Barry Gordon: Soundhouse boost for city music

Callum Mouat. Pic: Phil Wilkinson

Callum Mouat. Pic: Phil Wilkinson

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WHEN news of the Picture House’s closure arrived late last year the Capital’s music fans were up in arms.

‘Superpub’ JD Weatherspoon had just bought the venue, despite efforts of people like Callum Mouat to retain it as a music venue with a 2000-signature petition, and since then virtually all bands that attract an audience of between 800-1200 people have bypassed Edinburgh in favour of Glasgow.

With only two mid-size music venues to speak of in town – the Queen’s Hall and The Jam House – the former leans more towards folk, classical and jazz, whereas the latter is more accommodating to cheesy tribute artists and cover bands.

In short, there’s little sign the city is about to welcome in a new, mid-size venue any time soon. What’s most notable is that music fans have been more vocal about the need for smaller, grassroots venues. But why?

I mean, it’s not as if we’re lacking in that department. We already have The Jazz Bar, Henry’s Cellar Bar, Sneaky Pete’s, Electric Circus, Voodoo Rooms, The Caves, Citrus Club, The Pleasance and Cabaret Voltaire, to name a few, and that’s before you consider music pubs such as Bannerman’s and Whistlebinkies.

Perhaps what people really mean is they want to see a new 100-300 capacity venue with all the qualities a modern-day music venue should boast; light, fragrant, and comfortable, modifiable, accessible and acoustically adapted.

Is it too much to ask for an up-to-date PA system and for the musicians to have a Green Room?

Fortunately, Douglas Robertson and his partner, Jane-Ann is on the case. The fantastic reputation of the couple’s one-time house concerts on the edge of Holyrood Park has reached far and wide.

Now, though, funding plans are already under way to open up their own venue elsewhere. Soundhouse will be an ethical, non-profit-making, state-of-the-art venue that ensures a musician’s vocation is a viable occupation, and that audiences leave with a truly memorable experience.