Graeme Nairn TRS


One of the full sized painting Graeme Nairn painted for The Park Café, located by Little Cross square in Elgin, Scotland. The café featured home made ice cream, fresh ground coffee and meals. It was popular with local youth who would visit friends and listen to the juke box hits. Many of the bands who performed at the Two Red Shoes or Elgin Town Hall also visited the restaurant decorated with many of Nairn’s compositions. The painting now hangs at popular music shop “Sound and Vision” on South Street.

Two Red Shoes flyers

Two Red Shoes flyers with Graeme Nairn Band


This large mural-sized painting composed in the late ’60s by former guitarist, arranger, and band leader at Elgin’s Two Red Shoes [circa 1965-73] Graeme Nairn. The two works along with others, originally hung at The Park Café on S. College Street. It can now be viewed at Sound And Vision on South Street, Elgin, Scotland

TRS houseband with vocalist Alyson Armstrong and band leader Alex. Sutherland. Graeme Nairn in back row [circa 1965]

TRS house-band: third from left is Jimmy Martin who became band leader when Alex. Sutherland left to work as music director for Grampian Television [STV]. Next to Jimmy is Davy Matheson [drummer], Bobby Henderson, George Inch, Billy Henderson, Graeme Nairn [back row], and Colin Henderson?. Far right is vocalist Alyson Armstrong with Alex. Sutherland [circa 1965]

negative for Two Red Shoes advert collaged by G Nairn [1968]. Graeme took the helm of the band after Jimmy left post as band leader.

John Ruggeri, Kate Stewart, Graeme Nairn, David Dills

Left to Right: John Ruggeri, Kate Stewart, Graeme Nairn, David Dills: John joined LCB Agency [entertainment enterprises] run by his uncle Albert Bonici; Kate Stewart was last in a succession of female singers who would perform the Two Red Shoes “house bands”; Graeme Nairn also sang leads and directed TRS last house band; David Dills [AKA “scotbeat”] has been gathering history of Moray’s music scene of the 1960s.

Graeme Nairn recollects singing popular music at a YMCA hop in his hometown of Montross Scotland in 1956. He was one of five teenagers performing with acoustic guitars and tambourines,  as they were showcased with a revolving spot light covering tunes like  Be-Bop-A-Lula” the rockabilly song first recorded by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps.

He later played guitar for a group called Tony Vincent and the Giants “around  1961 and ’62. [Tony wasn’t much taller than 5′ compared to Graeme and other band members who were over 6′]. Besides learning to play the clarinet, guitar, and other instruments, Graeme was drawing and painting at an early age. After getting approved to attend art college, went on to get a degree in graphic art after six years of college.

During art school  in Dundee [Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design 1959-65] Graeme became part of a modern jazz band with Malcolm Duncan and Roger Ball [who later came to fame with The Average White Band]. ” I was was beginning to hear mainstream jazz and was fan of Wes Montomery whom I revered as the best jazz guitarist.” He loved playing modern jazz with his college mates who did a lot of college gigs and at the local jazz club. [During this time, he played guitar for Alex Sutherland as well].

Graeme: “Molly, who is a couple of years my junior, knew me at Montrose Academy in the late fifties. I was probably finishing my first year at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee, when we ‘cemented’, as it were, our friendship as he met me at Montrose station and asked if I would teach him the clarinet!!  I, despite the fact that I only just learned a couple of ‘Trad Jazz” standards, agreed to take him on. Well after that we gradually broadened our scope and bravely attempted to venture into the modern jazz arena, full of confidence, if somewhat empty in respect of ability.  When Moll started at Dundee, studying architecture, a year later, we teamed up with another architecture student, Rog Ball, who played alto. As there was   quite a healthy “stable” of players between the art college, university and teacher training college, a band evolved, comprising I’m not sure who. Suffice to say, however, Molly, Rog and yours truly were more or less the front line.”

In 1965, the day he graduated, he received a telegram from Alex Sutherland to come play guitar with the house band of the popular Two Red Shoes. A couple of years earlier, Andi Lothian had sold the band he was with to Albert Bonici while we were at college [Malcolm and Roger were architecture students]. “It was de ja vu when I returned to the Two Red Shoes” [this time as guitarist for Alex Sutherland Sextet]. Graeme loved his new position playing with a band highly respected in the jazz world, especially as he was able to live outside a bustling metropolitan area and have steady work playing music. Besides a relationship with Mr. Bonici who encourage Graeme creatively and otherwise, he was “in awe of Alex. Sutherland” who could play any instrument well, besides a talented arranger. “Alex arranged music for the band he had to work with rather than the one he wished for” and would play any instrument if someone couldn’t make it to one of the evening performance throughout the week at the TRS ballroom.He played guitar for Alex’s band upon occasion and their was mutual admiration between the two musicians. However, Graeme didn’t start singing at Two Red Shoes until he chimed in with a strong falsetto as Alex was singing Bread and Butter and couldn’t hit the high notes of the song that was a hit for The New Beats

Graeme relayed a couple of occasions of meeting up with the AWB in the ’70s*.  One day, after excepting employment at the Two Red Shoes, Graeme recalled, “Suddenly a car appeared and out came my mates from Dundee, and said, “When the hell are you coming back to civilization? They said that they were going down to London and wanted Graeme to come too… Graeme, who enjoyed his new digs, opted out though had a reunion with the band years later. “My wife and I walked into a club in Aberdeen in the late ’70s and The Average White Band were performing. It was like the Red Sea parting…” [when band members saw Graeme in the crowd]. One of the members of the band said that over the last ten years he’s heard, “Graeme Nairn, Graeme Nairn, Graeme Nairn”

* The Average White Band was a ” Funk and R&B band from different parts of Scotland such as Dundee, Glasgow and Perth who were hugely popular in the 1970’s with their soulful style of disco tunes. They had Alan Gorrie and Hamish Stuart on lead vocals backed up by the voice and guitar of Owen ‘Onnie’ McIntyre. With Malcolm Duncan, Robbie McIntosh and Roger Ball they made up the original band members. Their breakthrough came after signing to Atlantic Records and basing themselves in New York. The resultant album ‘AWB’ was No.1 in the USA in 1974 establishing them as a top act. Their biggest hits were ‘Let’s Go Round Again’, ‘Cut the Cake’, ‘Queen of My Soul’ and the largely instrumental brass of ‘Pick Up the Pieces’. Many gold albums and Grammy nominations followed and their work has been sampled by many other artists ever since. The group broke up in 1982 before reforming in 1989 and despite various line-up changes are still working today and very popular in America where their music has crossed over the supposed colour lines of R&B. Best song: Pick Up the Pieces”

After Sutherland left to work for Grampian Television, Jimmy Martin took the helm as band leader and stayed on for three years before taking on a larger band in Inverness. Besides other duties, he composed weekly “jazzed up” top-ten favorite tunes in a small room attached to the stage area of the Two Red Shoes.

Part of the house band from Elgin including female lead, Hilda Herd, joined Jimmy in Inverness.  Sadly, band member Bobby Henderson was killed in an auto accident as the transition was taking place. Graeme described Martin as a talented man arranger and musician though he didn’t like pop music and would rather just play jazz. He later took a job as band leader in Inverness where he could have a larger band. Jimmy Martin was a dedicated arranger though composing medleys the TRS was limiting as his arrangements would sometime call for more parts than possible with a small group of musicians.

Though Martin  took half the band with him when he left to work with his larger ensemble in Inverness, Graeme was able to replace them quickly. Besides original house band members George Inch [trumpet] and Glen Macintosh [tenor], He worked with Guy MacDonald, Findley Grant [drums], Brian McDonald, and other local musicians who were good at their craft. With new blood in the band, the Graeme Nairn Set would often rock the house performing popular beat tunes besides jazz numbers which delighted the young patrons. In 1968, when the Jimmy Martin Band was replaced with the Graeme Nairn Set, Graeme pulled out “all the stops” when it came to popular music. Jimmy wasn’t keen on beat music and would have rather played ballads and jazz tunes. [Jimmy Martin] “… was too old for the youth movement”. When Graeme sang Baby Come Back with in two weeks after it appeared on the charts, the young crowd at Two Red Shoes went wild


Hyldie [Herd] Grinsted, who sang with the Jimmy Martin band and Graeme Nairn Band, was featured recently in the Northern Scot:  and highlighting jazz musician Colin Henderson, son and nephew of the Hendersons who were featured on the TWO RED SHOES Album


In 1968, when the Jimmy Martin Band was replaced with the Graeme Nairn Set, Graeme pulled out “all the stops” when it came to popular music. Jimmy wasn’t keen on beat music and would have rather played ballads and jazz tunes. [Jimmy Martin] “… was too old for the youth movement”. When Graeme sang Baby Come Back with in two weeks after it appeared on the charts, the young crowd at Two Red Shoes went wild

For further reading Graphic design [GNairn]


Please watch this post for further updates.


My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. With a fascination for the beat music era that took place throughout the UK, my research investigates the late '50s through early 1970s. Relying on interviews, the Albert Bonici archives, and other resources, I continue to gather materials to tell the story of a special time in music in the mid 20th century. Scottish promoter, Albert Bonici, brought many of the top beat music acts to Scotland which delighted music lovers during the early days of the beat music era. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and remembers the contributions of promoter, Albert Bonici, a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

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Posted in 1960's pop music
2 comments on “Graeme Nairn TRS
  1. Great to read all about Graeme whom I have not seen since the Fifties in Montrose. I am fortunate enough to have a sketch which he drew – simply entitled Midnight 27th July 1958. The subject is a trad jazz session and included Graeme (clarinet), Ally Souter (piano), Don Kirkwood (trombone), Ricky Wilson (drums), Jim Hood (double bass) and myself (banjo). I could not play well, but I sure enjoyed the
    musical experiences and fun which I had with these guys. I also bought one of Graeme’s paintings in a charity shop recently, entitled Wrights and Coopers Place, Old Aberdeen dated 1978 which brought back many very happy teenage memories of sixty years ago.
    Ian Hendry

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