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Bristol’s Hidden Gems: Music Venues

Bristol’s Hidden Gems: Music Venues

2 October 2017 | Charlie Kenber

As one of the most creative cities in the UK, Bristol boasts a wide array of local musical talent. The home of such bands as Massive Attack, Portishead, Beth Rowley, and, of course, The Wurzels, the city has long nurtured up-and-coming stars. Here are our tips for where you might spot the next one…

The Famous Old Duke


Image credit: The Old Duke

You could do a lot worse than this wonderful pub right in the heart of the city. Named after the one and only Duke Ellington, The Old Duke has built a towering reputation for itself as the go-to venue for live jazz and blues. The pub hosts local acts every night of the week – and Sunday lunchtimes – featuring a wide range of instruments and styles, with some even leaning into funk. It’s completely free (although do show the collection bucket your appreciation) and it’s regularly packed to the rafters. With an open mic night every Tuesday and a regularly revolving array of performers, there’ll always be something new to discover.

The Old Duke is at 45 King St, Bristol BS1 4ER.


The Louisiana


Image credit: The Louisiana

A former seafarer’s hotel isn’t the first place you’d naturally look to find outstanding musical talent. But with The Louisiana, you’d be on to a winner. Set in an intimate room above the pub, don’t be duped by its size – this venue has hosted early performances from Scissor Sisters, Florence & the Machine and the National (all bands now play to vast arenas). They take great care in supporting local artists as well as hosting national tours, so its not surprising how acts remain loyal to the Louisiana after they make it big. They’re also a venue for both the Dot-to-Dot Festival (May) and Harbourside Festival (July), when they get even busier than usual.

The Louisiana is at Wapping Rd, Bathurst Terrace, BS1 6UA.


Thekla


Image credit: Thekla

Just a stone’s throw away from our last pick, Thekla is a music and club venue with a twist – it’s on a boat. Permanently moored on The Grove just off Queen Square, Thekla is within easy reach of much of the city centre. Previous gigs have featured everyone from Mark Ronson and Calvin Harris to Jamie T, the Babyshambles and Gotye. There are plenty of smaller names on show as well, and with gigs on much of the week (only broken up by some excellent club nights), this intimate, unique venue is well worth a visit.

Thekla is at The Grove, East Mud Dock, BS1 4RB.


Mr Wolfs


Image credit: Mr Wolfs

If you like your nights late and high energy, head to Mr Wolfs in the centre of town. This popular venue hosts up-beat acts from across the city, bringing joy to anyone who ventures in. They host a wide range of styles and genres of music, but all of it is designed to get you moving. After the live music ends local DJs take you through to the early hours, seven nights a week. It’s the kind of venue where you can just turn up, confident you’ll have a good time – and they sell noodles all night! There really is no excuse not to visit.

Mr Wolfs is at 32 St Nicholas St, BS1 1TG.


The Lantern


Image credit: Colston Hall

Tucked in the rafters of Bristol’s Colston Hall, The Lantern is dedicated to much more experimental fare than the main hall below. Featuring a programme of new classical music amongst folk, jazz, world and acoustic performers, the venue is a great place to look to find something a bit different. They even programme the odd bit of stand up comedy, with many Edinburgh Fringe favourites dropping by on their national tours. So whether you want to catch Toumani Diabate, some comedy from Nick Helm or something completely new altogether, have a look at what The Lantern has on offer.

The Lantern is at Colston Hall, Colston Street, BS1 5AR.

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