One of the first things I was taught when I moved to Blackpool back in the noughties, was “avoid Central Drive like the plague.”  Thirteen years later and was still living by that advice. That’s until Scratch came along.

Scratch is the brainchild of Melanie Whitehead of The Electric Sunshine Project.  The idea is to get performances to parts of the resort where you wouldn’t normally find them, give performers a chance to test new material, get feedback on how they can improve and encourage people who wouldn’t normally participate to pick up a pen and get creative.  Melanie Whitehead (photo c/o Lisa Bower)

This is why I found myself, on Thursday 30th March, skulking into the Castle Pub on Central Drive like a sniper in enemy territory. I still consider Central Drive to be no-man’s land and, true to form, I found myself giving a teenage brawl outside of McDonalds a wide berth on the walk down.  I’d always had the Castle tagged as a bit ‘tasty’ due to the football-crazy clientele it attracts on a Saturday but I’m happy to say I was wrong. Upstairs is a great venue with cheap beer, friendly staff, cheap beer, a chilled-out atmosphere and cheap beer.

I arrived as The Tiger and The Sea were finishing up. An acoustic duo, they harmonise beautifully. Endearingly, they also seem to converse their way into closing songs, ‘Is that the end? What do you think? Shall we end it there? Yeah, let’s end it.’ Fans of Nick Drake, Pink Floyd and their ilk will love them.

Two poets were on show. Performing for the first time was Jade Foster.  Intensely personal, her writing comes from a place of defiance and you had to admire the passion and bravery behind her words.  Pub Poets’ Lisa Bower delivered a comedic set that focussed on relationship trials such as Dutch-ovening and the pressure to shave ‘down there’ for your boyfriend.  Polished, irreverent and full of laughs, it was no less than you’d expect from the brains behind one of the best poetry nights in the North-West.Adam Blaise (photo c/o Lisa Bower)

Speaking of laughs, comedian Adam Blaize gave a flawless set that had the audience in the palm of his hand. ‘I do a lot of gigs for Greenpeace’ he might have mentioned more than once, ‘The best thing about Greenpeace gigs is you get to recycle your jokes.’  Never gets old that one, no matter how many times you hear it in 10 minutes.

Linda Hampton delivered a work in progress from the perspective of a fairy godmother, sick to her back-teeth of only being remembered for Cinderella, before the Occasional Rasquerdis – sans drummer – closed the night out with some tongue in cheek acoustic delights, the highlight being a sprawling ode to a, ‘Meat Pie Woman’.  Great fun, especially when accompanied by cheap beer.

Scratch returns to the Castle on Central Drive, Thursday 20 April, where there will undoubtedly be cheap beer, great musicians, cheap beer, awesome poets, cheap beer, hilarious comedians and cheap beer. See you there.
  

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