South West Calling!
Agent Keith Hall writes for us here in UK Cabaret on the subject of the live cabaret scene in his area of the UK.
Now before anyone shouts “get off the tractor” let me tell you readers it’s not all cider and carrot crunching down here I’ll have you know.
Where entertainment is concerned the business as a whole is pretty healthy although we have seen many changes over the pat few years mainly due to the recession.
Club and pub closures over the UK have been a real concern not just for the punters but the acts too. Less venues, less work, and competition between everyone as they struggle to keep a steady flow of work coming in. The exception to the former though will be “The Bay Acts” who are they? I here you cry. Well quite simply it’s the Torquay brigade, the Elite of the English Riviera, and I have to say, a smashing bunch of professional entertainers. These guys don’t ever seen to be out of work and most are booked five or six nights a week throughout the year as Torquay and the Torbay area has a healthy influx of visitors all year round. Now don’t get me wrong these guys are not multi millionaires for working their socks off, but most have the knowledge that a steady income will be there for them all year round all be it at a reduced nightly rate.
Now some acts would say “I’m not working for that a night”, however there has to be some consolation in the fact that it’s better to be earning a living and knowing you have a good wage coming in, rather than hoping the phone will ring and your diary will be full at the end of each year. Amongst the artistes who are most prominent in the area are Lindsay Collard, Dean Winters, Ruby Washington, Jason Howard and Peter Baffles. I have no doubt there will be mixed emotions with some readers about this subject, with some wishing to add more names of their own to this popularity list.
So who is shining in this part of the world? Well it seems that everyone is now appreciating the return of some variety in their entertainment calendars down here.
Tributes enjoy huge popularity. The best have been visiting frequently, Totally Tina aka Justine Riddoch with her superb Tina Turner show. Others include Gary Pease, who blew my showcase audience to bits last year with his show, The Rod Stewart Experience. The sensational Mr Buzz D’Angello, with his double tribute offering of James Brown and Ray Charles is very popular. These high calibre acts would never have been seen in smaller venues many years ago, i.e. the social clubs and nice eatery pubs. But publicans and licensees are now realising this is what it takes to get people through their doors, top rate, professional acts who will draw a crowd.
Gone are the days of the Cabaret venues set up in old industrial units of the outskirts of the town. Such venues often charged £6 to £10 for entry. They seem to have had their day. People were soon wising up to their dowdy furniture and drab decor, as well as their overpriced beer. It’s all about walking around to somewhere local, enjoying a pint in nice surroundings and watching these guys for free. In the main it certainly seems to be working for a lot of venues.
Comedy too enjoys huge popularity in this part of the UK. Two names that seem to be in constant demand are the stand up comedians, Jack Glanville & Stewart Masters. Both are storming venues across the UK and Europe, as well being huge draws in their own native South-West. Looking at these West Country guys date sheets they will be having a very Happy Christmas this year, and well deserved it will be. Masters of their craft they work very hard, and on a personal note, they are two of the nicest chaps I’ve ever met in the business.
All in all we are alive and well, lots of new acts coming through the ranks, which is always encouraging, happy punters and working relationships with customers at an all time high. The future is looking bright after a slow few years, and we are very confident that thing are getting back to “normal” if there was ever such a word in this business.