Lost in Music? The VoxBox Quick Guide to the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2016

I have had a good look at the Edinburgh International Book Festival listings and there are a fair few events that will interest the muso in you. Some will sell out in a day so I would like folk that read this to have a head start. Tickets are on sale at 0830 on Tuesday 21st June. There are too many good events to see and as much as I would like to plug one of my childhood hero’s new book (Chris Packham of The Really Wild Show and Springwatch), I’ll try to stick to music based events.

14th Chris Packham, ‘My Love for a Kestrel’. Ach well, he seems like a really nice chap. He has a memoir called Fingers in the Sparkle Jar that does look worth a read.

14th Billy Bragg, The Milkman of Human Kindness. An annotated collection of his best loved songs. A chat with the BBC’s Vic Galloway.

14th Alexei Sayle Surreal Socialist Stand-Up. Plugging his second memoir Thatcher Stole My Trousers. He’s calmed down a bit – I actually just heard him on Just a Minute on Radio 4! Music Folk may remember him from Ullo John Got a New Motah!

16th Pilgrimer- Joni’s Journeys Reimagined. This was performed at Celtic Connections and is a collaboration between author James Robertson and musicians Karine and Steven Polwart with Donald Shaw. A Scottish take on Joni Mitchell’s 1976 album Hejira exploring the themes of migration, freedom and loneliness.

16th Ian Rankin, Rebus Gets Up to His Old Tricks. The famous Edinburgh crime writer, record collector, rock fan and friend of the shop talks about his new bestseller Even Dogs In The Wild.

17th Sing-Along with Nick Cope (The Candyskins) Acoustic folk-pop for children.

18th Neu! Reekie! Present #UntitledTwo, a double album of collected music and poetry. 30+ tracks. Neu! Reekie! has become an Edinburgh underground cultural institution and is always well curated. 10 acts/poets will perform. Some musicians are poets right? If anything like Untitled One, this will be super.

18th David Moody, The Deluded Idealism of Ezra Pound. There’s no music here but Dylanologists might want to learn a bit more about Ezra Pound. From Dylan’s song Desolation Row “Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot are fighting in the captain’s tower, while calypso singers laugh at them and fishermen hold flowers”. Whaaaat? Yep. You need to go.

18th Tim Burgess with Ian Rankin. More Tales of a Charlatan These two are good friends and they will have a discussion/chat on Tim’s new book (Tim Book 2) about the joy of records and their passion for music. Tim shares vinyl recommendations from friends including Iggy Pop and Paul Weller that he has tracked down from across the world.

20th Brix Start Smith From Fall Guitarist to Fashion Expert I know, I know, we’ve all been in the Fall at one time or another (I was in the band in 1990 playing bongos on The Infotainment Scan*) but Brix was actually married Mark E. Smith. So there’s a tale to tell here.

20th Gregor Fisher & Melanie Reid Tough Childhood of a Comedy Hero. Title is pretty blunt but the memoir of the man who played Rab C Nesbitt is worth a mention.

20th Daniel Rachel In Praise of Protest Songs Political protest seems to happen more in other countries nowadays, but in the 70s and 80s Britain was awash with activism, both on the streets and on the musical stage. In this event, Daniel Rachel discusses the golden era of Rock Against Racism, Red Wedge and 2 Tone with Vic Galloway.

21st James Kelman, A Road Trip Through America. I found James Kelman as a teenager and have been buying his books since. He won the Booker Prize a long time ago for his novel How Late It Was, How Late. There’s not much ‘music’ in the books (other than fine dialects) but the language and humanity is beautiful and authentic.

22nd Open Book on the Short Stories of James Kelman. See above. The short stories are great snapshots of the Scottish working class. I love his paragraph of a story, Acid. In fact as it is so very short, here it is:

In this factory in the north of England acid was essential. It was contained in large vats. Gangways were laid above them. Before these gangways were completely safe a young man fell into a vat feet first. His screams of agony were heard all over the department. Except for one old fellow the large body of men was so horrified that for a time not one of them could move. In an instant this old fellow who was also the young man’s father had clambered up and along the gangway carrying a big pole. Sorry Hughie, he said. And then he ducked the young man below the surface. Obviously the old fellow had had to do this because only the head and shoulders – in fact, that which had been seen above the acid – was all that remained of the young man.
Now that’s a short story! Copyright James Kelman. You can hear Kelman himself reading it here.

23rd Susan Calman, Depression and how to Laugh It Off. The brilliantly funny lady has a book called Cheer up Love. which reminds me on the time I met Peter Hook at his autobiography signing a few years ago. A friend of mine was a fan but couldn’t make it so I had a book signed for him. I said he was having a hard time with depression. Hooky wrote “To_______, chin up”. I’ll leave that there. Dum de dum de dum…

23rd Wilko Johnson Defying the Doctors. Ian Dury cohort and Dr Feelgood guitarist discusses his life with and without cancer. He had been given 10 months to live in 2013 due to pancreatic cancer. After a farewell tour and album with Roger Daltrey he still wasn’t dead. A doctor fan pointed this out and he recently went on to have a curative operation.

24th Ian Rankin, Rebus Gets Up to His Old Tricks. Another chance to see Ian talk about his new book. He should really have his own tent at the Book Festival this August. I just looked it up and bloody hell, a Rebus tent exists! Although it is for putting over bombs and IEDs rather than hosting book events.

REALLY get to know the author in the new bomb proof Rebus Tent

REALLY get to know the author in the new bomb proof Rebus Tent

25th Paul Morley Bowie: Life of a Legend. Musician, critic and talking head on lots of TV shows, he also helped curate the Bowie exhibition in the Victoria & Albert. He talks to the BBC’s Vic Galloway about his new book Age of Bowie.

26th Kevin Barry John Lennon’s Bad Trip. An imagined John Lennon in 1978 trying to pay a visit to an isle off the coast of Ireland that the real life Lennon bought in the 1960s.

26th Don Paterson Sonnets and Songs. Multi-prize winning poet has a collection of 40 Sonnets out. Some will be performed with his band.

26th Stuart Cosgrove Why the Northern Soul Beat Goes On. The broadcaster and author is promoting his new book, Young Soul Rebels. Part personal musical journey and part Northern Soul biography. He also compares Northern Soul with later underground music movements (Mod, Punk, Rave etc)

27th Irvine Welsh Begbie: Scarier than Ever. The Trainspotting author returns to Edinburgh to talk about his new novel about Begbie, The Blade Artist. This will sell out really quickly. Trainspotting 2 is coming out soon. The last film’s soundtrack became iconic so I’d love to hear an Edinburgh band on the new one… Otherwise I’ll have to put out Tramspotting, The Alternative Trainspotting Soundtrack…

28th Tom Lanoye and James Yorkston, Bittersweet Tales. 2 authors present their new work. Three Craws is James Yorkston’s debut novel. A gorgeously atmospheric quirky story of broken dreams and longing. An early Fence Records Fifer, we keep a steady supply of his records in the shop.

29th Zoe Howe A Punk and a Gentleman With R&B punk band Dr Feelgood returning to public consciousness thanks to the story of co-founder Wilko Johnson’s battle with cancer, writer Zoë Howe believes it’s a good time for recognition to be given to the band’s other co-founder who died aged 41. In Lee Brilleaux: Rock’n’Roll Gentleman, she argues for a long overdue appreciation of his legacy.

29th Fraser Doherty The 48 Hour Start Up This isn’t musical but I was intrigued. At the age of 14 Fraser set up a jam business and became very jammy having sold the business to Waitrose. He attempts to create a business in 48 hours and he shares successes and mistakes. Could be rubbish, but worth a punt.

Also look out for Unbound! Every Day from 2100-2300 at the Speigeltent is a feature of words and music from the finest talent that has come to Edinburgh. At the time of writing, the line-up is still TBC but they usually feature a free dram and some live music from the best Scottish, local and touring musicians.

Also worth a mention as they will be popular are Scottish poet Liz Lochead, authors Val McDermid, Ali Smith, Kate Tempest, Erica Jong, Ray Mears, Alex Schaffer & Julia Donaldson (of Gruffalo fame) and Frederick Forsyth (with Ian Rankin of course) who all have events that will sell out quickly. The Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series is important too. But have a look at the website and brochure for the full listings. If there is anything I missed please get in touch.

Vic Galloway is hosting a good few events so it is worth mentioning that he authoured a book called Songs in the Key of Fife a couple of years ago that documents some of the important musicians and bands to come out of Fife including King Creosote, James Yorkstone, Pictish Trail, The Beta Band and KT Tunstall. It’s a great read! Vic was also kind enough to host a Q&A with Graeme Thomson, the Edinburgh based author of Phil Lynott biography Cowboy Song for Record Store Day this year.

Photo courtesy of Trevor Pake

Photo by Trevor Pake

So there you go. Plenty to do but be sure to have a look through the brochure as the website is a bit tricky to browse and if you fancy something be sure to get a ticket quickly as the big to medium events sell out very quickly.

Also glad to finish a blog post featuring Irvine Welsh and James Kelman that has avoided using a word rhyming with luck- showing the kind of restraint that those two in particular are not known for. Tsk tsk.
Have fun.

* Don’t look this up.

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