May 1, 2014

This Is My Town: Inverness
by James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor,

This Is My Town: Inverness

Every month we chat to one of our lovely employees to get the lowdown on their local area. This month we spoke to Danielle, and she's bigging up her hometown of Inverness...

Hi Danielle, so I've arrived in Inverness and I'm starving, where’s the best place to get a drink and some food?

Well, if you want something to take away then there’s Harry Gow, it’s a local bakery and it’s really good, it’s all locally sourced ingredients that they use. If you want to go out somewhere to eat you can try Velocity Café. It’s a little place that opened up not long ago, they do really nice food in there, there’s a really friendly atmosphere and it’s all fresh food too, it’s lovely!

Where are the best music nights happening?

We have a place called Hootenanny, it’s a pub that doubles up as a venue and it’s across three floors. There’s music there every night of the week, so generally you have traditional Scottish music on the bottom floor where the pub is, on the middle floor they tend to have rock, rap, metal, that kind of stuff, and then at the top floor it’s acoustic gigs.

Are there a lot of live music venues there?

There are more popping up, but there are three main ones – you’ve got The Ironworks, Hootenanny and The Eagle.

Of all the venues in Inverness, which is the best?

The Ironworks is probably the main one in Inverness, that’s where the bigger name bands will usually play if they’re touring. There’s Eden Court as well where you have the ballet, opera, things like that, so that’s quite an interesting venue as well if you want something different. They do pantomimes too!

Really? It’s been ages since we’ve been to a panto…

Every Christmas! It’s the done thing!

Fair enough! So, if I want to go shopping for some new clothes, where should I head to?

In the Eastgate Centre where we’re based we’ve got all the mainstream places, but just a little further out in the city centre we’ve got a place called The Village, which has lots of little indie shops in there. There’s a shop in there called Vintage, which does…er, vintage stuff! But there are lots of others in there and it’s a bit different to your big shopping centres.

Does Inverness have any famous sons or daughters? Or any famous residents?

Karen Gillan from Doctor Who is from Inverness, also Tilda Swinton lives up here now. Oh, and the Loch Ness monster, of course! Also, Jimmy Page used to own a house on Loch Ness, but I don’t think he does anymore.

Isn't that the one that used to be owned by Aleister Crowley?

Yep, that’s the one. It’s called Boleskine House.

Do any of them come into the store? (apart from Nessie, obviously..)

Tilda came in a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t working that day though so I couldn’t tell you what she bought! I only found out when my colleagues all started tweeting about it and putting photographs on facebook!

Jimmy Page outside Boleskine, Inverness
Jimmy Page outside Boleskine, Inverness
A wrestler sticks the boot in at The Ironworks' 'Rock & Wrestle' night
A wrestler sticks the boot in at The Ironworks' 'Rock & Wrestle' night

Does Inverness have any good local radio shows?

Yeah, there’s a couple actually. We have one called MFR or Moray Firth Radio, on a Sunday night a lady called Marion Scott does a new music show which is really good, a mixture of local music and what’s going on outside Scotland. There’s also North Highland Radio, that’s run by two people up here. This is going to sound a bit strange, but there’s quite a big wrestling scene up here, so Stuart and Steve do a wrestling show! As well as that we’ve got a lot of online stuff covering new music - Inverness Gigs is an online magazine for local music, I also run a website called Where’s Your Passion doing a similar thing, as well as our store's blog, Highland Fidelity.

You put on free gigs in-store as well, don't you?

Yeah, on Thursday evenings, we call it The Old Grey Thistle Test.

Nice, we see what you've done there. Are there any Inverness bands or artists we should be looking out for?

There’s quite a few. Ian McLaughlan and The Outsiders is probably one of the top bands from around here, then there’s a guy called Dr. Wook. He’s like an acoustic singer-songwriter, vocally he sounds kind of similar to Eddie Vedder. He used to be the lead singer of a band called The Whiskeys but he’s doing solo stuff now and it’s such great music. There’s another young guy called Dylan Tierney, he’s also a singer-songwriter, I think he’s only about 16 but he’s incredible, he’s got an amazing voice. There’s also a band called Lionel that are pretty good. On a completely different style there’s Cryptic Keys, they’ve not been around for long but they’re creating a name for themselves already, and also The Rolling Damned, which is proper rock.

What’s Inverness’ best-kept secret?

Well, Inverness is the gateway to so many great places but there’s a little place called Dores Beach, it’s about a 5 minute drive from Inverness and it’s where Rockness is held. There’s a tiny little restaurant there called The Dores Inn, right near the beach, and it’s so pretty. Nobody seems to know it's there, but it’s a really nice place to go to. There are so many nice coastal places nearby, it’s really lovely.

If you could change one thing about Inverness, what would it be and why?

It’s not Inverness I’d change, but I’d like to change people’s perception of it. It’s highly underestimated think most people think of Inverness as this little place where there’s just Loch Ness and nothing else going for it, but there’s a really vibrant music scene here and there’s always so much going on. It’s a really nice place to live!

What’s the one thing I should do in Inverness before I leave?

Well, I’m going to contradict myself here, but if you’ve never been before then you do have to visit Loch Ness, there are majestic views and there’s a boat that goes out on it twice a day. They do booze cruises on it too!

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