My most rocking live music venues

Live Music Guide (LMG) founder and music enthusiast Mike Smith, one of the Cape Town music scene’s biggest champions, gives the low-down on his career triumph with LMG magazine and his venue preferences.

I started LMG on my return to South Africa after many years abroad. I found it extremely difficult to get any cohesive sense of what was going on in Cape Town with regard to live music. Facebook was in its infancy and information on the internet was sporadic and disconnected. I realised there was a need for something similar to the free street magazines I had picked up in other cities while on my travels. So essentially, it started out as my own personal gig guide!

A couple of the bigger bands – and industry folk – initially viewed LMG with a bit of scepticism. Apparently many magazines had come and gone in previous years and they wanted to see if LMG had any legs before getting too excited. But once they understood how serious we were about putting out quality music journalism, we had their full support.

It’s no secret that I’ve always loved Mercury Live’s ethic of providing stepping stones to any young band trying to “make it”. From their Sixgun Sessions on Monday nights for brand new talent, to the more intimate Wednesday shows downstairs and the main Friday night shows, a band could progress through the ranks if they were good enough.

The Assembly is hands down the best all round venue for a medium to large crowd. Like any entity in the music industry, including magazines and bands, venues have a tough balancing act between running costs, production costs, musician costs and revenues. For The Assembly to have maintained their position and reputation takes immense effort.

Other favourite hangouts are R.O.A.R.  – still the best sound in Cape Town – in Observatory and Blah Blah Bar in Gardens.

We are blessed with great acoustic venues. The Waiting Room rates very highly, but if you also want a meal, then Café Roux and Alma Café are also fantastic. For interesting line-ups that will introduce you to new talent and often leave your jaw on the floor, I really enjoy the weekly Barleycorn Music Club shows at the Villager Rugby Club in Claremont.

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