Standing room only

Will Tattersdill writes about a new event he’s promoting.

I’m running a new night at the Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath, from next month. It’s called Hatstand and it’s an unamplified open stage devoted to song, storytelling and poetry.

It’s based heavily on Oxford’s Catweazle Club, which is 21 years young and with which I’ve been actively been involved for several years. I’m a Brummie at heart, though, and am trying to bring a bit of that magic back to my hometown. There’s more info on the website

Catweazle has taught me so much, and regulars will anticipate the main features: unamplified, no advance booking, performers enter for free (It’s £5/£4 for everyone else). The concept is simple: the first performers in the queue when the door opens at 7:30 get to go on stage (they get in free). I programme the night on the spot. There’s an interval in the middle. Everyone has two songs-ish. Everyone listens to everyone else. Pleasant drinks are served; people meet people they wouldn’t have otherwise.

But Hatstand is not simply a duplication of the Catweazle formula, for this city is unique and requires individual treatment. We’re going to have a pop-up art gallery for visual artists with prints to sell. We’re going to have two intervals instead of one (edgy). We’re going to be based in a garden centre intead of a community centre (super edgy). We are going, I very much hope, to have an actual hatstand (I just lost consciousness).

This is the second night I’ve set up, and I know what the big challenges are. We need a good mix of music and spoken word; a strong communuity of regulars as well as high visibility for passing traffic; and we need an amazing audience who delight in and respect a huge range of talent. Most troublesomely of all, we need all that quickly – nights like this thrive or fail in the first year, and a monthly show only has twelve chances to get it right.

I hope you can be part of those attempts! Whether you’re a Brummie or at a distance, if you find yourself free on the first Monday of the month, starting this December, we need you.

We run on the first Monday of every month, starting on December 7th.