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Cover_final artwork version978.indd 1 nO.978 //March 2012 // FREE


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Contact @venueeditor

Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings

p.26 Yaarrr! Avast behind! “It’s a mischievous film. It has a mischievous sense of humour.” For its second major release in four months, Aardman turn to a rollicking adventure about pirates and, erm, scientists … And what was all that fuss about leprosy about? Co-director Peter Lord reveals all.

p.20 Spray what? Not all street artists have come over all respectable. Venue goes out on the after-dark streets with one of Bristol’s most prolific tagging crews.

p.61 Musicians’ Guide 2012 There’s lot of things you need to know if you’re going to make it in the music biz. Fortunately, we’ve gathered them all up and printed them in this handy guide.



p.12 Bijou rhapsodic powerhouse Byron Vincent spews words

// inbox //

p.14 Pub doors made of human skin, sinking universities, a unicorn’s bottom, the park bench with its own postcode … The West’s best urban myths

// i saw you //

p.28 Bath Literature Festival brings in the bookish big names; we talk to Melissa Benn and Joe ‘Submarine’ Dunthorne

p.4 Letters, opinion, oddness…

// Film //

// Comedy //

p.39 Denzel Washington on ‘Safe House’ and why he nearly gave up acting

p.84 Shiny-pated social observationist Roger Monkhouse

// Music //

// ART //

p.49 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion detonates the blues

p.86 Eric Ravilious at the RWA

// Clubs //

p.89 Costa-winning Bristol novelist Andrew Miller

p.6 Loving, leering, lusting

p.75 The return of Bristol rapscallions Aspects


// Performance //

p.34 Rubbery clippings from the toe nails of local news

p.79 Sexually explicit drama ‘Red Light Winter’

Get every issue of venue delivered early to your door for just £2.99/month direct debit or £37.50/year Phone 0117 934 3741 or email to set it up. or, as of april, buy venue in a shop for a quid or risk not finding one at our freebie outlets: check for a list of stockists venuemagazine

Contents 978.indd 3

// BOOKS //

// Days Out // p.91 Take your mum out for Mother’s Day

// skills // p.94 Hit the right note: music courses

// gay // p.97 Local LGBT events and news March 2012 // 3

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. y


es out nd t






Letter of the month

Have a heart // Cough! Splutter! How many cigarettes do you give your children each day? Probably none. But have you ever taken them into town for the day? Then you gave them at least 27 right then – breathing the air in Bristol City Centre is equivalent to smoking 27 cigarettes a day. I walked into work this crappy morning as I do every crappy morning, choking on all the car farts from the traffic jams everywhere, and thought it was time someone made a bit more of an effort to sort it out. So I Googled it, and found this lot – www.livingheart.talktalk. net. They say sensible stuff like “creating a city centre which is beautiful, economically vibrant and happy means designing it for people. Other cities have demonstrated that the way to do this is to remove the dominance of motorised through-traffic from the heart of the city.” Turns out Bristol’s twin city Bordeaux successfully did this years ago and “the areas of that city released from congestion have thrived; the pleasure of being a citizen or visitor there

all – ir,

is immeasurably improved; the economic vitality of the city centre is there for all to see. Access is maintained for all who need it. The living heart of the city is able once more to be enjoyed by all. That is what Living Heart aim for.” They’ve also got a whole heap of research to back up their campaign, busting myths about

the consequences of diverting through traffic, for example: “it will be bad for business” (there is much evidence for the opposite) and “closing roads means all the traffic just moves onto surrounding streets” (also untrue). I’m convinced. Let’s make our city a place for people again.

Dave Tansley, by email Sounds good to us, Dave, and cigarettes are much too expensive to be squandered on children anyway. Next time you walk past a branch of Waterstone’s, you can make your morning measurably less crappy by spending this here beautiful, economically viable and happy £10 Waterstone’s voucher.

A grand day out

spot-on. Thank you. That is all. Holly Greenage, Southville You’re welcome, Holly. The Days Out guide is available – completely free – here: http://

countrywide. Our pavements are dotted with dog-eggs as though taking your pooch out for a public crap were a national pastime (it is, of course). You can’t take your eyes off the ground for a second when out walking without risking a sh*tty shoe. I know it’s been mooted before, but I’d really like to see council-funded snipers deployed across the city’s turdiest blackspots, taking out the offending pups with a bullet to the back of the head. Sh*t! Crack! Yelp! Marvellous. I’d happily pay a bit of extra Council Tax for that. Jeff, Montpelier

// Yesterday the wife and I pootled through your ‘Days Out’ guide, read the bit about Wells, and decided to go there. It was great. We stared in wonder at the cathedral, saw the bits that were in ‘Hot Fuzz’, and even went to Nick Frost and Simon Pegg’s favourite pub (The Crown) for an excellent burger. We keep returning to your guide at http://venue. whenever we have an empty day and don’t know what to do with it, and every time your suggestions for days out/places to visit/ walks to go on are absolutely

d go

o s n

Issue 978 Here be Pirates!

4 // march 2012

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Venue Magazine Bristol Office Bristol News & Media, Temple Way, Bristol, BS99 7HE Tel 0117 942 8491 (12 lines) Fax 0117 934 3566 Bath Office Bath News & Media, Floor 2, Westpoint, James West St, Bath, BA1 1UN Tel 01225 429801

Fax 01225 447602 Email (Editorial): editor@ / (Advertising): / (Classified ads): Website Twitter @venueeditor Group Editor Dave Higgitt Acting Editor Tom Phillips

Dog-eggs // They’re everywhere, aren’t they? Disgusting gooey turds, freshly coiled from the puckered holes of canines Associate Editor Mike White Studio Manager Cath Evans Design Team Sarah Clark, Sarah Malone Production Charis Munday Sub-Editors Tom Phillips, Jo Renshaw Advertising Manager Becky Davis Bristol Advertising Adam Burrows, Ben

Wright, Bex Baddiley Bath Advertising Ellie Pipe, Nejla Unal Distribution and Subscriptions Simon Butler Publication Co-ordinators Sam Ulewicz Art Steve Wright Books Joe Spurgeon Classical Paul Riley Clubs Adam Burrows Comedy Steve Wright

Days Out Anna Britten Dance Steve Wright Events Mike White Film Robin Askew Jazz Tony Benjamin Lesbian & Gay Darryl Bullock News Eugene Byrne Rock Leah Pritchard Roots Leah Pritchard Skills Anna Britten Sport Simon Fry Theatre Steve Wright


2/22/2012 3:50:39 PM Each Letter of the Month receives a £10 voucher to spend in any Waterstone’s store nationwide.

Smug trafficking

Kathman-do it

// So Whiteladies Road is getting a great big facelift, with lovely big pavements, traffic islands and trees and whatnot. How nice. But how much is it costing to beautify this small section of Bristol’s richest neighbourhood? Meanwhile, across less well-heeled areas we are denied even simple essentials like double-yellow lines around corners to prevent dangerous parking. Outside my son’s nursery school, The Limes in Whitehall, there isn’t even a pavement, so children are forced to cross the road on a blind corner or walk in the road to get there. I spoke to a council employee who’d been given the thankless task of trying to improve the situation, but he said they couldn’t do any of the things that were actually needed – like putting in a proper zebra crossing, a pavement and having enforceable zig-zag lines painted – because there was no money for it. And yet there’s plenty of money sloshing around to plant fancy trees up Whiteladies Road. Why is it that the rich areas always get the most money spent on them, and those that need it most get least? Sarah, Greenbank

// Joel Black - ex Canteen chef (amongst many other wellknown Bristol restaurants) – met Betty Cottam at Glastonbury in 2010, fell in love, and decided to leave Glastonbury in 2011 and cycle to Nepal! And they

The rich get richer


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just made it! It’s a lovely local story – even the school they are fundraising for is a charity registered in Glastonbury! So it seems “a good thing” to tell Venue, the best local mag in the area, about what’s happened. You can see where they’ve been on their blog: www.cycleeast. But what is really important is they want to raise sufficient funds to keep the struggling school going. Can I persuade you to feature this? Carolyn, by email You can, Carolyn. Here it is.

// I’d just like to express my undying admiration and appreciation of traffic wardens. They get a lot of flak, but actually they do a marvellous job of stopping idiot motorists parking in the way all the time. If only they were allowed to fine people for parking with two wheels on the pavement – and, oh, if only they were allowed to fine cars for blocking up the streets in traffic jams. “Sorry sir, madam, sir, etc, you’re causing an obstruction by sitting here in your car. Here’s a £50 fine. Don’t do it again.” That would be a dream come true, and it would soon get rid of the laughably-named ‘rush-hour’. Everyone should ride bicycles. Faster, cheaper, healthier, quieter, more fun… need I go on? Paul Buford, by email

// SEVERN BORE // Opinion. If you like that sort of thing... // It was a bad month for local wingnuts. A group called Healing On The Streets Bath (HOTS-Bath), who patrol Bath offering prayers for healing, were had up by the Advertising Standards Authority. This followed a complaint that their website was claiming God can heal “back pain, arthritis, MS, addiction, cancer, ulcers, depression, allergies, fibromyalgia, asthma, paralysis...” And many more. So the Almighty can fix your cancer? Maybe He can, but He ain’t doing it in Bath. Look at the testimonials on their site (www. and the best they can offer are a few bad backs and aching shoulders being fixed. (Great news! Bad backs and bad shoulders often get better anyway without any of that timeconsuming prayer!) Then we have Eric Pickles working himself up into an artificial froth over a court ruling that it’s unlawful to ask councillors to take part in prayers before meetings. And then we also had the Christian guesthouse owners in Cornwall losing their appeal over a Bristol county court decision that they had acted unlawfully in turning away a gay couple. This all apparently means that “Christianity is under attack” if you believe the Daily Mail headlines, or that the nation is in the grip of an aggressive, militant secularism, if you believe various politicians. Bullsh*t. Christianity is not under attack. What’s under attack is extremism, and the bizarre notion that religion must be foisted on folk with different beliefs, or none at all. Severn Bore has many reasonable, thoughtful Christian friends who think bigotry, biblical literalism and magical thinking are giving them a bad name. Religious extremism thrives on a sense of persecution, howling the house down at each perceived slight. And they do this because otherwise they’d just be ignored.

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To submit an I Saw You email web

// Reach out to someone //

I Saw You Judith a many years ago. Your now married to Roger and I would love to hear from you, please contact Kathy with your current address. I Saw You - You finally held the door open for me at work, and i had the chance to smile at you x I Saw You the look in your eyes (both of them!) and knew you wanted to play as well. How frustrating that we’re both good people - I imagine it could’ve been fun...x a

nd you

I Saw You cute blonde elfin-like creature with a rambunctious black dog in Clifton Village - WOW I Saw You a week or so before the Totterdown Arts Trail, you with your friend, me with mine and again early in the new year, both times in the S & D. You're D and I'm C and you thought (playfully?) I was g. The second time I saw you I was ill-mannered and didn't stand but I then thought maybe there was a spark? I haven't seen you since, maybe though soon.......? I Saw You wearing my perfume and getting all the attention! x I Saw You - You gave me the eye in Redfield Tescos then I bumped into you again in Dig In fruit shop.I started chatting to Colin on the till, trying to act cool but really I wish I'd spoken to you. No offence intended Colin! Hope you see this, yellow shoed blonde man, Lou I Saw You H, at Timbuk2 on Sat 4th. I enjoyed meeting you at the Southbank previously but had more fun on Sat! It would be great to go for a coffee/ale! J

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I Saw You American guy in the Porter Cellar surrounded by a bevvy of beauties - it was hilarious, you looked like you were wrapped in clover. Maybe we'll meet again one day when you're less preoccupied. I gave you a card...or if you read this and think it's you drop me a line! I saw you and what can I say? I am I Saw You Steve (aka Tumnus), last Friday (10th)Feb in La Rocca, Bristol. It was out of the ordinary but thank you too, the kiss was amazing! U have my number, I lost your text but wish u would try again!maybe I'll see u again?? Sam (nursery nurse) xx I Saw You lovely hand-knitted red, blue & green hat found on Richmond Road last Tuesday. Took a liking to it but my conscience has got the better of me... someone's missing their beloved knitwear. Get in touch if you might know the owner's whereabouts x I Saw You - I am glad to hear that it went well and just waentd to say that the

I saw you

and you saw me in the Cabot Circus Starbucks - me with Spiced Vanilla Latte to go, you ensconsed with your MacBook and Brownie.

I saw you

so casually casting aside something which could have been so good and it profoundly saddens me x fascinating essay was the showcase feature on the Theatre Bristol website and it was also linked in the weekly news letter. Good luck for Leeds I Saw You but not recently. I think about you so very often. I Saw You working at Spike Island gallery in Bristol. You are too gorgeous! See if you can guess who I am. If you’re interested let’s go on a date...??? I Saw You and I fell in love with you and you fell in love with me - first as I recall... three months of utter bliss, I couldn’t have been happier but someone else took your love away from me and now I am devastated beyond words. It’s an effort just to get out of bed in the mornings, and I have no enthusiasm for music anymore since you left me. I wish you’d see sense and come back to me. I love you so much, I can’t cope without you. I Saw You - When I see you things are ok again. I don’t even know you but you make me smile I wish I had the courage to speak to you more often.... Anyway that’s all I really wanted to say..a very secret admirer x I Saw You Ice saw, you are going to be redundant if the planet continues to warm up. I Saw You being nice to me all the time, even though I don’t deserve it. I Saw You after a long gap and then had to ring you. If you knew how nervous I was about making that call and speaking

to you it would be so obvious. Maybe it is already.... I am so stupidly transparent! I Saw You - It is as real as anything. Come and share it with me… I Saw You for the last time last year, green eyes. You still dominate my thoughts and life is much less without you. I wish oh wish you felt the same. I Saw You and I want you to know that although that may well be true, you’ve got a very funny way of showing it! xxx I Saw You looking gorgeous and blowing me a cheeky kiss at the traffic lights outside the BRI! I Saw wonderful people and beautiful city, so much over the last five years. It’s goodbye for now, but not forever. Thanks for everything... I Saw You at my party, even though you were on crutches and in a lot of pain. I Saw You... at the back of my mind a decade ago. I’ve lost you now to the present image of nobody waiting for me. So I’m free now? I Saw You... hoping on that plane for your birthday surprise... <3 x

For more I saw you's - plus I'm sore at you see: isawyou venuemagazine

2/22/2012 4:46:37 PM

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ERICH McELROY Fri 2 & Sat 3 March

MIKE GUNN & SEAN COLLINS Fri 9 & Sat 10 March

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Full season line-up, video clips and book online: Pre-comedy dining and bar until 1am

Upstairs at the Hen & Chicken, 210 North Street, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1JF

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• We work in Bristol, Bath and Weston-s-Mare. • Telephone 0117 9428444


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Bristol & Bath in pictures

Are you a photographer? // Pro, semi-pro, amateur… if you have a Bristol or Bath-related pic and want to show if off, email it to and the top three will get posted up here.

this mont winner!h's

‘Beat up Morris in Long Ashton’ - Darren Shepherd (above) Fortunately, not a picture of Chris, Tom or even Johnny Morris after having been beaten up in Long Ashton. And sadly not a picture of a bruised and bloodied morris dancer. But rather an artful piece of automotive decay.

‘Blazing Light Trails’ - Gemma Buck (right) Vehicle light trails from the A4174 ring road in Downend Bristol. “I captured this shot from a bridge crossing the ring road, and with my camera set up on my tripod, a few of the motorists thought I was checking their speed and so slowed down/ moved into the inside lane! I feel the image captures the feeling of what a vibrant, bustling city Bristol is.”

‘Neptune Uncovered’ - Marcus Roberts (far right) Our old mate Neptune emerges from the deep … or rather, as Marcus puts it: “On 6 January I cycled past these chaps taking off Neptune’s winter shell in Bristol’s centre.” Street art meets public art, you might say.


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This month’s prize (CDs or downloads up to a value of £50) is kindly provided by AudioGO (formerly BBC Audiobooks) who publish thousands of comedy, drama and factual programmes in both CD and downloadable format. Ffi:

march 2012 // 9

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Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings


Film The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!


// Avast ye! Bristol buccaneers Aardman commandeer Gideon Defoe’s much-loved ‘Pirates!’ children’s book series, reworking them in rubbery-faced 3D for a thoroughly British claymation swashbuckler on the high seas, with an all-star voice cast including Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek and the seemingly ubiquitous Martin Freeman. Yarrr! Etc. THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS! OPENS ON WED 28 MAR. CHECK WWW. VENUE.CO.UK FOR LOCAL SCREENING DETAILS. TURN TO P26 FOR MORE.


Music Summer Camp // Sexy, world-weary pop duo Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey soundtrack endless summers and twisted youth – theming their latest LP around an imaginary LA town called Condale, where kids run wild in the mansions of dead movie stars. Aloof, whip-smart wordplay, phasedout synths and scuffed-up guitar collude in a knowing yet nostalgic slideshow. One to warm your winter bones. SUMMER CAMP LOUISIANA, BRISTOL, TUE 13 MAR. SEE WWW. THELOUISIANA.NET FOR DETAILS.

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Comedy Bath Comedy Festival // Magic dragons, happiness through science and being touched by Michael Jackson – the bonza BCF returns with 10 tight-packed days of mirthmongering magic. BATH COMEDY FESTIVAL VARIOUS VENUES IN BATH, FRI 30 MAR-MON 9 APR. FFI: WWW.BATHCOMEDY.COM


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Performance I’m An Aristocrat, Get Me Out Of Here!


// A slapstick adventure loosely based on the legend of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Gonzo Moose’s latest offering plunges into Paris in the thick of the Revolution, as a hero emerges from the shadows to deliver France from terror. Three foolhardy actors take on over 20 roles in this anarchic romp promising “elaborate sword fights, heart-wrenching love scenes, and death-defying French accents”. Sacré bleu! I’M AN ARISTOCRAT, GET ME OUT OF HERE! RONDO, BATH, THUR 22-SAT 24 MAR. FFI: WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK

4. Event Alternative Miss Bristol


// This skewed and saucy Venueland variant on Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World promises a night of glitter, glue guns and glamour, celebrating transformation, not beauty. Fling together the wildest outfit you can that “represents the area of Bristol you feel most affinity with” and the stage is yours… ALTERNATIVE MISS BRISTOL THE CUBE, BRISTOL, SAT 24 MAR. SEE WWW. CUBECINEMA.COM FOR DETAILS.

Event Spiders on Mars Music Boots Electric // Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal brings a disco sleaze album produced by Tony Hoffer (best known for his work with Beck) and co-written with the Beastie Boys’ main man Money Mark. It’s aural frottage, tongue in cheek and sporting a mighty porn ’tache. BOOTS ELECTRIC THEKLA, BRISTOL, FRI 16 MAR. SEE WWW.THEKLABRISTOL.CO.UK FFI.

8. Music Timber Timbre // If Antony and the Johnsons hosted a Halloween party, it might sound like Timber Timbre. True to their song titles – ‘Black Water’, ‘Demon Host’, ‘Swamp Magic’ – dark and sinister runs the river of this Canadian threesome’s songcraft – delicately wrought but ominous, cinematic and spooky. TIMBER TIMBRE PLAY COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL ON SAT 3 MAR. FFI: WWW. COLSTONHALL.ORG.UK


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9. Event Bath Digital Festival // Amidst the Georgian grandeur and creaking history, Bath sparks with digital creativity. As a global leader in innovative technology, it’s a fitting host for this 10-day, citywide series of digital performances, technology workshops and cutting-edge demonstrations. There’ll be hacking, debates, club nights and beer-fuelled Twittering – all aimed at geeks and non-geeks alike. Sparks will fly.

// Oh you Pretty Things… Who’s your favourite Bowie? Ziggy Stardust? The Goblin King? Here’s a fancy-dressin’ love-in for the Thin White Duke, including your chance to shine in Ziggy’s Got Talent, slug Queen Bitch cocktails in the Suffragette City Bar, swoon over a best-of Bowie music video montage and watch after-midnight Bowie movies – or just put on your red shoes and dance the blues… SPIDERS ON MARS THE CUBE, BRISTOL, FRI 9 MAR. SEE WWW.CUBECINEMA.COM FOR DETAILS.

Books Bath Lit Fest // Bigger and bookier than ever, this year’s Bath LitFest brings the usual roster of fascinating wordsmiths – highlights include Claire Tomalin on Dickens and Alain de Botton on religion for atheists. Dawdlers beware: the big-name events always sell out fast. THE INDEPENDENT BATH LITERATURE FESTIVAL 2012 VARIOUS VENUES IN BATH, FRI 2- SUN 11 MAR. FFI: WWW.BATHLITFEST.ORG.UK/ SEE FEATURE ON P.28.



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The Interview Byron Vincent The award-winning wordsmith on witty lyricism, vomiting neuroses and gravelly Y-fronts. Interview: Iris Faraway.

My childhood was devoid of poetry. I was a semi-literate dyslexic from a council estate. I often wore my big sister’s New Romantic hand-me-downs, I looked like an anaemic, crossdressing battery hen. Things were already pretty grim; when a prepubescent recidivist is shoving gravel down your Y-fronts, reciting ‘Prufrock’ isn’t likely to resolve the issue. So I stuck to ‘choose your own adventure’ books and dinosaur encyclopaedias.   My earliest influences were a mixed bag. As an ankle biter, I remember finding Melle Mel’s lyrics in hip-hop classic ‘The Message’ really affecting. As I got older I discovered John Hegley and John Cooper Clarke. Surreal comedians such as Emo Phillips

“As an art form, comedy is no less valid than meticulously crafted lyricism.” byron vincent 12 // march 2011

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were an influence. I think the finest book of poetry ever written is ‘Crow’ by Ted Hughes, but it bears no relation to my own writing. I’m not a very good poet; I have more in common with Johnny Vegas or David Shrigley than I do with Whitman or Ginsberg. I’m a splenetic, shambling flesh sack, vomiting vaguely humorous neurosis into the laps of bemused punters. I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing, but as long as people keep asking, I’ll keep showing up. The truth is that sniffing air freshener aged 11 down ASDA car park formulated my more esoteric thought patterns, and alcohol gave me the courage to express them under the scrutiny of an audience. So I suppose I have SC Johnson and whoever brews Thunderbirds to thank, or blame. I live near Stokes Croft. It’s a mecca for dysfunctional ne’er-dowells with creative pretensions such as myself. I love Bristol. Last year I spent the summer resting in the magnolia bosom of Southmead psychiatric unit. Within a few weeks of being released, I was back at the helm of one of the UK’s most successful spoken word nights at Bristol Old Vic. You have to love a city that would give a loon like me such a prestigious platform. The fluctuating state of my mental health has become public knowledge. It’s actually quite liberating. I’m bipolar, whatever that means. I think I’m allowed to sleep with both penguins and Santa. I used to be very guarded about it, now I’m writing a show about my experiences which I hope to scratch at Bristol Ferment this summer. I’ve also got a book deal out of it. Apparently being all mental is the new sane. I’m wary of becoming spokesperson

Byron Vincent: more Johnny Vegas than Walt Whitman

for the clinically unhinged. I don’t think the world needs a less erudite, proletarian Stephen Fry, but I do have opinions on the subject and I’m in a uniquely privileged position to gob off about them. I can’t be doing with all that confessional, mis-lit, look at my awful life bollocks. Having said that, my ramblings do sometimes ferret around in some pretty feculent gutters, so I try to sugar the pill. I want to entertain. I enjoy making people laugh. As an art form, comedy is no less valid than meticulously crafted lyricism. Balancing the two isn’t easy; I’m learning as I go. There’s a common misconception that poetry is this oblique, elitist, alienating medium. Poetry is a broad church. It’s like music: from Bieber to Rachmaninov, there’s something for everyone. At the Old Vic’s Word of Mouth nights, we’re interested in charismatic performers who

can express fascinating ideas with wit and lyricism. That doesn’t always involve poetry. The emphasis is on quality, not genre. In March we have oddball genius Rob Auton. In May we have local boy done good Tim Clare’s hilarious show ‘How to be a Leader’. We’re looking into booking people like Kate Tempest, Joe Dunthorne, Simon Munnery and Ross Sutherland. If you haven’t heard these names, then please Google them, your lives will be improved by doing so. BYRON VINCENT HOSTS THE MONTHLY WORD OF MOUTH SERIES AT BRISTOL OLD VIC. THE NEXT SHOW IS MON 12 MAR SEE WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK. EXCITINGLY, BYRON’S ALSO JUST WON A MAYFEST COMMISSION TO WRITE BESPOKE STORIES. HE’LL WRITE ABOUT ANYTHING YOU WANT AND READ THE RESULTS AT A TIME AND LOCATION OF YOUR CHOOSING – FOR FREE. CHECK WWW.MAYFESTBRISTOL. CO.UK FOR DETAILS.


2/22/2012 3:38:04 PM

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2/22/2012 11:58:29 AM

The story goes...

Every few years, Venue keeps coming back to the subject of local urban legends. Eugene Byrne, our man who will believe anything he is told in a pub, has started making a collection of ancient and historic local yarns. Here’s some more.


ristol is right old; there’s over a thousand years of history here, and so we have an amazingly rich heritage of yarns. Hell, Bristol has not one, but two foundationmyths which are, for all practical purposes, fairy tales. There’s the giants Vincent and Goram carving out the Avon Gorge to win the love of a girl from Wiltshire, and there’s the kings Brennus and Belinus, although their story is too stupid to bother with. In lots of ways, legends, myths, stories which probably or definitely aren’t true are more interesting than historical facts, which 99% of the time are really rather dull. But the great thing about stories, unlike real estate, is that they’re making more and more of them all the time. Bristol’s past has loads of weird tales, but then so does the present. Every journalist, no matter where they live, has a personal stock of yarns that they have spent anything between five minutes and 20 years trying to stand up because they wish they were true. But then, everyone knows a few local urban legends, don’t they? Not just the silly stuff like the viral emails that people send one another warning about a stalker in such-and-such a car-park; you can get stuff like that anywhere in the world (though most of the local versions usually concern the Mall, Cribbs Causeway). The best ones are those which are specific to Bristol and which couldn’t have happened anywhere else. Things like ...

Gone to pot Remember Tollgate House? Huge big 1970s office building at the end of Newfoundland Road that was demolished in 2006 as part of the redevelopment of the Broadmead/ Cabot Circus area. For some years before that, though, it was empty. There used to be regular stinks in the local media about how some hucksters were always hanging adverts the size of football pitches off the side of it

14 // March 2012

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without planning permission. And as it was empty, the top floor was also the ideal location for an immense and deniable cannabis farm tended by some or other bunch of rogues. It was discovered when the demolition crew moved in. Anyone out there know anything about this?

The Bible-bashers This one’s from a Victorian book called ‘Curiosities of Bristol and its Neighbourhood’, published in the 1850s: “There is a tradition still current in Bristol in reference to a society of Infidels who met weekly in the parish of St Philip, some forty years since, who among other

acts of impiety resolved to roast the Bible, which was done with some ceremony. To mark their contempt for that book they basted it with beer! It is said that every member is now dead, and that in most, if not in all cases, their hour of dissolution was attended by circumstances of peculiar horror.” Or, to put it in modern talk, God saw to it that this bunch of atheist scum all died horribly. More research is needed, but don’t get all excited that there were Satanists at work in St George in the eighteen-teens. These were almost certainly political types. Many early 19th century radicals were militant atheists, who regarded the Church of England as an arm of the state and an oppressor of the poor (which, let’s face it, it was). Bristol was a major centre of atheism, but the state fought back. In the 1840s, Charles Southwell, publisher of a radical paper in Bristol, was imprisoned for six months for blasphemy. While he was inside, his family were reduced to poverty and his daughter died.


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Keep off the grass!

Dazzling whites

There used to be loads of coal mines in and around Bristol, leading to several stories (some of which are true) about people waking up to find huge holes where their back gardens used to be, or indeed entire houses being swallowed up. It’s probably the mines that are the origin of a story which apparently used to be told to UWE students. UWE’s St Matthias campus has a lawn in the middle, which is at a lower level than the surrounding area. Undergraduates would be told by older hands that if more than a certain number of people sit out on the grass, as you would do on a nice day, it’ll collapse and they’ll all fall down a hole. That’s what we heard anyway, though none of the other UWE people we talked to have heard it told quite this way. One academic told us that when UWE bought the property (it was formerly a church teacher training college) they had plans to build a big block in the middle of the site, but a survey revealed it was unstable, so the sunken lawn remains. Any UWE students/alumni out there know any more?

One of the oldest and best-loved local stories is that Queen Elizabeth I ordered that the women of Bristol be given the right to dry their washing on Brandon Hill for ever. This was because when she visited Bristol in 1571 she was so delighted at how the local washerwomen had made everything come out so white and soft when they did Her Majesty’s laundry. Brandon Hill was indeed used for hanging out washing for centuries, but it wasn’t because Good Queen Bess had been impressed with the way her underthings had come out of the wash. The corporation had granted this right before she had been born. Following an article mentioning this story in the Evening Post, a lady wrote in to say that her mother said Elizabeth had given Brandon Hill to the women of Bristol “to compensate them for their extreme ugliness”. There was never any story of the kind told round these parts and it’s worth noting that the lady’s mother was from South Wales.

Hatchet job The Hatchet, down in Frogmore Street, is Bristol’s oldest still-functioning pub, dating back to at least 1606. It’s got plenty of ghosts, and in the late 1700s and early 1800s was associated with several of Bristol’s famous prize-fighters. There’s a plaque on the wall commemorating this. But there’s an altogether more gruesome legend associated with its main door. Underneath the tar and paint, the story goes, it has a covering of human skin. Why on earth any respectable landlord would want to do this is a bit of a mystery, but that’s the story. It’s even mentioned in Wikipedia, so it must be true.

Holding up the bridge In the 1960s and 70s, when armies of contractors were building Britain’s motorway system, there were loads of stories about how people ended up being buried in the concrete supports of bridges. These usually concerned minor underworld figures who’d been killed and conveniently dumped in bridge concrete by gangsters, where the bodies wouldn’t be found for decades, if at all. Supporting a motorway bridge was the British equivalent of sleeping with the fishes. The local twist on this concerns the old Severn Bridge, which opened in 1966. The story goes that someone disappeared when the massive concrete supports for the bridge were being poured. The wet concrete has to be poured continuously, and must not be stopped once it has started, as any remedial work would take months and huge amounts of money.


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After some days of pouring, one of the labourers didn’t turn up to claim his wages. No relatives asked after him and the management concluded that he must have either fallen unnoticed into the water, or maybe he’d simply just left, as casual workers often do. The alternative version was that the missing man had been seen falling into the concrete as it was being poured, and was covered over almost immediately. Realising that nothing could be done for him, and that people might lose their jobs if work had to stop, the few men who’d seen it agreed to keep quiet. The dead man was a foreigner, nobody knew him personally. There were even rumours that the contractors knew full well what had happened, and that they, too, stood to lose huge amounts of money if the work had to be re-done, so inquiries about the missing man were not very thorough. That’s the story anyway.

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Bristol’s greatest feminist fable If you’ve been reading your ‘Horrible Histories’ you’ll known what a duckingstool was: a chair on the end of a long pole, swivelling on a post next to a river or pond. The victim would be strapped to the chair, which would then be dipped in the water. It was almost always used to punish women, most often for being “common scolds” – being gossipy, argumentative or otherwise disturbing the peace of the community. Bristol’s ducking stool stood on Broad Weir, where the bus stop opposite Harvey Nick’s is. There was water running along there back then. As medieval punishments went, dipping women into the murk wasn’t particularly savage, but it was unpleasant enough as the Frome was an open sewer, and the law said nothing about how long the victim was meant to be left under the water. The Bristol ducking stool, the story goes, was last used in 1718, and became the stuff of a fantastic local legend. Historians dispute its truth, and in fairness it is a little bit too neat to fit the everyday world of messy and confusing facts. But anyway … In 1718, the Mayor of Bristol was Edmund Mountjoy, a rich merchant with an overbearing wife who, as everyone knew, wore the trousers in their house. One day, Mountjoy went out for a walk to escape his quarrelsome spouse. As he did so, he heard the sounds of a woman’s raised voice coming from a shop in Hotwells. A moment later, a man was pushed out of the door, followed by a torrent of feminine abuse before the door was slammed behind him. Mountjoy’s heart went out to this fellowsufferer. He immediately ordered that the woman be arrested, saying “I will teach her that a man is master in his own house.” Some days later the woman, one Mistress Blake, appeared before Mountjoy in his capacity as the city’s chief magistrate. He sentenced her to three dousings on the ducking stool. Come the day, a huge crowd turned out and watched Mistress Blake calmly endure her ducking. Then, as she was being released from the chair, she said: “Henpecked craven man, Mountjoy, who only had the stomach to duck another man’s wife.” Everyone thought this mighty funny, but she

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hadn’t yet finished humiliating him. When Mountjoy’s term of office as Mayor was up, she urged her own hen-pecked husband to bring a legal action against Mountjoy for assault. The Blakes hired a shit-hot London lawyer, and Mountjoy ended up having to pay her damages. Mountjoy became a laughing stock, taunted by small boys in the street, or invited to dinner by sniggering city fathers who always made sure “cold duck” was on the menu. And from that time onwards, no woman was sentenced to the ducking stool in Bristol ever again.

Put that light out! The Cossham Memorial Hospital in Kingswood was built in the early 20th century and named in honour of Handel Cossham, a self-made Victorian businessman who made a pile from coal mines and gave a load to charity. The hospital has a high clock tower, the most prominent point for miles around, and there is a strange legend about it in the Blitz. One night in 1940 or 41, as German bombers were flying over en route to bomb Bristol docks, a young man was caught by the Home Guard at the top of the tower sending messages in Morse to the aircraft. Now it gets confusing, though. In one version, the young man was simply signalling to the Germans that this was a hospital and they shouldn’t bomb it. He was nonetheless arrested, charged with treason and died in prison. In another version, he wasn’t a well-meaning if misguided lad at all, but a full-blown Nazi who was actually guiding the bombers towards Bristol. If anyone ever has the time to research the relevant government

papers (assuming they’re available), we might get to the bottom of this one. Similarly with a story that a cinema manager in Yate was a properjob Blackshirt who was also signalling to bombers to guide them towards Bristol.

British government tells a lie Carrots are good for your eyesight? Only if it were physically possible to consume them in sufficient quantity, and then you’d turn orange. The interesting thing about this myth is that it originated as an official government lie, and it has a Bristol connection. In late 1940, German bombers started raiding Britain by night as too many of them were being shot down in daylight raids. This created a big problem for the RAF, whose fighter pilots now had to find Jerry in the dark. This was no problem at all for nightfighter ace Flight Lieutenant John “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham of 604 Squadron, based at Middle Wallop in Hampshire. Cunningham’s first kill, in April 1941, was a German bomber which had raided Bristol. Flying his trusty Bristol Beaufighter, a pugnacious twinengined machine designed and built in Filton, Cunningham had, said the Ministry of Information, exceptional night-vision because he ate so many carrots. The public fell for this twaddle, and grew and ate carrots in huge quantities,


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thinking it would enable them to see better in the blackout. To this day most of us still believe, or at least joke, that carrots are good for your eyes. The whole thing was a cover-up. The government put out the story to disguise the true secret of the night-fighters’ increasing success; Beaufighters were big and powerful enough to fit with radar. And that’s how “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham, and all the rest of them, found Hun bombers in the dark. Carrots, indeed.

Homeless campaigners said the whole thing was totally offensive, and the local health authority later changed the rules so that patients could be listed as having no fixed abode, and then register using the address of their GP’s surgery.

Blomberg’s ghost

The Sinclair C5, in case you can’t remember, was an electric-powered personal transportation device. It was going to revolutionise the whole business of getting around, said Sinclair. Critics said it was a joke. It looked like a plastic shoe. People travelling in them along roads were dwarfed by the rest of the traffic. However sound the idea, it was a commercial disaster. Meanwhile, the two C5s sent to SWEB were meant to go on display in the showroom, alongside all the fridges and TVs and other electrical goodies. They never made it. Electricity House famously has a very large underground car park, where, according to rumour, fun-loving staff happily whiled away their lunch-hours playing C5 dodgems.

A gilded arse each morning We all love the unicorns on the Council House roof, don’t we? There they are, all prancing and jaunty and gay, and altogether a better symbol of Bristol than the Suspension Bridge, eh? The Council House had a troubled history. The old Council House in Corn Street was way too small, and they decided they needed a big new one as far back as 1913. Work finally started on the College Green one in the 1930s, but the War got in the way and it wasn’t finished until 1955. Architect Emanuel Vincent Harris, who had decided unicorns should grace the roof, was famous/notorious for feuding with his fellow architects. According to Venue reader Mike Frost, who wrote in after a small piece about the unicorns appeared in the mag a year or two back, there is a story that Harris deliberately placed one of the unicorns so that when one of his professional rivals stepped out of his home in Orchard Street “he would see the morning sun shining brightly off the unicorn’s backside, and daily be reminded who had put it there”.

C5 dodgems You know that big grey wedge-shaped office building which points towards Bristol’s city centre? Lewins Mead on one side, and Quay Street on the other? ‘Course you do. It’s called Electricity House. Currently empty, it used to be the headquarters of the South West Electricity Board (SWEB). In 1985, according to a story published in Venue at the time, SWEB took delivery of two of Clive Sinclair’s newfangled Sinclair C5s.


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The park bench with its own postcode There’s a park bench in Bristol which has its own postcode so that homeless people can be delivered their mail. Or so the story goes. The origins of this probably go back to local newspaper stories in 2000 concerning a bench in Portland Square, but no mail was ever delivered there and the postcode was the same one as that part of the street. Instead, the bench had been registered as the official home of six people by Montpelier Health Centre because everyone needed an identifiable address in order to access NHS care. Staff at the clinic came up with the idea of registering six homeless people as “residents” of the park bench in order to get round the NHS bureaucracy.

If you know your history you’ll be aware that the dear old Church of England wasn’t always packed with nice, conscientious vicars and bishops who cared about people and stuff like that. In the late 1700s and early 1800s it had some truly holy men in it, but for the most part it was a corrupt job-creation scheme for the idiot sons of the upper classes. Many senior clerics held several jobs at once, taking the salaries and either not doing the work, or farming it out at minimum wage to an impoverished ecclesiastical underclass. Take, for instance, Dr Frederick William Blomberg, appointed Prebendary of Bristol Cathedral in 1790, aged just 28. He had been chaplain and private secretary to the Prince of Wales, and had been appointed to many well-paid sinecures within the Church, though he did no work in any of them. So how come he’d landed so many plum jobs, and so many favours from the royal family? Here’s one version: Blomberg’s father, an army officer, had secretly married a young woman who had two children, one of them being young Frederick William. When she died, Major Blomberg had the children sent to a house in rural Dorset to be brought up as discreetly as possible. After Major Blomberg was killed in battle (American War of Independence), a strange thing happened. Major Blomberg’s ghost appeared to a fellow officer. The ghost told him about his secret children, and where he would find them, and asked him to ensure that they inherited his property. When Queen Charlotte (wife of King George III) heard about this, she insisted that young Frederick William be sent for, and that he should be brought up with her own children. So Blomberg’s great good fortune in ecclesiastical offices was the result of his being brought up as a virtual member of the Royal Family. This, in many different versions, was one of the most famous ghost stories of the age. Here’s another version: Young Blomberg was indeed brought up with the royal children, but that’s because the above story was a complete crock, and that he was in fact a bastard son of George III, to whom he bore a striking physical resemblance. The royals saw him OK by making sure he got plenty of cushy church jobs that didn’t require him to do any work. By all accounts he much preferred playing the violin to doing anything remotely religious. EUGENE BYRNE IS GIVING A TALK AT ARNOS VALE CEMETERY ON SOME LOCAL URBAN MYTHS AT 3PM ON SUNDAY 1 APRIL. TICKETS £7/£5 CONCESSIONS, ALL PROCEEDS IN AID OF ARNOS VALE. FOR BOOKING AND FURTHER DETAILS SEE TINYURL. COM/7O7NLPY

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not to mention... Yes, there were chickens living in the wild, in Totterdown and Southville. There might still be. We promise never to mention the feral chickens again.

Bristol’s iconic Neptune statue was made to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada? It even used to say that on the plaque on his plinth. Not true. Spanish Armada defeated 1588, statue cast in 1723.

That one about the Bristol Zoo car park attendant collecting money from people for years and pocketing the lot because the zoo thought he was working for the council and the council thought he was employed by the zoo? That’s rubbish, that is. Never happened.

Why are there so many black people in St Pauls? Well, it’s because a rich man living there in the 1700s hated his neighbours so much that when he died he left his house and other property in St Pauls to his slaves. And they all invited their friends and relatives to come over. This version of history was current among your average white Bristolian in the 1960s and 70s, but is absolute nonsense. Most of St Pauls was built long after the abolition of slavery, and African Caribbean migrants settled there in the 1950s and 60s because rents were low and it was near the middle of town.

Arnos Manor Hotel was a convent back in Victorian times. One of the nuns got pregnant and died and the other nuns were so ashamed that her body was bricked up in the walls of the building. The skeleton was discovered by workmen repairing damage done during the Blitz. That’s the story, anyway.

That story about the sunken pedestrian bit of St James Barton roundabout being called the Bear Pit because back in olden days they really used to keep bears there? Er, no. The Bear Pit was built in the 1950s as part of a grand visionary scheme to separate pedestrians and motor traffic.

The story that there was once a sign on the M32 saying WELCOME TO BRISTOL – PLEASE DON’T LAUGH AT OUR ACCENT? That’s true. It was a few years ago and someone did it for a laugh. It wasn’t the council or the Highways Agency or anyone like that.

Bristol University’s Long Ashton Research Station, which closed in 2003, carried out agricultural research. Sometime in the 1990s, according to a woman who used to live in LA, and who told me this in the pub, the rumour went round the village that they’d accidentally (or deliberately) created a new breed of genetically modified super-slug while Toying With Forces Beyond Their Understanding. Frankly this is too good to check, and even if we did call up Bristol Uni they’d only deny it – but they would, wouldn’t they?

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g n i t i r w e Th l l a w e h t on Mike White goes undercover with one of Bristol’s most notorious tagging crews.


rain!” someone yells. Suddenly we’re vaulting back over a wall, off the tracks. An Intercity thunders past seconds later. It’s the coldest night of the year and Venue’s out on the streets of South Bristol with one of the city’s most prolific tagging crews, DBK. Hoods up, we walk through the darkness, down litter-strewn alleys, across deserted car parks, through flickering tunnels, our peregrinations punctuated by the pop of aerosol can lids, the ‘psssh’ of pressured paint, the intoxicating drift of solvents on the night air. ‘Street-inspired art’ is embraced by the establishment, beloved by the hoi polloi. Banksy’s a national bleedin’ treasure. But taggers remain the last bastion of graffiti’s cutting edge, art’s final outlaws, unanimously condemned as mindless vandals. Even in Bristol, a city celebrated the world over for its graffiti scene, a city which celebrates street art with major gallery exhibitions and council-endorsed events, tagging – the grassroots beginnings of it all – is vilified. To make one’s mark is an impulse that’s at least 40,000 years old; it’s the origin of all visual art. Taggers simply write a name on a wall (or a bin, or a train etc.). Why is there such antagonism for such a benign activity? Because most people struggle to see its aesthetic value? Because it’s on other people’s property? Because it’s misunderstood? The anti-tagging stance is well-rehearsed. I’m hoping to get the other side of the story: to find out what makes taggers do it, what it can bring to a city, what it’s like out there in the dark, risking life and limb for nebulous reward – and to explore whether understanding tagging is more about attitude than aesthetics.


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DBK used to call themselves Def Bombin Krew, now they’re the Dirty Bristol Kids. They’re a loose affiliation of maybe a dozen graffiti writers, one of many such crews who wander the streets under cover of darkness to make their mark. For them, tagging (also called ‘bombing’ or ‘catching reaches’) is a way of life. Take ‘Anon’. He’s a lean, thoughtful man in his early twenties. His baseball cap’s at a jaunty angle; paint freckles his trainers. We meet in the gloom at Dean Lane Skate Park. He greets me with a handshake and a sniffle. “Tagging’s basically just getting your name everywhere – you’ve just gotta bomb it. I got into skateboarding as a kid, fell in love with hip-hop

“Who gets to decide what art is? The people who clean up graffiti are deciding for Bristol.” Anon, tagger

definitely not to be confused with gang graffiti, which is all about marking turf, defending your patch. “DBK’s not a gang; we don’t go around shooting people or anything like that. We just do our thing, make our music and paint. For me, bombing’s much more of a personal thing.” As we walk, he goes on to describe how tagging turns the city into a story with you as a central character. It creates a kind of memory map; every reach caught has a tale behind it. To those who understand them, tags represent a complex interplay of psychogeography, art and friendship. “And it’s so satisfying, when you get it right,” he says. “Making a word look good on a wall isn’t as easy as you might think.” He turns to a wall and a huge silver DBK appears in a series of swift, graceful movements. To a serious tagger, the development of style is all-important. A writer just starting out is called a ‘toy’, and they may spend years working on their hand-style before they’re considered a fully-fledged tagger. “It’s about can control, and can control takes

culture, spent a lot of my time out on the streets – painting was just part of life. I’m not saying all that ‘It’s all I know’ bullsh*t like I’m some ghetto child. I just liked the way it looked, I liked being in a crew. On one level it’s like dogs p*ssing on a wall, pretty egotistical. You want to be the most ‘up’ writer with the most style, the writer who’s everywhere. What do we get out of it? A court fine and some community service, that’s what!” He laughs and sighs. But tagging’s not mere territorial p*ssings, and

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practice. A lot of people will just do it ’cause it’s cool or whatever; they’ll just go out and ruin a load of sh*t, probably beef some people, think it’s funny and then that’ll be that. They’re not really in it for the long run. But there’s a whole lot of work that goes into doing it right. There are so many different hand-styles from around the world: I like Philly-style, the letters tall and thin, with a small bottom and then a top flare, pulling the can away as you bring it up; but you can have New York hand-styles, Euro hand-styles, Swedish style – and then there’s everyone’s individual variations on those… You look up writers all over the world, all these different hand-styles, and you draw influences from them and evolve your own.” A lot of it, he freely admits, is “absolute sh*t. Jokers with no idea just f*cking things up,” but done well it’s a kind of urban calligraphy. Most people can’t or won’t see that. They’re angry that taggers spray their mess willy-nilly and then taxpayers’ money is wasted clearing it up. They don’t feel the need to understand it any more than that. But – playing devil’s advocate – just because you don’t understand a given creative endeavour doesn’t lessen its aesthetic worth – take Dadaism, which was wilfully meaningless, deliberately anti-art. Much conceptual art is

“It is quite a selfish act, but everyone does selfish acts all the time.” Anon, tagger beyond most people’s understanding, and the majority of corporate art – you know the kind of thing, a load of cast bronze triangles, a giant chrome turd outside an office block – is just as gnomic and every bit as ugly. And we all have to look at it whether we like it or not. The arbitrariness of aesthetic policing is the bête noire of the modern tagger. Anon again: “Who gets to decide what art is? The people who clean up graffiti are deciding for Bristol. Or their supervisors, their supervisors’ supervisors. If they’re not sure whether it’s street art or graffiti, they actually have to make a phone call to their supervisor, send them a picture, and they tell them whether they should buff it or not. That’s how it is now. I think that’s just a joke.” Duchamp stuck a urinal on a wall. Warhol copied soup cans. Damien Hirst put a rotting horse head in a box. “Take Tracy Emin, you know… what the f*ck? She’s got a bed, with like, sh*t on it, and it wins the Turner Prize? If she’d left it on Stapleton Road she’d have been done for flytipping. If an art critic was to sit me down, and was like, ‘Talk a little bit about your tag,’ I could do that, tell him about different hand-styles, use a few big long words. But I’m not interested in getting approval like that. If you can chat sh*t about art, basically, you can make money off it. That’s how Tracy Emin must’ve sold it, but it’s still just a dirty bed.”

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What does tagging bring to the city? There’s an analogy to be drawn with lichen. Lichen thrives where the air is good; it’s a sign of a healthy habitat. Similarly, widespread graffiti is an indicator of a city’s cultural health at a grassroots level, much like fly-posting, which the small-minded also tend to dislike. “It is an indication of how alive the city is. Look at Barcelona, my favourite city, the best place I’ve been in the world,” says Anon. “It’s got tags everywhere. Bombers from all over the world go there and the scene is self-fuelling. The richness of the culture alongside that amount of graff? It’s not a coincidence.” Looking at the railings around Dean Lane Skate Park, once brute-grey, now glowing with layer upon layer of colour, it’s easy to see how graffiti can bring life and humanity to a place. Though Anon never says as much, perhaps tagging should be celebrated for its untameability. Like kids finger painting, it's messy and exuberant and all over the place – and that’s what’s good about it. The toddler’s daubings a new parent sticks on their fridge are cherished as a part of that child’s artistic development. They’re untrammelled by education or self-consciousness, and they’re essential to what comes later. The kind of graffiti that most people do like – the big, carefully planned pieces – would not exist without tagging, says Anon. “You can’t have one without the other.” But suggesting that graffiti and street art are the same thing draws a swift rebuttal. “No! No, no, no. I hate that. All graffiti comes from tagging. Yeah, even Banksy started with tagging. But graffiti’s different to street art. It might be called graffiti when you write on a wall, but graffiti has got its own side to things and now street art has got its own side to things. If they get treated differently, they’re different things. Street art is allowed to stay; it’s socially acceptable, people like it. But even if people go down Nelson Street and go, ‘Ooh, I like the pretty pictures!’ they still won’t like graffiti. The organisers of See No Evil [the UK’s biggest street art event, which took over Nelson Street] weren’t even allowed to use the word ‘graffiti’.”


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Anon also has little time for Banksy. “None of his stuff’s really that original. He just copied Bleq Le Rat – Google him, you’ll see.” Venue has done, and the similarities are striking. Bleq Le Rat’s a Frenchman who’s now pushing 60, and was stencilling all over Paris while Banksy was still struggling to hold a crayon. But surely Banksy’s popularity has helped pave the way for others? “Well, he definitely hasn’t paved the way for real graff artists. I want to write to Banksy and say, ‘Bruv, do me a canvas this big.”” He draws a sixinch square in the air. “‘I’m a graffiti artist from Bristol, the city where you’ve ruined our name, do me a canvas that big and it would pay all my court fines, everything.’ That’s what he should be doing – helping out writers who are getting nicked, you know what I mean?” Part of tagging’s appeal is the adrenaline, the thrill of mischief, the challenge of getting your name up but not getting caught. Before each new tag there’s a quick glance around to check the coast is clear. As we vault the wall back onto the railway lines, there’s a pleasing tingle of danger. The coast clear, the cans pop and hiss and soon DBK is emblazoned in silver letters five feet high. The excitement is addictive, and for prolific writers the risks are high. “I got arrested the first time I went out painting. I was up on a rooftop and someone thought we were doing a burglary, so the cops came down in force. I’m up there running across this roof in the pitch dark, I can’t see anything, then out of nowhere bang! Maglite in my face. They nicked me straight away, but it didn’t even get referred to the graff squad or anything, ’cause I was just a kid.” In the early days, the DBK would prepare matching stories in advance in case they got busted. Nowadays the line is usually ‘I’m just walking home’. “When I was 16 we walked the whole span of Bristol – literally everywhere, with maybe three full pens each and emptied them all in one night, and police drove past us


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countless times. Any other time we’d get stopped and searched. But this time we were both wearing suits. You can’t do it all the time, ’cause any time I dress smart I ruin my clothes, painting something, climbing walls. But it’s the ultimate camouflage, a suit.” CCTV cameras – Anon calls them “the 360s, ’cause they follow you everywhere” – have landed many taggers with community service and a hefty fine. Others are not so lucky – many graffiti artists end up imprisoned for painting too much. “Rapists often get less time inside than graffiti artists, so do drink drivers even if they’ve paralysed someone, ruined their life. That’s a justice system that’s seriously f*cked up.” Is tagging really so bad? It’s pretty smallscale, when you compare it to, say, whoever was responsible for ramming the M32 right through the heart of Eastville, dividing the once-united Easton and St Pauls. Look at that giant ugly concrete monstrosity, towering over people’s homes. Look at the damage to the community, the pollution of noise and air, whole streets razed to the ground, a river buried in concrete. It’s hypocritical to shrug at such ill-conceived destruction but then get angry when a local boy dares to write his name in the underpass he now needs to use in order to get home. “It’s just a logo,” shrugs Anon. “There are all these other names up, bombarded in your face every single day. Billboards, man. Every company’s got its own logo up, their own name. They are causing more damage in your life than taggers ever could, encouraging greed, needless consumption, a sense of lack and envy – but they’re allowed to do it, encouraged to do it, because they’ve got the capital to support these huge advertising campaigns. They pay the piper. I don’t. I’ve got a dirty marker pen.” We turn down an alley.

A gang of teenagers stampedes past, yelling expletives and kicking bins. Anon casually sidesteps them and reaches up to slip a fresh ‘DBK’ over a boarded-up doorway. The wall below is covered in red rectangles of council coverpaint. It’s like a Bedminster Rothko. Boarded up though it is, that door belongs to someone. Chances are they didn’t want DBK written over it. Isn’t it a bit selfish to paint without asking? Anon pauses. He’s thought about this a lot. “It is quite a selfish act, but everyone does selfish acts all the time. Before you point the finger, look at yourself. Driving a car across town is way worse. Anyone who does that is more destructive and antisocial than I am. They’re polluting the air that kids have to breathe, they’re blocking up the streets, causing noise pollution, making it dangerous just to walk around because they hit people, run people over. Think of all the buildings that are made uglier by the exhaust grime all over them, all the huge ugly car parks ruining the cityscape, the amount of eye-sore street signage that’s put there because of cars – that’s even before the fact that driving your car everywhere means you get fatter and less healthy, putting a strain on the Health Service… it goes on and on. So if we’re talking about selfish, destructive acts and behaving antisocially, then the law should go after everyone making non-essential car journeys before they go after us. A cop at the entrance to Cabot Circus car-park, busting everyone on the way in. Cuffs on, night in the cells, massive fine. See how they like it. They do more damage than taggers do, no question. That’s a fact. Tagging? It’s just a name on a wall.” SEE THE FULL VERSION OF THIS FEATURE AT WWW.VENUE.CO.UK

march 2012 // 25

2/22/2012 3:31:09 PM

Making mischief Aardman’s roistering adventure ‘The Pirates! In an

Adventure with Scientists!’ is their second big-screen epic in fourth months. Robin Askew talks to director Peter Lord about sexy pirates, Charles Darwin and leprosy.


here’s a giant pirate ship in the reception area of Aardman’s Gas Ferry Road fun factory. No one seems to know how it got through the security doors, but you’d like to imagine that an Aardman-esque shipin-a-bottle technique was deployed, using a complex system of ropes and pulleys. In his office at the top of the building, affable studio co-founder Peter Lord is sporting a Blue Peter badge, seated by his trusty cutlass, and feeling justly proud of the new 3D stop-motion film that has swallowed five years of his life: ‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!’ He wrestles a little with the concept of studio secrecy (“I really must ask what I’m allowed to say”) so I never find out the film’s budget (less than ‘Arthur Christmas’, apparently), how much it needs to earn for corporate paymasters Sony to greenlight a sequel, and what on earth Nick Park is beavering away on in the office next door. But everything else is up for grabs, from the Great Leprosy Controversy to the joys of being rude about Charles Darwin and why the film doesn’t have a big cheesy moral.

26 // March 2012

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It could be argued that Aardman has always been in the business of 3D because of the model work. What do you make of the modern 3D process? I can’t say, hand on heart, that it’s vital. Not artistically. I will say the film looks lovely in 3D. Ideally you should see it twice – the first time in 2D and the second time in 3D. This’ll be great for packing them into the cinemas! The first time you see it, you should be enjoying the whole experience and absorbed by the story and the characters. Enjoying the environment is a slightly different experience, which you’ve got more leisure to do when you’ve seen the film once. The sets, I think, look fabulous in 3D. Did you enjoy being so disgracefully unpleasant to Charles Darwin? Yes and no. Let me say, before we go any further, that nobody respects Charles Darwin more than I. I rather enjoyed throwing mud at this revered character – this great man that nobody ever laughs at. It was just funny to be giving him such a terrible time. And please tell your readers that I’m not playing to Middle America with this. That’s what people will think. But it’s not the market I’m angling for. Gideon Defoe, who wrote the books and

“I don’t go to films to learn a life lesson. I go to be entertained.” peter lord, aardman

the screenplay, is a great respecter of Darwin. It’s just funny the way we found that the film inexorably moved that way. This is the man that always becomes the fall guy for everything. It just seemed funny. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. You attracted protests from a leprosy charity and, er, Stephen Fry over a leper gag in the film’s trailer. Did you ever anticipate such a reaction? It did cross my mind, to be honest. I thought this might offend some people, but it’s a good joke. It wasn’t done to offend people, of course. It was done as a stupid schoolboy joke, of which I entirely approve. Now you’ve changed the offending line to refer to the plague, presumably you’re hoping there isn’t a lobby group for plague victims? [Laughs] Yes, that’s right. D’you know, we were sitting in an edit suite throwing ideas out. And with each idea, someone was going online to see who would be offended. The film certainly offers plenty of potential for taking offence. You could upset amputees, royalists, Darwinists… Scientists generally. It’s a mischievous film. It has a mischievous sense of humour. I can picture a scientist coming on the Today programme and saying, “I’m so disappointed in this movie because it really portrays all the old stereotypes of scientists as boring, and it’s most unhelpful when we’re trying to encourage science in schools.” I can do the speech for them. I know all that. But I just thought it’s fun. It’s not serious. It’s just a


2/22/2012 3:05:57 PM

joke. To have pop at the orthodoxy is always good fun. There’s a serious point here, though, isn’t there? These days, everybody seems to demand the right not to be offended, which must surely have a deadening effect on comedy? Yeah, it’s a bit rubbish that. Women might be offended by our film as well. In the Royal Society, the woman who’s coming along behind Charles Darwin in the queue is propagating ‘Lady Science’, which involves kitchen-based things. In fact, I’m happy to say that we had the man from the Royal Society coming to check us out to make sure that we weren’t defamatory. He said, “Women weren’t allowed to join until way after this period. So you’ve actually portrayed the Royal Society as being progressive.” There’s a scene in ‘Wayne’s World’ where Garth asks Wayne whether he was turned on when Bugs Bunny dressed up as Girl Bunny. Did you ever look at the model for Salma Hayek’s Cutlass Liz and think “Phwoarr!”? She’s hot, yeah. [Laughs] She’s written in the script as being really hot. So she was clearly sexy. Then our character designer drew these various sexy pirate ladies and we built her. Then we came to animate her first entrance and I was acting it out. I was doing my best sultry catwalk strut. But we chose a female animator to do it, which was a very smart move. She sneered at my efforts. Would it be fair to say that Ashley Jensen’s character, Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, was stolen blatantly from Monty Python,


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specifically Terry Jones? Yes, it was. I will happily say that we looked at ‘Life of Brian’ to see what false beards look like.

reputation. It’s hard to break out of that. We’re like British bands. Cracking the States is so bloody hard.

You’ve made no secret of your desire to make a sequel. Gideon has a joke in one of his books where he makes up thousands of sequels. I would love to do a sequel. Honestly. Because it was such fun. It’s a fun world.

Shame the film missed out on an Oscar nomination, though. I’m a bit p*ssed off that it hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar. And it missed out on a BAFTA too. I put that down to that perverse British thing that sometimes adores you for being British and sometimes turns around and bites you on the leg: “That’ll teach you to be so British!” But I was more annoyed by the Oscars, because to not get nominated was bizarre. It was the bestreviewed animated movie of the year. So to not get nominated is pretty insulting really.

One of the most refreshing things about the film is the fact that it doesn’t have one of those big, cheesy, sledgehammer moral messages that so many US animations inflict upon us. No, absolutely not. To be completely honest, I think Gideon probably thinks we’ve sold out to sentiment with what we have done. But I think it’s nice to feel warm at the end. To feel that the world is in some way put right is a good way to end the movie. Films often state their message clearly, but we have: “You can’t always just say ‘arr’ at the end of a sentence and think that makes everything all right.” Remember, kids! I’m delighted not to do that stuff, because it doesn’t please me. I don’t go to films to learn a bloody life lesson. I go to be entertained. And to feel good. I’m into that. You must have been pleased with the box office performance of ‘Arthur Christmas’, particularly in the UK [£20m, sneaking into the year-end top ten for 2011]? Very happy over here. It was a little disappointing in the States. I’m sure the figures will look enormous to outsiders [$46m, fact fans], but we don’t have a big reputation over there. We have a niche

We’ve seen an extraordinary burst of productivity from Aardman, with two films in four months. But there doesn’t seem to be anything else in the pipeline. Does that mean you’re going to fall silent on the feature film front for the next few years? Yes we are, actually. I won’t say that’s great timing. Because it isn’t great timing to have two sitting on top of each other. Nick is working on his own stop-frame thing. But although he’s well advanced on the story, he’s not close to starting it. So there will be a long gap. It is very hard, I can now tell you, to keep this business running on a steady cycle. We tend to get this peaks and troughs thing. I blame Nick Park for this. If he’d got his finger out earlier on his film, then we wouldn’t have a gap. But he didn’t. So we have. ‘THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!’ OPENS ON WEDNESDAY 28 MARCH. SEE REVIEW ON PAGE 42. FOR A LONGER VERSION OF THIS INTERVIEW, SEE WWW.VENUE.CO.UK

march 2012 // 27

2/22/2012 3:06:54 PM

You’re booked Anna Britten finds out how Bath Literature Festival pulls in big audiences while keeping the slebs at bay.


ne of the few interesting phenomena gets special attention with a marathon public reading about this otherwise grindingly of ‘David Copperfield’ spearheaded by Alan Titchmarsh, predictable age of austerity is the way a guided tour of Dickens’s favourite Bath haunts, and niche industries have flourished. With the hot ticket that is Claire Tomalin talking about her the arts budget starved, and most people esteemed biography. Angela Carter, who lived in Bath expecting their entertainment kicks for for a while, is the recipient of her own special weekend, free, what hope can there be for an event while the ‘Her Story’ strand will see public readings from that charges actual money to actually the work of 100 women, plus discussions such as ‘Does it witness, in the flesh, people talking about Matter What A Woman Wears?’ with journalists Shaista the Spanish holocaust or Oscar Wilde’s Aziz and Joan Smith. wife? Not to mention “the tension between what we’re Of the latter, Zoe explains: “It was 100th International capable of and what we want to experience”? Or the Women’s Day after last year’s festival and we would scientific breakthroughs of ninth-century Baghdad? have loved to do something, but it went a bit unnoticed. Plenty, as it turns out. Bath Literature Festival – home I thought, well, we are still in the tenth year, so it would this month to all of the above, plus hundreds more be foolish not to do something about it now. In the similarly brain-tickling book-based events – has defied publishing industry you get a lot of men – so we thought the recession and in its seventeenth year is enjoying a we’d get, not necessarily famous women, but events that broader support base than ever before. look at what it means to be a woman.” “The literature festival has become more successful In addition, Day One of the festival involves a raft of year on year,” says festival producer Zoe Steadmanfree events, including live performance, open mics, talks Milne. “I think it’s because it’s quite reasonable – often and workshops from across central Bath to Midsomer the tickets are cheaper than going to the cinema. People Norton and Keynsham, as well as an utterly bonkersare turning back to books and literature and being sounding Opening Night Gala at the Guildhall, at which able to go out and talk about a screening of Buster Keaton’s things with like-minded people lit-flavoured film ‘College’ will be rather than sitting at home accompanied by live, spontaneous, and watching telly. I think the improvised music from Philip dumbing down of popular culture Sheppard and band. has actually helped. Literature Although the names of Evan festivals give people a chance to Davis, Stella Rimington and local flex their intellectual muscle. It’s Lib Dem MP Don Foster may not not elite, it’s just about thinking immediately suggest ‘books’, litfest – people will come to things and purists will note – and rejoice – haven’t read the author but it’s that there’s not a celebrity chef or what’s going to be discussed that memoir-pushing movie star in attracts them.” sight. Unlike there is at, say, bigger While the festival may present local rival Cheltenham. Zoe Steadman-Milne, as an elegant parade of carefully “It’s nice to hear that,” says corralled cerebral activity, the Zoe. “People say we should be Bath Literature organisation of it is inevitably bigger, shinier. ‘You should have Festival more manic. “There’s an awful the celebs, they’re the ones who lot of boring admin,” says Zoe. sell tickets.’ But it shouldn’t be “I’m always telling our interns: about who you are but what one percent of the time it’s fun or glamorous… the you’re saying. We think that’s more interesting. You rest of the time it’s admin! The actual event is the most can switch the TV on and see these people. I just don’t fun part. You meet so many interesting people. Doris find it interesting and [artistic director] James Runcie Lessing was absolutely lovely. Anna Politkovskaya, doesn’t either. We want to give our audiences something who was murdered within a year of coming to us, unexpected. Some people you programme and you think was amazing. It had been a struggle for her to come is anyone going to know who they are? And they are the to Bath, but she rocked up, terribly professional and ones that sell out! There’s this idea people will only come charming. We had a lot of Russians in the audience and if it’s a famous name and that is completely wrong. We it got a bit confrontational but she dealt with them so don’t need to be doing what other people do. A festival professionally and kindly.” should be a unique experience that won’t happen Some of this year’s big names likely to end up in the anywhere else at any other time – that is what will keep memory archive of Zoe and her audiences include Joan Bath going.” Bakewell, Alain de Botton, William Boyd, Carol Ann BATH LITERATURE FESTIVAL RUNS FROM FRI 2-SUN 11 MAR Duffy, Nadine Gordimer, AL Kennedy, Jim Al-Khalili, AT VARIOUS VENUES ACROSS BATH. FFI: 01225 463362 OR WWW. Alexander McCall Smith, Tony Parsons, Helen Simpson, BATHLITFEST.ORG.UK Ali Smith, AN Wilson and stacks more. Charles Dickens

“A festival should be a unique experience that won’t happen anywhere else at any other time – that is what will keep Bath going.”

It's Bath time for (from top) Alain de Botton, Alexander McCall Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Joan Bakewell, Nadine Gordimer and Stella Rimington.

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2/22/2012 4:08:28 PM


Melissa Benn


elissa Benn is an author, journalist and campaigner. She will be appearing at ‘Are

Universities Worth The Money?’ and talking about her book ‘School Wars: The Battle For Britain’s Education’ at the Guildhall on Sat 10 Mar. If you were a 17-yearold today, would you be applying to university? Probably yes. But I worry hugely about the rise in tuition fees. I was the beneficiary of a free education and I’m hugely grateful for it. What worries me is not just that it’s putting off poorer families, it’s the change in the nature of education itself, and the knock-on effect of that, which is the role of universities in our society. They are there to have a slightly detached view and follow lines of enquiry without worrying about paying their way – that’s how human knowledge is advanced. You are a keen advocate for comprehensive schools – why? It’s interesting you say ‘comprehensive’. You can’t have a comprehensive school in an area where you have private and grammar and academy – the so-called ‘comprehensive’ will often become the sink school of


Bath Lit Fest Feature 978.indd 29

the area. My argument is for a completely different vision of how a school can be. Obviously, there are a lot of brilliant schools in this country. I don’t want to chuck that out. What I’m saying is, don’t give parents the burden of choice – let’s have really, really good neighbourhood schools everywhere, and don’t let them have the choice of who they let in. Let’s fund our schools well. We’re going down the wrong path – the profit motive is coming into schools.

ways they are the new politics – but people pay and they have bigger turn outs than any political meeting! Any awkward moments? I recently had to give a 40minute talk after a week in bed with flu. There was something going on in the audience. The next day I went on Twitter and it turned out there had been a group of hostile people who never said a word at the festival but starting tweeting

nasty things the day after. It turned out they were attached to various organisations. It’s not always been easy with this book. I’ve had some quite difficult incidents but I’ve thought very much about my argument and I am putting it in a very reasonable way – if there is hostility and unpleasantness, it’s not going to come from me. I feel strongly about the importance about saying difficult things in a public arena.

Where do you stand on the argument about Bristol Free School? I’m not against parentpromoted schools but I think the free schools are proving to be something different. In Bristol, as I understand it, this is a group of quite welloff parents who got together with a local MP, and have set their own catchment area, but the building is in another area which is not affluent. If we stand back, it’s affluent parents having their own school – and is that right? To spend taxpayers’ money at a time when other schools are facing cuts? It’s a democratic issue. Do you enjoy festivals or are they just part of the job? I really enjoy them – I really like shared discussion about the subject at hand. I find the audiences incredibly open, generally very warm. I think literature festivals, more than politics, show how you can debate in a very civilized, engaged way. In some

march 2012 // 29

2/22/2012 4:08:51 PM

p30.indd 1

2/22/2012 12:06:09 PM


Joe Dunthorne


oe Dunthorne is the author of the novels ‘Submarine’ and ‘Wild Abandon’. He will be talking about the comic weirdness of family life alongside Marina Lewycka at the Guildhall on Sat 10 Mar.

Do you have a preferred time of day for writing? I like to do it as soon after waking up as I can – me at my best would be probably waking up seven and trying to be writing by half seven then stopping at about 12, because after that point by brain no longer wants to do anything. I also make encouraging graphs for myself where I put the days of the month along the bottom and word count up the side, and fill it in with nice colour pencils. ‘Wild Abandon’ is set on a commune and features a big rave. Have you ever attended the latter? I’ve never been to what used to be known as free parties, the old-school country rave. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to fantasizing about it – all my friends did, my sister was there, but I was too young and in my head it was always this mystical thing. Have you started a third novel yet? No, I’ve written a short story that I think may become it, but at the moment I’m letting it settle. If I do write this thing, it’ll be a campus novel about a renegade creative writing tutor.


Bath Lit Fest Feature 978.indd 31

I do sometimes just spend time thinking – it seems there’s some processing going on which is not entirely conscious. What’s the hardest question you’ve ever been asked at a literary event? Someone did ask me once about the Holocaust, which was… tough. And other day I got outsmarted by a young man who had found some really interesting subtext in ‘Wild Abandon’. I had absolutely no clue. I had to say every subtext was correct, even if I haven’t thought of it in advance.

more at the touristy end of things. I have a nice memory of Bath – there were these free public pianos around town and there was one halfway along the Royal Crescent and me and my friend sat down and tinkled. You’re in the England Writers Football Team. Ever had a red card? No, but Marcus du Sautoy had both his wrists broken by this huge Jaws-from-‘James-Bond’ German guy.

A few events at this year’s Bath Lit Fest feature live musical accompaniment. If you were allowed this at your event, what would you have? There’s this amazing [spoken word] night in London called Tongue Fu and they’ve got this three-piece hip-hop/jazz band and you get to stand up and demand they play a particular genre and tempo before you start – so I’d say things like, “It’s 40 years in the future, and I want you to play something that is vaguely disaffected with an underlying roast dinner…” I’d have them. Which literary figures, alive or dead, would you love to appear on stage with? Kafka and Salinger. Have you been to Bath before? I love Bath. I suppose I’ve been

march 2012 // 31

2/22/2012 4:09:45 PM





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Reasonable rates. Bedminster. 7 days a week, including after school. Tel - 0117 2398558 CRB record updated.

32 // march 2012

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2/22/2012 12:09:40 PM

New lease of life for

Stoke Park Bristol City Council has taken formal control of a popular open space after several years of discussion and negotiation. Eugene Byrne reports.


toke Park, on the eastern edge of the city next to the M32, is, like Ashton Court, a former aristocratic estate, and is popular with local residents. The 140-acre site was formally transferred to Bristol City Council in January. It was previously owned and managed by a consortium comprising South Gloucestershire council and property developers Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Homes. The move follows several years of legal wrangling and delays. The park was originally designed by landscaper Thomas Wright in the 1750s and 1760s. It includes a Grade II listed tomb and includes two ornamental lakes and woodlands attracting a range of wildlife. The site also includes the landmark Purdown transmitter tower. The former estate mansion, the distinctive yellow-painted Dower House, is now split into private flats. The park has long been popular with local residents from Lockleaze and other surrounding areas, and the council hopes it will become a major leisure resource for people from further afield. It borders the Frome Valley and the Stapleton conservation area, giving walkers and cyclists potential access to a very large stretch of almost-rural environment within Bristol’s boundaries. Councillors are planning to consult with residents and local conservation groups about improving access from the Stapleton side of the M32.


News Feature 978.indd 33

Cllr Gary Hopkins, Bristol’s executive member for targeted improvements, said: “The vision for the future of Stoke Park is both ambitious and bold, above all, we see it as a growing partnership with local groups and community organisations, who will play a key role in helping to shape the park’s future. “A lot of the detail has yet to be sorted out but basically we’re looking for a blend of a destination park and local facilities… Stoke Park will provide masses of open space for walkers, cyclists, families with children and people who just want to have access to a taste of the countryside – right on their doorstep.” Cllr Hopkins acknowledges that the M32 is a problem. “One of the things we’re looking at is possibly some tree-planting to try and deaden the noise. But large parts of it are actually very pleasant for walking. There’s calls for a BMX track in part of it, and it’s so huge that we can accommodate all these ideas.” There have been some discussions about also using the site for outdoor events in a similar manner to Ashton Court. It will, however, be some years – if ever – before it can host major events drawing very large crowds because of issues over access, traffic, public safety and conservation. Part of the site will be used as a farm. The plan is to raise Dexter breed beef cattle. “They’re absolutely delicious,” Cllr Hopkins told Venue after being photographed standing next to one of them. The farm will offer work opportunities for people with learning difficulties and those recovering from mental illnesses, with any profits going to support the park’s upkeep.

The council takeover is the culmination of a long process which started when the South Gloucestershire council and property developers consortium took control of the site in 1993. Local historian and campaigner Steve England has been a leading member of the Stoke Park Action Group, which has been lobbying for better care of the area. “To see Bristol City Council take ownership of Stoke Park is really exciting. It means it’s in good hands, but what is essential now is that the aspirations of the park users and the Stoke Park Action Group are realised, and we don’t just get things thrown at us. We want to work with the council to ensure that everybody gets what they want. “One of the most fascinating things about Stoke Park is that it has a very good prehistoric past which nobody knows about. I have a fossil collection in the Glenside Hospital Museum dating back 180 million years when Stoke Park was a tropical ocean. There’s so much more to Stoke Park than what meets your eye, so many hidden treasures. It’s great to see it coming back to life.”

“To see Bristol City Council take ownership of Stoke Park is really exciting" steve england stoke park action group

march 2012 // 33

2/22/2012 3:44:16 PM

Newshound GoING UP

// THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF LAST MONTH...(and some other stuff) //

Dying for a crêpe


want this to be a grand design From crapper to crêperie (artist's impression). and a grand building. Our client wants to introduce a crêperie in Bristol. There are lots in London but very few in Bristol,” Mehdi Rezaie told the Evening Post. He was speaking as his firm submitted a fresh planning application to Bristol City Council for permission to turn the former public toilet block under the Cheltenham Road arches into a crêperie. The building is owned by a franchisee for American crêperie firm La Bella Crepe, and Mr Rezaie told the paper his client wants the Minneapolis-based chain to have an outlet in Bristol. Previous planning applications for the Bristol was spending over £800k per year site failed due to council objections to the on maintaining public toilets, with most of size of a proposed flat above the building, the expense due to vandalism. Some have and because there are several food outlets been put to new uses: on the Gloucester Road already. The firm says its new application addresses these // A former toilet on Fishponds Road issues. was turned into a chemist’s shop. The toilet has been boarded up for some years, following a major programme // The one on the corner of Woodland of dozens of toilet closures by the City Road and Park Row was a temporary art Council since the early noughties. By 2005, gallery last year.


Of course, all this does beg the question how come Bristolians need to wee less nowadays than they did back in the 20th century? It’s not like we’re drinking any less, is it?

behind £Bristol is to keep money in the local economy.

£1, £5, £10, £20

Mobile phone & internet payments

Launch date for Bristol Pound.

Denominations the new local money will be available in. There will be no coins. Pay for something costing £4.50 with a Bristol £5 note and your change will be 50p in that foreign English money.

£1 Sterling

Precise value of one Bristol Pound.

Amount of money out of every £10 spent at a supermarket which leaves Bristol. One of the big ideas

Newshound 978.indd 34

// One on Wells Road was turned into a barber’s shop. It’s called The Gents.

Monday 21 May


34 // march 2012

// The Downs Tea Rooms was once a gents’ toilet.

Can also be made in BrisQuids by residents and businesses with a BS postcode opening an account with Bristol Credit Union.

A financial revolution

Quite possibly. Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh are all watching what happens here with a view to maybe doing it themselves. And anything that sticks it to the banks and chainstores can’t be all bad.


Approx. number of Bristol City Council employees. They can have part of their salaries paid in Bristol Pounds if they want.

Financial Services Authority

Regulator of the Credit Union, meaning depositors’ Bristol Pound accounts have the same protection as ordinary bank accounts.

9 March

Your street on tinernet (again)... If you’re on the streets of Bristol anytime between now and the end of April-ish, and see a funny-looking vehicle, do something silly. It’s also a good time to use cardboard and paint to make your house look like a mansion for potential buyers. Microsoft have 360-degree cameras mounted on cars going round taking pictures for their Streetside application for Bing maps, which are a lot like Google Street View. Microsoft says they’re not doing every single street, but only the more populous and popular ones. As with Street View they’ll blur out car registration numbers and people’s faces, and will remove pictures if you ask them. Hooters... If you keep ABREAST of the news you’ll know controversial BRA and restaurant on BRISTOLS Harbourside has gone TITS-UP. Its KNOCKERS said a venue which traded on having attractive young female staff in skimpy tightfitting clothing was demeaning to women and tried to NIP it in the bud, but it seems it went BUST because of BOOBS in the business plan rather than feminist campaigning.


Deadline if you want to submit a design for the banknotes. Where you find out more.


2/22/2012 3:40:11 PM

email web

Say what? What’s all this mess on the table? Some stories I’m working on for the newspapers. Why does this involve car hub-caps? And what’s this? Looks like the foot of an oversized chicken. You reckon? Brilliant! I made it myself. Turns out I’m rubbish at carving wood, but if you think it looks convincing, then that’s good enough. What does an amateurish carving of a giant claw have to do with the newspapers? Well, as you know I am trying to hack a living as a freelance journalist, but there’s a recession on, and I’m finding it hard to get any work. What about that neighbourhood website you work for? YoureWelcometo They don’t pay. Though admittedly I did get to see the local light operatic society’s


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production of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ for half price.

strange phenomena locally lately. There’s the Beast of Woodchester, the Beast of Bristol (which was a big pawprint actually spotted in the Mendips, but no matter). There was a genuinely spooky story in the Evening Post last month about ghosts in Clevedon... Try this sheet on for size.

What about that glossy free magazine you write beauty tips for, Stoke Bishop Style? I have to pretend to be a girl, and I’m not sure it’s worth it. When they sent me to review that liposuction clinic, I had one of my moobs hoovered out, but not the other one, and And the hub-caps? UFOs. We hang one from a now I’m lop-sided. thread, you dangle it and hum But they did give you a the theme tune to ‘The Twilight lovely decorative candle Zone’ while I film it on my made from moob-fat. It oldest mobile phone. Oh, and saved you having to buy look at this. I got to work with my mother a Christmas the nail-scissors on your pot present. of watercress. The world’s first Anyway, I’m now taking watercress crop circle!! matters into my own hands But those other stories in by making some sensational the papers are genuine news stories. This claw is the mysteries. What you’re Beast of Fishponds. doing is a con, just making So you use this to make up a load of bullsh*t to fool some paw-prints in the people in order to make ground at Fishponds Park, money. By the way, I saved your take photos and sell the horoscope from today’s paper. story to the tabloids? Exactly! The papers have Great! Let me read it! been full of stories of


these parts // You probably walk past it every day... No. 27 The Llandoger Trow // Let’s deal with the funny name first, then. A trow was a flat-bottomed sailing boat that could easily get round all the shallow inland waterways around the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. The masts could usually also be lowered so that they could travel under low bridges. Lots of them were made at Llandogo, a village in South Wales near Monmouth, and up the river Wye. Trows from Llandogo used to trade between Wales and Bristol in large numbers, landing and loading cargoes at a part of the harbour which for obvious reasons became known as Welsh Back, a few yards from the pub. The picturesque old pub is a grade II listed building and has been a substantial fixture here since the 1600s. It used to be bigger, with a fivegabled roof. This was shortened to three gables by the Luftwaffe. It’s also famous on account of several confused legends about its literary connections. So a fictionalised Llandoger Trow allegedly appears in Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’. It doesn’t: although some of the novel is set in Bristol, RLS probably never even visited here. More plausibly, Daniel Defoe supposedly quizzed former castaway Alexander Selkirk here over several beers, thus leading to ‘Robinson Crusoe’. Sadly, this probably isn’t true either. Defoe did visit Bristol, and certainly knew about Selkirk’s adventures, but it’s more likely he found his inspiration from captain Woodes Rogers’s account of his amazing early 1700s privateering (legalised piracy) voyage around the world. So then… Llandoger Trow, named for a workaday boat, and less historical than we’d like. But don’t let that stop you telling visitors to Bristol whatever lies take your fancy. It is very picturesque, after all.

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// The mists of time // Heh! Looks like your SatNav has buggered up again. You thought you were going somewhere nice, but instead you’re trapped in memory lane with some 20-yearold editions of Venue. This is what Venue was going on about in March of 1992: // Britain’s first ever radio station run completely by women was due to broadcast from Bristol for eight days. It was the idea of radio producer Trish Caverley and media lecturer Caroline Mitchell. The latter told Venue: “We had thousands of

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The News, Digested

New hospital … New festival … New mayor ... New library stuff … // Parts of South Bristol’s new community hospital are due to start opening at the end of March. The £45m hospital at Hengrove Park has now been handed over to the NHS for fitting out and is expected to handle some 145,000 patients a year. The hospital is part of a wider regeneration push for the area initiated under the previous government. The strategy also includes a new leisure centre at Hengrove Park, which is also due to open in early March. The £35m centre includes an Olympicstandard 50m swimming pool, gym, dance studio, climbing wall and cafe. // Bristol’s newest festival has announced its intentions for the Queen’s Jubilee weekend. Taking place on Sun 3 June, Love Saves The Day is expected to attract 5,000 people to Castle Park for a family-friendly, fete-themed all-dayer. Headliners confirmed so far include Annie Mac, Roots

letters from all over the country offering help, ideas for features and programmes, letters from people who just wanted to wish us well. One had DON’T PLAY AGADOO across the top in big letters.” The article continues: “There were cheeky letters, like the tampon manufacturer looking for a free plug (if you’ll pardon the pun).” Say, whatever happened to letters?... There was going to be a general election. Every single MP in the former Avon area was white, male and a Tory, apart from Bristol South left-winger (no, really) Dawn Primarolo. Her Tory challenger was John Bercow, nowadays speaker of the House and a paragon of wisdom and rectitude, but in 1992 Venue called him “an archetype of the unsavoury, upwardly-mobile schoolboy

Manuva, Maya Jane Coles and Joker. As well as five stages of music, there’ll be theatre, art and a tea party. See www. and for updates. // Councillor Peter Main will be Bristol’s next Lord Mayor, succeeding Cllr Geoff Gollop in May. Main, 61 (LD, Brislington West), says his year in office will focus on reaching out to Bristol’s minority communities. Cllr Main, who is himself gay, says he will be learning British Sign Language and will be supported by his friend Janis Aitken in the role of Lady Mayoress.

// Local libraries now offer more than 700 eBook titles for free download. The new eBook service can be used with several leading products including Sony Reader, Kobo, Nook, iPad, iPhone and Android devices. At the moment, however, they are not compatible with the Kindle. New eBooks are being added to the collection continually. See www. ffi.

// Bristol West constituency Labour Party has voted to choose its next Parliamentary candidate from an all-women shortlist. The seat is currently held by the Liberal Democrats’ Stephen Williams, but could well fall to Labour at the next election.

// Bristol City Council has launched a mortgage scheme for first-time buyers in partnership with Lloyds TSB and local authority financial advice firm Sector Treasury Services. The aim of the Local Lend A Hand scheme is to help local first-time buyers get on the housing ladder, offering loans to borrowers who have a 5% deposit. The council hopes the scheme will help people who can afford monthly mortgage payments, but do not have the large deposits mortgage lenders are currently demanding.

right that flourished under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher throughout the eighties.”... Other candidates included doctor and comedian Phil Hammond, standing against Health Secretary William Waldegrave in Bristol West for the Struck Off and Die Junior Doctors Alliance (SODJDA). The party was funded by Hammond’s “ash cash”, the small fees paid to junior doctors whenever a deceased patient was to be cremated, but had a serious purpose in trying to draw attention to the state of the NHS under the Tories. He said he hoped to poll less than ten votes... There’s a new upand-coming local act playing at Moles in Bath. “This time the secret’s out. PJ Harvey is now someone major and at least one feller who had come all the way

from London to see her didn’t, marooned outside with a couple of dozen others as the set ticked away. This is the last time she’ll be able to play a venue this small.”... Advert from estate agents Morgan & Sons: “GREENBANK End-terrace house with off-street parking, smelly bathroom, unmatched tiling in kitchen and other horrible things. You might be able to get a mortgage for this load of bricks.” Yeah, but it was £27,000. Twenty years ago you could get a whole house in Bristol for less than thirty grand. Though we had no internet, mind.


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Film All Washed up? Denzel Washington seems rather underwhelmed by his latest film ‘Safe House’. Robin Askew politely bungs a few questions at the Hollywood stalwart anyway.


here’s a line in Denzel Washington’s new film, ‘Safe House’, that’s guaranteed to get a laugh at every screening. Someone describes his character as “the black Dorian Gray”. The description could equally apply to Washington himself. Still alarmingly younglooking at 57, he’s come a very long way since his first screen role, which the IMDB describes as ‘Alley Mugger #1 (uncredited)’ in Michael Winner’s ‘Death Wish’ back in 1974. But despite all the acclaim and awards, which include Oscars for ‘Glory’ and ‘Training Day’, he admits he nearly jacked it all in quite recently. “I went through a phase where I was sick of acting. I was really tired of it. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was bored with it.” It seems a belated midlife crisis prompted this soul-searching, which finds expression in the language of motivational mumbo-jumbo. “When I turned 50, I looked in the mirror and I realised that this isn’t a dress rehearsal. This is life. And I don’t know how much more of it I’m gonna have. And even if I have 50 more years, I probably won’t remember the last 20 or 30 of ‘em anyway.” The key to recommitting himself as an actor was his Tony Award-winning return to the stage two years ago opposite Viola Davies in the 2010 Broadway revival of ‘Fences’. “I want to do good work,” he affirms. “And I want to do good


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work with people I want to work with.” Which brings us to ‘Safe House’. Now Washington himself is first to admit that this didn’t exactly qualify as ‘good work’ on first inspection. “I wasn’t that impressed with the screenplay,” he says bluntly, prompting a sharp intake of breath from the PR minders. “I didn’t think it was good enough.” What he did like was 34-yearold Swedish director Daniel Esponosa’s previous film, the crime drama ‘Snabba Cash’ (unreleased in the UK). “If I hadn’t met Daniel, I probably wouldn’t have done this movie because it didn’t interest me that much,” he elaborates. “I didn’t think it was that good. But I liked Daniel. When you get the chance to work with people that you like and people who are talented, that’s rare. I don’t know how many more movies I’m going to get the opportunity to make and I don’t want to look back and go, ‘Man, I just kind of floated through that one’ and ‘I just did that one for the money’, or something like that. I want to be able to say that I worked as hard as I could and I did the best work that I was able to do.” ‘Safe House’ casts him as a sociopathic rogue ex-CIA agent - and let’s face it, Nasty Denzel is always more entertaining than Noble Denzel - who surrenders and winds up in a Cape Town safe house overseen by rookie Ryan Gosling. The setting was changed from Rio, partly to avoid comparison with ‘Man on Fire’, but also because “from my character’s perspective, it was going to be easier for me to blend in in a black country than in a brown country.”

This is a film that’s very aware that it is taking place in a world of Wikileaks and waterboarding, where it’s not always easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. That’s not something US audiences are traditionally comfortable with, is it? “What is it over here? MI5? MI6? Who knows what they do. We don’t know what they do. We know that we want to be protected. We claim that we want them to be fair and don’t torture people. But I think that on 9/11 in New York, everybody was for torture. They wanted to get to the bottom of whoever it was. The further away you get from that, you want your country to play fair. I don’t think it would have made sense for President Obama to come on air and say, ‘Oh by the way, next Tuesday we’re going to shoot Bin Laden.’ They’re going to do it the way they’re going to do it. You know, it’s a dirty business.” As far as his work ethic is concerned, Washington insists that “I take my work seriously

“If I hadn’t met [director] Daniel [Esponosa], I probably wouldn’t have done this movie because it didn’t interest me that much. I didn’t think it was that good” DENZEL FORGETS HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE PLUGGING HIS MOVIE but I don’t take myself too seriously”. His inspiration comes from a rather unlikely source: James Cagney’s autobiography ‘Cagney by Cagney’. “He talked about going to the studio, working his 12 hour day, taking off his costume, getting in the car and going home. Most of my work is done before we start shooting. Preparation work. We play the scene, I take the clothes off and I go home. I have a meal, I relax, watch a little television or something, and then I might work for an hour and a half. Then I go to bed. You know, I don’t lose sleep over it. I’ve been doing it too long…” ‘Safe House’ opens on Fri 24 February. See review on page 44 and for screening details.

Nasty Denzel goes postal in Cape Town

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Film // THE MONTH AHEAD // The Raven (15) // Potentially pleasingly preposterous guff in the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes mould, ‘The Raven’ casts John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe. This is no biopic, however, but a daft high-concept thriller set in mid-19th century Baltimore. It begins with a murder apparently inspired by one of Poe’s grisly yarns. Naturally, the rozzers call in Poe to advise after the serial killer taunts them with his intention to re-stage further scenes from the great author and poet’s novels. Since these include ‘The Premature Burial’ and ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, there’s plenty of scope for entertaining unpleasantness. Direction is by James McTeigue, who gave us ‘V for Vendetta’. THE RAVEN IS OUT ON MARCH 9

John Carter 3D (TBA) //To most people, Edgar Rice Burroughs is the bloke who came up with Tarzan. To fantasy nerds, however, he’s the creator of the 11-volume Barsoom series (and the lesser-known Carson of Venus series - I’ll get my anorak). With Tinseltown desperately searching for a bankable new fantasy franchise, it was inevitable that they’d eventually alight on the books about Confederate captain John Carter, who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars (aka Barsoom) for some rollicking heroic adventures with alien critters. Actually, there have been many attempts to bring Carter to the screen, beginning with Walt Disney back in the 1930s. And it’s Walt who’s behind this big-budget 3D version, which marks the live-action feature debut of ‘WALL•E’ director Andrew Stanton. Splendidly named Taylor Kitsch gets to take his shirt off a lot and wave his sword around at CG aliens in the title role. JOHN CARTER 3D IS OUT ON MARCH 9

Bel Ami (15)

// You can already feel the massive waves of hype for this one, as tie-in editions of the novels are rushed to bookshops. For the uninitiated, the Hunger Games Trilogy is a series of mega-selling ‘young adult’ novels by Suzanne Collins. They’re set in a totalitarian post-apocalypse North America, now re-named Panem, where teen representatives of each of 12 districts are selected to take part in televised battles to the death. Collins says she was inspired by reality TV and the Greek myth of Theseus, but it all seems remarkably like ‘Battle Royale’ for kids. Jennifer Lawrence, of ‘Winter’s Bone’ Oscar nomination fame, stars alongside Josh Hutcherson, and the distributors are clearly hoping for better results than the last attempt to launch a kiddie post-apocalypse franchise with the damp squib that was ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’.

// OK, so who really wants to see the kid with the big hair from the tweenie Twilight franchise in an art movie adapted from Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 novel? One suspects that if the ticket sellers are doing their job properly, the majority of Robert Pattinson’s fans will be unable to gain admission to this one. Which leaves him at the mercy of those who were so sniffy about his former Harry Potter mucker Daniel Radcliffe’s attempt to break in to movies for grown-ups with last month’s ‘The Woman in Black’. Pattinson plays a social climbing former solider in late 19th century Paris, whose unlikely tally of conquests includes Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci.



The Hunger Games (TBA)

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Fancy a film this month? see - the home of Venue’s what’s on listings

Some members of the cast took the title of '21 Jump Street' very literally

February 24 // The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (12A) See review on page 42. // Black Gold (12A) (Dir: Jean Jacques Annaud, 130 mins) Qatar’s first international co-production, this expensive 30s-set oil conflict epic was clearly intended to inspire David Lean comparisons. But advance word from film festivals was not good, it missed out on all anticipated awards nominations, and it has failed to secure a US release. Antonio Banderas stars. // Blood Car (18) See review on page 43. // One for the Money (12A) (Dir: Julie Ann Robinson, 91 mins) Action-comedy with Katherine Heigl as an unemployed woman who joins her cousin’s bail bond business, only to find that she has a romantic history with the first offender she’s sent to track down. // Rampart (15) See review on page 43. // Safe House (15) See feature on page 39 and review on page 44. // Red Dog (PG) See review on page 43.

March 2 // Carancho (TBA) See review on page 44.


SHOWING // // The Artist (PG) (Dir: Michel Hazanavicius, 100 mins) Allconquering silent dog movie, with able human support. HHHHH // Carnage (15) (Dir: Roman Polanski, 80 mins) Best vomiting scene outside a grossout movie in Polanski’s forensic dissection of middle-class ‘civility’. HHHHH // A Dangerous Method (15) (Dir: David Cronenberg, 100 mins) Cronenberg’s unexpectedly dull Freud flick: all talk and not enough spanking. HHHHH // The Descendants (15) (Dir: Alexander Payne, 115 mins) A refreshingly unsmug George Clooney


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// Hunky Dory (15) (Dir: Marc Evans, 110 mins) Set in pre-punk 1976 Swansea, Welsh director Marc Evans’ nostalgic drama stars Minnie Driver as an idealistic schoolteacher facing indifference from pupils and hostility from colleagues as she attempts to stage a trendy modern version of ‘The Tempest’. Soundtrack includes David Bowie, Nick Drake and ELO. // Michael (18) See review on page 45. // Project X (18) (Dir: Nima Nourizadeh, 88 mins) Produced by the director of ‘The Hangover’ and featuring a cast of newcomers selected through a US talent search, this teen comedy is essentially ‘Facebook Party Disaster - The Movie’. // This Means War (12A) (Dir: McG, 98 mins) Tom Hardy and Chris Pine are top CIA agents who find they’re both going out with Reese Witherspoon. To resolve this unfortunate situation, they make use of all the high-tech toys at their disposal to blow stuff up, with - you guessed it! - ‘hilarious consequences’. Postponed from last month. // Wanderlust (15) (Dir: David Wain, 98 mins) Recently downsized Manhattan yuppie couple Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd join a hippy free love commune with - stop me if you’ve heard this before - ‘hilarious consequences’.

March 9

shines in Alexander Payne’s belated follow-up to ‘Sideways’. HHHHH // Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (12A) (Dir: Steven Daldry, 129 mins) Tom Hanks stars in ‘Billy Elliot’ director Steven Daldry’s grotesque, nauseating, manipulative and inevitably Oscar-nominated 9/11 flick. HHHHH // Ghost Rider 3D: Spirit of Vengeance (12A) (Dir: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, 95 mins) Old flaming skull is back for further silliness in faddy 3D. // Jack and Jill (PG) (Dir: Denis Dugan, 91 mins) Adam Sandler in drag. Nobody laughs. HHHHH // Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG) (Dir: Brad Peyton, 94 mins) Hollywood mugs Jules Verne for an enjoyably silly sequel. // Martha Marcy May Marlene (15) (Dir: Sean Durkin, 102 mins) Elizabeth

Olsen and John Hawkes shine in US cult escapee drama. HHHHH // A Monster in Paris (U) (Dir: Bibo Bergeron, 90 mins) Kiddie animation about a giant singing flea. // The Muppets (U) (Dir: James Bobin, 110 mins) Our felt friends from yesteryear make a comeback that’s even more entertaining than we dared hope. HHHHH // Puss in Boots 3D (U) (Dir: Chris Miller, 90 mins) Enjoyable box office chart-topping origin tale from the ‘Shrek’ franchise, tracing the fairytale past of Antonio Banderas’s seductive swordsfeline. HHHHH // Stars Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace 3D (U) (Dir: George Lucas, 136 mins) It’s what the world’s been waiting for: Jar Jar Binks in 3D! HHHHH // The Vow (12A) (Dir: Michael Sucsy, 104 mins) Forgettable amnesia

// Cleanskin (15) (Dir: Hadi Hajaig, 108 mins) Undercover agent Sean Bean adjusts his expression to ‘grim and determined’ as he sets out to whup the asses of an Islamist terrorist cell plotting atrocities on the streets of London. // Trishna (15) See review on page 45.

March 16 // 21 Jump Street (15) (Dir: Phil Lord & Chris Miller, 109 mins) Yes, it’s the ‘80s TV show that launched Johnny Depp’s career reworked as a raunchy buddy comedy for Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who play a pair of cops going undercover in a US high school. Curiously, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have a background in animation. Their previous film was ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’. // Contraband (15) See review on page 45. // The Devil Inside (15) See review on page 44. // In Darkness (15) See review on page 46.

// We Bought a Zoo (PG) See review on page 46. // Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (15) See review on page 46.

March 23 // Act of Valor (TBA) (Dir: Mike McCoy & Scott Waugh) The loudly trumpeted USP of this Macho Action Nonsense is that it casts real US Navy Seals in a story built around actual events. That the directors got access to so much military hardware suggests it will be in no way critical of Uncle Sam’s most gung-ho terrorist slayers. // The Kid with a Bike (12A) (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 87 mins) Belgium’s much-feted brothers glum return with a reportedly cheerier-than-usual drama about an abandoned 11year-old boy who’s adopted by a hairdresser.

March 28 // The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists 3D! (TBA) See feature on pages 26-27 and review on page 42.

romance with Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. // War Horse (12A) (Dir: Steven Spielberg, 146 mins) You want schmaltz with your WWI? Spielberg whisks us from radiant Devonland to grim No Man’s Land with his sweeping horsey weepie, based on Michael Morpurgo’s bestseller. HHHHH // The Woman in Black (12A) (Dir: James Watkins, 95 mins) Hogwarts graduate Daniel Radcliffe applies for membership of the Guild of GrownUp Actors in Hammer’s new version of the Susan Hill ghostie story. // The Woman in the Fifth (15) (Dir: Pawel Pawlikowski, 84 mins) Kristin Scott Thomas and Ethan Hawke star in a dull and dreary meditation on paranoia and madness, filled with laboured symbolism. HHHHH

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Film // REVIEWS //

It was the last time any of them would pay extra for Speedy Celebrity Boarding

Review The Best Exotic

Marigold Hotel (12A) UK 2011 123 mins Dir: John Madden Starring: Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup // Machine-tooled for the ‘Calendar Girls’ mature lady audience, this comfy, somewhat predictable and mildly patronising Britflick adds a dash of Indian bustle and colour to its gentle twilight years humour. Adapted from a novel by Deborah Moggach and directed by John (‘Shakespeare in Love’) Madden, it stars a veritable Who’s Who of top pensionable homegrown talent, plus Dev Patel from ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ in the Comedy Indian role. In traditional style, opening scenes intercut between

the characters as they’re introduced. Henpecked Bill Nighy and his ghastly social climbing wife Penelope Wilton are looking at depressing retirement apartments. Priapic Ronald Pickup is pretending to be a much younger man at speed-dating events. Judi Dench is lost without her late husband, who took charge of everything. Tom Wilkinson is a retired barrister with a Big Secret set to be revealed at a dramatically opportune moment. And cantankerous, racist, wheelchair-bound Maggie Smith is making her nurses’ lives a misery. Take a wild guess at what her story arc’s going to be. They’re all lured overseas to Dev Patel’s eponymous run-down

Jaipur hotel, where the young entrepreneur plans to “outsource retirement”, but is being forced into an arranged marriage. All your favourite gags are here - even the venerable one about Brits getting the runs after gorging on curry. It is, of course, pretty much inevitable that someone will croak and that the more receptive oldsters will learn plenty of life lessons from the Indian way of life. Indeed, all the expected revelations and emotional outbursts happen right on cue, and there’s a multiple pile-up of endings, each delivered with its own fortune cookie philosophy (or Indian equivalent). On the plus side, it’s beautifully photographed by Ben Davis, and Madden gets the best out

of his cast, from a splendidly sour, hobnob-hoarding Maggie Smith (“I don’t plan ahead at my age. I don’t even buy green bananas.”) to Judi Dench doing ‘Ladies in Lavender’ weepy and vulnerable Judi rather than ‘J. Edgar’/’Quantum of Solace’ stern Judi. And Dev Patel holds his own magnificently in such illustrious company as the relentlessly optimistic manager of the dilapidated hotel, getting many of the best lines. “You have all heard the chimes of midnight,” goes his cheery welcoming speech. “Who knows how much time you have left?” (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www. Opens: February 24

Review The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (TBA) UK 2012 90 mins Dir: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt Starring (voices): Hugh Grant, Lenny Henry, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Piven, Brian Blessed, Salma Hayek, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen // While it hasn’t been entirely plain sailing for Aardman, the great Bristol animation studio has maintained an enviable level of quality control. And with their second film in four months, they’re starting to look positively prolific - though, obviously, these things take years to make. Directed by studio co-founder Peter Lord, Gideon Defoe’s adaptation of his own book turns out to be another winner, beautifully blending model and CG animation (though the jury’s still out on 3D) and almost justifying those two excessive exclamation marks with its magnificent pirate ship alone.

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The story has Hugh Grant’s useless yet luxuriantly-bearded, vainglorious Pirate Captain setting out to raise his motley crew’s morale by winning the Pirate of the Year contest, presented by the Pirate King (bellowing Brian Blessed). The formidable opposition comprises shapely Cutlass Liz (Hayek), differently-abled Peg Leg Hastings (Henry) and swaggering Black Bellamy (Piven). But after a fruitless voyage in search of booty, they find only a simian Charles Darwin (Tennant) and his pet chimp Bobo. Devious Darwin takes an instant shine to the Captain’s odd-looking parrot and proposes a means of securing untold riches. The ensuing adventure entails a visit to the Royal Society (‘Playing God Since 1687’) and a tussle with Imelda Staunton’s tremendously imperious, pirate-hating Queen Victoria. Watch out too for walk-ons

by Jane Austen and The Elephant pace during the end credits. (Robin Man. There’s a Python-esque edge to Askew) HHHHH some of the humour (Ashley Jensen’s Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate Website is straight out of ‘Life of Brian’), Opens: March 28 the relationship between Darwin Polly’s flatulence was becoming a problem and mute Bobo mirrors that of Wallace and Gromit, several classic Aardman chase sequences speed things along, and the sophisticated visual gags (human evolution does not emerge unscathed) are matched by clever wordplay (“I mean ‘crew’ in the street sense,” wriggles the undercover Captain on the verge of being rumbled). Oh, and Darwin is treated with splendid disrespect throughout, being depicted as a scheming nerd who cannot get a girlfriend. Finally, a tip: don’t worry too much about missing the funny business in the margins, such as the ‘Cockney Baiting’ sign and the ad for Urchin Be-Gone pauper repellent, as it’s all repeated at a more leisurely


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Review Blood Car (18) USA 2007 76 mins Dir: Alex Orr Starring: Anna Chlumsky, Mike Brune, Katie Rowlett // Anyone remember the sickening pre-pubescent romance ‘My Girl’ starring gruesome twosome Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky? Anyone wanna see the now - Jesus! - 31-year-old Ms. Chlumsky in a low-budget satirical indie horror flick about a car that runs on human blood? Of course you do. Alas, as is so often the case with these things, Alex Orr’s feature debut turns out to be a rather shoddy affair that’s

Refuelling was such an effort.

nowhere near as clever or entertaining as it thinks it is. Made five years ago, but mysteriously only now getting a UK cinema release, ‘Blood Car’ is set in the near future when petrol prices have skyrocketed to such an extent that only the very rich can afford to drive. Wet and weedy vegan kindergarten teacher Archie (Brune) is experimenting with a revolutionary new engine that will run on wheatgrass purchased from lovelorn, cutesy Lorraine’s (Chlumsky) Veg-Table stall, which is pitched opposite foul-mouthed

Review Red Dog (PG) Australia 2011 92 mins Dir: Kriv Stenders Starring: Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Noah Taylor, Luke Ford // It’s proving to be a great year for mutts on film. After Uggi’s triumph in ‘The Artist’, here’s Koko in a multiple award-winning true-ish story from Down Under, adapted from the short novel by ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ author Louis de Bernieres. Dog movie connoisseurs will observe that plot-wise it boasts plenty of similarities to ‘Hachi - A Dog’s Tale’, right down to the big “there’s something in my eye” moment at the end that’ll have audiences perusing the credits intently while they compose

themselves. Sure, there’s a bit of superfluous romance and a dash of anthropomorphism, but this is a rare and welcome exception to the grotesque modern ‘family movie’ convention that serves up Hollywood morals about learning to be a better dad. Better yet, there are no children in it. And Koko proves more expressive than many a botoxed human actor. Rufty-tufty immigrants outnumber sandblasted locals (and isn’t Noah Taylor looking gnarly these days?) in the remote mining town of Dampier, which sits in a Western Australian landscape stained red by iron ore. While the vet is summoned to minister to ailing Red Dog, a bunch of townsfolk

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town slut Denise’s (Rowlett) meat stand. But blood is the only fuel that will work. Abandoning his peaceful principles, Archie drains squirrels and family pets before refining the invention to incorporate a chopping/ grinding device in the boot of his car, the better to run it on busty hitchhikers, homeless disabled folks, and so on. His newfound mobility soon attracts the attention of sinister government agents and gets Denise’s meaty juices flowing. Despite moments of gleeful, taboo-busting bad taste, such as

small children being executed, the satire is half-baked, the dialogue clunky, and the one decent idea frustratingly undeveloped. Worse still, the budget only stretches to a couple of decent bloodletting scenes, with a few gratuitous naked breasts chucked in as compensation. Only the most uncritical gorehound would accord this the cult status to which it so desperately aspires. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Opens: February 24

Passengers were notoriously restless on the 14:22 to the Bonio factory

relate fond memories of the lovable, farty, hitch-hiking kelpie stray who became a local legend. Geoffrey Hall’s widescreen cinematography is outstanding and there’s no shortage of that broad, earthy humour we’ve come to associate with Australian cinema. The crappy romance feels rather shoehorned in, but doesn’t distract too much from more agreeable doggy antics. Nice to

hear plenty of authentic Aussie blue-collar rock (The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Daddy Cool, etc) on the soundtrack too. Should you be interested, the rather splendid singalong at the end is ‘Way Out West’ - a 1973 obscurity by The Dingoes. I’ll get me coat… (Robin Askew) HHHHH

Date Rape is racist (though, like most racists, he insists that “I hate all people equally”), misogynist and considers his beat a “military occupation”. Not unnaturally, his horrified superiors want rid of this swaggering PR disaster, but Date Rape ain’t going without a fight. Even after being caught on camera delivering the full Rodney King to a Hispanic miscreant, the arrogant officer quotes case law like scripture and threatens to bring down the entire department. His home life is equally fractious. Not only has he sired daughters by each of two sisters (Heche, Nixon), but he’s

managed to get all four of them to despise him. Way to go, Date Rape! It’s a suitably grimy character study with multiple messy subplots, but heaping all the amorality on Harrelson’s shoulders has the unfortunate consequence of endorsing the ‘one bad apple’ get-out clause. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

Website Opens: February 24

Review Rampart (15) USA 2011 108 mins Dir: Oren Moverman Starring: Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Robin Wright, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon // Yet another dirty cop movie, ‘Rampart’ takes its name from the LAPD’s most scandal-afflicted police division. It’s set in 1999, when all the racism, brutality and corruption exploded into public view. Co-writer James Ellroy is on home turf, while director Oren Moverman reunites with Woody Harrelson, who was justly Oscar nominated for their 2009 collaboration, ‘The Messenger’. Seemingly obsessed with his star’s


Film Reviews 978.indd 43

distinctive profile, Moverman bungs Harrelson in every wonky hand-held shot. This proves to be a wise move, as it’s his powerhouse performance of rozzerly disintegration that holds together what turns out to be a rather unfocused and occasionally clunky drama lacking the narrative drive of ‘Training Day’ and the compellingly unhinged misbehaviour of either ‘Bad Lieutenant’. Harrelson’s out-of-control ‘Date Rape’ Dave Brown is so nicknamed because he once dealt summary justice to a serial rapist. Boozing, shagging, chain-smoking, drugguzzling, rule-trashing Officer

Website Opens: February 24 “Fancy a race, wheelchair boy?”

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Review Safe House (15) “Sky TV? I’m just calling to say your programmes are rubbish!”


g r d nd k




ch se nt llly

USA 2012 115 mins Dir: Daniel Espinosa Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson // One of those thrillers that

become progressively less interesting with each successive twist, ‘Safe House’ benefits from the always-watchable Denzel Washington in charismatic bad guy mode and some excellent location work by young Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, making his Hollywood debut. Ryan Reynolds is the ambitious, bored ‘housekeeper’ of a fortified CIA safe house in Cape Town. Yup, the guy who starred in ‘Buried’ is getting cabin fever all over again in this Agency backwater. Naturally, this means something dramatic is about to happen. Enter rogue former intelligence agent Denzel Washington, who’s now the most

Review The Devil Inside USA 2012 83 mins Dir: William Brent Bell Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quartermain, Evan Helmuth, Suzan Crowley // January’s US chart-topping $34.5m opening weekend for the $1m-budgeted ‘The Devil Inside’ reminded the film industry that the horror audience should not be under-estimated. But nor should its uncritical enthusiasm be taken for granted, as the film’s whopping 76% second-week decline in takings demonstrated after punters wondered what had possessed them to pay good money to see it. Yup, this is our annual exorcism flick: a decidedly


feeble blend of the exorcist school nonsense of the unintentionally hilarious ‘The Rite’ with mock-doc/ found footage wobblecam larks in the vein of the superior ‘The Last Exorcism’. In common with all modern exorcism flicks, this one centres on the conversion of unbelievers and claims, falsely, to be based on a true story. That’s probably because modern secular audiences struggle to take seriously a genre whose key image - faithfully reproduced here - is that of a bunch of crucifixwavers reciting mumbo-jumbo over a contorting, potty-mouthed woman. Said woman in this instance is Maria Rossi (Crowley), a

wanted man in the world. Injecting himself with a tiny chip full of top secret gubbins, he’s pursued across the city by Even Badder Guys wielding really big guns until he gives himself up at the US embassy and is frogmarched into Ryan’s safe house for an illegal waterboarding session. The Even Badder Guys burst in and kill everybody dead, forcing rookie Ryan and menacing Denzel to go on the run together. Back at the Pentagon control room, everybody stares at computer screens and shouts clichés. So, stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Ryan has to figure out what’s going on and who he can trust, while Denzel has his own

not-entirely-helpful agenda. Vera Farmiga does her best Evil Bitch, but when Brendan Gleeson is cast as her departmental rival it’s really no contest. We’ve all seen ‘The Guard’, right? If the maguffin and its attendant internal CIA shenanigans all turn out to be a bit ho-hum, and the frantic third act only draws to a halt when everybody’s too incapacitated to move, Espinosa does at least make imaginative use of the South African scenery, delivering a terrific township rooftop chase sequence. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Opens: February 24

Say what you like about Satan, but his yoga classes are brilliant.

matronly Bible-basher who’s been locked in the loony bin ever since she slaughtered three members of her church group during an alleged exorcism back in 1989. Now her daughter Isabella (Andrade) has resolved to get to the bottom of this alleged possession by using the thoroughly modern technique of making a documentary. But before the biddy starts blaspheming, we have to listen to a bunch of high-tech trainee Vatican exorcists spouting guff about science and

religion that would set Richard Dawkins’ head revolving. The ‘twist’ is clumsily anticipated in an opening Exorcist College lecture, and it all leads to a lot of shouting and waving the camera about until an abrupt non-ending that has had pea-soup vomit enthusiasts howling with displeasure. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

mild crisis of conscience, spurred by his burgeoning romance with sexy junkie Lujan. But his plan for a more equitable distribution of ill-gotten loot doesn’t go down well with menacing Foundation boss, El Perro (Weber). Like director Pablo Trapero’s bestknown film, ‘El Bonaerense’, this is a pleasingly cynical, verite style portrait of an unequal, recession-blighted society riddled with corruption, in which everybody is on the make. It benefits from another great performance by Ricardo Darin, whose lived-in, expressive face you’ll recognise from the similarly themed ‘Nine Queens’ and brilliant ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’. Bleak,

grimy and violent, ‘Carancho’ only loses its touch during an ill-advised last-reel diversion into heist thriller territory, which relies upon some disappointingly improbable plotting. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

Website www.devilinsidemovie. com/ Opens: March 16

Review Carancho (TBA) Argentina/Chile/France 2010 107 mins Subtitles Dir: Pablo Trapero Starring: Ricardo Darin, Martina Gusman, Carlos Weber // How come no Lottery-funded Brit has thought of making a gritty, brutal, noir-ish drama about unscrupulous personal injury solicitors? Too late the Argentineans got there first. But then they are suffering an epidemic of road traffic accidents, causing 8,000 deaths a year, if ‘Carancho’ is to be believed. Disbarred, dishevelled and frequently bloodied in altercations, sad-sack lawyer Sosa (Darin) is a ‘carancho’, or vulture, who doesn’t

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simply chase ambulances but piles on board and helps carry the injured to the operating table while availing himself of their details. This all seems rather rum to knackered-yet-comely rookie medic Lujan (Gusman), who regularly shoots up to keep going. But everybody’s in on the scam, from cops to meatwagon drivers, and Sosa’s reassuring bedside manner makes him a valued employee of the ‘Foundation’ - an organised crime syndicate that milks insurance companies of millions and pays out peanuts to victims. While Sosa isn’t above whacking prospective claimants about the knees with a mallet and staging ‘accidents’, he is suffering a

Website Opens: March 2 “So d’ya reckon you can keep him going until after I collect my commission?”


2/22/2012 3:51:46 PM

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“Don’t worry, son - I’m more of a perve than anyone lurking in the bushes”

Review Trishna (15) UK 2011 113 mins Dir: Michael Winterbottom Starring: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed, Roshan Seth

Review Michael (18) Austria 2011 96 mins Subtitles Dir: Markus Schleinzer Starring: Michael Fuith, David Rauchenberger // Fans of Michael Haneke will need no encouragement to form an orderly queue for this feature debut by his former casting director Markus Schleinzer, who has clearly been taking notes. A chilly, controlled ‘banality of evil’ drama about a balding, bespectacled, meticulous thirtysomething paedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in the fortified basement of his nondescript yet tidy detached suburban home, it has obvious resonance in the land of Josef Fritzl. Those who demand overt expressions of moral outrage from directors tackling such subject matter should probably steer clear. While there’s virtually nothing here to justify that 18 certificate, since all the unpleasantness occurs offscreen, Schleinzer’s creepy observational drama takes the abuser’s viewpoint throughout. What’s more, there are even moments of black comedy. Michael (Fuith) is a rather unprepossessing desk-jockey at an insurance company. He’s clearly “No, seriously: you’ve got to see this funny kitten video.”

USA 2012 110 mins Dir: Baltasar Kormakur Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Caleb Landry Jones, J.K. Simmons


Film Reviews 978.indd 45

good at his job as he’s in line for a promotion. Down in his basement, behind a soundproofed door and a heavily bolted one, young Wolfgang (Rauchenberger) resides in a purpose-built bedroom. Each evening, the boy is summoned to eat with his captor and watch TV. At times, their relationship seems like a rather strict father-son one. Wolfgang is even allowed out on day trips, though he has to duck down in the car until they’re well clear of the house. But then we see Michael sneak downstairs at night and carefully wash his penis in the sink afterwards. Although he’s devious, controlling and predatory, Michael hardly fits the kiddy-fiddling stereotype. He’s quite capable of being gregarious, is reasonably attractive to women, and even becomes one of the lads during an all-male skiing holiday. Schleinzer’s skilful, ambiguous script and restrained direction builds up a portrait of a very ordinary monster indeed. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Opens: March 2

// If there’s a constant in the career of the bloke who’s served up such diverse fare as ‘24 Hour Party People’ and ‘The Killer Inside Me’, it’s a devotion to great Dorset miserablist Thomas Hardy. Michael Winterbottom’s ‘Jude’ was faithful and respectful. ‘The Claim’ was more brave, imaginatively relocating ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ to the Old West. Now he attempts to pull off a similar trick by setting his update of ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ in modern-day India. Sadly, it doesn’t really come off. That’s not just because of liberties taken with the plot - though purists will be aghast at the conflation of Alec and Angel Clare into a single character. Part of the problem lies in Hardy’s text, as the Tess character’s passivity becomes even more problematic in a contemporary setting, despite Winterbottom’s attempt to locate this within the context of the struggle between conservative rural tradition and big-city emancipation. Loaded, laddish Brit Jay (Ahmed) runs into peasant girl hottie Trishna (Pinto) while on holiday and immediately offers her a job in his property magnate father’s (Seth) luxurious five-star Jaipur hotel, where he sets about

Cheer up, love: at least you’re not in bloody Dorset!

charming the pants off her. Filled with shame and self-loathing after the consummation, Trishna returns home, little realising that she’s pregnant. Winterbottom’s regular collaborator Marcel Zyskind’s handheld cinematography is outstanding and some elements of the update work well. But while Riz (‘Four Lions’) Ahmed can be an excellent actor, his transformation from nice guy to utter bastard is unconvincing, as is capable, intelligent and talented Trishna’s doormat behaviour. Furthermore, it’s a real struggle to believe in the gorgeous, impeccably manicured Ms. Pinto as a product of horny-handed toil. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website TrishnaFilm Opens: March 9

Review Contraband (15) // Arthouse punters will know Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur as the man behind the quirky likes of ‘101 Reykjavik’ and ‘Jar City’. But as an actor, he also starred in the hit thriller ‘Reykjavik-Rotterdam’, which was never released here. For his Hollywood debut, Kormakur has elected to remake that film, ceding the lead role to Mark Wahlberg. The result is an enjoyably tense thick-ear action/heist flick of the oh-so-familiar ‘one last job’ variety, seemingly oblivious to its multiple implausibilities. Wahlberg certainly gives good frown as our old friend the Real Mad Family Man determined to defend wifey and brats

from Evil Bad Guys. But the great J.K. Simmons (you know, Juno’s dad) steals it in an against-type role as gruff, moustachioed, hilariously named seafarer Captain Camp, who gets such terrific lines as: “Don’t p*ss me off or you’ll be flipping sh*tburgers at McDonalds before you can say ‘minimum wage’!” Wahlberg plays an ex-smuggler who gave it all up to marry blonde Kate Beckinsale and breed some sprogs. But then Kate’s useless brother Caleb Landry Jones screws up a drugs run and over-acting, nastily tattooed Giovanni Ribisi comes gunning for him. When Mark’s family get in the firing line, he decides to pay off the oaf’s

debt. With best pal Ben Foster, he assembles a crew and embarks on a complex scheme to smuggle counterfeit bills from Panama. Needless to say, it all goes horribly wrong, while poor Ms. Beckinsale has nothing to do but whine and get herself menaced - even though, as Underworld enthusiasts will know, she could easily whup the asses of everyone in the cast. Still, that doesn’t get in the way of the happy ending, which reassures us that crime pays handsomely. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.contrabandmovie. net/ Opens: March 16

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Review We Bought a Zoo (PG) “Just you wait till I chew my way out of here, buster!”

USA 2011 124 mins Dir: Cameron Crowe Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Elle Fanning, Angus Macfadyen

// Cameron Crowe certainly has problems with the sentimentality tightrope. When he navigates his way successfully over those treacle swamps, we get genuinely moving and warm-hearted films like ‘Say Anything’ and ‘Almost Famous’. When he takes a tumble, the result is sickly tripe like his previous feature, 2005’s ‘Elizabethtown’. To strain the analogy, with this overlong, conservative family values flick Crowe manages just a few tentative steps before plummeting into the big squishy marshmallow of manipulative formula, contriving to combine the clichés of the heart-sinking cute kid, grief porn, cheesy romance and adorable animal genres.

Very loosely adapted from the memoir by Brit Benjamin Mee and transposed from Dartmoor to Southern California, the film equips Matt Damon’s widower Mee with a PG-rated surly teenage son (Ford) and a perky moppet (Jones). Seeking a change of scene, he buys a rundown zoo and acquires its one-dimensionally eccentric staff, headed by devoted keeper Kelly (Johansson), who’s conveniently equipped with a 13-year-old cousin (Fanning). As they prepare to re-open the menagerie to the public, both anticipated romances develop, dad-son bonding occurs, and all the obvious obstacles (escaped beasts, etc) are placed in

Review In Darkness (15) Poland/Germany/France/Canada 2011 144 mins Subtitles Dir: Agnieszka Holland Starring: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Furmann, Agnieszka Grochowska // Rarely has a film been more aptly titled than this necessarily murky, inevitably Oscar-nominated drama based on the true story of a petty thief who hid a group of Jews in the sewers of Nazi-occupied Lvov, Poland, for 14 gruelling months. Since nobody ever made a concise Holocaust movie, we’re trapped down there in the filthy, claustrophobic gloom with them and the rats for nearly two-and-a-half hours. Turds

and the occasional body float by while they bicker, cook and make love. Yep, there’s a remarkable amount of fornication given these most unromantic of circumstances. Polish director Agnieszka Holland delivers short but effective and striking vignettes of Nazi atrocities, beginning with a group of terrified, naked, middle-aged women being chased through the woods and executed. As the Lvov ghetto is liquidated, a socially mixed bunch of desperate Jews flee into the sewer where they run into local burglar Leopold Socha (Wieckiewicz), who stashes his swag below ground. As a sewer worker, he has a legitimate

their way, while Damon gets to do a bit of standard-issue grief flick blubbing over home movie footage of his dead spouse. You may find it odd that the villain of the piece is a city official responsible for enforcing welfare standards at a zoo run by someone with no experience. You may find it even more odd that Angus Macfadyen appears to be playing a character modelled closely on Groundskeeper Willie. It could be some time before he’s able to show his face in Scotland again. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Opens: March 16 “I see Mrs Kaminski at number 57 has been on the prune diet again.”

reason for being down here and sees an opportunity to make some easy cash by offering to keep them safe in its labyrinthine depths. We, however, need no navigational assistance on our lengthy journey to the end credits, as we know exactly what’s going to happen when this opportunistic anti-Semite discovers his rudimentary conscience. Tradition dictates that there will be tense moments and close calls, as well as a nasty, suspicious occupying officer who’s likely to come to a sticky end. For all their familiarity, Holland handles these scenes with considerable skill. But there’s a soapiness to some of the plotting, while the

characters are thinly sketched and often difficult to distinguish in the darkness, making her film something of a weary slog. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website indarkness/ Opens: March 16

Review Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (15) “Whaddaya mean ‘It might have been that other mountain’?”

Turkey/Bosnia & Herzegovina 2011 158 mins Subtitles Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan Starring: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel, Firat Tanis // One of those art movies that routinely receive five-star reviews

46 // march 2012

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from the peculiar ‘cinema as endurance’ brigade, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s twoand-a-half hour Cannes Grand Prize winner isn’t just boring; it’s almost transcendently boring. According to one report, the Cannes press audience burst into nervous laughter about 90 minutes into the film when something actually happened. You’ll know by now whether this is your kind of thing. Just don’t be fooled by the synopsis, which dangles the carrot of an intriguing police procedural. A short opening shot consisting of a slow zoom through a window shows three men apparently

laughing and joking together. Next, it seems that two of them have killed the third. Trouble is that Kenan (Tanis), the shifty, beardy bloke who’s confessed to the murder, says he was drunk at the time and can’t remember where he buried the body. So by-the-book police chief Naci (Erdogan) is out on the Anatolian steppes in the dead of night with a bunch of officers, both suspects, the prosecutor Nusret (Birsel) and a doctor named Cemal (Uzuner), looking for the shallow grave by the light of their car headlamps. This goes on fruitlessly, while they bicker and exchange inconsequential chatter.

Since the suspects are both in custody and one has made a confession, you’d have thought the cops could wait until first light to search for the stiff. But that would risk shaving a whole hour off the film’s excessive running length. To be fair, a circuitous conversation between the prosecutor and doctor leads eventually to an interesting if not unexpected payoff, but whether it’s worth waiting for is a matter for you and your bottom. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website anatolia/ Opens: March 16


2/22/2012 3:52:08 PM

Film // DVDs //

CINecisms Silent Scream nominated … Radical & Fashion fests … Michael Legrand … Highbrow 3D … High Flying Birds


ongratulations to Integrate Bristol, whose drama-doc about female genital mutilation, Silent Scream, is up for a First Light Award on March 5. The short film is an allfemale collaborative production between 26 young people from schools across Bristol (pictured), who got into hot water with older members of the Somali community for addressing the subject … Plenty of diverse film fests this month. The Bristol Radical Film Festival (Feb 27-March 4) concludes with a weekend blowout of politicallyengaged docs at the Cube. See www. for the full programme. If revolution isn’t your bag, the Arnolfini has a Fashion Film Festival (March 9-11),

bUMS ON SEATS // That’s a second weekend at the top for 12A-rated spooker The Woman in Black (pictured), but look closely at the figures and you’ll see a bunch of felt critters breathing down Daniel Radcliffe’s neck every inch of the way. In fact, the splendid The Muppets has now taken marginally more loot over the same period. Silly old Nic Cage’s Ghost Rider 3D: Spirit of Vengeance could hardly compete, running a poor third. Still, at least this did better than last week’s other big new release, Stephen Daldry’s execrable, Oscar-nominated Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which failed to chart. The Yanks might fall for this sort of dishonest, manipulative garbage, but Brits wisely treated it with the contempt it deserves. Finally, let’s hear it for The Artist, back in the chart after its BAFTA boost as it awaits Oscar glory. Locally, the great French silent movie has now become the biggest hit in the Watershed’s history. More than 13,000 people have seen Uggi and chums there since they pitched up to charm the pants off us in January.


Film Box Office DVDs Cinecism 978.indd 47

exploring everything from the role of costume in early silent cinema to ‘drag glamour’ of the 60s. The Filmic celebration of music and film continues with multiple Grammywinning composer Michel Legrand in conversation at the Watershed (March 31), plus a Sunday brunch season of films with his bestknown scores. Bristol electro-acoustic act Bronnt Industries Kapital also supply a new soundtrack to Stalinist silent doc Turksib on March 17 … From the people who gave us ‘Carmen’ in 3D last year comes Madam Butterfly 3D. This Royal Opera House production hits fleapits on March 5, giving posh people the opportunity to wear those clunky specs … Also

from the ROH, Romeo and Juliet comes to cinemas on March 22 … For hoofing enthusiasts, the Bolshoi’s Le Corsaire arrives on March 11 … The National Theatre Live season spoils us with two productions this month: The Comedy of Errors (March 1) and She Stoops to Conquer (March 29) … Musical fans, meanwhile, can wallow in the New York Philharmonic’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company (March 15), which is followed by a live Q&A with star Neil Patrick Harris … Lowering the highbrow tone ever-so-slightly is Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, who flock from London’s O2 arena to participating cinemas on Feb 26.

BOX OFFICE Takings for the weekend of February 17-19


The Woman in Black

£3,501,601 (£10,487,648, 2 weeks)


The Muppets

£3,411,698 (£10,671,787, 2 weeks)


Ghost Rider 3D: Spirit of Vengeance

£1,340,000 (new release)


Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace 3D

£1,077,302 (£4,114,828, 2 weeks)


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

£1,061,550 (£5,205,652, 3 weeks)


The Vow

£953,165 (£3,640,608, 2 weeks)



£727,871 (£5,948,679, 3 weeks)


The Descendants

£564,536 (£6,977,898, 4 weeks)


The Artist

£527,358 (£6,826,358, 8 weeks)


War Horse

£450,073 (£17,694,439, 6 weeks)

Jane Eyre (12A) // A fresh and unexpectedly excellent, suitably gothic bash at the Bronte classic by ‘Sin Nombre’ director Cary Fukanaga. Slight Australian Mia Wasikowska appears suitably vulnerable as the “poor, obscure and plain” Jane next to Michael Fassbender’s forceful, mercurial Rochester, while also investing her character with the tenacity and moral courage the role demands. Out: March 12 HHHHH

ALSO RELEASED // The Ides of March (15)HHHHH Multi-talented Ryan Gosling steals George Clooney’s intelligent political drama as an ambitious press agent who becomes a pawn in a bigger game. Out: March 5 … Snowtown (18) HHHHH Brilliant yet bleak and grisly drama based on the career of Australia’s most prolific serial killer. Out: March 19 … The Awakening (15) HHHHH Expertly crafted period ghost story with Rebecca Hall as an atheist debunker meeting her match in a spooky Cumbrian boarding school back in 1921. Out: March 26 … Dreams of a Life (12) HHHHH Haunting documentary about a woman who lay dead in her London flat for three years. Out: March 12 … Contagion (12) HHHHH Steven Soderbergh’s oldschool, multi-character, all-star disaster movie tracing the spread of a global pandemic. Out: March 5 … We Need to Talk About Kevin (15) HHHHH Lynne Ramsey’s arthouse liberal Evil Kid flick. Out: Feb 27 … The Rum Diary (15) HHHHH Johnny Depp does Hunter S. Thompson again, while unprolific Bruce Robinson directs. Out: March 5…The Adventures of Tintin - The Secret of the Unicorn (PG) HHHHH Spielberg’s Herge flick, unwisely produced using ‘performance capture’ technology. Out: March 19 … The Help (12) HHHHH Black folks achieve liberation through the intervention of well-meaning whitey in 60s America, permitting everyone to feel good about themselves. Out: March 12 … The Three Musketeers (12) HHHHH Slick and action-packed if rather pointless umpteenth outing for the Dumas classic. Out: Feb 27 … The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (12A) HHHHH “Squeal! It’s R-Patz!” etc. Out: March 12.

March 2012 // 47

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For more news, reviews and extra pics, see

Breaking the Laws

Just over a year since their debut gig, Laws of Motion are making heads turn in Bristol and way beyond. Julian Owen hears voices.


hat’s awesome for us,” says Graeme Dart, “is we get to see people’s reactions. It

happened at the gig on Wednesday: ‘What’s going on there..?’” Laws Of Motion’s guitarist picks up the bassist’s theme. “Imagine throwing that pint glass on the floor now, and everyone turns around,” says Chris King. “That’s what’s it’s like at sound check.” In the still of Bordeaux Quay, mid-afternoon, with a mixture of sincere pride and admiration, the pair are sketching the moments when people first hear Matt James’s voice. “People turn their heads sharply for car crashes,” reasons the singer himself. “It’s not necessarily a good thing...” Except in this case it is. We first got to hear aforesaid voice at the Louisiana in April. And, indeed, witnessed its across-the-room capacity for turning heads. Now, mid-February of the following year, we’ll try to describe how it sounds on the new debut EP ‘Poltergeist’. Thom Yorke would be the stock

“If we do something we like, we almost instinctively don’t want to play it again, and want to do something new.” Matt James, Laws of Motion venuemagazine

Music Feature 978.indd 49

‘sounds like’. He’s a self-confessed key influence, after all. Applying a little more effort we’ll note that it’s a younger voice – a hint of chorister, perhaps? Yeah, that’ll do. Venue is lazing its way along to the next paragraph when it realises that actually, right now, with the repeated “It’s too cold” refrain of ‘Winter’ echoing in the stereo, Thom Yorke isn’t what the mind’s eye is hearing at all. Instead, we’re hearing... no, this can’t be right. Hang on a tick, we’ll go back and check, and... no, blimey, we really are. We’re hearing Sandy Denny. It’s all in the ringing, the precision. Yorke’s voice gets pulled across records in a smudge – like the late Fairport singer, Matt’s clarity pushes the song along. Writing songs since 17, he began recording them into the back of a digital camera at uni. “I felt like I had to do it, because I felt better about things after I had.” And gigging soon after, assumes Venue? No. Incredulity turned up to 11, it learns that the Louis gig was his first time on stage, like, ever. How on earth did he learn the control? “Because I’ve always lived in shared houses, I never really wanted anyone to hear it, so would sing in a quiet way. That helped with control. It’s improved since playing live.” We really should move on, as we’ve not even introduced the other ace-in-the-hole yet: drummer Dan ‘Not That One’ Sartain. Ever played jazz, Dan? “No, but I like drummers inspired by it.” It figures. Most drummers have two variations: a) hit hard and b) hit slightly less hard. Dan has genuine feel, is wont to pick up, hold and then scatter the beat like a more orderly Keith Moon. “I’ll take Matt’s acoustic outline away and sketch drum patterns around them, rather than putting a beat straight

down,” he says, then recalls hearing the two demo tracks Matt placed online in summer 2010 to attract bandmates. “I was amazed: ‘It would be awesome if I was able to play.’” “The melodies, the distinctness,” adds Chris. Immediately, says Matt, “we were on the same page. It wasn’t what I was thinking – Chris’s guitar was heavier – but it seemed exactly right.” The bass role took longer until, like a Christmas present, the equally well-matched Graeme arrived via Gumtree. Together they sound a natural, unforced combination. If the first EP wears bonding around a love of Radiohead – ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ especially – a fraction too clearly, they recognise the greater influence to draw from them is to never retrace steps. “If we do something we like,” says Matt, “we almost instinctively don’t want to play it again, and want to do something new.” The world is beginning to notice. Between our writing and your reading, they’ll have played the

Moles Showcase final. They went down a storm at Sofar Sounds (excellent franchise venture whereby people invite full gig nights into their homes) in a large living room in Notting Hill. “Terrifying!” says Graeme. “90 people this close to you, not in darkness, not drinking or chatting, but watching in silence. Given how nervous we were I think we nailed it.” And given that both a producer and music lawyer have since been in touch, he’s probably right. “We’re gigging again in London with a band we played with at Sofar Sounds,” says Dan, “and a band in Paris saw our stuff on YouTube and want to put on a night with us over there.” And maybe, just maybe, Matt will open his eyes during a gig and get to see people’s reaction to his singing. “I don’t like looking. I don’t like my voice, really.” LAWS OF MOTION PLAY AN ACOUSTIC SET AT MOLES CAFE, BATH ON MON 5 MAR. FFI: WWW.LAWSOFMOTION.CO.UK

Laws of Motion: prepare to have your head turned

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ROOTS Mark Lanegan

ROCK Black Stone Cherry

// Lanegan’s rock CV includes stints with Queens of the Stone Age, Belle and Sebastian’s Isobel Campbell, UNKLE, Melissa Auf der Maur and Screaming Trees. His latest solo album (released as Mark Lanegan Band) sees the singer incorporating elements of electronica, soul and folk into his usual downbeat, gravelly rock, and reviews have seen it score pretty much full marks across the board. MARK LANEGAN PLAYS O2 ACADEMY BRISTOL, SUN 4 MAR.

CLASSICAL Aurora Orchestra


// Many old-school rockers have T-shirts older than the members of frighteningly young southern rock quartet Black Stone Cherry. But despite their youth, the Kentucky band have been winning a huge fan base in the UK, finally breaking into the top 20 last year with their third album, ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ (Roadrunner). Fascinating fact: when they play the O2 Academy, there will be more people in the audience than the entire population of their home town of Edmonton. BLACK STONE CHERRY PLAY O2 ACADEMY BRISTOL, MON 26 MAR.

// The OAE are in lunchtime pursuit of ‘Hidden Haydn’; Paul Lewis is still savouring Schubert; The Cardinall’s Musick takes wing with Passiontide Byrd: March at St George’s is firing on all cylinders. The returning Aurora Orchestra, though, has a sassy take on the city break – taking in Mozart’s Paris, Strauss’s war-ravaged Dresden, and Bernstein’s star-crossed New York. THE AURORA ORCHESTRA IS AT ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL ON SUN 4 MAR.



// Thrust into the US spotlight by a family move to LA when he was 16, Armenianborn piano prodigy Tigran Hamasyan has won impressive plaudits from jazz pianists Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau and Jamie Cullum. His remarkable solo music overlays Armenian melodies with classical influences and opens them up for jazzing around, revealing haunting echoes of Michael Nyman, Keith Jarrett and others. TIGRAN HAMASYAN PLAYS ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL ON THUR 1 MAR.

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ROCK The Experimental Pop Band // Some out-of-context facts about Bristol’s own Experimental Pop Band: 1) Davey once knocked Nico (that Nico) down a flight of stairs; 2) Kellogg’s wanted to use ‘Cocaine Cowboy’ in an advert but didn’t; 3) a total of three people have seen EPB play in Glasgow. If you want context, best go to the show and ask them. THE EXPERIMENTAL POP BAND PLAY THE CROFT, BRISTOL, FRI 30 MAR.


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ROCK Kill It Kid


// We’ve had trouble tracking down the winners of the coveted Venue Band of 2011 title to give them their prize (a solid handshake and a back issue from 1984). They’ve just returned from a European tour which saw them play in Germany, Croatia and Slovenia, and they’ll be in Istanbul before the month’s up, but finally we’ve got their location nailed for at least one night. KILL IT KID PLAY THE LOUISIANA, BRISTOL, SUN 18 MAR.

For more news, reviews and extra pics, see


// NEWS //

ROOTS Richmond Fontaine // The debut novel by Richmond Fontaine’s Willy Vlautin – a writer often compared to the likes of Carver and Bukowski – is currently being made into a movie starring Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson, but that hasn’t stopped this Portland outfit from gracing us with their tenth studio album, a portrait of rural America like only Vlautin & co can paint. RICHMOND FONTAINE PLAY CHAPEL ARTS CENTRE, BATH, WED 21 MAR.

8. WORLD Mor Kabasi // There’s a defiant melancholy to the Ladino singing tradition, reflecting its roots in Spain’s Jewish community before the Inquisition drove it out. Mor Kabasi learned the beautiful, passionate and plaintive Ladino songs from her mother as a child, becoming herself the acknowledged diva of the style and putting it onto stages worldwide. The Ladino language may have died but, thanks to Mor Kabasi, the musical culture lives on. MOR KABASI IS AT CHAPEL ARTS, BATH, SAT 24 MAR.


ROCK Memoryhouse


// Initially intended as a contemporary-classical/ ambient/photographic multimedia art project named after composer Max Richter’s WW2 sceneconjuring orchestral debut, we’re glad Memoryhouse settled on a poppier aesthetic more akin to Beach House or Azeda Booth, if only because it makes descriptions that much less of a mouthful. MEMORYHOUSE PLAY START THE BUS, BRISTOL, TUE 27 MAR.

// This September (22-23) Brisfest moves to Ashton Court, bringing a community music festival back to the estate for the first time since Ashton Court Festival ended in 2007. To celebrate the move, it’s collaborating with M Shed and us here at Venue to curate an interactive, audio-visual exhibition charting four decades of community music festivals in the city. ‘Sounds Like Bristol’ opens on 11 July in a disused public space in the city centre (to be confirmed). We’ll be rummaging through the archives for photos, reviews and interviews from Venues gone by, but we also want to hear from you about your memories of both Ashton Court Festival and Brisfest. The story began in 1974 when some friends put on a load of local bands over four weekends at Ashton Court: it marked the beginning of four decades of community music festivals on the estate. Ashton Court Festival and its successor Brisfest would become the city’s biggest and most important musical events, with thousands of local acts entertaining crowds over the years. “There’s no doubt that Ashton Court Festival holds a very special place in everyone’s hearts,” says Brisfest coordinator Poppy Stephenson. “We really want to do something that will celebrate the history of Ashton Court Festival and also mark the beginning of a new era for community music festivals at the estate. “We’d love to hear from people who want to share their memories. Whether it’s a funny anecdote, a tale of true love found, a photo, a poem, a song, a painting or an old programme… we’ll find a way to include as many of them as possible in our Sounds Like Bristol exhibition in July.” To contribute to the exhibition by sharing your memories call Aisling at Brisfest on 0117 328 1492, email or share on Facebook http://www.facebook. com/brisfest. Tickets for this year’s Brisfest are available from


// Over the past decade James Weeks’s crack vocal ensemble Exaudi has carved out a distinctive niche for the adventurousness of its programming and the fastidious finish of its delivery. No surprise then that its Bath concert makes bedfellows of the 14th-century French giant Guillaume de Machaut and the likes of Cage, Kagel and Fox. Time travel for the intrepid! EXAUDI PLAY THE MICHAEL TIPPETT CENTRE, BATH ON WED 28 MAR.


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For more news, reviews and extra pics, see

All what jazz?

From bebop to post-jazz, Scandinavian cool to Cuban dance, it’s all happening in the world they call jazz this month. Tony Benjamin makes it up as he goes along.


nlike neighbouring Bath and Cheltenham, Bristol doesn’t have an international jazz festival as such. Somehow, the city just spreads a steady supply of global jazz talent across the year. But now and again there’s a bit of convergence, with so many top names jostling onto Bristol’s stages you’d think those tourism bods would be on it like a flash. It seems that March 2012 is turning out to be just such a bonanza for the jazz-minded, with home-grown superstars like Andy Sheppard and Get The Blessing rubbing shoulders with top names from Japan, Norway, Cuba and the US all in the space of a few days. Like we said, Bristol doesn’t do an international jazz festival but if it did it might just include … Ugetsu feat. Yutaka Shiina Colston Hall 2, Tue 6 • There’s bebop in the air whenever Yutaka Shiina’s dazzling piano and Damon Brown’s flashfire trumpet share a stage – two wellmatched talents that don’t hold back. Shiina has been the ‘go to’ piano man on the Tokyo scene for a decade or more and his

straightahead playing matches Brown’s wit and skill.

Tord Gustavsen Trio St George’s, Thur 22 • There’s a crisp clarity about Tord Gustavsen’s playing that epitomises Scandinavian contemporary jazz and no doubt got the attention of ECM label guru Manfred Eicher. But Gustavsen’s latest CD ‘The Well’ reveals a new warmth with echoes of classic US jazziness that suits his long-established trio with Mats Eilersten (bass) and Jarle Vespestad (drums) remarkably well.

internationally recognised jazz face and his just-released ECM album with this threesome is an elegant demonstration that he’s still moving forward with clarity and courage. Working with the precise eloquence of Michel Benita’s bass and Seb Rochford’s restless genius behind the drums, it’s still the ineffable poise of Andy’s languorous saxophone and the deceptive simplicity of the tunes he writes that defines ‘Trio Libero’ as both an unassuming masterwork and a must-see live experience. Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet Colston Hall 2, Tue 27 • When a jazz trumpeter is truly great – think Louis, Miles ... – they can redirect jazz history. It may be too soon to wrap that mantle round brilliant newcomer Ambrose Akinmusire’s shoulders but critical response to his 2011 ‘When The Heart Emerges Glistening’ CD was so gilded that it’s well worth finding out what the fuss is about.

Andy Sheppard’s Trio Libero St George’s, Fri 23 • Local hero, of course, but Andy Sheppard is an

Robert Mitchell 3io Colston Hall 2, Tue 27 • The magpie ear of Robert Mitchell catches smart

Get The Blessing Arnolfini, Thur 15 • They’re back and, by way of apology for the delay, they have a brand new album ‘OCDC’ to share. Bristol’s award-winning Fab Four of post-jazz/rock retain their enigmatic position at the top of their own tree, making soundtracks for films no-one’s yet thought of and sneaking proggishness in under their own radar.

and original music wherever it comes from – with unjazz sources like 4Hero, Little Dragon and Aphex Twin all in turn providing inspiration. What happens next is always remarkable and unexpected as Mitchell’s eclectic imagination and free-flowing piano take things into a musical world where George Clinton works with Oliver Messaien and Thelonious Monk. Roberto Fonseca Group St George’s, Fri 30 • Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca’s career seemed headed straight for the mainland jazz world before the Buena Vista Social Club happened. Saturated in his country’s dance and folk music thanks to a musical family, he was drawn in to replace the late Reuben Gonzales and to work with Ibrahim Ferrer and others. All of this (and more) can be heard in his group, a remarkable extension of Cuban dance music into bristling contemporary jazz and virtuoso solo playing. SEE LISTINGS AT WWW.VENUE.CO.UK FOR FULL DETAILS OF ALL GIGS.

Trio Libero do like to be beside the seaside

“The deceptive simplicity of the tunes defines ‘Trio Libero’ as both an unassuming masterwork and a must-see live experience.” venuemagazine

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Reviews // ALBUMS, SINGLES, EPs, downloads// SPIRO


‘Kaleidophonica’ (LP, Real World)

‘Fabriclive 61’ (Mix CD, Fabric)

// Spiro tunes unfold from little elements, patterns assembling and shifting, shapes emerging and re-emerging. ‘Kaleidophonica’ is well named, then, and a brilliant successor to acclaimed debut ‘Light Box’. The simple acoustic ingredients – mandolin, guitar, violin, accordion – remain, but the musical language has even more fluent complexity, each of the 14 tunes driven by an organic machinery of insistence and evolution. Titles say it all: ‘Swarm’ comes at you in a flurry of wingbeats; ‘Softly Robin’ savours its gentle folksy tune as accretions of tone, rhythm and harmony assemble a breathtaking symphony. It’s all so affectingly perfect, you’ll suspect dark arts and Faustian deals (but you won’t care). (Tony Benjamin) HHHHH

// On this timely contribution to the prestigious mix series, Pinch reclaims dubstep as a flexible, subtle genre against the head-banging aggression that has come to define it for many. His own productions set the boundaries wide, from the ominous vibrations of his Henry & Louis remix to the slitheringly percussive ‘Rooms Within A Room’ from the extraordinary Pinch & Shackleton album. Elsewhere, he does lush and mellow with Quest (‘In Dreams’), minimal and deadly with Loefah (‘Broken’) and 140bpm techstep with Photek (‘Acid Reign’). There’s also room for Berlin techno (EQD), experimental electronica (Roly Porter) and floor-wrecking cuts from Roska, Distance and Addison Groove. A tough, intelligent selection from a DJ at the top of his game. (Adam Burrows) HHHHH


‘Little Things’ (Single, Wear It Well)



// Since 2007 EPB have written, recorded and scrapped close to 30 songs, only for two weeks of writing in March 2011 to birth the entirety of their next record (out 16 Apr). The story always goes one of two ways: gargantuan levels of complexity or a sound boiled down to its simplest elements. Whilst we’re unable to comment on the album, if first single ‘Little Things’ is anything to go by, it’s the latter. At times it chugs like lazy Britpop; at others, the wistfulness of The National creeps in through yearning brass. Lyrics that could be platitudes are given new meaning by, well, maybe they are platitudes, but it’s a great song, especially given the current climate. (Leah Pritchard) HHHHH http://wearitwellrecords.


‘OCDC’ (LP, Naim Jazz)

‘Gutterdub’ (LP, Artscare Records)

‘The Drift’ (Single/Sink & Stove)

// Bish bash bosh, here they come, but there’s a sparkling new quality to the GTB sound on ‘OCDC’ that’s not simply more of the same. It’s their first studio album exploring production opportunities beyond their live sound. ‘American Meccano’, for instance, has birdsong and heavy breathing before Robert Wyatt’s voice adds wordless foregrounded backing vocals and the amazing proggery of ‘Pentopia’ layers into a motoring Terry Riley homage. There’s still all the sounds and smarts of previous waxings on the squabbling ‘Torque’ and neo-noir ‘Adagio In Wot Minor’, but the wider palette of ‘OCDC’ reveals Get The Blessing as a contemporary music combo with even more delicious potential than we realised. (Tony Benjamin) HHHHH www.

// There are Riot Grrrl-invoking essays to be written about Charlie Beddoes’s subverting of oohing, cooing, doeeyed girlie charm (think Marilyn, birthday cake, extra sugar) with angry, whip-crack lyrical bite, but the spitting refrain concluding song one – “I’m nobody’s bitch but mine” – will suffice for this word count. ‘Dub-punk’ generally means dilution of each. Not on this debut album. Ben Fisher’s guitar is savage, Beddoes’s bass anchored fathoms deep, production suitably pogo-sharp and/or echoey – often in the space of a few bars – and together forms a pop-shaped sound genuinely their own. Gigging promise made thrillingly, repeatplayingly good. (Julian Owen) HHHHH

// It’s early days for glam-y, knife-edged post-punkers Island Audio. Cruise Google and you’ll find the Bristol four-piece still only have a slender internet presence. However, the arrival of ‘The Drift' – a fiveminute cut led by thumping bass hooks, chafing guitar figures and some Debbie Harry-worshipping insouciance – and their forthcoming album ‘Obstacles’ is likely to change that. 'The Drift' sets out their throbbing disco-grind stall, referencing New Order, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blondie, and despite its excellently leering groove and ethereal flights into shoe-gazing territory, it would’ve hugely benefited  from a snip in the editing department. A very promising start, nevertheless. (Jamie Skey) HHHHH

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www. venue


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Sound : Lighting : Staging Hire : Sales : Installations : Repairs Parties • Festivals • Weddings • Corporate tel 0845 224 5967 || 07812 111 646 web email


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Got a gig to list? Upload it to us at submit-a-listing

PIC: sarah barrick

// don't miss // Earth/Mount Eerie/Ô Paon

// ROCK Last time Earth played The Croft, they were lucky to escape doom metalinduced concussion as ceiling tiles fell on stage due to the volume. Or at least that’s what we’ve heard. Supporting, and it feels very odd to think Phil Elverum could (or should) support anybody, is Mount Eerie. If you haven’t heard from Elverum since his Microphones days, you’ve missed his ‘Twin Peaks’-sampling black metal opus ‘Wind’s Poem’, and we recommend you rectify this immediately. EARTH SAT 3 MAR, ARNOLFINI, BRISTOL

Lambchop/ Cortney Tidwell

the big gig

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

// ROOTS Kurt Wagner sings as if at the end of a breath, each deep, syrupy phrase slipping out and trailing off like David Berman in tune. Lambchop’s music is as indebted to the traditions of their Nashville home as it is to the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Barry White. LAMBCHOP WED 7 MAR, THE FLEECE, BRISTOL


// CLASSICAL London’s Wigmore Hall to New York’s Carnegie, Gramophone Award winner to Young Artist of the Year, guitarist Milos Karadaglic has been turning heads. For Bath Abbey’s new concert series he plays Albeniz, Granados, Villa-Lobos and JS Bach.

Mike White kneels before the immortal NYhailing punk-blues pioneers.


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about the breadth of his mind – Beastie Boys, Beck, GZA, Dr John, Chuck D, Elliott Smith… The JSBX product is meticulously tooled yet fabulously haywire, cerebral yet wild, browfurrowingly serious yet tongue-in-cheek. It’s clever sh*t, and it’s fun. Two decades of relentless jam-kicking have done nothing to quell Spencer’s fire – he still shreds the undead mojos of Elvis, Little Richard and James Brown over a punk grater, night after night. They haven’t released anything new in a long old time, their last offering being 2010’s 22-track retrospective ‘Dirty Shirt Rock ’n’ Roll: The First Ten Years’. Spencer’s hinted at fresh material, but none has yet seen the light of day. Catch ’em live, though, and you won’t care. If you’re a JSBX virgin, ready your lugholes for crazed howling, blazing mid-century blues riffwork and twitching, timeless rock ’n’ roll. It ain’t new, but it sure ain’t getting old either. JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION PLAY THE TRINITY CENTRE, BRISTOL ON WED 7 MAR. SEE WWW.3CA.ORG.UK FOR DETAILS.


Xiu Xiu

// ROCK For their 2010 album ‘Dear God, I Hate Myself’, Xiu Xiu offered 21 lucky fans the opportunity to purchase a special edition which included handmade chocolates and, wait for it, a T-shirt with “Xiu Xiu for life” written on it in human blood. Human blood. We’d recommend leaving the kids at home. XIU XIU MON 12 MAR, THE FLEECE, BRISTOL

Spiro PIC: york tillyer

// In the words of two of contemporary music’s most celebrated critics, John Spencer “has influenced everything you’re listening to now”. Messrs Beavis and Butthead go on to admit they “never knew three guys could kick so much ass”. High praise indeed, but MTV’s sniggering rockdorks are bang on the money. You can draw a convincing family tree from the Blues Explosion through the White Stripes, The Strokes and the Black Keys. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (JSBX, if you’re into the whole brevity thing) are a band who ought to defy ready categorisation, yet somehow don’t. Emerging from the DC punk scene in the early 90s, Spencer blasted the energy of his hardcore heritage into big sideburn garage blues, a shambolic reworking of American roots music with a rocket it up its jacksie. As the years passed, he muddled this raw substrate with 70s rock and backbeat funk to make blurry, postmodern blues-based cocktails. Stripped-back garage scuzz has always been the fuel on which his hybrid hot-rod runs, but the list of coconspirators tells you all you need to know

// JAZZ The practitioners of amazing acoustic wizardry return with a second album – and it’s a corker, full of rhythmic drive and nary a drum in sight. SPIRO SAT 31 MAR, THE FLEECE, BRISTOL

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For more reviews and extra pics, see

Live review

High Places / The Hysterical Injury/ Hesomagari

The Cube, Bristol (Fri 17 Feb) // If the idea of a boy/girl duo-themed night makes you feel a little queasy, you’re not alone. Thankfully, if there’s one place that’s going to do it right, whose DJs will choose The Fiery Furnaces over The Ting Tings and who will ensure a bottle of wine is not requisite for enjoyment, it’s The Cube. Of course, an acoustic guitar and cutesy harmonies do not a bad night make, it’s just that their absence does well to quieten one’s inner cynic when the odds are stacked in its favour. First up are Bristol’s Hesomagari, a duo of SJ Esau and Zun Zun Egui’s Yoshino Shigihara. It’s an exercise in balance – her chants versus his soft delivery, cymbals versus electronic drum loops, the frantic versus the mundane – the execution can be disappointingly askew at times, but the struggle makes for interesting listening. Then it’s quite a jump to Bath’s The Hysterical Injury, for whom the term ‘gritty bass and drums duo’ is probably getting a little old. They’d benefit greatly were this a standing gig, but if anyone told them this, they’re not letting it show. Annie Gardiner head-bangs the scrunchie out of her hair (not a metaphor) and her brother Tom brings to mind Hella’s Zach Hill, and not just because his arms are blurred by speed into skin-coloured smudges for the duration of the set. Their music is nothing if not persistent, which is admirable, though the bass tones can get a little too ‘pop does metal’ after a while, making that persistence a little grating. Though they’ve been a band for almost six years, it’s the first time LA’s High Places (formerly Brooklyn’s High Places) have played in Bristol. They take the bizarre and make it not only listenable but familiar and tranquil, subduing with outlandish percussive noises, making the sporadic feel cyclic. Whilst Rob Barber enthusiastically rocks back and forth, arms flailing as he hits drum pads, Mary Pearson’s voice and stage presence are the antithesis. Pearson is still and demure; her voice melts into rather than jumps out of the music. But the lack of active attention-seeking does not make them any less worthy of that attention. Endearing is probably too plain a concept when there’s so much darkness implied in her delivery and her character. Perhaps it’s best demonstrated on ‘The Pull’, as she sings “I would give to you/Wrap it up nice and tight for you” over elongated, crystalline tings. Though on paper sentimental, her fragility makes it sound as though she has yielded under duress. It takes faultless tone to inject so much bleakness into such certain phrases, but High Places are experts in synergy. (Leah Pritchard)

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LIVE REVIEW Roots Manuva

The Anson Room, Bristol (Fri 3 Feb)

LIVE REVIEW Mouse Deer The Old Bookshop, Bristol (Thur 16 Feb) // Lord knows US coffee shop culture took a long time to hit the UK with any kind of conviction, but it’s making up for lost time – not only does The Old Bookshop feel like it stepped straight out of Portland, Oregon, but tonight they’ve found a band to match. Upon a stage lit by a 70s-styled freestanding lamp, tasselled shade and all, Holly McIntosh is summoning up the melodies of California to the south, the intelligent lyricism of Olympia to the north, and... wait, no, that’s much too neat. Sure, Mouse Deer do work to a code whereby you can’t over“la” a melody, over “ooh” a hook, but the free-running vocal lines

trace back to determinedly English late-60s psychedelia. Realised with the support of drummer Barney Stevens and Schnauser mate Alan Strawbridge, McIntosh’s songs wriggle wonderfully beyond expectation of where they might head; better, no musical idea, no vaulting ambition of a plan, will be cast aside for questioning whether the voice will follow. And a splendid voice it is, imbued with a kind of languid brightness not unlike Tammy Payne’s; a hazy voice of late summer, in the still and soft-focused part of the park where liquid sunlight meets creeping shadow. A summer sound for all seasons. (Julian Owen)

LIVE REVIEW James Morton & Friends

// Shuffling to the stage, top hat, bow tie and trench-coated, Roots Manuva comes off as a kind of urban city banker ready to dish out musical stock tips to the eager crowd. Sage advice at that. It’s a gig of two halves, the first focusing on latest album ‘4Everevolutions’’ highlights – the dutty ragga bounce of ‘Go Champ’, the eminent headnoddery of the awesome ‘Here We Go Again’ and the deep thump and Dre-esque percussion of ‘Crow Bars’. The nuances of the album are lost with the Anson Rooms’ dodgy acoustics, but the tunes are strong and the crowd are enjoying it. The second half of the set begins with the band asking

if we’re “ready for the time machine?” Then ‘Witness’. The drop is just so good, so headily grin-inducing, the roof is immediately raised. From there, all his classics get an airing. Personal favourite ‘Dreamy Days’, the classic ‘Again and Again’ and the ragtime bounce of ‘Too Cold’. Fair play to the man for still giving the crowd what they want, and it’s during this second half that audience and band alike hit their stride, both seeming to bounce off each other, creating a huge party vibe for the final half-hour. It’s a perfect example of how live hip-hop should be done and well worth investing your time in. (Stuart Roberts)

LIVE REVIEW OAE: The Glory of Venice

The Prom, Bristol (Fri 17 Feb)

St George’s Bristol (Sun 19 Feb)

// Lately, alto sax player James Morton’s career’s demanded stints in London, but they never stop him regularly returning to please his many local fans. For this gig he’s paired with Porkchop bandmate Denny Ilett’s guitar, Andy Nowak providing Hammond organ (and left-hand bass) and Scott Hammond drumming. The focus is on the blues, albeit with a fair dose of funk, and the initially lightly crowded Prom feels appreciative but under-responsive. What is clear is that Morton and Ilett know each other musically to an astonishing degree and neither is about to upstage the other. With Hammond laying down uncluttered groove and

// With Vivaldi’s ‘L’Olimpiade’ about to be unleashed up and down the land in the run-up to London 2012, the OAE seems to have decided to turn the clock back to an earlier Venice – and mark one of the year’s lesseracknowledged anniversaries: the 400th anniversary of the death of San Marco maestro Giovanni Gabrieli. With a brace of sinuously curved cornetts and glinting sackbutts, the celebration promised plenty of Venetian pomp and circumstance, but in the event it fell short of Gabrielian pure gold. In the first half it was the sweet airborne sounds of gravitationallyfree fiddles in the Fontini Sonata for three violins which


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Nowak’s bubbling keyboards filling out the rhythm, the two frontmen take it out to Chicago, Ilett’s Buddy Guy articulations impeccably phrased, Morton’s reed rejoinders having the forceful bite of Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson at his best. As the crowd builds so does the musical energy, with Morton’s trademark originals ‘The Hump’ and ‘Forgiven’ flavoured with New Orleans funk and Detroit soul respectively. It’s as good as this line-up should be – and that’s pretty damn good – and certainly good enough to get things happy and even people dancing. It’s exactly what the fans want, but you can’t help but hope Morton’s got some new projects down the line to let him really stretch out once more. (Tony Benjamin)

caught the ear, as did Kirsty Hopkins’s almost erotically sensuous soprano pleading in a setting by Grandi of the ‘Salve Regina’. Ear-grabbing too was Elizabeth Kenny’s animated theorbo embroidery in the continuo accompaniment of Monteverdi’s ‘Exulta Filia’. The Gabrieli canzonas and motets themselves seemed a bit muted (occasionally weighed down even), though in part two sumptuously woven Mass movements galvanised the musicians who, pausing only for a short Marini interlude, powered into an allguns-blazing ‘Exultet Iam Angelica Turba’, bristling with thrilling salvos and sonorous surprises – La Serenissima red in tooth and claw! (Paul Riley).

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CARS AND GUITARS WHERE ROCK REALLY DOES MEET ROLL Bristol’s newest company CARS AND GUITARS Ltd is a completely new and totally unique concept. Never before have we heard of cars and musical instruments being offered for sale in the same space.


he new shop also doubles up as a reception and waiting area for the garage business. Furnished with leather sofas, the comfortable and clean waiting area is a pleasant place to be in, with free coffee and tea readily available and friendly staff who greet you like you’re an old friend. You’ll feel at ease right from the start, whether you’re a serious guitar buyer, just looking around or needing a car service, repair or MOT. Whatever you require you will always be made to feel like a welcome visitor at CARS AND GUITARS. It’s an amazing sight to see the massive space filled to the brim with the 150 or so guitars that are on display, the floor area interspersed with leather sofas, a few motorbikes and cars, the odd set of drums and, of course, amplifiers. The shop is adequately stocked with accessories for music. There is a stage where a

band is able to play and there are plenty of opportunities for social gatherings and ‘JAM NITES’ for the musically inclined to come along and meet others of a similar mind set. The upper floor is being developed for guitar lesson rooms, perhaps a drum shop, maybe rehearsal or recording rooms. Who knows? The customer service available at the Bond Motor Services garage really is ‘second to none’ and Gary and Gavin are now determined to carry this attitude towards quality into the world of music as Cars and Guitars establishes itself as Bristol’s leading supplier of new and used cars and guitars. The showroom is now open and there are some truly amazing offers for guitar customers. New ‘Tanglewood’ guitars are on offer at NEVER TO BE BEATEN, OR REPEATED PRICES but for a limited period only. Once you’ve become a customer for one

company, you become a friend of both and can start to enjoy some preferential money-saving benefits too! So whether you need or crave a first guitar and some lessons, an upgrade to your old instrument, a car service, repair or an MOT test, or maybe a set of drums, a nice cup of coffee – or just a place to browse, be inspired, have fun and make new friends – why not get in touch, or go and take a look for yourself? Both companies not only sell, but also buy. So take your unwanted guitars and trade them. You can buy a car and part-exchange your guitar. You can sell a guitar and use the cash for a car repair or you might even be able to use your unwanted guitars to pay for car repairs. Or you can just sell your unwanted cars and guitars. It’s all up to you. CARS AND GUITARS is unique to Bristol.

To find out more contact CARS AND GUITARS ON (0117) 960 8500 or BOND MOTOR SERVICES ON (0117) 961 5958, check out or look up cars and guitars on Facebook. We are a little difficult to find so phone if you need directions.

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So you’ve got the songs, the ambition, but how do you turn yourself from a bedroom dreamer into a proper-job star? Well, first you read Venue’s Musicians’ Guide. Over the next dozen pages you’ll find loads of handy info to set you on your way. Leah Pritchard points you in the right direction.


t’s no secret that the days of advances big enough to cover rent and bills and gig tickets and record shop binges and raising children are over. The question begs, then: how does one become a successful musician? Defining success is a critical step in working out what it is exactly you’re going to need to do in order to get there. Perhaps your dream is to play three songs at an open mic twice a week (in which case, see Venues section). Or maybe you want to get your guitar/violin/balafon playing to a teachable standard (see Courses/Tuition and Skills feature on p.94). Chances are where you want to be and who you’re going to need to help you get there are not as clean-cut as those examples. For that reason, we’re going to lay out a few of the available options.

Go your own way

Though Justin Vernon’s second album under the Bon Iver moniker was released by indie giants 4AD and sold 300,000+ copies in the US, he recorded his debut ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ by himself. Only 500 copies were pressed for the original run, something Hi-Fi Copies could do for a very reasonable fee (see CD Duplication). If you, your bandmates or your friends have the production expertise (or you’re willing to learn), some basic recording equipment and a space to call your own, there’s no reason you can’t make a greatsounding record. There are plenty of places you can pick up microphones, mixing desks, recording software and whatever else you might need. See Music Shops, Instrument Makers and Repairs for Digital Village, Drum Bank Music and others.


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On the record

Going to a studio with professional engineers/producers can take a lot of the pressure off. It can also help your creative vision to get an outside opinion (maybe that 12minute noise interlude sounds great to you and your bandmates but...). It’s a far less daunting or expensive task than it might sound, and there are plenty of places to choose from. PJ Harvey and Big Joan have recorded at Toybox, Get the Blessing have recorded at J & J and Julian Cope has recorded at Portishead’s SOA, to give you a rough idea of what just some of the local studios and engineers can do. See Studios/ Recording.

Centre stage

At some point you’re probably going to want to get on stage. There are more venues and promoters in these parts than you can shake a stick at: no matter what style of music you’re playing, there’ll be someone who’ll accommodate you. It can feel like throwing raw spaghetti at a wall if you contact every single promoter asking for a gig – make sure you know what kind of nights they put on, whether it’s funk/ska/hip-hop (see Mr Wolf’s), metal/hard rock (Bierkeller) or jazz/blues (The Coronation Tap). Of course, there are always exceptions– the best idea is to keep an eye on the bands you like and which venues or promoters are putting them on. If you’re looking to play with some national or international touring acts, it’s well worth signing up with DHP, who often put on local supports at the Thekla, Cooler and Fleece. They’ll always try and find a good match, so it’s a great opportunity to play to bigger audiences and win over new fans.

Expose yourself

Though there are exceptions, if you want to get shared between friends and written about and reviewed, you’re going to need to establish yourself online. The options are endless here, but the good news is that all of the ones we’re about to recommend won’t cost you. First of all, hosting your music online. Soundcloud and Bandcamp are by far the best out there, the former better for social networking and the latter for selling downloads, CDs or vinyl. A link to a stream is far more cost effective than sending a CD to websites/magazines for consideration for review and should be more convenient for them too. Blogging sites like Tumblr offer enough free customisation options that you can easily put together a decent site with tour dates, videos, photos, animated gifs, and whatever else takes your fancy.

Held at gunpoint, we wouldn’t claim that the above is a comprehensive guide to becoming successful. The truth is, you can start with an £85 microphone and sell five times as many copies as the population of your home town. You could also spend £8,500 and not sell a single CD. One thing we can say for certain is that you really have to love it. If you’re making music for any other reason, please stop.

From top: Gravenhurst, Beth Rowley and Julian Cope have all made music round these parts

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musicians'guide2012 RECORD SHOPS BROAD STREET JAZZ 11 Broad St, Bath, tel: 01225 427494, email: jt@, web: www. • One of the best specialist jazz record stores in the country. Open 9.30am-5.30pm Mon-Sat. CHEMICAL RECORDS Unit C2, St Vincents Trading Est, Feeder Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 971 4924, email:, web: www.chemical-records. • Huge specialist online music retailer and go-to destination for vinyl, CDs and MP3s in a range of dance styles from house to dubstep and drum & bass. They also stock a wide range of clubby clothing, plus hi-fi equipment and the best DJ gear from CDJs to headphones. Open 11am-7pm Mon-Fri, 11am-6pm Sat. DSWAT Unit 34, The Coach House, 2 Upper York St, Bristol, tel: 07814 271976, email:, web: www. • Online record shop run by DJ Parasite of the ace Death$ucker label and specialising in breakcore, mash-up, ragga jungle, drum & bass, gabba, dubstep and leftfield electronica. FOPP 27-29 College Green, Bristol, tel: 0117 937 7119, web: www.foppreturns. com • Classic pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap emporium, selling classic albums, movies and books at rock-bottom prices alongside a judicious selection of new releases. IDLE HANDS 74 Stokes Croft, Bristol, tel: 0117 908 7164, email: idlehandsbristol@, web: • Specialising in house, techno, reggae and bass, Chris ‘Puffin Jack’ Farrell’s Idle Hands now sells a selection of favourite releases on line too. Open 11am-7pm Mon-Sat. PAYBACK RECORDS 45 St Nicholas Market, Corn St, Bristol, tel: 07966 347412 • A valhalla of vinyl, with an expertly chosen stock of vintage funk, soul, reggae and rock sounds. Open 10am-5pm Mon-Sat. PLASTIC WAX RECORDS 222 Cheltenham Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 7368, email: dave.kellard@plasticwaxrecords. com, web: www.plasticwaxrecords. com • Mind-boggling Aladdin’s cave of secondhand music with probably the PJ Harvey's recorded at the Toybox Studios


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largest catalogue in the region. They have 180,000 secondhand or rare items in stock, including vinyl, CDs and DVDs. Open 9.30am-7pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat, 12noon-4.30pm Sun. PRIME CUTS 85 Gloucester Rd (below RePsycho Clothing), Bristol, tel: 0117 983 0007, email: msavage72@hotmail. com • Sitting beneath Bristol’s best vintage clothes shop, Prime Cuts stocks secondhand vinyl and CDs in a huge range of genres. Open 10am-5.30pm Mon-Sat. PK MUSIC EXCHANGE 51 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 924 1658, email: • The place to go if you want to buy, trade or sell music, hi-fi gear and DJ equipment. Open 9am5pm Mon-Sat. PROVIDENCE MUSIC 1 St George’s Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 927 6536, fax: 0117 927 6680, email: sales@providencemusic., web: • With incredibly helpful, approachable staff, Providence specialises in classical CDs and sheet music. They also stock reeds, metronomes, instrument bags, as well as a selection of musically themed gifts and tickets for classical concerts in Bristol and Bath. Open 9am-5.30pm MonSat. See also Music Shops, Instrument Makers and Repairs. RISE 70 Queens Rd, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 929 7511, email: bristol@rise-music., web: • Rise have an across­-the-board selection of new releases and a well-chosen back catalogue of classic albums from just £3, not to mention one of the best choices of local music in Bristol. They also have a nice selection of books, as well as classic films on DVD. Regular in-store performances. Open 10am-7pm Mon-Sat, 12noon-6pm Sun. WANTED RECORDS Unit 1, St Nicholas Covered Market, Bristol, tel: 0117 929 0524, email:, web: • Now two years old, this is a fantastic addition to the West’s vinyl scene run by John Stapleton of legendary club night BlowPop. Stocks classic rock, jazz, blues, folk, soul, reggae, hip-hop and all things funky. Open 9.30am-5pm Mon-Sat.

MUSIC SHOPS, INSTRUMENT MAKERS AND REPAIRS BUGBRAND 1 Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, Bristol, email:, web: • Hand-built FX, light theremins, sound processors and modular synths from DIY genius Tom Bugs. CARS & GUITARS The Old Drawing office, 50 High St, Kingswood, Bristol, tel: 0117 960 8500, email:, web: • Very new shop with a very unique selling point. Having been selling cars for a while, C&G now sell guitars, basses and accessories. As well as the option of using an unwanted guitar to pay for a car repair, they do regular set-ups for either machine. CLEVEDON MUSIC SHOP 19 Alexandra Rd, Clevedon, tel: 01275 342090, email:, web: www. • Nice little traditional music shop specialising in hard-to-find sheet music. They also have a good range of acoustic and electric guitars, amps, keyboards, woodwind, strings, brass and musical gifts. Open 9.30-5.30pm Mon-Sat. DAVIDSON INTSRUMENTS Ruspidge, Forest of Dean, GL14 3AE, tel: 01594 826848, email: phil@, web: www. • Phil Davidson is the go-to man for hand-crafted guitars, banjos, ukuleles and mandolins. Visitors by appointment. Open 10am-5pm MonFri. DIGITAL VILLAGE 21 The Mall, Clifton Village, Bristol, tel: 0117 946 7700, fax: 0117 946 7600, email: bristol@digitalvillage., web: • Professional audio specialists selling everything from guitars, synths and amps to music production software, microphones and mixing desks. Good range of DJ gear including CDJs too. Open 9.30am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Sat. DRUM BANK MUSIC 203 Gloucester Rd, Bishopston, Bristol, tel/fax: 0117 975 5366, email:, web: • Drums and cymbals may be their strongest suit, but they also have a fine selection of guitars, basses, amplification, effects, recording equipment and PA systems. Plus guitar, drum, vocal and saxophone tuition from beginner to pro, with 15 tutors in all. Open 11am-7pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat. ELECTRIC LADYLAND 85 West St, Old Market, Bristol, tel: 0117 983 2500 • Play guitar? This is the place to go for vintage axes, basses and valve amps, not to mention accessories, repairs and equipment hire. Open 10am-6pm MonSun. EMIS The Old School House, Cossham St, Mangotsfield, Bristol, tel: 0117 956 1855, email:, web: • An absolute gem of a place, beloved by Kraftwerk and combining musical instrument sales (synths, guitars, drums etc) with what must be the region’s only synthesiser museum (really!). Open 9am-5pm MonSat but closed Wed. GHANA GOODS Tel: 0117 935 4132, web: • Online Ghanaian and West African specialists, plus tuition. HAWKER REPAIRS Tel: 07811 240887, email: • Hawker (of Termites, The Relay Rips etc) runs a little workshop for set-up, repair, customisation and restoration of guitars and basses, of both the electric and acoustic varieties. Quotations available. HERON MUSIC 158 Whitehall Rd, St George, Bristol, tel/fax: 0117 955 3763, email:, web: www. • Andy Heron is a guitar and amp specialist. He also stocks a wide range of guitars and basses plus a huge range of spare parts. Open 10am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm Sat. HOBGOBLIN 36 Park St, Bristol, tel: 0117 929 0902, email: sales@hobgoblinbristol., web: • A cracking shop and long-time fixture on the local scene, specialising in traditional instruments, with a particularly fine selection of acoustic guitars as well as accordions, mandolins, harmonicas and so on. Open 10am-6pm Mon-Sat. MICKLEBURGH 1-9 Stokes Croft, Bristol, tel: 0117 924 1151, email:, web: www. • Best known for pianos but there’s a lot more to one of Bristol’s best instrument shops than keyboards (acoustic and electronic). Also stocks a good range of brass, woodwind and strings, and one of the largest sheet music selections in Bristol. Open 9am5.30pm Mon-Sat. MUSIC BOX SHOP 38-40 Bristol Rd, Whitchurch, Bristol, tel: 01275 834474, fax: 01275 838687, email: info@deangroup., web: • The Music Box stocks a wide range of guitars, amps and other standard music shop fare, as well as a fascinating sideline in restoring mechanical instruments such as music boxes and street organs. Open 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, closed Wed. MUSIC ROOM BRISTOL 30 College Green, Bristol, tel/fax: 0117 929 0390, email:, web: www. • Hobgoblin’s move to its own premises means The Music Room has even more space for instruments (mainly keyboards, electric guitars, brass, wind and percussion). They also have an excellent selection of classical and popular sheet music and tuition guides, including DVDs on styles from metal to jazz. Open 9.30am5.30pm Mon-Sat.

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50 Bond St. Bristol BS1 3LZ


Next to Fabricland. Fantastic range of guitar gea r& accessories at great prices to suit all budgets. Got a guitar? Does playing it make your fingers sore? Get it professionally set up here at Rikaxxe. Whether you wan t your first plectrum & a G string or a Hardwood Boogie Mark IV &a Custom Shop Strat, we do this because we love it!!!!

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musicians'guide2012 P.M.T BRISTOL 5 Rupert St, Bristol, BS1 2PY, tel: 01179 349 955 • P.M.T stands for Professional Music Technology, but this place is a selfstyled ‘House of Rock’, specialising in popular music equipment from guitars, bass and digital synths to production software, mixing desks, microphones and stompboxes. They’re one of the biggest music retailers in the area, and as good a place as any to start. Open 9.30am-6pm Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm Sun. PROVIDENCE MUSIC 1 St George’s Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 927 6536, fax: 0117 927 6680, email: sales@, web: www. • Stocks impressive range of sheet music and accessories for classical musicians as well as CDs. Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat. See also Record Shops. RIKAXXE MUSIC 8-10 Bond St, Bristol, tel: 0117 929 8481, email: rdjs@ • Big range of guitars and basses from beginners to custom models, all of them professionally set up before sale. They also sell lots of guitar and studio accessories. Open 10am-5.30pm Mon-Fri. SOUNDS INTERNATIONAL 5 Monmouth Pl, Bath, tel: 01225 335154, email:, web: • SI sell keyboards, guitars, basses, drums, amps, percussion, PAs and sheet music. Open 9.30am-5pm Mon-Sat. See also Tuition & Courses. TREBLE ROCK MUSIC 38a Princess Victoria St, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 973 766/974 2675, email: shop@treblerock. com, web: • Longstanding music biz stalwart offers a modest but high-quality selection of vintage and rare guitars, amps and pedals. He’s also good for setups and repairs or if you’re looking for a guitar teacher. Usually open 12noon6pm Mon, 10.30am-6.30pm Tue-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat. TREVOR JONES BRASS AND WOODWIND 13 Christmas Steps, Bristol, tel: 0117 922 7402, web: www. • A specialist in new and secondhand instruments for all budgets and levels of ability, plus repairs, accessories and music books. Open 9.30am-5.30pm Tue & Thur, 9.30am-5pm Sat. VINTAGE & RARE GUITARS BATH LTD 11 Queen St, Bath, tel: 01225 463777, email: enquiries@ • Rare and collectable guitars, plus unusual and limited edition effects pedals. All instruments are set up in house, and it’s a great place for repairs and guitar tech work too. Open 10am-6pm MonSat, 12noon-4pm Sun.


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STUDIOS/RECORDING ACA STUDIOS Blenheim House, Henry St, Bath, tel: 01225 428284, email:, web: www. • Primarily a booking agency (with more than 700 acts on their books), ACA also manage a number of their favourite bands. Their studio offers negotiable rates but you’ll need to book months in advance. ARTIST STUDIOS 10 King Square Ave, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 3014, mob: 07736 274970, email: info@artiststudiosbristol. com, web: • With space for everything from small bands to 20-piece choirs, Artist Studios offer competitive rates on recording projects from live sessions and demos to full album production. They also hire instruments, equipment and session musicians and offer vocal tuition. ATM STUDIOS 309 Central Park, Petherton Rd, Hengrove, Bristol, tel: 01275 891847, email: atm.bristol@, web: www. • As well as being Bristol’s best-known music technology college, Access To Music runs its own rehearsal and recording studio to hire during evenings and weekend. ATTIC ATTACK STUDIO 25 Portland Sq, Bristol, tel: 0117 924 4411, mob: 07913 540549, email:, web: • Attic Attack provides studio-based and location recording as well as mastering, editing and manufacturing services. From £20 per hour, including engineer. AUDIO SHELTER Unit 5, First Floor, Knorr-Bremse Systems, Douglas Rd, Bristol, tel: 07769 525837 or 07968 870041, email: audioshelter@hotmail. com, web: audioshelter • A recording, mixing and production suite, which can provide session musicians where required. They can also help with arrangements. Rates vary according to the nature of the project. BASEMENT STUDIO The Island, Silver St, Bristol, tel: 0117 934 9013, web: www. • A young people’s music charity running out of central Bristol for 20 years, the Basement Studio is a fantastic local institution. Their free open access sessions include coaching and project work in live performance and studio technology. Membership is free. See also Rehearsal Space and Organisations. BINK BONK STUDIO Central Bristol, mob: 07913 161452, email: • Mat Sampson is one of Bristol’s most experienced studio engineers and producersHe has a vast range of vintage gear including some fantastic guitar amps and effects – perfect for rockers.

THE BUNKER Tel: 0117 962 3155, email:, web: • Digital recording specialist in a leafy suburb with a comprehensive Pro Tools set-up. Well-equipped for all genres of music. CRUISIN’ MUSIC PO Box 3187, Radstock, tel: 01373 834161, fax: 01373 834164, web: • Set in 250 acres of estate just outside Bath, this is the studio set-up of Cruisin’ Music Management. DOCKSIDE STUDIOS Unit 15, Albion Dockside Estate, Hanover Pl, Bristol, tel: 0117 934 9994, mob: 07714 003749, web: • Although better known as one of the city’s biggest band rehearsal complexes, Dockside also offers a professional recording service. Prices start from £20 per hour. See also Rehearsal Space. HILLSIDE STUDIOS Hillside, Mells Green, Mells, Frome, tel: 01373 813643, email:, web: • Run by one of UWE’s music tech tutors, Hillside offers studio and mobile recording services, with a 48-channel mixing desk for £20 an hour. They also offer CD duplication and a full artwork design and publishing service. Open 10am-6pm Mon, Tue, Wed & Fri, 10am-4pm Sat. J & J STUDIO The Epstein Building, Mivart St, Bristol, tel: 0117 951 9909, mob: 07917 005290, email: jim@jandjstudio., web: • Local legend Jim Barr is the bass player with Portishead and Get The Blessing. His studio is one of the most popular in Bristol, and offers an extensive range of pro-level equipment, a variety of recording spaces and plenty of floor space. JONATHAN RECORDINGS St George, Bristol, tel/fax 0117 935 0474, email: • With over 30 years’ experience in the industry with the BBC and as a freelance, Jonathan Lane has worked with musicians from Billy Cobham and

Peewee Ellis to the LPO and John Lill, as well as countless local performers. He offers bespoke live, acoustic and location recording, mixing, mastering and editing services, technically tailored to your own specific musical and artistic standards and requirements. With a large and versatile pool of professional equipment and one of the most experienced pairs of ears in Bristol, he can work with you on a complete project or to provide those hard-tofind specialist facilities unavailable elsewhere. MOLES STUDIO 14 George St, Bath, tel: 01225 404445, fax: 01225 404447, email:, web: www. • Two big live rooms, two dead rooms, a vocal booth and a serious amount of top-quality gear. MULTIVERSE Lower Ground Floor, 17 Whiteladies Rd, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 329 0108, email:, web: www.multiverse-music. com • Home to some of Bristol’s most forward-thinking record labels – including Tectonic, Kapsize and Caravan – Multiverse is also a state-of-the-art studio facility, specializing in vocal and dialogue recording, stereo mixing, mastering and cutting-edge sound production. NAM STUDIOS 4/7 Forewoods Common, Holt, Wilts, tel/fax: 01225 782281, web: • Top-quality digital and analogue recording in a beautiful rural location. Previous clients have included Van Morrison, Robert Plant and Julian Cope. Open 24 hours Mon-Sun for recording. See also Rehearsal Space. PORTFOLIO PRODUCTIONS 10 King Square Ave, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 3014, mob: 07736 274970, email: info@, web: www. • Perfect for singer-songwriters, Portfolio Productions offer studio and location recording as well as providing session musicians and arrangement services.

Copy Cats // When you’re making your first record, it’s very easy to get carried away. Finally, decent recordings! Cover art! Lyric booklets! But in order to translate that into something you can pop in a jiffy bag for your friends, family and the major label record executives you’re inevitably going to win over, you’re going to need someone to stick those recordings on a piece of plastic (assuming, of course, you’re not going the cassette route). Hi-Fi Copies make this a hassle-free experience – anywhere from one (ambition!) to thousands of copies in a deal customised with your volume, packaging, insert and budget options in mind. They’re also equipped to offer glass mastered CDs and DVDs on orders over 500, and if they can’t help with your enquiry, they’ll probably know someone who can. HI-FI COPIES T: 0117 942 4700, E: SALES@HIFICOPIES.COM, W: WWW. HIFICOPIES.COM

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Friendly, professional and affordable • Recording studio and music production • Album, EP and demo production • Digital recording & mixing 07799 591822

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musicians'guide2012 They also specialise in producing demos, CD duplication and artwork design and production. RAW STATE The Old Malthouse, Clarence St, Bath, tel: 01225 466464, email:, web: www. • Neil Perry builds bespoke, high-specification recording equipment from components of classic gear, including amplifiers, FX and equalizers. He also consults on the design of studios, and repairs and refurbishes vintage amps. REAL WORLD STUDIOS Mill Lane, Corsham, Box, Wilts, tel: 0845 146 1740, web: • Peter Gabriel’s legendary studio. Possibly beyond the budget of your average pub rockers, but there’s a range of experiences on offer, from the relatively affordable Rehearsal Room to the futuristic Big Room studio. ROHAN MUSIC The Mill, Parnall Rd, Fishponds, Bristol, tel: 0117 958 4433, email:, web: • Offer a complete recording and production package, as well as novelties like recording holidays for kids, corporate packages and The Popstar Experience. ROOFLIGHT PRODUCTION tel: 07799 591822, web: www.rooflightproduction. • Friendly and professional recording and production company. Rates are £15 per hour or £100 per day for recording/mixing/mastering, or a hired studio for band recording works out at £200 for 12 hours, with 10% discount for new clients. SOA STUDIOS Uni4 4, Lawnwood Industrial Estate, Lawnwood Rd, Easton, Bristol, tel: 0117 955 4008, email:, web: www. • Aka State of Art, this is Portishead’s own studio, and one of the most characterful places to record and produce music in Bristol. It offers analogue and digital recording, and houses an incredible array of vintage synths, organs and keyboards. TOYBOX STUDIOS 25 Portland Sq, Bristol, tel: 0117 989 2642, email:, web: www. • Extremely wellequipped and friendly studio run from a Georgian townhouse in St Pauls. There’s a lovely stone room for those Albini-esque “live” sounds, and a wellproportioned dead room with plenty of booths to allow for control freakery. 100% recommended. UNICORNS STUDIOS AND REHEARSAL SPACES AT COLSTON Hall Tel: 0117 922 3136, email:, web: • A professional and fully equipped music suite available to hire for under25s in a central location. Featuring:


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rehearsal rooms with space for up to 10 people, the Unicorns Studios contain an i-mac suite/workshop space with 8 i-macs, interfaces and internet access. A wide range of instruments are available including PA, amps, mics and stands, drum kits, a Roland Sh201 synthesizer and stage piano. A variety of additional equipment is available by arrangement and a DJ room and decks are also available for hire. The studio, rehearsal rooms and main space have kitchen access and toilets for your convenience and can be booked out independently or in any combination to suit your requirements. Open until 10pm Mon-Sat; prices for the rehearsal rooms start at £12 for 2hrs with competitive rates available for recording. USB PRODUCTIONS tel: 07767 397046, email:, web: • A Bristolbased recording studio situated in one of the most vibrant areas of the city. They can deal with all your recording, mixing and mastering requirements. THE WHITE HOUSE 98 Kewstoke Rd, Kewstoke, Weston-super-Mare, tel: 01934 633773, email: info@whstudio., web: • Now celebrating its 25th year, The White House isn’t short on experience, equipment or reputation, offering a combination of both digital and vintage analogue recording. There’s a large live room for drums and three isolation booths so bands can record together, and engineer Martin is always on hand to guide, tweak and polish right to the final CD. All this for just £15 per hour on a weekday. Also specialist ‘baking’ service to rescue those old master tapes.

REHEARSAL SPACES A.M.P ROOMS 4 Albany Buildings, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol, tel: 0117 904 3973, mob: 07905 856476, email:, web: • Run by the extremely friendly and personable Phil, A.M.P hire rehearsal rooms for £8 per hour, and drumkits and PAs for £5 per session. Open 10am12midnight Mon-Sun. ATM STUDIOS 309 Central Park, Petherton Rd, Hengrove, Bristol, tel: 01275 891847, email: atm.bristol@, web: www. • Access to Music offer eight practice spaces, with prices from £27-£33.50 for four hours including PA and mics. See also Studios and Recording Services, PA Hire, Tuition and Organisations. BASEMENT STUDIO The Island, Silver St, Bristol, tel: 0117 934 9013, web: www. • They’re better known as an open access youth music project, but they also hire out space for band rehearsals. See also Studios and Recording Services and Organisations. CRUISIN’ MUSIC PO Box 3187, Radstock, tel: 01373 834161, fax: 01373 834164, web: • Rehearsal rooms available on request. See also Studios and Recording Services and Management. DRUM BANK MUSIC 203 Gloucester Rd, Bishopston, Bristol, tel/ fax: 0117 975 5366, email: info@, web: www. • One of Bristol’s best musical instrument shops also has two 20ft x 20ft rehearsal spaces for hire, at around £6 per hour apiece. Open 11am10pm Mon-Sat. See also Music Shops, Instrument Makers and Repairs. DOCKSIDE STUDIOS Unit 15, Albion Dockside Estate, Hanover Pl, Bristol, tel: 0117 934 9994, mob: 07714 003749, web: • Dockside has four rehearsal rooms, each with its own 900-watt PA. They can also supply mics and DI boxes. £8/hour standard rate; £5/hour weekday afternoons. See also Studios and Recording Services and PA Hire. FACTORY STUDIOS Barton Hill Trading Estate, Bristol, tel: 0117 952 5655, web: • One of Bristol’s biggest and bestknown rehearsal complexes, Factory offers a choice of 10 sound-proofed rooms, each with its own PA system. Rates start at £7 per hour, including mics, with even better prices for long daytime sessions and students. Open 10am-11pm Mon-Fri, 2-6pm Sat, 2-10pm Sun. MAVERICK STUDIOS LIVE RECORDING Foundry Lane, Speedwell, Bristol, tel: 0117 951 0131, mob: 07967993050, email: @, web: www. • Two small rooms, two large rooms, and one with a full stage, recording and video set-up. Hire from £22 per four-hour session. NAM STUDIOS 4/7 Forewoods Common, Holt, Wilts, tel/fax: 01225 782281, web: www.namrecording. com • A professional recording studio, which also has two rehearsal facilities available including PA and mics for hire at competitive rates. Open 10am11pm seven days a week. See also Studios and Recording Services. REAL WORLD STUDIOS Mill Lane, Corsham, Box, Wilts, web: www. • Peter Gabriel’s famous studio is one hell of a place to get your act together. See also Studios and Recording Services.

PA/EQUIPMENT HIRE ASTRALSOUND 38 Windyridge, Bisley, Stroud, tel: 01452 770042, fax: 0872 115 6035, email:, web: • Astralsound hire, sell and service PA systems of all sizes up to 1,000 capacity venues. They charge from around £200 for a club or pub PA with monitors. Open 10am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat. ATM STUDIOS 309 Central Park, Petherton Rd, Hengrove, Bristol, tel: 01275 891847, email: atm.bristol@, web: www. • As well as a music college, a studio, and a rehearsal space (see relevant sections), Access to Music’s Bristol operation can hire you a PA. AUDIO FORUM 8 Ireland, North Bradley, Wilts, BA14 9RW (mail only), tel: 0870 240 6444, email: sales@audioforum., web: • Long- and short-term hire of audio visual equipment to clubs, bars and events, with a range of specs up to a seriously mighty 40K. BES SYSTEMS 16 Whitehouse St, Bedminster, Bristol, tel: 0845 224 5967, email:, web: • Sound, lighting, staging and audio-visual hire. CAV Unit F2, Bath Rd Trading Est, Stroud, tel: 01452 505 500, email: hire@, web: • CAV will cover anything from a party or wedding to a huge arena show with PA, lighting, staging and full installation. DOCKSIDE STUDIOS Unit 15, Albion Dockside Estate, Hanover Pl, Bristol, tel: 0117 934 9994, mob: 07714 003749, web: • Call if you’d like to hire their mixer and cabs. EURO ENTERTAINMENTS 37 Cromwell Rd, St Andrews, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 6151, email: euroents@hotmail. com, web: www.euroentertainments. • They have systems from a friendly 500w to a downright impolite 6kw. They also supply festivals. EVANS AUDIO Studio House, 5 Flowers Hill, , Bristol, tel: 0117 941 4240, web: • Evans stock and hire PA for audiences up to 5,000. They also offer in-ear monitors, radio mics, effects, recording and playback equipment. FRONTLINE PA Tel: 0117 951 2695, mob: 07973 673555, email: • If you’ve ever played The Croft, you’ll know Paul already – he’s their regular behind the mixing desk. He supplies and installs everything from a small vocal PA to a full touring concert system. FSV SOUNDS Tel: 07896 493704, web: • FSV PA, DJ gear and lighting for gigs, clubs and private functions, with prices starting at £110.

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musicians'guide2012 Their larger packages come with an engineer’s fees included. IMAX LIGHTING Tel: 0117 971 9625, email:, web: www. • Specialists in lighting hire, production services, promotion and production management. They are well equipped to adapt to any event specification. SOUNDS PROFESSIONAL 4 Goss Barton, Nailsea, Bristol, tel: 01275 858156, email: • Smaller systems up to 800W with expert engineers included. STAGE ELECTRICS Third Way, Avonmouth, Bristol, tel: 0117 938 4000, fax: 0117 916 2828, email:, web: www.stage-electrics. • Stage Electrics hire and sell PA systems and stage lighting for both indoor and outdoor use.

CD DUPLICATION HI-FI COPIES Tel: 0117 942 4700, email:, web: www. • Based in Clifton and run by musician Matt Blackwell (currently of The Hinkley Veltones), Hi-Fi Copies specialises in CD-R and DVD-R for short runs and glass-mastered CD and DVD for orders of 500+. They also offer booklet printing and packaging, and a free proof service on all CD-R and DVD-R orders. They’re extremely competitive on price, and are ideal people to approach if you’re putting out your own music. Clients include Real World Studios, An Axe, Howling Lord, Bristol Archive Records and Cherryade Records. No minimum order. Open 10am-5pm. Call to make an appointment. See also panel. HILLSIDE STUDIOS Hillside, Mells Green, Mells, Frome, tel: 01373 813643, email:, web: • Patrick O’Brien offers CD and DVD duplication with no minimum order, and can also organise packaging for you. See also Studios & Recording Services. ORIGINAL SOURCE AUDIO AND VIDEO DUPLICATION 3 Brookside Rd, Brislington, Bristol, tel: 0117 971 3947, mob: 07766 547562, email: info@, web: www. • Short-run specialists, Original Source are good people for demo duplication. They also offer conversion from a bewildering array of formats. PROMO CDR Lower Ground Floor, 17 Whiteladies Rd, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 329 0108, email:, web: • Part of the Multiverse empire, Promo duplicate CDRs and DVDRs, as well as doing inkjet printing, inlays, booklets and posters. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Fri. See


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also Promoters and Labels; Studios and Recording Services.

PROMOTERS AND LABELS ART SCARE RECORDS Email:, web: • A great little label, previously featured on Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone show for BBC 6 Music. Linking the DIY scenes in Bristol and New York City, they’re responsible for some great shows, as well as essential compilations. BRISTOL ARCHIVE RECORDINGS • They may not be the people to approach for a recording contract, but anybody with the vaguest interest in Bristol’s musical history will find plenty to keep them occupied here, from indie pop through punk to the downright peculiar stuff that only a place like Bristol can produce. CLEVERHEAD email: wearecleverhead@, web: • Promoters staging regular shows at venues such as Mr Wolf’s and Cosies. CONTRABAND Email: djskint@ • DJ Skint runs friendly, inclusive sessions every week at Bristol’s Golden Lion pub: a fine place to start exploring Bristol’s hip-hop scene. DB RECORDS PO Box 19318, Bath, BA1 6ZS, tel: 01225 782322, email: demo@, web: www.dbrecords. • DB’s roster includes artists as varied as Doudou Cissoko, The Electric Soft Parade and Tom McRae. DEADPUNK PROMOTIONS Web: www. • Regular promoters at The Croft specialising in the punk, hardcore, ska end of the spectrum. DEATH$UCKER RECORDS Email:, web: www. • Bristol’s original and best breakcore label, with the anarchic aesthetic you’d expect from its owner – Toxic Dancehall and Goatlab legend DJ Parasite. DHP CONCERTS Web: www.dhpgroup. • Owners of Thekla and Nottingham Rock City. They’re also one of Bristol’s biggest live music promoters (also using venues such as The Cooler and The Fleece) and the people behind the Dot To Dot festival. FEAR OF FICTION Web: www.myspace. com/fearoffiction • Not-for-profit promoters and label who organise gigs for their favourite touring acts. GIMME SHELTER Web: www.myspace. com/gimmeshelterclubbristol • Retro rock ’n’ soul night helmed by local character John The Mod. Venues include The Lanes, The Fleece, The Louisiana and The Hatchet. INVADA RECORDS Web: www.invada. • One of Bristol’s very best and most forward-thinking labels, Invada is run by local legends Geoff Barrow and Fat Paul. JELLI RECORDS Web: www.myspace. com/jellirecords • Label owned by former Folk House chief Steve Parkhouse, who now hosts the popular Bristol Music Show on BCFM. They also promote gigs, including the Bristol Acoustic Music Festival, and manage artists. LOCAL KID PO Box 2543, Bristol, email:, web: www. • A Bristol-based DIY collective promoting underground music, with links to the punk, indie pop and feminist rock scenes. MEDIUMHEAD Web: www.facebook. com/mediumhead • These are the people for all things heavy – metal, scream, metalcore and so on. NO NEED TO SHOUT • Promoting gigs mainly at Start the Bus on Baldwin Street, upcoming bookings include The Phenomenal Handclap Band and iconAclass. OFFBEAT PROMOTIONS Web: www. • Staging gigs in Bristol, Bath and Cardiff, Offbeat specialise in bringing the world’s leftfield sounds to your doorstep. PULL THE STRINGS web: http://www. • A fixture on the DIY scene for many years, PTS still put on occasional nights at venues like The Croft and Bristol County Sports Club, recently bringing the incredible Enablers to The Cube. PURR email:, web: • Much-loved indie tastemakers, who have been taking a little break recently (although their website suggest they will be back soon). QU JUNKTIONS Web: www. • Consistently our most daringly brilliant gig promoters, Qu have brought everyone to Bristol – from Four Tet to the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Forthcoming attractions include Bronnt Industries Kapital soundtracking ‘Turksib’ at Watershed (17 Mar) and Tinariwen at Colston Hall (7 Apr). SINK & STOVE Email: info@, web: www. • Upcoming releases this spring include the incredible Termites and Island Audio. STITCH STITCH 79 Cromwell Rd, St Andrews, Bristol, web: www. • Bristolbased DIY promoters and record label with an old-school indie aesthetic. SUGAR SHACK RECORDS Tel: 01179 855092, email: info@sugarshackrecords., web: www.sugarshackrecords. • Proper-job rock label whose

current roster includes the likes of Left Side Brain and Redefine.

VENUES ANSON ROOMS/AR2 Bristol University Students’ Union, Queens Rd, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 954 5810, email:, web: www. • The Anson Rooms is one of Bristol’s longest-standing venues, and a major fixture on UK tours. The smaller AR2 is available for hire. BATH PAVILION North Parade Rd, Bath, tel: 01225 486902, web: www. • 1,000-capacity venue in central Bath used for large concerts, comedy shows, family entertainment and children’s roller skating parties. THE BELL 103 Walcot St, Bath, BA1 5BW, tel: 01225 460426, web: www. • Live jazz, blues, folk and vinyl DJs are regular fixtures in this classic Bath hangout. BIERKELLER The Pithay, All Saints, Bristol, tel: 0117 926 8514, fax: 0117 926 8514, email:, web: • One of Bristol’s quirkiest and best-loved venues. These days it’s known for touring metal bands and big rock club nights, as well as its signature Saturday Oompah sessions. Now also used as a theatre. BRISTOL COUNTY SPORTS CLUB 40 Colston St, Bristol, tel: 0117 927 3534, web: • Just across the road from the Colston Hall, this sports club has been used by Decorum Records and other DIY promoters. BRISTOL FOLK HOUSE 40a Park St, Bristol, tel: 0117 926 2987, email:, web: www. • A multi-purpose venue for adult education, with good food and drink as well as live music. Concerts are mostly, though not exclusively, acoustic. COLSTON HALL Colston St, Bristol, tel: 0117 922 3686, email: boxoffice@, web: www.colstonhall. org • The grand bronze-fronted foyer has brought a whole new dimension to this prestigious national venue. Just as importantly, imaginative programming sees the grand old place staging everything from big rock and pop names to the best in classical and world music, and their Leftfield programme is a joy. Hall 2 is a smaller, 400-capacity venue available to hire. THE COOLER Park St, Bristol, tel: 0117 945 0999, email:, web: • Home to Kute, DJ George’s successor to the immortal Kandi Klub. They also host live music – forthcoming fixtures include Diagrams and Curse You Damn Kids.

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musicians'guide2012 THE CORONATION TAP 8 Sion Pl, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 973 9617, web: • Equally popular with students and live music fans, the Tap is renowned for its jazz, blues and strong cider. COSIES 34 Portland Sq, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 4110, email:, web: • Classic Bristol hangout, famous for its uniquely relaxed atmosphere and great music. THE CROFT 117-119 Stokes Croft, Bristol, tel: 0117 987 4144, email:, web: www. • With two performance spaces, The Croft is right at the heart of Bristol’s underground music culture. It’s as likely to host a punk all-dayer as a high-profile club night. THE CUBE MICROPLEX Dove St South (off King Sq), Bristol, postal address: 4 Princess Row, Kingsdown, Bristol, tel: 0117 907 4190, email: cubeadmin@, web: www.cubecinema. com • A community cinema and allpurpose arts venue staffed entirely by volunteers, The Cube is a vital part of Bristol’s thriving independent culture. FIDDLERS Willway St, Bedminster, Bristol, tel: 0117 987 3403, fax: 0117 987 3369, email:, web: • One of Bristol’s best medium-sized music venues, Fiddlers puts on an unpredictable range of concerts from afrobeat legends to tribute bands. THE FLEECE 12 St. Thomas St, Bristol, tel: 0117 945 0996, email: info@thefleece., web: • Since having been taken over by Bristol indie stalwarts The Blue Aeroplanes, The Fleece has rapidly re-established its reputation as a serious fixture on the international touring circuit. It also hosts regular local band sessions, monthly tribute acts and club nights. KOMEDIA BATH 22-23 Westgate St, Bath, tel: 0845 293 8480, email:, web: www. • Comedy is by no means the only thing on offer at this major venue in central Bath. Komedia also offers live music and club nights, as well as cinema, cabaret and food. THE LOUISIANA Wapping Rd, Bathurst Terrace, Bristol, tel: 0117 265978, email: thelouisiana@, web: www.thelouisiana. net • Much-loved small pub venue, whose frequently rammed upstairs room has played host to everyone from The Strokes to Elbow. It’s also one of the main Bristol venues for local band nights. MICHAEL TIPPETT CENTRE Bath Spa University College, Newton Park Campus, Newton St Loe, Bath, tel: 01225 875696, web: www.michaeltippettcentre. org/ • Purpose-built chamber music


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venue with fabulous acoustics that seats up to 200 people in air-conditioned comfort. MOLES 14 St George St, Bath, tel: 01225 404445, fax: 01225 404447, email:, web: www. • Moles is one of the most renowned venues in the South West, with a history going back more than 30 years. The café has proved a popular addition. THE MOTHERS’ RUIN 7-9 St Nicholas Market, Old City, Bristol, tel: 0117 925 6969, email: themothersruin@, web: themothersruinbristol • Rather fantastic small pub venue which plays host to a wide variety of underground club promoters, DIY band sessions and open mic nights. MR WOLF’S 33 St. Stephen St, Bristol, tel: 0117 927 3221, email: wolffmark@, web: • The bills at Mr Wolf often combine live music and DJs. All genres are covered but there’s a slight emphasis on funky or electronic sounds. NO 51 STOKES CROFT 51 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3QP, tel: 0117 914 8048, email:, web: • No 51 now serves food as well as live music, including Lady Nade’s monthly open mic night. OLD DUKE 45 King St, Bristol, tel: 0117 927 7137, email:, web: • Bristol institution. Its regular live music, mainly of the jazz and blues variety, is so popular that punters are frequently to be seen spilling out into the street. O2 ACADEMY Frogmore St, Bristol, tel: 0844 477 2000, email: mail@, web: www. • Bristol chapter of a nationwide chain, and a fixture on national and international tours. The smaller Academy 2 upstairs plays host to smaller gigs. PAM PAM 3 Queens Ave, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 973 1249, email: salon@, web: www.pampam. • Previously Joe Public’s, a popular, stylish bar in Bristol’s studentland. Pam Pam also stages regular gigs. POLISH EX-SERVICEMEN’S CLUB 50 St Pauls Rd, Clifton, Bristol, tel: 0117 973 6244 • The Polish Club is a great little venue for hire to DIY-ers. PROM MUSIC BAR AND CAFÉ 26 The Promenade, Gloucester Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 7319, web: • The Prom’s pop quiz and open mic nights are incredibly popular, but it’s also a good place to catch folk, jazz and acoustic rock. Decent grub too. ST BONAVENTURE SOCIAL CLUB Egerton Rd, Bishopston, Bristol, tel: 01452 411466, email: tim@crhmusic.

com, web: • Country and Americana bookings, with the likes of Chris Smither and Bill Kirchen booked to play in the coming months. ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL Great George St, Brandon Hill, Bristol, tel: 0117 929 4929, email: administration@, web: www. • Acoustically superior small concert hall with a fantastic programme of classical, chamber, jazz and world music concerts. START THE BUS 7-9 Baldwin St, Bristol, tel: 0117 930 4370, web: www.startthebus. tv • Late-licensed watering hole beloved of both students and music fans. They specialise in up-and-coming music, with the likes of Memoryhouse and Woman’s Hour playing in the next month. THEKLA East Mud Dock, The Grove, Bristol, tel: 0117 929 3301, email:, web: www., www.myspace. com/theklabristol • One of Bristol’s best venues. Choice selections for the coming months include The War on Drugs, 2:54/ Chelsea Wolfe and Brother Ali. THE TRINITY CENTRE Trinity Rd, St Philips, Bristol, tel: 0117 935 1200, email:, web: uk • Trinity has been a key fixture on Bristol’s live music and club scene since the late 70s, and has seen action from names like The Prodigy, Public Enemy and Massive Attack. Available to hire.

MANAGEMENT ACA MUSIC MANAGEMENT/ABA BAND BOOKING Blenheim House, Henry St, Bath, tel: 01225 428284, email:, web: www. • Big on tribute acts, but they also represent bands and artists with their own material. CRUISIN’ MUSIC MANAGEMENT PO Box 3187, Radstock, tel: 01373 834161, fax: 01373 834164, email: info@cruisin., web: • Clients include The Stranglers and The Wurzels. EXTREME MUSIC PRODUCTION A&R, EMP, 4-7 Forewoods Common, Holt, Wilts, tel: 0845 056 3834, mob: 07909 995011, email: george@empspace. com, web: • The management arm of Eyes Wide Shut Records.

PUBLICITY BANG Tel: 0117 942 8491, email:, web: www. • The in-house design, production and print agency of the company behind Venue. Call for a competitive quote on anything from printing flyers to complete branding packages. Current clients include Colston Hall and Bristol Balloon Fiesta.

DON’T PANIC MEDIA Tel: 0117 329 0083, email: bristol@dontpaniconline. com, web: • Ever popular flyer packs. JAMJAR PRINT Ferodo House, Willway St, Bedminster, Bristol, tel: 0845 680 9090, 0117 373 1605, email: info@jamjarprint., web: • Well-established print agency. JONATHAN RECORDINGS tel: 0117 935 0474, web: jonathan@recordings. • Publicity photography of musicians in performance. See also Studios and Recording Services. OUT OF HAND Bedminster, Bristol, tel: 0117 953 6363, email: info@outofhand., web: • The UK’s leading flyer specialist. Very competitive, and they can turn jobs round in as little as 24 hours. SETSQUARE CREATIVE tel: 07775802077, e: chrisyeates1@gmail. com, web: • Has designed websites and branding for everyone from Eclipse Internet to local record label Idle Hands. SPRINTERS Avonmead House, Stokes Croft, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 3016, email:, web: www.sprinters. biz • Sprinters offer quick and low-cost flyer/poster printing.

ORGANISATIONS ACCESS TO MUSIC 309 Central Park Ind Est, Petherton Rd, Hengrove, Bristol, tel/fax: 01275 891847, email: atm., web: www., www.accesstomusic. • Tuition, recording, rehearsals and equipment hire – Access to Music have got everything covered. See also Tuition and Courses, Studios and Recording Services, Rehearsal Space and PA hire sections. BATH MUSIC INDUSTRY FORUM Abbey Chambers, Abbey Churchyard, Bath, BA1 1LY email: uk web:, www. • An advisory group that educates, informs and signposts opportunities for young musicians and promoters. BATH MUSIC PLUS Abbey Chambers, Abbey Churchyard, Bath, BA1 1LY, email:, web: uk, • A new initiative by IGF (International Guitar Foundation). It consists of a Headline Artists concert series, a platform for unsigned young bands and a community education programme. THE BASEMENT STUDIO The Island, Silver St, Bristol, tel: 0117 934 9013, web: • Charity organisation with more than 20 years’ experience of helping young people express themselves through music. They run free open access sessions for

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musicians'guide2012 13-19-year-olds. See also Rehearsal Space and Studios and Recording Services. BRISTOL MUSIC FOUNDATION Unit 4.3, The Paintworks, Bath Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 958 8849, email: info@, web: www. • Set up in 2005 to nurture the South West’s music industry and providing access to education and advice regarding all aspects of the music business, from music management to retail, publishing and copyright law. INTERNATIONAL GUITAR FOUNDATION Contact Phil Castang, Abbey Chambers, Abbey Churchyard, Bath, BA1 1LY, email: uk, web:, www. • A charity organization based in Bath that stages festivals and education programmes around the UK. Information about IGF’s 2012 summer school in Bath will be released shortly. KAYTO SOUND 33 Westbourne Cres, Clevedon, tel: 01275 879200, web: • Kayto Sound provide musical services to schools, colleges and other organisations. MULTIVERSE MUSIC Lower Ground Floor, 17 Whiteladies Rd, Clifton, Bristol, mob: 0117 3290108, email:, web: • Multiverse are a music publishers that represent a number of labels, including Vertical Sound, Subtext and flagship dubsteb label Tectonic. MUSIC PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION 6th Floor, British Music House, 26 Berners St, London, tel: 020 7580 0126, fax: 020 7637 3929, email:, web: • A non-profit UK trade organisation. MUSICIANS’ UNION 199 Newport Rd, Cardiff, tel: 029 2045 6585, fax: 029 2045 1980, email:, web: • The Musicians’ Union represents over 30,000 working musicians, looking after their interests and negotiating with major employers on their behalf. PRS FOR MUSIC Copyright House, -33 Berners St, London, tel: 020 7580 5544, fax: 020 7306 4455, web: • If you plan to have your music played on the radio, you need to be a member of the Performing Rights Society. They collect and distribute fees due to owners and publishers of music for the broadcast or performance of their work. Sister organisation MCPS (the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) collects on songwriters’ behalf when their music is copied.

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COURSES/TUITION See also Skills on p.94 ACCESS TO MUSIC 309 Central Park Ind Est, Petherton Rd, Hengrove, Bristol, tel/fax: 01275 891847, email:, web:, www. • Music technology, songwriting, pop management, vocal tuition – this is the place to learn the skills you need to succeed. See also Organisations, Studios & Recording Services, Rehearsal Space and PA Hire. ARTIST STUDIOS 10 King Square Ave, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 3014, mob: 07736 274970, email: info@, web: www. • Artist Studios coach sax, clarinet, drums, bass, guitar, piano, keyboard and singing, songwriting and artist development. VENUE CHOICE BATH GUITAR SCHOOL Belgrave Crescent, Bath, BA1 5JU, tel: 07977 580129, email:, web: • Bath’s only dedicated rock and pop guitar school. Located a 10-minute walk from the city centre, they offer one-to-one guitar tuition, adapted to each player’s individual taste and ability. Students are given the opportunity to attend rock workshops and summer camps, and to take part in performances at the renowned Bath International Music Festival opening night, Party in the City. BLOWOUT SAX South Lodge, North Parade Bath, tel: 01225 339007, mob: 07773 737880, email: markarcher@ • With an easy, fun and original approach to learning, Blowout Sax have taught more than 200 people to play. BRISTOL INSTITUE OF MODERN MUSIC 25 King Sq, Bristol, tel: 0844 264 6666, email:, web: • The Bristol arm of the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, BIMM provide expert tuition for people looking to make a life in pop and rock. Guitar, bass, drums, vocals and songwriting are all taught by professional musicians. Qualifications go right the way up to foundation degree level. BRISTOL SONGWRITERS CIRCLE 10 King Square Ave, Bristol, tel: 0117 942 3014, email:, web: • Supportive environment where songwriters can share tips, develop their ideas and collaborate. CITY OF BRISTOL COLLEGE Tel: 0117 312 5000, email: enquiries@, web: www. • Bristol’s biggest further education

college offers both a part-time certificate and full-time BTEC national diploma in music technology. They also offer a BTEC first diploma in music. DRUM BANK 203 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 975 5366, web: www. • Better known as a musical instrument shop, Drum Bank also offer 15 tutors in electric, acoustic and bass guitar, drums, keyboards and saxophone. See also Music Shops, Instrument Makers & Repairs and Rehearsal Space. JILL ELLIOTT Clapton-in-Gordano, Bristol, tel: 01275 847909, email:, web: www. • Jill Elliott offers one-to-one and group fiddle lessons in British folk styles. See also Hibernia below. GUITAR BREAK Tel: 0845 458 7372, email:, web: • Organise weekends away to help you develop your guitar technique. HIBERNIA Tel: 01275 847909, mob: 07515 904 707, email: information@, web: www. • Jill Elliott teaches fiddle, flute, bodhran and guitar in traditional Irish styles at this centre for musicians and dancers. PAT HAMMERMAN Bristol, BS7, tel: 0117 904 8648, email: phammerman@ • Daytime and evening piano lessons available. MOSES JONES Web: mosestjones • An awesome harmonica player, with a background in blues and pyschobilly music. CHRIS KIMBLE Fishponds, Bristol, tel: 0117 958 6811 • A saxophonist who can accommodate any student’s aims. LEXBEATS Milford St, Bristol, tel: 07832 398007, email: lexbeats71@, web: www.lexbeats. • Drum tuition from a pro who can teach any style of playing. REMIX Colston Hall, Colston St, Bristol, tel: 0117 3525042, email:, web: remix • Bristol’s Youth Music Action Zone, offering an extensive range of activities for 11-18-yearolds, including tuition, seminars, workshops and performances at the Colston Hall. SOUNDS INTERNATIONAL 5 Monmouth Pl, Bath, tel/fax: 01225 335154, web: www.soundsinternational. • Bath music shop that also does a nice line in music lessons. See also Music Shops, Instrument Makers & Repairs. SOUTH WEST MUSIC SCHOOL PO Box 730, Exeter, EX1 9RA, tel: 01392 460770, email:, web: • Advanced

training for the most talented young musicians, aged 8 to 18. TRINITY COMMUNITY ARTS Trinity Centre, Trinity Rd, Bristol, tel: 0117 935 1200, email: info@3ca., web: • Trinity Community Arts offer a range of courses including music technology.

WEBSITES & NETWORKING ACOUSTIC GUITAR WORKSHOP • Bristol-based resource for acoustic guitarists, including free tabs. BANDCAMP • Site used by artists to promote and sell their music online. BLACKSPIKE DESIGN www. • Affordable web design packages for local bands, DJs, clubs and labels from designers with plenty of top-level experience. BRISTOL TICKET SHOP www. Shop: 26 Union St, Bristol, tel: 0117 929 9008, email: • Sell tickets for your gigs. Buy tickets for other people’s gigs. You know it makes sense. CHOKE • Longrunnning music forum, as likely to host discussions about politics and child-rearing as it is the week’s gigs and club nights. GUITARBITZ, tel: 0845 222 2603 • Guitar parts a-plenty, but also full guitars, amps, basses and accessories from this online shop. HIJACK • Probably Bristol’s biggest music forum, with an emphasis on discussion of clubs, festivals and electronic music. SOUNDCLOUD www.soundcloud. com • Rather brilliant fusion of music and social networking that’s fast becoming the most popular place to share music with the world. TUMBLR Web: • Excellent resource for bands looking for a free, stylish, low-maintenance blog. Massively customisable to include mp3 widgets, tour dates and pretty much anything else.

DID WE MISS YOU? If so, we apologise. We’ve tried to make this directory as comprehensive and accurate as possible but we’re not perfect. Please let us know who you are and what you do so we can include you in the online version and in print next year. Email with submissions or amendments.


2/22/2012 4:19:47 PM

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2/22/2012 1:06:51 PM

Clubs Talking rap

For more news, reviews and extra pics, see

Ed Oliver finds out why Bristol rappers Aspects have taken an eight-year sabbatical.


fter a lengthy sabbatical Bristol’s best-loved rap crew are back on the beaten track. Nearly eight years since the release of Aspects’ last full-length LP, emcees El Eye, Bubber Loui and Probe Mantis return with a new album, a monster homecoming party and – as Mantis confidently states – “hands down, the best music we’ve ever made.” Aspects’ journey began back in 1998 with, given the timing of their comeback, the prophetically titled ‘2012 EP’, a three-track release which set the precedent for the experimental and unconventional take on hip-hop that would become their signature. Another two well-received EPs followed on Hombre Records before they unleashed their chef d’oeuvre – 2001’s ‘Correct English’. Released during a golden, if somewhat standardised era for UK hiphop, the album was a refreshing oasis in the metaphorical desert of London-centric artists releasing at the time. Its 17 tracks combined sample-heavy, cut-and-paste production

“Every time we lay down a track it adds a new layer to what we think the album is going to turn out like.”

“The album features various producers, which has allowed us to go to new places. I think we’ll be offering something that doesn’t currently exist. You got the crusty garage rock breaks of DJ Format spliced with the sci-fi dub of Akira Kiteshi; the ethereal wonk of Memotone, plus Evil Ed’s classic boom-bap – and some secret celeb beats to be revealed later…” Bubber Loui adds: “We’ve had the amazing opportunity to record with Rola Roc, of Numskullz fame. He’s been a real positive force in the studio. Every time we lay down a track it adds a new layer to what we think the album is going to turn out like. And each time is more exciting than the last.” No homecoming would be complete without a party to celebrate, and the location couldn’t be more appropriate, with the newly re-vamped Lakota currently staging a comeback of its own after a period in the wilderness. Friday 30 March is the date, and the hosts have handpicked a line-up that El Eye believes is “a reflection of Aspects over the years, an honest family vibe”. Joining them are longtime ally and beatboxer Monkey Moo, DJ Format and Simonsound’s live show, and a classic hip-hop set from Akira Kiteshi. Further support comes from Bristol heroes The Bastard Sunz and DJ Chickpea. What can we expect? We’ll leave Probe Mantis to answer that one: “Vibes. Bristol fashion, like back in the day.”

Bubber Loui, Aspects



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with lyricism unashamedly drenched in West Country vernacular and a masterful matrimony of technical skill, sharp observation and laughout-loud humour, as El Eye demonstrates on ‘Top Choice’: “One is born every minute with inhibited Britishness/Illiterate limited idiot jibbering gibberish/ Illegitimate limericks, mirrorimage lyricists/Shatter into antimatter after hearing this...” 2004 saw the release of their sophomore album ‘Mystery Theatre’ on Antidote Records, and although it failed to match the excellence of its predecessor, its psychedelic, genre-busting aesthetic proved this was a group unwilling to compromise on their unconventionality. So what happened next? After touring the album the trio decided to go their separate ways, a split that El Eye describes as “amicable and amiable”. Probe Mantis clarifies the decision: “We all needed an interim, to focus on family and other opportunities. Creating some distance from it all gave us some perspective.” El Eye started a record label, Bubber Loui got married and started a family, Aspects: bringing it all back home

and Mantis travelled the world before settling in Australia. Which brings us to 2012 and the triumvirate’s comeback, a return that feels appropriate in a climate where homegrown rap music has never been more celebrated. As Bubber attests: “Hip-hop in this country has undergone some massive cultural shifts in the time we’ve been around, and is looking really exciting in general right now.” Alongside an impressive list of contributors, the “original 1998 emcee squadron” has put together an as-yetuntitled album that promises to be as forward thinking and outside the box as their previous body of work, with a sound that has matured and evolved in the years that have passed. El Eye gives us some insight: “I think our execution has evolved massively. We’re grown-ass men now; you can hear it in our delivery. Lyrically, I think there’s more finesse, more craft, but musically and subjectwise, the new tracks remind me of our first EPs, in terms of musical freedom.

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LOCKDOWN Grooverider, Ray Keith and more...


JUST JACK Seth Troxler & Craig Richards

// Lakota’s new monthly session kicks off impressively with a “history masterclass in drum & bass” from 90s veterans Grooverider, E-Z Rollers, Ray Keith, General Levy and Krome & Time. Also on the bill are Amen revivalists Aries and Ed Solo, Brighton gangster house crew 2 Bit Thugs, and enough jungle, breakbeat and dubstep bassweight to stun a mammoth.

// After last month’s birthday spectacular you’d think Just Jack had earned a rest, but that’s clearly not going to happen any time soon. This one brings two world-class DJs together, as second-generation Detroit tech-houser and Visionquest member Seth Troxler meets Fabric resident Craig Richards. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve got local royalty in support as Appleblim and Al Tourettes carve up room two.



3. CRITICAL SOUND Ed Rush // The Frogmore Street rave cave celebrates its third birthday by hooking up with technical drum & bass specialists Critical Sound. Top of the bill is the legendary Ed Rush, producer of all-time classics like ‘Bludclot Artattack’, ‘Technology’ and ‘Locust’, and one of the pioneers of the techstep and neurofunk genres. Ed is booked for a 90-minute, three-deck set, while a heavyweight supporting line-up includes Break as well as Critical label head Kasra. CRITICAL SOUND BASEMENT 45, BRISTOL, FRI 2 MAR. FFI: WWW.BASEMENT45.COM

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// Resident DJ at Lisbon’s Lux Club since the turn of the millennium, Tiago Miranda’s signature blend of house, disco and whacked-out psychedelia makes for heady peaktime fare. In recent years, he’s also become an in-demand producer and remixer, with releases on labels like Leng, ESP and DFA finding their way into the DJ boxes of everyone from Andrew Weatherall to New York disco dons Rub N Tug. Yet another impressive booking from a consistently imaginative club night. DIRTYTALK TB2, BRISTOL, SAT 3 MAR. FFI: WWW.TB2.CO.UK




NEW RESIDENCY Western Union moves to Cosies

// Bristol’s underground house scene continues to grow in stature as Western Union starts a monthly residency at Cosies. The night is the brainchild of Chris Farrell, Hodge, Kidkut and BMO – and all of them are playing the first one. According to Idle Hands chief Farrell, it’s “a dedicated midweek session that will have younger producers playing alongside older heads to support the leftfield house sounds emerging in the city”. Expect a concentrated dose of free-thinking, cutting-edge 4/4 dance music in one of Bristol’s friendliest venues. WESTERN UNION COSIES, BRISTOL, THUR 8 MAR. FFI: WWW.COSIES.CO.UK


2/22/2012 3:58:07 PM

// Unity's back... //


…and this time it’s free.

THE LANES Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club // Listeners to his Saturday evening show on BBC 6Music will know what to expect from the ‘Red Dwarf’ and Corrie star’s record collection. 70s funk is his main thing, along with soul selections from the golden eras of Detroit, Philly and Memphis right up to the present day. Charles’s passion for music is beyond question, and his infectious enthusiasm comes across as strongly at clubs and festivals as it does on the radio. CRAIG CHARLES THE LANES, BRISTOL, FRI 9 MAR. FFI: WWW.THELANESLIVE.COM

8. 51º27’ Untold


CRAZYLEGS Levon Vincent // Levon Vincent’s star has been in the ascendant ever since his threepart dark house epic ‘Double Jointed Sex Freak’ dropped on Novel Sound in 2009. Since then the New Yorker’s proved it was no fluke, with a string of masterful productions showcasing his deep synth textures and colossal reverbs. He’s about to release a mix album for Fabric, so we can expect big things from him in 2012. The typically classy supporting line-up includes the mysterious Objekt, whose monumental ‘The Goose That Got Away’/‘Tinderbox’ was one of our favourite releases of 2011. CRAZYLEGS BASEMENT 45, BRISTOL, FRI 9 MAR. FFI: WWW.BASEMENT45.COM

// Jack Dunning has described the landscape of post-dubstep dance music as “a wonderful mess”, and he’s embraced that chaos in his productions as Untold. As well co-running superb Leeds imprint Hemlock, he’s released on labels as varied as R&S, Numbers, Hessle Audio and Soul Jazz. His work to date has blended classic rave hooks with dub effects and beats that suggest the influence of everything from techno to grime. Somehow it always seems to work. 51º27’ THEKLA, BRISTOL, FRI 23 MAR. FFI: WWW.THEKLABRISTOL.CO.UK


METALHEADZ BRISTOL Calyx, Ulterior Motive & more…

9. EQ RETURNS Jay Lumen // Something of a homecoming for EQ. The popular house and techno night returns to a regular slot at TB2 after a twoyear absence broken only by sold-out birthday bashes in 2010 and 2011. This first instalment is headlined by Hungarian DJ Jay Lumen, whose high-pressure techno productions chart regularly in the Beatport Top Ten. Also in the main room are Gus Young, Rich Dolby and Simon Smith, while the second room goes deeper with immersive house sounds from Luke Langson, Alex Clark and Tom Bruton.



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// The drum & bass empire strikes back with another takeover at Basement 45. This one’s headlined by Calyx, whose dark and relentless productions for labels like Moving Shadow have wowed devotees of the hard stuff since 1998. He’s joined in the main room by deep, atmospheric duo Spectrasoul and the steely Ulterior Motive, whose scientific style harks back to the early techstep experiments of the mighty Optical. For variety, there’s house and dubstep in room two.

// When Lakota temporarily lost its licence last summer, it led to a number of big nights being moved or cancelled. None of these was mourned more than Unity. For the uninitiated, Unity is Bristol’s annual mega-rave, in which the city’s clubbing tribes put aside their musical differences for a show of strength and solidarity. Happily, Lakota is now back in business and Unity VI has been rescheduled for Sat 24 Mar. In the words of Detectives of Perspective promoter Ross Chester, Unity began in 2005 as a “goodwill protest against the lack of local promoters involved in the Ashton Court Festival” after the high-profile cancellation of its dance stage. “One of the reasons the dance stage was not included in the line-up,” he recalls, “was the police’s view that you could not peacefully have a single stage which played multiple genres of dance music, as people listening to various forms of music would not mix” – something Ross quite reasonably describes as “a crazy notion”. Ross is one of three people behind the event – the others being Empathy’s Stuart Wilkinson and Blowpop’s Steve Redux – but it’s a community thing, taking in dozens of promoters, artists and musicians from all points in the clubbing spectrum. With everyone from Jungle Syndicate to Just Jack and Funk From The Trunk getting involved, you can expect a prejudice-exploding mix of underground dance music with hiphop, techno, drum & bass, dubstep, house, disco and breaks all getting a look-in. Appropriately for these financially challenged times, it will be free to get in this year, although the organisers ask those who can afford it to make a donation to The Park community centre in Knowle West – this year’s official Unity good cause. “A free party,” explains Ross, “will mean everyone has the opportunity to join the celebration, and hopefully create an atmosphere even bigger than we have had before.” Get together, Bristol. UNITY VI IS AT LAKOTA, BRISTOL ON SAT 24 MAR. FFI: WWW.LAKOTA.CO.UK Unity's big free party comes to Lakota (PIC: SARAH WEBB)


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venuemagazine 10/24/2011 7:53:49 PM

2/22/2012 1:11:18 PM



Seeing Red Laurence Boswell’s American season at Bath’s Ustinov kicks off with steamy drama ‘Red Light Winter’. Steve Wright takes a cold shower.

“It’s very funny, very sad and has a brutal sting in its tale.” richard beecham venuemagazine

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consequences of which will alter their lives forever. The play’s being directed by Richard Beecham, associate director for ‘Henry IV Part 1’ in last year’s final Peter Hall Season at Theatre Royal Bath. His cast includes RSC/TV actor Keir Charles and Sally Tatum, Queenie in last year’s acclaimed Peter Hall production of ‘This Happy Breed’. “Laurence had a number of US plays on the table for the season, and Adam Rapp’s witty, quickfire dialogue jumped off the page at us,” Richard explains. “But it’s also a great piece of storytelling based on the classic ménage à trois formula – in this case a triangle of unrequited love.” To elucidate: Davis is a swish, successful NY publisher; Matt is his old college roommate, a struggling serious playwright with neurotic tendencies. To complicate matters, Davis pinched Matt’s girlfriend from under his nose during the strange emotional climate that followed 9/11, and has since married her. Both professionally and personally, Matt is completely adrift. The Amsterdam trip is, largely, an attempt by Davis to raise the flagging spirits of his old friend – and expurgate his own guilt. And when Davis returns to their hotel room with Christina, a smart, sassy prostitute, his intention is just to give Matt the escape from himself he needs. Matt, however, only succeeds in falling madly in love with Christina, who in turn lusts after the debonair Davis. “It’s kind of a caring impulse by Davis that kicks the play off,” Richard explains. “The problem is that, much as he cares about Matt, Davis always has to be the big man in the room. If there’s a girl there, he’s got to be cock of the roost. He’s trapped in this double

bind of wanting to do right by his friend, while also satisfying his own ego. “The play explores this moment in Amsterdam with great energy and also pathos. Then after the interval, we’re back in New York a year later: Christina turns up at Matt’s door, bringing repercussions from before. There is a connection between Matt and Christina, but not a romantic one, and that’s the tragedy. In the right circumstances these two could be really good for each other, but the circumstances are wrong and Matt’s love is not requited. “Christina surprises audiences throughout the play. She’s never quite who we or the boys think she is. She has had a complicated history, and leads a complicated life in the year between acts one and two. She is an enigma, a puzzle at the centre of the play.” One of the play’s great achievements, says Richard, is to lead audiences through a whole gamut of emotions. “On one level it’s a buddy story, about how men show affection through sarcasm, fighting, wit. And then there is the

very tender, sad stuff: unfulfilled longing, desire, loneliness. It’s very funny, very sad and has a brutal sting in its tale.” One reviewer dubbed it a mix of Neil LaBute and ‘Sideways’. It also contains some highlycharged erotic moments. How are rehearsals going, Richard? “We’ve gone very gently. The play does require nudity and simulated sex. So when we’ve got to those parts of the play I’ve emptied the rehearsal room, so it’s just me and the two actors, and slowly we pare it away so the actors feel very comfortable with what they’re doing, and trust each other and me. And everything we do is in the service of the story – anything unnecessary we don’t do. “It is intense – but actors are used to working intimately and bonding quickly with each other. And, of course, actors want to act, they want to tell stories, often about life’s more difficult, hidden aspects.” RED LIGHT WINTER IS AT THE USTINOV, BATH FROM 1-31 MAR. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK

'Red Light Winter': intimate, intense and erotic

PIC: simon annand


ast autumn was a journey into the heart of Enlightenment Europe: this spring we head across the pond, and forward a coupla centuries. Yes, folks: following a largely acclaimed debut season of European classics, Laurence Boswell’s second season of plays at the Ustinov Studio features UK premieres by a trio of top-of-their-game American playwrights. It all begins with betrayal, unrequited love and a lost Dutch weekend. This month’s opener ‘Red Light Winter’ is billed, with no hint of exaggeration, as “one of the most sexually explicit plays to have appeared on stage at the Theatre Royal Bath”. First staged by Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Theater, winner of a 2006 Obie (Off-Broadway Theater) Award, and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize no less, Adam Rapp’s poetic, erotic and oft-explosive play begins as 30-something New Yorkers Matt and Davis head to Amsterdam for a few days of friendship-salvaging hedonism. They find themselves thrown into a bizarre love triangle with a beautiful young prostitute. But the romance they find in Europe is eventually overshadowed by the truth they discover back home, the

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// THE MONTH AHEAD // MUSICAL THEATRE Up the Feeder, Down the ’Mouth

1. 2.

// Celebrate the relaunch of A.C.H. Smith’s legendary tale of Bristol docks with songs and music from 2001 cast members Kate McNab, Ross Harvey and Kit Morgan. Staged in the L Shed and complete with a 200-ft freighter docking on the quayside, ‘Up the Feeder’ was a defining moment in adventurous Bristol theatre: be there to salute it once more.




THEATRE The Titfield Thunderbolt // Ace Bristol non-pros Ship and Castle have done the ‘one play, two casts’ thing before, with 2010’s chaps-versus-gals ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’. This time, they stage this gentle comedy, adapted from the Ealing Comedy of the same name. When British Rail move to close an ailing branch line, the villagers decide to exploit the 1947 Transport Act and run the thing themselves. The two casts will alternate performances, with Team Bolt performing on Mon, Wed and Fri and Team Tit clambering on board on Tue, Thur and Sat. THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT IS AT THE NEWMAN HALL, HENLEAZE, BRISTOL FROM MON 19-SAT 24 MAR. FFI: 0117 956 1695 OR SHIPANDCASTLETICKETS@YAHOO.CO.UK


// Leading German wheel acrobats Acrojou present this dark, humorous and uplifting study of one man’s relationship with his own existence, and its attendant love, laughter, grief, death, wheels and waltzing. Directed by Flick Ferdinando of renowned Company FZ, ‘Wake’ promises us “a poetic joy ride through a sculptural and filmic landscape”. WAKE IS AT CIRCOMEDIA, BRISTOL FROM FRI 2-SAT 3 MAR. FFI: WWW.CIRCOMEDIA.COM

CABARET Divine Songs // Brizzle duo Famous & Divine present the first in a series of ‘sensory immersion performances’, this one inspired by David Lynch’s dreamlike cinemascapes. Mixing the feel of a club night, live performance and movie soundtrack, the evening will include a performance of the duo’s ‘Fugitive Songs’, a Best In Show winner at last summer’s Houston Fringe Festival.



// Fledgling Bristol troupe As Told By (last seen with a taut rendering of Martin Crimp’s ‘The Country’ at Redland’s Little Black Box theatre) return with an immersive, WWII-set Scottish Tragedy among the City Museum’s echoing spaces. Set on the Home Front, ATB’s physical rendition will consider the vital roles of the play’s women, using the infamous witches to guide audiences through the tale. MACBETH IS AT BRISTOL CITY MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY FROM WED 14-THUR 15 & SAT 17-SUN 18 MAR.

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THEATRE The Children’s Hour // After their captivating rendition of Jez Butterworth’s ‘Jerusalem’, Bath am-drammers Next Stage return with Lillian Hellman’s tense drama of persecution and manipulation, set in 1930s small-town America. Two young women follow their dreams and hock their life savings founding a School for Girls. THE CHILDREN’S HOUR IS AT THE MISSION THEATRE, BATH FROM TUE 27-SAT 31 MAR. FFI: WWW.NEXT-STAGE.CO.UK


2/22/2012 3:35:04 PM

Going out this month? see the home of Venue’s what’s on listings


RSC ON TOUR The Taming of the Shrew

8. ARBOREAL THEATRE Remarkable Trees // This debut offering from Bristol-based Juncture Theatre (founded by hotshot BOV Theatre School grads Holly McGrane and Anna Girvan) takes as its unlikely inspiration the tree-worshipping tomes (‘Meetings with Remarkable Trees’ and others) by author Thomas Pakenham. Juncture’s arboreal offering follows life in, up, down and around trees, uncovering some of the myths and legends around them and transforming the bijou Wardrobe Theatre into a semi-promenade forest as it does so.

// Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2012 touring show is Shakespeare’s rumbustious romantic comedy, in which the fortunehunting Petruchio sets out to tame the shrewish heiress Katharina. Blessed with some of the Bard’s very best gender sparring and linguistic fireworks, this one’s directed by Lucy Bailey, whose 2009/10 RSC ‘Julius Caesar’ drew gasps of admiration from audiences and critics alike.



// Looking in on Bristol at the end of a national tour and just before its West End run, this suave show draws on the Astaire/Rogers screwball comedy/musical of 1935. Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen play Jerry Travers, a famous US tap dancer arriving in London for his West End debut, and the irresistible Dale Tremont, whom Travers trails, lovestruck, across Europe. TOP HAT VISITS THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME FROM WED 21-SAT 31 MAR. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLHIPPODROME.ORG.UK


10. EARLY YEARS BALLET Underneath the Floorboards // How do you get a clutch of under-fives to sit through a 45-minute movement piece? The answer, as Newcastle dance troupe balletLORENT well know, is: you don’t. Instead, young audiences will interact with BL’s performers and their story about a boy who uncovers a strange and magical world underneath the floorboards. UNDERNEATH THE FLOORBOARDS IS AT THE EGG, BATH FROM THUR 29-SAT 31 MAR. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK


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11. COMMUNITY THEATRE FEST Coast // Bristol theatre troupe acta host this four-day International Festival of Community Theatre at their Bedminster HQ. Companies from Germany, Holland and Poland will descend upon BS3 to explore stories of migration and the power of participatory theatre, via shows and post-show discussions, practical workshops and seminars with expert panels. COAST IS AT THE ACTA CENTRE, BRISTOL FROM MON 26-THUR 29 MAR. FFI: WWW. ACTA-BRISTOL.COM

PUPPET PICK’N’MIX 12. The Smoking Puppet Cabaret //Twisted puppetry, eclectic sounds and off-beat humour from this cabaret evening that made a successful debut at last autumn’s Bristol Festival of Puppetry. Expect music, laughter, poetry and a range of puppets from the beautiful to the bizarre, presented by Gongoozler, Soap Soup, Wattle & Daub and other master marionettists from Bristol and beyond. THE SMOKING PUPPET CABARET IS AT THE WARDROBE THEATRE, BRISTOL ON FRI 2 MAR. FFI: WWW.THEWARDROBETHEATRE.COM

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// NEWS //

The Cherry Orchard

THEATRE // Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory have strayed just a few times, in their garland-laden 12-year history, from the work of the Bard. 2004 saw their first journey off-piste with Middleton and Rowley’s ‘The Changeling’; the next year they gave us a very fine version of Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’. Chekhov made another appearance on the programme in 2009 with the co-production, with Bristol Old Vic, of ‘Uncle Vanya’, memorable for Simon Armstrong’s wild-eyed, revolver-toting intensity in the title role. And you can see why Chekhov works so well for the company; his beautiful dialogue and finely calibrated emotional worlds are perfect for Andrew Hilton’s meticulous direction and attention to his texts. So back they come now with a third slice of Chekhov, and what for many is the great man’s greatest work. Chekhov considered his last play, which follows the declining fortunes of a family of rural Russian aristocrats and the varying degrees of sympathy and selfishness displayed by their employees and hangers-on, as a comedy, and was intensely displeased at its first outing, directed by the great Constantin Stanislavski as a tragedy.


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New Bristol Arts venue...

“Chekhov in general refers to all his plays, with the exception of ‘Ivanov’, as comedies,” elucidates author/translator Stephen Mulrine, who has provided a brand new translation for SATTF. “Of ‘The Cherry Orchard’ in particular, he says in a letter to Stanislavski’s wife that ‘What has emerged isn’t a drama, but a comedy – in places even a farce…’” That said, Mulrine admits that the outlook for all the play’s protagonists, even the dynamic self-made-man Lopakhin, is bleak, “tempered by the understanding that they have nobody to blame but themselves… Personally, I don’t find that dispiriting in the slightest, and Chekhov’s greatness for me lies in his ability to communicate the human

THEATRE // The latest sortie for the ever-captivating trainee thesps at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is JB Priestley’s intriguing ‘Time Play’, which flits back and forth across the interwar

predicament – the yawning gulf between hope and fulfilment, dream and reality – so truthfully and even-handedly, with such selfeffacing restraint.” Mulrine admits that attempting to match Chekhov’s characteristic understatement is a challenging, if exciting adventure. “At the other end of the spectrum, Chekhov’s long speeches are a sublime joy to translate – operatic arias, intensely lyrical and emotionally charged, the more so for the deceptive naturalness of their context.” SHAKESPEARE AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY PERFORM THE CHERRY ORCHARD AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM 29 MAR-5 MAY. FFI: WWW.SATTF.ORG.UK

years as it follows the changing fortunes of a bourgeois English family. ‘TATC’’s first act takes place in the happy Conway household in 1919, during the 21st birthday party of one of the daughters, Kay. Act two whisks us forward 18 years, to the same night in 1937, in the very same room, showing the very divergent fortunes of the family members. The final act then returns to 1919, just seconds after the first act left off. Things begin in boisterous mood. The Great War is over and the family – Mrs Conway, her daughters Kay, Hazel, Madge and Carol and sons Alan and Robin – are feeling optimistic about the future. “We then shuttle forward to a version of their lives

// Congrats to Bristol artist collectives Rolling Stage and Steal From Work, who have teamed up to open a new arts venue and studio space in a council-owned building next to St Nick’s Market. Housed in an 18th-century former pub on High Street, The Looking Glass will provide an affordable public space to present work across various media. With a capacity of 120 across a main venue/bar area with stage, a downstairs cellar area and other spaces, it’ll also be available for hire for a raft of uses. A launch weekend (9-11 Mar) promises a variety of events from Bristol artist groups, and Rolling Stage will begin hosting monthly events there from 31 Mar. Ffi: thelookingglassartsspace@

that, for many of them, is quite bleak,” explains Jenny Stephens, who directs the talented BOVTS trainees. “We then flit back to the party, seeing in the characters the seeds of their future downfall. “There is a lot of fun and glamour, some social commentary on the complacency of the middle classes, and a cast of beautifully defined characters for actors to get their teeth into. Priestley makes us think: how much do we learn from history, and how much do we fail to learn? How much, by trying to avoid our fates, do we step right into them?” TIME AND THE CONWAYS IS AT CIRCOMEDIA, BRISTOL FROM 9-17 MAR. FFI: WWW.OLDVIC. AC.UK


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Performance PREVIEW

What I Heard About The World THEATRE // A fine-looking collaboration, this, between Sheffield’s boundary-pushing performance troupe Third Angel, acclaimed Portuguese theatre company mala voadora and writer/ performer/musician Chris Thorpe. At the more experimental end of the modern theatre landscape, Third Angel have staged their installations, film, video and devised theatre in shops, office blocks, cellars, Edwardian baths and a Victorian public toilet. As explained by Alexander Kelly, co-artistic director of Third Angel and one of the three performers in the show, their latest collaboration project aims “to help us to see

foreigners as yourself in another place”. “The project began as a search for the authentic, but we found more and more stories of the inauthentic, the fake, replicas,” Kelly continues. “The stories in this show all connect together to paint a sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, and darkly humorous view of the world, based on how people have told us they see it, and our own attempts to hold it all in our heads.” It also draws much upon the extraordinary disparity of human behaviour and traditions across the globe. Kelly: “There’s a place where fake snow covers real mountains. There’s a place where you can rent strangers to cry at your funeral. There’s a place where, if the army send your dad overseas, they give you a lifesize cut-out version to keep you company. These oddities, both factual and fictional, give the piece its unusual flavour.”




PREVIEW Relatively Speaking

THEATRE // pilotLIGHT are a lauded London ‘grassroots theatre’ company who have been lured by Bristol’s ongoing cultural potential to set up a second base here alongside their home in the capital. And they make their Bristol bow with a rendering of one of Alan Ayckbourn’s most finely crafted and expertly contrived comedies. The plot of ‘Relatively Speaking’ features typically Ayckbournian tentacles of complication and social and sexual cross-fertilisation. Philip is Ginny’s boss and lover – but when Ginny’s fiancé Greg mistakes Philip for her father, things get a little complicated. More so, in fact, when Philip mistakes Greg for his wife Sheila’s lover. “It’s Ayckbourn at his best, a beautifully constructed piece of comic writing,” says pilotLIGHT’s Tom Brazier. The show is directed by John Redgrave, member of the


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illustrious thespian clan, and himself a director and producer with over four decades behind him. Redgrave’s vast CV includes spells, during the 1960s, as stage director/company manager at Theatre Royal Bath, as well as managing musical rock and pop big-hitters including Amen Corner, Billy Fury and The Tornadoes. It’s been a fast and bright start for pilotLIGHT, co-founded in 2009 by drama graduate Brazier. The company quickly secured a residency at the Half Moon Theatre in south London, where they staged Peter Shaffer’s ‘Black Comedy’ and George Farquhar’s ‘The Beaux’ Stratagem’ among others.

Brazier’s accelerating career, meanwhile, has also included directing Prunella Scales and Timothy West, as well as a West End debut directing new play ‘Phonophobia’. pilotLIGHT has now branched into Bristol, aiming to transfer their recipe of “quality grass roots theatre” to the West Country. Brazier: “We aim to be a daring champion of new writing, sharing the best of Bristol and London and creating theatre that inspires, challenges and excites.” RELATIVELY SPEAKING IS AT THE BIERKELLER THEATRE, BRISTOL FROM MON 19-THUR 22 & SUN 25THUR 29 MAR. FFI/TICKETS: WWW. BIERKELLERTHEATRE.COM

DANCE // As part of a beefed-up season of bold physical theatre and dance at Circomedia, Fleur Darkin’s ever-adventurous dance-theatre troupe make their BS2 debut with a brace of devised shows inspired by the passions and imagination of the poet, artist, printer and “glorious luminary” William Blake. ‘Innocence’, performed at 2pm both days for under-sevens and their carers, weaves together dance, play, live music and storytelling to create a journey into a realm of fun, mystery, beauty and adventure. By contrast, ‘Experience’ (8pm, ages 12+, pictured), promises some fearless choreography featuring eight worldclass dancers, music by Bristol-based Paul Bradley and designs by awardwinning Alex Lowde, as it conjures the extraordinary visions of Blake, a man who reshaped British art and literature, steering it towards its Romantic and Expressionist futures. This fine-looking, atmospheric dance diptych is part of an adventurous spring down at Portland Square. “We are all about the physical – what the human body can learn and do; the forces it can harness, command or defy; the way that a look, a move or a gesture is able to express a huge range of thoughts, experiences and feelings,” explains chief executive Jan Winter. “We’re delighted that our spring season finds us welcoming artists to Portland Square who not only share this approach but add to it dazzling skill, poetry and wonderment.” THE BLAKE DIPTYCH: INNOCENCE (THUR 29-FRI 30, 2PM) AND EXPERIENCE (THUR 29-FRI 30, 8PM) IS AT CIRCOMEDIA, BRISTOL. FFI: WWW.CIRCOMEDIA.COM

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// THE MONTH AHEAD // 1. COMEDYFEST OPENER Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip // The opening night of Bath Comedy Fest (30 Mar-9 Apr), of which much more next issue, features this cabaret evening of stand-up, character comedy and music. The comics’ bill includes Jared Hardy, a local lad on the rise, and Alan Francis, whose wry Scots aperçus are always worth a cocking an ear at. The headline slot, meanwhile, goes to shambolic comedy/ poetry/storytelling/rock, folk and funk trio MAET.

SITCOMS GALORE 2. The Sitcom Trials



AFFABLE AUSSIE Damian Clark // Feelgood Oz comic sees the newly-rehoused Comedy Cavern into its first full month. Exuberance and charm, as opposed to earth-shattering insights, are Clark’s stock-intrade: “Many of the topics that crop up are familiar ones, but what sets Clark above the rest is that he infuses them with such energy and verve they feel fresh.” DAMIAN CLARK PLAYS THE COMEDY CAVERN AT BAROQUE NIGHTCLUB, BATH ON SUN 4 MAR. FFI: HTTP:// BAROQUENIGHTCLUB.COM/CATEGORY/COMEDY/

// Something a little different for you, comedy fans: an evening in the company of the excellent Luke Wright, who gives Rondo audiences a listen of his five-star-rated show ‘Eight Caustic Tales from Broken Britain’. Expect darkly comic poems and bitingly hilarious tales of modern Albion.

4. OBSERVATiONAL COMIC Roger Monkhouse


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// A welcome return (in fact he’s living round our way now) for this sharpsuited comic whose observations are as acute as his attire. “A witty, opinionated commentator… astute, original observations and incisive opinions with a fresh, clean edge,” we said the last time we saw him. We plan to see him again. And so should you.

// Not seen in the West Country for a goodly while, this fine evening makes a return at the adventurous Wardrobe Theatre. Dreamed up (and hosted) by comic/performer Kev F Sutherland, the evening features performances of five short sitcoms (winning entries in TST’s script competition), each ending on – yoinks! – a cliffhanger. Pictured: an early Trials featuring, as you’ll have spotted, a young Miranda Hart: the evening included a sitcom that, many years later, would become her eponymous TV triumph ‘Miranda’.



BOOKISH US EXPAT Erich McElroy // Seattle-hailing, longtime UK resident looks in on a brace of Bristol venues. From “He’s got a modest, slightly bookish charm, and what appears to be a genuine affection for the UK, warts and all. His set is no angry polemic, but a warmnatured, good-humoured tribute." ERICH MCELROY VISITS THE COMEDY BOX, BRISTOL (FRI 2-SAT 3 MAR) AND RIPROAR COMEDY, BRISTOL (SAT 24 MAR). FFI: WWW. THECOMEDYBOX.CO.UK AND WWW.RIPROARCOMEDY.CO.UK


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// Second exhibition at GBG, after last spring’s sellout show, for the Japanese landscape painter whose delicate, Impressionistic scenes were saved from destruction by last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami after being shipped to Bristol. This return show, a year after the devastating earthquake, will raise funds for the orphans of the disaster.

EMOTIVE PERFORMANCE ART Paul Hurley // To kick off its INCUBE8 strand, which will give eight emerging artists their first major solo show at the gallery, Motorcade/FlashParade hosts ‘Overgave’ (that’s ‘surrender’ in Dutch, folks): performances, documents and installations by artist/performer Paul Hurley, whose warm, often witty ‘secular spiritual rituals’ “teeter past the limits of the mundane self, exploring our capacity for being affected to the point of pain or extreme pleasure – which comes to the same.”  



3. INTERWAR LANDSCAPES Eric Ravilious // Retrospective for this beautifully atmospheric painter, designer and illustrator, following Ravilious’s relationship with the social, cultural and geographical landscape of Britain throughout the 1920s and 1930s. A tie-in with the release of the fourth in the lavish ‘Ravilious in Pictures’ series by Bristol author James Russell, the show homes in on Ravilious’s use of watercolour, as part of an English landscape tradition that also took in Samuel Palmer and Paul Nash. ERIC RAVILIOUS: GOING MODERN/ BEING BRITISH IS AT THE ROYAL WEST OF ENGLAND ACADEMY, BRISTOL FROM SAT 10 MAR-SUN 29 APR. FFI: WWW.RWA.ORG.UK

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4. ART OF OBSESSION Dermot O’Brien // Cine-film-lovers’ paradise Geneva Stop hosts a show of recent work by O’Brien, whose multimedia installations and performances explore the obsessive actions of creating, and the sensual qualities of ephemera (pictured, to give you an idea, is ‘House’, a model of the Bates Motel from Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’, made from a single Marlboro cigarette pack). DERMOT O’BRIEN – RECENT WORK IS AT GENEVA STOP, COLSTON ST, BRISTOL FROM FRI 23 MAR-SAT 14 APR (THUR-SAT 2-6PM). FFI: WWW.GENEVASTOP.CO.UK


MENORCAN VIEWS Kenneth Draper RA/ Jean Macalpine

// Mixed-media artist Draper (‘Dawn of Spring’, pictured) and inkjet photographer Macalpine share their interpretations of the landscape and light of the Balearic island of Menorca, where both have lived for the last 18 years. KENNETH DRAPER RA AND JEAN MACALPINE EXHIBIT AT QUEST GALLERY, 7 MARGARETS BUILDINGS, BATH FROM SAT 10 MAR-SAT 21 APR. FFI: WWW.QUESTGALLERY.CO.UK


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6. LIMPID LANDSCAPES Ruth Stage // Spacious, luminous paintings in egg tempera (hence their serene, almost fresco-like quality) by this leading figurative painter, who documents and interprets the rhythms of nature – and in particular the sea’s dramatic power – with her fluid, swirling brush strokes. Pictured: ‘Low Tide, Whitby’. RUTH STAGE’S PAINTINGS ARE ON SHOW AT HILTON FINE ART, MARGARET’S BUILDINGS, BATH FROM SAT 24 MAR-SAT 14 APR. FFI: WWW.HILTONFINEART.COM




// You might detect a hint of Vermeer in this serene still life by Wiltshire artist Helen Simmonds, but there’s a crucial difference: Simmonds eschews the dark backgrounds and intense colours of traditional Dutch still life, favouring a more contemporary feel of light and space. Her simple compositions – often just a bowl or jug and some fruit – reflect Simmonds’s training as a sculptor, showing a careful use of space between and around individual elements. HELEN SIMMONDS EXHIBITS AT THE ALEXANDER GALLERY, BRISTOL FROM SUN 25 MAR-MON 30 APR. FFI: WWW. ALEXANDER-GALLERY.CO.UK

A LIFE IN PAINTING Belinda Underhill // Rich variety of paintings and landscapes by this Bath painter and sculptor, tracing her journey from early, formal abstract painting via portraiture on to something more open and expansive, and always with a bold clarity of line and an arresting otherworldliness. Strong, strange, thought-provoking stuff. BELINDA UNDERHILL: PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES THE OCTAGON, MILSOM PLACE, BATH, TUE 13-SAT 17 MAR. FFI: WWW. BELINDA-UNDERHILL.CO.UK

ART MARKET Paintworks Spring Art Market


FLUVIAL FILMSCAPES To The River // Sound and video installation by London artist Sophy Rickett, inspired by the Severn Bore – the large tidal wave that runs along the great river during the moon’s equinox. Mixing video and surround-sound audio, Rickett’s immersive installation attempts to evoke the strange experience of following the Bore, as well as portraying the crowds that come down to the river’s edge to view the phenomenon. SOPHY RICKETT: TO THE RIVER IS AT ARNOLFINI, BRISTOL FROM SAT 3 MAR-SUN 22 APR. FFI: WWW. ARNOLFINI.ORG.UK


// Return of this ever-popular springtime art fair, featuring works by over 35 local artists. Paintings, ceramics, textiles, accessories, crafts, jewellery and more, sprawled across the large exhibition space beneath Bocabar. You’ll also find a children’s colouring/ workshop area, and – ’cos art-buying is hungry work – hot drinks and homemade cakes. PAINTWORKS SPRING ART MARKET PAINTWORKS, BATH RD, BRISTOL, SUN 11 MAR, 10.30AM-4.30PM. FFI: WWW.PAINTWORKSBRISTOL.CO.UK


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// top ten //Mum's the words


Ten books your mum might like for Mother’s Day, provided by the doting and dutiful offspring at Foyles Bristol.

Miller’s Tale

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – Amy Chua (£7.99, Bloomsbury) One of the most talkedabout books of recent years, this memoir of motherhood will doubtless divide opinions. Through her attempts to employ an ultrastrict Chinese parenting-style in modern America, Chau provides provocative and funny insight into what it means to be a mother.

Bristol-born author Andrew Miller recently won the Costa Book of the Year with ‘Pure’, a novel set in the years just prior to the French Revolution. Tom Phillips asks the questions.


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constantly, and all of it slap in the centre of the city. Do you think that period ‘chimes’ with our own – a decadent, out-of-touch ruling class etc? Yes and no. The necessity and sad disappointments of revolution are, of course, being played out in the Arab world (Egypt, Libya). But the novel does not set out to draw laborious parallels. There is, in a sense, no need. Whatever the setting of a book – 1785 or 2185 – it’s always about now. I have no choice in that. None of us can step outside of our own time. There are no time machines. We make, again and again, pictures of the here and now, some of them quite direct and straightforward, others shone through curious prisms. Are you a disciplined writer – one of those that writes a thousand words before lunch? I’m not a very disciplined writer. I’m rather amazed it all gets done in the end. Are you working on anything new at the moment or are you taking a bit of a break? A friend recently texted me a quote from Dickens: “An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a while before it will explain itself.” I’m at the stage of having that conversation. ANDREW MILLER TALKS ABOUT ‘PURE’ AT FOYLES BOOKSHOP, BRISTOL ON TUE 20 MAR, 6PM. FFI: WWW. FOYLES.CO.UK


Congratulations on the Costa prize: what did it feel like when you were told you’d won? Winning felt as winning should: hugely surprising, hugely gratifying. It has made no difference to my working life in so far as working is writing. But it has kept me busy in other ways (this is one of them). You’ve won/been nominated for several awards for previous novels, including the Booker for ‘Oxygen’: how important is the awards ‘system’ in publishing? The great thing is to win one. Doesn’t matter how small. After that your publishers can always refer to you as a ‘prize-winning author’. By far the biggest prize I’ve ever won was the IMPAC which – being an international prize – no one seems to know about. The short-list that year included Don de Lillo, Haruki Murakami, Bernhard Schlink and Ian McEwan. Awards in publishing are an unavoidable, slightly curious part of the landscape. Like many writers I have slightly mixed feelings about them. Among other things, it can make writers seem madly competitive, which they’re not.   Tell me how ‘Pure’ came about… ‘Pure’ had its beginnings – as is often the case – in another book, Phillip Aries’s study of Western funerary customs, ‘The Hour of Our Death’. It was just a half page about a cemetery in Paris that had been abandoned and then destroyed in the 1780s, but it caught my attention, in part, because of the dates. Was there, I wondered, a connection between the new ideas, the new thinking of that time, and the wish to be rid of something that was such a powerful reminder of history and mortality, of human unimportance? I was drawn also to the theatricality of the cemetery’s destruction, the men working at night, the big fires burning

Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life – Robert Spaethling (£10.99, Faber) If your dear ma loves the genius work of Mozart, then this is the definitive guide to the mind behind the music. Letters to his family and his close friends reveal that this great musician and composer was as human as the rest of us. The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible (£19.99, Kyle Cathie) My mother is beautiful, as I’m sure yours is too, but no woman will ever think that about herself. This book is a non-offensive solution for a woman who’d like to knock a few years off her (already beautiful) appearance. Call The Midwife – Jennifer Worth (£7.99, Phoenix) The story of Jennifer Worth, a young midwife in 1950s East London, a time when children played in Blitz bombsites and the Kray Twins were at large. Perfect reading for mums of all ages. How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran (£11.99, Ebury) An open, honest and hilarious book on the important questions in life. The Story of Britain – Patrick Dillon (£18.99, Walker) All of the information your mum would want to know

about why Britain has shaped up to be the place it is today. This gorgeous collection of facts on everything from empires to inventions is brought alive with some very lovely illustrations. Special Places to Stay in Britain for Garden Lovers – Alistair Sawday (£19.99, Alastair Sawday’s) This beautifully illustrated guide to the nation’s most pleasant gardens is full of inspiration for any green-fingered mums in need of a well-earned getaway. My Mum is Beautiful – Jessica Spanyol (£11.99, Walker) For any young children looking to tell their mum how they feel about her, or for fathers buying on their child’s behalf (hint hint), this charming picture book will guarantee a huge smile from Mum on her special day. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert (£7.99, Bloomsbury) Some of you may have fairly spiritual Mums, in which case this is a title which she’ll definitely love. Gilbert has been critically acclaimed as one of the most likable female writers and this non-fiction book shows why. ‘Commitment’ is a follow-up by the same author. The Bedside Book of Beasts: A Wildlife Miscellany – Graeme Gibson (£20, Bloomsbury) This incredibly illustrated, beautifully written book is designed to explore the relationship between predators and their prey. With an array of fantastically accomplished authors and a stunning choice of animals, it’s lovely to dip into for some natural inspiration.

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family fun and trips away

Maternal flame It’s Mother’s Day, and if sending her on a luxury weekend break to Paris with Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t an option, read on, says Anna Britten.


t’s Mothering Sunday on Sun 18 Mar, all ya’ll. Once you’ve let her have a muchneeded lie-in, brought her croissants in bed, piled the duvet high with thoughtful gifts and unfurled the giant banner saying “You rule”, why not run one of the following lovely and sophisticated ideas past your resident mother to see what she fancies doing for the rest of the day? She may reject them all, preferring to lie around the house watching ‘Sunday Politics’ and reading that Caitlin Moran book but, heck, at least you tried. And family life is nothing if not trying. Right? OK, strictly speaking it’s a day early but we can’t think of many grown women who wouldn’t love a trip to see the vintage fashion photography of the legendary Norman Parkinson at M Shed (www. on Sat 17 Mar followed at 2pm by a free talk with Angela Williams, Parkinson’s assistant during the 1960s (and a superb portrait photographer in her own right). The exhibition highlights the British fashion designers (and their winsome models) who laid the foundations for today’s fashion industry. Original 50s and 60s clothing from the museum’s collection will also feature, showcasing high-street fashion designs from this period. If she’s a real style queen, the following weekend (Sat 24Sun 25 Mar) also beckons her waterwards, with the M Shed Vintage Weekend featuring Blind Lemon vintage fair, retro


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Jamie Cullum: your mum likes him - or (below) the Norman Parkinson show at M Shed

make-overs, 60s music, vintage vehicles, dance, memorabilia and 50s turban making. On the Saturday she can even have her photo taken by fashion photographer Matilda Temperley (sister of designer Alice). Mums with a yen for BBC Radio 4 will surely appreciate waking up on Mother’s Day to a ticket for Day Three of the station’s More Than Words festival at St George’s Bristol (www.stgeorgesbristol. – there she’ll wolf down a large helping of live performance, comedy, storytelling, conversation, drama, and poetry, all celebrating both Bristol

and some of the great Radio 4 shows made in the area and beyond. Amongst the highcalibre performers appearing there’ll be Matthew Parris, Cerys

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Out&About A touch of class: Dyrham Park - or (bottom) take cream tea at Bath's Prior Park

Family disco… Nostalgic walk… Sport Relief… Kids’ Crime Comp… At-Bristol… surfing simulator… frozen yoghurt offer // Bored of soft play? Kitchen too small to dance in? Sat 24 Mar is your last chance this winter to cut some rug at Komedia’s Kids’ Winter Boogie Time. The allages daytime disco is becoming an annual fixture at the Bath comedy club and offers mums, dads and kids the chance to chat, drink, get their faces painted and dance under the vaulted splendour of the former cinema venue. Tickets cost £6.50 for kids, £5 adult and doors open 2.30-5pm. Food available in the Komedia Bath Canteen from 11am. Breaking news: if dads try to do their MC Hammer, their children are legally permitted to divorce them. Ffi: 01225 489070 or

Matthews, Roger McGough, Owen Sheers, Lynne Truss, Clive Anderson, Kirsty Young, Paddy O’Connell, Michael Rosen, Jamie Cullum and Harriett Gilbert alongside exciting local talent. You can trust (ho!) the National Trust to come over all motherly this time of year, too. If she fancies taking in some fresh air and the first buds of spring, you can pack her off on a Mothers Only House Tour (Sun 18 Mar) around Dyrham Park, ( uk/dyrham-park) where she’ll discover the mark women have made on the mansion throughout the ages and view rooms that are normally closed to visitors. Prior Park (www., meanwhile, are holding a Mother’s Day Cream Tea – inexplicably a week later on Sun 25 Mar, but who cares when there’s clotted cream on offer? Or head to the Royal West of England Academy (0117 973 5129 or for a Mother’s Day Vintage Afternoon Tea on Sun 18 Mar. When they say vintage, they mean it. Your £15 ticket gets you tea/coffee, sandwiches, scones and cakes

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// A charming, two-hour strollwith-a-difference for nostalgics of all ages, Postcard Promenade on Clifton Down on Sun 25 Mar will use postcards, prints and paintings to compare the current views of Clifton Down with those from days gone by. The walk starts at 10.30am and you can grab a place by calling Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project on 0117 903 0609. // The Sport Relief Mile returns to Bristol on Sun 25 Mar. With one-, three- or six-mile races to choose from – and the hours between 9.45am-3pm to run ’em in – it’s a most wholesome family day out and the money raised will help transform people’s lives both in Bristol and the world’s poorest countries. Places cost £15 family/£6 adult/£3 child. Ffi: courtesy of Papadeli and served on authentic Bristol Vintage crockery, free entry to all four exhibitions (don’t miss ‘Selling Dreams’, about the history of fashion photography), evocative 78s played on an original 1930s gramophone, grownups’ dressing-up box, loads of vintage mags and books to leaf through, a professional photographer and the chance to get a period hairstyle. And if none of that floats her boat, series 2 of ‘Sherlock’ is now out on DVD… MOTHER’S DAY IS ON SUN 18 MAR.

// Early young readers of this page have a few days left to enter B&NES’s Young Crime Writers Competition 2012. Anyone born on or after 1 Sept 1993 and living in B&NES, South Glos or Bristol is invited to hand in a (max) 1000-word crime/thriller story to their local library by Thur 1 Mar. The judging panel includes Bath-based thriller writers CJ Carver and Tim Weaver, as well as Bath Chronicle editor Sam Holliday. The overall winner will receive a trophy and books, with books also going to second and third places. There will also be five highly commended awards,

and all eight shortlisted entries will be published on the B&NES website. Ffi: librarynewsandevents // Congrats to At-Bristol (www. who have just been awarded silver in the Sustainable Tourism category of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards – a worthy reward for running one of the most sustainable buildings in the country. Other nods went to Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol Festival of Nature and ss Great Britain. See all the results at: www. // Looking for an Easter family break, not too far from home? Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks is offering discounted Easter deals to celebrate its new sports complex complete with surfing simulator. One of just a few of its kind in the UK, this allows guests to surf or board by creating an artificial wave enabling anyone – whether a beginner or experienced surfer – to ride the waves on land. There’s also a new high ropes course, a climbing wall, a bungee run and bungee trampoline and ‘beach club’ with bar and grill. A threenight break – booked on-line - for a family of four in a caravan holiday home now costs from just £129. Ffi: 0843 208 0368 or www. // Bristol’s first frozen yoghurt parlour, Angel Berry in Hartcliffe (, reckons it has the perfect guiltfree gift this Mother’s Day, with new flavours such as chocolateand-pistachio, milk chocolate, and white-chocolate-andstrawberry being released just in time. They’re offering all Venue readers a free small tub of frozen yoghurt when they buy any large tub for their mum. Simply show them this page to claim it.


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BRAND PRINT WEB PUBLISHING O T O H P Y H P A R G contact us venue publishing, 4th floor, bristol news & media, bristol bs99 7hd tel 0117 942 8491 email / web


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An experienced live music promoter for an already established late night venue in Clifton Bristol. The applicant must have a proven track record in all genres of live music including, bands, solo artists, open mic nights etc. Some experience in the alternative cabaret scene, including comedy, burlesque, would be an advantage. Please send a C.V and covering letter stating relevant experience to:


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Tune up Anna Britten rounds up the best pop/rock music courses in Bristol and Bath.


oes Britain care about music? From next month, budding musicians around the country will begin to feel the effects of coalition spending cuts. The budget for school music education will be reduced from £77m in April 2012, down to £60m in 2014 – meaning “learning to play a musical instrument” looks set to join “learning to jetski” and “joining a golf club” as an expensive, middle-class hobby. Which is a pity: music carrying with it as it does a host of benefits to practitioners of all ages and abilities – from greater academic success to dopamine-fuelled wellbeing. Fortunately, musicians tend to be a love-sharing bunch, which is why so many of them are running reasonably priced courses in and around Bristol and Bath. And you don’t have to be a kid to take advantage of them. Here are some of our favourites:

student’s individual taste and ability: love a particular song or style? He’s on it. You can even study for the accredited Rockschool grade syllabus and get a certificate to wave in the face of anyone who thinks they are cooler than you. In addition, bi-annual Monsters of Rock workshops bring guitarists aged 8-18 together to perform rock hits together as a band.

breathing music-making. Its adult music courses include fulltime performance, technology, composition, business as well as the introductory Popular Music Course and there’s a range of evening and weekend courses for those with a more casual interest. Staff are all experienced musicians who have worked

with artists including Kasabian, U2, Peter Gabriel, The Kinks and Amy Winehouse. FFI: 0800 28 18 42 OR WWW. ACCESSTOMUSIC.CO.UK

Artist Studios Based in King Square, Artist Studios teaches drum, guitar, bass, sax and piano as well as


Access to Music Based in the Hengrove recording studios and rehearsal space once used by PJ Harvey and Portishead, Access To Music – part of the pioneering UK music college chain whose alumni include Ed Sheeran and one of the Saturdays – promises to place you in the centre of living, Don’t fret! Learn how to handle that axe at Bath Guitar School; or get in good voice at Artist Studios

Bath Guitar School Basically, you enter as a gawky dreamer with delicate fingertips; you exit as a toughened rock god who can play ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’, ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ or ‘Song 2’ at the drop of a plectrum. Bath Guitar School is Bath’s only dedicated, all-ages, rock and pop guitar school, specialising in one-to-one guitar tuition in either electric or acoustic guitar. Tutor Richard Perkins (desert island disc: Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’) tailors each lesson to suit each

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2/22/2012 4:12:13 PM

‘I’m with the band’ – you are at The Rock Project; below: the stars of today teach the stars of tomorrow at BIMM

Got an event to list? Submit it to us at submit-a-listing

// Skills news // City of Bristol College open day… Volunteers needed… sketching birds… // If your CV needs a few more bells and whistles, check out how to acquire top-dollar new qualifications at City of Bristol College’s Higher Education Open Evening from 4.30-7.30pm on Thur 15 Mar. Study subjects such as business, accountancy, creative arts therapy, digital media production, law, marketing, teaching, engineering, counselling and heaps more, either full- or part-time and in small, supportive groups. Ffi: 0117 312 5171 or www.

same way as learning to walk, write, ride a bike, drive a car, etc.” Similar taster courses include Studio Vocal Recording, Creative Studio Recording, Production and Composing and Songwriting. FFI: 07736 274970 OR WWW. ARTISTSTUDIOSBRISTOL.COM

singing, songwriting and music technology (and recording studio and production should your skills develop to democutting levels). Their short day courses (mostly one day) are extremely reasonable. Four courses are currently available. The Intro to Vocal Technique course shows total beginners how to sing – from scratch. It explores myths about singing, shows you how to warm up, know your anatomy and develop a proper technique. “We welcome all abilities who wish to push forward and get very fast training to improve their voice,” says coach Ben Woodward. “In fact we often get people who think they’re tone deaf, but in reality very few people actually are. To train their voice, all the person needs to do is co-ordinate muscles in very much the


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BIMM (Bristol Institute of Modern Music) You know those snakes of trendy young things with guitar cases you see disappearing up to King Square every morning? This is where they are headed, and if you are in search of a serious fulltime qualification it really should be at the top of your list. Name a successful West Country musician and there’s a good chance he or she teaches here: Martina ‘Tricky’ TopleyBird, Gerard ‘Blue Aeroplanes’ Langley, Sarah ‘Massive Attack’ Jay, Dom ‘Reef’ Greensmith… Other famous names have reported for masterclass duties, including Two Door Cinema Club, Roots Manuva, Less Than Jake, Huw Stephens and several record company suits. Full-time courses are available in guitar, bass, drums, vocals, songwriting and commercial music management and range from BIMM Foundation Degree, Cert HE and BA Hons in Pro Musicianship through to

Foundation Degree, BA Honours in Professional Musicianship and the new BA Honours Commercial Music Management (subject to validation). FFI: 08442 646666 OR WWW.BIMM. CO.UK

The Rock Project Want to learn guitar, bass or drums and perform regularly as part of a band? The first of its kind to launch in the South West, The Rock Project opened its doors last year to 7-18-year-olds and is run by drummer Matt Albon whose 25 years' experience has seen him support bands like Skunk Anansie, Stereophonics, Feeder and the Fun Lovin’ Criminals. “There is so much emphasis at the moment on developing and nurturing musical talent – especially from TV shows such as ‘X Factor’,” he says. “But currently very few places like the Rock Project where children can go to be encouraged to play as part of a rock or pop band and build their confidence as performers, within a safe and supportive environment.” The school is run weekly as a twohour session at Horfield Baptist Church, where students receive lessons – bands are then put together to perform in the endof-year showcase concert. FFI: 0800 084 2216 OR WWW. THEROCKPROJECT.COM

// Love the great outdoors? Blessed with natural authority? Can you spare an hour or two on Tue and Fri eves, and the occasional weekend, to work with young people aged 13-18? Volunteers are needed to help out at Bristol Adventure Sea Cadets, whose overworked Detachment Commander Paul Bird really needs a hand. “Military experience is helpful but not essential,” he says. “If you’re happy to get cold and wet, and get on with young people, we’ll give you leadership experience, you’ll learn how to canoe, shoot, and many other things.” Ffi: bristoladventure // If you’d like to learn how to sketch the robins, chiffchaffs and blue tits darting prettily about the urban landscape this spring, sign up for Bristol Zoo’s Sketching Birds workshop on Sat 17 Mar. Resident wildlife illustrator Su Lees (she does all those wonderful pics for the zoo’s signage) will get you drawing using simple techniques and practising first on some stuffed specimens – before moving onto The Downs to immortalize some live, moving ones. Places cost £17.50 from Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project on 0117 903 0609.

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Professional & Accredited Courses We are pleased to announce that our new



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2/22/2012 1:29:20 PM

No excuses

Equality South West are examining the issue of domestic abuse in same-sex relationships. Darryl W Bullock reports.


buse in any form, is abhorrent; abuse against your partner – be it mental or physical abuse – is unacceptable in any society. Yet much of the abuse which takes place within same-sex relationships goes unreported, often due to the victim’s perception of how he or she will be treated by the authorities. Broken Rainbow, the national support group for LGBT victims of abuse, say that around one in four lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, yet some studies suggest that as many as 45% of lesbians have been the victim of a least one act of physical violence perpetrated by a lesbian partner. Violence against women is obviously not exclusive to lesbian relationships, but this research suggests that it is far more prevalent in same-sex relationships than in straight ones; in 2009 Broken Rainbow’s helpline took more than 2,000 calls from people concerned about domestic violence against LGBT people. On Wednesday 21 March, Equality South West are holding a day of workshops at the St Werburghs Centre, Bristol which will explore domestic violence in the context of different faith and cultural communities. Principally aimed at professionals and community groups working with victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse, No Excuse for Abuse is also targeted at people interested in understanding domestic abuse in the context of faith and cultural communities. A panel of experts working in the field of domestic abuse will look at how to tailor approaches to address the issues successfully, including Jackie Longworth of Fair Play South West, Shabana Kausar from the Bristol Domestic Abuse Forum and Amra Bone from the Muslim Council for Britain.


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It’s apt that this work should be taking place here: back in 2006 a team from the University of Bristol, working with colleagues from Sunderland, conducted the UK’s first-ever study of domestic abuse in same-sex relationships. In that study more than 40% of women and 35% of men said that they had experienced same sex domestic abuse, with some lesbian respondents saying that they feared for their lives from their abusive partners. That survey, Domestic Abuse in Same Sex Relationships by Dr Marianne Hester, also found that lesbians were much more likely to tolerate abuse from a partner. The event aims to encourage delegates actively to promote the safety and security of women from all backgrounds and communities, providing a platform to discuss sensitive issues and ensuring that delegates are equipped with the confidence to address these issues of in their own work. The cost is £30 per delegate, although there are a limited number of bursary places available for small volunteer organisations. People wishing to attend the day, or wanting to apply for reduced or free admission, should email NO EXCUSE FOR ABUSE ST WERBURGHS CENTRE, HORLEY RD, BRISTOL, BS2 9TJ. FFI: WWW.EQUALITYSOUTHWEST.ORG.UK THE BROKEN RAINBOW HELPLINE IS OPEN MON 2-8PM, WED 10AM-5PM AND THUR 2-8PM ON 0300 999 5428.

EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN MARCH 3 Mar // Wonky Basement 45, Frogmore St, Bristol, BS1 5NA, 10.30pm-4am, £3 before 11pm/£5 after/NUS £4. Ffi: • Bristol’s longest-running club night for homos who hate hard house, with genius pop, electro, disco, 90s dance and more in room one while over in room two there’s riot grrl, indie, alternate 80s and electropop. 4 Mar // O’Hooley and Tidow Folk House, Park St, Bristol, BS1 5JG. Ffi: ohooleyandtidow. com • After their recent appearance at Outset Festival, lesbian folksters O’Hooley and Tidow return to the Folk House to promote their new album ‘The Fragile’.

8 Mar // Training with Bristol Bisons RFC Cotham Park RFC, Upper Farm, Beggar Bush Lane, Failand, Bristol, BS8 3TF, 7pm. Ffi: www. • Rugby training with the Bisons every Thursday evening, followed by drinks at the Bristol Bear Bar in Old Market. Newcomers always welcome. 10 Mar // Fetish Night The Bath Tap, 19 St. James’s Parade, Bath, BA1 1UL, 10pm-1.30am, £10. Ffi: thebathtap@ hotmail.c​ or Facebook: New Bath Tap • Reopened, with new owners Andrew and James but the old name. Tonight the basement club is holding a special fetish night: any fetish welcome, changing rooms available. 11 Mar // CycleOut Bristol Meet by King William Statue, Queen Sq, Bristol, 10am, returning by 4pm. Ffi: http://tiny. cc/cycleoutbristol • A ride

around Bristol’s Green Belt. All are welcome; don’t be put off by distance. You will be accompanied to the finish. 15 Mar // Indigo The Loft, Goldbrick House, 69 Park St, Bristol, BS1 5PB, 8pm-12midnight, £5 (inc glass of prosecco). Ffi: 07905 492893 or suzanne@ • The women-only monthly networking event returns. Run by an all-women team, the sociable Indigo networking group offers lesbian/bi/queer women of the South West the chance to connect in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. 16 Mar // FTW OMG, Frog Lane, Frogmore St, Bristol, BS1 5UX, 10pm. Ffi: www. • Up-andcoming boy band FTW perform their debut single ‘Love Shot’ live on the OMG stage. 18 Mar // Gay Outdoor Club: Wiltshire, Gloucestershire & North Somerset Ffi: Nigel 01793 770099, Martin & John 0117 951 2386 or www. • A woodland walk in the Coleford area of the Forest of Dean, approximately seven miles. Please bring your own picnic; refreshments will be available at the leaders’ house after the walk.

19 Mar // CycleOut Bristol Dykes on Bikes Meet by King William Statue, Queen Sq, Bristol, 6pm, returning by 9pm. Ffi: cycleoutbristol or email • A women-only ride. Don’t forget to bring your lights! 21 Mar // No Excuse for Abuse • See feature for details.

AUGUST 2011 // 97

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