For love or money? Edinburgh pianists pulls out of Jools Holland’s opening night 1


I expect pianist and composer Stuart Mitchell was looking forward to playing at the opening night of Jools Holland’s Jam House on Queen Street in Edinburgh.

However, he claims that he was offered an ‘insulting’ fee to perform and refused to ‘work for nuggets’.

It’s believed that the amount offered fell short of the Musicians’ Union minimum rate of £53 for a two-hour performance.

r Mitchell, who plays regular gigs at the Balmoral Hotel’s Palm Court Lounge and the new Rat Pack venue in Shandwick Place, added: “Quite frankly, I would rather stay at home than play for that amount. It doesn’t fill me with any great pride as a musician. And I can’t understand how they expect other musicians to actually work for that. It’s as if they assume Edinburgh musicians are so desperate that they’ll play there just because it’s associated with Jools Holland. That was the attitude they used with me. The money they were offering was well below the Musicians’ Union rate.”

Sure, the life of the professional musician is hard, and finances are important. Yet I can’t help wondering if the love of music has been lost somewhat in a squabble over pay.

I’d probably be honoured to be asked to play at Jools Holland’s club, particularly as a pianist – after all, Jools is a reasonably good pianist, isn’t he?

£53 for two hours work? I know it amounts to a lot more than that, but then again I’ve known musicians work for a lot less, as much for the prestige and the association as the money.

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Has Mitchell “made it” to such a degree that an association with ‘the hottest gig in town for live acts’ is not a draw in itself?

Would it have been better to accept the fee graciously, and then be able to look back and say “I played there on opening night”?

I’m not a professional musician, so it’s unfair for me to judge, but I would have thought many musicians would be falling over each other to play.

The club agrees, as it’s statement suggests:

A Jam House spokesman said: “Our staff has been inundated with CDs and biographies from musicians who want to play.”

Read the full article: Brassed-off jazz pianist says you can stick your Jam House


One thought on “For love or money? Edinburgh pianists pulls out of Jools Holland’s opening night

  • Stuart Mitchell

    Hi there,

    my final word on this;

    I respect what i do more than the ‘prestige’ of performing at any gig for next to nothing.

    And yes, I have performed at bigger and more established venues over 25 years than The Jam House, for a lot more respect than they had on offer. It was my ‘love of music’ that made my desicion for me in the end.

    Stu 😉

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