A raft of Welsh musicians have come out in support of the Save Womanby Street campaign, which got more urgent last week with the closure of the Full Moon venue. We have collated a selection of these short love letters to a street that has housed some of the most crucial venues in the city and is the beating heart of the Cardiff music scene.
“The staggering shortsightedness of Cardiff Council and their planning department in not recognising the value of Womanby Street and Cardiff`s music scene to the city is a gigantic own goal. If their actions are based on ignorance then they are negligent. If their actions are financially motivated then that is just vile.”
“We first met and bonded in Dempseys, Cardiff. Our first gig was in The Full Moon, Cardiff, our first industry showcase was in The Moon Club, Cardiff. These clubs are now all closed. It is seriously scary to see Cardiff’s live music venues closing down and our culture and way of life being eroded away. We are privileged enough to currently be on a month long tour visiting awesome venues across the country just like the ones Cardiff has now lost, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Cardiff live music scene and the clubs and awesome people that work there to support bands like ours. Please sign this petition. DIOLCH! I’R GAD!! Xx
“Womanby street has been a huge part of my life, whether it’s playing shows, watching life-changing gigs or meeting new friends for life. What’s happened already is deeply troubling – to lose the cultural dimension of Womanby street would be criminal.”
“Way back in June 2012, we played our first Cardiff show at The Full Moon. Yesterday’s news of its closure, followed by the loss of Dempseys and The Moon over the past couple of months, is yet another blow for the South Wales music scene. Bands like us need venues like this.
If you haven’t already, get behind the Save Womanby Street campaign.”
Michael Simmons, Conformist
“My musical education was born from seeing bands and artists play live in venues on Womanby Street. It inspired myself and others to get involved in creating music. Womanby Streets cultural contribution is massive, not just to Cardiff but to the Welsh and UK scenes and as such we need to fight vigorously to maintain live music venues on Womanby Street.”
“It’s an interesting time to be in a band in Cardiff at the moment. On the one hand you have the ongoing threat to the live music scene particularly on Womanby Street, most recently marked by the closure of The Full Moon. However, on the other hand, it has been quite reassuring to see how the music community both in Cardiff and beyond has rallied together to try and protect the scene, most notably through the #savewomanbystreet campaign – it shows that we are a strong and passionate community. We need to keep up the pressure and support the music venues we have left by going to shows and drinking their bars dry!”
“The Full Moon has been a huge part of our lives as Rainbow Maniac. The majority of our shows were at The Full Moon for the past 3-4 years, and we definitely wouldn’t be where we are right now without those shows. The Full Moon was actually where we met our amazing band manager, Ray Thomas! On behalf of Cardiff, we can’t thank The Full Moon enough for all of the amazing opportunities, the incredible live acts from all over, insanely rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere and some of the most memorable shows that Cardiff will never forget. Womanby Street needs us all more than ever, and so we will do whatever we can to fight this fight! #savewomanbystreet Rainbow Maniac”
“Without Womanby Street it’s safe to say our band would not have developed to what we are today. Playing gigs, going out and working on Womanby means we are part of a vibrant, creative and fundamentally Welsh community. We must not compromise our cultural mothership for the sake of a bargain basement hotel!”
“I am an American who moved to Cardiff about a year and a half ago. One of the main reasons I wanted to move here is because of the incredible music scene that exists here. When I was a kid in school, I was taught about this place called Wales, which was basically just the poor, hillbilly part of England. Through hearing bands like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals, who had something going on musically that didn’t exist in music coming from anywhere else and oftentimes sang in Welsh, I learned that Wales is a beautiful country with its own culture, identity, and language.
And I’m not the only one. Among those of us who were tuned into what was going on in the world of music, Wales seemed like it must be a really special place. While England was pumping out dross like (What’s The Story) Morning Glory and Parklife, Wales was producing masterpieces like Radiator and Barafundle. And people were paying attention. Fast forward to today and Cate Le Bon is well-loved in the U.S., with H. Hawkline, Gwenno and Meilyr Jones beginning to make some big waves. There are a bajillion great bands and artists. I haven’t mentioned and I don’t mean to slight them; I’m just speaking from an American perspective and in terms of who has had a musical impact in the States and what these bands have done to change the notion that Wales is just the red-headed stepchild of England. And none of these artists I’ve mentioned would have gotten to that point without having had the opportunity to slog it out in small music venues.
Speaking from experience, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of merely being in a band, but it’s not until you do that in front of an audience that you see where you’re lacking and where you need to improve. And you can’t do that if there aren’t places that are happy to host a nobody, just-getting-started band. Please allow me to tell a bit of my story. I moved to Lawrence, Kansas in 1991 right after I graduated high school. At that time, the music scene in that town was absolutely thriving. There were bands of every shape, size and sound and many of them were good enough to play on any national stage you wished to put them on – because there were, if I’m remembering correctly, 7 small-to-midsize venues that hosted bands every night of the week.
In addition to that, the noise ordinance laws were considerably more relaxed than they are now and it was rare to walk down one of the main streets on Friday or Saturday night and not hear bands playing at house parties. The first band I was in Lawrence, Slackjaw, was a ramshackle group of people who could barely play their instruments and couldn’t decide which iteration of Black Flag it wanted to be when I joined. But we were allowed to play live more or less as often as we wanted to and, within a year or so, we had become a really tight, powerful band. The music we made was terrible and I hope to never have to hear a note of any of it for the rest of my life, but we were good at it. Again, it’s because we could play in front of people and see what worked and what didn’t. And we formed friendships and bonds with other bands and musicians.
In fact, many of my dearest friends to this day are musicians from other bands that I met back in my development stage. Cardiff is no different. Did Cate Le Bon emerge from the womb with her amazing stage presence and ability to hypnotize an audience and have them eat out of the palm of her hand? No. Playing in front of an audience is nerve wracking and you have to do it a number of times before you feel comfortable doing it. And it’s not until you feel comfortable doing it that you can begin to really work within it and become yourself on stage. And you can’t do that if there aren’t places willing to let you cut your teeth. And if there aren’t a large selection of venues, it becomes very competitive and many people will never get a chance to play in public enough times to truly develop their own unique thing.”
Follow the campaign here: https://www.facebook.com/Save-Womanby-Street-200471403769378/