost Writer was colouring it in with a Black Indelible Pen) and I am starting to think she has broken something. We end up having a chilled out day lazing around chatting about ideas for the article. I am toying with which bus to aim for to get back to Glasgow... A call comes through, my pal Franki is bored shitless and wants to knows if there's anything happening... Maryann turns round also on the blower and says there's a decent gig on at Stramash again. Ska band called Irie Yo-Yo... So Franki bolts through to Gladinburgh and I am roped into a 3rd night of The Fringe and we get right back on it like some drunken one legged cowboy with haemorrhoids trying to remount after a bad fall and bad ass bottle of bourbon... In pain and finding it pretty fucking hard... 

Back at Stramash, and we spearhead a campaign for alcoholism. Obviously being FOR IT! Then end up hanging out with a couple of the lads in the band in the library section of the upstairs of Stramash which, until this point, I had never actually seen. The lads have to go and that is our cue to get geared up fer a proper madgyin! After a serious shit load of ciders and shots, we end up trollied and go weaving through the crowd in a mad Skonga. It's a Conga, but Skankin to Ska and literally everyone in the entire place joins in. I can't stop laughing and I go back up the top to chill with a pint for 5 minutes. Then I whip out the video camera and start filming... The band start shouting to everyone to get down the front... At this point I need to refer to the actual video due to intoxication. I have very little memory of this bit, or at least, I have very little memory of all the shit that happens in the video...

Irie Yo-Yo are so much fun. If you hear about them playing around town, definitely go see them. Top class musicianship, coupled with truly excellent crowd control and stage presence. They finished off my Fringe weekend with a touch of Sklass and I will be looking out for their next shows most definitely. The Skonga becomes circles of hugs and huddles of party plans, some left to finish their drinks, some went for a shit, one was sick and thought no one saw, but I did, and now you all know. Hahahaha!! The band exit stage left waving back and the lights come on. That's our cue...

Me and Maryann spill out the doors of Stramash like the blood out the elevator in that infamous scene in Kubrick's classic - The Shining... We are properly Keith Moon'd... I can't find Franki so I wait like a twat for pure ages, then clock a text message I'd missed saying she had to go back to Glasgow on the last bus and couldn't find us to say before she legged it like Usain Bolt runnin' fae the LAAAAW aiftaar robbin' his local Post Office (coz wouldn't you if you could run like that fucker?) so the 3 amigos were now an insane Duo that really should never be named, or given a comedy show... Unless it was like Limmy producing an episode of Morecambe and Wise featuring they cunts fae Burnistoun... Now I could definitely go a bitta that shit. Anyway... Somehow we manage to find a place that's still selling food at this hour (which I am guessing is pretty late) and end up sitting kerb-side munching pizza – while also winding up folk who got knocked back coz they were too late - before setting off on a journey right across the town on an absolute fucking wrecking mission which involved some road signs, swearing, political incorrectitude, a pair of bollocks and some depravity I won't speak of here... Chiefly because I don't really want to get any fines through the door but let's just say this weekend was lived out in full honour of my second family at NHC Gonzo Division who were back home celebrating our shop's 2nd birthday!! Happy Birthday NHC! I would also like to honour The Yellow Movement, The Chicken Movement and my morning Bowel Movement... Which gets a mention coz I had to stand up to get off it. I would also like to honour Jamie and Shoony, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, Mugenkyo Taiko Band, Irie Yo-yo, Jay Coleman, Ben Bainbridge, Lachie – The Gonzo Gardener, Gary, Kai and Amira McLauchlan, Emily Johnstone, Franki McLean, The Edinburgh Fringe, The Number 900 and last but most certainly not least, actually, the biggest honour here is for Maja Munivrana because without you amiga, I would not have been booked to be in Edinburgh that weekend and I would have missed out on so much awesomeness. Your Taiko group are truly inspiring and I am really grateful for the invite and for the experience. I always say that I believe the meaning of life is experience. Experiences like this are very rare for most people, unique and beautiful. That performance will stay with me for the rest of my days, as will the pancreatic disorder and liver dysfunction from enduring a booze session that could have killed off a zombie apocalypse... Eesht... May I also take a moment to graciously honour Milady Maryann for your accommodative, humble, mental and absolutely fucking insane persona. You my friend are a fucking legend... So, have you anything else you want to say before we tie this off like banding a purple welching-veined haemorrhoid heed?

Maryann Parry-Jones:

This weekend of chaos, music, mayhem, more music, insanity and genius and stupidity that all aligned like a huge ball of fun shit just wouldn't be complete though, without my good friend Will Johnstone from NHC. Sorry Vile-Helmet Gaunt-Boner. If there was ever a twin for my madness it would be the good Will Johnstone stepping up and claiming his seat in the mad house aka The Chicken Coop! A cracking few nights had by all, the crowd were epic and they were as always a true testament to what a happy crowd should be. Any gig worth it's salt leaves the pumped up crowd gagging for more and they were not for leaving at both gigs at Stramash. Amazing atmosphere. Big thanks to everyone who attended either or both of those nights. It was kind of like a family function, but obviously without the dour-faced in-laws, perverted Uncle Harry, a wee dick skidding up and down the floor, a really odd-smelling cousin Dave and of course, yer Da, pulling out the best dance moves since Jean-Claude Van Dam in that bar scene in Kick Boxer. The Yellow Movement family are definitely the family to be proud to be a part of...

            This is Maryann Parry-Jones

            Diving out backwards and pecking you a guid day right in the face!

            BUCKAAW!! Xx

            Much love – The Chicken Movement

Vilhelm Gonz-Tone:

            Remember kids, don't do drugs... Give them to me.

            This is Vilhelm Gonz-Tone signing off on a weekend festival experience nonpareil...

            OVER on the other side, AND OUT my God damned mind...

Links:

VIDEO: Gonzo Division @ Edinburgh Fringe feat. Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ4ZrT7fHXI

NHC Gonzo Division

https://www.facebook.com/New.Hellfire.Club.Gonzo.Division/

New Hellfire Club

https://www.facebook.com/NewHellfireClubGlasgow/

Raze The Roof Unsigned Music

https://www.facebook.com/RazeTheRoofUnsignedMusic/

The Chicken Movement

https://www.facebook.com/thechickenmovement2016/

Jamie & Shoony

https://www.facebook.com/jamieandshoony/

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5

https://www.facebook.com/colonelmustardandthedijon5/

Mugenkyo Taiko Drumming Band

https://www.facebook.com/Mugenkyo/

Irie Yo-Yo

https://www.facebook.com/Irieyoyo/

The Edinburgh Fringe

https://www.facebook.com/edfringe/