“Why I Love The Old Duke Bristol” Eddie ConfessesPosted by eddiemartinblues on October 17, 2018 Uncategorized | | No comments
I have been playing every Sunday at The Old Duke in Bristol since about 1995. For about 15 years I’ve also been hosting the players night on Tuesday nights, giving a stage to anyone turning up with a song, a poem or a piece of music to perform.
It’s weird but I do think that some places bring out the best in people. I don’t know if that makes me an architectural determinist but there is something in the bricks and mortar of this pub, dating back to 1780, that makes it a very special meeting place and music venue.
It’s a place which is all about friends and music-loving. Even if you don’t go there with your friends you will feel like you are amongst friends pretty quickly.
I’ve played music clubs all over the world – 34 countries to be exact – and the closest thing “The Old Duke” reminds me of is Bourbon St, New Orleans or maybe Beale Street Memphis on a Saturday night. These are places with a lot of music history-as does the Duke which has kept live music going every night for decades, bringing in bands from all over the world – and an ability to level people, stripping away masks and formality so that they just get on, all around the hearth of loving good live music.
It’s a city centre pub without bouncers so straight away you don’t have that distancing vibe of authority and muscle when you go in. What you get instantly is good music (with styles depending on the choices of the bar staff on duty) on a good sound system, a lovely old-fashioned bar selling real ales lagers and ciders, and very friendly, informal and welcoming bar staff. There is also a stage right there so if you’ve walked in while music isn’t being performed you’ll feel the slight thrill of suspense that something exciting is going to happen soon.
The gaffer Stu (in the red bandana on Pirate fancy Dress Night above) has the, sadly, rare attitude amongst pub landlords who normally want to stamp their personality all over a new job, that he must n’t make big changes to The Duke. He saw it and continues to see it less a pub than a kind of living thing in his charge rather than a means of making money or contributing to corporate profits. He, rather than some impersonal agent or promotions manager with a corporate line to follow, personally listens to cds and sifts through hundreds to book really good acts.
So its Blues and Jazz, Americana, and Roots Acts that play live every night of the week, and every lunchtime at weekends. The sound is great. The vibe is always exciting and inclusive. No matter who you are; old, young, from whatever country in the world, on your own or with friends, you will have a great evening if you are open to it.
This is my monthly roster – every Tuesday is Players night – all performers welcome – and I’m happy to jam with you.
I love it every week and have done for over 20 years.
Come and experience it for yourself in King St, Bristol.
There is a reason it has become a bit of a legend.
1st Sunday Blues Rock with my Trio
2nd Sunday Vintage Blues Sounds with my band The 58s
3rd Sunday Blues Rock with the Eddie Martin Band again
4th or last Sunday Acoustic Blues with my One Man Band