City licensing chiefs are set to pull the plug on Sound House – which showcases acts on a makeshift stage in an Abbeyhill living room – because the noise levels are disturbing residents and breach its residential status.
Based in a ground-floor converted shop in Royal Park Terrace, each gig attracts up to 50 revellers and while it operates a strict 11pm closing policy, council officials say it is at odds with the quiet family surroundings and vowed to “protect residential properties”.
A council source said: “It is a residential property and they are operating as a music venue which they just cannot do.” The ban comes after officials launched an investigation into the use of the property. The final gig is due to take place on Hogmanay.
While organisers don’t charge for entry, revellers are asked for a suggested £10 donation fee, with all proceeds going directly to the artists. Recent performances have seen the likes of Shetland fiddler Kevin Henderson take to the stage, while Rob Morsberger, who has worked with Patti Smith and the Crash Test Dummies, is due to appear on Wednesday.
Owner Douglas Robertson, 59, a freelance photographer, said: “This is a shocking state of affairs. There are no small venues left in the city and if a band wants to play in one of those, they are left with maybe 80 quid after the venue has taken its fee – just enough to cover expenses. They are being grossly ripped off.” He said the council had failed to explain why Sound House was facing being shut down. “The council has not said whether the problem is with noise, the regularity of the gigs or the number of people who stand outside,” he said.
“All they say is that they consider the Sound House to be a venue. This is not a venue. This is where I live – it’s where I eat and sleep and brush my teeth. A venue has a box office, a bar and advertises publicly. We do not do these things. There are networks of concert houses throughout the US and UK – and there are others in Edinburgh. Perhaps they’ve come down hard on us because we’ve built this place up into something that looks bigger and more professional.”
Neighbours were divided over the issue. One, who did not want to be named, said: “I personally think there’s a lot of noise. It would be OK for me if the gigs were only on once a week but sometimes it can be nearly every night – it’s too much.
“You cannot park when there are gigs on. And there are all these people smoking outside – you sometimes find cigarette butts right up to our front steps.”
But Barbara Buckley, 41, said she was in favour of having the gigs in her street. She said: “There’s never been any trouble and the music never interferes with my night. I hope it will continue. I don’t know why they’re banning it – Douglas stays there and it’s his home. He’s not making any money from it.”
A council spokesman said: “The evidence gathered as part of our investigation has confirmed that there has been a material change of use for this residential building.”
Beaten out of the Capital
THE roll call of Capital music venues forced to close their doors over the last decade makes for sad reading.
Some have shut down and reopened in a new guise or under new management, such as Cabaret Voltaire in Blair Street which ceased as an “underground” nightspot in February this year only to relaunch under mainstream Glasgow entertainments group G1.
The Bongo Club, the longest-running club in the city, is now set to relocate from its spiritual home on Holyrood Road to a space under Central Library as part of Edinburgh University plans to convert the venue into classrooms.
Popular Picardy Place venue Ego also called time on club nights to form part of the Hawke and Hunter bar/hotel complex.
The Venue, on Calton Road. which opened as The Jailhouse, closed in 2006 and is now a gallery.