Published: 00:00, 30 April 2014 |
Updated: 06:14, 01 May 2014
A passion for live music and a major investment of cash, time and energy have led to a gem of a new venue opening in Thanet.
Ramsgate Music Hall in Turner Street is hip and happening, despite the “old time” connotations of the name.
Music lovers are rejoicing as they discover the hall, already attracting big names on the touring circuit.
Julian Biggs, one of the partners, described RMH “as a passionate love nest for the ardent music fan, to host regular and amazing live music, giving a stage to touring bands that would otherwise rarely visit Kent, let alone east Kent.”
Equally important is boosting the burgeoning music career of up-and-coming young, fresh talent.
“Most band support slots are giving to young Kent based musicians, giving them great experience/inspiration while supporting larger national known acts,” added Julian.
Ironically, people in Thanet and the county at large, may be less aware of the venue, despite the plaudits from those in the know at the music industry’s core.
With a packed May programme, the hall’s creators are keen to spread the word.
The hall’s inception came about as three Thanet friends, Julian from Ramsgate, former Manchester-based producer and radio-plugger Tim Baines and entrepreneur and music lover Robin Hyman made the long trip back to the Isle from a Somerset festival.
The notion of opening their own venue on the doorstep was the talking point. Their advantage was a lifetime’s involvement in music and this burning ambition.
It drove them on to buy former Jester’s comedy club “in an absolute state” at auction, and to spend some £300,000 rebuilding it to create an intimate venue with superb acoustics, ensuring memorable gigs for both performers and audiences. Their aim was to establish a venue in a class of its own to attract top acts.
RMH includes a German state of the art sound system and a really decent green room with toilets, ensuring the comfort of musicians.
The hall has capacity for just 120 at live-music events and up to 150 on DJ-based club nights.
Funding included £40,000 raised through the Regional Growth Fund, a large chunk from each partner and the rest from private sources.
Julian, a graphic designer who has worked on album covers and was involved in developing acclaimed Shoreditch live music venue Cargo, said there is nowhere its equal as a “dedicated proper music venue” in Kent before The Forum in Tunbridge Wells. After that, it was London or Brighton.
“We are bringing great touring names to the east Kent coast every week. The feedback so far has been great, but only die-hard music fanatics have really found out about us so far even though we are building a strong and lively social media following.”
London indie band Allo Darlin’ were the first to play there, then The Wave Pitches, Blouse and Cate Le Bon. She kicked off the official opening in February and had chosen RMH for the first night of her hugely successful UK tour. Her sound engineer pronounced the acoustics as potentially the best in the country for a small venue.
Julian Bigg said: “Since then a host of great acts have played the venue, nearly all heard daily on BBC 6 Music. The Fauns, Kiran Leonard, Holy Mountain, Casual Sex among others, with many more booked for the months ahead.”
There is a real spectrum of sound in the line ups, attracting people of all ages and tastes, aged from 15 to 65. Children are allowed in with their parents.
Some are hardcore festival goers, others have quite different musical backgrounds. They have been coming from all over Kent, as far as Dartford, London, and even Nottingham.
Now the challenge is to raise awareness and ensure a viable income.
Julian added: “Hopefully we’ll be here in our retirement, watching a brilliant band that we helped inspire when they were kids, seeing their first gig at the Ramsgate Music Hall.”
The May programme includes: Friday, May 2: Cinema night, showing Grandma Lo-fi. Saturday, May 3: Love Saves the Day (DJ with Howard Sway). Monday, May 5: Vertical Scratchers. Tuesday, May 6: Pontiak. Thursday, May 8: Broken Twin. Friday, May 9: Woman’s Hour. Thursday, May 15: Syd Arthur. Saturday, May 17: The Amazing Snakeheads. Monday, May 26: Smoke Fairies.
The bar is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The team are looking at how to provide rehearsal space where young people without instruments can come and play, with workshops for drums, guitar and more.
Tickets for all events are available at www.WeGotTickets.com, with prices ranging from £3 to £10. For more, visit www.ramsgatemusichall.com and Facebook.com/ramsgatemusichall
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