ONE of Bishop’s Stortford’s longest-running gig nights has been given an 11th hour reprieve after two new faces stepped in to take it over.
Acoustic Club, which is held at the Half Moon every Thursday, was due to end its 10-year stint next Friday (May 31) after organisers Annie Compton and Keef Jackman decided to retire.
The search for a replacement – which was announced in the Observer a year ago – had proven fruitless until last week, when Hertford musicians Jessica and Neil Drummond took on the role.
The husband-and-wife duo, who play in bluesy surf-rock band The Huxleys, say they’ll be sticking to the spirit of the evening’s founders and will still offer a friendly platform for burgeoning talent.
Thanks to the South Africa-born pair’s timely intervention, Acoustic Club will carry on exactly as before from June 7. Performers for the first night under Jessica and Neil’s direction will be announced shortly.
Since being launched by Keef and Annie a decade ago, the night has gained a reputation for supporting completely new artists while booking some top-flight headliners. Among those to have passed through its doors are 2010 X Factor champion Matt Cardle, who played the club before finding fame, and musical giants like Jon Gomm and the late fingerstyle guitar virtuoso Eric Roche.
It has also attracted some incredible underground talent in just about every genre from across the UK, while local names like Rich Judge – whose band I Dream In Colour has sold out four major London indie venues in the past year – also cut their teeth there.
Organising the gigs week after week offers little by way of financial reward. But Jessica and Neil, who already run a similar night in their hometown, firmly believe Acoustic Club is a venture worth saving.
Jessica said: “We’ve got the club in Hertford and have run similar ones in London, so we know the ins and outs and the responsibilities that are involved. Obviously this is a big one, but we’re ready for it.
“We’ve played there a few times, so when we heard it was closing we thought it’d be a shame to let it fade away. There’s no other place like it for musicians to get live experience if they don’t already have recordings and a following.
“Annie and Keef are still going to be part of the club – they’re going to come and play and support us, which is very important. We’ve taken over all the sound equipment from them and will be making a big effort to keep it running exactly as it was before.”
Acoustic Club is held at the Half Moon in North Street from 8.45pm every Thursday. Entry is £4 (£2 performers). See www.acousticclub.co.uk or ring (01279) 834500.