OPINION: Saving the Ferret, One Gig at a Time

Written by Jamie Wade

The Ferret, Preston’s premier grassroots music venue, has been facing a tough time recently. Having hosted the likes of Ed Sheeran, Blossoms and Catfish and the Bottlemen, the Ferret has helped the rise of British music Royalty. But today, it sees a fight for survival as its building owners seeks to sell the property, potentially to a developer who would like to see this iconic music venue destroyed.

Intrigued as to whether or not the Ferret was still the hub of live music it once was, I went along to their most recent Friday night gig, “Shenanigans with Stuckhome Syndrome”. The venue was packed, lively and the whole evening seemed to be a celebration of music, with a variety of pop-punk classics being played to an extremely varied audience. It seemed that live music lovers attended to enjoy the spectacle of a live band, no matter their music taste.

What is most important though about this venue, is the chance it gives to up and coming bands and artists. So, having read a number of articles about the Ferret’s plight, I was shocked to see the lack of coverage of what it means to the many bands who have played there and who wish to continue playing into the future. With that in mind, I tracked down the lead singer of Stuckhome Syndrome, the band playing on Friday night, Lee Meakin and asked him why he thought the Ferret was such an important venue:

The atmosphere during our performance was incredible. The crowd connected with us while we all rode the nostalgia fuelled set. During one of the songs there was a brief power outage, but the crowd carried the momentum right through, continuing the song together until we were back up and running. You can’t put into words the buzz and unrivalled high this gave everybody who got to experience that in such an intimate venue! The heart of The Ferret is still beating at an average rate of 200-250 beats per minute! In no way shape or form is this venue ready to roll over and give up, people clearly love to watch live music here and it would be a shame for Preston to lose such a valuable live music venue.”

I wanted to know more about how the Ferret gave bands like Lee’s a chance in the limelight especially now that pop-punk is seen as a niche genre, which Lee was more than happy to enlighten me on:

“We all grew up in the height of the pop punk movement. Studded belts, checkered vans and skinny jeans were all we wore. Like most people who grew up listening to Pop Punk. Over lockdown there was this sense of nostalgia while we were locked up in our homes and for a lot of people it manifested itself through music. When we formed, we said we didn’t want to be another Blackpool “pub” band, so we took that nostalgia we all felt and we rolled with it. Best. Decision. Ever. Places like the Ferret are so important in being able to play with a live audience that can connect with our music.”

To finish off our chat, I had to know, with Lee being from Blackpool, which audiences were the best? Preston or Blackpool?

“Preston hands down. The music scene in Preston seems to cover a wider range of genres and the audience at The Ferret was our perfect demographic.”

The Ferret is continuing its campaign of #savetheferret and trying to raise £150,000 to save the building from being sold to developers. It certainly seems, looking at the lively atmosphere on Friday, the Ferret still has life in it yet!

If you’d like to donate to the cause of the Ferret, you can do so here:

If you’d like to hear more of the Pop-Punk band Stuckhome Syndrome, you can do so here: