I planned to write an article on places to hear ‘traditional’ live Scottish music in Edinburgh, but what is ‘traditional’? Scottish music grows in all directions from pipes and drums to contemporary rock bands like Franz Ferdinand.
So, here is a guide to places where you can all kinds of Scottish music. These are the places to go to hear live Scottish music to suit your tastes: whether it’s military pipes and drums, folk, classical, musicals or up and coming rock bands.
1. Sandy Bell’s Pub
At Sandy Bell’s Pub, a sign shows an image of a fiddle with the words ‘Sandy Bell’s Ales and Music’. The small corner pub comes to life at night with live music. It has earned a worldwide reputation as a great place to go to hear traditional and folk music. Sandy Bell’s Pub is located at 25 Forrest Road.
2. Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Planning has already begun for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, 7-29th of August 2009. It will be a special year for the event, as it celebrates its 60th season as well as the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s beloved bard, Robert Burns. Expect to see the traditional Scottish marching bands, pipes and drums and Highland dancers. Yet the mood is definitely international with a varied program each year of groups from around the world. Last year, Celtic dancers from Canada (the Canadian Celtic Association) took part.
3. Reid Concert Hall
Reid Concert Hall is a treasure for classical music lovers. The building incorporates a Museum of Instruments, which is usually open at concert times. Its focus is on classical European instruments – a rare chance to see a harpsichord in person! The program incorporates choral, classical and even jazz. Check out the lunchtime concerts. Part of the University of Edinburgh, Reid Concert Hall also has thought – provoking lectures which are listed in the events section of the website.
4. Edinburgh Playhouse
Edinburgh Playhouse is one of the most well-known music venues in Edinburgh. From ballet and musicals to rock, the Edinburgh Playhouse reflects the cosmopolitan, contemporary character of the city. The full program can be viewed on the website.
5. The Liquid Room
The Liquid Room is a basement venue with an edgier vibe. It is renowned for hosting early performances of bands like Coldplay, Smashing Pumpkins, and Moby. Who knows, you might discover a great new Scottish band!
Early in her career, Scottish musician KT Tunstall organized a series of acoustic series concerts in Edinburgh. These became the inspiration for the monthly Scottish musicians’ concert series, Acoustic Edinburgh. The concerts take place the first Tuesday of every month. The venue is Medina, a nightclub in the basement of the café bar and bistro, Negociants (45-47 Lothian Street). There is a handy map here.
Photo of Pull Tiger Tail concert at The Liquid Room in Edinburgh, Scotland, by Dale Harvey