How our music box business hit the right note

WITH a combined background in music and events, Billie Rowan and Chris Russell came up with a fun and unique business venture.

They set up Rusty’s Travelling Piano Bar in April and Scotland’s first bar of its kind, housed in a converted horsebox, has already proved to be a massive hit.

Here, Billie, 28, from Stirling, tells us about her working day with co-owner Chris, 29, from Lenzie.

Can you tell us about Rusty’s Travelling Piano Bar?

We provide entertainment and drinks at weddings, festivals, in VIP areas and at corporate events and parties. If people want phenomenal live music, good drinks and something a little bit quirky, we offer the full package!

How did the idea for the business come about?

I’d spotted a gap in the market to use my event organisation skills and Chris’s musical talents after seeing lots of converted horseboxes at events, none of which offered music.

I thought it would be cool to put a piano in one. Our box is 45 years old and was dilapidated when we found it but, with a lot of love and attention – and four months of hard work – it was brought back to life and now looks amazing.

What events have your performed at so far?

We’ve had a fantastic start, including performing at TRNSMT festival, The Merchant City Festival, and at a private party in London for retail giant, Amazon.

People are loving what we are doing and every time we perform, we get more enquires, which leads to more events.

VIP areas have quickly become a speciality because of the nature of the music we provide – we offer guests respite and music to relax to before heading back to the mayhem of a festival or concert.

We’ve also enjoyed being on the billing with Scottish stars including Callum Beattie and Lewis Capaldi at an exclusive private event down south.

What’s your career background?

Chris was already performing at events with his band Killer City Sound but playing inside a horsebox was something completely new to him.

He loves doing his thing inside the piano bar now – it’s his favourite venue to play.

Chris is a former Red Hot Chilli Piper member. He has played in bands his entire life and has supported some huge acts from around the world, including Rod Stewart, Lake Street Dive, and The Temperance Movement.

Chris’ love of music started at a very young age – he’s the son of opera singers Karen Murray and Graham Russell, so he was destined for a colourful musical career.

He was dragged kicking and screaming to piano lessons at the age of eight by his mum but is now very thankful for her perseverance!

I was catering at weddings and events across the country and I still am. The only thing that has changed is the offering. I still cook for a select few clients and I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing that. I enjoy it too much.

What business help and advice did you receive?

When I first came up with the idea for Rusty’s, I went to Business Gateway Stirling for reassurance that it wasn’t a crazy idea! Our adviser loved the concept and put me in touch with the Prince’s Trust.

I successfully pitched to them for the funding needed to renovate our horsebox. I also completed Business Gateway workshops on tax and finance and DigitalBoost’s digital marketing strategy seminar.

Without Business Gateway’s help, it would have taken us a lot longer to get started.

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

As the saying goes: “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Chris and I do work really hard but because we are having fun it doesn’t really seem like such a chore.

We have created a job for ourselves, on our terms, managing our own schedules. However, I do sometimes wish there were more hours in the day!

Find out more at www.rustyspianobar.com

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