|Stan Tracey. Portait by William Ellis. All Rights Reserved|
There are just three more gigs in the music room at the Bulls Head in Barnes SW13 before it passes into new hands and closes for re-furbishment. The venue has hosted music continuously since 1959. The standout gig is tonight, the Stan Tracey Quintet, with Mark Armstrong, Simon Allen, Andrew Cleyndert and Clark Tracey. William Ellis’s portrait (above) is in the National Portrait Gallery. Probably the last man to leave will be Les Circle, when he packs up the drum kit tomorrow night. LISTINGS HERE.
When we covered the story and spoke to Geronimo Inns, they described their plans for it as being open-ended. However, one group is definitely smelling a rat in the plans which Geronimo Inns have for the venue, and and are convinced that “they plan to change the existing famous and legendary Music Room into a restaurant.” We feel we need more information. The group has set up a petition:
UPDATE 1: THEIR PETITION IS HERE
UPDATE 3: We have just had this statement from Ed Turner – MD at Geronimo Inns:
“Geronimo Inns are delighted to be taking over The Bull’s Head in Barnes. The pub has an amazingly rich history as an integral part of the community and more importantly as a legendary music venue for over 50 years. There has been much speculation about the plans for the pub and whether Geronimo Inns intend to maintain the pubs musical heritage . So to be very straight; we have, and still do remain fully committed to hosting live music at The Bull’s Head seven days a week.
We have a track record with running live music pubs, including the Half Moon in Putney and the Elgin in Ladbroke Grove and we have a team dedicated to carrying on the great work overseen by Dan Fleming for the last 30 years. Dan has agreed to help advise us with music planning and music quality, and we are pleased to confirm that we have already booked artists including Salena Jones, Buddy Greco, Alan Price, The Humphrey Lyttelton Band and Stan Tracey to perform in 2013.
A public meeting, held at the beginning of June attended by 120 local residents, musicians and live music lovers, were told that Geronimo Inns will be creating a delicious pub that can further support the live music scene in Barnes and we are not looking to create a ‘gastropub that has music as an incidental offer’, but a pub for the community of Barnes with music very much at it’s heart.
It is true that we want to create a new music room at the venue however we will only do this if it is as good as or better than the existing room in terms of the musical experience. Geronimo Inns have sought planning permission to add to the current layout of the venue to enable us to improve the experience for fans attending shows; this includes, new loos, (including facilities for disabled customers) a first floor dining/ function room and an extension to the stables to create a music room of a similar size to the current one with its own bar and loos. With help from those who have been instrumental in creating the sound in the current music room, we will at least match, and preferably improve, on the current acoustics.
In October 2011, we took over the Half Moon in Putney, another legendary music venue. There had been similar concerns then about the future of the live music. In fact, the changes we introduced to the pub have made it more popular with locals and we have increased the number of artists performing and fans attending shows . In the last twelve months 35,000 music fans have passed through the doors, and they are now able to use the pub to eat, drink and socialise far more than before.
Geronimo Inns are aware of the “Save The Bulls Head” campaigns and wanted to take this opportunity to re-iterate our position and calm any concerns about our intentions. We will not run The Bull’s Head without live music as it is an integral part of the pub and to Barnes and we are committed to, and are aware of our duty to building on this tradition“
Went to Bulls Head in mid 70's and saw people like Morrisey/Mullen, fantastic venue, I hope they don't change it into a restaurant!
I have played at the Bulls Head since the beginning of it`s venture into jazz music instigated by Albert Tolley and it is an institution world wide, do not let this go !
Anonymous and Spike, I am making sure right now that Geronimo are aware of your concerns.
Ed Turner of Geronimo Inns writes:
We start work on refurbishing the Bulls Head towards the end of July and will be re-opening with a totally refurbished pub in October.
We will have a wonderful music room, and will be continuing the great work of Dan Fleming, with live music seven days a week.
In addition we will have a new public bar, plenty of space for diners, but most importantly this is a space to enjoy the music and the banter of the folk of Barnes.
Although not a local to Barnes, I do thoroughly enjoy the Bull's Head music room, and all the gigs I have seen/heard there in the past, last one being Paul Jordanous Big Band. It is a “place” rich in music history, including Holst's place just nearly literally as its neighbor.
Folks will see how big the “music room” is in the “refurbished” Bull's Head in proportion to the restaurant and public bar. Cocktail piano evenings anyone?
At a recent meeting at the Bull's Head it was revealed that the existing music room will become a dining room and the music room will move to the Thai restaurant behind. I've not been to the Thai restaurant but the meeting was told that it is about the same square footage as the music room. The first floor room overlooking the river will also become a restaurant, change-of-use planning permission will be required for this, as it was the landlord's lounge.
Notice there's no mention of the word 'jazz' in the Geronimo statement… Come on everyone, sign the petition. Don't let them turn it into a gastropub with cocktail pianist.
I have my strong doubts about Geronimo Inns' intentions at the Bulls Head. Since when did anyone have any serious intentions about making money by investing in a Jazz venue? The theme song to this boring and unfortunate upcoming metamorphosis should be Watch What Happens rewritten as a funeral dirge.