You may know that as well as lots of books, we also have a lot of music going on at the bookshop. We've managed to build up a great regular crowd and the name of the shop seems to attract a great calibre of artists too. I wanted to write just a short piece on what that means and what's in store next.
I'm from a music background having played in bands since I was 13, all with the same chap (Best bud in the world Jonathan Coates and we're currently demoing our 3rd album under the Barricades Rise name. Anyway, we loved playing the small intimate venues so I decided to ask a few acts to play in the shop. Coming from playing music to hosting music felt natural and so I set it up as if I was playing, thus (hopefully) making the acts a little more comfortable (clue is in the name). Secondly, I really do love watching live music so I made it all the more ambient and exciting for ME by adding the ace lights (weekly supplied by Exquisitely Vintage 'til I actually bought them!). Really, it was my own little heaven and to invite the public along was merely a great way to pay the acts. I think as time goes on it still gets refined, but it's all personal preference to ME. Bonus of being the boss. Anyway I digress.
There was a point where I had way too many gigs on so pulled it back to just 2 a month. I think the key to how it's grown is a combination of this:
1) Love of music, both playing and watching.
2) Respecting musicians work
3) Being personal. Getting to know the acts.
4) Having the regularity. 1st and 3rd Friday every month.
5) Being a bookshop
I'm 100% sure that the bookshop is a draw because it's a unique venue, and I love it.
So what have I learnt from doing this? Well firstly, I absolutely love independent folk/acoustic music. I never knew the scope of talent out there. I haven't listened to anything else since really, except classic FM. I never listened to the genre when I started, except for local people who were my mates! One thing I love about the 'scene' though is that everyone helps out. Musicians know each other regardless if they are based in Glasgow, Berlin, London or Skegness. Many a time I've had acts turn up and see our 'wall of artists' (our bathroom wall is plastered with gig posters from all our previous acts) and comment on how so-and-so is great and how next week they're playing bass for that person etc. It's so ace. There are great people on the periphery too, or even on the inner circle, who put on gigs, write blogs and generally do a full time job of supporting the acts, all as a fan, such as Laurel Canyon.
So what's next?
One thing I don't like about the gigs is the emails. I currently have 47 unread folk club requests simply because we're fully booked 'til February 2017 and I'm not booking more for a few months. I hate, but also love, deciding who should play with who. Some acts get let down and we can't accommodate them, but I also like finding that person who may not be that confident, or might only have a handful of gigs but you can see their talent. Giving them a platform, a comfy reception, could be fab for them.
It may sounds cheesy but, I adore my job and the absolute pinnacle is when we have a great gig and it's full and these acts are getting the recognition they deserve. It really disheartens me when a gig I've put together isn't well attended. I don't like pushing people to come as it's their choice, but with 320k people in Coventry, I'd like to think I can get 40 in each fortnight, but sometimes that's just the way it goes. Budget plays a huge part too. I could print 1000 flyers and do promoted Facebook posts etc., but it costs a lot! So mainly it's basic social media plus word of mouth. The Coventry Telegraph very graciously mention more or less each gig either online and sometimes in print which I'm ever grateful for.
Just like my shop, without the public, these musicians wouldn't be out there. Support independent music and business!
Til next time
Currently Listening to: Everyone Is From Somewhere Else by Lowri Evans
Currently Reading: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami.