The bands coming big in Edinburgh
Despite the recent assertion by Tam Paton that it was, in fact, The Bay City Rollers who put Edinburgh on the map, the City had been an arts and cultural centre for hundreds of years before earning the dubious reputation of being The Roller's home town.
Chakra are one of Edinburgh's most popular funk bands. The seven members of the band came together in November of 1974 after most of them had been playing with and around each other for years. Edinburgh is a city where most people have some point of connection with most other people. In that sort of situation its inevitable that any musician in the city will know another fairly well.
Colin and John, (bassist and acoustic guitarist) had been in (and out of) each other's bands since the early sixties and a similar, though shorter, situation had existed between Des and Jim, (drummer and lead guitarist). These four, and Dode, (vocals, percussion and another native of Edinburgh) were joined by two "Southerners", Pauline their main vocalist, originally from London and Chris (sax, flute, clarinet, percussion), from Cleveland.
Chris, at 19, is the youngest member of the band, but he's been playing his instruments for years and used to play with the Northern Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. All of the band have full time jobs except Des who is studying architecture at Edinburgh University and any offer would have to be very concrete before any of them would go professional.
The band don't have a manager but feel they they're managing themselves adequately just now. John and Colin know most people in the music business in Edinburgh and they have no problems organising gigs.
In fact, the band have few problems. They've recently acquired a Peavey 9 channel mixing desk which has helped to improve the overall sound of the band and especially the sound quality of the wind instruments. Andy Swales, a bachelor of science, is their sound engineer and he sorts out any problems which arise with the PA system. Both Phonogram and Anchor have expressed an interest in Chakra and the band are happy to wait for the right offer.
Meanwhile, one difficulty is the lack of somewhere cheap enough and decent enough to rehearse.
John Fitzsimmons plays Gibson 335, Marshall amp. Colin Archbold plays Fender Bass and cab. Desmond Travis plays Slingerland Kit. Jim Condie plays a Gibson Les Paul Copy with Peavey 130w. Chris Nelson plays Selmer tenor soprano sax, Lark Flute.
Andy Miller, Brody's new manager, introduced himself to them by tentatively suggesting that he try to fix them up with some London gigs. John Ramsay, Brody's sound engineer explained. "We eat, breathe, sleep and shit music. We're not interested in promises. Give us something concrete, then we'll take it."
That was in August. Andy Miller became Brody's manager, has helped to organise them, and now they're playing 5 definite London dates in October, (including the Speakeasy on the 27th and the Greyhound on the 28th).
Brody began as a four piece band in September of '74. Ron Jackson joined them as vocalist in July of this year, and only since then have Brody felt that' their line-up is complete.
All of Brody work full-time. Kenny McDonald (keyboards) and Dave Scott (bass) are both trained teachers — none of them do undemanding jobs and two of them are married. Yet they, (and their ladies) are all completely dedicated to the band and to each other. The money they earn during the day goes straight back into Brody and that's as true for their roadies and sound engineer as for the guys who play on stage. For example, Charlie, one of the roadies, has just bought a Hammond L100 to replace the ageing Galanti Duo which Kenny had been unable to afford to replace himself. The equipment and instrument set-up they use is more than adequate but they're still dissatisfied. "It's okay for the gigs we do, but we want the best" Dave told me. Most of their equipment is bought from Live Music in Edinburgh, who they find sympathetic to any problem, financial or otherwise, which the band come up against. One difficulty they can't help with, though, are any major breakdowns of equipment. Fortunately these occasions are rare but when they do occur the equipment gets sent South and it seems to take forever to come back. "Sometimes when the stuff does come back, it's been gone so long that it's like getting a new instrument." Kenny groaned. It's not always the manufacturers fault, British Rail were responsible for the last blunder. Apparently they took three weeks to lose a Hi-watt cabinet and two weeks to find it again — and that was just on the return journey to Edinburgh.
Brody play mostly their own music, Kenny and Tom are the most prolific writers in the band and the others work from their ideas until they manage to work out the kind of sound they want. This is done when Brody practice in a Womens Guild Hall on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Their own music is received well and often requested, but people like them to play a few familiars, so their act is interspersed with variations on Stones and Wishbone Ash numbers.
A lot of clubs want funky dance bands and Brody as Tom explained just aren't a dance band. "We could go professional tomorrow, IF we wanted to play three hours of dance band music.
At the moment we're working on our own sound and people seem to like it. For instance we ran a ticket concert in the May summer, in Edinburgh, and sold 500 tickets. Soft Machine played the same night and sold 300. It was really a success."
Kenny Brodie plays Fender Stratocaster with Marshall stack. Dave Scott plays Fender Telecaster Bass with Hi-watt amp. Tom Archibald plays Pearl kit, Paiste cymbals and Hohner Blues Harp. John Ramsay uses a Canary 12/1 Desk, 600 watt custom PA. Mikes are AKG and Shure.
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