A Modern Mixtape: Notes on Compiling The Bowery Bundle For Ten Tracks

This month brought the sad news that The Bowery, the atmospheric Edinburgh venue established by Ruth Moir and Jane Flett, will be closing (in its current form at least). Ten Tracks invited Ruth to compile a bundle of tracks as a swan song; here she reflects on the curatorial process.

Feature by Ruth Moir | 27 Nov 2009

Indulge me as I hark back a decade (and no, this is not another end of the noughties article), to when I lived in the back of beyond with my tape stereo. To when a compilation was a mixtape, a C90, an eternally frustrating/satisfying process of counting the seconds so that a song didn't get chopped in the middle. To the cramping of two heartfelt lines between the creases of the sleeve. To the fear and the palpitations about whether this would make the boy of my dreams a) fall in love with me, b) make a compilation back with as much effort and c) realise my incredible taste in music and declare me to be more than just the girl who sat next to him because their surnames started with the same letter!

Fast forward ten years, and I’m getting asked to curate ten tracks, to make a mix of artists that have played in my beloved venue. “Easy!” I cried, not stopping to think just what I had got myself into...

Suddenly, I was thrown back into the turmoil of 1999! I realised that the principles were exactly the same – though thankfully without the song chopping and the pause button. I still had to find the right balance between funny ditties and more serious choices, still each song had to portray what it was that I needed to say. The difference this time was that representation is not only the self, but of the venue Jane and I created out of love for music, art and good booze.

The first dilemma was what to leave out. Sure, the Diane Cluck and Samamidon performances that were special beyond belief, but for me they didn't belong on The Bowery compilation. I wanted the compilation to have an awareness of the first aims and ideals of the venue itself - to showcase any band that we believed in. Hence my selection of a track by Lach, the man who founded the sidewalk cafe and antifolk culture - without which The Bowery wouldn't have existed. Also represented are local bands such as Jesus H. Foxx, who have not only played some of their best gigs in The Bowery but have recorded, along with The Douglas Firs, in the space as well.

With The Bowery moving on from the space, the compilation brings together a sense of what we have been and what I aim to continue doing in other forms: bringing together musicians and artists who we believe in and creating a community of creativity wherever we may be.

Hear the Bowery bundle on Ten Tracks now.