SOME of the brightest local stars of the 1990s come together tomorrow for a special free open-air gig in Newport city centre as a tribute to TJ’s owner John Sicolo who died in March.

The Darling Buds, Novocaine, Doctor Bison, Flyscreen, Rollerco, Varispeed and Disco have all reunited for the TJ's in the Square concert to commemorate the life of a man pivotal to the city’s music scene, and one which excited the world 15 years ago, The New York Times even dubbed Newport the ‘new Seattle’, after Nirvana’s home town and the grunge movement they spearheaded.

TJ’s on Clarence Place was the focal point of this peculiar Welsh music revolution and famous patrons included legends like Kurt Cobain (he allegedly proposed to Courtney Love there) and John Peel.

And bands of the calibre of Oasis, Manic Street Preachers and Green Day all cut their teeth there.

At that time, Newport West MP Paul Flynn even spoke in praise of the city’s talented musicians in Parliament.

Mr Flynn and John Sicolo’s daughter, Leanne, are guest speakers at tomorrow's event.

Many of those bands who found their feet in TJ’s in those heady days will play one-off sets for up to 2,200 people in John Frost Square.

And local hit makers Goldie Lookin Chain - who made their name in 2004 with their UK No 3 smash hit Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do - will be joined by Sick Livers, Bad Samaritans and Elephant Rescue Plan, as well as a number of ska bands.

The bill was put together by Emma Stowell-Corten, editor of Newport magazine Voice and music writer Andy Barding, who edited local fanzine Frug! throughout the 1990s.

Barding said: "The response from bands has been tremendous. There is a lot of love and respect for John Sicolo in the music world and some of these groups are going to great lengths to get back together for one last tribute to him. That says a lot about the kind of man he was, I think.

"The Newport music scene was incredibly strong in the 1990s. It will be wonderful to relive those times among so many old friends."

The TJ's in the Square concert starts at 11am and goes on until around 9.30pm.

Entry until 5.30pm is open to anyone. After this it is restricted to wristband holders only.

For further event details check or

Factor finalists ready to strut their stuff

SQUARE Factor winner Joe Kelly plays at Newport’s Riverfront tonight and at TJ’s in the Square tomorrow.

The Ringland musician won last month’s talent competition for bands and solo artists aged 18 and under.

He appears with fellow Square Factor finalists Tobias Robertson and heavy metal band Nexus.

They perform as part of The Riverfront’s monthly Summer Sessions season.

The music is due to kick off at 8pm.

Doors for the event open at 5pm and all types of performers are welcome to come along from comedians to poets and musicians.

If you’re a local creative person and would like to sell your wares, be it hand-made jewellery, bespoke fashion, vintage vinyl, artwork or something completely unusual, get in touch with The Riverfront to pre-book a stall.

Previous stalls have included vinyl, vintage, hand-made toiletries, home-made cakes and goodies, hand-made clothing, jewellery, accessories and cards, artwork, unusual one-off gifts and more.

Visit for information.

The line-up

11.00am Detached

11.30am Joe Kelly

12.15pm Elephant Rescue Plan

1.00pm Mumbo Jet

1.35pm Mad Hatter

2.00pm Varispeed

2.25pm Disco

3.10pm The Drains

3.40pm Goldblade

4.10pm Doctor Bison

4.40pm Bad Samaritans

5.15pm 2 Rude

6.25pm Rollerco

7.00pm Sick Livers

8.10pm Novocaine

8.45pm The Darling Buds

9.20pm Goldie Lookin Chain