The Bishops Stortford Acoustic Club

at South Mill Arts Centre

1-3, South Road, Bishops Stortford, Herts. CM23 3JG

 

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January to June 2024

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ACOUSTIC CLUB

The Godfathers of the Acoustic Club

 

 

Keef Jackman & Drew Bonnington

 

Keef Jackman and Drew Bonnington started the Acoustic Club in April 2002 as they both had a desire to play blues music acoustically and had no stage to do so! Initially, it was held once a month, with an open mic for all styles of music, any acoustic instrument, and any level with Keef’s partner Annie carrying out the door function.

 

With Drew taking a back seat, Keef & Annie ran the club successfully for 10 years creating a weekly night that was very much an important part of the local music scene. It was expanded and the format was set with a Showcase Act being supported by 9 acts. During those early days a number of performers came to call the Acoustic Club their first home. Players who gained Internationally renown:- George Ezra, Surie, John Gomm, Sam Smith, Matt Cardle to name a few but there have been so many!!

 

In June 2012 Keef and Annie made the decision that they would like a break from organising the Club and handed the reins over to Jess & Neil – 2/3’s of the fabulous band The Huxleys who were in the business of Music Clubs. They gladly inherited the club to run alongside their regular Hertford open mic nights. They installed Hertford guitarist and songwriter Luke Silver as Host and M/C with Rob Daniels as resident sound engineer.

 

The Club continued with a vast range of players and headliners as Jess introduced us to many of her musical friends from around the world whilst continuing with local performers.

 

In 2014, with a thriving music shop and school and teaching business in Hertford and a growing young family, Jess and Neil could no longer dedicate the time necessary to the Club. At this point Geoff and Bill became the next inheritors of the Bishops Stortford Acoustic Club

 

Since then, Geoff and Bill have been able to steer the club from almost closure to being stalled for 15 months during the pandemic via a relocation to the other end of Town during the closure of the Half Moon for refurbishment. Because of the refocussing of the Horn at the Half Moon into the wonderful music venue it is, we have changed days from Thursday to Wednesday. Also, to suit other requirements we now run every other week.

 

Geoff and Bill have expanded the scope of music to include differing formats featuring the traditional evening of a Showcase Act supported by 8 support acts, 6 x 4 and 4 x 6 acts with either 6 acts with 4 songs or 4 acts with 6 songs and finally Concert nights with a major headliner and one or two supporting artists.

 

In 2020 BP (before the pandemic), we planned to have outdoor concerts in the Courtyard and more special nights with headline acts, with album launches and supporting tours of the very top players. Now things are back on an even keel we will get back on those as well as our involvement in BISH BASH!. In 2021 the Bandstand Acoustic stage was the centre of peace and tranquillity and we featured 16 hours of live acoustic-ish music with 33 headline acts and 65 musicians (some played twice or even 3 times.

 

Grateful thanks to all our performers who were in order of playing

Friday 4th:- Jo Clack , Clark & Johnson, Cider at Yours (both of them), Joe Chipperfield, Bill Johnson, Troi, The One After 909 (Colin and James Frid), India Purton accompanied by Stuart Purton, Hanako Ward, Billianna accompanied by Graham Instrall & Joe Hazell, Ella Brand, Pat Crilly & Paul Hilder, Peter Crossley, Luke James Williams, Junkyard Dawg Jug Band (All four of them), Thursday’s Band (Four of them of them), Elliot Porter, Parker (both of them)

 

Saturday:- Martin Day plus Bill, Laura Dannan, Stephen Aravena + Richard Johnson and one whose name escapes me on cajon (sorry), Jay Williams, Terry Hiscock, Archie Eastlake with Hanako Ward, Sofia Gatland with Hanako Ward, Bill Tarran, Jono (Four of them Mike, Ed Kris and Cormac), Dan Starr, Frances & Love Hobbs, Bill Tarran, Sheri Kershaw Band (Sheri, Martin and David), Linda Moylan and Ian Montague, Joe Hazell and Tom Ryder and the Joe Chipperfield Blues Breakers ( Joe Chipperfield, Joe Hazell, Grant, Graham, Dan and Cormac)

 

During 2023 things at the Horn at the Half Moon went from bad to worse.

The first was that, following a serious incident outside the Pub, the Licensing Authority closed the premises for 8 weeks. This caused us no end of issues the most trying was the cancellation of the gig by SuRie, which had been long planned and was at very short notice.

We managed to work around the closure of the Pub and we found temporary location at the South Mill Arts Centre. This temporary move was very popular with the players and audience alike. However once the pub was reopened we happily moved back to the Horns at the Half Moon.

Disaster almost struck again when at the end of October the Management, who had installed a new manager to run the premises as part of the re-opening, decided that they no longer wished to run the pub and surrendered the lease. This resulted in yet another shutdown of the pub and because the SMAC was not available we were delighted to move to the Belgian Brewer.

 

Due to the ongoing issues in Stortford Town Centre and the obvious advantages of being primarily located at the South Mill Arts Centre, from 11th January we will be located at the SMAC for our 2024 season.

 

It is such a wrench to move on a permanent basis from the Half Moon – we have been there through thick and thin for over 20 years – but circumstances change and we either change or fade into the background.

 

So we look forward to 2024 with hope an enthusiasm for a New Year and some wonderful nights in prospect

 

Geoff and Bill