As the opening bars of Free Recovery’s cover of ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ fired up, on Saturday 3rd November, lead singer Jimmy dedicated the song, appropriately, to Guildford’s The Star Inn Manager Georgina Baker.
Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ of course undeniably rocks. No question. It is also one of those rare songs that resonates so strongly with people as, while reflecting the time period and political landscape in which it was written in a gut punching snapshot, it equally remains timeless, far-seeing and defiant; shining a light on the wrongs, and standing up for what is right.
The Star Inn is a historic landmark in Guildford, dating back to the 16th Century. Well known for hosting The Stranglers first ever gig, The Star Inn is Guildford’s longest running live music venue, playing host to a range of musical artists, as well as arts and fringe festivals. Hugely supportive of local bands, and genuinely passionate, this is the go to place for the musical community to support one another and also be given the opportunity to put on their own events. So, why when Free Recovery announced their gig this month were they worried this would be their last at The Star?
In short; this beloved and extremely popular venue is now under serious threat.
When a very different Neil Young, a property developer, applied to convert the building behind the pub from offices into flats The Star Inn stated they raised the obvious issue of having the flats right next to the pub, and overlooking the courtyard of a popular and thriving live music venue. It was clear this would of course be a cause for concern regarding noise. Despite these objections, and logical common sense that building flats next to a music venue is not a good idea, planning permission was still granted in 2013 by the local council and the flats are now ready. Very sadly this pushing ahead with the development has now resulted in a Noise Abatement Notice being issued to The Star after complaints by the developer to the Council regarding noise. Noise they had prior knowledge of.
The Noise Abatement notice is being strongly contested by The Star, as well as by supporters across the country, as it effectively could shut down amplified music at the venue, from 9th December, essentially ceasing The Star being a live music venue. The subsequent effect, not only on the cultural fabric of Guildford, could have additional disastrous consequences for the pub side of The Star too, as the live venue drives a significant amount of their trade, being firmly established and intertwined. Without the live music element The Star Inn as a whole is hugely at risk Guildford’s Star Inn manager ‘shocked’ by noise abatement notice
It is fair to say this is becoming a familiar story with small music venues all over the UK who are fighting similar battles to continue to stay open and keep local culture and heritage alive and well. Tragically many are losing, and these gems of places which help grow, nurture and inspire talent, friendship, community, wellbeing, culture, arts, history, and so much more, are fast disappearing, and we will truly miss them when they are gone. Please help The Star Inn not be one of these.
What the Star Means to Free Recovery
When drawn on the matter about the Star the Free Recovery frontman had the following to say on behalf of the band:
“The Guildford Star Inn is the only true local live venue in Guildford where local bands can, actually, book their own gigs! It has been the spring board for countless bands. If it’s closed it will destroy our local live music scene. It is so hard to book a gig when you’re a new band starting out. If it wasn’t for the Star’s support of homegrown, grassroots local bands, most bands would never get out of the rehearsal rooms, and most local bands worth their salt, owe a great deal to the Star for giving them a leg-up early on.
I know the Star is home to comedy, theatre and other forms or live music too, but in rock circles it is a much needed release for many angsty musicians and alternative types, including myself. Without having a place like the Star for us to vent, I don’t know what we’ll do. Our society needs these kind of places, otherwise, a lot of frustrated people are gonna do what exactly? If we we don’t have a healthy places to rock out & vent…what’s next…what happens to our society then? The closing of the Star’s live music venue for the sake of short-sighted greed, will come at a high cultural cost too. Sadly, the short-shited can’t see that. If this venue closes… what will be next? Before you know it, we’re gonna live in a very sterile Town with little to no culture, with nothing happening and nowhere for emerging performing artists to take their first steps. This will totally destroy our local live music scene & will stifle the artistic talent in our area. I don’t want to live in that kind of town…I dunno… do you? “
How you can help!
Most importantly you can support The Star Inn by signing the petition on change.org. A minute of your time could make a massive difference with over 30,000 signatures already being collected Sign the Petition
Join the public group ‘Save our Star’ on facebook where there are lots of practical and respectful ways to support them, including writing to your local Member of Parliament Save Our Star! and /or follow them on Twitter to support and follow the progress.