Book: Venue Stories
Chapter: Glitter, Rubber Ducks and Dinghies: The Georgian Theatre and the Teesside Gigging Community in the Early 2010s
It is an evening midweek in Stockton-on-Tees. Down a narrow alleyway leading off the high street is the Georgian Theatre, one of the few independent music venues in Teesside.
An anonymous figure in a velvet jumpsuit and glittery motorbike helmet crowdsurfs on an inflatable dinghy onto the stage. This is Bob Log III: a one-man blues band. The next couple of hours are ceremonious and cult-like with members of the audience drinking from dog bowls and popping balloons to substitute the beat of a drum. This is the Church of Bob. A surreal and unforgettable experience that converts any newcomers walking through the door.
Between 2013 and 2014 I volunteered at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees. I collected glasses, staffed the box office and occasionally wrote gig reviews for a North East website. The Georgian Theatre was one of the key haunts of my teenage years. It gave me the chance to see Teesside treasures and the rising stars of the alternative UK music scene. The local music community created a space to experiment and explore different musical horizons.
This personal essay focuses on my time at the Georgian Theatre, the repeated visits of Bob Log III and his growing support in the Teesside music community. Teesside has seen significant cuts to arts funding in the last ten years. Covid-19 poses a threat to independent live music venues and many are facing the risk of closure. Losing independent venues would form a crater in North East and prevent local music fans from gaining easy access to live music as well as preventing the exposure to the wonderful and surreal artists that small venues support.