The Daylight Acoustic Club

We met up with Alex and Scotty who set up the Daylight Acoustic Club for performers and listeners to meet up during the daytime, for people who would otherwise find it difficult to join in with the local music scene. We asked Alex to tell us about the project and she was kind enough to tell us her story.

I’m Alex and my husband is Scotty.  We work as a duo called Dark Island, performing our own songs, folk and blues.  Scotty teaches guitar and bass, and I teach singing and songwriting.  We were aware that there was a big gap for performers between practising at home and developing the skills and confidence to play a half-hour set to other people.

So we started by setting up small concerts where students and their friends could play to one another and to their families.  We met in one another’s houses and shared food and conversation.  The standard became quite high because everyone was encouraged and listened to with respect.  But we outgrew the small spaces of people’s living rooms, as more musicians wanted a chance to play in a relaxed, supportive environment.

Some of us were finding it difficult to go to existing folk or acoustic clubs as they were all held in the evenings.  I have had ME and fibromyalgia since I was fifteen, and I have had a more serious flare-up of pain and exhaustion in the past three years.  I really struggle with late nights, and although I was still gigging and teaching, I couldn’t socialise much.  I needed a way to sing my songs to people during the day.  Some of our older friends who don’t like to drive at night were having a similar problem.

I have been good friends with one of the Barnwood Trust Welcomers, Abi, for many years, and she suggested that we apply for a Small Sparks grant to set up the Daylight Acoustic Club for performers and listeners who wanted to meet during the daytime.  Without Abi’s encouragement, the club would have stayed as a daydream and never become a reality.

A daytime music club provides a way of including members of the community who would otherwise find it difficult to join in with the local music scene.  Some of our regulars are new performers, some are returning to music after a long break, and some are professional or semi-professional musicians who want to give new songs a first public airing at the club.  We also have audience members who listen but don’t perform, and a frequent comment is that there is not generally enough entertainment during the day.

A challenge we face with running a daytime music club is that numbers fluctuate: inevitably, in this type of club, several members have ongoing serious health issues, and others are carers for family members.  So some months we have a lot of people wanting to perform in a fairly short amount of time, and other months are quieter.  But the members have always been easy-going about doing more or fewer songs.

If someone else was thinking about starting a music club, I would say go for it, but make sure you have a supportive team.  It’s good if there are people with different strengths and weaknesses, ranging from remembering to bring the coffee, to being strong enough to shift the tables, which I can’t do, to creating a running order for the musicians.

It’s good to be open-minded about what you can do or are willing to try.  e.g. as I’m quite shy, I wasn’t at all keen on being an MC, but I had to step in when someone else was unable to attend the club any more.  Now I’m quite happy to lead.

Scotty and I are moving out of Gloucestershire soon to be closer to family and to the sea.  We think we have lined up some replacements to run the club.  We have had such a positive experience with the Daylight Acoustic Club and also with Barnwood Trust that we are hoping to start a similar project once we are settled in a new area.

About Small Sparks grants

The Small Sparks fund has been created to help small groups of people throughout Gloucestershire to get together to do something they enjoy and make a difference to where they live.

You might need gardening equipment to grow vegetables together, books or wool to get a club going, or wool and knitting needles for a group you are already a part of.

You can apply for a grant of up to £250 if you can show us that:

  • At least one of you wanting to enjoy the activity has a disability or is an older person who would like to make more friends
  • There are at least four people involved in total
  • Everyone is prepared to contribute their time, energy and talents.

For more information about Small Sparks, visit our grants page or contact grants@barnwoodtrust.org