13th October 2005 was my first experience of Glasgow’s Òran Mór. Myself and 2 friends went to see Tom Vek and luckily we caught the support artist Beerjacket. I don’t recall a stage at that point, but I do remember standing with my pals and our mouths were wide open for most of the gig. It was magical and still remains as one of my favourite shows of all time.
Òran Mór has seen births of artists, celebrations of established musicians, not to mention people getting married! I have seen special performances from the likes of RM Hubbert, Twilight Sad, Unwinding Hours, Over The Wall and Duke Special. I have also been lucky enough to have seen some of our label shows hosted by the unique venue.
Back when Podcart first started there was also The Mill which was a host of gigs, sponsored by Miller. Dozens of new artists played the regular event and it is where we discovered a lot of our favourites. I also recall seeing Sigur Rós’s film Inni screened in the auditorium which was very special and added a different dimension to the venue.
It is not just about the music though. Theatre and comedy have also flourished within the venue and continue to attract punters. A Play, A Pie & A Pint is probably one of the most famous. Running since around 2004, the championed lunchtime theatre show has seen playwrites from all corners showcase their work and is still running to this day.
This year the Òran Mór celebrates their 10 year anniversary this year and have already kicked off an impressive curated programme for the month of June. This all is rounded off this Sunday 29th with the West End Festival All Dayer.
There is a long running team in the background. One gentleman that is known well amongst my music circles, not only for his infectious smile and ability to consume large amounts of refreshments, but also for his passion for what he does is Jamie Webster. He is a music booker at the venue, but he certainly keeps his ear close to the ground when it comes to new artists and talent. I recently caught up for an interview with him.
Podcart: How long have you been working at Oran Mor and how have you progressed?
Jamie: I will have been working at Oran Mor for 9 years in August! I started in a different department and ended up being offered a Trainee Managers position in the Venue, mainly for the Nightclub. I quickly realised that no one was looking after the music bookings properly and grabbed a hold of that and started building better relationships with promoters/agents etc. Music has always been a big passion for me, so I was delighted to get a chance to be involved in live music.
P: What makes you proud of the Oran Mor?
JW: I am really proud of how the Venue’s reputation has grown over the years as when I started we were doing on average around 10 shows per month, we now average almost double that and we have strong relationships with DF Concerts, Regular Music, Synergy Concerts, Celtic Connections, Glasgow Comedy Festival and many other promoters/agents and artists alike.
P: What has been your best live show?
JW: It’s really hard to pick our best live show, but I’ll give you one that was really special to me personally. 21st Sept 2007 – Frightened Rabbit + Zoey van Goey + Ross Clark. I knew that it was a strong lineup and that Frightened Rabbit had a rapidly growing fan base and it would be a great show, but with modest advance sales I had expected maybe a little over 100 people to turn up. In the end we had around 250 people at the gig and the then 3-piece FR blew everyone in the room away – at that point I thought this band are going to be huge!
P: What artist has given you the ‘I cannot believe we booked them to play’ feeling?
JW: The one that stands out is more for my cohort Creon Brock, who over the past 6 years has really helped us move the Venue forward again. He is a massive Echo & The Bunnymen fan and we booked Ian McCulloch to play an intimate solo show in The Auditorium a few years back. Creon was concerned that with Ian’s reputation if he met him it might effect his enjoyment of the band, so I had to work the show! After the gig, Ian was on good form back stage so I brought Creon up to the dressing room where they had some banter and thankfully all was well. I believe his next trip to Glasgow with E&TB didn’t go quite so well!
P: What has been the toughest thing?
JW: In the beginning the toughest thing was managing my time as I was running the Nightclub (4 nights a week until 4am) and often receiving calls at 9/10am in the morning for people wanting info and to check dates for The Venue. I was quite stretched back then, thankfully as the Venue got busier with live event I was able to stand down for the Night Club and effectively start my own Live Music department, with Creon joining me a year or so into that. In this line of work we are always presented with problems and keeping a cool head and finding solutions is a big part of the job.
P: Do you find that people take liberties or don’t understand fully how difficult your role can be?
JW: I don’t know about that to be honest. I’m quite happy being out of the spot light, if people enjoy coming to see a live event here at Oran Mor – that makes me happy. If artists, engineers, promoters enjoy working at the venue – that makes me happy. Over the years we’ve had lots of great feedback from people over the years and that encourages me to keep going and try to discover new bands and develop more relationships.
P: How many West End Festival All Dayers have you curated now and what is the idea behind it – aside from being an all day festival show?
JW: This will be the 3rd All Dayer, although we did programme outdoor stages on Parade Day several times in the past as well. The All Dayer idea came as we were keen to try and create more of a ‘Festival’ feel to the building as a whole and show the whole building off a bit. We don’t get a chance to do much live music in The Auditorium (Upstairs) and it’s such a great room, this event is supposed to be a celebration of Scottish music, West End Festival and Oran Mor as a cultural hub. It’s probably the event that we most look forward to in the calendar.
P: How do you deal with the disappointment of people sometimes not attending a show as well as you had hoped?
JW: This is sadly part of being a promoter, thankfully as we have such strong relationships with promoters now, we don’t promote that many shows ourselves. I suppose you get better at dealing with the disappointment as you go on and also get better at budgeting shows! Agents often believe that their Artist is going to sell more tickets that they actually are, so it’s very important to do your homework and be prepared to negotiate!
P: Have you faced any obstacles with regard to promoting and booking shows?
JW: Yes certainly, negotiating the deal as I mentioned above. Finding the budget for advertising, making sure you have enough time to promote the show, making sure you don’t clash with another major music event and / or sporting event (World Cup, Champions League etc.). There are lots of variables in the process of booking and promoting, there’s certainly an element of learning as you go and learning from your mistakes.
P: If you could book anyone to play the Oran Mor who would it be and why?
JW: I am crazy about The Blue Nile at the moment and I see Paul Buchanan on Byres Road all the time, if we could have them play in The Auditorium I would die a very happy man indeed!
P: What have you got coming up in the future?
JW: Our programme is looking strong for the rest of the year already, stand outs being: The Antlers, Dry The River and David Ford and much much more, all listings are at oran-mor.co.uk
The West End Festival All Dayer takes place this Sunday. The line-up is absolutely beasting. Tickets are still available here: http://bit.ly/oranmoralldayer