Organisers of a major new festival to be launched in Cardiff next month hope it will put the city on the musical map.
The multi-venue Hub Festival will take place over the August bank holiday weekend and act as a grand showcase for local musicians.
The line-up will see 150 acts playing nine stages over three days at venues in the Castle Quarter – the area centred around Womanby Street in the city centre.
Organisers say they believe the festival has the potential to raise Cardiff’s cultural profile and demonstrate the huge diversity of the city’s music scene.
Musicians playing a myriad of styles from rock, reggae, folk, blues and funk to hip hop, jazz, disco and metal will play at venues such as Clwb Ifor Bach, Dempseys, The City Arms, Fuel, The Moon Club, The Full Moon and CFQ.
“The plan is to put everything in one place at one time to show just how exciting music in Cardiff is at the minute,” says Steve Bines, director of Full Moon Bar and The Moon Club, one of the organisers of the Hub Festival. “I haven’t seen the scene this good in 30 years.”
Despite the announcement on Tuesday of the closure of Beatbox Bars’ Fire Island on the corner of Womanby Street and doubts cast over the future of sister bars 10 Feet Tall and Buffalo Bar, which also double as live music venues, Steve is adamant that the scene is in rude health.
“We’ve got lots of quality venues and quality bands. Our vision is that if we stage a festival and we get everybody involved promoters, labels, retailers – anybody involved in music and put them all in the one place then we’ve got something that can be recognised nationally.
“What we want to get out there is that everyone is welcome and everyone is invited to take part.
“A while back one of the things that caused the scene to stagnate was infighting and you just don’t see that. Nowadays there’s a real sense of community.”
No acts have yet been named but Steve says they will ‘consist of 99.9% local musicians’.
“Basically it will be a shop window for what we all do. Some promoters promote national acts bringing those acts into the city, so if they want to show off their wares then that’s what they have to do. So there will be some acts from outside the area because the promoter is putting them on, but the vast majority will be based locally local – which means acts from Caridff and the surrounding areas.”
Swn Festival has become a hugely successful multi-venue event in Cardiff – bring local, national and international acts to the city in October, however Steve sees Hub Festival as complementing what Swn do, rather than acting as competition.
“Swn has worked so well and the one thing we’ll never do is try and compete with anything like that, we’ll always want to complement.
“The one thing with Swn if you speak to (Swn Festival founders) Huw (Stephens) and John (Rostron) is they’re quiet clear that the festival is built around their musical tastes. It’s what they love and everybody should stick to what they love without question. So they’ve built a festival which has a very distinct flavour musically. Now what that also does, of course, means a lot of other styles of music are not included because it’s not within their tastes. What we’re trying to do is to show what else is out there.
“If you ask people what music they like they tend not to choose one style of music they tend to say ‘we like a bit of everything’. The great thing that we have in the city is such massive eclecticism, we have such a broad pallet of music in Cardiff.
“You can go out on any night of the week and you can find almost any style of music. In fact you can go out in Womanby Street and go into Four Bars (upstairs at Dempseys) and see a jazz band or a blues band, you can walk down to Fuel and see a full on death metal band, you can go upstairs in The Moon Club and see a hip hop act, you can go downstairs in the Full Moon and see a reggae act, you can cross to Clwb Ifor Bach and see a national touring indie band, or go downstairs and check out an electro act. The best thing about the Cardiff audience is because of that they are very open and love all sorts of music. People are very open-minded in their musical tastes.
“So that’s what we’re trying to convey with the Hub Festival – that you can find all these styles of music of extremely high quality on any given night, so we want to put it all in one place at one time.”
Steve not only sees the festival, which has been launched with the support of Cardiff Council, as putting the city on the map but transforming the Castle Quarter into a must see destination for those visitors looking for an alternative to chain pubs.
“Look at any of the cities naturally that have a really vibrant music scene, they’ve all got their own dedicated area. Whether you’re talking about the Northern Quarter in Manchester, Stokes Croft in Bristol or Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.
“If you visit those cities and you say to somebody ‘where do I go tonight,’ they don’t say ‘this venue or that venue’, they say ‘go to the Northern Quarter or head down to Stokes Croft or go over to Sauchiehall Street.
“The one thing we’re beginning to see now is that Womanby Street and the Castle Quarter is increasingly becoming Cardiff’s version of this. Visitors to the city, who like a bit of music and arts and culture – and who also prefer independent bars to the chain bars, will now head over to Womanby Street.”
Mr Bines adds that the festival is set up as a not-for-profit organisation, so if it does make any money it will stay within the event and be used for the next year.
“Hopefully, we can expand it even further next year, although 150 acts playing nine stages over three days is pretty big anyway isn’t it!”
The Hub Festival is held over three days, August 23-25 in the Cardiff Castle Quarter. Tickets are priced £10 for a day, £15 for a weekend ticket. Find out more at www.facebook.com/HubFestivalCardiff