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If you think that folk sucks and the White Heather Club is as funky as it gets, then our crash course in thrash ceilidhs will have you reeling.

Folk music has a bad reputation in some quarters, smacking of shortbread tins, endless diddley (out of) tunes and the Arran jumper bumpers. The Festival, however, is a great time to sample the full spectrum of Scotland's cutting-edge folk bands and check out some ceilidhs.

Edinburgh has a constantly mutating folk scene. Certain styles may go out of fashion but the genre itself is here to stay and each new generation brings bands who take delight in sticking two fingers up (musically that is) at those who went before them, while still being unmistakably rooted in the folk tradition.

For upbeat, in-yer-face folk, the best place to start is that palace of psychofolk, the Bongo Club. At the wildest end of the spectrum are Shooglenifty, boasting a dance beat, a banjo played through a wahwah and relentlessly rhythmic tracks. In similar vein are Mystery Juice, once described as the Fun Lovin' Criminals with a fiddle. It is virtually impossible not to dance to either of these bands. And don't expect chemistry teachers wearing socks under their sandals. The clientele is freaky, funky and friendly.

If you're looking for more of a roots feel, Aberdeen's Old Blind Dogs (Spiegeltent) and Cornerhouse (Famous Grouse House) both offer an acoustic stomparama with great whistles and bagpipes.

The fiddle equivalent of warp factor six has to be Canadian Richard Wood, with Deaf Shepherd hot on his heels (both at Famous Grouse House). Deaf Shepherd do a mix of songs and tunes, and just to prove you can't have too much of a good thing, they put two fiddlers

Shooglenifty: note the baseball bat. ye mockers of all things funky

and two sets of pipes on stage.

If you fancy something a bit more trad, check out a ceilidh (that’s a Gaelic word for a party or gathering, fact fans and foreign tourists). Festival ceilidhs are mad, exhilarating and exhausting. The band has a caller to talk you through your steps before the dance begins and most dances are quite easy to follow, mostly involving sets of between four and eight people or sometimes the whole room.

It's very sociable and by the end you’ll have danced with just about everyone - although conversation is limited when you're panting that much. If you're not dancing there's more malicious fun to be had watching collisions. For good music and calling you're in safe hands with either the Marwicks or the Belle Star Band (Famous Grouse House). (Stephanie Noblett)

See separate listings supplement for full details.


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generation of contemporary blues Stylists.

Like many such players, Garner grew up on church lTiUSIC, and began playing gunar for a gospel quartet before turning to the blues, despite the warnings of his local minister that he was also turning to the deVil. While he draws on ClaSSIC blues influences, he has his own distinctive slant on the form, both as a guutarist and in the subject matter of his often humourous songs like ’Four Cars Running', a pained lament from a dad wondering how he Will pay for the three extra cars he is obliged to run for his kids.

Garner heads the opening night bill of the Edinburgh International Blues

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Larry Garner

Larry Garner was born in New Orleans, but brought up in Baton Rouge, another town with a strong

musical tradition. The rich mix of delta blues the so-called swamp blues style developed in the (Ily Cajun and Zydeco have all fed into his music, but have become moulded into the smoother rock and soul-influenced vein widely favoured by the current

Festival on Friday. Saturday's programme includes two sets from The Blues Band, in acoustic and electric mode, while Sunday’s headliner is another Lousiana bluesman, Philip Walker.

(Kenny Mathieson)

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Kick off your musical frolics with these top tunesmiths.

Steve Harley While by no means as caught in the glare of the spotlight as he was in the early 70s, this ex- Cockney Rebel is still quietly and confidently working his way around the singer songwriter circuit Expect something old, something new and some pithy anecdotes Steve Harley (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, ’-—27 Aug (not 76, (7) 70pm, [IO/[9 ([9/f8)

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Mediaeval Babes They've taken the classrcal world by storm With their performances of plain chant, mixmg a centuries old song form With bang up to date saucy marketing, Their first performance is as part of a medieval banquet, hence the price tag. Mediaeval Babes (Fringe) The Far Out Venue (Venue 202) 01620 843087, I 2—75 Aug, 7pm (banquet)/ 8.30pm, [50 (banquet)/[75.

Ricky Ross Forever doomed or forever blessed With the SOubriquet of ’Deacon Blue frontman', Ross keeps It simple Wlli) an acoustic show. Ricky Ross (Fringe) Calder’s Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2 75 i, ii, 78, 25 Aug, 70.45pm, [70 ([8). Richard Wood Fiddle fans should walk this way for this y0ung string burner from Prince Edward Island. Wood is one of the clearest examples Of the Celtic tradition budding on the past by looking to the future. Richard Wood (Fringe) Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606, 70, (8 Aug, 9.45pm, [7 (f5).

Flamenco Puro AI Andaluz They were stunning last year and one can only assume that they have got better. Diego Mora's gypsy gUitar style is complemented by the Andalucian dancer Tote Conte and flamenco dancer Rosario Serrano. Flamenco Puro Al Andaluz (Fringe) Graffiti (Venue 90) 55 7 8330, 8—37 Aug (not 77, 18) various times, £7.50 (£6.50).

Larry Garner See prewew, left. (Blues Festival) Caledonian Brewery (Venue 183) 668 2079, 7Aug, 8.45pm, [72.

6-13 Aug 1998 THE usm