Edinburgh comedy legend opens year-round live music venue in Rose Street

Katy, left, and Karen Koren are opening a live music venue
Katy, left, and Karen Koren are opening a live music venue

She has helped the likes of Bill Bailey, Peter Kay, Tim Minchin, Russell Brand, Ford Kiernan, Greg Hemphill and Dylan Moran make their names in the world of comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Now Edinburgh promoter Karen Koren is aiming to kick-start a revival of the city’s live music scene – by staging regular gigs in the city’s west end.

The new venture from Gilded Balloon, the company she now runs with her daughter Katy, will be run in a new underground venue on Rose Street.

It is hoped the advent of the Gilded Balloon Basement will help offset the impact of the “rapid and wide-ranging closure” of venues across the city.

Karen Koren also showcased musical acts like Flight of the Conchords, Alan Cumming, KT Tunstall and The Rubberbandits in Edinburgh when they were unknown.

Bluegras, jazz, soul, blues, folk and other roots music acts are being lined up to appear in the venue.

It was first used by Gilded Balloon during the 2017 Fringe when it joined forces with Danish ballet dancer and choreographer Peter Schaufuss – who bought up the the former Charlotte Baptist Chapel in 2016 – to programme shows under the banner of the Rose Theatre.

It is the first year-round venue Gilded Balloon has run since the demise of its long-time home in the Cowgate in a huge blaze in 2002.

Karen Koren said: “It’s really important for us to put on all kinds of entertainment all year round at the Rose Theatre, from theatre, comedy and spoken word to live music. We want the venue to be all-encompassing.

“I’m really exciting about doing these new live music nights, as it’s the kind of thing we used to have year-round in our venue in the Cowgate.”

Among the acts lined up to appear initially at the Gilded Balloon Basement in a weekly Tuesday night slot are Hannah Rarity, the current BBC Scotland Young Musician of the Year, Radio 2 Folk Awards winner Rachel Newton, and Scots Singer of the Year Iona Fyfe.

Katy Koren said: “Like everyone else, we have been saddened and surprised by the rapid and wide-ranging closure of live music venues across Edinburgh. We hope our new weekly night will inspire more and more people to support and involve themselves in the revitalisation of Edinburgh’s music scene.

“As a local Edinburgh company, we are passionate about showcasing the greatest artists that this city, and Scotland, has to offer.

“It’s important to the team here to have as diverse a programme as we possibly can, encouraging fans of all different kinds of entertainment to come down to the new venue and see what we’re about.

“Scottish traditional music couldn’t be more healthier and more vibrant just now, and we’re thrilled to open The Basement’s doors to some of the best it has to offer.”