Forever Edinburgh: musicians' plea for live entertainment to be at heart of hospitality recovery

A group of Edinburgh musicians believe that live music should be at the heart of the recovery of Scotland’s hospitality industry.
Linda Boyd, director of Morningside School of Music, Ali Ferguson, Mike Paterson and Sandy TweeddaleLinda Boyd, director of Morningside School of Music, Ali Ferguson, Mike Paterson and Sandy Tweeddale
Linda Boyd, director of Morningside School of Music, Ali Ferguson, Mike Paterson and Sandy Tweeddale

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With pubs across the country are beginning to reopen, and increased levels of indoor and outdoor visitors expected in coming months, Morningside School of Music has joined with performers across the Capital in the hope of persuading bars to put on live music for customers as soon as restrictions allow.

The school said Edinburgh’s live music scene was thriving before the pandemic struck, and that scores of musicians across the country, many of whom have been out of work altogether for a year, are standing ready to oblige.

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Morningside School of Music has around 700 pupils across the east of Scotland.

Linda Boyd, director of the school, said: “We’re almost at the point now where pubs can fully reopen assuming the progress that’s been made with infection levels continues.

“Venues will have to hit the ground running after a year of closure, and there’s no better way to do that than to make the most of live music.

“It brings more customers in, adds atmosphere and keeps people in for longer.

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“The modest outlay for live musicians is soon paid back in extra custom, and Scots and tourists alike will be keen to hear the sound of live entertainment again.

“The live music sector and hospitality have been on ice for more than a year, but now they can work together to ensure a really prosperous future together.”

Ali Ferguson, a session musician and live performer from Edinburgh, added: “Both the music and the hospitality industries have been so badly hit. Many jobs and careers have been lost or changed irrevocably.

“I think lockdown has shown us how important music and socialising is – now there’s a chance for both of these industries to come together and help each other recover.

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“By putting music back at the heart of our bars and venues, we will put it back at the heart of people’s social lives and communities too.

“That’s where it belongs.”

Mike Paterson, who’s worked as a live musician in Edinburgh for more than a decade, said:

“Live music is what I live for – it’s been my life for 16 years and I can’t wait to get back playing again.

“This will be a time when people need cheered up and reminded what’s great about life – and live music will be just the ticket.

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“Live music might be one of the last things to get back to normal, and that’s why it’s so important.

“I will do whatever it takes to get back to playing live music.”

Sandy Tweeddale, who plays in bands and solo across Scotland and runs open mic nights, added: “I’m in the house band at Whighams Wine Bar – we have a jam night on the first and third Tuesday of the month called Blues Tuesday.

“This isn’t just a case of people playing in a pub – it’s a social event that gets people out and mixing with each other, and playing music somewhere different from their own home.

“It always brings extra custom to the bar and tourists.

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“If both the live music and pub industries are to recover, the best way to make that happen is by working together.”

The Evening News is supporting Forever Edinburgh a joint campaign between the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and VisitScotland. This encourages people to rediscover the city, its stories and places while supporting local businesses, promoting attractions, shops, bars and restaurants as lockdown eases.

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