Monday, November 10, 2008

Pub Music

I do most of my drinking in the pub like most beer drinkers, though I am yet to graduate to the elevated status of a “ticker” – the very phrase brings to mind twitchers, who on hearing that a Lesser Spotted African Warbling Tit was blown of course and is now pottering around on Rockall think this is a perfectly good reason to hire a boat to find said tit and hang around with implausibly large binoculars. So while I have a collection of beer in both the fridge and in my Little Cellar, I am not much of a home drinker.

Last week Tandleman posted a link to a report by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford entitled “The enduring appeal of the local”, essentially a report about what makes a good pub. Given my plans for a business when Mrs Velkyal and I have decamped across the Pond, the report was rather interesting and is proving very useful in formulating my business plan, naturally having to take into account the differences between an American audience and a British, slight though they may be. The report has stimulated a lot of thinking around the question “what is a good pub?” and thankfully confirmed some of my own plans as being on the right track.

The most interesting thing for me was the difference between genders regarding particular reasons for going to a given pub. Both genders main reason was that it has a “warm welcoming cosy atmosphere”, however for the ladies, the second main reason was that it gave them a sense of being part of a community, thirdly that it was lively. The men on the other hand look for places that serve great beer, and then tie third place with the sense of community, serving great beer and having a great landlord.

One thing that I think about quite a bit is the role music plays in pubs, and the range of options that exist. My own preference in pubs I go to is to have background music, but not at a level where it impedes conversation, although Pivovarský klub has no music at all, this in spite of the fact that they have a decent sound system as well as a piano in the downstairs bar, I have only heard rumour that the piano ever gets played. On the other extreme is Zlatá Hvězda, which quite often has music so loud to just end up staring at your friends.

I am a big fan of the juke box, although few pubs in Prague take the bother to keep them up to date – which is probably just as well for me as I am really so far out of the loop on what is popular these days, one of the joys of living a life without television and only the World Service for radio, part of that is laziness because I can’t be bothered to tune to the radio to a Czech music station and then back again in the evening. I am also a fan of live music in pubs, and would love to have reasonably regular nights with bands in my place, in particular local bands with the occasional semi-famous band with a cult following.

One of the things I want to avoid though is for my musical tastes to become a dictatorship in my pub, unless of course the regulars don’t mind an eclectic mix of The Smiths, Wolfstone, The Chieftains, Nirvana and of course Starflyer 59 – who in my dream world would be the live band on opening night. I am acutely aware that the style of music a pub plays regularly affects the kind of customers that it attracts, thus I wouldn’t play lots of Rammstein, even though I enjoy their music, neither on the other side would I play the overtures to Mozart’s operas.


  1. It depends on the venue and the people running it. It's their gaff, not yours, after all. Personally I avoid playing music at all in my pub most of the time, but there's nothing I find more annoying that people (usually middle-aged!) asking for the music to be turned down when everyone's blowing off steam on a Friday night.

  2. I largely agree with Mr Bell here. Every establishment must do what is best.

    What always annoyed me was people (normally young base ball cap wearing campers) asking for the music to be turned up to deafening level when the conversation was getting interesting.

    So we took out the sound system.

  3. On the volume score I think different settings are appropriate for different times of the day. Over lunch I really don't want to have my ears assaulted, but then on a Friday and Saturday night I would want something a bit louder and livelier - I am thinking here from the perspective of it being my pub. One thing that will never happen in my pub though is having MTV or similar on TV screens (not even sure they will exist in my pub mind) while playing the greatest hits of Sting on the sound system - utterly pointless and yet a very common sight in the Czech Republic.


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