Lockdown restrictions have been very tough for theatres, cinemas, galleries and music venues. We spoke to Claydon Connor, Co-Founder of Strings in Newport about their experience.
By Megan Stisted
It’s been a tough time for venues up and down the country, how have you been adapting and what do you most miss about live gigs?
Indeed it has, the loss of live music and socialising in general has been really tough on everyone I think. I personally have been trying to keep busy, stay positive and use the time to be productive whilst taking a little time out also, but I’m certainly starting to miss the buzz, watching people enjoying live music certainly gives me a kick. I think we all need that back as soon as possible.
How did Strings come about?
Strings came about through an old friendship. My now business partner Ian had recently left a position and mentioned in passing he was looking for a new project, I said I had always wanted to open a dedicated music venue on the island and somehow we ended up looking at a premises and going for it.
“I think it’s important for a venue to have a certain charm or look which makes people want to go back.”
What’s your other favourite music venues around the UK and do any of them inspire you?
I’ve always liked going to places like the Wedgewood rooms and The Brook, these kinds of venues are really dedicated to promoting live music and you can see the passion and love that goes into keeping them alive. But I also like small venues or something a little quirky, I think it’s important for a venue to have a certain charm or look which makes people want to go back.
What’s been going on inside the venue, with no gigs happening?
Well.. I have spent most of the lockdown rescheduling as much as I can so that ticket holders still have a show to look forward to when this is all over. I’ve also used the time to make some improvements inside the venue, and give it a little love before we welcome people back.
What sets the Island’s music scene apart from the mainland UK?
I think the main thing for the island is the sense of community… whether it be the local bands or the people attending, everyone knows everyone and seeing so many people watching live music together In large groups is really nice. We often sell tickets for shows in the 10’s or 20’s because people see it as a great way to get together and have a top night. We’ve had a lot of named acts visit the venue over the last three years and they all comment on how friendly everyone is and how the crowd are always up for a great show!
Do you have any shows that have been cancelled, rescheduled for the future?
So 90% of the shows that have not been able to go ahead have now been rescheduled for either later in the year or into 2021. It’s difficult because we know as much as anyone else as regards when we can open again, so I’ve just had to do what I can and hope it’s sooner rather than later. It’s actually not been as stressful as I thought I may have been, we had some really big shows lined up including The Blockheads, The Beat and Bez from The Happy Mondays, but all those have now been rescheduled with ease. Everyone has been great and really helpful, which is nice.
Finally, what is the one night a year at Strings that you feel cannot be missed?
Mmm.. there are certainly a few! I think whenever a named act comes to strings it’s always very special, people always say that to have these kinds of acts playing on their doorstep is a real treat. There’s certainly a buzz when Tankus The Henge comes to town. it’s just a sell out every time and a fun night for everyone!
What bands are you most looking forward to seeing after lockdown? Tweet us @ventnorexchange
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