David Harvey, author of The Look of Jazz (2020) has brought to LJN’s attention the plight of The Junction in Coldharbour Lane in Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, an independent music venue offering free live music six nights a week.
The venue, due to close on 1 September, is a vital community hub. Links to a petition and a crowdfunder are below. David Harvey writes:
Will you help to save The Junction?
Anyone who cares about jazz knows that the venues that provide a platform for the music are gold dust.
So the news that The Junction, the Brixton-based jazz venue which has been going since 2015, is under threat, is troubling news.
The venue’s future is in the balance, not because of its basic viability, but because of wrangles over the lease.
Once the news leaked out, there was an immediate groundswell of support to keep the venue going.
INITIATIVES TO SAVE THE JUNCTION
Apart from actively supporting The Junction by making the trip in person to Coldharbour Lane, any one who cares about live jazz can sign the petition:
- “Save The Junction Music Pub” on change.org. PETITION TO KEEP THE JUNCTION OPEN
- Support the crowd-funding initiative to keep The Junction, or if it comes to it, its successor, afloat. (LINK)
The venue owes its existence and success to the obsessive commitment of its founders, Paul Canton and Luke Fowler.
If profit-based considerations had determined their thinking, The Junction would have never got off the ground.
It operates a six-nights-a-week music programme. Exceptionally, it is free to audiences.
The no-charge policy applies not just to regular jams, but also to performances by top-flight musicians such as Dave O’Higgins and Simon Purcell. The Junction has also showcased up-and-coming talent and international musicians including Canadian Sean Fyfe, a pianist who has become a regular at The Junction.
The simple reason that the place is able to operate along these lines is the willingness of the two founders to plough most of the profit from the bar and kitchen back into paying the musicians.
“Only a musician is going to do this. I would probably have been better off taking a £10.00 an hour job if it was about the money,” says Paul. But it never was about that.
“I always wanted a club where I could play,” says drummer and saxophonist Paul.
It was meeting bass-player Luke Fowler on a gig that provided the catalyst. Their friendship developed into a musical and business partnership that underpins The Junction’s success.
“Without Luke, there would have been no Junction,” says Paul.
With initial funding provided by Paul, both partners put in the sweat equity to refurbish the premises and get things going.
Not that it has always been plain sailing.
Over the first few years, the venue gradually built up its reputation, along with much needed custom and trade. Then Covid came along.
With uncharacteristic understatement, Paul says, “The pandemic was a bit annoying. Before that, we had started staging gigs with musicians like Matt Fishwick and Jim Mullen. Had the lockdown not happened, we would have continued to grow.”
Yet with a combination of belt-tightening and running a take-away food service during the lockdown, The Junction muddled through the pandemic and emerged on the other side to carry on where it had left off.
“Things took off again,” says Paul. “People were coming back for the music.”
A major reason for its post-pandemic resurgence is a strong community focus, which for Paul is one of the most gratifying returns from the hard slog of nurturing The Junction through good and tough times. “It’s become a destination for musicians and people who live locally,” he says.
Knowing what he does now about running a six-nights-a-week jazz joint, would he still have opened the Junction?
“I think I’d still open a place to play.”
If the worst did happen, and the Junction had to close its doors, would that be the end of the dream? “I think we’d find another place,” says Paul.
Many will be relieved to hear that.
LINKS / DETAILS
The Junction website – Address: 171 Coldharbour Lane, London SE5 9PA.
“Save The Junction Music Pub” on change.org. PETITION TO KEEP THE JUNCTION OPEN
Support the crowd-funding initiative to keep The Junction, or if it comes to it, its successor, afloat. (LINK)