Bute becoming a home from home for Hugh Reed

Hugh Reed with local favourite Colonel Mustard.
Hugh Reed with local favourite Colonel Mustard.

Musician Hugh Reed is becoming a common sight on Bute, performing alongside Colonel Mustard at ButeFest and recently putting on a small gig of his own with his band the Velvet Underpants.

Hugh (55) visits the island regularly from Beijing, where he teaches English at the Communications University.

He comes from Glasgow, where he established the Velvet Underpants in order to entertain a leaving party for a friend of his who was moving to Canada.

The band was an overnight success, making appearances on local television before being invited to tour Britain with Debbie Harry in 1993.

They went on to perform across Europe and release two albums.

Hugh himself moved to China in 2010 after a stint with a community music project in Glasgow, and still gets the band back together occasionally.
He told the Buteman: “The music project I worked with depended on government funding.

“It went on for nine years, and after the financial crash the main funding stopped and it was a struggle.

“I felt quite disillusioned after that, and my friend was working in Beijing and told me they were looking for more English teachers.

“I went out there for a while to see what it was like and I loved the place, and I’ve been there ever since.”

Describing himself as ‘multi-talentless’, Hugh has delved into the world of acting as well.

He had a cameo in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, and has performed a number of diverse roles in Chinese film and television, including in Jackie Chan’s 12 Zodiacs.

Since moving to China Hugh visits Scotland at least once a year, and he has fond memories of Bute from family holidays to his parents’ caravan on Canada Hill.

He recently bought a flat in Ardbeg, and last weekend he put on a performance at the Americana-themed Honky Tonk pub.

Hugh said the event on Saturday was a success: “We had a great night, the place was jumping.

“The Honky Tonk is such a great venue with their regular live music. My brother has a place on Bute and he told me about it, and I recently went out for a walk to find it.

“A few folk recognised me and I got chatting to the owner, and next thing I was up singing.

“Afterwards it was suggested I could do my own gig here with the band.

“On Bute it sometimes feels like you’re stepping back in time - in a very good way!”