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Half Moon under threat

The Half Moon is under threat. No, not THIS half moon, (photo by Rob Goldsmith),but the landmark music venue in Putney. I went to sit in with Dick Laurie’s band, and to find out more.

The Half Moon has been presenting live music since 1963. People who have played there on their way up in the world include the Rolling Stones, Stevie Winwood, U2, Kate Bush and Ralph McTell. It is a seven-nights-a-week venue with a capacity of 200.

Youngs want to turf the existing tenant out on 31st Jan 2010. They seem to have other plans for the site which do not involve live music. The existing staff have been given their notice. People are talking about gastropubs, but most people I met there yesterday are assuming that it will have been knocked down for residential accommodation within about 18 months.

These small venues are far more important than that.

“The real shop floor for musical talent is pubs and clubs, that is where the original work is. But they are being closed down on a daily basis. It is impossible to put an act on in a pub. It has become too expensive through excessive regulations. The music industry has been hugely important to England, bringing in millions. If anyone thinks the X Factor is going to do that, they are wrong.”

Sting, intervewed by Geordie Greig, Evening Standard, 11.11.09

Young’s used to be a family-owned brewing company with more of a sense of the wider role and responsibilities. These days they describe themselves as just a “retail company.” And its board’s priorities these days are clear, being serviced by only two committees, one for audit and one for remuneration.

There are some wider issues here-I guess that social responsibility is might be a bit too soft and girl-y for this board of directors. Young’s need a wake-up call.

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This Evening Standard story gets most of the facts. I will return to this subject – feeling under the weather today – but here’s the Facebook Group

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