ON SONG: Peter Cockerell, who was one of the founders of The Old Well open mic night. Pic: Calico Images
ON SONG: Peter Cockerell, who was one of the founders of The Old Well open mic night. Pic: Calico Images

James Dykes reports on how Covid-19 failed to stop musicians celebrating the tenth anniversary of the weekly open mic night at The Old Well Inn

IT will come as no surprise to local musicians and aficionados that the weekly open mic at The Old Well is well established, but it took many of us by complete surprise to learn that on Thursday, July 30, we celebrated ten years since its inception. 

The project of founders Peter Cockerell, Len Rowland and the late Bob Jordan, it quickly became a hub for local musicians to jam and perform in convivial surroundings. Later landlords continued the theme and have consistently fully supported the regular Thursday night open mic gathering.
The celebrations had to be muted, given the current lockdown, and current host Malcolm Elsbury planned with Roy and Rima Chatterjee to request the help of another lockdown organisation, Facebook page Barney Musicians Share, to devote a day to the project.
The call went out by social media to anyone who had performed at The Old Well over the years to post a video of themselves performing. Louise Beagle, local musician of Audios fame, made her Facebook page Barney Musicians Share available for this, and on the day more than 50 separate videos were posted. 

The range was enormous, both of music styles and in age – from Ethan Manders’ or Jill McLachlan’s youth to a quite elderly Len Rowland, who took time out to post his video from Scotland.
The performers list included Malcolm Elsbury (of The Old Age Travellers); Jim Blenkhorn and Andy Brewster, of The Heavily Brothers; Paul and Lindsay, of The Richmond Hillbillies; Steve Warren, of The Corner Boys; Bryan and Klara Whiley and Keith Magnall of Button Hole Jam; Jill McLachlan; Sam Nixon; Katie McFadyen; Toni Upton; Len Rowland-Jones; Sam Payne, of The Catalina Rock Club; Rosie Bradford, of Happy in Harmony; Sarah Guy; Eleanor Foster; James Brown; Michelle Grancourt; Ethan Manders; Katie Bottomley; Luke Jordan and Sumith Ramachandran; Pauline Hammond, and James Dykes.
All posters were united in praise for the three founders, but also for the incredible input of Malcolm Elsbury and his regular team of sound engineers and roadies.

Also for Rima and Roy Chatterjee and staff at The Old Well Inn, and to Louise Beagle and her team for supporting and administering the postings on Barney Musicians Share, including admin efforts from 6.30am to almost midnight.
A final mention should be made of many photographers over the years, but with particular special note to David Williams who has compiled an historic 30 minute video of photographs right through the ten years, which he has kindly posted via Calico Images. For local history buffs it really is worth a viewing.