Spiegelmaestro David Bates’ AAA Edinburgh

Australian producer David Bates has owned The Famous Spiegeltent since the early noughties. He was born in Ararat (Australia) and grew up in country Victoria on a sheep farm. A musical director, composer and pianist, he plays various musical styles including jazz, cabaret and rock/pop, and in 1987, he played his first gig in The Famous Spiegeltent in Edinburgh with Madam And Her Orkestra –  a cabaret jazz band that featured legendary jazz singer Madam’ Pat Thompson. After a successful visit to Melbourne in 2001, David bought the tent from previous owners Scottish & Newcastle and set it up as a unique travelling venue. It’s been an iconic mainstay of the Edinburgh Fringe ever since.

AAA caught up with Spiegelmaestro David earlier this week to find out what he loves most about Edinburgh.

  • Most memorable Fringe event?

Performances in The Famous Spiegeltent are always memorable… Paul Kelly band with the whole audience crowd surfing in 1999. Leo Sayer’s concerts in 1997. Brian May on stage with David Strassman, Kylie Minogue being thrown out by a security guard who didn’t recognise her, Nick Cave being turned away in Brighton because the tent was at capacity, Madam Pat Thompson’s incredible concerts, Tim Minchin practising piano and writing songs in the tent for his first ever Edinburgh season… and, of course, Marlene Dietrich singing Falling In Love Again in 1933

  • Who would be your dream Fringe booking?

Tom Waits

  • Favourite old-fashioned boozer?

The King’s Wark in Leith.

  • Favourite style bar?

What is a style bar?… Armstrong’s?

  • Favourite restaurant?

Cafe Marlayne in Thistle Street Lane.

  • Do you love or loathe the Festival?

Love it… at least in St Andrew Square.

  • Favourite art gallery?

National Galleries of Scotland.

  • Favourite cinema?

The Filmhouse.

  • Favourite live music venue?

The Famous Spiegeltent.

  • Favourite walk in or around the city?

The Water Of Leith from Leith to Stockbridge.

  • Favourite shopping area?

The Car Boot Sale on Sundays in the Omni Centre carpark.

  • Favourite piece of architecture?

The “Ancient Greek” folly on Carlton Hill.

  • What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the city?


  • Favourite act at this year’s Fringe?

La Clique Encore.

  • Favourite Edinburgh-set novel?

Harry Potter series may as well have been set in Edinburgh.

  • Favourite Edinburgh band?


  • Favourite local hero?

Tommy Sheppard.

  • Sell Edinburgh to a tourist in no more than ten words…

Edinburgh – cold, dreich, windy, bleak, grey, miserable and totally magical!

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