Organiser hopes to ‘up the ante’ of live music project at ‘Northampton’s best backstreet boozer’
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The organiser of a live music project at Northampton’s self-proclaimed “best backstreet boozer” is hoping to “up the ante” now it has been going for almost four years.
Former professional musician Andy Shaw and Tom Neal, manager at The Garibaldi in Bailiff Street, launched the ‘Matinee’ project – which has seen live performances take place most Saturday and Sunday afternoons since.
Andy wanted to kickstart a project in the industry he loves so it would provide him the same joy but without the pressure, and he says that goal has been “achieved massively”.
The Matinee performances now have a national reputation and feature the very best artists nationally and globally, with roots in jazz, blues, R&B, country, fusion, soul, reggae and folk.
As the events are free and non-ticketed – with a donation requested from those who can afford it – there is no obstacle for people to see performances that they might otherwise be precluded from.
Andy described the project as a “true labour of love”, which he has dedicated thousands of hours to over the past four years.
The former musician takes nothing for his work, as his aim is to support the musicians and performers and highlight marginalised genres.
Talking to this newspaper, Andy said: “We’ve had some of the most acclaimed artists here. The project is a celebration of Northampton and the awash of phenomenal talent.
“There are amazing musicians in and around Northampton, and people travel to perform here.”
Andy has been told the performances are the type you would expect to see in a ticketed jazz club, as the atmosphere matches what the musicians grew up with and The Garibaldi offers a “vibrant environment”.
“It makes music accessible,” said Andy, who also shared that half of the public donations go into a dedicated pot to keep the project going – and the other half goes on top of the performers’ fees.
Andy added: “The reception has been fantastic and the project has grown over time. It is very busy and packed.
“We’ve worked hard to achieve that level of appreciation in the town and the results are fantastic.
“There’s never been a project like it. You get to see people every week who are nationally regarded, on a free to view basis. It’s sustained quality and it is really quite unique.”
Andy says the aim of the project is to “celebrate the people who are the power behind the throne”.
“The atmosphere is incredible at the venue,” he added. “People love it. We want to up the ante of the project and make it better and better.
“We want it to be different but complementary to other music events in the town.”
The team know they have reached a stage where they need to move forward, and applying for Arts Council Lottery Funding is the first step in doing so.
If the funding is secured, it will be used to get the project far wider exposure, make improvements to sound, and introduce a facility to record the performances.
They are soon to host a silent auction of artwork to keep the performances going, which is part of the continuous fundraising required until they get substantial funding.
If they reach their goal of hiring a dedicated sound person, Andy also hopes to establish a relationship with Northampton College so those studying can come along, observe and learn.
Andy wanted to take the opportunity to thank those who have stuck by and supported the Matinee project – namely Tom Neal and all at The Garibaldi, John Finn, Cath Felce, Lanah Hewson and the “incredible” artists that grace the venue each week.