The Grand Opening @ The Convent Club, Nr Stroud Gloucestershire
This secret gem has been hosting live music for a while but tonight The Convent Club, with its Restaurant, bars, hotel rooms, recording studio and quirky and delightful gigging venue came of age throwing the doors open far and wide to its invited guests on its opening night. Those who could not be there had the opportunity to stream tonight’s musical jamboree free so they could pour a drink sit back and enjoy a virtual live show.
The welcome was warm and friendly and the guests explored the bars, including the newly opened Dirty Habit Bar in what was formerly the laundry room of the convent, admired the artwork and enjoyed Jaz Delorean entertaining them in one of the reception areas with a mix of popular hits, New Orleans and even some wonderful Tom Waits. The ambience created was one to encourage chatter and networking with interesting artefacts located in nooks and crannies and an impressive collection of Gramophone players across the ages; the décor oozed quality but you knew it was a place for fun as well. If the canapés that accompanied the drink are an indication of the quality of the food the chefs are producing you will not be disappointed, the nibbles were tasty imaginative and easy to eat with a glass in one hand. The light supper was delicious melt in your mouth Lamb Tagine, or tasty Vegetable Tagine accompanied by the light and fluffy Couscous now time for the music; as we either went through to the area with stage or stayed to watch the acts being screened everyone was enthused by this hidden gem.
The co-hosts were the owners, Matt & Charlotte, of this restoration project that they are undertaking with love and that eye for detail that makes a room stand out from the crowd. Between the acts they gave an overview of finding, buying, restoring and future plans for the venue that will fit many a touring artists needs. What a stunning location to record and do a photo shoot for an album, book soon as this place will be in demand once The Convent Club becomes an open secret.
The Convent will no doubt be soon gaining accolades as the coolest hotel in 2015 and the quirkiest venue with the performer on stage behind the altar rail and the place to be seen and heard.
Tonight we were treated to a mirage of music with a grand Piano on the Alter stage setting the scene, as the eight acts took it in turns to show how the acoustics cope and any challenges for the sound man were not apparent to the receptive and delighted audience out front. Every act bought their own twist of magic to the world or roots and folk music. Jess Vincent with her pure vocals accompanied by Reg Meuross as she played Appellation Dulcimer and Shruti Box this was American Folk roots music that warmed the atmosphere and even the Nuns would have been tapping their feet! Kelly Oliver, a young talented folk singer kept the music going with Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road and we will be looking out for the new album she is working on. The music flowed and the venue’s walls glowed as they re-circulated the notes up into the vaulted ceiling this is a place where you can sit back and absorb the musical environment being created. Eliza Carthy with her fiddle, blue hair and ghost stories that fitted into the venue and music was the real deal what a delight to hear her play, she even gave us a vote did we want a song about Robbie Burns or enslavement , enslavement won.
We heard between the acts that there will be from the end of May gigs on a Thursday that will showcase Emerging Artists, and Friday’s and Saturday’s for touring artists and then gigs for club members, this is a place where membership has great value for money.
Tonight was about showcasing The Convent and that was certainly done as the music grew and grew with Martin Carthy on stage and Eliza joined him to sing the saddest song about happiness. Closing the evening of music was Tom Robinson a great musician and raconteur who had us joining in his songs we love the name dropping and introducing us and teaching us the chorus of a new song about saving legal aid and will be on his new project which is being pledge funded and required the chorus line of everyone who had performed and a great way of getting everyone back on stage and creating a celebratory atmosphere.
As the music died away people circulated, everyone agreed this was a venue that was going to be in everyone’s sat navs as a location of choice. The Convent Club had a grand opening and now is on the path of being a venue of choice for musicians and audiences alike.
Check out Jaz Delorean’s opening performance from our launch party last week
All photographs copyright The Convent Club