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13 November 2014

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You are in: Guernsey > Places > Places Features > Fermain Tavern

Fermain Tavern

Fermain Tavern

Whether it was Dirty Dick's or the Fermain Tavern, this out of town pub has had a long standing association with Guernsey's local music scene.

The Fermain Tavern has a long association with music in Guernsey, since at least the 1970s bands from Guernsey, Jersey and beyond have graced its stage.

However, the period that was credited as the venue's heyday was the 1980s when Jerry Root was in charge with Arthur Pugh and Alfie Barton both helping out with the music.

Inside the Fermain Tavern

The Tavern packed for Nemesis in 2007

While some, including the current Chairman of the Board at the Tavern, Chris Staples, have described Jerry's time at the pub as mythical or legendary, Jerry is quick to play this down saying they were "just in the right place at the right time" and it was "the locals that made it hum".

Despite Jerry's modesty it is undeniable that some very memorable events did take place at the Tavern during the 1980s.

Probably the most notable of these was a performance by Elton John organised through Elton's rehab counsellor Beachy that drew one of the biggest crowds the pub had ever seen.

As well as the former Reg Dwight, the Tavern played host to Paul Young and his band several times during the 1980s with local musicians often joining them for performances.

It was Paul Young's engineer Alfie Barton, who in Jerry's words "became a local", that helped bring in even more acts thanks to his contacts and organised performances by Dr Feelgood, Snowy White and Steve Marriot.

It was not just bigger name visiting acts who played the Fermain during this era though as local bands like The Risk, King Rat & The Soul Cats and the Tavern's own house band (featuring the likes of Alan Palzeaird and Colin Hewlett) also made their mark on the venue.

As well as music the pub at the time featured regular sports and games with teams competing in shove ha'penny, darts and football. Arthur Pugh also instigated a regular "University Challenge style" quiz which once drew 80 teams!

Tora Bora on stage at Fermain

Tora Bora on stage at Fermain

Jerry said, "they often had trouble with numbers" and that the busiest he remembers was one Christmas Eve when he thinks there were 1000 people both in the Tavern and out in the car park!

He described his time at the Tavern as "far out" and said his fondest memory was following a performance by Steve Marriott (of the Small Faces and Humble Pie) Jerry had the chance to talk to him about bands Marriott had played with including guitar legend Carlos Santana.

"A lot of the contact also came from locals who loved live music," Jerry said. "We were just the place that put it on". This is an ethos which can also been seen in the venues current management as Chris Staples has similar thoughts about how the Tavern operates in 2009.

The future

Chris said that "the help of others is paramount" with his plans for the venue's future which include bringing back many of the big names (both local and visitors) who played the Tavern in the past.

Chris got into the music through photographing gigs around the island and through doing that discovered the history of the Tavern which he described as "overwhelming".

In 2008 the lounge bar, where the bands play, was decorated with photos by Mark Windsor detailing many of the people who played the venue in the past and Chris said this is "kindling for the fire" inspiring himself and others to make the venue "the scene for local music" like it was in the past.

Fermain Tavern sign

The sign outside the Tavern

Putting a lot of its attraction to newer acts down to "the history" the venue now also has another side as when not in use for gigs it has become a rehearsal space for several bands so as well as providing somewhere to play the Tavern is also able to help develop new talent.

Memories

Singer Gary Murchie has fond memories of the Fermain Tavern from the mid 1980s when he played with various bands including Vengeance, Splat and Away & Beyond and he said all but one band he has been in over the years has played at the Tavern.

His fondest memory of the place came when Away & Beyond held an album launch show there which was attended by Paul Young and his keyboard player which led to the band being asked up on stage the following week to play with Paul Young's band which Gary said "carried a certain kudos".

Another band who have played the Tavern many times is Nemesis who first played there in the early 1990s and have played the venue between 25 and 30 times over the years.

Singer Danny Joyce described it as "the place to be" in the early 1990s as it drew huge crowds with guitarist Zack Mousetrappe adding it was one of the only places you could "put on an event" rather than just a pub gig.

Have you got any old photos of the Fermain Tavern we could use? Send them to guernsey@bbc.co.uk

last updated: 23/02/2009 at 13:23
created: 23/02/2009

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Paul Bayliss
Apparently Eddie and the Hot Rods are confirmed for September. I'm looking for accommodation. Any ideas welcome. A+ Paul

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