The Beltanes

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The Beltanes
Origin Glasgow, Scotland
Genres Rock
Years active 1987–1992

The Beltanes were a Glasgow, Scotland-based band, active from around 1987 to 1992. They were regular performers on the Glasgow live music scene, but also travelling and playing in various locations in Scotland, from Greenock to Aberdeen. They wrote all of their own material, adding some classic covers for their live performances. They also made a number of studio recordings, and a promotional video.

Recordings[edit]

The two significant recording sessions were held at CaVa Studios in Glasgow and The Warehouse in Coatbridge. The Warehouse recordings were produced by Ted Blakeway, who now runs The Foundry Music Lab with Graeme Duffin (Guitarist with Wet Wet Wet) and Sandy Jones. Seven songs in total were recorded, but as the band were never signed to a record label the songs were never released. However, some of the tracks were given airplay on Glasgow-based radio stations. The promotional video, made by film students known to the band, was shot in numerous locations in and around Glasgow including the Winter Gardens at The People's Palace.

Record label interest and competitions[edit]

The four songs from The Warehouse session were used to attract record label interest, which included discussions with Alan McGee at Creation Records, and were also used as the band's entry into a competition for unsigned bands run by Evening Times, where the prize on offer was a management deal with London based Artist Connection. The band won the competition[1][2] but the proposed management deal was refused by the band following protracted negotiations. Attempts to attach punitive contract terms similar to those eventually overturned against Silvertone Records and Zomba Music by The Stone Roses[3] with the support of Geffen Records, left the band unwilling to sign.

Live performances[edit]

The Beltanes live performances notably included headlining several times at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, and also supporting Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie at Glasgow's Barrowland Ballroom and Ayr Pavilion during their 1991 'Hammer and Tongs' tour, shortly before the departure of Shirley Manson to front Garbage.

The band, although unsigned, bucked the trend of billing at Glasgow's premier club venue, King Tut's,[4] by headlining in King Tut's first ever music and comedy combo, airing for the first time some of Glasgow's leading comedy talent from Glasgow's Blackfriars Comic Club[5] as support. In addition, this groundbreaking formula took place in the same week as another unsigned band were lucky enough to be picked up. That band, Oasis, were required by King Tut's Management to share billing, unlike the Beltanes, indicating the esteem in which the venue held them.

The comedy connection continued with other successful collaborations, notably at Glasgow University Union [6] with the band supporting a Glasgow Comic Club gig in return, featuring comic talents such as Fred MacAulay, Greg Hemphill, John Paul Leach[7] and John Gillick[8] in addition to another band featuring Carol Smillie on vocals.

Breaking in other new Glasgow venues, including Glasgow's Nice'n'Sleazy,[9] the band continued their musical development, narrowly escaping arrest along with their regular crew from Hyper PA[10] when Strathclyde Police swept in to raid an impromptu rave in the disused printworks in Glasgow's Herbert Street. Organised largely by unknown street associates of the then Editor of M8 Magazine, the source of the police tip off was never discovered and the band escaped in a hire van as the police swept in and cordoned off the building.[11]

Influences[edit]

The Beltanes music drew on many influences, from the classic Blues of artists like Robert Johnson, through Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Cream, to the Manchester music scene also known as Madchester from which bands such as The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays emerged.

Press coverage[edit]

In addition to the press coverage in The Evening Times generated by the competition win, the band received press coverage notably in M8 Magazine, who referred to them as 'an icon for the 90's'.[12]

Band members[edit]

Two of the band members, Marc (drums) and Mark (guitars, vocals, flute), had originally been brought together musically whilst at school, where one of their early projects was performing in a band with other local bands to raise significant charity funds for the Live Aid appeal,[13] under the name of "She Said".

As their music matured and developed, they were joined by Mark's brother Paul (guitars, vocals), along with friends Michael (guitars, accordion) and Ian (bass guitar), to form the original line-up as The Beltanes. Ian left in 1991 and was replaced by Nigel.

The band never officially split up, but they have not played together since 1992. Marc is now a business consultant, Mark is now studying to be a lawyer, Paul is now a doctor, Michael is now a teacher, Ian is now a clinical research associate, and Nigel is now a lecturer. All of them still live in Glasgow with the exception of Ian, who lives in West Lothian and Nigel, who lives in New Zealand.

Their contribution to Glasgow's rich musical culture of the time is not to be underestimated, developing and popularising many talents and music venues which continue to make a valuable contribution today.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Beltanes take the prize", Evening Times, 25 October 1991, p25
  2. ^ "Baptism of Fire", The Extra, 24 October 1991, p11
  3. ^ Zomba Music v Mountfield & Ors [1993] EMLR 152
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ Glasgow University, Freshers Week, GUU - Sept 1991
  7. ^ "David Battie F.R.S.A. at". Thespeakersagency.com. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  8. ^ [3][dead link]
  9. ^ "Nice'N'Sleazy". Nicensleazy.com. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  10. ^ "Hyper P.A. Hire". Hyperpa.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  11. ^ M8 Magazine, Sept 1990
  12. ^ M8 Magazine, July 1990 Music Scotland Ltd Paisley
  13. ^ "Eastwoods bands' own Aid for Africa shows",The Mercury, 24 January 1986, p7
  14. ^ Including band members contributions to uilleann piping in Scotland, e.g. at Tional 2000, Glasgow Piping Centre, McPhater Street, Glasgow