SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #79 : DUMB INSTRUMENT

A touch of good fortune with the timing this week with this post falling on the weekend on the 2017 Eden Festival which takes place on the south-west of Scotland. One of the acts performing is Dumb Instrument and there’s a great bio provided on the featival website as you will now see:-

Dumb Instrument are like a pair of old shoes that you can’t throw out because they’re just too damn comfortable. It doesn’t matter how old or smelly we get, we just keep sticking around doing a sterling job. The band formed in 2006 when songwriter and composer Tom Murray was offered a slot at T in The Park Festival on the strength of 3 songs which we had written and released earlier that year. Unaware that Tom was a one man band, and had brought his tracks to life with samples or session musicians, he quickly pulled together a band of ‘real musicians’ to play the gig which much to his delight met with fantastic reviews. What appeared to be a one-off gig led to the band appearing on BBC2’s ‘The Music Show’ soon afterwards and the band decided to stay on with Tom and a fully formed Dumb Instrument was born. Over the subsequent years they have performed over 300 gigs around the UK everywhere from someone’s living room to large festivals.

The band have co-written and released 2 albums, 8 EP’s and 2 singles. Early in Dumb Instruments career they were signed by an independent record label through which they released their first single ‘Songs Ya Bass Vol 1’. Tom Murrays lyrically gritty (often tragically funny) song writing style was rewarded shortly afterwards with the song ‘Reverse The Hearse’ (taken from the single) being chosen as Scotland’s Burnsong award winner of 2007. This resulted in the band performing live at the BBC studios for the first time.

The album ‘Nobody Know’s What It’s Like To Be Me’ followed in 2008 which met with more music industry recognition. Following live sessions on XFM Scotland and BBC Radio Scotland the band made it onto BBC Radio 1 for the first time with track ‘The Exterminating Angels’ played by Vic Galloway.

The focal point of a Dumb Instrument song is most definitely the lyric, with diverse subject matter negotiated in each record, from wheelie bin theft to mortality. Stylistically the band weave hints of disco, ragtime, gypsy or even latin through the lyric and, in a live playing sense, the band will take to the stage as an 8 piece.

Recently Dumb Instrument won ‘The Billy Kelly Song Writing Award’, which has enabled the band to release their most recent album ‘The Silent Beard’. The single ‘Suffering From Scottishness’ taken from the album has helped to popularise the band further after having been adopted by the Scottish referendum’s YES campaign amongst others. Last year the band played numerous radio session’s including 2 BBC sessions one of which was live from Potterow on Janice Forsyth’s Culture Studio as part of the BBC’s Edinburgh Festival coverage. Dumb Instrument finished the summer in style by headlining the Verb Tent at last years Belladrum Festival in Inverness. The band have recently started releasing a new EP on the first day of each month.

———————

They were the band at which myself and Comrade Colin first finally met up in January 2008.

If you’ll indulge me, here’s the story as posted before on the this and the old blog:-

Dumb Instrument will always have a special place in my heart for it was their gig on 3 January 2008 at the 13th Note in Glasgow that I finally met Comrade Colin in the flesh. The bloke who had been the single-biggest inspiration for me starting up a blog has invited me alongs to catch a live set from an act he had included the song ‘Reverse The Hearse’ in his best of run-down for 1997. As I blogged this next day….

“To be honest, I was initially more excited about finally, after all this time, hooking up with Colin (previous attempts to meet and blether had fallen through) than the gig itself. I’m delighted to reveal ladies and gentlemen, that Colin is indeed a true comrade in arms – every bit as witty, erudite, charming and entertaining in the flesh as he is in print – and I reckon we would have been quite happy just sitting in the bar talking about all sorts of things (but mostly music).”

The gig also turned out to be a hugely enjoyable event and I bought this single on the night.

Dumb Instrument describe their output as ‘Jakey Rock’ – and state that it fuses the ideals of ‘Jakeys’ and ‘Rock’ into one nice genre which is accessible to all.

Overseas readers might wonder what ‘jakey’ means. Well, it’s a bit of Scottish slang which has two meanings – it is used to describe a down and out homeless person or alternatively a particular type of alcoholic – one who is found wandering the streets drinking anything (including methylated spirits) to put him/her in severe state of inebriation. Oh and they’re often of course also a down and out and/or homeless.

While jakey-rock might sound unappealing, it is most certainly not the case. The band consists of keyboardist Mikey Grant, bassist Kieron Campbell and vocalist Tom Murray.

Without being at all disparaging to the others, it is Tom Murray who holds most attention. He doesn’t sing or rant like a scary drunk. He has a really sweet almost angelic voice. His lyrics are just astonishing. I don’t mean it as an insult to say that he is more a poet than a songwriter – each songs unfolds like a short story. Visually, he looks like a cross between a son of Scottish artist and playwright John Byrne and a cousin of Scotland’s other great bearded bard – Aiden Moffat.

A few years later I lost my young brother and then my best mate within a short period of time. My other great cyber-mate, ctel, stepped in and took over the blog on both occasions and there were some amazing guest posts which really meant so much to me at a time of sorrow. Sadly, most of those posts have been lost forever thanks to the bastards at google. Comrade Colin’s contribution was Reverse The Hearse by Dumb Instrument. He knew it would make me smile….

I’ve previously featured Reverse The Hearse so today I’ll go for a song from the debut LP that made it onto Radio 1:-

mp3 : Dumb Instrument – The Exterminating Angels

JC

 

 

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