It is a year since we opened our doors here in Liverpool and what a year it has been!
To celebrate we are offering 20% off in the Star Cafe for all our guests, plus specials performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from our very own BME Band!
Below, we take a look back of some of our highlights since opening the front doors for the very first time...
Looking back, it seems much longer than a year ago since we were all running around making last minute preparations. Like all these things you struggle to see how it is all going to come together in time but somehow it just does and the opening night was definitely a night to remember. The venue was filled with figures from the music world together with our partners, supporters, lenders, and musicians from across the decades.
Highlights? There have just been so many throughout the last 12 months ranging from Radcliffe and Maconie doing their 6 Music show from here on BBC Music Day right through to the weekly visit of young Zander who comes in with his family every week to play guitar in our Gibson Interactive Studio with members of our brilliant crew.
Life here is nothing if not varied. One day hosting the national and international media launch of a programme of events around the Sgt Pepper anniversary and the next turning ourselves into a club for a family friendly acid house night as part of the Light Night celebrations. It was a lovely night with entire families all dancing to classics like Voodoo Ray and Rhythm Is a Mystery and trying to get us to play one more tune when the lights came up at a family friendly 10pm!
We joined in BBC 6 Music’s ‘Wear An Old Band T Shirt to Work Day’ and everyone wore their favourite band T shirt, showing the diversity of musical tastes here! Steve Lamacq, the instigator of this event, even loaned us 30 of his favourite T Shirts to display.
We have had any number of amazing In Conversation events with the likes of producer Steve Levine, photographer Kevin Cummins, and a fascinating night with our founder and Chair Harvey Goldsmith who regaled a captivated audience with stories from his amazing career in the music industry. We also held a very special night with Celeste Bell, daughter of the incredible Poly Styrene, talking about the upcoming release of ‘Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché’, a documentary celebrating Poly’s life and musical influence. We hope to be screening the film early next year!
We have had some great live music here too. Our opening night featured one of Liverpool’s favourite musical sons John Power (The La’s, Cast), and since then we have had the likes of OMD, She Drew The Gun, and most recently a sold out, hugely entertaining night with Pete Wylie ahead of the launch of his new album.
We have some amazing music objects on display at the BME including the fiddle played by the hugely influential folk musician and singer/songwriter Dave Swarbrick, who sadly died in 2016. We had been talking to Dave’s wife Jill and when she was involved in setting up some shows as a tribute to her late husband we both thought it fitting if one of the gigs could take place here at the BME. So, in January this year with Jill in attendance, we were lucky enough to host a wonderful night under the banner of ‘Swarb: It Suits Him Well’ featuring Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Jason Swarbrick and the Jason Wilson Band.
The musicians loved playing in such a special place – it is a stunning venue inside a beautiful and historic building - but what makes it all the more special is being surrounded by all this music history. The feedback we have had from everyone who has played or taken part in an event here has been amazing and they all want to come back to this unique space.
As well as our formal In Conversation sessions and events we have also been lucky enough to be visited by several notable names from the music world. Only couple of weeks ago Mani dropped in with his family together with Andy from Travis. We have had pop royalty in the shape of Noddy Holder, Andy Scott from Sweet, Martin Blunt from The Charlatans, Mike Joyce from The Smiths, and a memorable afternoon when the whole team here were entertained by stories from the remarkable Frieda Kelly and May Pang.
The Gibson Brands Interactive Studio has been an enormous hit with our visitors and one of the joys of the job has been seeing people of all ages picking up an instrument and simply having fun. Most of our crew are really talented musicians and they are incredibly patient with novices and coach them through their first few chords. Or if the visitor comes with a level of skill they will happily sit and jam away with them. Informal jamming sessions amongst the crew eventually led to the creation of the BME House Band who are so good they now they have a following of their own. You can catch them every Saturday and Sunday at in our Star Café and every day during holidays.
It has been wonderful to watch how well our education programme has worked, and to see how our collection can be used to bring the whole curriculum to life from everything from politics and history through to fashion, art and science. And at the end of their visit students get a chance to have a dance, play guitar, drums, and keyboards, or sing a vocal, so you can see why schools love coming here.
We aren’t resting on our laurels and we have some great things coming up. Over the Easter holidays we will have the usual family public programme featuring loads of fun activities, crafts and shows for all the family.
At the end of March we have two great film events in conjunction with the Doc’ N Roll Festival and then on Saturday the 31st March we are really lucky to have a showing of the Here To Be Heard, a film about the story of The Slits, followed by a Q & A with the film’s Director and band member Tessa, all hosted by the BBC’s Elizabeth Alker.
We have also got a number of other great events in spring and summer including a Billy Fury book launch and a special Marc Bolan night with Danielz from T. Rextasy. An old friend of the BME, Dave Haslam is back with a special evening to celebrate the launch of his new book and Dave will be In Conversation with Paul Morley. We are also excited to announce that our friends at Sound City are holding their international music industry conference here in May so that is great news for us. New things are being added all the time so please keep an eye on our website.
It has been a great first year and we are planning to make the next 12 months even better. Looking back one of the most satisfying things about the year has been the feedback we have had from our visitors. They love what we are doing here. They think the collection is stunning, love the interactive elements and the chance to play in the Gibson area, and are full of praise for the team who are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and friendly and make every visitor feel special.
The BME couldn’t continue to exist without the support of a lot of people so in celebrating our first year we want to thank you all – lenders, musicians, partners, and sponsors in particular. You are too many to mention but we genuinely value your support and your help in making BME what it is.