It’s time for The Cellars to take the final bow

A group of musicians outside The Cellars
A group of musicians outside The Cellars
The Southsea Alternative Choir  Picture: Paul Windsor

REVIEW: The Southsea Alternative Choir The Southsea Cafe

  • The final gig takes place at The Cellars at Eastney on Sunday
  • Local heroes Kassassin Street will headline the already sold out show
  • Musicians tell of their sadness at its closure
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LOCAL performers have been paying tribute to a music venue that will close its doors for the final time this weekend.

The Cellars at Eastney will put on its final gig on Sunday night after its manager Steve Pitt announced in April that it would be closing for financial reasons.

High-flying psych-rockers Kassassin Street will have the honour of being the last band on stage on Sunday.

Frontman Rowan Bastable said: ‘The Cellars has been an institution for young bands in Portsmouth. For us, it was the first venue in town that we could really call our own for an evening.

‘We would sell tickets and take away a little money to pile back into the expensive areas of band development like rehearsing and recording.

‘Steve and his team have gone above and beyond to support local talent over the years and they leave behind a huge hole in the local scene that I fear, for young musicians especially, isn’t going to be filled.’

Steve and his team have gone above and beyond to support local talent over the years and they leave behind a huge hole in the local scene that I fear, for young musicians especially, isn’t going to be filled

Rowan Bastable, Kassassin Street frontman

Jim Lines, singer with Southsea Alternative Choir, thanked Steve and said: ‘The Cellars has been a good friend to us, helping the band raise thousands of pounds for charity each Christmas.

‘Two qualities stand out for me: firstly, the superb sound, which always makes performers feel so much more confident while performing; secondly, the manner in which Steve Pitt treats artists with such respect and consideration – he’s the most hospitable promoter I’ve ever known.’

Edward Perry of The Boy I Used to Be said: ‘Steve Pitt gave me my first chance to play on its stage when I was 16, just as I was learning what music I wanted to make and how to write songs.

‘We’ve watched friends grow on its stage and sell it out, like Kassassin Street, and when we got to headline ourselves it was a huge deal for us. There are many lessons to be learned from this, but to start, people should make the effort to go to gigs and invest their own money and time in Portsmouth music.’

Thom Dalmut-Rudd of noise-rock duo Rickyfitts said: ‘I remember being allowed to play at The Cellars before I had a clue of what I was doing – when all any of us were able to do was hope that the music we were making wasn’t just noise. They let us do it anyway, so we did it again and again.

‘It’s where I made a great deal of friends, just as many memories and maybe even learnt a thing or two.’

A handful of tickets remain for tonight’s gig, Mark Morriss and Friends, and tomorrow’s Beats & Swing’s The Last Dance. Sunday is sold out. Call (023) 9282 6249.