INTERVIEW: THE GLOBE | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Sir Jacs Bantamacs

Late Autumn on Tyneside, 1950, a shrill cry goes up around Newcastle’s famed Scotswood Road. Not one of the many singers that gave the area its fine reputation, but a bairn. A baby born immersed in music, in The Globe. Fast forward to 2020 and baby Tom McConville is a man grown, a renowned fiddle player, singer and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician Of The Year winner. He has come full circle, back on Scotswood Road, back in The Globe. His cries are less shrill now and make a bit more sense. Whether with the help of providence or serendipity, the call back to his birthplace was made by one of the finest jewels in Tyneside’s musical crown, The Globe – the first music venue in the UK to be owned and run by a co-op.

The Globe is owned by its 230 members with a voting system of one member–one vote, regardless of the size of their contribution (from the £200 minimum all the way up to £20,000). Their aim is not to make profit but to support music. They hark back to their inspiration, The Jazz Cafe and its legendary owner Keith Crombie, who sadly passed away in 2012, in this goal. As Dave Parker, co-chair explains: “Many, many people had learned their trade at The Jazz Cafe, myself included. We couldn’t bring Keith back but we could try and carry on the work that he was doing.” Events Manager Rob Heron (yes, that Rob Heron) echoed that this sentiment runs right through everything they are doing: “The board and the members of the Jazz Co-op and the Globe are doing it for the music, which is all that matters!”

The idea came about, as many do, after a few drinks, but these few drinks were at the wake of the Geordie Jazz Man himself and the idea was not just idle fantasy. One thing that is clear from Dave, Rob and the whole Co-op is their determination and commitment to this project. They are keen to stress that this is not an exclusive club either. They are always actively looking to grow their community, whether as fully paid up members or even just audience members, all are welcome.

The Globe provides a fine selection of jazz in its Sunday night sessions, with the likes of Wandering Monster (Sunday 7th), Peter Morgan Trio’s reimaginings (Sunday 14th) and The John Pope Quintet’s improvisations (Sunday 28th February), but it doesn’t stop there. The Globe is also committed to providing a variety of fantastic music. Rob explains: “If you have an eclectic schedule and people get to know a venue from what they might like, they eventually explore other things there too. Hopefully people who like the Saturday night rock gig, might give the Sunday night jazz gig a shot because they like The Globe and get into new music that way.”

We’re determined to be here to support live music. The more people that come to shows and pay for the livestreams, the more musicians get paid

The venue have been running livestreamed shows for several months, with at least three shows per week. Performers coming up over the next couple of months include the likes of blues, ragtime and swing duo The Washboard Resonators (Friday 5th), indie four piece Mt. Misery (Saturday 13th), rock ‘n’ roll/rockabilly group Sir Jac’s Bantamacs – featuring Rob himself (Saturday 20th) and folk duo Janice Burns and Jon Doran (Friday 26th March). Eclecticism is key, and there’s spoken word and rap from promoters Born Lippy (Wednesday 10th February and Wednesday 24th March) and classical music with virtuosos Alexandra Raikhlina and Liubov Ulybysheva (Sunday 21st February). “Bands are jumping at the chance just to play. It’s possibly been a year since they last performed. We need the fans to be just as eager.” Rob says.

Play a man a bluegrass tune and he’ll have minutes of fun, but teach him how to play bluegrass guitar and he’ll have fun for a lifetime. The Globe believe strongly in this (slightly adapted) proverb, as Dave states: “Providing education has been one of the key objectives since day one.” The Globe provides 10 different courses, which originated as jazz-based but has grown to include bluegrass, finger-style guitar, community choir and women’s only courses.

The Globe has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic, however Dave has seen some good come out of this enforced break. “It has given a pause for thought, to ask those big questions, ‘What are we doing this for?’” They have fully embraced the new platform of livestreaming and through grants from Power to Change and the Arts Council’s Culture Recovery Fund were able to refurbish the venue. They have new lighting and sound systems along with four cameras and are able to provide unparalleled quality in their livestreams, with streams continuing even after crowds are allowed back into venues. Livestreamed shows cost £7.50 to view and Dave explains that this fee is not for their benefit but for the artists. “This is how musicians get paid. You wouldn’t play a gig for free, why should you do a livestream for free? The best way of losing the least amount of money would be to stay shut but we’re determined to be here to support live music, not to pay our shareholders. We don’t actually care if it doesn’t make money. As long as we don’t lose huge amounts of money, we’re going to keep doing it! The more people that come to shows and pay for the livestreams, the more the musicians get paid.” This is a refreshing philosophy in an age when musicians and artists are becoming more accustomed to giving their art away for free, just to be seen and heard.

If you would like to be a part of this fantastic community, just hop on to their website and follow the links to buy shares, make a donation or just buy a ticket for a livestream or, when circumstances allow, a live show, and be a part of the magic.

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