The 2019 Edinburgh Fringe is fast approaching, & the Mumble reviewers are sharpening their pencils & getting their hair-dos done in eager anticipation. But just who are the people behind the words? Are these scintillating connoisseurs of culture really real? The answer is a big & happy yes!
Steven Vickers is an experienced critic as well as being an artist in his own right. He has previously written for the Trigger and Sun Zoom Spark national music magazines and has performed solo and with bands all over the UK and beyond. A prolific composer and producer he has recorded 24 self produced Albums under the names of Victor Pope, Oliver Christ and Mid Life Krysis as well as writing 2 as yet to be published novels. He was born in Middlesbrough, North East England but currently resides in Leith where he believes the future of all things creative resides with him. Special subjects – Music, Cinema, Comedy
James Nixon is a PhD graduate who looked at the relation between American politics and political comedy in the Obama era. He has a particular interest in forms of cultural communication within categories such as stand-up, film and television, and how these communicate and subvert cultural, social and political norms. Chapters of his Masters and PhD research have been published by Penn State University and Illinois State University.
Lisa Williams is of British-Grenadian heritage and been living in Edinburgh since 2011. She runs Caribbean cultural events, Black History Walking Tours of Edinburgh and educational workshops in Scottish schools. Her first degree was in Psychology and African and Asian Studies and she’s currently studying for an MA in Arts, Festival and Cultural Management. When not penning her own creations, Lisa likes to fangirl her favourite authors at literary festivals. You can follow her on Twitter @edincarib and Instagram @caribscot
Ian Pepper lives in Bramley, Leeds with his family. He works in the voluntary sector and in his free times likes to make art and write songs. He enjoys various kinds of music though his favourites are psychedelia, punk and folk. Green issues are important to Ian and he is involved in local activist groups and has run fundraising events for them involving local musicians and artists. Ian enjoys the theatre and the way it brings different art forms such as design, storytelling and music together. He favours theatre which tries to take the audience somewhere unexpected and plays with the form but he equally enjoys a classic bit of drama too. You can see some of Ian’s work at ‘Ian Pepper Arts’ on Facebook.
The Mumble’s editor-in-chief likes to think of himself as a poet of some nuance. Starting life in Burnley, Lancashire, & finding himself living in Edinburgh in his 30s, Damo set up the Mumble up to further his artistic education & to keep the words flowing – albeit in prose. Six years into his Parnassian pilgrimage he’s gathered a team of crack culture vultures to share the bounty. He enjoys all of the Mumbles – Comedy, Art, Theatre, Opera, Cirque, Festivals, Words & especially Musicals, which often make him cry.
Divine is a multi-talented explorer of all things artistic and spiritual. A gifted Clairvoyant, Spiritual Healer, Musician, Writer and Performance Poet and Dancer. Arriving at The Edinburgh Fringe in 1995 to perform Clairvoyance at the Citrus Club, he fell in love with Edinburgh and made it his home. In 1996 he became the Spiegel Tent’s resident Clairvoyant and Spiritual Healer. A relationship that would last ten years, introducing him to some of the best performance art on the planet. In 2000 he joined the Spiegel Crew on their maiden voyage to the Adelaide Fringe where he became instrumental in the creation of Spiegel’s “Garden Of Unearthly Delights.”
Working with, spiritually guiding and supporting Fringe performers both in Adelaide and Edinburgh for two decades, it would be a natural progression to become a performance art reviewer for the world famous Blog “The Mumble.” When one is a performance artist and its rich tapestry has influenced ones life path so, being able to expand upon thespian pursuits and having the opportunity to witness the vast array of artistic merit for free, write an appraisal for, get it published and get paid for the privilege. Oh Aye 5 Stars all round. Its a win win, for Divine and the Artists he reviews.
Raymondo Speedie is a happy go lucky guy who embraces all that life throws at him. Good or bad, he maintains a positive outlook on life. He loves to write, act, travel, dance, read, and pay it forward to those around him or to those whom he meets on his daily journey through life. Accept and be content is his out look on life and why not, he says, being convinced we create our own happiness and joy and therefore can share it with others. Hence being a reviewer.
Paul Thompson was born in 1950 near Bristol. His family moved about a lot, so he was brought up in the NW of England; but in 1968 was one of the original skinheads, down in South East London, where he tried (and failed) to start a skinhead fanzine. That ran for about nine months in the pages of International Times, and then folded. After that, to relieve the utter boredom of a civil service career, he wrote occasionally for the Liverpool rock zine ‘Merseysound’ (yes, still moving about!) and for scifi fanzine ‘Yellow Dwarf’. For a decade or so he was a semi-pro cartoonist, contributing monthly strips to radio magazines. At some time in the new millennium, having had enough of the civil service, he retired, set up a literary agency, and also became a mature student. Regarding the latter, he’s about to start a PhD, delving into the portrayal of masculinity in 1950s and 60s lesbian-themed pulp novels. For the Mumble he has tackled just about everything from rock gigs to orchestral concerts, and from stand-up to Shakespeare, but is most visible at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The accompanying picture shows Paul encountering DJ and musician Don Letts.
Michael has recently been called a “Renaissance Man” by friends, as he has partaken in many creative endeavours. He splits time between Europe and the USA, as the law dictates. He spent his formative years travelling thousands of miles though North America on a bicycle, sleeping in bushes and eating out of waste bins. Wood sculpture has fascinated Michael for many years, and he has recently completed a bench. He has often traversed great expanses in order to cat sit. Michael is formally trained in creative writing from a lower-mid level university. He enjoys the collaborative nature of reviewing for the Mumble. Getting to experience performance arts and creating a review to help attract others to do the same, fulfils Michael’s desire to see earth become a better place.
Teri Welsh is a former spacecraft engineer, having worked for Scisys on ESA contracts for the Rover Mars mission. Her PhD research was undertaken at Glasgow University, Stanford University and NASA Ames in California, where she wrote a number of scientific papers on Spacecraft Robotics. Disillusioned with the private sector rat race, she abandoned her career to follow a holistic life as a traveller and writer, and set up a fair trade clothing/craft business working with disadvantaged communities in the developing world. In her free time she enjoys DJing at various gigs and festivals both here in Scotland and overseas, and can often be found dancing in a muddy field with a warm can of Strongbow.
Mark gained a Master of Theology from St Andrews in 1992, before it was overrun with American heiresses looking to snag a prince. He has had many occupations, including farm-working, teaching, cleaning busses and editing books. He currently lives and works in Perth, with Archie, a rescue dog who adopted him. They like to go hillwalking, getting wet, and rambling in the park, where they terrorise other dog owners. Mark likes theatre, classic literature and all sorts of music. Except grime.
Being part of the Mumble team has taken me on many courses reviewing everything from comedy to tragedy in the theatre to covering operas and rock music. My increased appreciation has come from reviewing Music and theatre especially. When I was put in the middle of Edinburgh’s princess street and told to go see some Fringe shows and write about how I felt about them I discovered the journey made between production team, audience and me the reviewer can be a handsomely rewarded thing to do. I am excited at the future of this kind of writing both for myself and for the company I do it for The Mumble. I have been set alight by performances and have divulged with great reverence scripts and dialogues, each time with a feeling that I was covering this better or that… the opportunity for writing has always been a welcome one, and one that will continue as part of my life. Music and theatre just seems to hit a certain spot in me as to offer me relish in what I do.
Steve is a creative writing graduate, who has unexpectedly found himself neck deep in the world of social housing. As a child, he wanted to be a frog, which is not necessarily the direction taken by most fairy tales and he’s never fully recovered from the disappointment of discovering that his amphibian goal could never be achieved. He now lives in Leeds with his sprawling extended family and fills his days with a heady (or possibly headless) mixture of experimental music, trashy horror films, comic books and classic literature. In summary, Steve is pretty undiscerning. He’s at his most comfortable astride the dizzying chasm of high and low brow, and is this is where his imagination burns at its brightest. Steve has released music through an assortment of netlabels from Edinburgh’s very own Bearsuit Records to the Netherlands based Rack and Ruin Records, having matured musically at the height of internet based file sharing bands. Over the years, he’s also written over enthusiastically about music for a variety of fanzines and websites. He now bothers the West Yorkshire music scene in the form of Gnomefoam. West Yorkshire is still working out how to put him back into his box. He’s also still working on his unwritten masterpiece.