While the independent music venue The Exchange is pretty well-known in Bristol, it's not as widely known elsewhere, except with two brief forays into being involved in viral internet stories in the last year (one, the fake musician "Threatin," an unbelievably surreal saga surrounding one man's bank-breaking European tour to no one; the other, a charity event featuring 12 hours of "Toto" by Africa played nonstop). But also in the last year, and far more importantly, the venue became the first community-owned live music space in the UK, and is doing its bit to fight the rising tide of high rents and noise complaints by rooting itself in the local music scene and ensuring its continued success. It's a place that nourishes young, enthusiastic musicians, has a respectful, friendly environment that welcomes music-lovers from all stripes, and is home to both Specialist Subject Records and the Exchange Coffee Co, the best vegan cafe in Bristol. I've loved the venue for a long time but as of this year, I am now a co-owner along with a few hundred other gig-goers.
Callum McAllister is a bookseller, writer and musician from Bristol, UK. He is assistant editor of The Cardiff Review. He tweets at @CallyMcA.