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GROOVES: Independent Venue Week; Brand New Heavies

28 January, 2021 — By Róisín Gadelrab

The Brand New Heavies. Photo: Dean Chalkley

INDEPENDENT Venue Week, in its 8th year, is here again – an opportunity to appreciate the many places that have contributed to our love of live music. Running until Sunday, this year’s celebration, featuring 96 online performances, 23 “In Conversations”, 11 industry panels, two quizzes and one documentary across 110 independent UK venues – that’s enough stats for one column – has had to move online. Artists involved include Arlo Parks, Gruff Rhys, Jordan Adetuni, Amy Macdonald, Blossoms, Primal Scream, Skin and many more. The packed schedule is huge so for full programme details and tickets, visit

While their doors remain closed, this is an occasion to relive memorable nights out within these precious venue walls, newly discovered bands, intimate gigs with old faves and encounters with random fellow music aficionados. Our experiences are many – the countless times Amy Winehouse popped up – at Jazz Café, Proud Camden, The Monarch, the time Jon McClure (Reverend and The Makers) led his Barfly crowd out to the Morrisons garage across the road and carried on his gig al fresco, the time The Libertines played a deliciously disastrous chaotic set at The Dublin Castle… there are so many more. These are the moments we will never forget.

These venues will need our presence when things get better but if we can help them in the meantime, we should do what we can. We’ve regularly encouraged readers of this page to look up their favourite places to see if they have active crowdfunders in place and this week we’re highlighting the plight of The Black Heart. The venue says it has spent a year making itself Covid-secure – and has even managed to put on several socially-distanced gigs and live streams but the repeated lockdowns are taking their toll.

The Black Heart, which was not granted government funding, needs £100,000 to survive and the prizes they are offering are unique. If you’re a fan of this Camden back alley haven and its eclectic selection of bands, go check it out. They’ll always have my respect for the thoughtful jar of yellow ear plugs behind the upstairs bar!

Today (Thursday), Roundhouse head of music Lucy Wood and head of technical and production Ruth Butler will be In Conversation to mark Independent Venue week, reflecting on the impact of the pandemic on the live events and entertainment industry. The free lunchtime informal discussion will focus on how the Roundhouse has adapted, anecdotes and the future. See Roundhouse website for details.

• Looking for a date night music live stream? Jazz Cafe has announced that The Brand New Heavies will stream a Valentine’s Day special next month direct from Camden in full HD, 24-bit audiophile quality via Streamzy. Jazz Cafe’s crowdfunder has also restarted. Visit for tickets and info.


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