I was excited about the GLASSHOUSE Ballroom gig for Music For Change. It was our Canterbury debut and people had to PAY to see us!! Ok, not a lot, but these are all significant moments in our climb to International stardom.
The Ballroom has evolved much since I first went there some nine years ago. It used to be a funky, quirky, venue that prided itself in tending to the needs of musicians. As such it was never destined to be a financial success but it was held up as somewhere a bit special and a tad different to yer average music venue / pub. Of course it had a different name back then, 'Orange Street Music' (in Orange Street) self-explanetary really and it was put through its first series of changes by Stefan Colley.
I always got the impression that Stefan saw it as his private club where he'd entertain his best pals and impress certain, unsuspecting women. That formula was never sustainable and despite his best efforts to make the place sound proof and free from mean neighbours' complaints, he eventually conceded defeat and passed the baton to Simon Ness.
Now, Simon I don't know, but it was clear from early on that Simon wasn't about to fall into the 'let's make something great for muso's' trap. He extened the previously modest bar along the back wall and introduced a more 'nightclub' feel. And yes, he changed the long-standing 'Orange Street Music' into 'The Ballroom'. For those of you who don't know, the Ballroom is just that - a classic Victorian dance hall with ornate frieze and hanging chandeliers. Simon majored on the chandeliers and created a nice 'posh bar with high ceilings' feel. He kept the two theatre lights that were hanging high above the new DJ Pulpit and I want to tell you that one of them I lent to Stefan back in the day (everyone seems to be mean when it comes to lighting).
Music has continued. And with the help of Soundman Steve Collis, we found a great balance of spectacle, rhythm and groove on the night. We were supported by The Mahalas - a trio of familiar faces who put out some absorbing Ethnic vibes with a combination of acoustic guitar, percussion and flutes. They set-the-scene perfectly and were very right for a Music For Change audience (they're all about World Music / Ethnic Sounds).
Then we played and everyone - at least everyone I could see (it looked packed) - had a great time. It's difficult to crit your own gig so I wont even try, we had a guest appearance from Ginger Bennet who I play with in Project F and, apart from a minor slip-up in the form, it was a fine performance.
I love it that this place is still going strong and that music is still central to what they're all about. Canterbury needs the Ballroom but it would never admit it...