As a working musician in Glasgow I regularly get asked where my favourite haunts are. As you can probably imagine, this is a fairly subjective thing. One musician will rave about one particular venue, while another will rubbish that place and wax lyrical about their favourite joint, that’s just the way of the world. But, what I can tell you is that we are spoilt for choice here in Glasgow, hardly surprising I suppose as it is Scotland’s largest city after all.
It would be hard for me to make a definitive choice about an absolute favourite as there are so many places that I love to play. In fact that’s pretty much the key to it really. I just love to do what I do, no matter where that may be. Playing music is much more than just a job; it really is a way of life. You get to meet people that you would never ordinarily meet if you were stuck in a typical 9 to 5 type scenario.
Take this guy I met the other day while visiting piano shops in Glasgow. You wouldn’t give this fella a second look in the street. Honestly, he was the most normal looking bloke, late 60’s, casually dressed but smart. I know the owner of the place and he introduced us. It turned out that he was a session pianist on some of the biggest funk albums of the 1970’s. I couldn’t believe it. There I was, shaking the hand that had shook the hand of Bootsy Collins and George Clinton – unreal. You wouldn’t get that if you worked in chartered accountancy now would you?
Getting back to the point, I love playing the smaller venues far more than the big auditoriums. You get so much more of an intimate feeling when the audience is right on top of you. You get to hear their comments, both good and bad, and you can really get a feeling for what is working and what isn’t. Places like King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut really do it for me. Situated on St. Vincent Street it’s also very handy for me as I only live down the road, but it’s the intimacy that I like about it. Considering how famous the place is, it still amazes people when they find out that it only holds 300 punters. I reckon that, over the years, more like 300,000 people have claimed to have been in there the night that Alan McGee signed Oasis!
Another place I love is Stereo on Renfield Lane. This basement venue has a fantastic vibe to it and I’ve played there a number of times. Always friendly and laid-back, the crowd there really know their stuff. It’s one of those places that you feel just as comfortable when you are playing there as you would if you were just hanging out. Some other venues you just want to get in and get out again as quickly as possible, but Stereo isn’t like that at all. It’s situated on the site of the old Daily Record print works so it has stacks of character too. I really do love it there.
As I said before, if you were to ask another musician you’d probably get different answers but these are the two that stand out for me. They both have that certain something that sets them apart from the rest.