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Newport’s TJ’s to live forever on celluloid

The heart of Wales's "new Seattle" will be immortalised in film by documentary-maker Nathan Jennings

By Jon Chapple on 03 Feb 2016

TJ's, Newport, 2010

TJ's in 2010, shortly before its closure

image © Pwimageglow/Wikimedia Commons

A Manchester-based filmmaker has announced plans for a documentary about TJ’s in Newport, one of Wales’s most famous independent music venues.

TJ’s became internationally renowned in the early and mid-’90s as the epicentre of the ‘Cool Cymru’ explosion of Welsh post-grunge and indie music (John Peel called it ‘The Legendary TJ’s’) which had led to the town being christened “the new Seattle” by New York Times rock critic Neil Strauss. The venue was named one of the ‘top 50 big nights out’ in the world by FHM, and is supposedly the place that Kurt Cobain proposed to Courtney Love after seeing a Hole gig.

It closed in 2010 after the death of its owner, John Sicolo.

“People just loved playing music and the whole independent, do-it-yourself attitude. That’s why TJ’s lasted so long”

Nathan Jennings, a Newporter living in Manchester, will now immortalise TJ’s on screen. Newport bands Goldie Lookin’ Chain and Feeder are backing the project.

“There was a lot of angst and anger and people wanted to do things differently,” Jennings tells WalesOnline, commenting on TJ’s heyday. “There were a lot of punk musicians, not just in Britain but in Newport and south Wales in general.

“People just loved playing music and the whole independent, do-it-yourself attitude. That’s why TJ’s lasted so long and people travelled from all around the world to go there.

“The only message I want the film to show was that Newport is a great place and everyone has great stories to tell about it.”

Bands who have played the 350-capacity venue include Oasis, Manic Street Preachers, Lostprophets Primal Scream, Green Day and NOFX.

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