Rusty's Piano Bar

Billie Rowan and her fiancé Chris Russell

Stirling start-up proves a hit among VIPs

A Stirling business has become the entertainment of choice for VIP areas just six months after launching.

Rusty’s Travelling Piano Bar, which has been helped by Business Gateway Stirling, has already performed to select guests at this summer’s TRNSMT festival, The Merchant City Festival and at a private party in London for retailer giant, Amazon.

The business is the brainchild of event organiser, Billie Rowan, and her fiancé, musician and former Red Hot Chilli Piper member, Chris Russell. Rusty’s provides live music and a bar service to its corporate clients from the inside of a renovated horse box.

Billie and Chris also offer their services to weddings and will have performed nearly 20 events by the end of 2017 - and have already taken two enquiries for weddings in 2020!

Billie said: “It’s been an amazing six months, with July being a totally crazy month! People are loving what we are doing, and every time we perform we get more enquires which leads to even more work.

“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.

“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 successful pitched to them for the funding needed to renovate our horse box. I also completed Business Gateway workshops on Tax and Finance and the DigitalBoost’s Digital Marketing Strategy seminar.

“I was transfixed throughout that seminar and immediately used the information to write a social media marketing plan that has helped increase our exposure. Without that help, it would have taken us a lot longer to get started.”

Frank Dunne, an adviser at Business Gateway, added: “Billie first approached us for reassurance and has since benefitted from our connections and our workshop programme; in particular our DigitalBoost events have given her the knowledge needed to use social media more effectively to grow the business.

“Enquiries and bookings are coming in thick and fast so Billie will now meet with one of our growth advisers to help her plan how best to take advantage of the growing interest.”

The idea for housing a piano bar in a former horse box arose after Billie spotted a gap in the market to merge her event organisation skills with those of her musical fiancé’s. After locating a dilapidated horse box in need of some love, it took four months to turn it into a new home for Chris’ electric stage piano.

She said: “I’d been at a lot of events down south and there were lots of converted horseboxes providing services to weddings, corporates and festivals but none offered music and I thought “wouldn’t it be cool if we could put a piano in one”! Our box is over 45-years-old and was in such a mess when I found it but now it looks amazing.

“Our clients love the fact we can give them something different and because of Chris’ network we’re able to provide a range of musicians to give them even more choice.”