THE surface of the large desk used by the man who runs one of the biggest music promoters in Scotland is a history of his 30 years working with the same company, Regular Music. There is a lap-top computer, but it is off to one side of a large, old-school, blotting pad.

Emails happen here, but so does writing on paper. For arithmetical tasks there is still a calculator. A well-thumbed Filofax houses contacts and appointments. There is a stapler as well. Just as the people who buy tickets for concerts that Regular Music puts on find room for vinyl records alongside music-streaming in their lives, Mark Mackie moves with the times at his own pace, and without letting go of the working ways that make him feel at home.

“I suppose I am a creature of habit. I am quite happy with the way things are,” he confirms. “People slag me off because I have lived in Portobello for 30 years, since I moved through from Glasgow. I am coming up for my 30th wedding anniversary next summer, so that’s not changed. And I’ve kept the same job.

“I can see there’s a pattern emerging,” he laughs.

Mackie began working for the company that had been founded by Pete Irvine and Barry Wright just a few years previously straight from the University of Glasgow, where his studies for a degree in marine science were overtaken by the fun of putting on gigs as entertainment convener at the Queen Margaret Union. Almost immediately, he moved from organising concerts for touring bands to play for a thousand people to being responsible for Simple Minds playing two days at Ibrox Stadium in the summer of 1986.

You can, as they say, take the boy out of Glasgow. Mackie may have been resident in the East for all his working life, but his West of Scotland roots still show. Simple Minds wanted to work with him because he was from their city, he says, and he is still grateful for the trust they put in him then. More recently, Mackie was behind the creation of the ABC venue on Sauchiehall Street – and is still hopeful that it may rise from the ashes of the Glasgow School of Art fire which also engulfed it. He is also the mastermind of the Summer Nights season of concerts at Kelvingrove Bandstand in August.

When I arrive to speak with him, Mackie is finalising some advertising in the American music trade magazine Pollstar, detailing the history of Regular as a company founded in the white heat of punk rock in 1977. In the upcoming issue, Mackie has been interviewed for the first “city focus” feature the magazine has ever run – and it is on Glasgow. “They haven’t done Nashville, Memphis, or New Orleans, never mind Manchester and London,” he says, delightedly.

Ask how Mackie ended up in sole control of Regular and he makes it seem an entirely organic process, with the founders – the most high profile of whom was Pete Irvine, author of hip tourist guide Scotland the Best – simply moving on in to pursue other interests or in pursuit of a quieter life.

“Pete left in ‘91 after Glasgow City of Culture to do Unique Events and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Then Barry retired ten or 12 years ago. He stayed involved with the Edinburgh Castle Concerts until a year ago, but he’s 72 now and he’s had enough.

“So it has just been me for the last ten or 15 years. I didn’t buy them out, I bored them out! There is no shareholding, or value on the company – in this business it is all about your contacts. I could have walked out the door 20 years ago and started ‘Irregular Music’, free and perfectly legally. There was none of that accounting stuff, I just took more of the responsibility on my shoulders: first there were three, then there were two, then there was me.”

Not that he is alone in Regular’s homely Edinburgh offices. Along with a few long term associates in the promotion business, two of Mackie’s three grown-up offspring are helping out on the day I visit.

“I have staff and people I bounce ideas off; there are enough other people in the company. It’s just the way things have worked out and I don’t feel lonely here! I guess one day I’ll think about what happens when I move on, but there are a few years left in me yet.”

In fact many folk had written off Regular Music before Mackie joined them. In 1979, Irvine and Wright assembled a huge festival line-up at Ingliston on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with Talking Heads, Van Morrison, and Steel Pulse on the bill – and lost their shirts.

“Perhaps they tried to run before they could walk,” Mackie speculates, “but Scotland wasn’t ready for it. The great thing was that – in the spirit of punk – the industry rallied round in support. Looking back, the financial disaster of Ingliston was the best thing that happened to the young Regular Music because they took it on the chin. And the agent for Talking Heads was also the agent for U2 . . .”

Regular certainly broke new ground for stadium gigs in Scotland. As well as Simple Minds at Ibrox, they put on U2 and REM at Murrayfield, U2 at Parkhead, REM and Oasis at Balloch and REM, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan at Stirling Castle. These days it is Edinburgh Castle Esplanade that is Regular Music’s regular outdoor venue in Edinburgh, and the coming year sees concerts by The Proclaimers, Paul Weller, and two by Kylie Minogue, a performer perhaps a little less in the usual Regular vein.

“Song-based music is what we feel comfortable with. That could be Garbage, Blondie, Ray Davies, Patti Smith or Mogwai. Nick Cave or Christy Moore. Those are artists who seem to be comfortable with us too. I’m sure there are nice people in heavy rock but I just don’t know them, and if I don’t know these bands I can’t advise them on the right place to play in Scotland.”

The pop end of the market is also not really Regular’s thing, and that also reflects Mackie’s personal view – which is why Kylie looks a little out of the ordinary as a Regular Music promotion.

“The worst development in my time has been the corporatisation of the music industry, and the cynicism of that at the pop end of things. I think a music concert should be a life experience with your pals and there is a side of the exploitation of that that we don’t go with. Agents know not to phone us with certain acts because it is not the kind of thing we do. We are not musical snobs, but what we promote has to be something we feel comfortable with.”

If that ethos has not changed, the actual business of selling tickets has developed radically in Mackie’s time.

“When I started it was all stamped addressed envelopes and postal orders. We advertised in the papers at the weekend and the bags of mail would come in on the Tuesday. I got to be able to tell from the steps of the postmen on the stairs how well we’d done. If they had four, five or six bags we were almost a sell-out, two or three wasn’t so good. Thirty years ago no-one had credit cards, but later it was phone-lines with credit cards. Now it is all on email, so in the last 35 years there has been a lot of change, but it has been gradual so it has not upset my change barometer too much.”

Few folk no more about the venues of Scotland than Mackie. It was Regular Music that brought Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom back into use as a rock venue – and again Simple Minds were the catalyst.

“Virgin Records wanted to a make a video for their single On the Waterfront on a barge on the Thames and the band told them where to stuff that idea and began looking for a warehouse on the Clyde to shoot it. It was while looking that Barry and the Minds’ manager Bruce Findlay stumbled on the Barrowland. We moved the stage to the other end of the ballroom and set up the mixing desk on the place where 1960s bands had played.”

Regular Music also opened Glasgow (Royal) Concert Hall in 1990, with two nights by The Blue Nile.

“The council didn’t really want us in the new hall because the Queen hadn’t come to open it yet. I had a fight to get a foot in the door. Of course, The Blue Nile sold out in a minute, and I put a ribbon across the stage and got the band’s singer Paul Buchanan to cut it.

“I love the concert hall; it sells very well. People love it and the artists love it, and it is so central. It feels a bit unloved at the moment and could do with a lick of paint, but over the last 28 years we’ve promoted more shows there than anyone else, I would expect.”

He is also a fan of the SSE Hydro, which he says was designed with promoters like himself in mind.

“When they were building the Hydro they got all of us down and asked us what we needed. So they built a performance art arena, not one that is based on the footprint of an ice-hockey rink or basketball court. The great thing about the Hydro is that the stage can only be in one place. I really like it and the people of Glasgow love it.”

Then there is the much-loved, and much-missed ABC.

“When I saw the ABC, it was an empty shell that could be a good club that holds a thousand people. We needed a city-centre venue and I designed it on the back of a fag packet – it was just so obvious how the layout should be. The big stage there was a statement: this wasn’t a club for dancing, it was for live music.

“Although it was sold to the Academy group, I’m still a director and the biggest individual shareholder and we want to rebuild and reopen.”

In Glasgow at the moment, however, it is Kelvingrove bandstand that is Mackie’s baby, and the economic model he uses there is exactly the same as the one he used for his earliest gigs at the QM: make the ticket price pay for the artist and earn revenue from the bars and catering. It is the fortnight residency at the site that makes the sums add up.

“We put the village in and do 12 shows in two weeks and that’s a massive saving. We get the bar take, and if the concert washes its face, the artist has a good pay day and we have income beyond the tickets. We are now in our sixth year and it is getting much easier to programme. Now we are inundated with offers of artists, while I used to have to be very persuasive to sell an outdoor concert in Glasgow to the agents.”

Mackie’s fondness for the venue goes back to his time at The University of Glasgow and seeing a student production of a Dario Fo there, and in recent times he has taken Regular Music into promoting theatre as well as music.

“I would love to do some theatre at the bandstand. In 1982 it was dilapidated, but that’s when I fell in love with it. It is a great space – there is a vibe about it, with the trees and the river. People like being there, it is a magical place.”

Meanwhile, Regular Music has been working at venues like the Traverse and the Tron and now Glasgow and Edinburgh King’s through Mackie’s friendship with performer, writer and director Cora Bissett which dates back to her time as a 16-year-old from Kirkcaldy in a band. When she, playwright Peter Arnott and performer Angie Darcy created the show Janis Joplin – Full Tilt, the director suggested to Mackie that he come on board as the potential audience was surely people who go to his concerts. So it was that the Joplin show appeared between gigs by Rufus Wainwright and Mogwai in a Regular Music advert.

“It’s all about getting music and theatre audiences closer together, because really they are the same person on different days. It’s obvious isn’t it?” says Mackie.

In fact Mackie’s move into working with theatre producers – in particular Raw Material, the new company established by Gillian Garrity and Margaret-Anne O’Donnell who are behind the revivals of Glasgow Girls, which Cora Bissett made with playwright David Greig and composer Hilary Brooks, and Bissett’s autobiographical show What Girls Are Made Of – is breaking new ground in offering theatremakers a route for making new work without depending on Creative Scotland support.

For a man teased for his resistance to change, Mark Mackie has a deft skill for making things happen.

Glasgow Girls is at Glasgow King’s Theatre January 15-19; Edinburgh King’s Jan 23-26; Perth Theatre Jan 30-Feb 3; Eden Court, Inverness Feb 7-9; and Dublin’s Abbey Theatre February 13-16. Regular will be announcing the line-up for the 7th year of Summer Nights at Kelvingrove Bandstand on January 22.