I’m currently preparing to leave bristol which is something I’ve done before but it feels a lot more final this time. One of the main reasons is that although I’ve made a lot of connections in bristol in my roughly 20 years of living here (on and off) this time I am leaving the biggest and most immovable one which is Café Kino. All my other connections are friends and bands and family members who will visit and tour and send me facebook messages. But Café Kino is so much more than a person or a place.
I became involved with Kino when it first opened on ninetree hill in 2006. I volunteered as a front of house assistant for a few shifts before I left for university. I remember sitting at the window, reading middlemarch and hoping no one would come in because honestly I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so shy then; I was scared of everyone there, but the founders of Cafe Kino were a group of extremely welcoming, caring, thoughtful people. They taught me how to make coffee on the beautiful machine (which lasted until 2015) and over the years everyone involved have taught me thousands of other things. How to listen, how to express your ideas, how to run a venue, how to make a kino burger, how to make a rota, how to do sound, what to listen to, what to read.
I visited Kino a lot when I was away at university, watching it grow, watching it move across the road. I remember helping to prise up the concrete covering the beautiful tile floor and refurbishing chairs in my holidays. When I returned to Bristol in 2012 I started working there full time. My time at Kino has completely changed me as a feminist and a musician which are probably the two things I identify as most strongly. The people I have worked with there have inspired me in countless ways. It is the only place I have ever worked where I always felt good about my abilities and how I looked, where I felt emotionally supported and understood. I’ve done customer service in so many environments and it’s the only place where, despite it often being insanely busy, I’ve felt confident and sure that my colleagues are there to help. I have listened to/watched/performed more music there than in any other place in the world. I have been there at cleaning 7am and at 1am. I have been there with boyfriends, family members, new friends, old friends and touring bands and its always been a friendly, happy, exciting place to be.
I urge all of you to support the places like this in your cities, which are not only important because of the art they foster but also because they are amazing places to work, nurturing skills and ideas. Most of all I want to tell you that co-operatives are an incredibly powerful and radical thing. I try to use the principals of respect and responsibility I’ve learned from working in a co-operative in all areas of my life; in my other jobs and my bands and in my relationships with other people.
Anyway to finish my love letter to Kino I just want to list some of the musical and culinary experiences I’ve had there that have affected me the most.
Top 5 shows:
(I can’t remember the dates or even years of any of these shows sorry)
Harry and the Potters + Martha + Frozy – Grace Denton put this show on in the summer and it was the most packed I’ve ever seen the basement. There were loads of young people, everyone was jumping around. This was the first time I ever saw Martha and I also spent the rest of the evening hitting on harry potter so it was honestly the best night of my life.
Glenn Jones + Headfall – Headfall are some of the most important people in Café Kino’s history. They also happen to be the best band in Bristol. Glenn Jones made one of my favourite albums to play on Sunday morning shift. So yeah this gig was pretty perfect.
Ichi + The Middle Ones – This was part of the incredible year with the middle ones. Anna and Grace did one show a month for 12 months with a whole loads of amazing supports. This one was fun because the basement was being redeveloped and the show was upstairs. Ichi was incredible as ever and The Middle Ones played on ninetree hill and I sang with them.
Tenniscoats + I Know I have no collar + secret Rachel Dadd – This show was super magical. The tenniscoats played totally un amplified and they were just incredible. Everything about it was awesome.
Los Cripis + Bellies + The Sorry People – Los cripis are an amazing garage band from. We took them to the hillgrove afterwards and made them eat pickled eggs. Bellies really nailed it too.
Honourable mentions: Every Hallie & the Annies set, The Nervy Betters, Jeffrey Lewis, MXLX, Pete Shadbolt talking about physics.
Top 5 food/drink:
Spicy Burger with a hash brown and peanut butter – The spicy kino burger is one of the human races greatest inventions. The burgers take fucking ages to make but it’s totally worth it. Also the mayo that we make at Kino is better than any other vegan mayo you can buy and I know because I’ve tried them all. You can only add fun extras like peanut butter if you’re friends with the chefs which I am.
Bacon sandwich with vegan cheese – The day we got vegan cheese at café kino was really a day to remember. If you add it to the bacon sandwich then you’ve got a guaranteed party.
Black Americano –drinking a black Americano in Kino on a quiet morning is an incomparable pleasure.
Any soup Jenny has ever made – Every chef at Kino is incredible and they all have their own talents. Jenny is really a flavour machine and her soups really make me happy in a way I didn’t know soup could.
Every cake ever – cake at kino is so much more than cake.
Honourable mentions: Dave’s cold brew, fizzy espressos, Jen’s ice teas, the coleslaw, curly fries.