West 13th is the newly launched music venue in Glasgow, tucked away in the city's student mecca, the West End, and it carries on the traditions of the near-legendary 13th Note venues of the city centre. The 13th Note has been a major part of the Glasgow music scene in the last decade, and many people were sad to hear of the financial problems and ultimately the liquidation of the company, but are encouraged by the determined spirit of those involved who have now established West 13th.
The 13th Note was originally founded ten years ago, and soon established itself as a key venue for up and coming bands. The owner and promoter, Craig Tannock, was of the opinion that the bands and the music should come first, and happily, his attitude still holds for the new venture. 'The initial drive was to have a space to do gigs the way we wanted to do gigs, with everything being a positive experience for the bands' Tannock explains, and insists his new venture will stand or fall by the same ideals. The Delgados, Urusei Yatsura and bis were some of the names to benefit from the 13th Note's basement shows in the early days, and by 1997 it had outgrown its original home and two new venues were acquired. The 13th Note Cafe and the Club were five minutes apart in Glasgow city centre, but offered two different environments for gigs and club nights. Touring bands calling in from the United States or Europe were generally put on at the larger-capacity Club - and the 13th Note prided itself on bringing quality underground music to Glasgow first. The cafe offered a more intimate gig space, as well as the finest vegetarian menu in Scotland (and it had the awards to prove it). But, without any obvious warning, the 13th Note Ltd. went into liquidation in late 2001. The ins and outs aren't clear, but the liquidators blamed unresolved debts and a long-running, messy situation.
Things are becoming a little clearer regarding their future. The 13th Note Club has been purchased by Channelfly, with Glasgow joining Cardiff and Sheffield as provincial extensions of Camden's Barfly Club. Tannock has said that the ideals behind The Barfly and his own vision of a music venue may differ, but worry is tempered by a general feeling of relief that it's been bought with a view towards live music. There is not yet a buyer for the cafe/bar, which is still open for trading, but it's only a matter of time before the liquidators sort that one out. Everyone just prays it won't become yet another pointless Australian theme pub.
Tannock and various others involved in the 13th Note (including the Help13 charity fund set up to try and write off its debt) have headed out west, and are determined not to be beaten. 'The response we've had has really given us strength' Tannock explains, more than grateful that people value what he's trying to do, and delighted that people share the same ideas. 'Having that community of people really means we have no choice but to move forward'.
Before the official opening, on May 27th, a whole host of local bands played a series of shows at West 13,including Life Without Buildings, Eska, Eva, Project A-KO (AKA Fergus ex-Urusei), Macrocosmica and El Hombre Trajeado. All share a strong affinity for the 13th Note and its varied and forward looking approach. It promises two gigs a week, two bands on each bill, and the return of some of the 13th Note's much-loved club nights. Admission is free of charge, and it's doubtful there are many places in Britain where you can enjoy such good live music for free.
It's wrong to see West 13th as the "13th Note mark two", as it's an entirely different environment and it's fair to say that it doesn't best suit their needs. But it's an exciting restart, it's a poitive step, and Glasgow's music scene gives thanks that the spirit remains.
For more information, visit: http://www.help13.co.uk
as told to Laurie Parker by Craig Scott
images designed by Caireen Harrison, Heavier Graphic