Back in 2014 Richard Dunning had a vision to start a blues club in deepest Surrey and it has recently celebrated it’s fifth anniversary. The Tuesday Night Music Club (TNMC) has in that time established itself as a major player on the UK Blues circuit, so much so that a second TNMC will launch in Watford in a couple of weeks on 29th October, 2019.
It is refreshing to hear that it’s not all doom and gloom with regards live music, especially in light of the ever increasing closure of music venues across the country, many of which that have been operating for many years at the high end of the market.
Starting originally on 29th July, 2014 as a fortnightly music night at a social club in Hooley, Surrey and quickly expanding to a weekly event alternating between Hooley and a similar social club in nearby Coulsdon.
Many of the acts scheduled to visit Hooley were completely new to us. Artists would travel from the far reaches to perform at what was a small village club in deepest Surrey and then return home after the gig, a seven hundred round trip for some. Although attendances were low over the first 18 months audience numbers saw improvement but still wavered between low and medium.
Half Deaf Clatch was the first artist to play at the club and is still very close to the club’s heart. He has been invited back to play on a regular basis and featured at the recent fifth anniversary, the club’s 213 event.
The very talented Matt Woosey played the club at the end of 2015 and seeing the numbers jokingly said he would play each of us a request. Mr Woosey put his heart and sole into the performance regardless.
One of the major successes of the TNMC is the focus on using first class sound musicians in Simon Taylor/EQ Audio and Ross Davey/DBF Sound. This has been paramount in establishing the TNMC as a quality venue and also attracting many of the artists to play there. Simon has been on hand in mastering the recorded sound for five live album releases so far, getting worldwide airplay which has certainly enhanced the club’s reputation.
Richard never gave up his ambition and he must have had the line ‘stick with it and it will bear fruit’ running through his head. Word of mouth and social media sites highlighting each gig in photographic and video form was certainly having an impact with audiences growing all the time.
Attracting an audience when the word ‘blues’ is mentioned can be difficult as it, in the main, only attracts over 40’s which is possibly why Richard chose to call it the Tuesday Night Music Club (despite the fact that he has always tried to focus on booking UK blues and rock/blues acts).
Richard decided to include the 90 seat capacity Comrades Club in Coulsdon to the party effective November 2015, thus allowing him to host gigs on a weekly basis. However, as a consequence of his decision that the Comrades Club would be the sole venue from October 2017, the audience levels immediately increased. This was in part because he now had firm roots in a single, more easily accessible location with improved parking, transport links and restaurants all with walking distance.
There is a core audience of some twenty regulars who venture out on a Tuesday night come rain or shine. There are also many who come to the club to see a particular artist and are so impressed with the set up they become regular attendees.
Richard has caught many artists at the infancy of their musical journey and given them the opportunity to shine at his club. Many of these artists have continued in their ascent and become hugely popular on the circuit.
Although not suggesting that the club has been solely responsible for their success (although it may have helped) it has proven that Richard has a very good ear for spotting emerging talent.
Richard has found himself declaring an event sold out on more and more occasions which can only be testament to the success of the club.
Richard has also set a precedent in adopting and policing one house rule; absolutely no idle chit chat during the performance out of respect to the artists and audience alike. This is very welcome by everyone and is something that should perhaps be adopted elsewhere.
The club was nominated in the 2018 Form UK Blues Awards but was sadly just pipped at the post. It would be a shame if Richard is not recognised for his contribution to the promotion of UK blues as we do not believe there is currently another venue offering weekly quality events of the calibre of the Tuesday Night Music Club.
The recent Fifth Anniversary show featured Half Deaf Clatch, Matt Long and the award winning Kyla Brox.
I do appreciate that Tuesday night is a school night but if you are in the areas of Coulsdon or Watford please check them out. Ticket prices are very reasonable, ranging from £11 – £16.50 for Coulsdon and available from https://www.ents24.com/surrey-events/the-comrades-club. Tickets for Watford are available from https://www.eventbrite.com.
Tuesday Night Music Club (South London) Comrades Club, Coulsdon CR5 2NF
Tuesday Night Music Club (North London) The Horns, Watford WD17 3RL
Photography and Words of The Tuesday Night Music Club – A Success Story by Phil Honley. Phil has his own photography site here: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk.