Independent Venue Week: Craufurd Arms and Roadmender line up gigs

Slay Duggee play at the Craufurd Arms
Slay Duggee play at the Craufurd Arms

The Craufurd Arms in Wolverton is firmly established on the rock and indie circuit and has been taking part in Independent Venue Week for a number of years.

In the latest of our articles on IVW, we take a closer look at what owners Jason Hall and Max Harvey have in store for 2020.

The Barratts perform at the Roadmender

The Barratts perform at the Roadmender

“Independent Venue Week is really important to raise awareness of the venues,” explains Jason – who is responsible for most of the bookings at the venue.

“This is where most music and entertainment starts and a lot of the time after a band’s glory days, this is back where they end up.

“The hard work and support by IVW is an enormous to support us all and helps link us with agents, support through tough times, licensing, PRS and the threats of closure.”

Independent Venue Week runs from January 27 to February 2.

It was set up to celebrate the work done by independent venues across the UK and the people who own, run and work in them throughout the year.

The Craufurd Arms will begin IVW with a cinema night where it will be screening select music documentaries.

It also has the first heat of the annual Metal 2 The Masses competition and headline gigs by Girlschool, Heart Of A Coward, Slay Duggee and Ego.

“During IVW it is incredibly difficult to put together the shows that in your head you imagine you deserve,” explains Mr Hall.

“This time of year you have every single grassroots venue and promotor in the county using IVW as a launchpad to get a big show in their intimate venue, us included, and I think this is a frustration for the agents which can result in a blunt no, or a hugely inflated fee which is not beneficial to the venue, but still might take the risk.

“It’s definitely worth being part of, the press mentions, the push you give it yourself and collaboration that can come about from it. It’s also nice to be part of a bigger community.”

Last year the Craufurd Arms started LGBTQ+ drag nights as well as hosting music for children and babies while also supporting its local scene.

Mr Hall added: “Last year was absolutely crazy. We had more shows than we have ever done before.

“More sell outs than ever, the list of bands we had was ridiculous with some acts going onto Mercury Prize award nominations and huge shows such as Reef with Andy Taylor, The Maine, The Wedding present, The Bluetones and Paul Gilbert.”

Tickets for the Craufurd Arms’ IVW gigs are on sale now via www.thecraufurdarms.com

The Craufurd Arms’ Independent Venue Week shows:

Wednesday, January 29: Girlschool, Evyityde

Thursday, January 30: Metal 2 The Masses Heat 1 featuring Torus, Pink7, Della Nova, Akilla

Friday, January 31: Heart Of A Coward, Krysthla, Seeker, Take Refuge

Saturday, February 1: My First Metal Gig with Slay Duggee (sold out)

Sunday, February 2: Ego, Blood Visions, Tragic

This year will be the first time the Roadmender has taken part in Independent venue week – despite having a proud history as Northampton’s major music venue, hosting acts from across the world.

Last year saw the likes of Dragonforce, Enter Shikari and Gary Numan play while slowthai capped off another successful 2019 for the venue.

The Roadmender is run by Natalie and Dave Norris, who are now into their second decade at the venue.

Natalie said: “We are responsible for the everyday running of the venue, from booking artists, marketing the shows, liaising with agents and artists right down to fixing the loos and the accounting.

“The list is endless. We do it all ourselves with no funding which is how we make it survive.

“We are blessed to have the added support of our duty manager, our in-house engineers, bar staff, security and Neale Tidd.”

Independent Venue Week runs from January 27 to February 2.

It was set up to celebrate the work done by independent venues across the UK and the people who own, run and work in them throughout the year.

This year the venue is hosting a hometown gig by Billy Lockett as part of his UK tour as well as a show featuring some of the best-known bands from across the county.

Natalie said: “As a grassroots venue we are really excited to be a part of the celebrations.

“It is a great opportunity to showcase some of Northampton’s fantastic up and coming artists.

“It gives people a chance to get up close and personal to acts that may well be playing festivals and stadiums in the future like slowthai.

“It’s also great to see other venues in the town taking part, without these vital venues, there wouldn’t be a platform for them to come to us.”

Billy Lockett headlines on Friday, January 31, Roni Size and LTJ Bukem play on Saturday, February 1, with The Keepers, The Candidates, Century City, The Barratts and Garden playing on Sunday, February 2.

“It’s really hard running an independent venue that is not in a metropolitan city,” explains Natalie.

“The music scene and touring circuit has changed dramatically over the last decade, with artists and bands adding fewer dates to tours.

“Exposure via other channels such as festivals, social media and live streaming all has a knock-on effect on independent venues.

“We took over the Roadmender in December 2009 and we have definitely had our ups and downs.

“However, we feel we’re heading in the right direction.

“Our passion for the venue is as strong, if not stronger, than the day we took over and we’re looking forward to what the next decade brings.”

For more information about all forthcoming Roadmender shows, visit www.theroadmender.com

Shows at the Roadmender during Independent Venue Week:

Friday, January 31: Billy Lockett

Saturday, February 1: Roni Size & LTJ Bukem

Sunday, February 2: The Barratts, Candidates, The Keepers, Century City, Garden