Here at NOT BAd we like to think of ourselves as the periodical equivalent of grit on the icy path of factual reporting, an emergency grab rail on the slippery shower tray of information dissemination, always happy to break the fall of the more infirm publications whenever they totter and threaten to break a journalistic hip.
Because as a regional paper it’s hard to remember everything, isn’t it? Birthdays, anniversaries, mentioning where people can buy that charity CD, Bridge & Bauble, in amongst those four hundred words you published about it last week.
But take NOT BAd’s arm and we’ll see you across the road to safety.
Starting with the basics, then:
When out shopping, look for the above. You’ll find it at Retro! on Bridge Street, The Corner House café on Church Street, Media Mania, The Music Gallery, and eventually all good stockists. Legs fallen off? Then buy it online at www.teaandcoffeehampers.co.uk. Oh, and also watch out for your kids bringing home an order form from school.
There are four main reasons to buy this CD. We’ll present them using bullet points to make it easier for those of you already experiencing some loss of cognitive function under the weight of impending Christmas panic-buying.
- The whole project from beginning to end has taken a fortnight, give or take. That’s eleven songs written, eleven artists nurtured, eleven tracks recorded, eleven tracks produced. No sign of pipers piping though, which must have come as something of a relief.
Considering it takes us a good ten days to get round to cutting our toenails, we think this sort of epic-scale organisation deserves appreciation in the form of sales.
- Not one contributor has appeared on X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, or any other equally third-rate variant. Take a moment. If that isn’t worth ten quid on its own, then we don’t know what is.
These local musicians don’t need to make songs their own, Louis – they make their own songs. Self-penned, original material, without the slightest whiff of a hairbrush in front of the mirror, what really stands out is the quality of the tracks. The artists themselves – ranging from beginners to old pros – could be considered an unlikely match, yet they’ve brought together a CD which while delightfully eclectic, maintains coherency.
From the warm tones of Brian Shanks evoking the simple innocence of a 1950s Christmas to David Faill’s bluegrass rendition of ‘Silent Night’, from Tasha Blackmore’s super-slick country ‘Last December’ to the pared down drumming of Linzi Walker’s ‘Winter’, Bridge & Bauble is like an oasis in the middle of a desert made from Slade.
We defy your jaw not to drop at the dark brilliance of ‘Christmas at Lennel House’, written and performed by song-poet Gary Miller (yes, the Gary Miller of The Whisky Priests). Miller’s bouncing tune belies the wickedly sharp lyrics that manifest the Ghost of Christmas Future. It’s unarguably the most brutally honest Christmas song you’ll ever hear.
Prefer your Christmas songs more traditional? Then you’ll love Electric Penelope’s duet with Noel Ackting, ‘An Evening with You’ – a rich and mellow jazz number in the vein of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’.
Tracks by Hazel Quinn, Secret Gang Handshakes, Iain Petrie, Tamsin Davidson and Paul Sinclair add to the mix, ensuring that this CD is as far removed from a bland Christmas compilation album as it’s possible to go.
- All profits will be split between local schools and Berwick Youth Project so it goes without saying that to buy Bridge & Bauble is a fantastic way to raise much-needed funds to support the young folk of the area. Anyone not buying the CD automatically disqualifies themselves from the right to complain about twocking and genitals carved on bus shelters.
Iain Petrie – contributor, producer, and daddy of this musical brainchild – has put up the money for the project and is sanguine as to whether he recoups his outlay.
“It doesn’t matter,” he shrugs. “It’s all about the process.”
This is something that crops up time again. For Petrie, the destination is far less important than how you travel. While raising money for these causes is the end point of the CD and clearly close to Iain’s heart, we get the impression that it isn’t the driving force. That would be Iain’s restless quest for authenticity, for developing connections between fellow musicians, for bringing out the best in an artist and sharing an intensity of experience.
“Intensity of experience.”
Sounds worryingly New Age, right? That’s what you’re thinking. “Clearly this Petrie fellow is a man up to his elbows in friendship bracelets and tie-dyeing all the days of the week without ‘stoner’ in them.”
While Petrie is the first to admit he loses stuff all the time, it would be wide off the mark to dismiss him as a flake, to confuse his obvious spirituality with unfocused navel-gazing. Because for all his otherworldly air, soft-spoken drawl and middle-distance contemplation, be under no illusion – when it comes to music Iain Petrie is a control freak. An optimistic, gentle control freak, true, but it’s there nonetheless – a quest for perfection, an ear for detail and a desire to ensure that every note counts. It’s why he first got into producing in the first place.
And bloody hell, he’s good at it. There are lovely touches sprinkled throughout the album – a suggestion of bells here, a hint of heavenly choir there – but nothing overt, obvious or cliché. His ego leaves the barest of fingerprints on these tracks; he seems to possess an uncanny knack for capturing the essence of an entire song in as few moves as possible to make both song and performer shine.
- Buy this CD and be part of the groundswell that’s putting Berwick firmly on the music map. Don’t buy this CD and we’ll come back next year, check your pulse, then roll you into a ditch.
Times are hard, but as Petrie says, “It’s also the opportunity to look elsewhere, to find new ways of doing things.” He expresses genuine pride and wonder at the talent in and around Berwick at the moment, not just musicians, but artists and writers too.
And she has had a good year, hasn’t she, our make-do-and-mend wee wifey of a town? She’s had her first Frontier Festival, the opening of the Berwick Watchtower (the Tweedmouth gallery and arts centre), there are rumours of another art gallery in the pipeline… fine things are happening and it has to be a question of keeping the momentum going for the future. That’s something we can all be part of.
So what’s Petrie’s next project, what does the future hold for him? “Oh, I have vision but no plans,” comes the not unexpected response. “Working with musicians, putting more music into the community. Be in the now, spread the love.”
So then, charity, music and spreading the love – the true message of the festive season. Which is why you should definitely buy Bridge & Bauble for Christmas, and not a turkey.
You can contact Iain Petrie here.