GOODGOODNOTBAD times for music in Edinburgh
So ICYMI, it’s been a pretty decent few days for music in Edinburgh. (Apart from one little annoying thing which you’ll read about below if you keep on scrolling.)
First up, Edinburgh was the focus of two big radio shows. Then it was announced that the city will this year host the SAY (Scottish Album of the Year) Awards for the first time.
Inbetween all that, there was a special show at the Usher Hall by one of Scotland’s most beloved bands and Leith Depot got a reprieve after councillors rejected the plans of developers.
Oh and this evening, the line-up for the Summer Sessions gigs at the Ross Bandstand was also unveiled. Back-to-back big names as you’d expect with the likes of Florence & The Machine, Primal Scream and Madness. Head here for more info.
Sign O’ The Times?
Is it just coincidence that these things happened around the same time? Or are these more signs of music in Edinburgh being on an upward curve?
In my unofficial role as cheerleader* for Edinburgh, I’m going for the latter. (*Someone recently called me a ‘cheerleader for Edinburgh’. I may get an outfit made and create a special dance routine)
That sense of growing positivity and potential around music in Edinburgh is one of the main reasons I set up Edinburgh Music Lovers - to provide a platform to support, document and celebrate what feels like it could be a new era for Edinburgh.
Here’s a quick run-down of what’s been going down, along with some clever music-related headings I spent ages researching, so I hope you appreciate how really clever they are.
Hey, radio head! The sound of a brand-new world
On Friday, Jamie Pettinger and Matt Belcher from EH-FM, Edinburgh’s independent community radio station, took over Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM station.
Their 2-hour show featured loads of voices and artists from Edinburgh’s music world including Davie Miller of Finitribe/Neu Reekie and LuckyMe label manager Martyn Flynn. Plus a soundtrack of largely Edinburgh acts.
You should really give it a listen, it’s great.
Then on Monday, Edinburgh was notably chosen as the first stop on BBC Radio 6 Music’s Independent Venue Week tour around the UK.
Steve Lamacq pitched up in the city and spoke to a number of key people, including Nick Stewart of Sneaky Pete’s. You should give this one a listen too - it’s right here
Thanks to that show, I was introduced to the music of Proc Fiskal - aka Edinburgh’s Joe Powers.
His chat with Steve Lamacq was a bit ropey, but his music is excellent; a really interesting mash-up of glitchy grime, drum & bass and eclectic electronic sounds. If you like it experimental and instrumental, check him out.
Say what! Say what!
On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) had collaborated with the City of Edinburgh Council to bring this year’s SAY Awards events to Edinburgh.
The Queen’s Hall, which turns 40 this year, will host a ‘Live at the Longlist’ event. While the Assembly Rooms, which is staging more music events these days, will host the main event in September.
Hosting the event here is another big plus for Edinburgh, building on the momentum created by staging the widely well-received Rip It Up exhibition here last year.
Like many others, I’d been doing my bit to help bring SAY to Edinburgh. So, as well as trying desperately to claim a tiny bit of credit, I’m chuffed for Edinburgh.
My Sad Captains
As a little cherry on top of Tuesday, Assai Records and Usher Hall teamed up to put on another of their intimate shows.
Last time it was Fatherson (I think). This time, it was another of Scotland’s most treasured bands, The Twilight Sad, showcasing their brilliant new album ‘It Won’t be Like This All the Time’.
I wasn’t there because my mum was over for dinner (true story), which is doubly annoying as I also managed to miss their Liquid Rooms show in November.
But this latest ‘back to front’ show at the Usher Hall, where the audience sits behind the stage looking out at the venue, is another example of the type of interesting, imaginative live music experiences that Edinburgh excels at.
A wolf at the door no more
There was more good news the other day when the good people at Hidden Door announced that they were back in the game after financial troubles.
After a successful fundraising campaign, they’ll now stage a shorter, music-focused event this year. Their music programme has been growing more impressive every year so it’ll be fascinating to see who they’ve got on.
I’ve volunteered for Hidden Door for a while now so I’m biased, but I think they are an amazing asset to this city. They obviously made some mistakes with the finances, but it’s important to remember the massive amount they have contributed to Edinburgh’s arts and music world, not least their pivotal role in the rebirth of Leith Theatre,
Bad news don’t bother me
There was one frustrating bit of news during this period.
On the same day as the SAY Award news broke, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that Summerhall was withdrawing an application for a 3am licence on Fridays and Saturdays.
Their application drew negative comments about ‘noise and nuisance’ from councillors and neighbours. These comments stemmed from a noise complaint received in the wake of an outdoor gig by Idlewild there last June, an event which was ironically part of the Rip it Up activities.
Not all good news then, and there remain big questions around around how music is valued in the city. But from where I’m sitting, there’s a sense of positivity prevailing.
The kids are alright
While you’re here (are you still with me?)…. Sort of related but not to the above, on Saturday, The Pictish Trail did a set in the afternoon at the Freemason’s Hall especially for kids and their families.
This was the latest musical adventure under the Major Minor Music Club banner - a brilliant concept of ‘proper gigs, for grown ups who have kids that want to go see proper music’.
My son’s first gig was their launch event in Glasgow, featuring Scott Hutchison and Withered Hand. We were down the front again for this, their first outing in Edinburgh.
It’s a brilliant idea - if you have kids, love music and haven’t been yet, keep your eyes peeled for their next event.