I’m often asked how The Tuesday Night Music Club came into existence and what it takes to run it. So, as we approach our 100th show, I thought the time was right to try to address those questions…
HOW DID IT START?
To give you a little background about me (I’ll keep this bit as brief as I can!) - I sang in bands in the early ’70's and then ran ‘mobile discos’ for a number of years. I then worked at HMV in Oxford Street for 6 or 7 years before moving on to work for a firm publishing music biographies. So music has always played a very large part in my life… In fact even when a twist of fate had me living all over the world (Russia, Prague, The Canary Islands, Florida, etc.) I still found myself either appearing with bands or putting them on… But, on with the story…
In 2010 and ’11 I put on a few bands at the local social club on a Saturday night - their first taste of live music, and it went down very well. Seeing that there was an audience I decided to put on monthly live shows in the local village hall. These were largely good quality tribute bands catering for the tastes of those in the local area. Getting a decent following for these nights I snuck in a couple of more blues orientated nights, notably The Proof supported by Laurence Jones. These nights were advertised on events listings sites all over the internet, one of which was (the now sadly defunct) Croydon Radio. The founders of Croydon Radio were very supportive, came along to a few shows and and on one of their visits I happened to say ‘I’ve noticed that you don’t have a ‘blues’ orientated show’. Their response was an immediate ‘what a great idea - when would you like to start?’ And so my radio show ‘Blues On The Radio’ was born.
Through presenting ‘Blues On The Radio’ I made the acquaintance of a large number of artists. Some of whom I got to know quite well and amongst this latter group was Half Deaf Clatch. At the time (in late 2013) he had been nominated for 4 British Blues Awards and had been named ‘The most played artist’ by members of the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association. But, despite having toured extensively around his native North East, he had never played live in the South of England. I raised this in conversation and the idea of a Southern tour was obviously appealing. In my naivety I thought it would be easy to get some local gigs so I took it upon myself to do just that for him. Imagine my surprise when I found how difficult it was to get a midweek gig anywhere locally. Now with the rest of the tour beginning to fall into place it had become essential that we get a gig booked to kick things off.
At the time I was on the committee of the local social club and knew that they had very quiet Tuesdays - the usual scenario of one man and his dog. So, with a decent bar and a nice sized room, I wondered whether we could use that as a venue on a Tuesday night every couple of weeks. Being a Members Club we couldn’t charge social club Members to attend so we’d need a way of raising revenue to be able to pay the artists. So I approached the brewery that supplied most of the drinks (Fullers) and asked if they’d be interested in sponsoring it on the proviso that they’d be mentioned in all publicity. After a few meetings they agreed to provide some funding. Everything seemed to be falling into place and when Simon Taylor (a sound engineer I’d met through putting on the tribute bands) expressed interest in being involved we were ready to go…
I then booked Half Deaf Clatch for Tuesday 29th July 2014 - and so The Tuesday Night Music Club was born.
It was at that point (in March ’14) that the flood gates opened and the list of bands that wanted to play at The Club started growing. Tuesday was a night, in 2014, when there were very few other venues putting on live music and we appeared to have found a gap in the market. By the time we actually got to our opening night we were already fully booked through to December of that year and the list continued to grow.
Now to the important bit - finding our audience! Having put on other events I knew this wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Regardless of the stature of the artist that you are putting on you have to make sure that the right people know and the event itself is made as attractive as possible. Bear in mind that, back then, we were an unknown Club, in a sleepy Surrey village. While we were putting on one of the most known names in the Blues DJ’s world that didn’t mean that he was known by anyone in our vicinity at that time. And so the never ending task of listing gigs on all the internet events sites started, the printing of flyers and posters, the Facebook and Twitter ads, the phone calls, emails and messages…
Slowly but surely we started to build an audience of regulars and our fortnightly shows started to attract attention - helped hugely by images caught by John Bull and videos shot by Phil Honley. We then had a number of artists expressing interest in recording their live shows and 5 live albums have now been released, thanks to having Simon on hand. Getting worldwide airplay and meantions has certainly helped us!
It was in July 2015 that one of our regular attendees asked if we’d be interested in putting on similar shows in a club in Coulsdon. A few meetings followed and we held our first show there on 24th November ’15 with Paul Lamb and Chad Strentz ensuring that it was a sell out. From thereon it’s been one show a week - alternating between Hooley and Coulsdon.
So from what was the germ of an idea that was only really meant to be a short term project here we are on the verge of putting on our 100th show!
HOW DO YOU RUN IT?
That question about what it takes to run The Tuesday Night Music Club is most often asked by those looking to put on nights themselves. So it’s probably best to give you an idea of what i do.
I spend a lot of time working on promoting the shows and promoting The Club itself. Then, of course, there’s also the time spent talking to artists and dealing with all the enquiries from those that want to play at The Club. To give you an accurate idea of just how much time it takes up I timed myself last week and the result was 33 hours and 20 minutes. So if you’re looking at doing something similar the first thing you’re going to need is time!
To further emphasise that point - that 33hrs, 20 mins doesn’t include my work on the day of the show! That day I have to put up the stage, PA and lights and then host the show before taking down the stage, PA and lights and storing them until the next week. So add another 9 hours to that time!
We’ve had our ups and downs since we started but I try to learn from each of those experiences. And the things I’ve learned that may help those coming after me are:
1/ Have a budget and stick to it. Taking it to extremes it’s unlikely you’ll be able to afford Joe Bonamassa or Beth Hart so be realistic.
2/ Be realistic about the audience numbers you’ll expect to come along - when starting out: Take the first number you thought of and then divide it by 4 (if not more!)
3/ Ensure you have the best sound and lighting you possibly can.
4/ Book bands and artists you think your audience will like - not just those that you like!
5/ Treat all the artists with honesty and respect - don't ever make promises you can’t deliver on.
6/ Do the same with your audience - they are your lifeblood. They are the people who will decide whether your events are successful or not. There’s lots of talk about how people don’t go out to live music and prefer to just sit at home. It’s my belief that people will come out if
a) They are told about the event - just a mention on Facebook isn’t enough. Not everyone uses social media.
b) The event is accessible and in a place they want to be.
c) The event is made attractive enough in regards to both the way it is presented and the amount it will cost them to attend.
d) And finally don’t ever blame your audience if you get a low turn out. All that’s happened is that they have found something else more attractive than your event - yes that might be sitting at home, yes it might be going out to another event, yes it might be… anything! There’s a huge number of distractions and options for entertainment that people have. And, come to that, they also have lives that can put restrictions on what they do. But don’t blame them for not supporting your event - that blame rests firmly with you because you haven’t made that event more attractive than all the other demands on peoples time. Blaming them will only alienate them and you’ll see your attendances falling.
7 If you think that putting on live music could be a way of making money for yourself then think again! There are ways of doing so, don’t get me wrong. But if you are doing it as a secondary thing to your day job the chances are that you will not make an income from it. In fact the chances are that you will make a loss.
None of the above is there to try to put you off putting on live music - in fact I’d love to encourage you to do it! But honesty and realism will help you.
So what does the future hold for The Tuesday Night Music Club? To answer that I’d need a crystal ball! We’d love to find it a permanent home - a building of our own, fully fitted with lighting and sound and the best bar around. It’d be a place where there was live music every night, that could be used as a rehearsal/recording space during the days… that’s a bit of a dream. Until I win the lottery or find a very generous benefactor that’s what, unfortunately, it will remain!
I do it all because I love the music and my ‘payment’ for putting on shows is the smiling faces (on and off stage) at the end of the night. So all I can tell you about the future as things stand is that every Tuesday we’ll bring to you the best live music we can possibly find!
Richard - 5th April 2017
If you want to know how The Tuesday Night Music Club started or what it takes to run it here's a letter from Richard, who founded it and runs it: