Spotlight On: Dave Ryan – GM of The Jam House
ounded by designer Neil Tibbatt and musician Jools Holland 8 years ago, Edinburgh’s Jam House prides itself on being a venue where the over 25s can head to for high quality food, live music and a dancing environment. We caught up with General manager Dave Ryan to find out exactly what we can expect from The Jam House over the next year and the status of live music in Edinburgh.
Can you start off by briefly explaining The Jam House?
There are lots of lovely restaurants around that do really nice food, there are lots of places that do live music and there are lots of places that are open until 3 o’clock in the morning but there are not many that combine all three together in a quality establishment – so that’s what the Jam House initially set out to be.
What’s your background in the music industry?
I was a DJ for a number of years, at a local pub and then in a nightclub when I was at university. After I graduated I took a year out to DJ full time which extended to four of five years. I moved into the management side of the club and decided it was a lot more fun, so stuck with that. I worked all across the country before eventually working for Luminar as the area manager for the east coast of Scotland, managing about 15 clubs. I left that and bought my own nightclub which I ran for 5 or 6 years. I actually had 3 or 4 clubs at the same time but then sold them about a month before the recession kicked in – which was perfect timing. Eventually I returned to Luminar as a general manager at a venue in Edinburgh called Cav and worked there until I came here.
Having seen a lot of the UK how healthy would you say the Edinburgh music scene is?
I don’t think it’s as healthy as it could be. There’s a lot of places that do live music, but they all hold 20 or 30 people. The band bring their 20-30 fans along with them or their groupies or their pals or their mates, brothers and sisters and I don’t see a massive following of people wanting to see live music.
Do you think people like knowing what they’re going to get in this city?
Absolutely, there’s a comfort factor to it. People have phoned up to book into the restaurant tonight for a meal and they’ve asked if our resident band The Flavours are playing and we’ve said ‘No’ and they’ve said ‘Oh, okay can we book in tomorrow night’. I don’t know if it’s habit because you also get people phoning up to ask ‘Who’s playing?’, ‘Oh right no I saw them last week’ so it’s a double edged sword really.
I think there’s a number of factors, it does good food, the bands are high quality and it attracts the right age groups – with that you get no trouble. In the time I’ve been here I don’t remember a fight that we’ve had to deal with so the door is very tight and there’s a dress code that we stick to. The best way to describe it is as the biggest post-wedding party you’ve ever been to. It’s a bit cheesy, 20-25 year olds mix with 50-55 year olds but they’re all mixing on the dancefloor and having fun.
How would you personally encourage people to embrace the Edinburgh music scene and get involved?
We need more people to get involved to make it accessible. Also, some of the bands need to wake up a bit and realise they need to build a following before they’re actually worth a fee. We get a dozen emails every week from bands that want to play here that none of us have heard of but want £500 to play – that doesn’t add up at all. They should be saying ‘you cover our expenses for the night and if we bring a following, next time pay us £250 quid’.
How could the Edinburgh music scene be improved?
What would be nice would be to have a music festival. Bands from all over could come and play without charging, and if most of the pubs and venues in town get involved then everyone gains from it. The bands would get noticed and the venues could get a lift out of it too. Edinburgh has a fantastic month of August when it has its festival, why not have another fortnight or a week where the focus is music?