From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

MarrFest

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The Sentinel often featured local residents whose achievements were making a positive difference  so today the blog entry comes from Thomas Kane who contacted From There To Here about his friend and former band member Alex Marr. 

Members of AC Rid

I am organising a charity gig in aid of the British Heart Foundation in memory of my friend Alex Marr who sadly passed away in July last year.  Alex was a singer and songwriter from Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, and played several gigs and events with his band AC Rid. Alex was taken into hospital in June with a suspected heart attack, however the doctor’s found he had suffered a dissected aorta, a tear in the aortic artery. After heart surgery, Alex never regained consciousness and passed away in July at the Royal Infirmary at Little France in Edinburgh. He was only 34 years old.

AC Rid were formed in 1997 by Alex on lead vocals and guitar, Steve Atkins on guitar and Thomas Kane on bass and vocals. They were joined by a host of drummers in the following years, so many they could’ve rivalled Spinal Tap! However the core element of Alex, Steve and Thomas remained for several years.  They were more than just a band; they were best mates who hung out at weekends between practices and gigs. AC Rid played many gigs around Edinburgh, such as The Venue, Tap O’ Lauriston, The Cas Rock, and Alex even organised his own mini festivals, unashamedly entitled MarrFest.

MarrFest started locally in Wester Hailes, at The Greenway Centre. Alex would give many young musicians and bands a platform that they could showcase their music on, and the events were extremely popular. The thing was, Alex would always give people a chance, whether it was drummers, singers or even brass players in the area, he would give them all an opportunity to play at his events. As AC Rid grew to include singer Lisa Aird and a brass section including a young Phil Ramsay, MarrFest also grew, changing locations into the city centre at The Bongo Club. Still, Alex would sign up bands and musicians who were known to him, giving many new bands and musicians their first taste of a gig in the city centre. MarrFest continued to grow, reaching its height at The Liquid Room in 2003 and featuring a line up including Edinburgh stalwarts Bombskare and Phil’s new band, Big Hand.

AC Rid finally broke up in 2004, however Alex continued to play and write music under several other guises such as Big G, and the humorously named 12 Inches of Thunder. The three founding members of AC Rid remained good friends. Alex played his final gig which included guest appearances by Steve Atkins and Thomas Kane once again, as 12 Inches of Thunder at Whistle Binkies in December 2011. It wasn’t a spectacular gig, or incredibly busy, but it felt special for those three close friends to play together one last time.

Since Alex passed away, there has been a lot of discussion about putting on an event to celebrate Alex and his music. Then in February 2013, founding members Steve Atkins and Thomas Kane got together with AC Rid’s last drummer Lewis “Forbo” Forbes to have a practice. This session went better than ever expected, with Thomas even stepping up to lend his vocals to some of Alex’s songs. It wasn’t long until the words MarrFest were suggested once again.

MarrFest 2013 takes place on Saturday 1st June 2013 at The Bongo Club in Edinburgh. Tickets cost £5 and are available from all band members and at Tickets Scotland on 127 Rose Street. Doors open at 7pm, and it has a 10pm curfew. It is a charity event, where all money raised will go to the British Heart Foundation in Alex’s name. Playing at the event will be an acoustic performance from Lisa Aird, who is the lead singer with local act Bias Firey. Also playing is Black Riot Valves, who feature Dan Lowe on guitar and vocals. Alex gave Dan his first ever gig at one of the first MarrFests at The Greenway Centre. Headlining the event are Edinburgh favourites Victorian Trout Conspiracy, who feature one time AC Rid member and close friend Phil Ramsay on trumpet. However, before the main headline act, once again AC Rid will take to the stage, playing songs written by Alex Marr. The current AC Rid line up features all ex members of the band including founding members Thomas Kane on bass and vocals and Steve Atkins on Guitar. Also playing with AC Rid are Lewis “Forbo” Forbes on drums, Lynsey MacDonald on alto sax, Siobhan Hunter-Reynolds on trombone and guest slots with Lisa Aird on alto sax and vocals and Phil Ramsay on trumpet.

For more information please contact Thomas Kane at thomaskane22@hotmail.com

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One thought on “MarrFest

  1. Sounds like an amazing guy! Unsung hero.