Going out with a bang with Reuben Wilson

BIG BEAT has forged a path of righteous funk and dance floor jazz for ten long years, but now it’s the end of an era. Words: David Pollock

institution Big Beat is cause for both

celebration and commiseration. Not only does it mark the tenth anniversary of its birth (which surely means it’s one of the longest running clubs in the country). but it’s also the last ever night.

‘lt’s not that we’re by any means tired of doing this.’ insists DJ and founder Simon Hodge. ‘In fact. everyone that’s involved is really happy with the club and the way it’s going. Coming up to the tenth birthday we realised that Big Beat was going to come to an end at some point. one way or another. So we just decided to cut it now. while it’s still good and still very much up and running . I’ve been saying to everyone that we’re following the Fawlty Towers philosophy rather than the Rosanne one. It’s better to take the decision to finish something through your own choice while you‘re on a high. rather than just hang around and eventually have that decision made for you.’

So what was the original intention behind the club way back in 1993 then? And more to the point. how come it’s lasted so long? ‘When we started out. there was quite a healthy funk scene in Edinburgh. there always has been, in fact.’ says Simon. ‘But around the same time. the people who were involved started getting heavily into jazz. We’d find ourselves travelling around the country and finding good jazz clubs everywhere else. while funk and hip-hop were the only genres that were as well catered for in Edinburgh. So we set up Big Beat. because we loved the music and we wanted to prove to people that a club like it could work and somehow it did right from the very first night.’

After a decade of venue-hopping (La Belle Angele. Cafe' Graffiti, the old Bongo Club. and La Belle again) Big Beat’s final resting place is Cabaret Voltaire. Over

T his latest instalment of Edinburgh jazz-funk


the years there has been a selection of established and underground names performing at the club. with Hodge listing Charles Earland. Lee Fields and Brian Auger among a stack of favourites. Yet the decision was made to invite back acid-jazz organist and Blue Note mainstay Reuben Wilson as the very special guest who will close the show. Simon tells us why: ‘Quite simply. he unites aspects of everything that the club is about perfectly. He came from a slightly later period of Hammond organ players that were signed to Blue Note. so rather than being influenced by bebop and blues. he was hugely influenced by funk. You can still hear those jazz sounds in there. but he has a very keen ear to whatever it is that makes a tune funky.’

Once this wrap party’s over. what does the future hold for

the BB engine room. Stuart Bennett and Bob Cairns? ‘A bit of time off at last. although we’ve absolutely no intentions of giving up DJing altogether.‘ he says. ‘l’m still involved in other clubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow probably one of the largest is the Funk Room at the Arches. And once we get our heads together after Big Beat. I’m sure we’ll be looking into other ways we can play ourselves or put bands on stage.’

And if you were ever to have thoughts of reviving Big Beat? ‘Only if we had the correct guest and if it felt right to us. and even then. only on a very occasional basis.’ he says. ‘After all. it’s particularly pointless to restart something once you’ve waved goodbye to it.’

Big Beat will be sadly missed. then. It’s the end of ;

an era and hopefully it’ll get the send-off it deserves.

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Fri 21 Nov

Hodge and the other members of


The latest club news

Derrick May

TECHNICAL DECK MASTER KID Koala is putting on an instore performance at Borders on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street on 14 November, before his headline show proper at Cottier’s Theatre. So expect a demo of three deck mixing (as opposed to a massive eight decks at the Cottier’s show) at its very finest from 5.30pm.


Year’s Eve clubbing are starting to trickle out. The Arches in Glasgow is gonna host an Inside Out party for all you hard house heads with Petre Foy, John Askew, Adam Sheridan and Richard Tulip joining the residents for a ‘Future Hero Masterclass’. Over in Edinburgh, Vegas will be doing its usual full scale Grand Hogmanay Ball at the Art College and Progression has secured the talents of John Carter and Kev Wright (with more the) down the Liquid Room.

BUT IF YOU FANCY GOING further afield, the Chemical Brothers are headlining Together New Year's Eve at Turnmills in London. For more info call 020 7250 3409. And Mr Scruff is hosting Keep it Unreal New Year's Eve Party at London's Kentish Town Forum. Check for tickets. WHILE WE ARE IN A FESTIVE mood Pressure and Colours are taking over the Arches for a Boxing Day showdown, and Derrick May and Steve Lawler are the only guest spinners announced so far. And Taste is going the whole hog with an Escape Xmas Party on Christmas Day at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh. SNOWBOMBING ALSO RETURNS this January for its fifth year of bringing beats to the piste at the French ski resort of Les Arc 1800. Running from 24—31 January 2004 acts like Mr Thing, Stanton Warriors. the Scratch Perverts and clubs such as Bugged Out! and Sugarbeat are joined by Glasgow's hip hop and funk night Hi Karate to stop you feeling home sick.

13—27 Nov 2003 THE LIST 77