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Pub denies banning female-fronted rock bands

By | Published on Monday 11 December 2017

Live Music

A pub and music venue in Middlesborough has denied that it has banned female-fronted bands from performing there. Although this denial comes after it was seemingly confirmed that – while there may be no outright ban – the venue is certainly wary of putting women on its stage for fear of annoying the people who drink there.

The controversy began after singer Hannah Sowerby said that one of two covers bands she fronts had found a planned show at Doctor Brown’s cancelled when the pub’s owners discovered her gender. Speaking to the Northern Echo, landlady Paula Rees then said that regulars in the pub don’t like women singing songs originally performed by men. She added that, not being a rock music fan herself, she had taken her punters’ advice on whether or not women can sing hard rock songs or not.

“It’s nothing to do with me, it’s the pub’s regulars who come in every week, they won’t come in if there’s a female singer”, Rees told the local paper. “We have got to keep our regulars happy. I’m not a rock fan so can’t judge myself, but I’ve been told that some women can sing and some can’t, but they can’t sing heavy rock. If we put a poster up and our regulars know there’s a woman in the band, they won’t give them a chance – they’re my bread and butter and we can’t risk nobody coming in”.

She apparently then added that the pub would relax its rule and allow one female-fronted band to perform there in 2018, while adding that they would relax the regulations further should such a band be able to prove that they can bring in their own audience.

However, Sowerby rejected the insinuation that her band can’t pull a crowd, saying: “I haven’t been allowed to play because I’m female, despite the fact my band can draw a crowd. You wouldn’t get people saying they don’t like male bands, because not all male singers are the same – just like not all female singers are the same. It is a sexist attitude from the regulars and there’s no excuse for it in 2017, you’d think we’d be past this by now”.

A ban of this kind is seemingly not technically illegal, but that doesn’t matter anyway, because there is no ban, remember. Or so says Rees’ husband Andy, who stepped in to correct his wife over the weekend.

According to the Middlesborough Gazette, Mr Rees said on Facebook: “For everyone who chooses to comment: there is no ban on female singers. Female fronted bands [have] been booked in for a while, if people do their homework. [I’m] probably wasting my time posting this, as everyone on the bandwagon will just contradict [me] … but for your information, my wife and Browns is not sexist. If you ever met her you would know she is a very strong minded individual woman, as are the staff”.

Paula Rees took over Doctor Brown’s in 2015 – a few months after its previous owners went out of business somewhat suddenly – with plans to make live music one of the key attractions of the pub.