of 'The Andy Russell Seven' used to play on Mondays, Tuesdays and
Wednesdays at the Imperial Hotel (now demolished) on Leith Walk
during the early-1960s. How we landed that gig was not planned and
is worth telling.
"I had been approached by drummer Dave
Ewart's aunt, who worked at Middlemass Biscuits. She asked if
we would play at their annual company get together which was to be
held at The Imperial Hotel. A group of employees from the
company branch in the north of England were also invited so I had
the idea to make them welcome by adding some traditional Scottish
flavour to our normal rock and roll musical fare."
"Dave arranged for a piper friend of
his, Martin (Teag) Hunter from Penicuik to appear in full dress of
kilt, hairy socks etc. and I asked our keyboard player, Alf
Smith, to bring his accordion along that night and we could also
offer the company a small selection of Scottish country dance music
or 'tcheuchter biscuit box music' as we called it."
"The big night arrived and we deposited
our piper in full regalia at the bar in the Imperial, telling him to
have a drink and I would call on him to play at the interval.
I guess that was my first mistake.
The band sounded great that night, the
English visitors were enjoying themselves, the refreshments were
flowing freely and everybody joined in singing and dancing to our
short Scottish dance interlude which preceded the interval."
"I nipped through to the bar to collect
Teag the piper who, by this time, was pretty well
refreshed, himself. I propelled him to the function room
entrance to let him loose on the crowd, pipes skirling, kilt and
plaid swinging, lookin' good baby.
The crowd loved him. The English
employees went wild and I began to have misgivings about who was
turned loose on whom as Teag marched up the room surrounded by a
great bunch of English girls hanging onto not only him, but also to
his plaid, his kilt and I swear I actually saw some anglo saxon
fingers checking to see if anything was worn under the kilt."
"The evening was a huge success.
Thee piper was eventually allowed to sit down and gladly joined in
with the 'refreshments', nae bother.
The accordion was pushed out of sight
and we got on with our normal programme of numbers by Little
Richard, Fats Domino and Ray Charles.
A very enthusiastic hotel manager
cornered me and offered a regular, three nights per week gig,
starting Monday. Who needs a band manager when you can make
mistakes like this?"
Staffordshire, England: March 13 2009