I want to sing the praises of regional jazz clubs in general and one in particular that is now close to my heart – Stratford Jazz. That’s Stratford-upon-Avon, not East London or Ontario. Many times I have sat in the cosy upstairs room at The Chapel No 1 Shakespeare Street, enjoyed the gigs, discovered new sounds, loved old ones, made new friends and never once thought about how it all comes together, the hard (but enjoyable) unpaid work that goes into making a gig happen. Well, now I have an idea. Stratford Jazz has been in existence since 1986, its gigs since 2003 set out here. The most cursory glance at this list reveals people who are now established, such as Andrew McCormack and Michael Janisch, the latter now running a record label. Which brings me to the point of this post. Regional jazz plays a crucial role in an artist’s development. By all means live in London, record in London, play most of your gigs in London, but small jazz venues exist to provide you with an appreciative audience and we don’t forget you.
Stratford Jazz is at a crossroads. Our mainstay, Roy, is planning to hand over the running of the club. An open meeting conjured up volunteers to set out chairs, man the door, take money, produce flyers, man the sound deck, run the raffle, help with the website and social media. I have the latter role. We still need help with booking bands and paying them, running a membership system, drafting press releases etc etc.
So if you would like to help us please follow us on Twitter @StratfordJazz, please “Like” us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stratfordjazz.org.uk and best of all, please come to our gigs. In the next few months we host Chris Bowden, Marco Marconi, Casey Greene, Tom Hill, Greg Abate, Ben Markland, Ed Jones and Alan Barnes. We are a small club but each event is special. People travel from miles. You won’t forget it.
And anyone with ideas of how we can attract young people, please let us know via our Facebook page or tweet to us. We want to survive for at least another 27 years.