Nottingham’s music scene continues to amaze!

I suppose there will be some people who have never even heard of The Maze music venue on Mansfield Road in Nottingham. For those of us familiar with it, it seems to have been around forever. In fact its current period of success began in 2007 after surviving a proposal to convert the building into student flats.

Thousands of commuters using Mansfield Road will only see it as The Forest Tavern, an ordinary looking pub at the top of the hill close to the Forest cemetery.

I recall visiting The Forest Tavern some years ago in the later stages of a pub crawl. Ordering a pint of Budweiser for a friend, the chap behind the bar quite rightly pointed out that they served Budvar the Czech beer and not “that American shit”. Whilst he poured my pint of a less well travelled Castle Rock beer, I told my friend that if he wanted to drink ‘American shit’ we would have to go elsewhere.

It is strange how moments like that make you connect to a place. From that moment over 10 years ago, I felt I belonged there; if only for its honesty.

As its website proclaims; “a traditionally British public house integrated with a European style relaxed Bavarian bar”, whatever that means.

Less controversially, it introduces The Maze as having “in recent years become somewhat of a legendary venue” hosting “underground club nights, alternative band nights as well as dabbling in theatre, comedy and poetry”

Anyone stood relaxing at the ‘Bavarian bar’ will get a glimpse of the music venue at the back of the building. In fact there is a vantage point that actually gives a view of the stage itself. During sell out shows this vantage point can change hands for sometimes as much as a pint of Budvar.

This brings me to a recent sold out show on a bitterly cold Thursday night in January.

A friend had invited me to see the main act, House of Thieves. With three bands in support and at £5 in advance, I arrived with The Mocking Jays already playing to a sizeable crowd in the 220 capacity main room. Those that attend gigs will know that even in sold out shows, the support acts do not necessarily have an attentive audience.

But this night had been set up superbly. Good ticket management, all the bands ready to play with minimal changeover time, and the merchandise desk and banners leaving us in no doubt whose gig this was. The event on social media stated “This will be a fantastic night with fantastic support”. They were right.

The Mocking Jays are a youthful 4 piece band that had enough energy and charisma to get people dancing, another rarity for support acts. The Mocking Jays looked the part too.

Next up were Silver Stags, a three piece guitar band plus lead singer. The drummer and two guitarists looked the part even before they had started to perform. Looking more like international stadium rockers, their first number was quite probably, deliberately understated. A clever ploy that allowed the audience to work out the front-man, who it has to be said, had the appearance of someone on a ‘stag do’ who had got up on stage for a bet! An imposing looking chap wearing a plain shirt and jumper and pint in hand, sneering and scowling as he disdainfully delivered his lyrics. This visual mismatch was in fact quality rock and roll with a punk edge.

By now the crowd was close to capacity and even closer to the realisation that this event was in fact an evening of music festival quality.

Turrentine Jones raised the atmosphere another notch with their infectious indie blues. In contrast to the culture clash of the Silver Stags the drummer and pianist sat back and allowed the vocalist and guitarist to take the limelight and produce another charismatic performance behind his retro style microphone.

And so, onto possibly the East Midlands’ next best thing. Turning a venue known for its ‘honesty’ into a House of Thieves. A storming performance from a band that have not been around for long but are getting noticed on the back of their live performances. Each member stamping their authority on stage; but channeling everything into producing the atmosphere for the lead vocalist to implore his audience with what can only be described as a megaphone of a voice!

“Lyrics that cut deep” indeed.

If I ever get chance to see this line up again, whether it be at an Arena venue, I’ll be happy to drink whatever “American shit” is going.


We built this city on Rock and Coal

We built this city, we built this city on rock and coal
Built this city, we built this city on rock and coal

If you’ve never lived here, or visited our place
Make time to marvel, at the city of lace.
Knee deep in the history, England’s Midland Queen.
Too many people have never ever been

Robin was an outlaw, gave to the poor.
Don’t you remember
We built this city, we built this city on rock and coal

We built this city, we built this city on rock and coal
Built this city, we built this city on rock and coal

Someone always shouting, Nottingham’s name.
Whoever hears us, the message is the same
Raleigh Boots, Sillitoe and Hood
All made Nottingham so good.

Robin was an outlaw, he gave to the poor, don’t you remember?
We built this city, we built this city on rock and coal

We built this city, we built this city on rock and coal
Built this city, we built this city on rock and coal

Not just another city, full of tired old streets.
Our culture has taken hold, and now we’ve got the beat

Who counts the slabstones in Old Market Square,
In the city of rebels, we never had a care.
Don’t tell us what to do, we’re out on our own
Looking for lackeys? We’ve got a backbone

(I’m looking out over that Old Market Square
Out on another gorgeous sunny Sunday, just seein’ that Nottingham vibe)

Don’t you remember (‘member)(‘member)

(It’s your favourite radio station, in your favourite radio city
The city by the Trent, the city that rocks, the city that never sleeps)

Robin was an outlaw, he gave to the poor, don’t you remember
We built this city, we built this city on rock and coal

We built this city, we built this city on rock and coal
Built this city, we built this city on rock and coal
Built this city, we built this city on rock and coal
Built this city, we built this city on rock and coal

(We built, we built this city) built this city (We built, we built this city)

A Response to the Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Dawn of the Unread

Artwork by Brick Artwork by Brick

John ‘Brick’ Clark is a political cartoonist who created our second issue: My Long Walk with Slav. He was friends of the artists who were murdered and offers his thoughts on the reactions to the tragic event on 9 January. 

Having met them at French and Irish cartoon festivals, I knew two of the cartoonists assassinated in the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Any encounter with the French cartoonists was invariably a roller coaster of sharp wit and rollicking humour, but I had a particular affinity with them because of my passion for cycling (Le Tour) and rugby, neither of which the Scottish had made much of an impression on at that time, something my French colleagues never failed to rub in.

Front cover of the Independent Front cover of the Independent

I followed the unfolding horror in real time, acutely aware that Cabu and Wolinski knew they were marked men…

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A Dental Practice with a difference – Helping the ‘Fruit Shoot’ generation.

In our lifetime on average, we are registered at three or four dental practices. Rather than using purpose built premises, dentists tend to use converted residential properties on the busier roads around the city. Dental reception areas are uninspiring places that are quietly efficient, but lack personality. This can also apply to dentists themselves. Their end of examination hygiene advice is often spoken with the same lack of personality.
The Plains Dental Practice in Mapperley Nottingham is noticeably different. Not by the building but by the atmosphere and ethos. The reception is busier that most. It services the 7 surgeries in the building and has a friendlier feel to it. On the wall is a presentation that sends out a message.

Oral Health - Hidden Sugars

Oral Health – Hidden Sugars

The practice is one of several under the company Integrated Dental Holdings. The benefits of this are that the company ensures that surgery maintains high standards of hygiene and its staff benefit from up to date training and Continual Professional Development.
The practice manager Trish has only been in post for a few months. Being new to the industry she has been able to bring fresh ideas to the business. Her aspiration is that the practice should also be a community hub.
Trish was born and raised in Nottingham. Living locally and raising a family she feels that her background and experience can develop the practice into something more than the norm. Trish previously worked in Customer Service, then in compliance and auditing at Central College. She recently graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a Business Degree.
Trish is determined to use the practice in a wider context by working together in other aspects of beauty and health.
Last year the practice has launched a facial aesthetics service. Dr Ohla Heslop has joined the team. A qualified dentist with additional training in Aesthetic Medicine and Cosmetic surgery. Using the surgery ensures a safe and professional service in this much sought after area of cosmetic surgery. This is in conjunction with the other businesses in the area, such as The Urban Sanctuary on Westdale Lane.

The other innovation at Plains Dental Practice is promoting oral health. The presentation in reception send out the message ‘Think Before you Drink’.

Aimed at parents and children, this seeks to remind us of the hidden sugars in the drinks that we purchase for our families. Recent generations have not been brought up with a glass of water with their meal or a water fountain to rehydrate at school. They are the ‘Fruit Shoot’ generation and it is causing a serious problem with early tooth decay.

Not content with the dentists advising their patients twice a year and not content with merely a presentation in reception, Trish has arranged to take the message out to schools in the area.

Working with schools at Key Stage 2, the practice will be embarking on a series of presentations to children. Starting at Arnold View School in January 2015, the message will be Oral Health – Hidden Sugars – Healthy Alternatives.

Good luck to the team.

The Dental Surgery with a difference

The Dental Surgery with a difference

Sobar So Good

I am pleased to say that Sobar has really got its act together. The management are more professional and, whilst maintaining its ethos, the customer is put first. The addition of the fake ‘roaring fire’ looks great and adds to the welcome. A great city venue without the booze.


It is now two months since Sobar opened in Nottingham. Our first alcohol free bar is on Friar Lane, between the Old Market Square and Nottingham Castle. The concept is a welcome one and the fact that it is a social enterprise (helping those recovering from alcohol or drug abuse), it will certainly get the goodwill of the Nottingham public.

I had passed the place a few times, and could see that it had been set out with a relaxed feel to it. I had heard that they were using the bar for a wide variety of events. I had formed a team for a recent quiz night but had to postpone at the last minute.

My first visit, therefore, was overdue. Mothering Sunday was fast approaching and Sobar came to the rescue. Having made the reservation, I was convinced it was the right choice. I recall Sunday lunches of…

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