Charlie Parr and the Black Twig Pickers/ Islaja
American bluegrass and Finnish free folk may not be the most obvious of bedfellows, but the appearance of two bills of such polar opposites within a week of each other demonstrates just how wide a net the Braw Gigs empire casts over Edinburgh. Where Charlie Parr (pictured) and The Black Twig Pickers will serve up an old-time yee-haw of backwoods fiddle and guitar-picking, Islaja, aka artist Merja Kokkonen, offers a more fractured and reflective keening from the great outdoors.
‘It’s a bit of a tough gap to bridge,’ Braw Gigs’ Master of Ceremonies Nick Herd admits, ‘but within reason, I’ve always felt that traditional and experimental performances can invoke similar emotional responses in open-minded audiences; a primordial reaction, so to speak. Variation is always good and it’s nice having the freedom to book bluegrass, Finnish avant-garde and Skullflower in the same month.’
While Islaja’s last appearance in Scotland was as part of 2008’s Approximately Infinite Universe mix and match tour of the American and Finnish experimental underground, Parr’s grizzled blues was last heard on these shores in shows promoted by Tracer Trails. This show under the Braw Trails banner, which also features a rare solo outing for The Leg’s Dan Mutch, points up the spirit of co-operation inherent in Edinburgh? DIY endeavours.
‘When we co-promote, it’s a good indicator of what to expect,’ explains Herd, ‘a nice grey area which keeps things intriguing for both the audience and us alike. It’s great not to be bogged down in genres and scenes constantly.’
Charlie Parr and the Black Twig Pickers, Sun 19 Sep / Islaja, Wed 22 Sep, both at Roxy Art House, Edinburgh.