Ashton court

A landmark new exhibition from M Shed charts seven stellar decades of Bristol’s music scene

Bristol’s reputation as a city of music is a long and illustrious one. To celebrate this important fact and the city’s pride in its homegrown artists, M Shed is opening a new exhibition entitled Bristol Music: Seven decades of sound. Opening on May 19, the exhibition will take stories told by people all over the city to celebrate and debate Bristol’s idiosyncratic rhythm. 

Is there one definitive ‘Bristol sound’? Are the best days of Bristol music behind us? Where in the city is the heart of musical Bristol? These are just some of the questions the organisers want to address.

Scrolling through the diverse acts that hail from our harbourside city, it’s hard to see how those questions could be answered simply. Artists from Acker Bilk and The Wurzels to Rita Lynch and Banarama. Then there’s the Mercury Prize-winning sensation that is Roni Size, the internationally acclaimed Massive Attack, and more recently the trip-hop pioneers, Portishead.

The city’s rich multicultural make-up has brought the city a huge number of genres which have helped make it a world-exporter of music.

Through the exhibition, there’s a lot of attention paid to the venues that have made Bristol an iconic place to experience, as well as make, music. Who are the performers that got banned from Colston Hall? And did you know Bowie played the Anson Rooms in 1972?

The exhibition is divided into sections. In the Bedroom section, there’s a chance to dress up and taking selfies in vintage clothes. In the Shopping for Music section, discover new bands whilst listening to compilation albums. The Club section takes visitors back in time to momentous nights from five different venues and there’s even a Festivals section with a raucous car karaoke in a graffitied ‘90s hatchback.

There’s memorabilia with costumes that include the first ‘beat’ suit worn by Mike Tobin and old archives of Venue magazine which played a significant role in nurturing and promoting the local arts and entertainments scene.

When: From May 19th
Where: M Shed How much: Free

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