Between January 29th and February 4th 2018 we celebrate Independent Venue Week. This national campaign was set up five years ago to shine a light on local music venues, cultural hubs, parish halls and arts centers that give prominence to young and upcoming bands on the indie circuit.
Worcester had participated in the scheme since last year and 2018 is no different. There will be plenty of gigs at our local independent music venue – Marrs Bar. To celebrate a whole week of music delights, new bands and DIY ethos we took few figures from our scene on the side and asked them questions.
Welcome to Indieterria IVW18 special.
(The Marrs’ Bar manager)
You have some high profile gigs scheduled this year, involving leading local talent. Can you tell us in brief what can we expect from Independent Venue Week 2018 in Worcester?
James Willis: We have 3 shows booked for Independent Music Week this year. The first gig is HVMM, The Soviets, Juniper Nights and Malvern newcomers Dead Dads Club. It will take place on Thursday, February 1st. On Friday, 2nd of February we have Gaz Brookfield and The Company of Thieves. Gaz is a great friend of the Marr’s Bar, we always love having Gaz performing on our stage. He first came to us while supporting Nick Harper and now nearly sells the place out. On Sunday, February 4th, we have a great concert by the best bands of the Worcestershire scene: Soeur, Nuns of The Tundra, Navajo Ace, Esteban and As Mamas. It is a collaboration between two great local promoters, The Task In Hand and Surprise Attacks. These guys love putting things on that try to push the musical boundaries a bit. All info on the mentioned shows can be found at http://www.marrsbar.co.uk
Marrs Bar has been participating in IVW before. How did the initiative change over the years?
James Willis: This is our second year participating, but I love how Independent Music Week continue to push awareness all over the country and advertise how important grass roots music venues are.
After losing so many iconic venues, the music community is pushing back – Agent of Change gets a second reading in Parliament and Music Venue Trust (MVT) is set up. Do you think such measures will have a lasting effect on safety and well-being of music venues
James Willis: It sounds like it! It already has started saving music venues from closing due to complaints, but venues are also closing due to decreasing numbers of visitors and less money being spent at the bar. It is very important we keep going to see live music and keep drinking! (laughs)
Marrs Bar is itself going through a lot of changes. Can you give us any details about it?
James Willis: We cannot reveal anything yet at this moment but watch this space!
From where you stand – what can be done to help music venues and local scene in Worcestershire?
James Willis: The more venues Worcester has that are willing to put on live music, and the more locals we have that get involved and put shows on, the stronger the music scene will be.
James was also interviewed by BBC Hereford and Worcester on 3rd of February 2018 regarding the campaign and this is what he had to say:
If you would like to learn more about the venue please read below:
The Marrs Bar
The Marrs Bar Tech Spec
(promoter, Surprise Attacks)
As a promoter, what is the best thing about having an independent venue in town?
Christian Burton: Local independent venues support local music, which is essential for any city’s music scene. Whether it’s live music, DJ sets or open mic nights there is something on pretty much every night of the week. The independent venues in Worcester recognize that variety is vitally important and this can only encourage both the established and the new bands and artists.
As a local promoter for the last 5 years, keeping it DIY, believing in local acts and taking risks in bringing touring bands to Worcester has been key to putting on varied genres. We often put on music which is fairly experimental or leftfield too, and having the support of the independent venues is really important. The venues support the local scene as much as the locals support the venues. That’s the ideal existence for any town!
I think in the last couple of years this two – way support has really come to life with the existing promoters building loyal followers and new promoters being inspired to start up too. This is a great thing for Worcester especially as the student population is growing, and also great for existing and new bands.
New bands need the support of the promoters, who are able to take a chance and put them on because they have the support of the venues, who in turn provide that environment for the crowds and bands alike. So for us as promoters it’s all about community and creating a social hub and everyone seems to be doing the right thing in creating a vibrant and growing scene.
So many venues have closed down in recent years but with the introduction of Music Venue Trust and Agent of Change, the music community is fighting back. What in your opinion, will be the outcome of this struggle?
Christian Burton: It’s a worrying time. The Agent Of Change principle seems just common sense and it’s frustrating that it doesn’t already exist in UK law. I know that in Australia it’s being put into practice to positive effect.
I think the struggle will always be one of money versus culture, with residential or commercial developers obviously wanting to maximize profit. So the cost of proper soundproofing is left up to venues, which is logical if the venue is the new development next to existing offices or residential buildings!
It makes perfect sense that if homes are built next to or near to an existing venue, the developers should be responsible for the soundproofing. Unfortunately the struggle between money and the arts is a long standing battle.
The outcome? Well I’m hopeful that Agent of Change will be introduced into UK law and the importance of live music is realized to be an essential component of the UK’s culture.
Last year Cardiff nearly lost their famous Womanby Street (a street full of clubs and music venues), now they are UK`s very first City of Music. Worcester is not far away from Cardiff, has its own music festival, periodicals, lively scene. What could be done for Worcester to be properly put in on the music map?
I think Worcester is on the way to greatness with its scene and a great music festival, but it’s main downfall in my opinion is the lack of support of local venues and promoters from the University. It’s very hard to get promotional material within campuses : posters, flyers etc.
There is a huge student population in Worcester. Music scenes in other cities really jump on the opportunities to promote to the students, and have the support of Universities when doing so. It’s certainly something we will be addressing as local promoters.
You played for Indie Venue Week in London at The Rocksteady on 24th January 2018 How does the America see the campaign for independent venues?
Aaron Whittaker: The 21st century is an endless battle against irresponsible developers building here, there and everywhere. We’ve seen so many beautiful and historic venues forced to close their doors over the last few years because of this.
Independent venues need to be celebrated and cherished and the importance of this week-long festival that shines the spotlight on these magic little places can’t really be overstated.If you care about music then you have to pay attention to and support the spawning ground for its future.
(Nuns of the Tundra)
What do you think about the Independent Venue Week campaign?
Troy Tittley: I think Independent Venue Week is an important reminder of how crucial these venues are to both musicians and audiences. Most people will have their first proper gigs in these places and it is where you learn to hone your craft. You are surrounded by like minded people, creative minds and people passionate about the arts.
I’ve made a lot of meaningful connections in local independent venues, and without them networking would be way harder. I’ve also witnessed some of the best live shows I’ve ever seen in the Marrs Bar which is a stone’s throw from my house. I remember seeing the Subways there when I was a teenager, more recently Creeper, and I have the privilege of supporting Soeur there as well.
If people aren’t into clubbing or getting wrecked, these venues are a great place to spend a night out even if you don’t know who’s playing.
Worcester will close IVW18 with a concert of mighty Soeur, Nunes of The Tundra, Navajo Ace, Esteban and As Mamas at the Marrs Bar on February 4th 2018.
Now what are you waiting for. Put your dancing shoes on, we are off to the mosh pit.