I’ve been asked about jazz venues in Glasgow. Unfortunately, the city lacks a good permanent small venue along the lines of The Lot or The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh. But here’s my list of the smaller places which put on jazz on a fairly regular basis. I’ve split the list into concert-type venues where people are solely there to listen to the music, and bar-type venues where the crowd is a mixture of listeners and drinkers/eaters. If you can think of anywhere I’ve missed, or disagree with any of my assessments, feel free to comment.
The main small venue for jazz concerts in Glasgow is the Recital Room at the City Halls. It’s used a lot for classical concerts, and has an excellent grand piano. However, there’s no piano hoist, so you have to choose between the piano and a raised stage. It has what its web site describes as “a highly resonant acoustic” – great for quiet acoustic music, but at higher volume there’s a tendency for the drums and horns to drown out the piano. You now seem to be able to get a carpet put down for your performance, which I think improves the sound. Seats 120 theatre style, or 96 in a cabaret layout. Fairly formal atmosphere. There’s a bar across the landing but not in the room itself.
Previously, a lot of gigs were held in the Victorian Bar at the Tron Theatre. It’s slightly smaller: at a guess it can hold about 60 in comfort, and 90 or so if you’re prepared to cram people in. There’s a piano, although it’s not in the same class as the Recital Rooms one. You can either have a bar in the room itself, or use the main theatre bar just outside. Nice atmosphere when it’s not too busy. The main theatre at the Tron is one of my favourite venues for jazz, folk and other semi-acoustic music, but a). it’s bigger than the other places being discussed here (about 230) and b). it’s only available for gigs when there isn’t a play on.
The Ferry. Floating venue on the Clyde. As the name suggests, it’s a converted ferry. Doesn’t put on much jazz, but recently presented a very successful gig by the Ryan Quigley Big Band. Seems to seat about 120 people for concerts, with additional room upstairs.
Ramshorn Theatre. Converted church run by Strathclyde University. Has a small theatre, and can also put on events in the foyer/bar area. Used quite a bit during the Glasgow Jazz Festival, but not so much during the rest of the year. Gilad Atzmon and Zoe Rahman have played here in recent years. Theatre holds 80, foyer up to 120 depending on layout.
Pubs with jazz
Several pubs and bars put on regular jazz. Mono on the edge of the Merchant City has a Wednesday night residency by a Euan Stevenson group (often with guests). These have the band playing on a stage at one end of the room while normal eating and drinking goes on elsewhere. On occasion they do put on more formal concerts where you pay for admission. (The concerts I’m aware of have been indie rock rather than jazz, though). There’s also a record shop, Monorail, attached, which is the best if not only place in town to buy avant-jazz and improv CDs: if you’re looking for John Zorn or Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra product, this is where you’re most likely to find it.
Its sister bar, The 78 in Kelvinhaugh Street in the West End, has much the same set-up. Euan Burton, Stu Brown and Tom Gibbs have a Sunday night residency there.
A third member of this group, Stereo in Renfield Lane in the city centre, has a ground level cafe bar with a basement venue below it. It mainly puts on alternative/indie rock, but does occasionally put on one of the more rock-influenced jazz groups. Get the Blessing and Led Bib have played there. All three of these places do decent vegan food (if that’s not a contradiction in terms). http://www.stereocafebar.com
Brel. Belgian-themed bar in the West End. Puts on regular jazz gigs on Saturday afternoons. Stocks a large selection of weird and wonderful Belgian beers. Belgian-style food.
West Brewery. Puts on jazz most Sunday afternoons, and occasionally has music at other times. Large beer hall style venue on Glasgow Green which brews its own pretty authentic Bavarian-style beers. German-style food. Spectacular building, though maybe not the most accessible of locations. http://www.westbeer.com/
Laurie’s Acoustic Music Bar. Regular live music. Predominantly folk, but puts on Dixieland on Saturday afternoons, and occasionally other jazzy stuff.