Jack’s been thinking… about voting for the Forge Venue

The Forge Venue in Camden Town
Photo credit: Chris Huning

Our regular Friday column from trumpeter/ bandleader has a suggestion for who to nominate in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards (lists close 20th February). Jack writes:

Before you cast your vote in the venues category of the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, I’d like to draw your attention to the work being done at The Forge Venue in Camden Town.

While most London jazz gigs take place in the upstairs or downstairs room of a pub, or clubs where music seems to be little more than a soundtrack the comings and goings of waiters and barmen, The Forge is a rare breed: a quiet, dedicated arts space.

True, weekends see the large wooden walls slide back and open out onto the attached restaurant, but the respect for the music is always maintained. The venue is at its intimate best when in chamber hall-like small form. The impressively appointed wooden floor and spacious size provide a warm, generous acoustic, while unusually good lighting completes the sense that this is something special – real care has gone into the design and planning of this place.

Adam and Charlotte Caird are the pair who have shouldered the burden of planning, programming and maintaining this venue. They are both musicians –Adam a composer / pianist, and Charlotte a saxophonist – and their musical openness is one of the factors that makes The Forge such an important venue.

Their programming exhibits a bravery and trust that few venues can compete with. Focussing purely on the jazz side of things (which belittles the cross-genre importance of this place), The Forge has put on London debuts for many fantastic bands, as well as programming a myriad of things other venues fail to put on. It is worth noting a few: Joe Wright’s pioneering duo with drummer James Maddren had its first outing at The Forge, and Kit Downes made his prepared piano debut on the Forge’s Steinway with Shabaka Hutchings in 2011’s London Jazz Festival at the special request of The Forge’s Adam Caird (There’s more on Kit’s blog). And a Jazzwise album of the year was recorded there.

The venue announced last month that Loop Collective are resident musicians for 2012, and the launch event of their residency series will take place on Friday 10 February 2012 , featurnig Rory Simmons’ Monocled Man and Hanslip/Hurley/Sanders.

Other events to look forward to are Shabaka Hutchings’ Sons of Kemet, as well as a new multimedia project emerging from the Royal Academy’s jazz course.

Charlotte and Adam set aside a Friday night to put on my own big band a year or so ago when I was struggling to find venues to perform at, and the full hall turned a potentially nerve-wracking debut into an immensely rewarding and most of all encouraging experience.

London needs more places like The Forge, and The Forge deserves our ongoing support, and appreciation.
And here’s the place you can show it


Categories: miscellaneous

3 replies »

  1. i don't disagree with any of the great things that the article about states, but am I correct in saying that this is a venue that does NOT guarantee wages? And if that is correct, should high level artists even be working for no guarantees, and 2. should we be voting for a venue that doesn't even guarantee wages to artists? and 3. Should venues exist at all if they can't offer artists some sort of guaranteed wage?

    Without going into the usual 'well you need to understand how hard it is to run a venue' I'd like to hear what people have to say.

  2. Hi, without going into too much detail, my upcoming gig at the Forge includes a guarantee + door split – rather a generous deal I thought.

    Point 3 would mean closure of places like the Con, The Oxford, the NLT, though I can see both sides of the argument. It definitely is hard – but then as I always say, subsidy has to be the answer.

  3. Thanks Jack, good to hear, so I stand corrected, and I agree, it must be hard. I agree with the subsidy statement. Places like France for example have all of this sorted out.

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