Hi All,

It has been obvious for a few years that we have a problem re keeping the live music alive in the county of Kent :


When publicans passionate about the music, with a good following of dedicated folkies and jazz enthusiasts can not make a go of it (I am thinking history here, of Clair Hobbs), there is a clear warning that we have a problem with the way thing are going.


The national closure rate of pubs has accelerated past 39 per week (1st six months of 2008), and even when the pub survives, it is the music-friendly landlords that are losing their tenancies.


Christmas 2008 I generated a graph from Chris Ashman’s KentGigs archives, of the number of live music gigs per week in Kent and East Sussex. This clearly implicated the Licensing Act 2003 (came into force 24th Nov. 2005) in responsibility for linear decrease from about 70 gigs a week to an end of 2008 value of about half of that. This graph says we could have no live music over the Christmas weeks of 2009 (was about 50 per week) and the live music in the county could be effectively over before the end of 2011.


I have been pestering people who I know are knowledgeable about folk music – listeners, promoters, publicans …. for their opinions as to a) what is causing this fall off, and b) what we can do about it.


Now I am short of replies that explain why this fall-off started so co-incident with the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, but I have received a range of replies that we can all act on, to help the music. Some of these replies say it is things we can do nothing about and some smack of “its your fault not mine” but I am afraid a bit of soul-searching is going to be necessary for a while. The Licensing Act 2003 was a complex beast, and I would love to be able to identify what features in particular are responsible for this decline, but until we can, or they are hopefully reversed by the forthcoming review of the act, we all have to do what we can to help keep the music alive.


I am going to be copying these replies into the “Keeping Live Music Alive” list, and generating summaries of the suggestions for listeners, promoters, and publicans to think on. I suspect they will not be palatable, but I ask “Do we want the music to continue ?”



Beau Webber