Brian's Café circa March 1985 (left image) © John Howells
and the Jactars performing in Brian's Café, April 1986 (right image)
© the Institute of Popular Music.
Music events involve planning and preparation by musicians, club owners, promoters and managers. These people regularly meet together and they also interact with local designers, record shop owners, journalists and record companies. Cafés provide a perfect place for such formal and informal meetings. They tend to be places used during the day and may seem far removed from the intensity of night-time music scenes, but they have played an important role in the music scenes of many cities.
There is a well-known photograph of the anxious and expectant faces of John, Paul, George and Ringo of the Beatles as they sit in the Punch and Judy café at Liverpool's Lime Street station waiting for their manager Brian Epstein to return from London with news of a record deal. At that time in the 1960s the Kardomah Café was particularly important. It was situated close to the Cavern club and other music venues as well as the NEMS record shop owned by Brian Epstein. It provided a perfect crossroads for musicians and music business people and it continued to play this role up until the late 1970s when the music club Eric's opened nearby. In celebration of the café, the Cherry Boys released the single Kardomah Café in 1983 but this is not the only reference to cafés in the work of Liverpool musicians.
Brian's Café was situated near to the Ministry rehearsal studios in Manchester Street - itself not far from Mathew Street and from Probe Records on Button Street. Brian's was featured in an Echo and the Bunnymen video for Channel 4's 'Play at Home' series, so much did the band like this 'greasy spoon'. Similarly, the song 'Capaldis Café' written by the 1970s avant-garde art-rock band Deaf School is dedicated to another Liverpool café that the band's members used to frequent.
In the late 1980s Café Berlin on Bold Street was an example of a more deliberate attempt to create a café sympathetic to music and musicians - even to the extent of hosting its own gigs by acts as diverse as the Durutti Column and the Bhundu Boys. In turn, Café Berlin has been featured in the artwork of some of the musicians from that period.
The Everyman Bistro has played a central role for Liverpool's bohemian music scenes for over thirty years. The Bistro was a central meeting point for Deaf School and other musicians involved with Liverpool's art and rock music scenes of the mid-1970s. At the same time Liberty Hall took place there on Sunday evenings. This event featured a diverse range of left-wing and anarchist musicians, film-makers and artists and acted as a networking point for political activists. In 1999 an audience at the Everyman watched a film apparently showing £1m being burned by the KLF, an avant-garde pop group whose members, including Bill Drummond, have been involved with the Liverpool music scene since the 1970s.