Young Fathers say council choking city music scene

Mercury Prize-winners Young Fathers. Picture: John Devlin

Mercury Prize-winners Young Fathers. Picture: John Devlin

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THE manager of an award-winning Edinburgh band has claimed the city’s live music scene is continuing to lag behind Glasgow due to restrictive council policies.

Tim Brinkhurst, who manages hip-hop trio Young Fathers, said more needed to be done to protect existing venues and encourage more touring artists to visit outside of the Festival.

The city council established a working group, Music is Audible, last year to address growing complaints from musicians and promoters over red-tape and noise restrictions at venues. A report is due to be presented to councillors next month.

The group has assessed a range of options including a mediation process between complainers and businesses and reviewing the processes used by other local authorities.

Brinkhurst, who moved to Edinburgh from London in 2002, said: “There seems to be a missing voice – that of the majority Edinburgh residents who live outside the centre and have very little in the way of even pubs, let alone venues in their localities.

“Some venture into the town centre on a Saturday night and the clubs on the Cowgate get busy and the bars get soaked, but for some reason there is not the same interest in the local live music that’s available.

“Venues such as Sneaky Pete’s and Limbo at the Voodoo Rooms consistently put on interesting and bang-on-the-money groups who often play to relatively small crowds. It’s one reason why tours tend to bypass Edinburgh in favour of Glasgow.

“The music scene in Edinburgh has always struck me as incredibly unconnected. This is partly due to the mood of a city that likes to keep its curtains closed and its mouth shut – unlike Glasgow which delights in flashing and spraffing at every opportunity.

“The interpretation of laws governing nuisance and the enforcement of other connected by-laws reflects this mood.

“Amazingly, with so much focus on this issue, the council are still implementing ridiculous practices that badly need to be improved.”

Brinkhurst, who has worked in the music industry for more than 30 years, was a member of the pop band Soho until 1999 and wrote the 1990 hit single Hippychick, which cracked the US top 20 and UK top 10.

He began collaborating with Young Fathers in 2008. The group won the 2014 Mercury Award for their debut album Dead.

Colvin Cruickshank, manager of The Wee Red Bar venue at Edinburgh College of Art, said: “I feel Edinburgh is overlooked by touring bands and promoters in general but this wasn’t always the case.

“The council seems content to support super-pubs instead of grassroots live music venues.”

Councillor Norma Austin Hart, vice-convener for culture, said: “A full update on the work of Music is Audible will be put to the culture and sport committee in just a few weeks’ time.

“This will include the group’s set of recommendations based on their own research, the commissioning of independent research through the Music Venue Trust and the outcomes of the Edinburgh University Music Census.

“Tim Brinkhurst is a member of the Music Is Audible taskforce and while he has been unable to attend most of our meetings, he has been consulted on the solid progress made by the other members of the group.”