Northern lights switch on to culture

As Scotland’s third largest arts festival rears its head, Kathleen Morgan discovers why for ten days, all roads should lead to Aberdeen.

When James Brown strutth onstage in the airhanger space of Aberdeen's Exhibition and Conference Centre. the rest of Scotland sat up and listened. The godfather of soul was a coup Aberdeen Alternative Festival’s organisers surprised even themselves with, but it set a precedent they hope to live up to a year on.

There might not be the same hype surrounding this year’s Festival, but in only its twelfth year, it is attracting its share of big names, from jazz great Stephane Grappelli to Canadian rockers Crash Test Dummies. It is becoming

Crash Test Dummies increasingly impossible to write this ten-day event off as a couthy north-east get together. This is serious stuff, well worth loosening your central belt for.

Thrum rub shoulders with Senseless Things and The James Taylor Quartet.

Fast-talking comedian Greg Proops competes with Anorak Of Fire and their hugely successful show The Life And Times Of Gus Gascoine: Trainspotter. And the whole thing is underpinned by solid commitment to the city’s community in real terms.

Director of Aberdeen Alternative Festival for seven years. Duncan Hendry knows the importance of balancing international names with Scottish and north-east talent. This year, he has juggled a £250,000 budget to pack the Festival programme with music, theatre, comedy. dance and workshops. Most of the city‘s venues, from the 2,000-capacity Capitol to its smallest pubs and even a few hospital wards, will jump to the sounds of alternative festivities.

Hendry's aim was to avoid large acts parachuting into the Silver City and leaving with wallets bulging. ‘lt’s more than just a group of concerts by visiting artists,’ he says. ‘A large number of

them don’t just give one performance. They give workshOps and performances in schools and day care centres.‘

James Brown might not have shimmied into Aberdeen‘s housing estates last year, but he did generate £100,000 box office sales. so the great man was forgiven. At community level, this year sees the launch of the Aberdeen Jazz School for budding musicians, to continue in the coming months and the return of master fiddler Alasdair Fraser for a series of open workshOps.

Coinciding with 200th birthday celebrations for Aberdeen’s Union Street, the Festival is to take to the city’s outdoors in Street Beat 200, involving theatre, music and comedy groups from across Britain. Other highlights include an audience with George Melly, stand-up antics from Bruce Morton and a late—night festival club in the newly-refurbished bastion of Aberdeen culture, the Lemon Tree.


Braving the cruel north-east wind has never been easier, given the hot line-up for this year’s Aberdeen Alternative Festival, on Thursday 13—22 October. But just to be on the safe side, we guide you to the best events and tell you how to get your tickets.

I Information For a free Festival programme detailing events, venues and ticket prices, call 0224 635822.

I Tlcltets Contact Aberdeen Box Office at the Music Hall in the city’s Union Street. Telephone 0224 641122 for information or credit card bookings. A Festival Club Pass costing £30 (£25). available from the box office, admits you to the Festival Club in the Lemon Tree each night. Pass holders must enter the club before 12.30am.

I Travel and accomodatlon Aberdeen is on the main East Coast Intercity rail route, with trains leaving regularly from Glasgow Queen Street Station and Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. Buses run from Glasgow‘s Buchanan Street Station and St Andrew Square Bus Station in Edinburgh. Call the Festival Hotline on 0224 210610 for travel and accommodation details.

I Crash Test Dummles The quirky Canadian popsters currently riding on a wave of success sparked by the single Mmm. Mmm, Mmm sweep into town for one night. Sample the dulcet bass vocals of Brad Roberts against a variety of musical backdrops.

Crash Test Dummies. The Capitol, Wed 19 Oct, 8pm, £13/£11 (£11/£9).

I lrls HOMO!!! InSpired by gospel and Nashville, singer-songwriter DeMent’s melodies are some of the strongest to

come out of America in recent years. ‘1 write about what I know my hopes, dreams and disappointments,‘ she says. Share them with her in the surroundings of the north-east's most established theatre.

Iris DeMent. His Majesty '5 Theatre. Tues 18 Oct, 8pm. £6.50—£10.50 (£4.50—£8.50).



I Stephane Grappelll The legendary violinist who has collaborated with some of the world’s finest jazz musicians brings 60 years of musical experience to Aberdeen. He is accompanied by Marc Fosset on guitar and Jean Philippe Viret on double bass for one magical evening.

Stephane Grappelli. The Music Hall. Fri 14 Oct, 8pm, £12/£10 (£10/£8).

I Stanley Jordan and Jason Rebello Renowned as the guitarist's guitarist, Jordan was a New York street musician a decade ago. Now an international recording star who tackles a range of styles from jazz to blues, he joins British jazz keyboard player Rebello for what should be an explosive session.

Stanley Jordan and Jason Rebello, The Music Hall, Thurs 20 Oct, 8pm, £8 (£4).

I Senseless ThlngslThrurn Blending thrash and pop in a series of raw. melodic songs, London quartet

Senseless Things made their debut only last year with Postcard CV. Heading for their third album. to be released later this year. they continue on their heady journey to the top. They join one of Scotland’s most exciting young bands Thrum, still swaggering from the success of Rijferama, their last album. Senseless Things/I'hrum, The Music Hall, Tues 18 Oct, 8pm, £7 (£5 ).

I Louden Wainwright/Brian Kennedy Coming from opposite sides ofthe Atlantic, the pair of singer-songwriters join forces for a mellow night of contemplation, humour and melody. A graduate of New York‘s 1960s Greenwich Village folk clubs, Wainwright has become one of America’s most respected artists, while Kennedy is billed as one of Britain's best—kept secrets. See them and decide for yourself.

Louden Wainwright/Brian Kennedy, The Music Hall, Fri 21 Oct, 8pm, £8.50 (£6).


I Greg Proops Freed from the shackles of Channel 4‘s Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Proops unleashes his stand- up greatness in a surreal show where anything could happen under cover of darkness. Pit your imagination against the fast-talking American as he spouts his observations on life.

Greg Proops, Arts Centre, Mon 1 7 Oct. 8pm, £7 (£5 ).

I Bruce Morton If you were willing and able to Sin With Bruce Morton on Channel 4, you might enjoy a bit of live indulgence with the big man. One of Scotland’s most innovative stand-up comedians, Morton can be seen in the flesh for just one night in Aberdeen. Bruce Morton, Arts Centre, Fri 21 Oct. 10.30pm, £7 (£5).


I Anorak 01 Flre The [lie And Tlntes 0t Gus Gascolgne: Tralnspotter If you have had your head buried for the last two years, you will have missed Stephen Dinsdale's work of comic genius. This hilarious expose of trainspotting culture leapt from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe straight to London’s West End. Well worth catching.

Anorak Of Fire The Life And Times Of Gus Gascoigne: Trainspotter. Arts Centre, 8pm, £6 (£4).


I Union Street Celebrating Aberdeen Union Street's 200th birthday, this exhibition of photographs by George Washington Wilson will take you on a trip through time. The Banfishire-bom artist and photographer’s work charted Victorian Aberdeen and Scotland, earning him international respect and a place in photographic history.

Union Street. The Music Hall, Thurs 13—31 Oct, The Music Hall; Peterkin '3, Union Street, Nov 1-5.


I An Audience With George Melly The film critic, screenwriter, journalist, jazz man and considerable wit shares his thoughts on almost anything in an evening of intimate chit chat. This promises to be a scurrilous tour of his good life and disgraceful times.

George Melly. The Arts Centre, Sat 15 Oct. 8pm, £7 (£5).

The List 7—20 October 1994 89