Jamie Sutherland – 'You share the same hopes and dreams and ideals, and that creates a strength of community'

Jamie Sutherland – 'You share the same hopes and dreams and ideals, and that creates a strength of community'

Broken Records / credit: Solen Collet

As the Southern Exposure music festival prepares to storm Summerhall, David Pollock finds the excitement tempered by recent tragic events

Anyone who has been to a concert in the Nothing Ever Happens Here strand at Summerhall knows that it's a most unusual venue. Housed in Edinburgh University's former Royal Dick veterinary school, it's a warren of First World War-era corridors, laboratories and lecture chambers, with the old 'Dissection Room' having very effectively been turned into a mid-size gig space.

'Unfortunately the building's limitations mean that our biggest venue has a 450 capacity,' says Jamie Sutherland, the venue's music programmer. 'So I've been looking at ways to try and get a bigger venue in there.' For the past two years Summerhall has hosted an outdoor stage in their central courtyard for tie-in events with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, at which artists including Badly Drawn Boy have played. This set-up was partly what told Sutherland and venue manager Sam Gough that the Southern Exposure festival would be possible.

Over ten days, the venue will host this new outdoor music festival, which gathers together various strands of what they do. Alongside individual shows from Portico Quartet, the Rezillos and a Skids / Big Country double bill, the EIFF returns with a screening of DA Pennebaker's 1968 concert film Monterey Pop (expect to see Jimi Hendrix set his guitar alight on the big screen). Summerhall's regular Courtyard Ceilidh and beer 'Festivale' are also part of the programme.

In celebration of the National Museum of Scotland's Rip it Up exhibition, there will also be two special tie-in events: Idlewild will perform their own show on the exhibition's opening night, while the Rip it Up one-dayer is what Sutherland calls a 'festival within a festival'.

'A lot of what the National Museum is doing is embedded in the older, more established artists such as Garbage,' he says. 'A lot of what we do year-round is embedded in trying to support local artists, and we wanted to reflect that, to give them a chance to be a part of the conversation.'

Jamie Sutherland – 'You share the same hopes and dreams and ideals, and that creates a strength of community'

credit: Jannica Honey

Appearing on the bill at the Rip it Up festival are Stanley Odd (above), Emma Pollock, Babe, Withered Hand, Modern Studies and Be Charlotte, a lineup which solidly represents Scottish music in 2018. 'I'm very pleased to be on such a lineup of Scottish artists,' says Charlotte Brimner aka Be Charlotte. 'I choose to sing in my own accent and let people hear my stories in my own voice, and I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. It was Paolo Nutini who inspired me to do it that way, and to pick up a guitar and start writing my own music.'

Yet at this moment, it's fair to say that any mood of celebration feels decidedly tempered. Sutherland tells us that the as-yet-unannounced special guests for Rip it Up were to have been Frightened Rabbit and, speaking only a few days after Scott Hutchison's death, he's unsure what might be done at the festival to pay tribute.

As lead singer of Broken Records (who are also playing), Sutherland points out that 'the last few very sad days have shown us the sense of community in Scotland. My wife said she hadn't realised how ingrained in a community we all are until she saw the response. You get used to bumping into each other around the place for years, and then it leaves a huge hole when someone goes. Through familiarity you find a deeper thing goes on between people than just working with each other; you share the same hopes and dreams and ideals, and that creates a strength of community. That's something to be proud of.'

Southern Exposure, Summerhall, Edinburgh, Fri 15–Sun 24 Jun, includes the Rip it Up festival, Sat 23 Jun.

Rip It Up Festival

A celebration of Scottish rock and pop from the 50s to the present day. Performers include Stanley Odd, Emma Pollock, Withered Hand, Babe, Modern Studies, and Be Charlotte.

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