Style: Hard-hitting, solid. “Playing for the song”. “Playing with attitude”. “Shuffle King”
Influences: Mick Fleetwood, Simon Kirk
Kit: Ludwig with wrap designed by Corey Miller.
Had a band photo taken in the same location in the early days of The Hideaway Blues Band. Also got married in the Grosvenor and son Guy was christened at this location.
K: So we’re sitting in Bobar and I still recognise the layout. I few things have changed but you and I used to play right there(points) every week with the Magic Blues Surfers when this place was Studio One.
S: Absolutely. They revamped the place while you were away in London and knocked the back wall through into the main hotel. After they did that there wasn’t enough sound-proofing and that was kind of the end of the Studio One Jam.
K: That was a real shame. I remember the heat in here…and the smoke. As I drove past the side entrance today I got a flashback of myself sitting on the wee wall at the side door trying to cool off before the second set. Man it was hot in here!
S: That’s right. There were no windows either and they shut the doors because of the noise so it was a bit hot and sweaty..
K: This place launched a load of the players we still see around today and some of them have done pretty well for themselves.
S: Well it was because of this place the The Hideaways got their first break
K: The Hideaways?… for those who might not recognise the name?
S: The Hideaway Blues Band. That was the first Blues Band I played with. We were booked to play a place in town. We loaded up the van and arrived at the gig to find the shutters down. There were big iron bars up over the doors and windows and we thought “What’s going on?!” Then we looked through the window and everything had been smashed up. Chairs lying everywhere, broken bottles, tables overturned, the whole place was completely trashed. We tried to call the manager but there was no reply and there was no reply from the pub either so we thought “What do we do now?!
We were all geared up to do the gig. So, we actually started touring round the pubs in Glasgow asking if anyone would be willing to take a band on for free. This place (Studio One) was our Last Chance Saloon. We’d been all round the places we knew, MacSorleys and all the other pubs we could think of. This was the last place on the road back home and it was a Friday night and it was 10pm. In those days the pubs shut at 11pm and we almost gave up and drove past it but we gave it a chance. It was pretty busy and the manager at the time, I knew his name was Jim but I can’t remember his second name, anyway, he said “Aye guys, in you come. See how you get on for the next hour…”
So we did the gig and he liked us and we got a gig on the Saturday afternoon and that was us. We played every Saturday. Then the manager from the pub down the road, Curlers, came to see us. He noticed how busy the place was and offered us the Tuesday night residency in Curlers. Now I think there was some connection between Curlers and MacSorleys and we started playing in there as well and got the residency in there on a Friday night. So we got 3 residencies within a very short period of time. We were playing all the time. That’s how we honed our craft and we also still rehearsed.
The crowds back then were amazing, the students were really up for it. Literally dancing on the tables. Those were some of the best memories of my life.
K: It’s great playing to a young crowd and the university cities have a real spark. Did you get into the Blues yourself at an early age?
S: Well when I had my first experience of the Blues , I didn’t even know it was the Blues and that was when I went to see Tina Turner at the Glasgow SECC during the Private Dancer tour. The support act she had was Robert Cray. Unfortunately the crowd just wanted Tina on and they weren’t really interested in the support act. They were shouting “Tina! Tina!” and I was saying “Shut up man! This is incredible!” I had no idea what kind of music it was but I just remember thinking “This guy is dynamite! This is incredible!”
K: I know you’d been playing about with the drums up till this point. Where did the urge to play the drums come from and how did that develop?
S: Yeah, my Dad used to sing semi-pro in pubs and clubs back in the 70’s. One his regular gigs was the Yoker Club and we used to go and see my Gran on a Sunday and pick up my Dad on the way back in a taxi. If he wasn’t ready or if he hadn’t finished his set we used to get shuffled into the back kitchen of the pub to wait. On the occasion that that did happen we would wait till everyone had left. The band was called “The Contrast” and Alan Jenkins, was the drummer. I used to call him Uncle Alan. He used to give me, my brother and my sister a stick each (I was 5), and we used to go up and hit the drums and I guess that planted the seed.
Throughout my childhood I remember playing with a pair of sticks and I would play for a while and then drift away from it, but then later on between the ages of 12 and 16, for every birthday and every Xmas I asked my Mum and Dad for drumkit.
Back at that time, 1. they couldn’t afford it and 2. they didn’t think I was serious. I think they thought it was just another phase I was going through at the time. As luck would have it at the age of 16, the Dumbartonshire Concert Band that used to rehearse in the school that my Dad was the Janitor at (Bearsden Primary School), were selling a drumkit and the price was right and my Dad jumped at the chance and bought it for me!
So this was presented to me down at the school on Xmas morning
K: At the school?
K: On Xmas morning?
K: I know Xmas mornings with my 2 kids and I can’t imagine them heading off to school under any circumstances. This is interesting. Carry on
S: Basically the whole family were there to see it and my Dad wanted everyone to be there. I walked through the big fire doors and he pointed up at the stage at the other end of the hall and said “What do you think?” and I was totally blown away!!!
So I ran up and sat behind the kit and was just sitting there looking at it and I remember thinking “Am I actually going to be able to play this after all the years of playing along with records on the sofa with a pair of sticks?” Then I started playing “Don’t You Forget About Me” by The Simple Minds and thankfully it just clicked. The co-ordination was there. And that was me setting off down the path of becoming a drummer. I got 6 months of lessons that taught me all the rudimentary stuff. About timing and space, grace notes, para diddles, etc
K: How did it go from there to your first Blues Band?
S: I went out with Colin Black’s sister, Fiona. So we were sitting looking at her tape collection and there was this shop-bought copy of “No Jacket Required” by Phil Collins. It was the real thing you know, proper album. So she stuck this on the tape player and pressed play and what came out of the speakers was a live recording of Stevie Ray Vaughan playing Pride and Joy!
K: So what was going on there?
S: Well what had happened was that Colin had put selotape over the wee spaces which meant you could record on to the tape. And then recorded this SRV concert live from the radio. She went to switch it off and I stopped her and said “What is that?”. “It’s one of my brother’s sh*t bands!” was the reply. And then I found out that he played guitar and at that point I wanted to meet her brother and play that kind of stuff. And that was basically the start of the Hideaway Blues Band.
Since then I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout the whole time I’ve played. The musicians I’ve played with have all been phenomenal. The likes of yourself, Jim Ward, The Nimmo Brothers, Colin Black, Alan Wheeler, Gus Braid, the list goes on and on. Big George as well, we supported big George. He was very kind to us, very supportive and he introduced us to a Rockier kind of audience as well. He gave us support slots at Saints and Sinners, which is now King Tuts Wah Wah Hut.
The Hideaways original line-up was Colin Black, Gus Braid, Ricky Hardy and myself and then further down the road we got Stevie Nimmo on board on vocals and guitar. In later years we also had Alan Wheeler, Alan Nimmo and Zander Green at one point throughout the 8 years that we were on road.
K: You were getting very popular in Glasgow and playing a lot and you were pulling in regular money. Glasgow is a big city but at that time, as you said earlier, there weren’t many Blues bands kicking around. Did the gigs ever start to dry up.
S: Funny story about that actually Kirk. We fancied playing Nice n Sleazy up in Sauchiehall Street so we went and saw the owner and he said “Why should I give you guys a gig? You’re playing 3 free gigs a week. If you want to start playing here you need to stop doing that and you need to stop doing from about 4 to 6 weeks in advance of the gig.” And we were like “Aye sure. No problem, we can do that.” So we struck up a deal for a good amount of cash back on those days and 5% or 10% of the door and he took all the bar money and the rest of the door money. So lo and behold we didn’t stop any of the gigs and the owner found out. So we parked up in the back alley and Colin goes in to let the owner know we were there and he came back out with the bad news that the owner was thinking of cancelling the gig. He wanted to change the deal because we hadn’t stopped playing the residencies. He was raging. The new deal was going to be that he would take the bar and we would get any door money if anyone turned up and there would be no fee so the cash was out of the equation.
So we were all of the opinion that we might as well play. We were there after all. Unbeknownst to the guy though, we’d been announcing at all the gigs that we would be playing here and we’d played a gig that afternoon and everyone had been having a great time and said they’d come up. So we set up and the guy was still visibly irate.
We did the sound check and then learned that there was a queue right up the street and the guy was turning green. At the end of the night he had to hand over 3 times the original fee…but that was the deal and hat off to him, he stuck by it.
K: He probably made quite a bit at the bar as well but that was a lesson learnt. Ok. I guess the gigs weren’t drying up then (laughs)
S: Well we did take on board what he said. He was right enough. The Festivals in Glasgow wouldn’t touch us for the same reason so we ended up making a conscious decision not to play the free entry gigs and then we actually got a backlash from the the people that had been supporting us. That was really sad.
K: How did you go about getting the pay only gigs after that?
S: We set up a gig at the Henry Wood Hall. We organised security, booked venues, set up the stage ourselves, did all the late night fly posting, organised the bar…everything. We made a video of that one as well. Actually, just a few months back I got a load of DVDs from the guy that recorded them back then. Videos from way back in ’89 forward.
After the Henry Wood Hall we set up another gig at the Mayfair on Sauchiehall Street, which again was fantastic.
K: Was that the number 1 gig for the Hideaways for you?
S: Mmmmm……..hard to say. That Henry Wood Hall gig was phenomenal. A lot of work went into it and it was a sell out and the roar from the audience when we were announced was incredible. I’ll never forget it. The number 2 gig was probably The Ferry. We’d played to an audience of 4 people the night before, 2 of which were bar staff. And then the following night was the Renfrew Ferry and it was stowed to the gunells. I saw photos of the gig years after and there were over 500 people in the place. We also got the chance to play the Burnley Blues Festival and the Colne International Blues Festival which were also fantastic!
K: Any others?
S: I guess a personal achievement for me was getting to play The Barrowlands. We supported Gary Moore, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce as BBM.
K: Did you meet any of them?
S: No, unfortunately we didn’t get to meet any of them but out of respect I did a bit of research about Ginger Baker because he is such a legend and I learnt about his life prior to and after Cream. And I know that some of the guys would have loved to have met Gary Moore or Jack Bruce but the opportunity just never presented itself but that doesn’t take away from how much I enjoyed the gig.
K: So the Hideaways eventually split up and a chapter came to a close and I guess shortly after that is when you and I first met?
S: Yeah. The Magic Blues Surfers. Again great times, great players, guys like Jim Ward, Gary Grochla and then Miles O’Neil and yourself as well of course. All the Studio One jams and the gigs. Brilliant. And then that came to an end as well. That was 2 years ago in June. I was with the Surfers for about 10 years. Good times.
K: And that’s when Blues Power started up?
S: Yes. And I have to say…the name is nothing to do with my tattoo. It wasn’t me that named the band But yeah, it’s been great. Great guys again. I’ve always loved Colin’s playing (Colin Robertson) and Zander (Green) is just so much fun to work with and a brilliant songwriter and arranger as well.
K: So is there a Blues Power album coming?
S: There is actually yes. We’ve been offered time in a studio. So we’re working on that at the moment.
K: Do you write?
S: Well, I can’t sing a note but I do have loads of ideas and lyrics that I’ve written over the years, most of which are work in progress, which the guys are helping me with.
K: What kind of stuff do you see that gives you ideas?
S: Well a recent example would be when I was on the train from Kelvindale to Anniesland going into work and on the embankment there was this deer just standing there in the morning light and it looked amazing. A beautiful animal. And I looked down the carriage and not a single person was looking. They were all on their phones
K: Tell me about it man. It could’ve been a Unicorn and nobody would’ve seen it. Phones, iPads and laptops.
S: It was like that Bruce Lee moment in Enter The Dragon when he’s talking to the boy and he says “When pointing a finger at the Moon, do not focus on the finger, otherwise you will miss all of the Heavenly Glory”. So the concept is about life going on all around you and you just need to lift your head up and look. I’ve no idea how to put that into a song but that’s the concept at the moment.
K: It’s a good concept Scott. I look forward to hearing the song and the album. It’s been great catching up with you again.
S: All the best Kirk. Thanks for everything. Take care.
The Grosvenor Hilton Hotel, Glasgow
Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikon 24-120 f/4
Focal length: 52mm
Time of day: 11:39
Conditions: Even cloud cover
Lighting: Natural daylight with 5ft sliver reflector