Independent Venue Week - Live Music in Calderdale
We’re celebrating Independent Venue Week (Monday 29 January – Sunday 4 February 2018) here in Calderdale - home to some of the most exciting and vibrant music venues in the country. It’s no accident that BBC 6 Music will be broadcasting from a range of venues here over the coming week – we’ve got some of the coolest stops on what has become known as the ‘trans-Pennine underground’ music scene.
Here are our top picks of live music venues in Calderdale that offer something different from the mainstream:
We have to start with the renowned Hebden Bridge Trades Club. It hosts artists as diverse as Patti Smith, George Ezra, and Shonen Knife, and offers a blend of music, community activism, stand-up, and cabaret. It will be at the heart of Independent Venue Week – DJ Steve Lamacq will broadcast his radio show from there on 1 February, and Independent Venue Week Ambassador Nadine Shah will play a sold-out gig on 3 February.
Halifax is the home of the UK’s smallest music venue The Grayston Unity. It’s true that good things come in small packages: with a capacity of 18(ish), eclectic décor, and comfy seats this bar is a great place to enjoy a coffee and the papers on a Sunday listening to democratically-chosen classic albums, or to hear breakout music acts perform in an intimate space.
While many independent music venues across the country close, the fact that in Halifax we’re opening them is testament to the vibrancy of the scene here. The Lantern is the latest arrival, opening its doors just last November, and what a start they’ve had – with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Mr Scruff, and Don Letts of 6 Music among some of the amazing acts in just the first few weeks of launching. We’re all excited to see what they come up with next.
The Victoria Theatre in Halifax offers events on a different scale – with a capacity of over 1500 and a brand new, state of the art sound system, this classic theatre venue will give you the big gigs that you won’t forget – from quality tribute acts to one-off shows by bands like the Stone Roses.
The Golden Lion in Todmorden is one of a kind. Psychedelic disco? Check. Monthly UFO Club meeting? Check. Star DJs? Check – Andrew Weatherall returns to this mash-up of a pub/venue/Thai restaurant/community hub in May.
Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax has been the home of amazing music for years: when the building was first saved from demolition 30 years ago, the classical Lindsay Quartet played in hard hats because the building was in such a state of disrepair. It’s gone from strength to strength since, and following a recent major refurbishment and extension, the joint has been jumping this season. On 2 February it will celebrate Madchester’s glory days with a showing of the film ‘24 Hour Party People’ and a set by legendary Hacienda DJ Graeme Park.
The Blind Pig in Sowerby Bridge offers a great variety of music in its upstairs bar – in just the next couple of weeks, there’ll be blues, funk, punk and rockabilly. We’re also hoping to welcome back the Puzzle Hall Inn to the town in the year ahead after a heart-warming show of community support for this jazz/folk venue in a recent crowdfunding campaign.
The Piece Hall - this unique Georgian cloth hall with an expansive, elegant courtyard is a spectacular venue for outdoor gigs, and a northern rival to Somerset House in London – but it also hosts smaller performances. One of our favourite gigs of 2017 was in the Christmas Spiegeltent in The Piece Hall’s piazza, where Kissmet’s unique blend of western and bhangra music made for an uplifting night.
And this list only scratches the surface – there are loads of friendly, inclusive, quality venues here in Calderdale ready to welcome you, wherever you’re from and whatever your taste in music. We’re in a prime location close to Leeds and Manchester, and only 2.5 hours direct by train from London. So why not come and experience the trans-Pennine underground for yourself…?
Laura Johansen is the Cultural Development Manager for ‘Cultural Destinations’ - an Arts Council-funded project that aims to increase cultural tourism to Calderdale.