Intrigued by the quality of their exhibitions and gigs, we head to Bold Street Coffee to get the lowdown…
Ask any discerning Liverpool-dweller about their favourite hang-out, and Bold Street Coffee is bound to come up in the conversation. Voted ‘Liverpool’s Favourite Independent Coffee Shop’ last year by its customers, the small and beautifully formed independent speciality coffee shop is a haven for graphic designers, harpists (shout out to Stan), office guys, footballers and hippies – everyone and anyone who appreciates a good coffee but doesn’t want the chain option. One of the great things about the place is its passion for art, design and music. It’s a much needed social-hub, offering everything from tequila tasting evenings to intimate gigs; it also happens to be well designed, with a minimalist helping of natural materials, British craftsmanship and white space. To top it off, BSC is home to a regular monthly showcase of illustrators and artists from the city and around the world.
Exhibitions are the result of a creative vision forged by BSC’s Russ Longmire. An artist, designer and musician, Longmire was in punk band Cold Ones, now playing in new band Salem Rages, and is a keen skateboarder, designing for Lost Art skate shop and an avid zine-maker. Wirral born and living in Liverpool for 11 years, the coffee-aficionado has managed to combine his love of DIY music and art.
When asked about the shop and the commitment to great artwork, Longmire is proud. “It was all part of the plan. When we opened BSC we wanted it to be a bit different; we didn’t want people to come in here and have it look too familiar, like Starbucks or another mainstream coffee shop. We fully embrace DIY artwork.”
Currently gracing the walls are the grunge-inspired screenprints of designer/illustrator Vitamin C (aka Jamie Morrison), and original paintings by punk-musician Tim Kerr. Vitamin C, based in Newport, Swansea, also operates as a bass player in The Arteries; most of his lovingly drawn work is formed into gig posters and album sleeves. Kerr was guitarist in pioneering Texan hardcore punk outfit The Big Boys, after that playing with numerous bands and developing a side-line in drawing and painting.
The exhibition was previewed with performances by Kerr, Pine Hill Haints and Serious Sam Barrett. Dripping pen and paint depict folk and blues musicians, like Jimmy Collier, Jackie Daly and Margaret Barry; movers and shakers from the US/Irish folk movement influencing modern day Americana. Kerr loved BSC so much he is currently drawing them a special artwork to be printed on tshirts.
Wander further into the shop and the back wall is covered in black and white photography; look closer and the people featured are all loyal customers. “Café Nero have those huge B&W prints of ideal couples in Italy. Then they come in here and we’ve got ours, but like an ode to our customers. A customer (and photographer) called Mark Leigh, he put these up to celebrate a year of us being open. Stan (featured local harpist) is part of the family, he plays in here every Wednesday. We are planning to get the second series up to celebrate our second birthday … a lot’s happened since the first set were taken!”
Why is BSC so special? “I think it has a strong feel of independence … there’s something going on in here. You wouldn’t get this in Liverpool One. Just from the outside looking in, we are the only shop on Bold Street with a hand-painted sign. All the staff here have had shit jobs in the past, have worked for big companies and felt like a little ant. Everybody here has their own role to play; I do the art stuff, someone’s a coffee specialist, another a tea specialist … we feel like we contribute to something. It’s cozy and it has a good vibe.”
More good vibes come on Thursday, when Down and Outs release their third album, Forgotten Streets, with Russ unveiling his latest issue of SKETCHSTANCE zine. Russ and the gang are always on the lookout for artists to submit ideas for exhibition. There’s only one request: “It helps if you’re a customer!”
Fancy an exhibition at Bold Street Coffee? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org