Back in the day, I used to go to several gigs a week but now I’m lucky if I get to see one a year. Jane whisks me off, of course, from time to time but she tends to favour big stadiums or vast Mancunian fields. And, really, I much prefer smaller, more intimate venues. Like the Exmoor Beastro, in fact.
The Beastro is a café/restaurant/whatever in Dulverton. The owners are passionate, nay – evangelical - about good food and drink, and champion artisanal producers. It’s getting a bit of a name for itself on Exmoor – not just because the food is fabulous but because the whole atmosphere is so damn good - easygoing, laid-back, supremely friendly. Adrian loves it, and is frequently tugged inside by co-owner Alex to try some new beer or dip or whatever.
Anyhow, a couple of days ago, Adrian came back and said, ‘The Beastro have got some singer-songwriter performing. Sounds like your kind of thing.’ And, although the night was sold-out, Alex said they could squeeze me in and so off I went.
‘Are you going on your own?’ said Adrian.
‘Sure,’ I said. Because, really, it never bothers me. I spent years doing it in London when I used to review theatre and bands and films and stuff. It was all well and good when one had tickets to the National Theatre or the Marquee or whatever – but when you were being dispatched to listen to some band in a room above a back street boozer at the end of the Central Line, one’s friends seemed to…well…vanish.
The courtyard had been turned into a sort of Arabesque tent for the night – with twinkling lights and heat blasting out from the wood-fired oven. It all looked...quite magical.
The music was great too. Mike June. Unaffected troubadour. Jess Klein. Fabulous voice, the kind that rummages around in your solar plexus. Great sound system too (Alex used to work in the music business – he knows his stuff). But hey, my reviewing days are gone. Have a listen for yourself.
There was great food too. Ribs for the meat-eaters, and a superfood salad for me. Fresh crunchy bread with home-made hummus. Olives and pickles. All in all, a damn fine evening . Musicians are having a tough time of it nowadays (maybe even tougher than journalists) so it's good to support live music. And it's good to buy a CD too. So I did.
The Beastro promise lots more live gigs so keep an ear out. You can find them on Facebook here.
What next? Well, Jack Savoretti would be good. Thea Gilmore wouldn't be bad. Or maybe this guy...who I heard playing in a Polish garden.