PJ Bells opened in 1991/2 (exact date lost in the mists of time). It was a notable event for musicians involved in the jazz/ latin/ world scene at the time who were then centred around Band on the Wall (BOTW) round the corner. At that time there were far fewer bars/ music venues in Manchester and very few in what is now the Northern Quarter and also only really the second bar that I can remember hosting regular jazz sessions, after BOTW.
PJ Bells was a bit smarter than we were used to at BOTW and to my mind never had the same soul. However we did have some good sessions there, it ran (at least initially) on an open mic type basis but there were some really skilled jazz and latin musicians. Some had met and learnt or honed their skills at BOTW classes/ workshops and were ready to jam. The stage was at the front, the bar at the back, and tall tables in between.
Shortly after it opened a photo was taken outside with all of us in front (or this could’ve been BOTW?!), so it would be great to see this if anyone has a copy. I cannot remember who was there at the time except Jim Krawiecki who was then playing bass/ percussion in Toss the Feathers, and possibly then Mike Michael McGoldrick as we all shared a house in Chorlton-cum-Hardy at the time.
PJ Bells was still open when I moved away from Manchester in summer 1992, so someone else may be able to pick up the story from there, or add to it.
Biography added : 18th December 2018
by Angie Nicholas