It happened by accident.
I was sat at the bar savouring the golden nectar of a cold pint, while waiting for a friend, when I noticed the barman’s t-shirt. Emblazoned along the top were the words ‘Black Sabbath’. Being a fan of the Heavy Metal progenitors, I struck up conversation. “Cool t-shirt,” I started, “...they’re a great band." He looked up and uttered five words that left me giddy with excitement: “they used to rehearse here.” For a moment all background noise was silenced and all peripheral vision faded as my attention zoned in on this one man and those five words. “They used to rehearse here?” I repeated. “Yeah, yeah,” he said far too nonchalantly, “they rehearsed upstairs.” His eyes flicked upwards whilst wiping the bar. There was only one question for me to ask: “Can I see?”
In the dusty environs of that old function room above The Barton Arms, I reimagined those four hirsute musicians that made up Black Sabbath - loaded with dreams, songs, and ambition – working on songs that would spawn a whole new genre of music. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the history of Heavy Metal here, but what this accidental meeting of metal-heads did was spur me on to explore the city – my home city, no less – with fresh eyes and a renewed appreciation for its scabrous landscape. One thing you quickly discover is that venue owners, record shop staff, music-lovers of every description, are only too willing to share their local knowledge.
But it didn’t start and end with Birmingham. Every city I then had the pleasure of visiting had me traipsing its streets with the sole aim of delving into its musical heritage. Consequently, I built up quite the musical compendium for every city I visited (no Travel Lodge for me when in Liverpool – I’ll be at the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, thank you). So, if you’re moving to a new city to stay in one of our Roosts, and you’re an avid music fan, why not start with the musical origins? To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of cities in which we have Roosts together with some brief introductory notes on their musical heritage:
Glasgow: Outside London, it is the city that is most mentioned in song titles (119 to be precise). Start at the Queen Margaret Union (who have Kurt Cobain's footprint locked in a safe).
Sheffield: Mention Sheffield’s history and talk inevitably turns to steel. But it’s also responsible for synth-pop bursting into the mainstream in the UK. See documentary film Made In Sheffield for archive footage on the city’s old synth-pop haunts and you’ve got your map. Start at the iconic Leadmill venue.
Liverpool: The city’s musical heritage is well-documented through numerous hefty tomes on The Beatles and the Mersey Beat with the Cavern Club being central to its heritage. And then there’s Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane…this list goes on.
Nottingham: Nottingham has such a rich hip-hop history, the University of Nottingham Students’ Union has set up the Hip-Hop Society. But the scene is still thriving as is evident by the Straight Outta Sneinton Festival. Nottingham is also home to influential Metal label ‘Earache’… and a band called Lawnmower Deth. What a mix!
- Gregg Simmons