Probably Edinburgh’s most entertaining musician of any genre, trombonist Dave Batchelor was booked in with his Quartet before they were set to jet off to Oslo Jazz Festival. Involved in a great number of jazz groups in Edinburgh, Dave is most recognisable from his Monday Big Band trombone solos or his swinging vocals with party band King Louis & the Primas, while often accompanying Ali Affleck’s swing bands, or alongside the Batchelors of Jazz and Scottish Swing Orchestra.


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While hunting down some of Dave’s music, I happened upon Fat Sam’s Band, a jump-jive swing band led by Hamish McGregor and formed in 1984, they were residents of the historic, supremely weird and wonderful Fat Sam’s diner, which simply cannot pass without a mention. If you didn’t experience Fat Sam’s diner yourself, I feel bad for you. Gone but certainly not forgotten, Fat Sam’s Chicago gangster-themed restaurant sported a piranha tank in the entrance with animatronic jazz playing puppets lining the walls, while Fat Sam’s (human) 9-piece band travelled around in a 28-foot long, 6-wheeled, 9-door limousine known as the ‘Boogie Bus’.

The ’80s were wild.

The bizarre setting was hilariously fun for kids, and my siblings and I visited frequently. On his 2nd birthday, my brother got on stage with the band, blowing his plastic toy saxophone and leading the band on a procession around the dining tables as they played. At the end of the day, he shoved open the double doors at the exit and declared “Now that’s what I call a party!” As difficult as it is to find details online of the diner itself, ask just about anyone in Edinburgh and they will have vivid and fond memories of the eccentric place.

Fat Sams – Edinburgh

Here’s a great video from before I was born (sorry) of Fat Sam’s Band performing live for BBC London in 1990, sporting piano-key ties and spats.


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