Rock the Nile 2024

Bands, bikes, and a beautiful day

David Milloy

We’ve not enjoyed the best of weather so far this year, but the clouds parted on Easter Saturday for Ayr’s annual Rock the Nile event.

This year’s event saw over 1000 people (of all ages) and around 100 motorbikes descend on Nile Court in Ayr to listen to virtually non-stop music, meet friends old and new, and simply have a good time on a pleasingly sunny day.

The event kicked off at noon, when the first band took to the stage at Harley’s bar and kicked into gear at around 2.30pm when a convoy of motorbikes rode down the High Street and into Nile Court. Indeed, many of the bikes that took part in the convoy had already taken part in the Hillbillies MCC’s annual run to Crosshouse Hospital to deliver Easter eggs.

A number of motorcycle clubs from Ayrshire and beyond were represented, with the West Coast, Glasgow and Cumbria chapters of the Blue Angels, the Ayrshire and Glasgow Tribes, the Devil’s Outcasts, the Tigers, 7 Sinz, and the Trusted Few all having members in attendance. And if you think that motorbike clubs are just for men, then think again: a number of mixed (Cumbria 86, Full-On MCC, the Hillbillies MCC) and female-only (the Devil’s Daughters and Flaming Phoenix) clubs were present too.

On the musical front, fourteen live bands, all of whom performed for free, played on the stage at Harley’s bar from noon until the last band’s set ended at 1.30 the following morning. Harley’s supplied the sound engineers, who did a great job on the mixing desks, and the music continued until 3.30am courtesy of Harley’s resident DJ.

Rock the Nile has its roots in Jazz Fest, which owes its name to its founder, ‘Jazz’ Buchanan, rather than the type of music it featured. As originally conceived, Jazz Fest was organised by Breast Way Round, a group of female motorbike enthusiasts who raised money for MacMillan Cancer Support.

Over the years, Jazz Fest evolved into Rock Fest, and after being interrupted by the pandemic, it adopted its present name in 2022. Its charitable ethos remained, however, and a different charity is selected each year. This year’s nominated charity was MND Scotland, which benefited to the tune of £1040 from donations made on the day.

Putting on an event of such magnitude is not the work of a moment. Jacqui Monaghan, a keen biker herself, does much of the pre-event work by booking the bands and liaising with the motorbike clubs. Beatbox Leisure, who own Harley’s, provide not only the venue and staff, who work tirelessly during the event, but also help with the administration. It’s very much a team effort and all of those involved deserve much credit for putting together such a great event for a worthy cause.

Next year’s event will take place on Saturday 19th April. It’s not to be missed.