Armidale is renowned for the arts, and there’s a wealth of genuine musical talent who live locally and also visit the area. Did you know there’s a special, warm, intimate space with an ambient atmosphere in Beardy Street, where you can either watch a performance of acoustic folk, or play live yourself? Jhana Allan introduces us to the Studio Folk Club …
What is the Studio Folk Club – and what’s your current role there?
The Studio Folk Club is a small music venue with a strong emphasis on acoustic folk. It provides a beautiful, atmospheric and intimate space for local and touring musicians. The space includes carpets, lamps, pillows and a well-functioning piano.
My current role at the Studio Folk Club is booking local musicians, as well as booking touring artists who happen to be passing through Armidale. I also play at the Studio on occasion.
How was the idea for this club initially conceived and developed?
The idea for the Studio was initially conceived a few years ago by Missy Jones, who moved to Scotland this year. She preferred to call it The Studio Folk Club, instead of the New England Folk Club, to respect the fact that the land was not always called New England, and to pay respect to traditional owners.
Where and when does the club usually meet?
The Studio puts on gigs on the first Sunday of the month at 6pm, which includes a main act, plus four short blackboard sets. The blackboard set is an excellent opportunity for anyone from the community who just wants to get up and play in front of a very friendly and receptive audience.
A Celtic Session runs every Monday from 5:30. We also run a Singing-In-The-Round circle every so often, for those who just want to listen, learn new songs, or share songs with others in a friendly environment.
The Studio is situated at 62 Beardy St, Armidale, next to the racecourse.
What are some of the upcoming acts we’ll be able to see at the club?
We have quite a few exciting dates to look forward to. On 26th April, we have Valla-based singer-songwriter, Snez, who plays solo acoustic guitar and bouzouki. A large part of her show is storytelling and a two-way conversation with her audience. She will be supported by local singer Massiel.
On 5th May, Melbourne-based songwriter Anna Smyrk will be gracing us with her gorgeous tunes inspired by living and working in the Solomon Islands. Anna’s last album, Song of the Silver-Tongued Magpie, was described by Tonedeaf magazine as, “A stunning effort from a thoughtful songwriter … Smyrk’s delicately crafted folk tunes have made her a local name to watch”. Anna will be supported by me.
On the 18th May, local singer and Kamilaroi man LJ Hill will playing a set accompanied by me on violin. LJ Hill’s music is unique in a world of computer-generated melody and song. His world-weary voice tells a story of struggle and hardship countered by delicate melody lines, when he sings of love and unrequited love in both the city and the bush.
How much does it generally cost to see a performance, and what’s included in the ticket price?
For the first Sunday gigs, tickets are just $5. For other concerts in the month, we usually charge $15/$10 on the door. The ticket price may change if we have internationally touring artists.
Does the club cater for refreshments etc. at events?
There is a 30 minute break for tea/coffee and refreshments, which is provided by the Studio. As the Studio is unlicensed, we do not serve alcohol.
Why would you encourage people to come along and see what’s happening at the club?
The Studio Folk Club is unique in that it is the only one of its kind in Armidale. It is not only a concert space, but a community where budding musicians can be nourished, shy singers can be coaxed out of their shells, and a new generation of singer-songwriters can be inspired. If you haven’t experienced the magic already, get yourself to our next gig!
Where can we find out further info?
Look us up on Facebook/TheStudioFolkClub
If you would like to play at the Studio Folk Club, message the Facebook page or contact Jhana on 0404 139 058.
Interview: Jo Robinson.