Independent Venue Week: The Booking Hall, Dover

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Independent music venues are an integral part of the UK music scene, without them, we would not have some of our most-loved bands and artists. Independent venues allow the emerging bands to flourish, as well as, providing an intimate and entirely unique atmosphere. Independent Venue Week (IVW), celebrates not only the venues but the people that run them and work there. Under a year ago, The Booking Hall opened in the port of Dover; making it one of the newest independent venues in the UK. But in its first year, the Booking Hall has held some big names and made many memories. We spoke to Booking Manager, Jay Huntley about the venue, itself, IVW and the importance of independent venues.

Tell us about the history of your venue?

The Booking Hall’s building has a lot of character, I’ve had endless chats with visiting bands about the history – because there is so much of it. It was initially a train station, then a morgue, part of the building further up was bombed in the war and it’s been a training centre for the nearby ferries. As of last June, it is now a very cool music venue opened by a music lover, Stuart Cameron. In the space of 8 months, we’ve had While She Sleeps, Spring King, Don Broco, Dodgy, Deap Valley, The Sugarhill Gang, Dead Kennedys, Dragonforce, The Temperance Movement, The Wedding Present, Frank Turner and so much more!

What do you make of the local music scene?

It’s a time to be very excited about Kent music scene. We have been here 8 months now and the support we’ve had from the locals has been astounding. I have been a promoter for ten years now in various parts of Kent and I’ve never felt more buzzed. I am working very hard with the local bands to ensure they are doing the best they can to push themselves. The harder everyone works, the stronger the scene is. We have been running showcase shows at the venue recently and I have been really impressed by the efforts of some. They will be rewarded with slots supporting national touring bands and I will endeavour to spread the word to friends in venues around the country for them to invite them to play there too.

What does Independent Venue Week mean to you?

It is great to have a week of acknowledgement for all those that truly work hard to make these venues operate. When you work in music, you never really stop working. No matter how stressful and tiring it will be for some, it doesn’t matter –  people do this because they love to do it. Even when you’re at your lowest, you just know that the buzz of your local area after a great show will be enough to make everything ok again.

Across the UK there is a huge threat to independent venues, what do you make of this and why do you think Independent Venues are so important?

There is a huge threat but there are also some incredible people fighting hard to stop this from happening. Music Venue Trust are like superheroes to me, the work they do for small venues, like us, is absolutely amazing. There’s a still a lot to do, but there have been some fantastic movements in the right direction lately.

Independent venues are incredibly important in the world of music. They provide the platform for creatives to display just what it is they do, help them gain the experience they need to progress, but more importantly to me, provides a platform for the younger generation to attend. When I was 15, I was a lost soul and never really had any direction in life but then I discovered my local venue. I discovered an entire network of people that were into the same things as me, I made friends with people and ‘nerded’ out over bands for years to come. I ended up putting over 300 shows on in that very venue, starting a few years later. I guess I just never stopped. It’s really important to me that people can experience the same feeling I felt at that age, it really changed my life.

What’s coming up in 2018 at the Booking Hall?

Since we are still new, there are still a lot of styles we haven’t tried yet. We have a lot of Reggae, Blues, Soul and even Jazz to announce soon along with the Rock, Punk, Metal, Hip Hop that we have already been doing! There will be something for everyone!

Find out more on Independent Venue Week by checking out The Joiners, Southampton and The Form, Tunbridge Wells.

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