It just goes to show ------

Highway Child

Senior Member
Working Mens Clubs! Bless 'em that's where I cut my gigging teeth in the early eighties in northern England. Massive live music scene, I used to make a reasonable living between seasonal theatre gigs playing as a resident drummer in WMCs.

99% of the time the WMC resident band was an organist (usually a huge Hammond) and a drummer. Quite often the gig was to do 4 or 5 nights a week, during midweek mainly dance evenings (i.e. ballroom). Weekends there were sometimes 3 acts each night, most of which used the resident players as accompaniment unless they were a full band.

Most acts had professionally written charts and you only ever got a 5 minute talk through "the dots" so pretty much a sight reading gig.

I love Phoenix Nights and the parody is spot on but the other side of the coin was a great live scene with lots of good musicians and entertainers.
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
Hilarious!
Reminded me of one time back in the mid '90s playing a popular blues club in Boston on a Tuesday night. Very light crowd and not much of a vibe going on. Between songs I turned to the bassist and said something to the effect of "Wouldn't it be great if a bus load of people pulled up and filled the place."

During the next song I had my head down, just concentrating on the pocket groove (and because I was tired of looking out over a near-empty room). After a couple of minutes of not paying attention to what was going on in front of the stage, I eventually looked up to see a crowd of people filing in from the front door, march all the way to the front of the stage and started dancing. We instantly went from nobody to a decent crowd of people who came to party!

Apparently, a bus load of people actually did pull up to the venue. They were coming back from a ski party weekend.

True story.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Good deal!

I still don't exactly understand what a men's club and/or a punter is (and I looked at the definitions).

Good job nonetheless. :)
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Good deal!

I still don't exactly understand what a men's club and/or a punter is (and I looked at the definitions).

Good job nonetheless. :)
I'm pretty sure a punter is a customer at a social or drinking establishment, and a men's club is like our Elk's Clubs and Knight of Columbus type places.
 

The Modernist

Senior Member
It's a shame what has happened to the Social Clubs here (Black Country), the sad thing is they're still going and they have huge function rooms 300+ and they don't have live music, only a 1 or 2 person karaoke. Sorry, self contained artists!

My folks made a fortune in the 70s just doing the working clubs in a 20 mile radius when the big industry was here and have some terrible photos involving my dad in a green jump suit hahaha glam rock!

We tried to get on the club circuit as a little earner for Fridays and when wedding season is quiet, they're local and we can do mid week as well with work but you are totally undercut by solo and duos who are really bad. We did a couple of showcases and realised quite quickly this wasn't for us, even though we were asked to do encores after a 30min showcase.

The punters still love the bands but the entertainment secretaries won't pay for them. We went out at a low price (£300) or £75 each (Shopping, petrol and maybe a cheeky tipple money) each which is less than a solo act would earn but we're still £270 more than they'll pay if they can help it. It sucks because people will come out to see a good live band and more importantly put more money behind the bar than a solo or a duo act.

Anyone who wonders what a working mens club is like, watch Pheonix Nights by Peter Kay, comedy gold!
A lot of the working clubs will just farm out the entertainment to an agency, who will book the acts for them, and send them round the clubs in a round robin. As a band, you're screwed unless you join the agencies, which is pointless as they would take a massive cut of the already meagre earnings.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
You did good. Are you planning to play there regularly?
Thank you. Play regularly - probably not, but if their scene improves, & they open up the gigs to non members, we might play there again. The band enjoyed the gig :)

Working Mens Clubs! Bless 'em that's where I cut my gigging teeth in the early eighties in northern England.
As did many players. When the scene was "alive", it was something to get involved in if you wanted regular work & great "audience working" experience.

Apparently, a bus load of people actually did pull up to the venue. They were coming back from a ski party weekend.

True story.
Great story :)

Good deal!

I still don't exactly understand what a men's club and/or a punter is (and I looked at the definitions).

Good job nonetheless. :)
WMC's are best not understood - just experienced ;) if you play popular stuff that people recognise & it's not too modern, you're good to go. If you play our stuff however, you might as well put on an alien suite & mumble into a mic for an hour!

A lot of the working clubs will just farm out the entertainment to an agency, who will book the acts for them, and send them round the clubs in a round robin. As a band, you're screwed unless you join the agencies, which is pointless as they would take a massive cut of the already meagre earnings.
This is pretty much how it goes, hence gravitating towards solo / duo acts with backing tracks. It's the only way for an act to make anything approaching a living in these places.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
To clarify:
A British workingmen's club was a place for factory workers to relax after work. Kind of a poor man's country club. Typically includes a bar, dart boards, snooker tables, and a large dining room with a stage. They have dinner dances and other live entertainment from time to time. Members pay an annual fee and get cheaper entry/meals/drinks. Run by an elected committee from the members. There are several in countries like Australia where English workers have migrated to, where they become islands of English culture for those living abroad. The ones I've seen haven't changed much since the 1960's, and the average age of the members is around 70.

Punter = English slang - a customer who has come to see a show or a band. The word may have grown from the gambling term - a punter has paid for a ticket, and is gambling that the entertainment is good and they get good value for money.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
To clarify:
A British workingmen's club was a place for factory workers to relax after work. Kind of a poor man's country club. Typically includes a bar, dart boards, snooker tables, and a large dining room with a stage. They have dinner dances and other live entertainment from time to time. Members pay an annual fee and get cheaper entry/meals/drinks. Run by an elected committee from the members. There are several in countries like Australia where English workers have migrated to, where they become islands of English culture for those living abroad. The ones I've seen haven't changed much since the 1960's, and the average age of the members is around 70.

Punter = English slang - a customer who has come to see a show or a band. The word may have grown from the gambling term - a punter has paid for a ticket, and is gambling that the entertainment is good and they get good value for money.
Punter is also the ex-Australian cricket captain :)
 

RIneuron

Senior Member
Around here (RI USA) the equivalent of a WMC is a Portuguese- or Italian-American club. Bar downstairs, ballroom/theatre upstairs. Cheap authentic ethnic food. They sponsor a soccer league, where the rule seems to be "no blood no foul."

A lot of VFWs and Elks and Knights of Columbus are similar.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
Wow, you guys sound great. Love it when a gig exceeds expectations, but don't underestimate your particular effect on the evening; if you'd sucked, it might not have been such a fond memory.

And the recording is way better than you describe. What do you use?
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Wow, you guys sound great. Love it when a gig exceeds expectations, but don't underestimate your particular effect on the evening; if you'd sucked, it might not have been such a fond memory.

And the recording is way better than you describe. What do you use?
Thanks :) The camera is a Zoom Q8, but if you listen through headphones, you'll hear a lot of bottom end distortion. I forgot to pad the desk feed input, & the desk feed is only on one channel. Strangely, through desktop speakers, it sounds almost ok apart from the fact the keyboards dominate & the piano is mostly missing.

Perfect, although this venue is a way bigger room. I estimate a good 160ft long x 70ft wide, with a 45ft wide x 5ft high stage.
 
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