IF you wanted a great example of the distances you can go in just one night of music in the Highlands, how about Saturday?
Starting off with tea and softly-sung acoustic gems, it ended with full on hip hop complete with off-the-cuff freestyling.
It’s not every gig that can boast two furry unicorns listening in the front row (once their young owner had got them facing the right way) to see musicians Claire Campbell and Michelle Newell performing publicly together for the first time.
Somehow the shadows and light that are always hovering in the lyrics of Abagail Grey songs complemented the releaxed family feel of the gig to launch the latest EP from Claire’s Abagail Grey project.
On the menu alongside the Velocity café cake were the five songs from Claire’s new winter-inspired Snowflake Remember EP plus "a happy song" named Friend, Claire informed us, with the help of her young son Oscar who was one of many youngsters – including Michelle’s – included in the crowd.
In the relaxed family atmosphere, the small crowd then settled back to watch new video Beauty.
With a tongue in cheek tale that got a warm response from the audience, the film was made starring friends, family in Plockton and at Chanonry Point by Tristan MG Aitchison.
Also screened on the white back wall of the cafe was a rerun of Tristan’s earlier video for Claire’s song Dark Wood, followed by a funny ‘making of’ Beauty mini-movie.
Over at the Church Street Hip Hop night, we were eased into the music around 10pm in Mad Hatters by the mellow sounds of visiting DJ Big Div, kidding around with pal Damaged Goodz aka Brian Jamieson aka Beejay, our host for the night.
Hard-hitting, masterful rapping followed from Nity Gritz, one example being I Don’t Need You.
But making as big an impact in front of their home fans were locals Inverness Underground, made up of Intelli Gents and Paul Scott aka Scotti.
The three guys sounded tight and commanded the venue’s small stage.
With the night at its busiest, they even managed to persuade an accomplished female dancer from the crowd to add some of her moves to the stage ... until a bouncer stepped in to censor the slightly steamy show.
What with a no-show from much-touted Louie of hip hop line-up Hector Bizerk – his car broke down at Auchterarder – Fort William and Glasgow’s Damaged Goodz also featuring regular crew Big Div, DJ Zeeny and Tank then took their turn at the mikes and decks.
It was a slick, imaginative set of tracks tackling hop hop’s image among other topics – and seeing Beejay bravely baring his own torso for added comic dramatic effect.
With a demonstration of freestyling – asking the crowd to choose words written up on the stage – Beejay and Nity Gritz’s task was to impress by weaving them into a spontaneous rap.
The two went into a friendly head to head, giving up an energetic tirade of clever words almost too quick for the ear to catch. And with offerings from the crowd such as "oscilloscope", it wasn’t a straightforward task, though one unimpressed heckler found himself challenged by the duo to give it a go himself!
Sadly, he didn’t have their courage.
But it would be nice to see more hip hop nights so that the Hoots/ Mad Hatters crowd could share the experience. MC