Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: C’mon Meet The Ugly Bug Ragtime Three, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jim Gilchrist.
They bill themselves as “the wee band with the big, big sound” and you can’t argue with that as this seasoned trad trio – clarinettist John Burgess, guitarist Jim Douglas and double-bassist Andy Sharkey – fill this intimate upstairs space with the jazz sounds of the Twenties and Thirties, played with panache and affection.
The opening number was Smiles, from the film Pete Kelly’s Blues and while smiles is indeed what this group is all about, this was fun generated by serious musicianship, as Burgess’s clarinet sang ecstatically, Sharkey gave springy life to his string bass and Douglas switched deftly between guitar and banjo.
The repertoire ranged through such classics as Earl Hines’ ever-popular Rosetta – slowed down to a lazy strut, and Collegiate, by New Orleans clarinet legend George Lewis, Douglas’s banjo plunking away with staccato glee.
Douglas switched to a rounder electric guitar tone as he and Sharkey took an easeful stroll through Polka Dots and Moonbeams (an early hit for Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey band).
Things accelerated again for the inimitably-titled Blues my Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me and Nobody’s Sweetheart Now, all busy guitar and the frantic squall of Burgess’s clarinet.
The clarinettist came out with a bizarre anecdote about meeting another Outhouse artist, Barbadian saxophonist Arturo Tappin, at a festival in Winnipeg.
One of them was playing with Roberta Flack, the other with the Peatbog Faeries.
Such is the lot of the travelling musician. Here, however, the three seemed very much at home, and utterly in their element.
Outhouse (Venue 99) / listings