"People have forgotten how much they enjoyed the experience of listening to great music together"

Grayshott Folk Club welcomes The Ocelots to Grayshott Village Hall on Saturday, August 6 as it still struggles to get back to normal.

The Ocelots
The Ocelots

The band are twin brothers Brandon and Ashley Watson who grew up in Ireland but currently live in Leipzig.

Des O’Byrne, who runs the club, said: “They are really starting to make waves and are destined for bigger things. Their visit to Grayshott is part of a nationwide UK tour.” Tickets £15 on 01428 607096.

The gig comes as clubs such as Des’ attempt to rebuild post-pandemic: “We set up Grayshott Folk Club almost 12 years ago.

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    "A folk/rock band from Portsmouth called Mary Jane were our first headliners. Slowly but surely we built our audience numbers and their loyalty by offering quality music at affordable prices, an excellent PA/sound engineer, a decent range of fairly-priced refreshments and a venue that both musicians and audience really enjoy being in.”

    Then came the pandemic: “We put on socially-distanced, limited-capacity gigs, which were Covid-compliant whenever it was legal to do so. We attempted to maintain our public profile and provide some continuity during that time and discovered the generosity and goodwill of acts who were prepared to play for us, despite the many challenges they faced and the poor money we offered.”

    The rebuild continues. The club is doing reasonably well, but things certainly aren’t back to normal: “We have continued with many of the Covid measures we put in place in order to reduce the risk of infection to our dedicated supporters. But it is clear that some people remain fearful and more recent rises in Covid infection numbers justify this need for caution. We have found that over the past two years, people have lost the habit of going out and have forgotten how much they enjoyed the common experience of listening to great music together. The uncertainty of whether or not an event will actually go ahead, the possibility of a last-minute postponement and the chance of individuals catching Covid still prey on people’s minds and as a consequence, they are leaving their decision as to whether or not to go out right up until the last minute. It’s great for punters to have that flexibility but not good for a promoter’s blood pressure as all of our acts come to play for us on a guaranteed fee. From our perspective, we simply have to hold our nerve, have faith that the music we are offering has enough appeal and continue to do what we have always aimed to do: to bring brilliant live music to people’s doorsteps, to offer musicians an opportunity to be heard by an appreciative and discerning audience, to help them make a living and live out their dreams while bringing light and joy to the audiences they perform to.

    “We’ve all come too far down the track to turn back and give up now. But ticket sales are roughly 25 per cent down on pre-Covid levels and we have to persuade potential punters that we do our best to reduce the risk of infection to them and that the universal joy they will experience as they join together in the shared and communal experience of listening to and singing songs is good for the soul.”