In honour of Independent Venue Week (25-31 Jan) we asked one of Edinburgh’s most loved independent live music locations Sneaky Pete’s to share some fond memories and fun facts about the popular venue.
Now in its eighth year as music venue – and despite its tiny size – Sneaky Pete’s is an independent club with a national and international reputation. At just 100 capacity it’s as intimate as a ‘proper’ music venue can be, with barely any space between performers and audience.
Here owner and manager Nick Stewart shares ten titbits you’ve probably never heard about Sneaky Pete’s before.
1. The venue pulls in some surprisingly big name DJ acts
Don't know If I'll ever forgive myself for missing Just Blaze at Sneaky Pete's, regret of the year for sure.
— Chuck Jaco (@IMCHUCKJACO) December 18, 2014
“The DJs who are ‘too big’ to play the club are the ones who come back most often. Old friends like highly-sought-after techno don Daniel Avery come round a couple of times a year, Just Blaze (producer for Jay Z, Drake, Kayne West) plays a February Monday annually and Erol Alkan usually drops in around Halloween.”
2. Sneaky Pete’s owner and manager Nick Stewart used to be the cleaner at Cabaret Voltaire
“I suppose I’ve learned every part of the job. Started at the bottom, now I’m here. I bought the lease for the club when I was just 27 with my Dad’s bank loan ‘for a kitchen extension’ and paid it off in five years. I still work behind the bar too.”
3. The list of bands that went on to be big after playing Sneaks is pretty long
“It includes Mumford & Sons, Ben Howard, Two Door Cinema Club and of course loads of shows from breakthrough Edinburgh acts like Honeyblood and Young Fathers. Fun fact – I bet £50 on Young Fathers to win the Mercury Prize, which won me £850 at the bookies.”
4. In 2010 Sneaky Pete’s sold 80,000-100,000 Jagerbombs
“If you stacked them they would be 4 kilometres high, half the height of Mount Everest.”
5. The club is so small that when the Boiler Room set up all of their tech there was only room for 30 people to watch the show
“See for yourself:
6. Sneaky Pete was not a guy
“A ‘Sneaky Pete’ is a name for a bottle of liquor in a brown paper bag. Under American stop and search law you couldn’t search someone’s bag without a warrant and amazingly that includes a brown paper one with a bottle neck sticking out of the top.”
7. The name of the club came from an original business in the same location during the 1970s
“Previous incarnations include The Nips O’ Brandy and Abbar, which was a hot combination of ABBA and A Bar.”
8. Sneaky Pete WAS a guy
“The club’s original owner Jimmy Dickson didn’t know the ‘brown paper bag’ fact and just named it after his naughty pal Peter Lomax who had a catchy nickname. See also Sneaky Pete Kleinow, guitarist for Gram Parson’s Flying Burrito Brothers.”
9. It’s not an underground club
“I don’t have weird taste, I just like good music, so I listen with the same kind of ears as the customers. Nothing puts me off more than a DJ trying to educate a dancefloor. It’s easy to be credible and still give people a good time, I don’t see any conflict there at all”.
10. The venue has been in talks with Edinburgh Licensing Board and Forum to amend the ‘inaudibility cause’ that has inhibited the Edinburgh music scene for years
“Glasgow’s scene has continued to thrive without the same legal hurdles. The amendment could bring a new lease of life to the music scene in Edinburgh. Watch this space.”
Visit Sneaky Pete’s: 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW
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Main image: Sneaky Pete’s