Music scene must be heard!

The Man On The MoonI had originally intended to write this blog article a few months ago and for it to be about our music venues in this part of the City. I was going to lament that although the Boat Race is now long gone and Anglia Ruskin University no longer has a weekly line-up of gigs open to the public, at least we still have the Man On The Moon as a last remaining dedicated medium-sized gig venue. However, it was announced a couple of months ago the the Man On The Moon would be closing at the start of October, and even after protests it sadly did close at the start of this month.

Landlord John and his family moved from the White Hart pub (which became the Back Street Bistro restaurant) on Sturton Street in 2000 to take over at the Man On The Moon, and over the next thirteen years the pub became well known both locally and further afield for its music. They’ve hosted some big names over the years – including Therapy? and Wendy James from Transvision Vamp – as well as regular music nights across all genres including hip-hop, soul and rockabilly and even lindy hop dancing.

The Man On The Moon has now been taken over by new leaseholders and a new landlord has also been chosen. Although they are keen to open the pub again soon, I am not yet sure when this will be (the new landlord has also already taken on another local pub – The Royal Standard, on Mill Road). Following on from its closure there had been a peaceful protest in the form of a community cafe at the Man On The Moon, but that came to an end last week. However, the previous ‘Moon team are still booking gigs at other venues and are planning for the future, so if you want to get in touch with them you can contact them via the details on their website.

Man On The Moon

Since we’re on the subject of losing music venues, it seems only right that I mention the Boat Race on East Road – which I’m sure many of you will remember. It was a dedicated gig venue that had music seven days a week and was known for hosting up and coming talent – the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Placebo, Oasis and Groove Armada all played there before making it ‘big’ – including local bands and artists such Right Turn Clyde, Ezio and The Broken Family Band. The Boat Race closed almost ten years ago – much to the dismay of local music lovers – and although there were campaigns to save it (and bring it back ) it was sold and eventually became The Snug.

Man On The MoonOf course the Portland Arms (and in recent times also the Cornerhouse) put on some great gigs and are well known locally for hosting up and coming bands like Beverley Kills and favourites such as Editors, Akira The Don, Carter USM and Ellie Goulding – but it’s on the other side of town; and besides, a City with a population in excess of 120,000 surely deserves more than one dedicated  medium-sized venue, doesn’t it…? The last year has thankfully seen an increase in gigs happening on and around Mill Road and a number of the local pubs and cafes now have regular music nights. However, the last remaining dedicated medium sized gig venue in this part of the City was the Man On The Moon.

Given the current lack of local music venue and the need for action to make sure our music scene doesn’t suffer any further, there will be a special meeting TONIGHT to talk about making things happen!

The ‘Campaign for a Music Venue’ open meeting will take place at The Hopbine (sister pub to the Portland Arms) from 7:30pm. It’s a public meeting and all are welcome, so if you support the idea of creating/developing a dedicated music venue, you have some ideas on how it could work or you just want to find out more, then make sure you go along tonight.

‘Campaign for a Music Venue’ open meeting – 7:30pm, Tuesday 15th October
The Hopbine, 11-12 Fair Street CB1 3HA

Good feeling about Mill Road

One of my Twitter friends posted a link a few days ago to a music video that was shot on and around Mill Road – Good Feeling by rapper Mikill Pane; and if you were listening to the Sunday Breakfast Show on Cambridge 105 Radio this morning, you’ll have heard me talking to Brian & Chris about it.

Much of the video is filmed on Tenison Road and you can clearly see Bolton’s Warehouse in the background and the Rice House Chinese take away, as well as scenes filmed at Anglia Ruskin University (and you may even recognise some of the students who turn up at the house party later on in the video…). There’s also a
two-second clip inside one of the local shops, which I think is Mace on Mill Road – it’s only a very short clip but I’m pretty sure I recognise the fruit ‘n veg layout just inside the door (!).

Video courtesy of YouTube.

Given that his debut EP (released in 2011) was called The Guinness & Blackcurrant, I was a bit surprised not to have heard of Mikill (pronounced Mike-Ill) Pane before – those of you who know me will know that this is my alcoholic beverage of choice! But I really like this track and having now listened to some of his other stuff, I suspect – and hope – we’re going to be hearing a lot more of him. He has collaborated with the likes of Ed Sheeran (who he has supported on tour), Rizzle Kicks, Example and Paloma Faith, and last year performed at Reading and Leeds on the BBC Introducing Stage. His debut album Blame Miss Barclay will be released later on this year. For a taster of some of his tunes, check out his website.

Anglia Ruskin students are currently voting for their university to win a gig with him, if you want to help them you can visit the event’s facebook page – it would be great to get him along to Cambridge and if ARU win I hope they’ll open the gig up to locals as well, as I suspect there’s quite a few of us who’d love to see him live. Good Feeling is released today – 17th March – and is available via iTunes. I also see on his website that if you buy one of the Good Feeling T-shirts you get the EP download for free.

Those of you following me on Twitter will know that I post about local gigs and events; and I’ll also be putting an events section on the website (going live soon!) to keep you up to date with goings on around Mill Road. It feels like there are interesting things happening here musically at the moment and this video certainly helps put Mill Road on the music map. As my Twitter friend says “We’re now officially hip”!

William, Kate and Jimmy’s

I was determined to at least catch a glimpse of William and Kate on their visit to Cambridge today, not just because I missed out on a planned meeting with a member of the Royal family when I was a child (when my grandmother offered to take me to the little girls room, not realising that it would be during those crucial three minutes that Prince Charles would come over and chat to my Mum and Dad!) but because it seemed fitting as they are the Duke and Duchess of our city. So I decided to venture up to Jimmy’s Night Shelter at midday in the hope of seeing them. I timed it well and even though there were crowds lining East Road on both sides, I managed to get to the front (I seem to have a nack for this sort of thing and am known amongst friends for always managing to get a table in pubs that seem otherwise packed!).

The lady next to me told me that she’d been in to town this morning in the hope of seeing them, but that she couldn’t get anywhere near Market Square or the Guildhall as there were so many people. William and Kate’s car soon drove past us and pulled up just a few yards away. They paused briefly on the steps of Jimmy’s to wave to an excited crowd, before going in to visit and officially open the new facility. The advertised details of their visit suggested they might be in there for quite some time, but we were reliably informed that they would be there for fifty minutes. I figured this was just enough time to pop to one of the nearby shops that apparently had some lovely shoes in (!). I wasn’t disappointed and managed to find some gorgeous black and white spotted ones. Whilst debating whether or not to buy, I remembered that November is in fact national Dress Spotty Month (to raise awareness of the importance of spotting the symptoms of bowel cancer) and immediately decided to make a purchase.

On the way back I passed Jimmy’s Night Shelter again, and realising that it was about forty-five minutes since they went in decided it was definitely worth waiting and seeing if I could catch another glimpse of the Royal couple. As I was waiting, a group of girls came and asked me why there were so many police about and what was going on. When I told them, there were shrieks of delight and they quickly spread the word amongst the many others arriving behind them – it turned out that there was actually an Open Day at Anglia Ruskin University today. I’m not entirely sure if this was clever planning on the part of Anglia Ruskin, or merely coincidence, but it seemed to have positive effects – one of the girls I spoke to told me that she was now definitely going to come and study here (I probably should have mentioned that even though William and Kate are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a visit from them is not exactly a regular occurrence…).

William and Kate soon came out of Jimmy’s and we all excitedly waved them on their way to their next engagement. Some of my friends got to see them while they had been on their walkabout in the Market Square earlier in the day and one friend, Emma, and her son spoke to Kate – who held her little boys hand and asked if he was enjoying his biscuit. She took a brilliant photograph of Kate (see above).

Although it was great to see William and Kate (twice in one day, albeit brief!) and they seemed to enjoy their visit, it’s worth remembering why they were here. Today’s visit has provided some great publicity for Jimmy’s and highlighted the important work that they do in our community. They provide people with food and shelter – especially important in this cold and wintery weather – as well as lots of other resources to help people get back on their feet. Not wishing to end this piece on a sombre note, but it’s quite unnerving to think that most people are only two pay cheques away from needing the services of somewhere like Jimmy’s.