Bristol Troubadour Club

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In the late 1960s and early '70s, a thriving contemporary folk music scene in Bristol was centred on the short lived but influential Bristol Troubadour Club in Clifton village, the student quarter above the city centre. The club was considered by some as the liveliest and most creative outside London.[1]

The club hosted some of the premier folk artists of the day including Al Jones, Fred Wedlock, Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra, Ian Anderson, Mike Cooper, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, The Incredible String Band, Roy Harper and Al Stewart who had a residency there, and mentions the club in his song "Clifton in the Rain".[2]

History[edit]

The Troubadour was opened in Waterloo Street, Clifton, by returning Australian emigree Ray Willmott, on Friday 7 October 1966. The first act to play there was Anderson Jones Jackson (Ian Anderson, Al Jones and Elliott Jackson).[3] Other regular performers included Guyanese calypso singer Norman Beaton, and actor Chris Langham who performed as "Wizz" Langham (inspired, no doubt, by Wizz Jones). From 1967 the "Folk Blues Bristol and West" club, founded by Ian Anderson met on the first Sunday of each month at the Troubadour but became so popular that it had to move to larger premises, firstly at The Old Duke in King Street and, later, to the Full Moon on Stokes Croft.[4]

In 1967, the singer Al Stewart name checked the club in his track "Clifton in the Rain" from his first album "Bed Sitter Images":

And all along the way

Wanderers in overcoats with

Collars on parade

And steaming in the night

The listeners in the Troubadour

Guitar player weaves a willow strain

I took my love to Clifton in the rain

In 1971 the venue closed following the purchase of the premises by a Peter Bush, just after it advertised that it had gained a drinks licence (having been alcohol-free from its inception). Dave Berry wrote in Pre-View magazine that "the loss of the Troubadour can't just be assessed in terms of the weekly entertainment it provided. Above all, the club was a social centre - and an inspiration and springboard for countless young artists".[5]

The club is held in such great affection by its former members and musicians that three Troubadour reunions have been held in the current millennium. The first took place at the QEH Theatre in Clifton on 9 November 2002 and featured many of the original artists; a double CD, Waterloo Street Revisited[6] was issued the following year featuring recordings of the artists' performances. Because of its success, a similar concert was held on 6 March 2004 at the Redgrave Theatre, Clifton. The third reunion took place at St. George's Hall in Bristol on 8 October, 2016, which marked the 50th anniversary of the club, which opened on 7, October, 1966. The following day, at midday, a blue plaque was unveiled in Waterloo Street commemorating both the club and the fact that the name Clifton Village was first used on publicity materials for the club.

Bibliography[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Townsend, Paul. "Bristol's Troubadour Club". gertlushonline.co.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  2. ^ Waller, John. "Troubadour". nawaller.com. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Jones, p.5
  4. ^ Jones, p.10
  5. ^ Berry, Dave (August 1971). "Death of a Folk Club". Pre-View. 
  6. ^ Waterloo Street Revisited. Anderson, Jones, Jackson. Troubadisc TROUBCD 001/002 (CD). 2003