A relaxed new bar opens in Harrogate owned by music figure who worked with Amy Winehouse

A new bar has opened in Harrogate with a difference – the difference being not just the bar itself but the man behind it who worked with legendary singer Amy Winehouse at her peak.
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AAA Vinyl Coffee House & Bar had a ‘soft launch’ during the Coronation weekend as a dry run for its mix of coffee house, bar and home of vinyl records.

Located at 129 Cold Bath Road where Travelstar was formerly based – it’s moved its offices upstairs – AAA is already busy with customers enjoying coffee, tea, cakes and canned and bottled beer, though its full licence and the beer pumps are set to arrive soon.

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When owner Dave Swallow, who moved to Harrogate 16 years ago says the new establishment is seeking to capture the atmosphere of a bar in a cool part of Berlin with music at its heart – in a relaxed way – he is someone who knows what he is talking about, having lived in Berlin and being a sound engineer on tour for many years with some of the biggest acts in the world.

Dave Swallow, owner of AAA Vinyl Coffee House & Bar in Harrogate which had a ‘soft launch’ during the Coronation weekendDave Swallow, owner of AAA Vinyl Coffee House & Bar in Harrogate which had a ‘soft launch’ during the Coronation weekend
Dave Swallow, owner of AAA Vinyl Coffee House & Bar in Harrogate which had a ‘soft launch’ during the Coronation weekend

Recent weeks have seen Dave working live with indie-rock dance act Friendly Fires.

Then there’s UB40, A-Ha, James, Erasure, Alison Moyet and, of course, Amy Winehouse.

Dave looks back fondly on that tour with the late singer in 2006 for the classic Back To Black album.

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"Amy was brilliant in those days. She had that little sparkle.

"She had mischievous kind of comedy to her.

"She loved hanging out with the crew.

"We were just mates going round the world together. It was fun.”

When it comes to sound, Dave, as might be expected, is an expert.

The relaxed new coffee house/bar already has a fantastic record deck and hi fi system blending the best of modern technology with large vintage Celestion speakers from 1976.

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It’s all very personal to the owner of AAA, albeit in a very nice way.

The choice of vinyl records – which will be for sale – reflects Dave’s own life and experiences in music, from albums by famous acts he has worked with to cool labels from the current vibrant scene down in Southend in Essex, where he hails from.

The look of the new establishment is reminiscent of Assai Records shop in Edinburgh if it had been crossed with Spiritland at King’s Cross in London in London or been reimagined as an Amsterdam bar – or something like that.

Dave came to Harrogate in 2007 when he took paternity leave for his son – his partner was from Harrogate – and he loves the town.

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"I wanted to create a place relaxed enough not just to be one thing.

"People have been coming in saying “what are you? A bar or a record shop or are you a coffee house?”

"But I’ve seen those places in Europe and parts of Britain be really popular.

"You can be both and make it work.”

Right now, AAA Vinyl Coffee House & Bar offer in cans includes local names such as Vocation but also beers from a favourite independent craft brewery from Walthamstow called Signature.

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This weekend will see a special event at AAA when it showcases an English prosecco from a vineyard down south called Harlot.

And bank holiday weekend at the end of May will see the coffee house/bar go for it in terms of being a bar, opening until 11pm.

It’s all go with Dave Swallow – but always in a relaxed way.