An Interview with Wannabe

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Girl Power never, ever went away & its soaring up to the Fringe


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Gabbie Smith as Scary Spice

Where, when & why did the idea for Wannabe happen?
Gabbie: When the show’s producers, Red Entertainment, had the idea of creating a show based on the Spice Girls phenomenon, we all attended auditions for the touring and international productions. I was subsequently cast as Scary – totally my favourite Spice Girl! – and spent five weeks rehearsing before our first tour dates in Spring 2019. The show has been open since 2017 then I joined this year and I can honestly say we’ve been having the best time onstage.
Rhiannon: Like the other girls I auditioned for the show and when I got the part of Sporty I was beside myself! I was obsessed with Sporty when I was growing up and I so wanted to be like her I joined a gym club so I could learn to do her backflips! We’ve all got to know each other really well and we’ve become really good friends as well as professional colleagues. It’s a dream job!

Lucy Claire as 'Baby Spice' photo by Rhian Cox (2).jpg
Lucy Claire as Baby Spice

Have any of the original Spice Girls seen the show, & if so how did they take it?
Lucy: Geri Halliwell has watched a video of us and liked it, not sure about the other girls – and if any of them came to see the show that would be amazing! We’d be honoured!

How are the audiences reacting to the return of the Spice Girls?
Natalie: Well from audience reactions to our recent tour dates of ‘Wannabe’ I think we can say they really love the show! Our upcoming run at the Assembly Rooms will be the show’s first time at the Fringe and we’re all really looking forward to it; we performed at the Edinburgh Playhouse back in March as part of our UK tour dates, and it went down really well. Of course we don’t want people to get confused and think we’re the actual Spice Girls! We’re all stage performers playing the roles of each Spice Girl!

You’ve been touring the show extensively, how has that been?
Melissa: Amazing! Audiences are really up for it – we get loads of different people at the shows – lifelong Spice Girls fans with their own little daughters, guys and girls, groups and solos and definitely all ages. They’re very familiar with the songs and as soon as the intro starts up – like with Say You’ll Be There at the beginning of the show, you hear the audience roar with excitement! I get such a buzz from the audience’s reaction and their anticipation of a great night out that it just flows onto the stage and gives us all a huge burst of amazing energy – it’s an amazing feeling.

You’ve performed with both Take That on their Progress Tour & Boyzone on their A Different Beat Tour – did mixing with boyband royalty set you up for starring in the female version?
Gabbie: Definitely! Dancing onstage with Boyzone and then Take That was an incredible experience. I’d always loved boy bands – and girl bands – and having the opportunity to perform in such enormously popular shows so early on in my career inspired me and gave me the confidence to pursue musical theatre as a career.

Melissa Potts as 'Posh Spice' photo by Rhian Cox (3).jpg
Melissa Potts as Posh Spice

Wannabe is receiving a great deal of critical popular & acclaim – how does that make you feel?
Melissa: It’s the BEST feeling! And it makes me feel even more excited about performing in the show at this year’s Fringe. It’s a huge privilege to be performing the role of Posh – I admire her so much personally and professionally – and I get to strut around the stage in a little black dress!

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about the show & your role?
Lucy: Yes, I can’t wait! I play Baby Spice in the show Wannabe – The Spice Girls Show which is a really fun, high energy show about Spiceworld, Girl Power and all those brilliant hit songs. Baby Spice was always my favourite Spice Girl when I was growing up – she’s fabulous, flirty and fun and her sweet character brings so much energy and life to the line-up. And I love her hair – those pigtails! I always loved the way she sang too – she can sing a ballad and then rock-out on a big pop song without batting an eyelash!

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What songs have we to expect from the show?
Melissa: We’ve got a great mix of the Spice Girls biggest hits including Say You’ll Be There, Who Do You Think You Are, Wannabe, Stop, Viva Forever and some of the band’s best solos are in the show too such as I Turn To You which was sung by Mel C, For Once In My Life from Mel B’s album, and It’s Raining Men which Natalie, as Geri, does brilliantly!

Rhiannon Porter as 'Scary Spice' photo by Rhian Cox.jpg
Rhiannon Porter as Sporty Spice

How will you be spending your month in Edinburgh, away from Wannabe?
Rhiannon: Ooh, I’ve got loads of plans for my days off… I want to catch lots of other shows and I really want to take a tour around the Edinburgh Dungeon where there’s a new exhibition about the notorious 19th century bodysnatchers, Burke & Hare and…obviously a whisky tour… or two!
Lucy: We all get on brilliantly – we really got to know each other during the rehearsal period which we dubbed ‘Spice Academy’ and I think it’s safe to say we’ve become really good friends. For instance, we’ve got similar ideas of what we’d like to do in Edinburgh outside our own shows – some of which includes climbing up to Arthur’s Seat – and so we’ll go and do stuff together. It’s all very relaxed and great fun being with the other girls.

You know a good show when it’s happened, what are the special ingredients?
Gabbie: I think it’s really important to deliver a top-quality show that will entertain audiences and give them value for money. We want to give audiences a fun, entertaining experience so that they have as brilliant a time as we do and send them home happy! For me the special ingredients are about connecting with the audience through our characters, the story and our onstage chat – which is generally great fun and really engages the audience’s response. We also have a great time together onstage and I think that comes across to the audience.

Natalie Gray as 'Ginger Spice' photo by Rhian Cox (4).jpg
Natalie Gray as Ginger Spice

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Natalie: Wannabe – The Spice Girls Show is a journey through the music of the Spice Girls, Spice World and Girl Power which is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago! Say You’ll Be There!

What will you & the girls be doing for the rest of 2019?
Rhiannon: After Edinburgh we’re having a week off then we’re going back on tour in September, October and November. We then have a break over Christmas and the new year and we’ll be back on the road in February 2020 through to the summer.

What are your top three personal highlights in the show?
Natalie: Oooh, just three?! Ok – well one is our fantastic jazz version of Too Much which involves some very cool choreography by our choreographer Becky Jeffrey. She’s created some great moves for us and has absolutely nailed the 90s moves but with her own modern twist. The second one is being able to wear a dress like Ginger Spice’s iconic Union Jack dress which for me is a costume highlight! And the third is sharing a stage with four amazing girls and singing all about GIRL POWER – in sequins, obviously!


Wannabe: The Spice Girls Show

Assembly Rooms

Aug 1-24 (22:35)

Wannabe Edinburgh Fringe flyer

www.spicegirlsshow.com

 

An Interview with Andy Gunn

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One of Scotland’s finest Blues connoisseurs is doubling up this Fringe…


Hello Andy, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born near Glasgow, lived most of my life in the Highlands and currently reside in Portugal.

Where does your love of music come from?
My mum used to say I wouldn’t go anywhere in my pram without a radio, or wireless as my Grannie used to call it. My mum loved rock ’n’ roll music and my Dad played the same country and western compilation tape about 8 thousand times up and down the A9, the main trunk road connecting the north and south of Scotland.

What instruments do you play?
I play different types of guitar, acoustic, 12 string, electric, cigar box, National Steel, the Portuguese guitar and Ukulele, all in the same night as it happens. I’m doing a show at the Fringe this year called Fingers and Thumbs, all about various stringed instruments, come along it’ll be muito bem!

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Which singers & styles have influenced your own voice?
I love all types of singers, as long as it’s got soul behind it. I like people who improvise and really connect with the music in an honest and authentic way every time they play the song. I was just thinking about John Lee Hooker today. He was illiterate but I’d say he turned this to his advantage because his vocals and guitar playing were always fresh and alive, never sounding tired like he was just re-performing the same song. Blues and jazz are the most vibrant forms of music to me, it’s all open to interpretation, how you feel on the day, so I love all the greats of those genres.

You’ve got three famous Bluesmen from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Well Hendrix would have to be there for the psychedelic craic about UFO’s n that, Muddy H20 to tell us how he invented electricity, giving birth to electric blues and rock ’n’ roll as we know it today and of course EC ‘Slow Hand’ to pay for the garlic bread, pizza and ice cream!

What is it about the Blues that makes you tick?
I’ve always related to the blues somehow, even as a white kid in the Highlands while everyone else was listening to Kylie and Jason or Simple Minds, I was listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins because he made me feel better, the sound healed me in a way I didn’t really understand then, turning the recognition of pain and suffering into hope and resilience.

Have you made any pilgrimages to the great sites of Blues?
I went to Beale Street in Memphis a couple of times, went to Chicago and sat in on the jam nights at Buddy Guy’s club Legends and made my way south to New Orleans, to eat some gumbo and see how the Cajon folk do it. All of which were amazing experiences, Clint Eastwood said the most valuable contribution that the US made to the world was jazz, I’d say the blues even more so.

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You’ve played all over the world, from Nashville to Kinlochbervie, but which is the best audience you’ve ever performed in front of?
I like it when people listen to the music but in a relaxed way, not shouting over the top of it, but not feeling inhibited to go to the bar etc, some kind of happy medium. It’s nice when people maybe have an understanding of the influences I’ve tried to assimilate into my playing, trying to find my own voice, but it’s also nice when there’s people who don’t know much about the music but just enjoy it for what it is. The gig in Kinlochbervie was just at my pal’s house playing for the kids and the neighbours having a laugh, but yeah that was probably one of my favourite nights, just what life is all about, hanging out in a nurturing, happy environment, being creative.

You have just released ‘Rainbow Bird.’ Can you tell us about the recording process?
We recorded this live in one take in Castlesound studios near Edinburgh, though we did add the strings later, late last year. I recorded it with a jazz trio and three female local singers, the full line up is;

Andy Gunn – Guitar and Vocals
Amy Hawthorn – Second Vocal and spoken word
Marissa Keltie – Backing Vocal
Caroline Gilmour – Backing vocal
David Carnegie – Drums
Tom Lyne – Double Bass
Chick Lyall – Piano
Mr McFall’s Chamber – Strings

Why has it taken the best part of a year to release it?
I wrote this song two years ago but only just got around to recording it, that’s nothing it took me ten years to record ‘Going Home Again’ a song about the people of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.

You are doing two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe; why double up & can you tell us a bit about each one?
I created From T-Bone To Trucks last year after living in Edinburgh and talking to some of the local musicians there. I thought I’d like to be part of the Festival, so I thought well what am I good at, what do I know about and the answer hit me like a ton of bricks, blues guitar! It was a big jo but we got there and in fact it was a resounding success, a sell-out run. So I decided to return for another series of shows, only three but in a great venue. Fingers and Thumbs was another one of my bright ideas, thinking well if I’m in Edinburgh at the Fringe I might as well make the most of it and so I came up with this idea of how I could translate the skills I have in my hands onto different instruments. That show is a lot more eclectic, taking in blues, country, folk, Portuguese Fado and African music.

T-Bone To Trucks was a sell-out last year, have you tweaked it in the interim?
Yes it is an expanded show this year, running time will be about an hour and a half. We’ve added five new acts this year, John Lee Hooker, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray and Doyle Bramhall II, it’s gonna be awesome, I’d highly recommend it.

Having established a fan-base with T-bone, how do you think they’ll take the change of pace & style with Fingers and Thumbs?
Well, I like all different styles of music and listen to a wide range of stuff depending on my mood and what medicine I require, music can lift you up or settle you down or anything in between, so I suppose the show is a reflection of that. I always liked how Led Zeppelin could do everything from Bert Jansch tunes to thunderous stadium rock all in the one set and it not be out of place. I like dynamics, think it’s a good thing and I’m hoping the audiences will enjoy it, but yes it is a slower paced set certainly.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell each of your shows in the streets of Edinburgh…
T-Bone! Wanna know where rock ’n’ roll came from? Or why blues is the most vital music you’ll ever hear? Then get yo bad self down to Stramash on Sunday afternoons at 1pm, there’ll be an 8 piece rocking band, specially created videos projected and Livingston legend Amy Hawthorn filling you in on the stories of all these amazing blues legends, we’ll be belting out the blues to make your big toe shoot up in your boot! Fingers! would you like some respite from the Fringe madness on a Saturday night? Hear some soulful sounds by a great lost Scottish talent in a beautiful tranquil church? Come, listen and learn about what joins the blues, folk, jazz and Celtic music, Portuguese Fado and Saharan African music, we’re more alike than disalike as Maya Angelou said, music the universal language.. or everybody gets the blues sometime! Come hear it translated by the minstrels fingers!


From T-Bone To Trucks

Stramash

Sunday 4th, 11th and 18th (13:00)

Fingers & Thumbs

artSpace@StMarks,

 Saturday 3rd, 10th and 17th August (20:20)

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www.andygunn.net

An Interview with Aylin Eleonora

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When Flamenco touches your soul, all you can do is dance…


Hello Aylin, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I consider myself a global citizen, I have Finnish and Turkish in me. I have lived in Finland, Australia, in the UK, was schooled in France and have been living in Spain for the last 16 years. I am located in the centre of Madrid, downtown, in La Latina.

When did you first realise you could dance?
I started with ballet and contemporary at 4, but I really got hooked when a friend told me about a Flamenco class in Seville. I had no knowledge of Flamenco whatsoever, and the level was too high for me, but somehow I felt I was getting it. That this is a language in which I could express myself and be understood.

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How did you get into Flamenco?
My flatmate at university took me to a Flamenco concert at the Komedia in Brighton. From that moment I was enamoured. Although my approach, attitude and personality have changed, I am still on that path.

What is it about being performing in front of other people that makes you tick?
Before finding Flamenco I dreaded performing in public, but there is something honest, universal and captivating about Flamenco that gives me power and energy to dance in front of a public. Beautiful movement is also something that elevates me and I enjoy a lot watching ballet.

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Can you tell us about your training with the Flamenco masters?
I started my training in Andalusia, continued in Madrid where most of the professional Flamenco dancers have been training for decades, and completed my Masters at the Institute of the Arts Barcelona/Liverpool John Moores University, that offers a dance education with both UK and US influence. At the IAB I got to explore my creative practice got to explore my creative practice more in depth and got used to think through my dancing and dance my way out of troubles. Generally speaking I struggled finding a teacher that would guide me in a foreign land and culture and help me grow as a person, not just a dancer. However, I have taken classes with some excellent professionals and learnt from talented dancers. In Flamenco you also learn from musicians, and from having to perform with very little or no previous rehearsals with the group. When I traveled to Cuba and was invited to ballet events I learnt a lot about dance discipline and guts.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
I often work on Sundays as well, but I enjoy winding down by listening to jazz and relaxing by the pool whenever possible.

You were in Edinburgh last year, with the Dance-forms 75th International Choreograper’s showcase, how did it go?
It was a very special experience participating in Susana B. Williams´showcase. I was lucky to get an excellent review from TheWeereview and get to work with some great professionals in the dance field. I am participating this year as well.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
We try to create a moment on stage that is pure and elegant. You will see shapes, energy, forms and also feel the power and poetry of dance expression. You will also discover Raul´s musical universe that is very profound.

Where, when & how did the idea for VIVIR originate, & is the reality fulfilling your vision?
Originally it was a need for me to simplify, try to do a Flamenco performance with minimum elements. This show has been developing in the studios of Madrid, also inspired by the Mediterranean landscape, during the last 5 years. Singing, that is a central element of Flamenco, helps the dancer to grow on stage, and gives dramatic power to a performance – is not present in this show. Filling that void has been a challenge, but satisfying both personally and professionally.

You premiered VIVIR in Australia earlier this year, have you tweaked the show since?
After returning from Australia, I have taken ENSUEÑO FLAMENCO, another show in our repertoire, on tour to Finland, an ensemble featuring some of the top artists of the Madrid Flamenco scene. I have also given workshops in Ukraine, and been busy with pre-production. We performed excerpts of both shows at the Madrid Conservatory, and I´m taking VIVIR to Avignon for the month of July.

Can you tell us more about the non-traditional musical styles instruments Raul Mannola will be utilising?
In this show Raul plays the traditional nylon-string flamenco guitar, as well as steel-string acoustic guitar to provide a wider variety of sounds. He also uses the electronic tampura to get the Indian drone for some oriental flavoured improvisations. Come and get a taste!

What are your dreams or plans for the future?
I would love to work with a choreographer. Although ballet specialists might not like this, I want to include a number with pointe shoes in my repertoire, to give voice to the more fragile and lyrical side of me as a dancer.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
I would dance a “llamada” or a “pataíta”. If you are not sure what it means, come and find out!


VIVIR: Flamenco Guitar & Dance 

C venues – C Aquila

Aug 10-18 (18:25)

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www.aylineleonora.com

 

The Rhythm and Booze Project: Two Guys Three Drams

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For those who like a wee dram with their live music, The Rhythm and Booze Project is only choice this Fringe…


Hello Paul, first things first, where are you both from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Paul: I’ve been living in Bristol these past few years. Felipe, originally from California, is based on London now — but we were both based in Edinburgh for years before that.

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Paul

Paul: I’ve been living in Bristol these past few years. Felipe, originally from California, is based on London now — but we were both based in Edinburgh for years before that.

When did you & Paul first meet each other?
Felipe: We met 10 years ago when we were both students at St. Andrews. The blues band I was (and still am) playing in needed a drummer at the last moment for a birthday party. A mutual friend recommended Paul, and here we are!

Paul: I’ve been living in Bristol these past few years. Felipe, originally from California, is based on London now — but we were both based in Edinburgh for years before that.

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When did you & Paul first meet each other?
Felipe: We met 10 years ago when we were both students at St. Andrews. The blues band I was (and still am) playing in needed a drummer at the last moment for a birthday party. A mutual friend recommended Paul, and here we are!

How did the band begin?
Paul: We decided to make a two-piece band to visit Islay in 2012, so we could play our way through the hotels and distilleries there. We got paid in whisky and a bed for the night (though we were sometimes camping). We made our way through some great whisky and saw some amazing parts of the island. The idea for this band, which we started last year, came out of that trip. We wanted to emphasise our love of whisky and music—we still go back to Islay, every year, and come back with as much whisky as we can carry.

The Rhythm and Booze Project has taken you all over the world, what have been your coolest experiences on the road?
Felipe: For us, going to play at the Feis Ile Islay whisky festival every year is always special. It’s over a week of distilleries hosting parties across 9 days in a beautiful corner of the world, and we get to be in the middle of it. We love it. Some highlights include providing the music for George Crawford’s last masterclass as Lagavulin distillery manager, getting 1000+ people going nuts to our music in the courtyard of the Bruichladdich distillery, and doing a special blues and whisky tasting in the cooperage at Caol Ila.

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How do you choose the songs for your set?
Paul: We find that early blues songs work best for our two-piece set-up better than more recent songs — we still adapt things, though. We’re working on originals too, and the material for those is usually influenced by experiments we try out at live shows. The best things from us come from experiments at gigs rather than pre-planned things in a practice room.

What for you makes a good blues song?
Felipe: It starts with good dynamic drumming. There’s too many blues tunes that have mediocre drumming with needless twiddly widdly guitar over the top. I’m much more interested in the dynamic changes and small moments of magic that can take place all the time in great blues tunes than in chops and mediocre tasteless cowboy playing which unfortunately is the norm these days. I’m also a sucker for good grooves. The Chicago bluesmen do this well, and there are some unbelievable rhythms that came out of the Mississippi Hill Country, though there’s a wonderfully wide world to discover.

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You’re washed up on a desert island with a solar powered CD player & three albums, what would they be?
Felipe: A cruel question. I’ll go with these.
1. Moanin’ in the Midnight – Howlin’ Wolf, one of the best blues records ever made.
2. Sleep Beneath The Willow – Daniel Romano, a superb country music record.
3. Aretha Now – Aretha Franklin, maybe my favourite album from the Queen of Soul

Can you name your top three drams?
Felipe: I can’t name a top three! But these are a few of my favourites which are relatively easy to find.
1. Lagavulin 16, one of the great peated whiskies.
2. Balvenie 17 Year Old Doublewood, Rich, fruity, and regal.
3. Bruichladdich Islay Barley, a punchy drink that tastes like a bourbon cream cookie.

You’ll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this August, can you tell us about the show?
Felipe: This is the first show at the Edinburgh Fringe that combines live music and tasting to our knowledge. We’re aiming to entertain and enlighten while playing great music. We’ve got three phenomenal drams that the audience will get to enjoy in the show, showcasing the incredible variety of flavour in Scotch whisky. We’ll also be playing our style of raucous blues throughout while also passing along some knowledge about whisky itself that the audience will be able to use whenever ordering a whisky at a bar or buying a bottle.

How does the whisky effect your playing?
Paul: After a couple drams I get better, after a few more I get worse but I think I get better, and a few more after that someone should probably take over my job!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show in the streets of Edinburgh?
Felipe: Scotch whisky and live blues. What more could you want from a show at the Edinburgh Fringe?

What does the rest of 2019 have in store for you & your band?
Paul: We have some exciting events ongoing in London: we host blues nights featuring an open whisky bar, and we also have our first American whiskey and cigar evening coming up. We basically create events that we’d like to go to ourselves. We’re off to tour Germany in September and Poland in November too, so it’s a busy few months ahead!


Two Guys Three Drams

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Aug 8-17 (21:25)

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www.therhythmandboozeproject.com