Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Crown

As I'm returning once more to The Crown at Codsall tonight to host a new open mic night there, I thought it might be nice to write a blog about my history with the place. If you are interested in my past gigs, you can check the list I made on my website here. It's not 100%, but it's a close as I could get it.

The Crown has always had the reputation as the 'young person's pub' in Codsall, with The Bull being reserved for the older folk and The Station more for the beer connoisseurs. Growing up I never remember it being open, as it also had a reputation for housing certain shady characters and not many landlords stayed there too long.

Not long after I first started hosting open mic nights it was re-opened after a number of years of closure and re-branded as 'Butler's Bar & Bistro'. I think it was around the summer of 2008. I played a few gigs in there both solo for restaurant visitors and open mic nights during the week, which went ok. Unfortunately the venture didn't last long, and possibly suffering from its previous reputation, it closed once more.

This seemed to revive interest in the pub though, and soon a new landlord was in place, a guy named Charles. I once again approached him regarding the idea of monthly open mic nights, and right from the first one it seemed like we were on to something.

Those nights at The Crown were some of the most popular I've ever hosted, and brought through acts that are both close friends and excellent musicians to this day. The most memorable night I had in there featured a touring act at the time, a guy named Kev Fox, who brought his band and a support act down from Manchester to play after contacting me on Myspace (I think that tells you how long ago it was!). There were over 100 people in the back room there that night to watch the performers! Kev now lives and gigs in Poland, and is doing quite well for himself I believe.

But he isn't the only one to have benefited from the exposure and practice that those nights gave people. Under a Banner, The Ratigans and even my current band The Replicas all cut there teeth there, as well as many, many solo artists who still gig today.

But all good things must come to an end, and after a fall out with the brewery over funding, Charles left. The pub once again closed for a while, re-opening briefly a few times, only to close up again soon after. It wasn't until Jim & Anne-Marie took over in 2012 that I finally got the opportunity to go back to a venue that I always felt I had a little bit of unfinished business with. The new open mic nights there started quite well, though a weekly slot there, while good for people's knowledge of the night, really stopped us from managing to put on anything like the shows of the scale of the previous regime. Then suddenly, just two months after starting, the landlords got promoted to a bigger pub in Wednesfield and took me and my nights with them. The Crown closed again, and I moved my weekly night to The Albion in Wednesfield, with little success.

However, Anne-Marie and Jim are now back at The Crown, and my journey starts again tonight at 8:30 in that very place. I'm excited about it, I must admit. It looks like they may want a monthly night again in the new year, which suits me down to the ground. I just hope that, with some hard work and a little bit of luck, I can get it back to where it was over five years ago.

Now that makes me feel old!