I Remember: When Sam Fender played a pub gig at Glasgow’s festival of music discovery

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Sam Fender has gone from a pub gig at Tenement Trail in 2014 to headlining at TRNSMT in 2023.

Tenement Trail is Glasgow’s festival for music discovery, a day of performance that brings together audiences ready to be introduced to their new favourite band.

Founder Chae Houston explains that the festival grew from Tenement TV, an online platform that began broadcasting live sessions, primarily from the front room of his flat. “We launched to champion music in Scotland. We started the festival with a much smaller footprint, the idea was you could make your way down Sauchiehall Street and watch bands play. Kassidy were one of the first bigger bands we had, when they were playing things like South by Southwest. Since then we have started to attract a lot of touring bands. It’s become one day to go see lots of bands to get excited about.”

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Chae says Tenement Trail presents the opportunity for local musicians to step up to a bigger stage. “We have venues like Saint Luke’s where Glasgow bands can have their first play and win over new people. That also brings bands from elsewhere that want their first gig in Glasgow when they are starting to generate a bit of a buzz. There is a big crowd that just loves to hear new music, it’s a stepping-stone towards headline shows and can lead on to other festivals in Scotland.”

“Glasgow is where bands arrive to get noticed in Scotland and we’d like to think we’ve been part of that story for the last ten years.”

Lewis Capaldi played an early gig as part of Tenement Trail. “We knew at the time that he was an amazing talent, but when you pay him £50 to play the bar in the Art School, you don’t know he’s own his way to global success” Chae says.

Sam Fender will return to Glasgow to headline the Saturday at TRNSMT Festival this year, following on from a storming set on the main stage at Glasgow Green last year as the talented songwriter from North Shields’ music career went into overdrive.

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In 2014, Sam was just another 20-year-old singer with an acoustic guitar, on the lower deck of the bill for Tenement Trail that year.

Tenement Trail

Chae remembers: “That’s him just on Sauchiehall Street pointing to his name. At that time he was a really hard worker, he would grab his guitar and he’d be up and down the country playing shows.

“You could tell he was going to go on to do good things.

“He first came up to Glasgow for Tenement Trail in 2014 and we put him on in Flat 0/1 on Bath Street. Then when he came back in 2017 it was downstairs in Nice N Sleazy.

“The place was packed out for that show, you could see the difference from that previous set, I remember it being a really buzzy show to be at. It felt like something was happening by then.”

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Musical acts continue to arrive in Glasgow to build their reputation.

Chae is the booker for acts at Saint Luke’s in the East End: “We see bands that think of playing here as a kicking off point, then by the time they come back they may be able to fill Barrowland or some go onto arena level. We saw that with Yungblood who also played Tenement Trail.”

“We’ve also had Damon Albarn on that stage and The Libertines, so it’s bands at all kinds of different stages of their career. It’s a special venue, bands love to play it and folk love to come and watch gigs here.”

Watch more of our conversation with Chae above or click HERE.

Tenement Trail 2023 is on Saturday 7 October.

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