INTERVIEW: Off The Beaten Track Touring | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Andy Kelly has worked as a promoter for over 20 years. Starting in Teesside, he’s covered venues all over the North East. His latest endeavour, Off The Beaten Track, takes big artists out to rural communities, making use of local performance spaces.

Andy explains why he started this venture: “Over the years I’d promoted bigger shows; I had that usual ambition to do bigger and ‘better’ things throughout your career. I just felt that I was losing some of the love and passion I had for what I do. I realised that the bigger the show, the less magic I felt.”

Inspired by walking back into his local village hall in County Durham, Andy decided to change tack. “I decided that the future was going to be about intimate, special little shows,” he says, determined to bring back the connection between artists and audiences, while also using under-utilised local spaces. I knew some artists would love the locations, the intimacy of the show, and visiting these places that artists don’t usually visit. It just feels like we’re doing something really fresh.”

For Andy, and the artists he’s worked with, it’s all about the audience; creating an experience for people who “don’t always get that opportunity on their doorsteps”. With intimate venues and rural communities, Off The Beaten Track can provide people with a night of amazing entertainment and a real connection between artist and audience.

I knew some artists would love the locations, the intimacy of the show, and visiting these places that artists don’t usually visit

When asked about how he decides which artists to work with, Andy described one crucial experience that has led Off The Beaten Track to be what it is today: “There was one artist, King Creosote, who I pretty much had this idea about, initially. I knew he’d love the concept and would appreciate the intimacy of the shows. With the experience I have, it’s been a case of approaching artists we’ve worked with historically who this would appeal to. Some folk may not want to be touring around village halls in the countryside. For others, it’s a really refreshing change from the rigours of more conventional touring!”

One such person is Beta Band main man and revered songwriter Steve Mason, who brings his show to Hutton Rudby Village Hall on Friday 10th and Corbridge Parish Hall on Sunday 12th December. Andy has a particular soft spot for the Corbridge venue. “It’s a beautiful, small, kinda quintessential hall. Every time I get there I just think ‘Wow, this is exactly what it’s all about!’”

However, rural touring presents a unique set of challenges that established venues are more prepared for. “We’re dealing with these different and unique spaces that aren’t always set up for these kind of events. Things like dressing rooms can be an issue, just little things that you can take for granted in purpose-built spaces and you have to work around with what is available.”

Crucially, both artists and audiences have embraced the concept. “Audiences have loved it. People generally can’t believe that some established artists ‘are coming to play in my village hall!’”

Far from being forgotten, Off The Beaten Track ensures that rural audiences are not only considered, but the priority.

Off The Beaten Track presents Steve Mason at Hutton Rudby Village Hall on Friday 10th and Corbridge Parish Hall on Sunday 12th December

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout