Flew The Arrow by Ruari Barber-Fleming
Photo credit: Ruari Barber-Fleming

STS’s Highlights of 2018 – #4: The Music Venues

Stoney Broke at the Theatre Royal

Stoney Broke at the Theatre Royal – Photo: Small Town Sounds

East to west, Dumfries and Galloway spans an impressive 90 miles. And dotted throughout are loads of very different live music venues.

One of our highlights of this year was the use of new and unique settings for live music. Why? Because it has shown a ton of innovation and undoubtedly, a fair bit of risk for the organisers. It’s also made live music even more accessible – not everyone’s idea of fun is standing in a noisy pub, after all.

Small and atmospheric

The Enigma Sessions were a great example of this. The organisers wanted to put on gigs that were outside of Dumfries for the benefit of the many people who don’t live the D&G’s largest town. They also wanted to use locations not normally associated with live music. So they held their first at a brewery, and the next in a bakery, both in Castle Douglas. These were small, atmospheric venues, and that was the whole point. They have more events in the pipeline for 2019 too.

2018 also saw the refurbished Theatre Royal in Dumfries put to good use for local live music. It was great to see it being used once again for October’s Chasin’ The Train/The Dogz/Stoney Broke gig. As Scotland’s oldest working theatre, it’s fantastic to see it being used for local musicians too.

The Lutras at The Stove

The Lutras at The Stove – Photo by Martin Burn

Elsewhere, successful gigs have been held at The Usual Place in Dumfries (a community cafe social enterprise in a converted church building) as well as The Stove Network in Dumfries (a cafe/community space), CatStrand (an arts & community centre in New Galloway who, admirably, put on free bus transport to get local people to one of their gigs), numerous village halls, and even in a trailer at Thornhill’s Christmas light switch on!

Pubs and clubs

But without the traditional pubs and clubs, we wouldn’t have even half as many gigs to choose from every weekend.

The likes of The Venue in Dumfries provides an amazing space for bands to play and is well-known for that up and down the country (tip of the cap to Simon from The Venue who works tirelessly to make it such a success). The Lantern is a new addition to the Dumfries music scene and puts on live music every weekend, and it was great to see live music-supporters the Pleuchies Howff outside the town reopen again. The Coach and Horses in Dumfries is another great gig venue, especially as it not only hosts popular Friday and Saturday night band slots, but also Sunday afternoons and folk sessions through the week.

The Craigdarroch Hotel in Moniaive takes a bit of beating when it comes to their gig line ups outside of Dumfries, and the likes of The Pub in Stranraer, the Farmers Arms in Thornhill, and The Royal Bar in Lockerbie ensure that live music is everywhere.

We know we haven’t managed to mention loads of worthy venues and we’re sure you’ll have your own personal favourites. But this year, we think, really did see people getting out and experiencing local live music for the first time. And hopefully what they saw encouraged them to go out and experience it all again in 2019.

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