It’s welcome news to see Gary Barlow headlining in last week’s paper and to see the Open Air Theatre continue to prosper but it’s a more dispiriting scene on Scarborough’s smaller venue front.
Scarborough is fortunate to have a small but diverse music scene with Mojo’s, the Watermark Cafe and Woodend amongst others offering a refreshing and original alternative to the bland cover bands, karaoke and quiz formula that dominate the local pub scene.
Most of the smaller venues are organised by a tiny group of committed music lovers who generally work on a not for profit basis and often end up out of pocket if there’s a poor attendance.
Many smaller venues across the country are closing at an alarming rate, shadowing the equally catastrophic closing of pubs and clubs.
If Scarborough is to keep its musical culture alive the local populace need to give them much more support.
The X-factorisation of music in the UK has seen a relentless shift to the safe comfort zone of ‘cover’ bands and singers, afraid and indeed discouraged to perform original material.
It may make for a cosy night in by the TV but where is the ‘do and dare’ approach that characterised British popular music in the 60s, 70s and 80s?
A few weeks ago we had a young Scarborough duo, Circa 15, play at Woodend, they were a revelation, wonderful songs and harmonies and all but one of their songs were original compositions.
However, the opportunities to play at intimate, acoustic venues with an attentive, listening audience for new acts such as Circa 15 are extremely limited so it’s vital that these places keep going. So all hail Gary Barlow, Steps and the kings of the plasma screen but don’t forget the guys operating on a shoestring, a wing and a prayer and the eternal desire just to break even.
They need your support now more than ever. Thanks.