Lizzard Lounge back for Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2010
Fred Wesley and Rumba Caliente Afro Latin Soul Orchestra head up club's return
Toby Shippey, the founder of the Lizzard Lounge club night and later Scots fusion group Salsa Celtica, is waxing nostalgic about the good old days. ‘We used to bring bands over from Cuba and New York,’ he tells, ‘and they would say: “This is the best club, nowhere else in Britain has anything like this.”’ Which might all just sound like he’s playing up his part to anyone who wasn’t actually there, but Edinburgh clubbers of a certain age still speak in hushed tones of Café Graffiti’s Lizzard Lounge and what the venue at the bottom of Broughton Street meant to the booming scene of the day.
Then, the jazz, funk and Latin sounds of local DJs and musicians like Niki King, Finley Quaye and LL resident Jo Malik ruled the city. ‘I studied in Glasgow,’ says Shippey, ‘and then lived in Brighton, but nowhere I’d been measured up to Edinburgh in the late 90s [Lizzard Lounge ran from 1996 to the Café’s closure in 1999]. Tell anyone who goes out now and they won’t believe that Edinburgh was better than Glasgow for clubbing, but it was. We had Café Graffiti, The Venue, La Belle Angele and the old Bongo Club, and all these places are gone now.’
Although Shippey believes the night was of its time, and has resisted calls to revive it over the last decade, the opportunity to celebrate Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival’s anniversary with a one-off show featuring James Brown’s trombonist Fred Wesley, the Rumba Caliente Afro Latin Soul Orchestra, rapper Ty and Malik was too tempting to resist. ‘Funk seems to be a dirty word at the moment,’ he says, ‘but these things go in cycles, and I guarantee you it’ll be on its way back.’
Picture House, Edinburgh, Fri 30 Jul.