Great things have come of standing in our doorway and having random chats with delightful people. One of those chats was about four years ago with a chap called Steve Lowis. Steve is a bit of a local legend as far as we’re concerned. His love of new music, and of people, is in the core of his being.
He was telling me about his recent trip to Ventura California where he was delighted to have played in a few acoustic singer/songwriter nights. What was especially interesting was the format of the gigs, which sounded quite common over there, but not so much in the UK.
The usual multi-artist acoustic night here is to have one musician come up on stage at a time and do their thing. All well and good. But the Californian way sounded intriguing to us – to have all the artists up on stage together, performing one song at a time, ‘in the round’ as it were. And so, Three Monkey (One More Round) was born.
At Three Monkeys we invite in advance (well, mostly Steve invites) three musicians up on stage and perform six songs each (with a break in the middle) taking it in turns. Straight away, the advantages of doing it this way became obvious. First off, the people who came to hear one particular artist don’t all leave after their set finishes (because they don’t have a set as such.) This happens a lot at other events, often leaving the final performer with two old blokes and a whippet in the audience! I personally think it’s disrespectful to the other artists and their fans – just sayin’.
From the audience’s point of view, they get a great mixture of material which keeps it fresh and moving along a pace. But my favourite aspect of it is seeing the musicians (who have often not met before) getting to know one another, and rapidly adapting their set list to compliment what the last ‘monkey’ played. The banter between them is often very entertaining, too, and it’s not unheard of for them to start joining in together.
You might be lucky enough to catch a whole band at Three Monkeys! Every so often, we’ll invite the members of a band to play individually as solo artists (but not usually the drummer!)
You know the most infuriating thing about going to some gigs? Trying to hear what’s being played over the noise of people yacking at the bar at the back, or having a conversation with their mates right next to you. Doesn’t happen at Three Monkeys. Something very gratifying for us is to hear from almost every artist, how exciting (and sometimes terrifying) it was for them to play to an audience that was actually listening to their songs (often for the first time!)
This is a night for people who really love music and who want to show their support for new local talent. However, we do occasionally host performers from outside the area, if they are available, like the amazing Dan Whitehouse (right) for example, who happened to be touring at the time.
The very best of them, I’ve noticed, manage to involve everyone in the room in what they’re playing, and they do it by playing to the front row, not trying to please everyone. Odd that, but a useful lesson, I think.
For a while, as I was behind the sound desk anyway (kindly donated to us by the lovely Art Asia) I was able to record most of the artists each month and put them up online as a record of some of the wonderful music we had the privilege of enjoying. (I had to stop, as it just took too long to get round to editing and uploading them, but go ahead and have a listen to what’s there!) You might also be able to catch some of the artists playing on our ‘Art House Radio’ in the cafe.. (our Spotify Playlist of musicians that have performed, or will be performing, here.)
I really enjoy the challenge of teasing out the very best sound from the variety of instruments and voices we’re presented with, aided by the excellent acoustics of our part sound-proofed room and the incredible Mackie SRM450 PA (don’t buy anything else!) It’s the little blue LED on the front that makes all the difference 🙂
Three Monkeys takes place, usually, on the third Friday of every month. You can keep an eye on Monkey News and who’s coming up on Facebook, or watch out on our Events Page. Entry is free, but a suggested donation of around a fiver is welcome towards our running costs.
A massive thanks to all the artists who give their time and talent for free to support this event. Most refuse their travel costs and some have even donated the sales of their CDs on the night. Tears from us are not uncommon! We love you all.
STOP PRESS The really good news in that we are running a series of extra Three Monkeys nights called, of course, Three More Monkeys.
Here are all the dates coming up (in reverse order) with links when they’re up:
|Friday||16/01/2015||Damien O’Vitch||Jonny Bell||Ben Farrant|
|Friday||12/12/2014||Indigorado||Jack Williams||Josh Savage|
|Thursday||27/11/2014||Matt Blake||Scott Beech||Joe Mongan|
|Friday||21/11/2014||Ollie Goodwin||Or So She Said||Dave Wire Larcombe|
|Thursday||30/10/2014||Sarah Saville||Jonny Phillips||CatElizaT|
|Friday||17/10/2014||Scott Freeman||Jane Goldsack||Paul Kiddle|
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See you there!