High on a hill in Cornwall, overlooking Plymouth Sound, is the beautiful and popular Maker Heights. This venue is not just a place for people to play music, but an outright community. Every other Tuesday is the Maker open mic night, where local musicians strum and sing together all night long. And then there’s the Maker Sessions during the summer months when the whole place explodes with glitter and music in the Energy Rooms. There’s camping available on site, at maybe one of the best campsites in the country.
The Barrel House, a sweaty room lit up with disco balls above the Totnes Brewing Company, is a place where the floors literally bounce in time with bass and dancing feet. From Guilty Pleasures busting out the 90s classics, Caribbean dub DJs, and acoustic strum sessions, The Barrel House has hosted some great names in music, with Seth Lakeman and De La Soul frequently gracing the stage. Be sure to get tickets in advance, this place sells out fast!
This private beach down a set of steep steps carved out of the cliff is a pretty special place to catch some music. The Sundowner Sessions does exactly what they say on the tin, and throughout the summer you can dance to both up-and-coming musicians, as well as your favourite bands, with the sun sinking into the sea behind you. Newton Faulkner, Razorlight, John Butler Trio, and Feeder have all played on this idyllic beach.
Set to soon reopen after a devastating fire in 2016, The Cavern is a punk and indie institution. As the name would have you think, this club is located in the vaults of Exeter, and is a tiny bolthole which blasts out music, encourages crowd surfing, and has no barrier between the crowd and the bands. Mohawks and studs are almost a uniform here, but there ain’t no venue better than one filled with angsty punk rockers wanting to mosh down the establishment, is there?
Now there’s venues, and then there’s venues. During summer The Eden Project lights up its huge, tropical biomes behind a magnificent stage, where Elton John, Lionel Richie, Blondie, The Stranglers, Bastille, Ellie Goulding, and Blink 182 have all played. Not only does this so-called eighth Wonder of the World turn into a magical venue, but ticket holders get entry to the biomes too.
Stuck out on a limb on Devon’s most southerly peninsula, the Pigs Nose is a weird and wonderful pub which makes a ton of noise and throws a hell of a good party. Things can get a bit wild in these parts of Devon, so be ready to dance all night and throw back beer after beer in the pub’s gig hall, which is festooned in UV decorations, fairy lights, and memorabilia from gigs gone by. The Yardbirds, Boomtown Rats, Wishbone Ash, Ten Pole Tudor, and The Animals have all played in this small but mighty village pub.
You wouldn’t know Studio Bar was there, unless you knew Studio Bar was there. This little bar tucked behind an unassuming door in the backstreets of Penzance is small, loud, full of attitude, and almost always has a band rocking from the tiny stage. You don’t go to Studio Bar because it’s pretty (hessian sacks line the walls), but you do go to Studio Bar to drink good, cheap booze, dance like nobody’s watching, hang out with some interesting fellows, and watch some darn good music.
There’s nothing much better than staying on the beach, drinking a Cornish cider or three, and not having to go anywhere to catch some live tunes. At The Watering Hole you can do just that — the crowd are often dusted with sand, have sea salt curled hair, and go barefoot. You can dance outside on the beach, or join the sweaty hordes inside. Local artists and international heroes all play at the UK’s one and only beach bar.