Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dog and Trumpet - Coventry Music Venue

Pete Clemons with yet another article in the Coventry Telegraph, this time looking at the former Coventry Bier Keller turned New Wave cellar bar pub / music venue The Dog and Trumpet.

There's life in the old Dog, yet.
by Pete Clemons

IT was great news when it was announced early last year that the Dog and Trumpet in Hertford Street, or the Dog as it now known, seems to be getting a new lease of life by way of regular quality gigs and music nights. This unique pub and music venue was a very popular place to go up until twenty years ago.

When I first heard about this news, and the same most likely happened to many other readers, the memories came flooding back of many tremendous evenings in this below ground level bar. Not strictly unique though, I guess, as the Lady Godiva had a downstairs below ground bar area although, as I remember, not as spacious as The Dog.

There was a time there were several pubs existing within Broadgate, the Precinct, and the pedestrianised city centre. Some that immediately spring to mind are the City Arms, The Climax, The Market Tavern, The Thistle, The Black Eagle and The Penny Black. I am sure that there may have been a few more as well but they are now long since gone.

The Bier Keller, as it was, opened in 1972 and carried that name for five years. Initially it was, as the name of the place suggests, German themed. Accordion playing musicians and oom-pah bands dressed in lederhosen would regularly entertain the punters as they drank the German beer that was on offer. The venue also hosted traditional jazz nights.

That all changed in 1977 when the pub became known as The Dog and Trumpet and a more varied live music scene began to take shape at the venue. For those without such long memories: The Dog and Trumpet was named as such because, directly above it, was situated the HMV shop that existed there at the time prior to it moving further down Hertford Street. Of course HMV has since moved on again to its current location in the Precinct.

With the new name came a new genre of live music and, initially, it was folk music that dominated the venue. With punk rock taking hold of the youth at the time this music style seemed to be the polar opposite as to what was happening up and down the country. However, undeterred, regular visitors included the likes of Black Parrott Seaside, Ninepenny Marl and local favourites The Armpit Jug Band.

The end of the 1970s saw the emphasis began to change with regard to live music. The folk bands were still appearing but now also were local bands such as The X-Certs and The Incredible Kidda Band. And this marked the beginning of a glorious period for the venue. For the next fifteen years the venue went on to stage an abundance of top quality gigs The Dog and Trumpet even played host to The Specials and King in their formative days and, under the leadership of Ken Brown, the venue became very much the place to be during Coventry's 1980s music boom as he introduced DJs as well as keeping the live music.

The early 1980s saw popular local bands such as The Ramrods and The Vetoes perform regularly. 1983 then saw the beginning of a club night that still exists today. The Pink Umbrellas, who themselves would play the venue regularly, began a night called The Groovy Garden. From memory, The Groovy Garden began its life on Sundays at the D+T. The club night later moved to the Tic Toc Club during the early 1990s. And until very recently I understand that a Groovy Garden night continued at the Kasbah.

Christmas Eves and New Years Eves were special, in particular New Years Eve, as the crowds flocked out of the Dog & Trumpet as well as other bars, and made their way to Broadgate. The revellers around, and on top of, Lady Godiva's statue must have numbered thousands at times. 

The mid 1980s saw the Dog and Trumpet continue with its incredible success story as visitors to Coventry included the calibre of The Wilco Johnson Band and The Photos but there was still room for the finest of local bands like The Furious Apples, Major 5, Crystal Amees who all appeared at the venue.

1985 even saw the pub selected as a venue for the Coventry Festival. This festival, held for several years, was an early pre-cursor to the ever popular Godiva Festival as we know it today.

As a new decade began brought upon us the 1990s the D+T played host to regular gigs by the ever popular rock 'n' roll revival outfit The Eager Beavers along with their continuing and ongoing policy to support the then current music scene by way of providing a decent stage for the fresh wave of local bands at that time like Kick FC and Eusebio. 

And after two successful years in Leamington the early 1990s also saw the well publicised relocation of the Worldbeat Club from Hinton's Wine Bar to the D+T. The Worldbeat Club, which was quite cutting edge back then, had a fortnightly residency and for a while alternative sounds from around the world could be heard at the venue on Monday evenings.

The Dog has now been refurbished and is up and running again. I am sure that the venue continues to remain in the hearts and minds of many who grew up during the period that encompassed its glory days. And, given the right support, I am also sure that those days will return.

The music being put on at the venue nowadays reflects the current scene with a mix of acoustic acts in midweek and DJs dominating the weekends. But it is fair to say that the place covers most genres and will appeal to many. After many years in the doldrums the city centre deserves a new lease of life.

Is it purely coincidence that since the city centre lost the abundance of pubs and music venues it once boasted the shopping area has also taken a downturn in fortunes? Who knows. But you only need to look at other towns and cities in the region where pubs, theatres and shops mix well together and you get an idea of what might have been. Either way, let's hope that this is the start of things finally being turned around.

Thankfully the revival of The Dog, along with other established pub music venues such as The Shakespeare in Spon Street and The Town Crier, things will hopefully begin to pick things up again and breathe new life into the city centre again.

Some of the bands that played the Dog and Trumpet

Machine / Hot Snacks - Coventry Ska band.

21 Guns


This is a promo for the Leeds Bier Keller to give a flavour of the former Coventry one before the venue changed.

Bad Manners Roger Lomas tells us " Bad Manners played at the Dog & Trumpet to absolutely jam packed audiences on two occasions in 1980. Both times, they were 'warm up' gigs for their first two album promotional tours. Both of Bad Manners first two albums were recorded at Horizon Studios in Coventry.  I produced all four of Bad Manners 'hit' albums. The first two ('Ska'n'B' & 'Loonee Tunes') at Horizon Studios in Coventry, and the second two ('Gosh It's....' and 'Forging Ahead') at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth" 

1 comment:

  1. Great read ! Loved the DT back in early 80s. Makes me emotional thinking about it now.