The Brook is a lovely community arts venue, bar and restaurant, owned by Andy and Thea Brook. As a family we started visiting The Brook about two and a half years ago. Since then Keira has had a birthday party there, I’ve hidden free art there several times, and we’ve enjoyed food, drink and music more times than I can remember.
On June 1st 2017 – having dithered over the idea of performing live there for several weeks, I delivered my first faltering open mic night performance at The Brook. I survived week one, and came back again, and again, and again, having resolved to persist, and over time, to experiment with an ever expanding body of songs.
Since that first performance in June, there have been 32 open mic nights, and I’ve only missed four of them. Despite being a nervous performer, I’ve persisted with this project largely because of the welcoming atmosphere, nurtured by everyone in the room, and led chiefly by Dan Smith. Dan takes care of sound and set up – and is a master cajon player, regularly providing the beats for numerous acts. The crowd offers encouragement, any criticism is left to the performer. As the weeks progressed I noticed I became more accepting of this encouragement and began to use it as building blocks for more adventurous work.
Life has been pretty up and down (in some ways much more down than up) over the past year or so, and open mic night has served me well as a safe and encouraging place, sometimes just to relax, other times to go nuts. I’ve enjoyed the experience enormously, and while I felt sad when hearing the news of the closure – I quickly decided to make the most of the time left, rather than mourn the passing of something I’ve grown to love.
On December 28th 2017, I and many others, played there for one last time. After serving the local community for five years, The Brook in Wallington closes its doors tonight (Dec 31st) – before reopening in Hackney in January 2018.
This has been an excellent adventure. I’ve grown to enjoy performing, I’ve made some good friends and listened to lots of amazing live music, thanks everyone. This chapter now closes, and we are looking forward to what promises to be one hell of a New Year’s Eve party.
Photo above by Peter Ball
Footnote: Songs I can Remember Playing.
- When I Grow Up* : Tim Minchin
- Where In The Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush* : Reverend Horton Heat
- Bankrobber *: The Clash
- Wreck Of The Old 97* : G B Grayson, Henry Whitter
- I Met A Man : Various Artists
- Midnight Special* : Traditional (I played guitar, accompanying Keira)
- Royals : Lorde (I played guitar, accompanying Keira
- Sound of The Suburbs : The Members
- Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavour : Lonnie Donegan
- Watching The Detectives* : Elvis Costello
- Speed of The Sound of Loneliness : John Prine
- Pretty in Pink : Psychedelic Furs
- Green Green Grass of Home : Curly Putman
- City of New Orleans* : Steve Goodman
- Good Year For The Roses* : Jerry Chesnut
- Down In The Tube Station : Paul Weller
- Bela Lugosi’s Dead : Bauhaus
- Top Of The Pops : The Rezillos
- Wallington Prison Blues* : Johnny Cash
- Highway To Hell : Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott
- It’s A Long Way To The Top : Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott
- Pablo Picasso : Writer Unknown (I played as guest guitarist on this one)
- Disco Man : The Damned
- Dozen Girls : The Damned
- Sound of The Suburbs : The Members
- Peter Pumpkinhead : Xtc
- Ever Fallen In Love : The Buzzcocks
- Wait For The Blackout : The Damned
- There Ain’t No Sanity Clause : The Damned
- White Christmas : Irving Berlin
- Sign Of The Times : Harry Styles and others (I played guitar, accompanying Keira)
- Stay Free : The Clash
* indicates a song played on multiple separate occasions over the seven month period.