Preview: Dot To Dot festival 2010

28 05 2010

The latest incarnation of day-long music festival Dot To Dot returns to Bristol tomorrow (Saturday, May 29), with more than 50 bands and DJs playing across six venues between 1pm and 4pm.

Lineup highlights include Ellie Goulding (Academy, 8.45pm), Mystery Jets (Academy, 10.15pm) and Zane Lowe (Academy, 1am). But it’s not all about the bands you’ve heard of: there are so many to discover at throughout the day at the Cooler, Thekla, Fleece, Louisiana and, for the first time this year, the Anson Rooms.

One of the joys is being in a sweaty venue with the lights down loving a new band, and then stumbling out into the light realising that it’s barely lunchtime and there’s a whole day of discoveries ahead. On Sunday, the lineup switches to Nottingham and then decamps to Manchester on Monday.

A £35 wristband gets you entry to all the gigs, and the right to roam Bristol’s streets. The area outside the Thekla acts as the centre of operations and this year will once again be hosting the magnificent Brothers cider bar.

For more information, visit

Bristol Festival of Photography

20 05 2010

Today sees the start of the Bristol Festival of Photography, which over the next three weeks will see almost 100 events and exhibitions taking place across the city.

There is far too much going on to mention everything here, so for the full line-up of events, visit the festival website:

What follows are three events which anyone can join in with:

12 Shoots in 12 Hours with Pete Cranston. On Saturday, May 22 at 9am, join Pete at Mivart Street Studios in Easton. For the next 12 hours, take part in 12 different shoots. Every hour on the hour the themes will change.

Magical Mystery Photo Excursion Meet at Canteen, Stokes Croft, on Sunday, May 30 at 11am. “Expect the unexpected! Spontaneous reportage, alternative landscapes, exploring the urban environment with an eye for controversy – not for the faint-hearted this one – dare you become the photographer you really want to be? Because we’ll be moving around, we’re hoping to update our location on Twitter so almost anyone can join in! £10 per person for as long as you want to stay with us! For further information contact Stone on 07817 205529 or email

Portraiture Photography & Philiosphy, with Lou O’Bedlam. Sunday, May 23, 10am – 2pm, St Paul’s Family & Learning Centre, 94 Grosvenor Road. “This hands on workshop with acclaimed LA based portrait photographer will look at breaking down style, studio and natural lighting, the dynamics of interaction with subjects and ‘give participants an exploded view of how I do the voodoo I do so well’. Bring your favourite camera. £28 for non-members, £25 for Second Look members. To book, email Find Lou on the web: and

Here are some of the locations where exhibitions are taking place:

  • Bristol Youth Hostel, Narrow Quay
  • Rubicon Cafe, Chandos Road, Redland
  • Kuvuka, Stokes Croft
  • Windows 204, Gloucester Road, Bishopston
  • Fire Works Gallery, Upper Maudlin Street
  • Room 212, Gloucester Road, Bishopston
  • Here Gallery, Stokes Croft
  • St Paul’s Learning & Family Centre, Grosvenor Road
  • Start Gallery, Baldwin Street
  • Planet Pizza, Gloucester Road, Bishopston
  • Barton Hill Settlement, Ducie Road
  • Gallery 2C, The Mall, Clifton
  • Southbank, Dean Lane, Bedminster
  • Oxfam, Westbury Hill, Westbury-on-Trym
  • QEH Theatre, Berkeley Place, Clifton
  • The Mall, Broadmead
  • Cafe Kino, Ninetree Hill, Kingsdown
  • The Kensington Arms, Stanley Road, Redland
  • Calumet Photographic, Montpelier Central
  • Broadwalk Shopping Centre, Knowle
  • Nails Gallery, St Nic’s Market
  • Retro Collectables, North Street, Bedminster
  • The Christmas Steps
  • Hamilton House, Stokes Croft
  • The 2 Degrees Gallery, Picton Mews, Montpelier
  • The Junction, Stokes Croft
  • Cube Microplex, Dove Street South, Kingsdown
  • CentreSpace Gallery, Leonard Lane (off Corn Street)
  • Easton Community Centre, Kilburn Street
  • Moreish, Chandos Road, Redland
  • View Art Gallery, Hotwell Road
  • The Arts House, Stokes Croft
  • Howies, Queen’s Road, Clifton
  • The Three Sugar Loaves, Christmas Steps
  • Canteen, Stokes Croft
  • The Picture House, Whiteladies Road, Clifton
  • Central Library, College Green
  • Fire Station Studio, York Road, Bedminster
  • Oxfam Bookshop, Princess Victoria Street, Clifton
  • Bridewell Island, Nelson Street
  • Shop, Christmas Steps
  • Create Centre, Smeaton Road
  • Thali Cafe, St Mark’s Road, Easton

The Arts House

2 05 2010

There are plenty of cafes in Bristol with art covering their walls. But there is only one whose raison d’etre is art, and whose every single inch of available space is packed with paintings, sketches and sculptures, hung closely together at all heights and angles.

By my ludicrously comfortable corner seat, with the stuffing protruding from inside, were four pen and ink drawings by Tim Nurse of the recent eviction of squatters from the former Jesters building about 100 yards away. On the wall opposite were some fantastically detailed pen and ink panoramas by Jonathan Farr showing this corner of Bristol in various stages of development. And near the bar were a selection of colourful bird boxes.

This place is not called The Arts House for no reason. And it is not just visual artists who call the building home. The Arts House encourages artists of all descriptions to join them, aiming to encompass and embrace Bristol artists of all descriptions: painters and potters, woodworkers and upholsterers, singer songwriters and DJs, poets and puppeteers, photographers and cake makers.

There are courses, clubs, workshops, live music nights, a gallery space downstairs, and thanks to a special license with Filmbank, The Arts House can show cinema classics old and new for free. Don’t forget that they are a cafe as well, with homemade paninis, pastries, cakes, salads, soups and tapas, as well as fair trade coffees from around the world and a good selection of bottled beers, ciders and spirits.

Gallery, cafe, bar, cinema, live music venue. The Arts House could only be in Stokes Croft. It is a fascinating and fantastic place.

The Arts House, 108a Stokes Croft.

What to do tonight if not watching debate

29 04 2010

Tonight sees the third and final leaders’ debate. Last week the eyes of the UK were on Bristol for the turn of Sky News to host the event. This evening, it’s the BBC hosting in Birmingham, with the theme of the economy. But what happens if you’re fed up of politics by now? Here are a few things to do in Bristol tonight if you’re not going to be watching the election debate:


Alphabeat at Fiddlers. Fresh from supporting Lady Gaga on her arena tour, the best pop sextet ever to come out of Denmark return to Bristol, almost a second home for them, to play songs from their second album, The Beat Is. Band website

Salsa Celtica at The Tunnels. There aren’t many bands about like this Scottish / Cuban collective, who play a vibrant fusion of traditional Scottish and salsa styles. Band website


The Tempest at the Tobacco Factory. Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory has built up a fantastic reputation, and this year returns for its 11th spring season. More details here.

The Shape of Things at the Alma Tavern. One of four plays shown at this great little theatre above a pub, directed by this year’s graduating students from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. More details here.


Iron Man 2 at the Orpheus. A special advance screening of the continued adventures of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark and his metal alter-ego. More details here.


Cineformation + Animation = Inspiration. Taking place at the Watershed, a panel of south west animators discuss some of the films that have influenced their work and inspire them to continue creating. More details here.


Live at Cinema de Lux. With Mark Olver, Nick Revell, Chris Martin and Pippa Evans. More details here.

The Lanes

26 04 2010

A retro bowling alley in a former job centre which doubles up as a bar, club, live music venue, diner and cinema. If that’s not enough, there is also a private karaoke room. Oh, and there’s a backpackers hostel upstairs. It can only be The Lanes, one of the coolest places in Bristol.

The Lanes is as far removed from traditional bowling alleys next to out-of-town cinema multiplexes as it is possible to get, but bowling fans can still enjoy toppling the pins while others enjoy the myriad other opportunities on offer.

One of the best things about The Lanes is its ramshackle charm. On my birthday last year, I came with a group of friends to bowl and one by one, each lane broke, so we were moved on to the next lane and the next, ending up using four out of the five available.

I was also there on the very first night, enjoying both the bowling and the live band, as the downstairs toilets flooded, forcing people to wander through what was then still a building site upstairs.

There were no mishaps this time unfortunately. In fact, my brother and I were the only ones there on a Tuesday afternoon, and the nice girl working even gave us an extra game for free, so I could make it 3-0 to me, not that I’m competitive or anything.

The Lanes is simply lots of fun. They serve great beer – Bitburger, Bernard Pilsner and Meantime London Stout were all on tap and in August there’s going to be a beer festival featuring 50 beers from micro breweries in the US. The whole place has been designed so well – the bar surface is wood from an old bowling alley. There’s a retro clothes shop in one corner. And there’s always something going on from club nights to live music to cinema to live comedy nights.

There’s nothing quite like The Lanes anywhere else. It’s a fantastic place.

The Lanes, 22 Nelson Street. 0117 325 1979.

So what did happen in Bristol yesterday?

23 04 2010

Last night the eyes of the country were on Bristol as the Sky News leaders’ debate was broadcast from the Arnolfini. The building had been encircled by a ring of steel, with all police leave cancelled and the city swarming with officers, some armed, who made six arrests. It didn’t all go smoothly for the police, however, as our roving snapper found one broken down police car behind the Watershed being pushed by three officers.

When I arrived in the centre of town yesterday to see what was going on, the first thing I saw was members of the thuggish English Defence League being escorted across Pero’s Bridge, which had otherwise been closed to anyone without accreditation to the Arnolfini. Prince Street Bridge was also closed, but at precisely 7.30pm, half an hour before the start of the debate, our courageous photographer got a shot of Gordon Brown’s motorcade as it whizzed by and through the police cordon. Five minutes before, David Cameron’s Jaguar had arrived, but we missed this as we couldn’t get our camera to work. You just can’t get the staff these days.

Earlier, an estimated 150 protestors had marched along Narrow Quay to the centre. It wasn’t a protest organised by any one group, but a combination of various causes from anti-war to anti-fascist. Fathers For Justice were also there in their superhero costumes, two of their group being told off by police for being too loud by the BBC News camera position on Anchor Square just up from Bordeaux Quay restaurant.

For those who get excited about events like this, it was very exciting indeed. But I only got three spots – Conservative shadow education minister Michael Gove, BBC political editor Nick Robinson and Times columnist and author Ben Macintyre.

As I cycled up Park Street to watch the debate at a friend’s house, what I had just left behind down the hill was being shown in many of the pubs and bars, a slightly surreal experience. It is unlikely that Bristol will ever see something quite like yesterday again.

UK media descends on Bristol

22 04 2010

Anyone fancy a quiet drink at the Arnolfini tonight? Probably not the best idea. The area has been swarming with police and security staff for the last few days, with police divers in the water and helicopters overhead. Today, the UK’s media has descended on Bristol to prepare for this evening’s second leaders debate, this time organised by Sky News.

The BBC’s camera position is near Bordeaux Quay, across Perro’s Bridge from the Arnolfini; while Sky News are broadcasting from the top floor terrace of At-Bristol with an empty Millennium Square as their background.

The politicians meanwhile were this morning dotted across the city. Gordon Brown visited Brunel Academy in Speedwell, Nick Clegg was out canvassing in Henleaze, and as her husband swats up before tonight’s debate, Samantha Cameron is this afternoon due to be rolling up her sleeves and painting some fences at the Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled in Henbury.

Tonight’s debate is live on Sky News at 8pm. It is also being streamed online on the Sky News website here.

Bristol Culture

4 04 2010

Bristol Culture is a blog that takes a cultural meander around Bristol looking at music, art and film, and spending too long in some of Bristol’s best cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars.

Bristol gigs in March and April

11 03 2010

Okay, I know that we’re already a third of the way through March, but here are some gig highlights of what remains of this month and the month after.

Tonight: Fun Lovin’ Criminals @ Academy

March 13: Eduardo Niebla @ St George’s

March 18: Introducing play DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing @ Metropolis

March 22: Babybird @ Thekla

March 25: Ellie Goulding @ Thekla

March 26: Paloma Faith @ Academy

March 26: The Joy Formidable @ Start The Bus

March 27: Bizali @ Louisiana

April 8: Vashti Bunyan + The Cedar @ St George’s

April 8: Plan B @ Anson Rooms

April 15: James @ Colston Hall

April 16: Robyn Hitchcock @ Fleece

April 18: Liam Frost @ Louisiana

April 21: Laura Marling @ Colston Hall

April 23: Rufus Wainwright @ Colston Hall

April 27: The Lightning Seeds @ St George’s

April 29: Alphabeat @ Anson Rooms

April 29: Salsa Celtica @ The Tunnels

April 30: Ash @ Academy

Ellie Goulding

3 03 2010

**correction** Ellie Goulding is not supporting Passion Pit in Bristol tonight due to other commitments. The Academy say her no-show is down to ‘logistical reasons’ and that she will be supporting Passion Pit on some of their other UK dates. Ellie Goulding is, however, definitely playing a headline show at the Thekla on March 25. More details of that here.

One of the most hotly-tipped acts of 2010 is playing at the Bristol Academy tonight in a support capacity to Passion Pit. The fabulous Ellie Goulding’s debut album Lights was released on Monday. Her star is definitely in the firmament and her support act days will soon be far behind her.

p.s. Save BBC Radio 6 Music.