Changes in the Kitchen

Our team here at Riga never like to rest on our laurels…

We made some real progress last year with our kitchen team, expanding the variety of food that we offer as well as introducing a couple of weekly events that have helped change the perception of how locals see our little business.

Where once Riga Music Bar was seen as the place to get simply grab a pint and watch some music, we’ve now forged a new identity that places us squarely in competition with local restaurants and other food oriented bars.

One of the real success stories of last year was our collaboration with local Indian restaurant, The Raj. Although we’re technically speaking in competition with these lads from across the road, we so often found ourselves enjoying each others’ wares that it seemed silly to be keep up this air of competitiveness. After bonding over a few pints and a curry we decided to try something unconventional. Once we a week our team of chefs would swap over, offering regulars at The Raj a chance to taste our own chefs take on Indian food and our own customers the opportunity to sip down our great tasting beer whilst noshing down on some award-winning curry.

We’re happy to announce that this collaboration will continue this year with a minor change to the way we work: our teams of chefs will now mix instead of straight swapping, giving these talented cooks a chance to truly learn from each other and expand their knowledge.

After our little accident last year with a (now fixed) deep-fat fryer, we’ve decided to run a thorough check of all our kitchen equipment, to ensure that we don’t have any more nasty surprises in store for us in 2018. A few little bits and pieces were looking tired, amongst them were an element for a Belling oven, a long forgotten ice-cream maker and an old-school rotating buffet toaster. You probably won’t be surprised to hear which of those was replaced and which one’s found a new home in the skip out back…

It’s not just the kitchen gear that we’re replacing though, we’ve taken a long, hard look at our food offering this year and have made a few tough choices that will hopefully raise the perception of our bar moving forward and should hopefully start attracting more customers in to check out our live music. Whilst the Triple Cheese Toastie and Croque Monsiuer were once firm favourites with our lunchtime crowd, these cheesy delights have fallen out of favour with our current clientele. As a result, we’ve decided to take them off the menu and replace them with lighter alternatives that should hopefully appeal to more of our diners.

Breakfast has long been a meal of the day that we’ve shied away from, but with more and more folks turning up for a cup of coffee in the morning, we’ve decided to branch out to offer a few breakfast options for those looking to star their day with us. Alongside the traditional bacon, egg and sausage barms, we’re also offering quality porridge with some truly righteous coffee.

Please let us know if you appreciate any of these changes to our food offerings, we’d love to hear your feedback!

Folky Terry and The Strawberry Crunch Bunch: 09/01/2018

We don’t usually play folk music here at Riga.

Despite our resident DJ’s impassioned (and often drunken) arguments in favour for Simon and Garfunkel’s early folk recordings, for a long time it has remained a genre that has been untouched at the Riga Music Bar.

Whenever I think of folk music, my mind drifts to dismal country fairs, Joni Mitchell wannabes at open mic nights and God-awful-buskers in quaint historical cities like York and Winchester. So, with that being said, you might be surprised to hear that I found Folky Terry and The Strawberry Crunch Bunch to be one of the most entertaining and energising live acts to have graced our stage here at the Riga Music bar.

A good-sized crowd turned up for the support act on a Tuesday night, either an indicator that the students were back and really didn’t want to get on with their revision or that up and coming local act Good-Time Jarv was already building up a considerable local following.

With a mop of bleach blonde hair and a battered acoustic guitar, Good-Time Jarv more than resembles a certain deceased Grunge icon however the pure tone that he sings with and the delicacy of his guitar puts him in closer reach to a singer like Norah Jones than any of Cobain’s acoustic work. As is expected from a large crowd, Jarv initially struggles to be heard over the din, however after drawing the mob’s attention with a blinding rendition of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World (surely a nod to his bleach blonde 90s hero) he soon settles into a groove that has the audience lapping up his softly crooned vocals.

By the end of Good-Time Jarv’s set the Bar is reaching max capacity and there’s some real anticipation building in the room. The stage is cleared and brightly coloured instruments of all shapes and sizes are brought on stage. There’s a tuba, a double bass and even a Korg synthesizer: hardly the kind of instruments that you’d associate with a usual folk band but, then again, Folky Terry and The Strawberry Crunch Bunch aren’t your usual folk band.

The 7-piece band are given a rapturous welcome as they take their positions on stage. Dressed in black, they’d look a little ominous if it weren’t for their technicolor instruments. The band begin a thrumming intro based on Sunflower River Blues, a folk standard that is clearly familiar to the crowd. As this opener reaches a crescendo, the man himself bounds on stage. Folky Terry has always been known for his outlandish getup, yet it seems like he’s really pushed the boat out for this show.

Thick dreadlocks wheel through the air as the front man grabs his uke and begins to strum madly; this kind of devil may care performance is normally associated with hardcore punk acts rather than folk performers and it’s clear that his energy is infectious.

Within a matter of minutes the crows is a sweaty mass of smiling faces and it’s clear that Folky Terry has won over a new slew of fans.

Folky Terry and The Strawberry Crunch Bunch played the Riga Music Bar on the 9th January 2018 and were reviewed by Part-Time Bar Staff member, Jolene Fitzstewart.

Reopening and Upcoming French Visitors

After nearly two weeks of closure, we’re proud to be opening our doors once more on the 19th February.

Although we’re all keen to get our noses back to the grind stones there’s the small matter of a reopening party to sort out first.

We feel like we’ve got a real reason to celebrate. Coming off the back of a storming year in 2017, the Riga Music Bar has finally reached a point where we’re happy with the service we provide as well as the way our place looks. With the conservatory roof finally replaced, there’s now a tonne of light streaming into our restaurant area making it a great place to enjoy our new breakfast menu. We’ve also taken on a few new members of staff, so expect to see some fresh faces milling about throughout the next couple of weeks.

When it comes to organising parties we feel like we’re safely in our comfort zone. We’ve updated our lighting rig and even serviced our speakers systems, so our grand reopening should pump louder and brighter than anything we’ve done before. Of course no huge celebration is complete without a lineup of exciting artists. We’ve reached into our back catalogue of favourite artists and tried to book as many of them as possible to ensure that we have an eclectic lineup that will keep you on your feet for the whole night.

Jaques the Beatmaker was one of the first few acts to grace our stage. His artful blend of Deep House and 90s RnB struck a chord with both our older and younger patrons making him a firm favourite to this day. Back in 2011 he was an ambitious teenager travelling around the festival circuit in his camper van mixing as he went, but time has changed how he goes about his work now:

“Playing the Riga Music Bar was a real highlight of my early days as a DJ. I really felt the love from the crowd and that important for me, especially considering that I was spending so much time travelling alone at the time. I can’t wait to return to Riga to show how far I’ve come!”

After spending some time touring a series of villas in Provence, Jaques is ready to hit the road once more and test out his new set of tunes: we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us!

Rachel Abe’s Sonic Maelstrom will be making their fourth appearance at the Riga Music Bar for our reopening which should bring a smile to many of our regulars’ faces. Pairing a direct, unashamedly political angle with an earnest songwriting style, this ragtag 5-piece are always a joy to watch. Although they’ve not released any new material for a while, you can guarantee that they’ll have some new tunes up that their sleeves that are bound to skewer a few topical events.

“We love Riga Music Bar – let’s party like it’s 1885!”

Finally, PoorlyWordedPR might not sound like the best up and coming electro-pop group coming out of Sweden, but anyone who saw their set here two years ago will know that they’re definitely on the cusp of greatness. With a sharp 80s aesthetic, stabbing synth melodies and an aggressively personal performance style, this four-piece have been touring intensively since we last saw them so it’ll be interesting to see how far they’ve come since then.

“Life on the road has been super tough for us, but we know we’ll receive a warm welcome in one of the best bars we’ve ever played in.”

Preparations are well underway now and we can’t wait to see what our touring acts have to show us!

Riga Music Bar will be re-opening on the 19th February with music from Jaques the Beatmaker, Rachel Abe’s Sonic Maelstrom and PoorlyWordedPR. Food will be provided by the Riga staff in conjunction with The Raj.   

Our 2017 in Review

What a year it’s been for us!

With yet another successful year under out belts, we thought we’d collect some of the highlights from the team here at Riga, from the most disastrous to the most successful!

Chip Pan Fire in the Kitchen

It was only a matter of time before an accident like this came a cropper. Every bar is tested at some point, whether it’s a robbery or something a bit more serious. Our little accident came in the form of an overzealous chip fryer and thankfully didn’t result in any lasting damage to either persons or property. A busy Friday night shift can often take it’s toll on the kitchen, ask any of our chefs; as tidy as they try to be sometimes, messes can often be hard to avoid.

Although we had to shut down the kitchen for the weekend, we were glad to be back up and running the week after. The faulty chip fryer was replaced and we’re happy to report that there have been no further technical issues – Jakers’ Chicken Shack we are not.

Hosting the Bob Bobbins Blues Blast

For over a decade the name Bob Bobbins has been synonymous with groundbreaking blues music and it was our honour to host what would be the great man’s 27th annual Blues Blast this year at the Riga. As with all of his Blues Blasts, this one-day show brought together Bobbins’ seasoned house band with locally sourced talent, as well as Bobbins himself, making for an epic night of Blues that has gone down as one of the nights of 2017.

Introduction of our World Hoedown

Combining the best dance and hoedown moves from around the world to create a completely unique, fun, community based experience that everyone can get on board with. Our inaugural Hoedown in May was a massive effort that spanned across the entire bar. We’re so happy to have such a talented and enthusiastic team here at Riga’s and it’s thanks to their efforts that we were able to pull this event off and keep it running throughout the year as a successful weekly event.

New Year’s Eve Extravaganza

We’ve always had fun at our New Year’s Parties and this year’s celebration was no different. Once more we opened our doors to the mercy of the town with only one aim in mind: to blow the socks off every person who chose Riga to party the New Year in with. We had a tonne of our friends helping us out this year and the live music performances were as much a celebration of them as it was of 2017 in general. Performers from our sensational World Hoedown teamed up with our Salsa DJs to build some seriously funky beats and it was great to see our chefs on the dance floor letting loose.

We’d all like to thank our wonderful staff for the great work that they’ve done for us in 2017. Riga Music Bar is going nowhere anytime soon, we’re going to be right here entertaining you lot for as long as we can!