Live gigs go from strength to strength

THERE'S undoubtedly talent in our area.

THERE'S undoubtedly talent in our area.

The music scene is vibrant and thriving and bands are producing some interesting and excellent original music.

And a brand new website is about to hit the scene celebrating all the fantastic, talented musicians we have in Suffolk.

The music scene across the county is about to get a huge boost with the new website, run by The Evening Star and its sister paper The East Anglian Daily Times.

The site is being launched on Saturday June 20 all day gig at The Steamboat Tavern in Ipswich which has free entry.

It will feature just a selection of the great bands who play in the county.

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But where do up and coming bands get their music heard?

Who is opening their doors to new talent?

The Steamboat

Where: New Cut West, Ipswich

Holds: 130

Run by: Val Bint.

ONE of Ipswich's best known music venues, The Steamboat has been run by Val Bint since 1999.

She said: “I had a break after the millennium but I came back and I've been here for the last five and a half years. I see running a music pub as my vocation. I love people and I get pleasure from seeing smiling faces. I love creating an atmosphere that makes people happy.”

Describing running the venue as a way of life, Val said the pub holds four gigs a week ranging from folk and jazz to punk, alternative and original music.

The 52-year-old added: “I see the pub as a community pub for the music community. I believe everybody loves music and to me it is an international language. It crosses all boundaries and that's why I love it.

“We always encourage people to have a go, we have nights for new bands once a month.”

Though she dislikes the paperwork and regulations running a pub involves Val is passionate about music and encouraging diversity.

She said: “We're a busy pub and we have a lot of different audiences.”

The Cork Bar

Where: Undercliff Road West, Felixstowe

Holds: 200

Run by: Louise Juggins.

KNOWN as Felixstowe's music venue, The Cork Bar over looking the beach is a popular venue at weekends.

Louise Juggins has run the venue for the last three years.

She said: “We've always been known as covers pub and we are now trying to encourage young bands to have a go here as well.”

Louise said the venue holds covers gigs on Thursday and Saturday.

She said: “Friday is the night anything can happen, can either be a new band or karaoke or whatever. Running a music pub is not something I would have said I wanted to do when I first got here but now I love it.

“It's very interesting and you meet all sorts of people.

“A music venue means the customers aren't concentrating on getting drunk, they've come to enjoy the music.”

Louise said three years ago her musical tastes were slush and reggae - now they are far more eclectic.

The 42-year-old added: “Now I'm very open-minded.”

PJ McGinty's

Where: Northgate Street, Ipswich

Holds: About 100

Run by: Veronica Chambers

McGINTY'S, as it is known to punters, became a music venue when Veronica Chambers took over the pub two and a half years ago.

Veronica, 35, said: “We have an upstairs venue called the Blue Room and an acoustic venue called Ronnie's Bar which holds about 50.

“I converted the pub to a music venue when I took over as I wanted somewhere for customers to come and enjoy themselves.”

Describing her personal music taste as eclectic, Veronica said the venue holds gigs four nights a week for covers, original and touring bands with an open mic session on a Sunday.

She added: “I wanted to have live music here. I love all music. We have everything from Thrash Metal to Americana Folk.”


Where: Duke Street, Ipswich

Holds: 250

Run by: Richard Robinson

ONE of Ipswich's newest music venues, QJAM offers bands a chance to play to slightly bigger crowds.

Richard Robinson, 44, said: “We've got a stage for bands and an in-house PA system. We've got two big rooms and one can be used as a chill out room.

“I like to encourage all types of music including covers and originals.”

With two or three gigs a week and plans for an open mic session, Richard said he opened the venue in response to demand from bands keen to play to larger crowds in Ipswich.

Richard, who was in a band as a teenager, said he enjoys all types of music: “There were not many venues of this size in Ipswich so it means bands won't have to travel to Colchester or Norwich.

“There's always a nice atmosphere when there is live music.”

The Swan

Where: King Street, Ipswich

Holds: 200

Run by: Damian Royal

DAMIAN Royal, 27, took over the pub in October 2007.

He said: “We took over the pub with the intention of turning it into a music venue. We have tried to befriend the best promoters in town and we only have original bands.

“We have bands that are up and coming.”

With one, maybe two gigs, a week, Damian said the venue is quite selective.

“We don't put on just anyone, we have bands that are NME up and coming or at BBC Introducing standard. I love music and I've always loved it.

“We thought there was a gap in the market for what we do and we offer something that other venues don't do.”

The venue hosts acts that play a variety of genres including hip hop, rock and heavy metal.

Damian added: “We try to do a little bit of everything.” will include:

A comprehensive gig guide

Information on bands

Information on the venues where they play

Gig reviews

A great new online talent contest which will culminate in a battle of the bands competition.

Whether it is a band trying to get their name out there or someone deciding where to go for a night of live music, will be the site for them.

What do you think the new website will do for Ipswich's music scene? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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