Music and other things that were going on at Joctoberfest

Reading Time: 9 minutes

I’m starting with a quote from Woolly Dermal. I wanted to know how to best define the review below, to which Woolly after reading it stated it displayed “the offerings of Jocktoberfest as more than just a place to go see some bands.” I’m happy with that. Also that this means that I added this introduction that I didn’t have in the original draft. Points for extra effort! does it, for The Nettle cares.


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In relation to TheNettle, I think that it managed to cover a fair few elements of the festival that was JocktoberFest this year. There was for e.g. strong coverage for a range of bands and perspectives on them, as well as uploading some footage about them so people can judge for themselves whether they would like the music of a band.

There were 2 parts to my tactics on how to cover this whole festival thing. What I thought I’d do beforehand, and this below, which is not very much like that plan…
Then again, the plan did unravel a touch in that the music was a bit hit and miss for me this year at Jocktoberfest. I saw some great music and had a great time watching it, but there were also some which didn’t capture me. I think that it was more me than the entire rest of the festival, but there were times when I was in there, beer in hand and wanting to see something that grabbed me, and there wasn’t.
I also know that there were bands that others said were great when I wasn’t there to watch them, so there was this element of not being caught by the music a couple of times, but another of just spending him in the campsite. These both combined with the fact that there’s lots of other Nettle people and – I’m sure – others elsewhere as well writing about the music there.

This is good for me as it gives space to ramble on about other things that did catch my eye and that did happen at Jocktoberfest. In terms of where to start, there were so many choices that there were sniffs at options that, at times, literally threw themselves in front of me.

Pinky, Hattie, and Glowing Medusa-Dreds. We shall call her Meddie-Margaret-May, or Metty-Boo


For e.g., I believe that it was the 3 in front on this picture that may have been the first to pick up the straw from the floor and starting chucking it in the air. Pinky, Hattie, and Glowing Medusa-Dreads (actual names not known) were throwing it out there and kicking it loose, and they had a bit of a look around to check if the mood was ready for it. It was always gonna happen, Jocktoberfest is set up for it, ye olde straw tossing fun. But was the rest of the crown ready for it to start happening already, these fine people wondered…?

The band was Guilty Pleasures. They were the standout band for me Friday night – put an amazing voice in front of a good quality, good time party band with excellent song choice and you’re not gonna lose. Other music heard was good also, but this was the starting time and place of a couple of themes for the weekend for me.

The Guilty Pleasures. Wonder if there’s anything in the fact that it kicked into gear with The Guilty Pleasures. Now I wonder how many people have seem them and though that after also.


One thing that came to mind then and there was the tentative beginnings of straw throwing revelry by Meddie-Boo & Co. Another was the start of hearing an interesting, and good, but surprisingly a lot of covers by a range of bands. Then again that was what Guilty Pleasures was doing, and I was dancing to it, with everyone else, so I can see how the other bands also saw the chance of doing a good cover of a good song that people know and like. It was prevalent, and got people up dancing often across the weekend.
Dancing was another 3rd thing that started then and there. A 4th thread that started when dancing to this fun band and good voice was that of the good times to be had within the area for bands, as opposed to at the tent.

There are always, it seems, people flowing between their tents and the festival, partly because they are so close and convenient, and partly depending on the music on offer, or catching up with at the campsite, or because of how nice it is to lay in the quiet in the sun, when you’re not dancing and kicking up the straw.
We got there early enough to set up camp and then gloat that we had this time carved out of general life for the weekend ahead. To be able to stop, with beverage of choice, in the sun in front of tents on soft dry grass (although recently cut grass, meaning some was harsh on the bare foot at times, with strong stems cut low & spiky).
The scene was one of the tents up, the sun out, the gates not open yet. Nothing to do but chat and have a drink in the sun.

All in all, it was a good start to the festival. It’s also a lure though, as being at the campsite is something that is a feature for a lot of people going to Joctoberfest. It’s always tempting to stay and be and talk and such, but the Guilty Pleasures was the start of thinking about the benefits of being inside the JoctoberFest band space. To be honest, not sure what they call it, the space inside, with the rest of the punters and revellers, the bar and the bands and the burgers, etc. I’ll call it ‘Inside’.

Quickly on the food topic above, there was good food all around – with people sharing, got to try all foods except the lamb on the spit. Really do have to line up long in the first line for that shit. Not shit, absolutely delicious, but missed out this year again! (Curse you Gadget!! But I will get you next time!!).

Once again there were some stand-out efforts with the costumes (kicking from the food critic into the fashion part of the evening). I think that I’m with the other non-official Nettle opinion that I saw – the person inside a t-rex skeleton full-body suit was the winner for me. There was a lot of options in and around. There was a lot of guys on hanging skins and clubs. Leopard-skin loin-cloths for any and all, but there were a lot of different efforts to dress on theme, or at least dress up with that as an excuse.
Some might have been on theme, or not. I liked pretending that the glowing pink dreadlocks were meant to represent the snakes on Medusa’s head. I was going to ask, but thought it risky to look him in the eye to do so.

I was playing Hungry Hippo, but instead of amount of balls caught I was aiming to get all the best costumes in the one photo. There were more, but this is the most in one photo, and some of my favourites all in one shot! Who’s that masked man?


I have a photo here of some of my favourites, the most in one natural ‘they were there and I can keep them anonymous’ photo I got. Anonymous that is except for one guy – but my bad photography means that the photo was overexposed where he was. Also he had a mask on, so who the fuck knows who that could be. Superman got away with it when he was just wearing glasses. This guy (I’m assuming a guy, but who knows – it was an excellent mask) was the ultimate enigma.
Part of the fun of Jocktoberfest is that people come along for the ride. The costumes are a part of that for some people, but all people there love to see it (sure – a little presumptuous to speak for ‘all people’ at the festival, so wind that back to a believable % for you).

Having covered beginnings, camping, food and fashion, there are a few other elements to the festival, so I think that I’m going to do them (reasonably) rapid fire.

It’s a festival at a brewery, and one of the good things is being able to taste small batches that they either have experimented with in terms of brewing production, i.e. making the stuff, or the other experiment – if it sells. For me my favourite new untasted Black Isle Brewery beer that I hope they put in pubs was the Brown Bear Ale.

The glow in the thistle behind the bands at the main stage in the Dutch Barn came via the spotlight shining on it just so, in order to make it shine bright like that. It is not a festival where you’re going for the amazing bells and whistles of stage and setting, but what they do is done well. The wood fires, the bulbs string overhead, the lighting glowing up the thistle, the set up between the stages. The space ‘Inside’ is a good atmosphere, and this more than music got to me this year. This of course is added to by the environment created by the people there, who came to play, and did.

The Glowing Thistle
The Glowing Thistle






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(Rotating clockwise from top left):
a). I call this piece “Log standing and turning to glower embers: Overexposed # 4”.
b). Strung up lights. They were quite high.
c). The field and forest behind the campsite, and the Saturday sun that held warm all day.
d).Midday-ish, not long after opening up on Saturday. Sarah Galligher was playing just then, another good voice and set.

In terms of music, I think that my favourite for the Saturday was Emma and the Ragmen. Right at the very start of the day I got really keen and saw the first on for the day, Sarah Gallagher. Again apologies if this is incorrect. Anyway, I really liked her set as well and wanted to give it a mention. Nice voice, good presence on stage, relaxed, funny, comfortable there, and hopefully get to see her play again.

I can’t remember the names of the bands exactly and just looked too long to try to find the information now. The information on the line-up has moved off a lot of sites already as it has closed as an event to look at. I get the logic of it, but it’s not helpful – I should have held onto a programme, or photographed it like a lot of others did. However, I didn’t, thinking it’d be less of a hassle than it was to go back to the same sites I found the information on before, thinking I’d find it there again. So hoping either someone else at The Nettle, or if someone reads this and knows the exact name, please do.

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Emma and the Ragmen. Hard to see, but there was a young guy in a Harrington jacket on lead guitar left of stage, and the double-base centre right. The whole band was good, but these were both good guitarists.

Anyway, Emma and the Ragmen were my favourite band for the Saturday. In saying that Coco T (forget her complete name – apologies Coco!) was one of my favourites last year and mostly missed her this year. Got to see 2-3 songs, fortunately! There were bands that deserved more of a look, and there were ones where I got to see more than enough.
I think that Emma and the Ragmen got a longer slot as someone else pulled out – this could be wrong, but felt like a longer set than most for the weekend. They got the crowd up, they got the dancers up. You don’t see too many double-basses being played in and around Inverness, and people were liking it and commenting on it. The guitarist on the left for them was talented, not just skillful, but held them together well. There was other good music, but they were definitely my favourite for Saturday.

Mr Still, Saturday
Tistik, Saturday


I have been to Joctoberfest before, and once again I found that I felt this pull between two places that I would like to be, the campsite and the arena (too big a word) ‘Inside’. I know that there would be a lot of coverage of the music there, so in this review I wanted to highlight a few other component parts of the weekend.

The last thought on the weekend is how once again the weather came through. It rained close to closing on the Saturday, but that was such a good warm day that some rain at night just around heading back to the campsite doesn’t weigh hard against that. The sunshine did make it hard at times to give all the music the credit it deserved. I do feel bad for acts playing inside and trying to coax people out of that sunshiny warmth.

In saying that, a festival where you have such good options, and such a pull between them, as the examples highlighted above, is one I’m going back to. Hope to dance with you there next year!

Jocktoberfest 2018 – Friday 7th September – official – Woolly Dermal

Reading Time: 10 minutes

A wee day out and that


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So we took a wee trip out to the Black Isle to the hallowed ground that is the Black Isle Brewery, ready for what the weather said would be a cold and wet weekend. The forecast was a bit of a shame, as last year was brilliant on that front. Boots packed, lots of jumpers and a rain coat. Camera memory cards cleared up this time after a rather rushed last minute process for Belladrum earlier this year. In fairness, that’s because most of the two nights leading up to the aforementioned festival involved making the oversized bunting for the Burke and Hare stage, leaving little time to pack. How rock and roll is that? Not very I guess, but there were complications with planning things this summer, so that was the most economical way to get in. I know it’s probably bad journalistic craic to start waffling on about a festival unrelated to the one you’re covering, but hear me out.

We’re still very much the new kids on the music review block, so Belladrum was our first attempt at festival coverage. We could have done a bit better, and are still a little behind with our review of that, but everything is a learning process. So there’s the odd situation where the full Jocktoberfest review is coming in before the other one is finished.

Press passes were supplied from the nice folks at Jocktoberfest, which gave us a wee kick to get this one out as a priority. This makes it our inaugural ‘official’ festival coverage, and importantly, that gave us stage access for some better photos, which hopefully has paid off a bit.

One of the reasons I really like Jocktoberfest is the size of it. It’s not too big, in a compact enough space and has a good mix of talent. The stages are timed so for the most part you can see as much as possible if you want to, and not miss out on seeing some new or familiar talent. That’s how Belladrum started off, and they did good eh! Bella has grown and evolved into something different since then, and has done well with that, and is a fine festival – but Jocktoberfest, please, never change; we love you!

No heads were harmed in the making of this photo – the gent fell back into the lovely hay in awe of the food!

Jocktoberfest is a brilliant wee festival, and part of the Scottish Food and Drink fortnight, that’s a bunch of events and festivals around the country where you can sample some quality energy provisions for your palette – more info about that here. The Black Isle Brewery beers, both the standard ones, and the special limited edition ones they put out on rotation are chuffing lovely – especially gratifying was the Strawberry Wheat Beer on the Friday evening. The real culinary hero of the event is always, always the lamb burgers though. Last year I had my kids with me, and I think we consumed about eight of them between the three of us. I *may* have had four of those eight, but they are so, so good! The plan was to take them this time, but that wasn’t possible, so this, if nothing else is something they can read about, and see the copious amounts of videos and such like that we’ve put up on our facebook page.

Perfect setting to try the Black Isle craft Beers

Other things that are greatly welcomed at this craft beer extravaganza are the clear signs with which band is on where at which time. There’s no need for lanyards, which I tend to find a pain in the tits at bigger festivals, having to flip back and forth to see which bands and events are on where. An easy to read bit of signage does the trick nicely. If I was being picky, I’d say it would be good to have another chalkboard with all of the bands listed in alternating colours in chronological order, but that’s probably because I was lazy and working off a notepad.  Seriously though, Jocktoberfest bossed it, publishing times and stages well in advance, online for free. It’s the way to do it!


Hay Dino!

The Jocktober-team love a theme, and this time the theme was one million years BC (Before Craft!) Having a theme in a small festival is hilarious, the purveyors of the dino and caveman chic were all mingling between each other, which was surreal and giggle inducing. Hats off to those dressed as dinosaurs too, as the weather turned out to be toasty hot. We’ll be sticking a small gallery of pictures up on another page, in a sort of lazy journalism, ‘out and about, seen in the town’ sort of thing; but with dinosaurs. Linky linky.

On arrival a few folk I was camping with were already there and had set up the gazebo, and the beginnings of a circle of tents had started forming, the gin and ice was out and some of my fellow nettlers, friends and associates were already getting into the spirit of things. Or it was getting into them. Tent went up, a bit of craic was had, cameras and notebooks were loaded, and into the arena a couple of us went.

In the beginning

I’m a determined sort of fella, so I was keen to see as many of the bands as possible, I think I only missed two or three the whole weekend, so if you happened to be one of them, sorry and that; I did my best, feel free to get your friends to drop us a line and come and help! Normally I’d be more gonzo-ish in my reviews, and there’s a couple of writers are also covering Jocktoberfest, but this is the formal, music one.

Keir Gibson

Keir Here

So Friday opened with Keir Gibson giving the beginnings of the crowd his acoustic guitar and verse. He’s a talented fella and has what I’d call a classical voice – it’s well rounded and confident. If I was to describe it like a gin or wine, the music was very current, hints of George Ezra, notes of Mumford and Sons and a subtle taste of Paolo Nutini. It was pleasant and he’s only going to grow in popularity – it was a good fit and gentle feel good start for the opening of Jocktoberfest. I don’t know why, but his voice seemed to fit with the good warm weather that we were apparently not getting, but did.

After he’d done his number, there was a wee break before Table For Four (T44) took over the stage. I’d seen them as a two piece band under their previous incarnation, Bunny and the Bear in the Tooth and Claw before, but hadn’t quite managed to catch them as Table for Four. Sometimes evolutions can go bad, like, I wish humans had kept their tails, it seems rubbish that we don’t get to keep them. I’d love a tail. Table for Four’s final form was a progressive metamorphosis though, rather than a “they were good back in the day, but now they’re shite” sort of thing. The four piece took the tempo up a wee bit with their presence.

These people need a table for four, but they are Table for Four. Someone get them a table!

They opened with an instrumental song, which worked well as a bridge from Kier Gibson’s set, before hitting out the track ‘Mcloving’ – not a Superbad reference, as the lead singer Sarah, or (Jeremiah Dingdong, as she referred to herself)  clarified. It was the second track where you started to get a feel for the band. They’ve got a good voice in Sarah, and the pop-punk track that they shared was ear pleasing. The wee team of either habitual restaurant bookers or bar dwellers (I’m second guessing the band name origin here) then gave us three songs in quick succession, with a good 90’s vibe to them. Loser was the first of the ménage à trois of songs.

Rocking and bopping

We got T44’s version of a Britney Spears song, a new song, their track “One man Band” and a Ramones cover. The vocals were rocking, and I’ll iterate again that I liked their sound. On a side note I caught that the guitarist had a T-shirt on from the Market Bar’s “Never Mind the Wedding” foodbank fundraiser, with the delicate embrace of two lizards fornicating. Well done Claire Maclean Illustrations, your reach is wide. It fitted with the Dinosaur theme of the festival too.  Anyway, the foursome left us with the track “Jealousy” to finish, and in return were treated to the band’s first experience of having “One more tune” called back to them. That’s got to be a testament of good feedback.

On from the rock


The Guilty Pleasures were up next. They’re a very sleek outfit and I’d seen a couple of their promo vids before. My only other previous experience of the singer, Michelle, was promoting a music class for little ones, which had looked really cool at a baby show. I’d wanted to take my son to it, but my partner of the time wasn’t keen for it.  She’d seemed confident and warm back then, so I’d wondered how the stage presence had progressed. The band arrived in glamorous attire, suited and booted, or in Michelle’s case sparkly as a diamond.

Lead singer Michelle

Opening with Shocking Blue’s ‘Venus’ they showed off their polished professionalism, and ran through a few tracks, Video Killed the Radio Star, Mamma Mia and Beat It, to name a few. We did live stream them, but I managed to flip the camera over to my dish whilst streaming, so we didn’t save the video. No one wants to see a Blair Witch style beanie wearing nasal shot half way through getting into “Hot Stuff”.  I’m not generally a huge fan of cover bands, but it worked really well, and as a ‘working band’ they’re good. I can see them getting bigger over time. Coincidentally  received an enquiry for music bookings last week for a function, and signposted the requester towards them. They worked in the early afternoon setting and helped shake any timidity away from the crowd, and into the dancing groove.

The function band, being functionally grand, on the stand.

I got my first beverage of the evening at this point, the aforementioned Strawberry Wheat Beer was my tipple of choice. Wetter than an otter’s pocket – it was lush.

Tweed Ceilidh Band 

Fiddle me this

If the Guilty Pleasures lubricated the crowd, Tweed electrically charged them. An accordion, drums, and a fiddle on stage can go one of a few ways. It can go with the sing-songy very trad ceilidh bands in a sort of White Heather Club style hell, the interim Corries style, or my preferred instance, the modern, lets get this party going way. Shit the bed! – There was no frigging doubt that Tweed were in the last category.  The hay started flying, and the audience was irrepressibly buoyant, the cavemen were waving their inflatable clubs around in a frantic and joyous manner.

Powered by joy, and powering the crowd

The animated crowd were only matched by the fiddle player. What a hero – he was cutting some serious shapes and the revellers were like putty in the band’s jams. (Puns ahoy!) A wee shout out to the Netsounds guys at this point for being awesome generally. Tweed Ceilidh Band took us on a musical tour, with a rendition of Korobeiniki, which yer ma knows as the Tetris theme song, then some Cossack dancing music and some reggae. One thing I wasn’t expecting was an Oi! Oi! Oi! punk elation feeling from them, but they were full force, hyper tempo mentals. I can’t think about that part of the evening without grinning, the highlight of the night for me. They went over their time allocation, which delighted the now fanatical crowd that they’d bonded with through sweat and kinetic energy. There was absolutely a Need for Tweed, and a Need for Tweed 2 would be most welcome next year!

Blair here

To finish up the night DJ Blair Massari took us into the stars, with a good mix of soulful funk, psychedelia and disco music. It was a perfect chilled vibe to bring the night in and let us all dance our way to the campsite.

Blair there











Getting back to the campsite, there were only four of the twenty or so folk I was with still standing, or nestling on camping chairs. A bit of craic was had, and a self-congratulatory beer or two. I’d’ve indulged in more, but I wanted to catch as much of the festival as possible. We were covering it, and there’s only two stages, so it should be viable to catch most of the acts, and I was determined that TheNettle would do that this year! Also by this point, it was freezing; so I left the last remaining party people to get some kip. Tomorrow, you can read some more about the festival, but ta ta for now.


What happened next? Read our Saturday part one here:


Jocktoberfest – Saturday 8th September – official pt. 1 – Woolly Dermal


Want to see more reviews, previews and stuff like this as it’s published. When gigs are appearing and all that?
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Doors Open Days – 1st September 2018

Reading Time: 12 minutes

By Cornwallace


One of the things for me about Open Doors Day is local opportunity.  Another is thoughts of travel, and how different parts of the world conduct this sort of experience that is on offer in the event Open Door Days. 

The pamphlet on hand and distributed uniformly through the places I visited, states that it is coordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust (& Co.).  This handout also stated that the main opportunity to see some things in Inverness was the first weekend, Sat 1st and Sunday 2nd of September.  The other chance is one event on the final day, in Week 5.

The front of the Brochure/ Pamphlet to look for

I’m using this pamphlet gratuitously as my one point of reference, as it was just the blue signs on the fences or gates or doors of places on the day that got me aware of this event.  That and this pamphlet, as it was given to me in a couple of places when we were there.  Research = zero, but that’s no reason to not review how we experienced it on the Saturday.



This is the schedule of places and times and dates across September



Basically the idea of Doors Open Days is as it says on the box – as from the perspective of the Scottish Civic Trust, in a high level partnership with a range of Councils and Trusts, etc.  This is about opening the doors of the beautiful buildings that you see in Inverness-Shire, both Easter and Wester Ross, Caitness and Badenoch & Strathspey. 

This is where I get back to places around the world, particularly because the four buildings I saw in Inverness and highlight below were all churches.  Different cities and towns around the world offer access to varying degrees.  Some you can walk into but have to pay, some by donation, or free and regularly open for anyone to walk in – or who more regularly keep their doors shut. 

Inverness generally keeps the doors of many of these spots closed.  Even on a day like this, not all options were available.  For example, I was keen to look in the ‘Inverness East Church of Scotland’ on Academy Street, but it was one of a number that weren’t open. 

Saying that, Inverness isn’t shy of the odd church here and there, so there was still plenty to see.  I also had a visitor staying, so it was a nice way to combine a walk in the sun, getting groceries, having lunch out and also bumping into volunteers for the Ness Book Fair ( ) while shopping for other stuff in EastGate.  In between that we slipped through 4 churches.  For me, they always look so beautiful from the outside, and curiosity takes hold about how they are on the inside.  

I went to this event a couple of years ago, and I was prepared to be slippery like an eel to be out and away and doing all the other stuff as well, but also not sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat.

Actually, take those chats as you do.  With the right people they can be great.  However, this year I was pleased that I came along a lot less ‘let’s talk about…’ and more ‘what would you like to ask?’ 
There were still cups of coffee offered, and information and people sitting waiting to talk to whoever walked through the doors.  For e.g. my friend who I went with asked an interesting (to me) question relating to weddings in the Free Church, about not having a central isle to walk down.  Another about the difference between St Marys having a white stone altar or front to their dark wood one.  The range of questions we asked were things of interest (again, to us, anyway) and taken and answered really well in all of the places.

For a review of the actual places/ buildings, I’ll do this just below.  The photos are so you can have some form of objective perspective, as well as a chance to see inside these genuinely beautiful places that are mostly, sadly for me, closed.  In this though, I saw how the event would have taken a lots of resources to put on, for e.g. the high level of volunteer help in the places was great for the people going through. 

The rest of this review below will just be subjective filler, things that happened or thoughts or facts about the places.  It’s funny, it might be easier to be objective in reviewing a building as an object than it would be a band as an entity (or however you want to think about it). 
There are other moving parts though in trying to think of a review on space and buildings instead of a gig – the history of the building and one’s own feelings towards it, either over time, or on one day going in – whether it could be thought of the same as a specific gig for a band.

I don’t know if that idea will hold up.  Let’s see…


Ness Bank Church:

There was a small but busy bunch of volunteers as the first thing that we saw entering into the Ness Bank Church.  They were sorting out their paperwork and tidying up their pamphlets and assorted paraphernalia as we came in for a poke around.  That didn’t stop us from getting an official brochure, though – they were on the ball.  As was the main man, for it was a man, conducting the show in an apricotty (or salmon – some colour named after food) cardie.  He was funny, effusive, and open to showing people around, should they wish to.


Plain wood ceiling – for some reason particularly pleasant                                


Ness Bank Church, coming down the haugh







It’s a really good looking church from within, one of my favourites, particularly for the uniform and sparse wooden ceiling.  I’m usually for all sorts of bells and whistles up there on a church ceiling, showcasing the best artistic talent and local tastes that there are to offer.  However, there is something about this place, with the plain but extremely well-crafted ceiling, the raw stone within and the homey dedicated rag-work art by the congregation.  There’s a name for it – it’s even a big cultural thing in some places like the Southern States of the Us of A.. – quilting!  That’s it.  Good counterpoints to the old-school stone and wood, and showed a side of congregation hanging out together and doing stuff, I’m guessing.    

Looking back on it, Iron Maiden on this beauty would have rocked hard


Wood, raw stone, and quilting.









There was the organist playing away giving mood and atmosphere.  I was tempted to shout out ‘you know any Maiden’ (The ‘Iron’ in Iron Maiden is of course redundant and unnecessary when shouted out this way.  It is a given, even in Churches).  However, we were quite liking her choices and left her to her own discretion, as the staff did to ours, apart from pointing out where we could go upstairs and get a better view for the photos.  Nice of them, hey!

It’s an interesting thing to review a church, and this is the 1st of 4, so the place for me to work out how. 

A little sample of the lead-lighting

Thinking about this structurally for the review, there is a bit of crossover for/ with gigs – there was music and there were chats had, and learning done.  They are one of the only places to have the consecrated wafer and wine already set out before people at church so they save some time in the proceedings of the service, for e.g.  The best crossover aspect for the analogy seems to be when thinking about both of them as a moment in time, and in this respect, we enjoyed the place and the space.

In preparation for wafer and wine.  Respect to the prep!

In terms of trying to say the same sort of thing across the board for the 4 churches in terms of recommendation to try to get there, probably the easiest way to go about it is to have a look at the photos and see if you’d want to look inside. 

For the people hosting it on the day in the Ness Bank Church, they were friendly and informative, if that helps any decisions on the matter.


St Mary’s Church:

We crossed over the bridge, I loaded up the backpack with goodies at Tescos (should have done that at the end, in hindsight) and we moved to St Mary’s, again sitting on the riverside. 

River frontage of St Mary’s Church
Some nice people had already bought him flowers.  He was well chuffed.










The volunteers for this church were very consciously, it looked, more hands-off.  Actually it was half ‘we respect your space,’ and half ‘we’re actually busy organising other things,’ but the benefit of being left to ourselves was positive, and we explored accordingly.

This is one of those ones where the church was definitely beautiful in its own right.  Much different to the others seen, as aligned to variations of type according to and aligned with the various denominations.                    

Beautiful and ornate….
But also with a little chique industrial feel in the corners.







This one had white marble altar, ornate and intricate and such.  And a lot of Sacre Coure sorta stuff – the statue and paintings with Jesus or Mary either having their heart displayed, or heart glowing beams of light.

The contradictions of the images on display was probably the biggest out of the 4 places we visited, with the caveat it had more on display for that to happen also. 
By way of example, there were long and high lead-light windows with important events of the bible depicted, but also ones with cascades of flowers coming into the picture, or random stuff like a guy with a guitar, or kids playing football (spoiler alert: the red lead-light kid hogs possession over the blue one, poor kid.  The speed of the game and the ball-hogging tendencies was I figured a homage to the Spanish team’s tactics in this year’s World Cup).


“You Reds!!!  C’mon You Reds!!!”
Interesting contrast of imagery on the walls, e.g. these 2 here…










Underneath these bright positive communal images there was also a line of images on what may be thought of as inverted crests.  These were much more ‘keep in line’ sorta images, more than one of them being Jesus getting whipped by the Romans, for e.g..  How these component parts come together in the religion is known to many, I expect, and not much a pot I’m inclined to stir.  However, the balance of these images juxtaposed against each other made for good conversation between us, that’s for sure.  We liked the place in a respectful kinda way, and then moved on.

Free Church:

Over the bridge again – Grieg St one this time – but still on the riverfront, where we next headed to the Free Church. 


Free Church was too big to get into the photo once I’d crossed the bridge.
That scale shows inside as well.










I remember seeing the inside 2 years before and wanting to see it again, but this was the heart of ‘have a cup of tea, and let me tell you a little something about our Lord.  You’re familiar with our Lord, I take it…’ last time.  Feel a bad person for saying it, but have to in order to put that against the experience this year. 
This personified the happiness of the day for me, in being able to pop into somewhere beautiful, and cared about by a community (or congregation in this context) and just ask them the things we wanted to.  They were kind – for e.g. they let us go to the top of the altar and see the view that the Pastor (or other name of your choosing) would see – which is a really good view.

The view from the highest of the 3 places available for preaching at the front.

I should also say that this was my friend’s favourite.  The questions like those mentioned above, such as not having a centre aisle for weddings, or why they chose to be so different to the Catholic church we just came from brought more questions, more engagement with the volunteers, more smiles. 

They were informative, knowledgeable, and if I wasn’t such a chicken and also needing to get continuing with other things in the day, then the home-baked goodies to go with the proffered cup of tea that looked tasty from afar may have been sampled and chat had.  This Saturday though, we had to keep moving.  Luckily the next one was basically just up the way.

You’d think it’s all about the space and the ceiling, but the curved seating was another touch where the builders thought about what they wanted for the congregation.

High Church:

The word is that there’s been some sort of church on this space since the 6th Century, when the Picts were chatted to and were down with the idea.  Might have been one of their last chances for input in the local area, but that’s just one for the history buffs to niggle each other about.


The outside of the Church, which I saw a bit, while my friend was zoned in on.…


…“BunnyFest (as above).”









It took a little while to get into the Church, both because of the beauty of the graveyard surrounding it, and also that this very graveyard had a cute bunny in it. 
Accompanying friend duly had a very touching moment with said rabbit, where they got to know each other across a safe gazing distance.  Took time to build up the rapport, but this was a lovely day outside, and they were indeed having a moment, so who am I to push into that space.

Eventually though, being human, my friend tried to get that little bit too close to the rabbit and that was that, spell broken and we could go in.



Main altar, to the side of the Church
This meant that there needed to be some ‘creative’ seating arrangements


The interesting part about this space for me is that the main altar is on one side rather than an end of the building, and how the seating wraps itself around in accordance to that. 
It is another good looking church with simple but extremely well crafted full wood ceiling.  My apologies for my photos re the ceiling, just couldn’t get one to focus right.  Maybe it was the dark wood absorbing common perceptions and notional understand of light.  Playing with the fundamental dancing in and out of corporeal form of spirits both on the wing and in the rafters.  Then again me stuffing up possibly had something to do with this bad photography also.  One shouldn’t always blame immutable spirits manifesting in corporeal yet shifting form for their inability to get the photo into focus.  Anyway, apologies – it is interesting inside, we got another invitation to another cuppa (but I think only as they were putting on the kettle anyway, and they were nice people), as well as more help, more information, and more smiles.

It is an interesting layout of church, and one with an interesting history.  Architecturally inside it wasn’t necessarily my favourite, but still interesting and worth a visit.

Just couldn’t focus on this ceiling.  Meaningful, or mistake…(Mistake).



In true Nettle fashion, arse-backwards by chance I stumbled fortuitously across this event.

I say fortuitously as I liked the event and wanted to let people know that there are still 4 weeks of options, even if they are out across away a few hours.  Depends on how much you like buildings, architecture, history, a drive through the countryside, a walk through town, etc.  If you like that type of stuff, have a look and see if there’s anything of interest to you on the rest of the weekends throughout September.  This above was 4 places on Saturday the 1st that we visited:

I was happy that I was able to get to see the insides of these building, especially as they are often closed.  The event is a great collaboration between a number of Councils, Trusts, etc.  Is this sort of thing is your cup of tea (of coffee, perhaps with a home-baked slice) then I highly recommend it.  There was a lot of effort, coordination and, importantly, volunteers on the ground to make this a success.  I’m glad it was, and hoping that there’s some more open doors next year.



Spoke Too Soon – EP launch ft. – Fight the Raptor – Cherry Park – Below The Neck

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Spoke Too Soon

Featuring: Fight the Raptor | Cherry Park | Below the Neck

EP Launch – Ironworks 01/09/18

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First of September – the day for EP launches it seems.  Sly at Last were launching their EP in Mad Hatters, and Spoke Too Soon were launching theirs in Inverness Ironworks.

I weighed up which one I was going to see and review – although there was potentially enough time to see both, I wanted to do a full writeup, rather than an I woz ere and I saw this band type article, so from a reviewing point of view a choice had to be made.

Being that I’m an impoverished sod I’d normally go to the free gig of the two, which would’ve been the Hoots/Mad Hatters gig, but the Spoke Too Soon EP launch was only six quid, and had four bands playing. In hoots I can get one and a half glasses of coke for six pounds, versus paying £1.50 per band to see the Ironworks.

Going to Ironworks I was also less likely to encounter the ever pickled eegit that I had witnessed the other night, completely misinterpreting the phrase “dance as if no one is watching” in more of a “please, look at me, look at me twirl” following an affected entrance, swinging between emotions and dramatic facial expressions like one of those boglin puppets that you got in the 1990’s that you stuck four fingers in to manipulate. 

With that in mind, The Ironworks was the place for me tonight, which, it transpires, was a good decision.

Following a day of enthusiastic discussion with tourists about; Outlander, whether someone was related to the Old Fox, and where Mel Gibson fits into all of this, a good bit of punk was what was needed to ‘purge the 1/12th Scotch on their grandfather’s side holidaymakers’ from my mind.

It’s not that I dislike my job, it’s actually pretty cool, and flexible, but sometimes the craic can be a bit samey, much like your mum.

Below the Neck

The first of the four bands set up on stage. From the first note sprung, my face was vibrating with the force of the thrashy metal madness being fired at me, and my fellow audience members from the stage.

On a side note, we will update the photos here, but this is what was available at time of going to publish

These gents are animated as fuck, which is what you’d expect from a metal band. Actually, that’s doing them a disservice, you do occasionally get static metal bands, which doesn’t go well towards a good gig – for me a lot of metal is about the performance, it has to be. Below the Neck were full pelt with personality.

It was actually their first live performance as a band, and as I understand it, the singer’s first stage performance ever. You couldn’t tell; far from it – there was a slick interaction and confidence which came off as a really impressive debut from Fred Durst in a beanie and his crew. If Fred Durst didn’t have a whiney voice and was likeable.

Their second song came in with a train type momentum and rhythm; Songs like that are always a winner for me, across any genre. if I wasn’t reviewing I’d be up for awe bit of a mosh pit – is that allowed these days, is it still a thing? 

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin

It led on to the next gratifying  number, a thrashy song with minor notes intermixed throughout, sounding like a Sepultura piece had been amalgamated with a hidden track on a Korn or Nirvana album.  This was followed by an anthemy type affair which again got my approval. It was as if the cookie monster was sad, whilst listening to thrash with major chords. Sounded a bit like an early Papa Roach tune.  I wasn’t able to make out the lyrics for any of these songs due to the style, but I think that’s fairly standard for a first listen of compositions in the cookie monster metal genre.

Also standard was the broken string from one of the two guitarists, but they fired through like true pros. They coped well with the Inverness reservedNESS from the crowd.

ReservedNESS, that should be a thing right? We’ve had RockNESS, MockNess, NESScon,  ProudNESS, so why not ReservedNESS, where everyone goes to a live gig and stands like mutes whilst a medium sized band perform. I guess we don’t need a named event for that. The crowd were beginning to warm though, Below the Neck had lubed them all up by the end, ready for the three further acts to come.

Something different this way comes.

Cherry Park, owning the stage

There was enough time for a plastic pint of coke and some fresh air to debug my eardrums after the first act and I was all set for Cherry Park.

Cherry Park opened their set with their beautifully crafted melancholy song which I would speculate was called ‘Unhappy Birthday’. As Ewan (bass) and Theo (lead guitar) threw the lyrics “blow out a candle for me, sorry that I didn’t come to your birthday” a feeling of warmth ran through my soul. Had I pissed myself? Na, it was just the contrast between the previous act and this band that was most welcome. Not good or bad different, just complimentary.

Their second track was proper bangin’ mun! In The Dead of Night was an optimistic, ‘this is what gigs are all about’ type track. The energy Cherry Park emitted was rubbing off onto the crowd like a panda spreading it’s pheromones on a tree.

This may have actually been what was happening, it was quite toasty up on the stage I hear.  Ironworks, is that what you do? Are your crowds powered by to secretions from the bands glands? In fairness there was enough quality tunage that the likelihood is it was a reaction to the general just swellNESS of the Cherry Park outfit.

Belting it out.

There was a song dedicated to fans of the film ‘The Room’ – which, by the way, is in the “so bad it’s watchable” state of affairs that you should watch it. Once. Just so you have.

The next track, I didn’t catch the name of, but it was a proper curl your toes with joy, I’m at a fucking NoFx gig, this is amazing tune. It was just spectacular. This was peak gig for me, all instruments and vocals amalgamated into a well crafted thing of beauty that gave me that warm feeling again. *checks* – Still haven’t pissed myself. Given that the drummer, Donna, had just finished doing a 10k Beast Race hours before, the fact that she wasn’t asleep was amazing enough, so gee-ing it laldy relentlessly was pretty spectacular.

Other highlights from Cherry Park included the track “Reptilian” featuring lyrics “I’ll Shed My Skin”, a slower, emotive song that sounded a bit soundscape-ish due to the harmonising of all three of the guitar type members complementing each other’s different vocal styles.

They finished up with the last song that sounded a bit like Feeder’s Oxygen, but with more depth to it. Side note, I’m still partially convinced Oxygen is a song about buzzing on aerosols, but that’s just a theory. Cherry Park owned the set, and the playout was brilliant and the whole thing felt like a gig you’d make the effort to travel to go see – so we’re lucky to have them here in our wee town city of Inverness. 

Hold on, I’m going for a number three? Er what?

The third band, and last support act up were Fight the Raptor, who opened with mellow stums, like the start of The Burning Red by Machinehead then fired into rock riffs.

As the three piece band got into the first track, my honest initial thought was that I didn’t like the vocals, and it felt a wee bit like a garage rock band, rather than the well put together previous two acts.  I was restricted to using my notebook in the dark briefly due to my phone having a tantrum, so ended up with a couple bits of scrawled illegible notes for the second and third tracks.


There was a fair bit of initial screaming type vocals, but a bit of atmosphere kicked in with some pinched harmonic bass in the musical break in the second track, sounding a bit like Phil Collins was frottaging with Pink Floyd. It wasn’t too bad, but the point I started enjoying the band was from the third track in.

Unrelated to the start of the enjoyment (I was drinking coke, not snorting coke, drugs are bad m’kay), the next song was announced as about drink and drugs. Halfway through the song it switched into a sample sound that I’ve noted down was like funky tripping music. It was at this point whilst trying to balance a plastic pint of coke in my mouth, bop to the music, and write in the notepad that I spilt the coke on the notebook. The fact that I was moving with the tunes was good though, I think the band just needed to warm up a bit, and they had.

The Bassist, being bassisty

“This song is about the seaside” was how the bouncing, rocking thrashing piece was put together. There was a good bit of fingering too. EEEEYY! The song about the seaside contained lyrics about drowning, which was heartwarming – and they managed to make their guitar sound like a helicopter. I didn’t get all the lyrics, but was this a coastal rescue song? Obviously is was. (not). But it was good.

The pumping industrial opening of the band’s interpretation of a love song came next. This one had some interesting sounds in it, and the group really shone with this one. There was a Squarepusher type bass-iness in there, and the track felt like a whole range of genres were played with, squeezed out and forged into their own style of metal. It was good eh!

‘ere’s the drummer too

The singer dedicated the next song to people that have put up with him personally over the years, but the most important part was that the song had a cowbell. Need more cowbell. It was a pretty pumping, Oi! Oi! Oi! song, which led into the last track, which induced proper moshing in the crowd. Moshing is a rare sight these days, but like ducks fucking, and white dog poo sightings, it was welcomed as a nostalgic sight from my teenage years. 


Spoke Too Soon

Three acts played, three acts good, let’s get onto the headliners. Spoke Too Soon’s backdrop was slightly different on the stage. In the build-up, the curtains were down, the lighting was different and there was sci-fi space music and an ominous atmosphere.


The atmosphere was building until someone – lets call him Dave – pulled the plug out of the amp. He put it back in though and the ambience was back. Well done Dave. Spoke too Soon assembled on the stage to get their EP launch up and running.

Bursting into life, their first track’s opening sounded like Screamager by Therapy?, but with out the frustrated depressed Irish vocal tones, then flowed through and finishing up nicely with some ska-punk

Animated as fuck

Number two was a euphoric alt-rock number, shaking the crowd into full pelt. The band were all over the stage kicking their legs, jumping and just giving the whole thing a fun and proper EP launch party feel. This was carried through to their third track, a song that I can most closely relate to Green Day’s “Brain Stew” but with a Top Gear driving album guitar lick. Wait, OMG, are they doing the soundtrack to a new Road Rash game? They fucking should – I’d happily drive round on a bike with some whips and chains. Erm, too much? Moving on.

All together now!

The Lead singer was elated to buggery with the whole thing as he introduced

a song from their EP. Potentially called “Standing on the edge”, It was a punky twangy number, that sounded like a dastardly cartoon evolving into a bit of a beastie boys vibe in the style of rock music.  

At one point the singer managed to get most of the crowd to crouch down like a collective of weird fiddler crabs, and if you can get a crowd to do that, you’ve won. I’m not sure what it was all about, but if you can do that, you’re sorted in life. Life goals and that.

The band just look cool!

There were a couple more pop-punk type songs, and one that was so new t

hat it superseded the EP’s release. Rather than describe it, I’ll just let you see it here – it’s about one minute in.


All in all Spoke Too Soon come across as seasoned, with a good singer that can sing in the traditional sense. As the last song played out with a fast, upbeat energy the fan-base lapped it up. It were good, the band were delighted, the crowd was delighted, and I was happy to have again been lucky enough to have seen a small band make a big impact.


Audio description:


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