Broomhill Art Hotel is a real gem of a place, a hotel and art gallery situated in a sculpture park off the B3230 just north of Barnstaple. Apart from preparing award-winning food, Rinus and Aniet often put on live music (usually, but not exclusively, jazz). Rinus is a real jazz buff with eclectic tastes and good personal contacts in the jazz world. You may find you haven’t heard of the people who are playing, but don’t let that put you off - it’s sure to be interesting at the very least, and quite probably eye-opening. Many of us, for example, are very grateful that we were introduced to the prodigious talents of trumpeter Laura Jurd when she was still relatively unknown. Other Broomhill regulars in recent years have included drummer Seb Rochford in various guises, trumpeter Damon Brown, singer Gwyneth Herbert and the bands Oriole and Led Bib.
Here's how it works. Book tickets via the website (see link below) or by phoning 01271 850262. On arriving, park in the main car park at the bottom and walk up the hill (there is disabled parking at the top - see website for details). You'll know when you're nearly there because you'll see the huge red high-heel shoe. Doors usually open at 7.30 and the music starts at 8.00 in the contemporary gallery, surrounded by amazing art work. Between sets, there's a highly recommended Mediterranean slow-food buffet meal, included in the ticket price. You can pay for just the music if you prefer but to be honest you'd be missing out and you'd probably regret it when you saw everyone else tucking in. So, an evening of great music plus a delicious meal: at this price, you might be left wondering how it's possible.
With regret, we have to accept that the Queen's Theatre can no longer be regarded as a jazz venue, not having featured any jazz at all (and precious little other decent music either) for a number of years now. This is a great shame, as over the years, they've put on some fantastic gigs featuring really big names on the U.K and international jazz scenes, people like Stan Tracey's big band, Guy Barker, Michael Wollny, Marius Nesset, Dave Liebman, Marcin Wacilewski, even the Bad Plus (twice!). What made this possible was the enthusiasm of Alan Giddings, who was the director of North Devon Theatres and long-time jazz fan with a long experience of promotion and loads of contacts. For years, he struggled to nurture an audience for his favourite kind of music in the face of many people's reluctance to take a chance on names they hadn't heard of.
Unfortunately (for us at least), Alan retired. This, combined with stringent funding cuts, resulted in a severe reduction in the amount of jazz in the programme, and, as noted above, this has now dwindled to zero. It's presence on this page is basically a "place holder", just in case the situation is turned around at some point in the future.
Plough Arts Centre, Great
Described as ‘the largest arts centre in the smallest town’, the Plough Arts Centre has been the cultural heart of this small community for over forty years. There's a café/bar/gallery area in the foyer and an intimate but adaptable performance area. The wide-ranging programme features drama, film, folk/world music and of course jazz (otherwise it wouldn't be on this page). Past gigs have included Alec Dankworth's band, Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble and Courtney Pine.
The aim of this relatively new club is to provide a venue for quality jazz provided by properly supported and paid musicians. The club usually meets on the last Friday of every month, in the upstairs function room of the George Hotel in South Molton. The hotel is licenced until midnight.
Tickets will be available direct from the George Hotel, or at the door of the function room, on the night. Price will usually be £9.00 or £10.00 at the door / on the night.
There will be a different band each month, playing from about 8.30 pm until 11. The programme features a mix of styles, with something for everyone. As the organisers emphasise: "All musicians who perform for the club will be paid. This is NOT a talent contest, free mike night, or come and have a go type operation."