Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Old Cinema Launderette

So is it a cinema? Is it a launderette?
Tonight it is neither, although washers and driers are lined up along the back and side of the room and there are price lists for dry cleaning and racks of garments swathed in polythene visible through the door behind.... the bar.
The Old Cinema Laundertte is what you could call a boutique venue. It only holds around 30 people, some of whom have brought their own stools to sit on, although there are a couple of rows of  mongrel chairs sitting expectantly as we arrive for a sound check.
Jim Hornsby is already there with his Dobro at the ready. Mr Wishy Washy offers us a cup of tea.
I plug in the little amp and take it to a volume that I can sing over comfortably without a microphone.
Mike and June have set up the CD rack next to a rail of vintage dresses. People start to arrive early, all excited by the idea of watching a gig at their local launderette. There's no hiding: it's eye contact from the get-go, but luckily it's a friendly crowd.
I do the first song sitting down but memories of carpet time at primary school make me stand up and do the rock and roll thing. It's almost more like talking directly to people than performing especially for the song Lover When You Leave Me which feels unexpectedly direct and emotional.
Afterwards I claim my second cup of tea of the evening and settle down to listen to Martin and Jim. They are perfectly synchronised tonight as always, and the people in the audience are real aficionados- they start singing from the start and join in intermittently all the way through as Martin and Jim stroll past the machines from one end of the launderette to the other. Martin is playing the Dobro which rivals the little Yiari for sound and soundscape. They finish with a rousing version of Will the Circle be Unbroken, with everyone joining in.
With hindsight, given the nature of the premises, perhaps this should have been 'Will the Cycle be Unbroken'.
It's a beautiful gig in a beautiful little venue; magical, in fact. At the end, a stylish woman unpacks her bag and coat from a vacant drier that she's stored them in for safe keeping and we all go home.
Jim, Martin and Mr Wishy Washy

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