Nuria Ruiz

Pick of 2016: Loud Poets, monthly in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Once upon a time, I became afraid to raise my voice. At home, I kept my hopes tucked away in the quiet corners of my heart. At work, I let my elders and betters talk over my quiet thoughts. The “better” half, the bosses – they talked me down as a Difficult Girl. And so I learned to be a Quiet Woman.

And then. And. Then.  One late Edinburgh night, I crept into the depths of the Scottish Storytelling Centre on a whim. When I left, nothing was quite the same. That is the power of Loud Poets, a Glasgow-based poetry collective who bring their heady blend of spoken word, music and movement to the Edinburgh Fringe every year.

At first glance, Loud Poets are perhaps everything you might expect of poetry; the black clothes, the earnest politics. That’s where the stereotypes end. There’s an unflinching determination to tell the best and worst of this life like it is. (Catherine Wilson’s standout tribute to the many lives her sister did not live after Dunblane is all the more heartbreaking for the hope with which it’s told.) There’s a live band on stage, improvising sweet rhythms to bring these powerful words to life.  There’s audience interaction and (shudder) participation. There’s whooping. There’s even Pokémon. This is poetry for modern life.

Loud Poets have been my pick of the Fringe since 2014. This year, they’re easily the highlight of my cultural diary. Their ideas are dangerous, their delivery is eloquent: it is life-affirming stuff. Let them help you find your voice.

Find more about the Loud Poets at their website.

Ricky Monaghan Brown

Pick of 2016: RM Hubbard and Rick Redbeard at The Venue

When I left Edinburgh almost twenty years ago, The Venue on Calton Road was still the city’s go-to spot for an intimate night with performers who were going to be big. So there was something nostalgic about going to see RM Hubbard and Rick Redbeard at the Electric Circus among a knot of true believers just ten minutes’ walk from the old spot.

It’s hard to recall what was the most enjoyable aspect of the gig: both of the performers’ deadpan humour; Rick’s downbeat crowd participation moments; or the vision of them gigging round Scotland in a clapped-out car like a misanthropic, skint Hope and Crosby. Nah. Obviously, it was the music, from Rick’s beautifully sung should-be- a-massive- hit, The Golden Age, to Hubby’s flamenco-influenced guitar playing, rhythmic and intricate like a one-man acoustic Mogwai.

The Electric Circus will soon go the way of The Venue, but on a manky, cold, Edinburgh night, hearing depressive Scottish acoustic music, I couldn’t have been happier to be home.

Catch RM Hubbard and Rick Redbeard live and apart in January, in Glasgow and Aberdeen respectively.