Today In Music, October 9th

Today’s a weird one. The almanac based blog is giving way to the babble. I know it’s unusual but it’s been a weird few days here in Elgin. The week had started with the intention of staging a rock and pop memorabilia exhibition  that I’ve been trying to put on here since April. All it needed was a venue, which I thought I had and some publicity which I lined up but then things started to fall apart.

So, I can now say once and for all there will be no rock and pop memorabilia exhibition at the Red Shoes Theatre in Elgin. I’m going to leave it at that as you really don’t want pages filled with the bile I might dump here. I also don’t see why I should even contemplate mentioning that place again as it will just give them publicity. Bearing in mind one of the owners effectively demanded I remove references to the water ingress problems, I really have no desire to be in the least bit positive towards them. 

It was made clear to me that they don’t “do negative”, so it will be intriguing to see how they react when I publish the e-mails that seemed to me to be full of fantasy and fabrication that they sent me. Anyway, enough! 

What am I left with? The exhibition is off but there’s still the blog. The Two Red Shoes Ballroom blog that is. It’s one of two I have up on local ballrooms. Its sister venue, less than 30 miles away is the Ballerina Ballroom in Nairn. Launched, very much by accident, in August it has been hugely successful. The Elgin one, however, seems to have been much slower to take off.

I’ve got the publicity for that sorted at last but here’s the oddest thing, I now have two opportunities. One is to expand the Two Red Shoes Ballroom and the Ballerina blogs into a book and the other is even stranger. As many of you will know, I’ve been a compulsive writer of lists for decades. What really surprises me is that I manage to forget what lists I’ve made over the years. The almanac listings include thousands of live gigs. That includes all the dates played at London’s Marquee Club. 

If people in a town of 6,800 residents will flock to a blog on their local ballroom – The Ballerina, just what will happen if I do the same with the Marquee? The main Rockmine web site even has Marquee flyers for sale – here.

With both the Marquee and the Ballerina, I have the advantage of the venues now being closed. I hung out at the Marquee on numerous occasions and one of my best friends was offered gigs there. It always had a good feel about it. The owners and addresses may have changed over the years but it held on to the magic. Wherever its physical presence was seemed like hallowed ground. Derek Dick even managed to get the beer pumps from the bar installed at home after the club closed.

I’ve put  gigs on, in seedy club/bar venues. I know what it’s like. The guys who do it are special. Part optimist, part bastard but they all have great stories to tell. I have to say that the promoter of both ballrooms in Nairn and Elgin, Albert Bonici, was the one exception. Maybe we just didn’t get on but I found him to be less than friendly. He expected me to be in awe because he promoted The Beatles on their first real tour but a few years later he was putting strippers out on the stage that The Fabs had trod. And as for stories, he had nothing. Maybe he just didn’t want to give anything away. How would I know, he’s been dead for years. Maybe that’s the case with everyone here!

Oddly, I had one minor success today. The Heritage Centre in Elgin MUST have the world’s laziest librarian/curator running it. Today, he actually came up with all that I could ever have wanted, adverts for the Two Red Shoes from 1960 to 1969, showing the dancehall, the restaurant and the resident band for each year. In 1960, a three-course meal there would cost 4/- and by 1967, inflation had taken that to a massive 5/-! He found plans for the conversion to a dancehall in 1956, although it had been a ballroom from the latter part of the previous century.

The photos showing the stage, as it was in 1963, show a tiny space that the resident sextet filled totally. It actually made The Cavern stage seem massive!

Okay, back to the original point, that I seem to have lost a bit along the way. I have complete listings for The Two Red Shoes, The Ballerina, The Marquee Club, The Apollo Theatre in Glasgow and the Fillmore auditoriums. What has worked with the Ballerina should easily work with The Marquee and Fillmores! I just have to assume that the Elgin venue is the anomaly.

So, tomorrow, I’m sending out a press release that links all of these venues. The idea is to expand the blogs and if I get good feedback I’ll work on a couple of “Books On Demand”. The main thing is that if the Ballerina blog has pulled in 1,600 visitors in two months, just how many will the Fillmore or Marquee blogs?

In the morning, I’m heading for Nairn to fill out the last years of that blog and then home to work on the house. I hate it when I waste time, there’s always a desire to try and salvage something. That’s where I went wrong here, desperate to prove that I could stage an exhibition here I totally mishandled things.

Finally though I feel I can wash my hands of this place and head back, out of “Narnia”, to reality. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.


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