This is one of my favourite places in Edinburgh. It has recently had a makeover and it is now a really nice space! In its previous incarnation, even famous souse Charles Bukowski wouldn’t have drank in there. Maybe that’s unfair? Ok, hey! Bukowski would have loved it in there! If you know this great man’s writing the compliment loses its sheen. This was a difficult venue to honestly plug even six months ago.
But, if you wanted to see live music, 3 bands for a fiver, this was the place to come. If you wanted to bring a lady-friend on a first date you’d go somewhere, anywhere else. The walls! Covered in old gig posters and drawings =some of penises- on A4 paper. Someone put these up and no-one took them down. Were they meant to be there? I was afraid to ask. Maybe they were for sale?
Look folks, I’m not a toilet inspector but I need to share this too. The gent’s urinals had foam pads above them at head height. Cleverly designed so you could lean forward and rest your head against the wall in comfort while you took a piss in between watching the live bands and drinking the pints. Punters liked the headrests so much, they picked the foam padding out of the middle of them to take home as a freaky souvenir. Also, if you were happy to stand up straight there was plenty to read and many more artistic schoolboy interpretations of teenage kicks.
What was surprising was that the bar would fill up. Not with Barflies and ageing defiant alcoholic writers with tales of ordinary madness.* No sir, these were young music making types. Young record label types and healthy looking youngsters with rosy cheeks. If they had a uniting factor, I’d guess it was either that they all liked to stand up and pee in comfort while resting their heads on the wall as an odd Yoko Ono-ish artistic statement or that simply, live music plays an important part in their lives.
They came for the tunes, for the bands that come down to the Cellar Bar to kick out their tasty jams and spread them on our loaves and hope that the fruity chunks will get into our open and receptive lugs so that we’ll go on to spread the word to our muso friends or sign them to our tiny label, stock them in our tiny shop, or buy them a full sized pint. Happy too, if you just buy a T-shirt and clap your leg politely between songs.
So I’m really pleased that they’ve tidied the place up a bit. No more headrests, the copious penises have gone, it has had a decent coat of paint and frankly it’s looking like a tidy wee venue.
The live music nights are really great. The place really punches above its weight and there is always good cheer and enthusiasm from the 2 organisers I know, Nora and Claire. As a tiny shop ourselves this has not a little resonance. So when they asked if we’d like to get involved with a bit of cross promotion between Henry’s and VoxBox we said great! Count us in. Edinburgh is a relatively small city and it makes sense to make friends with like-minded music people.
VoxBox vouchers can be had for free from Henry’s from time to time to spend in our shop. http://www.henryscellarbar.com/ and www.facebook.com/Henryscellarbar
I was last there for the Song, by Toad ‘Bad Fun’ event and to check out Magic Eye who are doing a short set for us for Record Shop Day on 20th April. The live performance was tip top and would say that their Bandcamp songs available are good but don’t do them justice. A really floaty gentle acid house ethereal experience and a good looking band. I’m a convert and look forward to hearing their Record Shop Day record. We’ll be selling their songs as part of the beer vs records experiment.
Henry’s is small for sure but it is a serious venue and as a such it is the first step on the ladder. Every band formed in or coming through Edinburgh must play here. The line-up is eclectic and if you are willing to do some research on the bands that are playing, or are happy just take a punt and see whatever talent is on our doorstep, then an evening at Henry’s to see 3 bands for a fiver is certainly worth a punt and perhaps better value than paying for the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury. (Having said that, I would really like to see the Rolling Stones this year) Although it appears that the Stones won’t play Henry’s any time soon, to find their successors in their youthful prime, you will have to look for them somewhere like here, in a very fine basement venue hidden in the middle of Edinburgh.
*”I have met free men in the strangest of places and at ALL ages – as janitors, car thieves, car washers, and some free women too… the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”