Our regular Music Mile tour has great stories about the very early days of Belle and Sebastian but more and more people have been getting in touch asking if we could do bespoke tours focused on the band.
After scratching our heads for a bit, we came up with a flexible tour which takes in all of the major sites which are associated with the band or their songs.
We make no claims to be personal friends of B&S and the tours have no official links with the group but, over the years, various members of Glasgow Music City Tours have been in contact with B&S band people for assorted reasons.
As a result, we have some aural and visual archive material which is not available publicly but can be included in the tours. We think the tours are a unique way to see the parts of Glasgow which helped shape the band and which inspired their music.
The tours can be tailored to each group’s requirements. What they all have in common is that they offer an entertaining, informal and well-informed insight into the Belle and Sebastian world.
Earlier this summer, we ran the very first of these tours for Vlad and Mallory, a lovely couple who were visiting from the States. This is what happened:
We took our guests for a leisurely amble through the west end of Glasgow on a glorious, sunny afternoon – perfect ‘taps aff’ weather, as Mallory noted, showing off her speedily acquired knowledge of the local lingo.
First stop was Cava Studios. We respectfully worshipped outside this converted church where Belle & Sebastian recorded their debut album Tigermilk and played a launch gig on the day of release, 6th June 1996. That was twenty years ago today(ish)!
Part of the studio complex is now divided into flats and, conveniently demonstrating our thesis that everyone in Glasgow knows everyone else, a resident of our acquaintance was sunbathing on the steps and offered to show us the basement where Belle & Sebastian recorded the album. It is now a distinctly unglamorous parking garage. Thanks to Andrea for our unscheduled exclusive access!
Next, we strolled through Kelvingrove Park before taking in the university campus, where several members of Belle & Sebastian studied. Then it was time for drinks in Vodka Wodka, the former site of the Grosvenor Café where many B&S members were once recruited, plans hatched and veggie burgers consumed.
The Botanic Gardens were teeming with life as we recalled a similarly sunny day in 2004 when the band hosted School’s Out with Belle & Sebastian & Friends, a free all-day festival as part of the West End Festival that year.
Our guests were keen to make a pilgrimage to the church hall where Stuart Murdoch lived in the late 90s and several B&S albums were rehearsed and recorded, so we finished their tour with a walk through leafy Dowanhill to this key B&S site, before guiding them to one of the band’s favourite hostelries for a post-tour refreshment.
This tour centred on the West End but, of course, there are places of interest in the city centre and these can be included in other tours.
If you are interested in a bespoke Belle and Sebastian tour, contact us and let’s discuss what we can do for you: firstname.lastname@example.org