Shining a Light: New Film Nights

Film comes to the Riga Music Bar

When we first thought about opening up this place our aim was to create a music venue that could cater to the interests of the many and not the few.

We wanted to create a partisan venue that would appeal to music lovers throughout the town, a place where our regulars would know that they could drop in at any time for a pint and have the chance of catching a band or singer that they might have never heard of.

Over time though, with the experience of running this place, our priorities have changed. Planning and executing what has essentially become an arts programme has been a real learning curve for us here and it has led to us broadening our perspectives on what mediums of art we can effectively exhibit here at the Riga Music Bar.

Whilst we’re not about to start filling every open space we have with experimental sculpture and cubist paintings, we do have a new ambition for how to use the space that has given us so much over the last few years.

We will be launching a weekly series of film showings starting next month. Every Wednesday we’ll be putting on a screening of a movie, one week it might be a cult classic that we think deserves a bit of attention and the next week it could be an Oscar-winning smash hit from 50 years ago. One thing that we all have in common here at Riga Music Bar is a love for great cinema and we’re so glad that we’ll be able to share this passion with our wonderful patrons.

In the last few weeks we’ve been in discussions with a variety of architectural lighting companies who’ve been giving us advice on how best to rig a quality projection system in our main space. It’s important to us that when these films are screened we’re doing them justice. That means investing in a high-quality projector and screen that will give a clear, consistent image. Sound is also a real priority for us and we’ve been working on adapting our existing speaker system to be able to properly process surround sound so that you get the best experience possible.

So, without further ado, we’re proud to announce the first slew of titles that we’ll be bringing to the newly formed Riga Screen Club. With each screening we’ll have a specialist cocktail that you’ll be able to buy from the bar and there’ll also be a one-off sharer tray created by the kitchen, perfect for snacking on throughout the movie.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

With the upcoming release of his new animated feature Isle of Dogs, we’ve been discussing Wes Anderson’s new movie and even though there are so many to choose from we settled on The Darjeeling Limited as it provides the kind of sunshine that we are all in dire need of right now – as well one of the director’s best soundtracks. Expect our special food sharer to have a few Indian twists…

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Video games have finally made the move into mainstream culture but it’s easy to forget that this was not always the case. Back in 1993, despite Nintendo having released some of its most successful titles in video games history, the characters of Mario and Luigi were still deemed to be for children. This makes the decision to recreate the technicolor environs of the Mushroom Kingdom as a grimy dystopian future even more baffling – still, it makes for surprisingly good watching.

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Considered to be a deep cut from legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s extensive back catalogue, this adaptation of a fantasy novel from 1986 features the voices of Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Billy Crystal and even legendary film-star Lauren Bacall. The heady blend of high fantasy, wartime heroics and romance makes for a truly emotional ride and has garnered it a huge cult following that we can hopefully expand even further.

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!

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!