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Venue Stories

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Venue Stories is an anthology of creative non-fiction that remembers, celebrates and reinvigorates our complex and plural relationship with small and independent music spaces. Written by musicians, promoters, fans and academics who have a shared passion for small music venues and musical cultures in all their splendid variety, this anthology features memoir, essays, life writing, historiography and autoethnography. Each chapter is united by a focus on the personal, the sensory and half-remembered. These are stories that cross disciplinary lines and blur distinctions between creativity, reportage and critical analysis.

Venue Stories pays a visit to the toilet venues, back rooms and ad-hoc club nights that make up so much of our musical landscape. It spends time in small and local venues and asks what they mean in personal and cultural terms. Writers visit celebrated spots, long-forgotten spaces and emergent venues. Whatever the lineage, they are independent, original and wonderfully weird. The stories are memories of seismic gigs and life-altering raves. They are mosaic remembrances and recollections; funny, heart-breaking, rage induced and sometimes a combination of all of these things. This is a collection of stories by and for fans, band members, merch sellers, pint pullers, journalists with a freebie, roadies with a backache and sound techs with an earache.

Published: Sep 29, 2023

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Foreword Emma Warren
Introduction Fraser Mann, Robert Edgar, Helen Pleasance
Chapter 1
Peripheral Dancing: The Jazz Rooms, Brighton, 1984 Helen Pleasance
Chapter 2
Finding the Dirt: Nesh at Elektrowerkz Fraser Mann
Chapter 3
Chatting to Jarvis Robert Edgar
Chapter 4
Fascinating Rhythms Beth Hughes
Chapter 5
The Bull and Gate, Kentish Town, London 1987-1989 Polly Hancock
Chapter 6
Weapons of Bass Destruction Kevin Narrainen
Chapter 7
Girls with Guitars Vim Renault, Lene Cortina
Chapter 8
(Princess) Charlotte and her 1980s Offspring, O'Jays Ruth Miller
Chapter 9
The Brewery Arts Centre Peter Atkinson
Chapter 10
'Nothing Comes Easy': Small Venue Concerts with the Wedding Present David Lewis Gedge, Jon Stewart
Chapter 11
In Memory of The Standard: Hard Rock in East London Anna Maria Barry
Chapter 12
The New Breed: 1990s Mod Revival Scene in Leeds Abigail Gaines
Chapter 13
Sitting on the Bench in Leicester's Charlotte Ed Garland
Chapter 14
Kings Cross, Kentish Town and Kensington Gore via Gallowgate: In Search of the Goldilocks Zone Julianne Regan
Chapter 15
Spiritual Auras: Jungle Venues in Birmingham and the West Midlands 1993-1997 Penelope Wickson
Chapter 16
The Wheat from the Chaff Matt Colbeck
Chapter 17
More than a Club: The Genius Loci of Eric's Penny Kiley
Chapter 18
Coming of Age at the Warehouse, Liverpool, 1981 Dawn Amber Harvey
Chapter 19
The Rainbow Venues and Swingamajig: Closing the Doors on the Home of One of Birmingham's Favourite Festivals Chris Inglis
Chapter 20
Sold-out, Locked out, Power out Tom Hingley
Chapter 21
Mothers Club in Erdington Alan G. Smith
Chapter 22
Music Spaces and Music Memory Anna Elias
Chapter 23
Glitter, Rubber Ducks, and Dinghies: The Georgian Theatre and the Teesside Gigging Community in the Early 2010s Amy McCarthy
Chapter 24
The Rock Garden: Conversations with My Dad, a Punk-rock DJ Tom Jackson
Chapter 25
...for a Girl Tarryn Watkins
Final Word Mark Davyd


An always exciting and superbly written collection. For if ‘Venue Stories’ teaches us anything it’s that these small buildings go way beyond their modest surroundings. These cathedrals of sound in fact are the only religious altars worth flocking to.
Louder than War