Guernsey Gigs Unplugged Club – The Golden Lion – 06/02/18

Richey Powers
Richey Powers

With open mic nights happening weekly at the De La Rue (Mondays), Cock and Bull (Tuesdays), The Golden Lion (Wednesdays) and The Vault (Thursdays), as well as the monthly Folk Club open sessions it might seem that Guernsey Gigs have stepped into a well over subscribed arena with their new, monthly, Unplugged Club events that began on Tuesday 6th February in The Lion’s Den (upstairs at The Golden Lion).

Based off this first event though they seem to have created something unique that combines elements of the usual open mic nights with aspects of the Folk Club and an added feeling of an informal social gathering – open to all but with a real focus on the music being played.

Gregory Harrison
Gregory Harrison

Starting early, ‘doors’ were at 6pm, meant that for a week night it wasn’t going to run too late, with the first of two sequences of live music beginning at just after 7, giving people time to arrive, sign up, have a drink and a chat and buy some raffle tickets (with a nice selection of prizes donated by Vinyl Vaughan’s record shop and Kendall Guitars).

The setting of the semi-private upstairs room with a loosely set start time provided a great way to avoid the often awkward sequence from normal night in a pub to open mic music night I’ve witnessed in other venues meaning that, as the evening’s compere and first performer, Gregory Harrison, took to the stage, focus and attention naturally went that way with all falling quiet to listen – something notable, particularly following the previous weekend’s Vale Earth Fair Unplugged show.

Melody on the banjo
Melody on the banjo

The first of two bouts of live music, all entirely amplification free, featured Carrie Carr, Tim Bishop, Melody and her banjo, Nick Coleman and Jack Crisp, each playing two or three songs or tunes to the appreciative, encouraging and non-judgmental audience with a brilliantly inclusive, light-hearted atmosphere.

After a break that included the drawing of the raffle (what to buy with my voucher from Vaughan’s?) the music began again with most of the chairs that had been laid out to create a performance space full, along with the tables further back in The Lion’s Den.

Once again the appreciative and attentive atmosphere returned for Between The Signs, Richey Powers, Lord Vapour (yes really), another rather different set from Tim Bishop and Ramblin’ Nick Mann, once again all entirely unplugged.

Nick Coleman
Nick Coleman

What this non-amplified style of performance did was avoid the issue of a ‘sound war’ between performers and audience that can happen in these situations and engendered, without need for shushing or berating, a quiet respect in the room that just added to the overall relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

It’ll be interesting to see if that can be maintained if these events get busier (which I hope they do) but for a first Guernsey Gigs Unplugged Club brought something new to the island’s scene that could become a special meeting place for musicians and friends a-like.

You can see more of my photos from the Unplugged Club on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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