We’re only two items into our occasional series on those local venues which are the heart and soul of our music and of course, this damned virus has now shut them all down. It’s a blow to all of us who enjoy gig going but this inconvenience is minor compared to the real threat to the livelihoods of many. Musicians have had their dates cancelled but many have recourse to virtual gigs which have proliferated. However, the venues are closed, staff laid off, whether they worked at the bar, on the sound or lighting, in the kitchens or cleaning the place. Many owners and landlords don’t know if they’ll weather the storm or if, at the end of this nightmare, they’ll be able to reopen
The Railway Inn in Winchester is one such venue and AUK writer and SXSW correspondent (not this year however), Oliver Gray has written a booklet, called ‘Loco-Motion’, to celebrate its 40 years of live music. In lockdown, the Inn’s future is extremely precarious and, like many others, has set up a rescue fund to try and tide them by. In light of this all profits from Oliver’s booklet are going to the fund which has also been supported by many of the artists who have played there including Frank Turner.
Built in the 1800s as a watering hole for railroad workers, the inn (which has served as a livestock barn and – reputedly – a brothel in its time), is said to be haunted by a Victorian lady. She must like music, because the building contains two separate venues, used for music, poetry, comedy and drama.
The 1970s saw a flourishing folk club which was frequented by a young Robyn Hitchcock, and became a fully-fledged music venue in the early eighties post-punk era. Now it is a magnet for local musicians and also major artists who love its cosy atmosphere and perfect acoustics. The regular Roots night started the careers of Frank Turner, Alison Goldfrapp, Laura Marling and Kate Stables, while recent years have seen appearances from the likes of Kasabian, Ed Sheeran and The Feeling. Not bad for a 120 capacity room.
For over twenty years the Railway has championed the Americana genre, with appearances from hundreds of artists including Old Crow Medicine Show, Richmond Fontaine, Jesse Malin and Hurray For The Riff Raff.
The booklet is in full colour and is highly illustrated. It documents the ups and downs of the world of live music, with contributions from Frank Turner, Andy Burrows, James Walsh, Laura Veirs, The Delines and many more.
‘Loco-Motion’ is available for less than the price of a pint from www.sc4m.co.uk and, as we said, all proceeds go directly to the Railway’s rescue fund.
Please feel free to post any similar fundraising efforts for a venue you love in the comments below or tag us on Twitter with the hashtag, #IndependentVenueLove. In the meantime here’s a great video which explains why The Railway Inn is loved by so many.