Vic Galloway: Developers damaging Capital’s live music scene

Vic Galloway says the property boom in Edinburgh is damaging the city's once vibrant music scene. Picture: Greg Macvean
Vic Galloway says the property boom in Edinburgh is damaging the city's once vibrant music scene. Picture: Greg Macvean
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It is the city that gave birth to musical favourites as varied as Young Fathers, The Proclaimers and The Bay City Rollers.

But now an official history of Scottish pop and rock music has warned that Edinburgh’s modern-day musicians have been edged out by the city’s property boom.

Broadcaster Vic Galloway, who is also an official adviser to the National Museum’s new exhibition, Rip it Up, and is presenting separate BBC Scotland TV and radio series inspired by the exhibition, has blamed developers for Edinburgh losing its musical “mojo” in recent years.

And he warned that the lack of suitable venues for gigs outwith August meant many people did not now regard Edinburgh as having a year-round music scene.

The museum exhibition was launched by stars like Shirley Manson and Clare Grogan just hours before the city council pulled the plug on the staging of an all-day outdoors Rip It Up Festival in the courtyard of Summerhall arts centre.

Writing in the book, which has been on sale at the National Museum since the exhibition opened, Galloway states that the capital’s current live music scene “is not what it was.” He has bemoaned how it has to rely on “bijou” venues like Sneaky Pete’s and Bannerman’s, in the Cowgate, Henry’s Cellar Bar, in Tollcross, and Leith Depot, on Leith Walk, the latter of which is currently threatened with demolition.

The book has been published less than two years after Edinburgh University researchers found that almost half of the city’s musicians, and its venues, claimed to have suffered problems over noise restrictions in the space of a year.

The Picture House and Studio 24, are among the city centre venues to close their doors in recent years.

Galloway writes how Edinburgh lost its musical “hipster crown” in the 1980s, with Glasgow going on to become the UK’s third most happening UK music city after London and Manchester.

“In the 1990s and 2000s, The Venue and Calton Studios (later Studio 24) were on the nationwide circuit and booked innumerable international names. The Playhouse, Picture House, Cafe Graffiti, The Bongo Club and La Belle Angele all catered for pop, rock, funk, soul and hip hop to indigenous music lovers and the city’s transient student population.

“Some of these venues are sadly no more and, while still healthy, Edinburgh’s scene today is not what it was.

“With property and development space at a premium, the artists have fewer places to go.

“Of course, the capital has the annual Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, but sometimes people forget it is a year-round music city.”

A council spokesperson said: “Edinburgh is best known for its festivals, but we have a passionate and proud year round music industry, burgeoning with creative talent. Much of this story is told in the new Rip It Up exhibition which shows that bands may come and go, venues change, but one thing remains the same – Edinburgh’s music scene is just as vibrant.”