Friday night visit to Dukes Bar in central Bristol. I arrived for a visit with my friends Simon and Gaynor, and Simon and I pop out to see what’s happening locally. There’s a jazz band on every night at Dukes and has been for years, and it seems like the bar hasn’t changed much over time. I guess when you’re on to a good thing you stick with it. The band was very adept at engaging with everyone in the place, and although we only stayed a little while it was a great way to pass an hour or so.
Bristol reminds me a lot of Edinburgh, but probably in that nostalgic way that we remember things not quite as they really are or were. Certainly driving in and out of the main center up and down the hills, with Simon telling me a bit about the old haunts and escapades from younger days I couldn’t help but reminisce a little about the bars and pubs of Edinburgh, although it was hard for me to find an exact match for Dukes. When we wuz kids I don’t remember heading out to anywhere that played jazz, if we went anywhere that there was a band on it was more likely the latest tryhards at one of the many student unions. Although I can recall seeing a pre-fame performance by The Proclaimers in a pub at the top of Victoria Street – can’t remember the name though.
There’s a lot of that time in my life that seems fuzzy at best – perhaps that’s age, or the amount of alcohol we tended to drink, or just that most of the time nothing very memorable happened. But it’s funny that little things do stick, like the first time dancing to The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays – or buying ‘proper pizza’ and taking it up to the folly on Calton Hill and waiting for the sun to rise.
Last year this blog was based a lot around the Q magazine ‘Best 250’. I liked the idea that the Q lifetime covered the period of my adult life and that maybe checking out the albums would spark stories and memories from my life that I’d forgotten. It’s a lovely feeling when a long-lost memory suddenly appears (well almost always – some are not quite so welcome). Music seems to have that power to link us to our past and help us connect with the present. It can be a very personal experience but also something to share with hundreds of other people. I’m really glad that places like Dukes exist – where a memorable night out is about more than how much we can drink to help us forget.