Acoustica at the Guildhall
George Moorey: Ghosting collaborator, excellent songwriter, and hardworking promoter of independent mellow music. We were able to catch up with him for a few questions and were amused and pleased with the results. We think you will be too.
1. So, how’s life been treating you?
My life is good, got a lovely wife, 3 cats, a roof above my head, plenty of
food to eat, some nice musical instruments, a recording studio in the cellar
and a large CD collection. I could do with a holiday and my best friend is
in Australia for 12 months so there’s room for improvement too. I’m 30 this
year so I grumble now and again but I really shouldn’t!
2. What’s the main idea behind this ‘Gigs at the Guildhall’ Series? Why did
you set out to book a bunch of shows that could be alternately set at a
The Guildhall is a fantastic venue. There’s a bar, cinema room, gallery,
dark rooms and meeting rooms and the main theatre is an old ballroom with a
high plaster ceiling, a wicked sound system, good lighting, sprung floor and
a standing capacity of 360 – right in the middle of Gloucester.
The Guildhall’s got a good tradition of putting on emerging bands. In the
past we’ve had Oasis, Radiohead, Supergrass, Muse to name some, but the
industry’s seems to be in a permanent state of change in the UK and in the
past 10 years I would say that record companies have been responsible for
bands taking short cuts to bigger venues. It seemed for a while that the
Guildhall (and other similar size venues) couldn’t attract bands because it
jeopardised any hype that marketing people put out to sell product. Acts
would stay in the rehearsal rooms until they were famous then go on to 1000
minimum venues. There must be a cycle because some of the more popular
bands have started paying attention to smaller audiences in provincial towns
and cities like Gloucester. In the past 12 months we’ve hosted The Delays
and Hope of The States and this month Rooster is playing. So we have been
reminding the public that the Guildhall is a top quality live music venue by
catering for all groups of music lovers, not just young people.
I’m getting older and going to a standing only gig has started to wipe out
my back and leave my ears ringing a bit much so I proposed a live music
night which was all seated, but still very laidback, with low ticket prices
and comfortable that is just right for listening with a pint of beer in
As a result the Guildhall team are supporting us in our efforts as we book
mellower acts that can be tagged loosely as “Acoustic”. We’re targetting a
more discerning audience and fairy lights and candles have been making an
appearance as well. The series is called “Acoustica”.
3. How many shows do you plan on having? How many have you had already?
We started out with a pilot night in November 2004 where my band Ghosting
opened the night (our last live set for a year while Dan’s in Australia) and
The Beauty Shop from Illinois, USA headlined as part of their UK tour. That
went nicely so in January 2005 we launched “Acoustica” with
London/Gloucester hybrid band Earnest Cox and support from Vince Freeman and
The Family Machine. Last Friday was Juliet Turner with special
guest Duke Special. This month we’ve got Amy Wadge, April is bluegrass
outfit The Barker Band, May is Snow Patrol collaborator Iain Archer and his
band. June is empty, but we’re hoping to get Pierce Pettis and Julie Lee.
For September I would love to see Scottish band Trashcan Sinatras headlining
and I’m waiting to hear back from them and for October we’ve booked Boo
Hewerdine, one of the UK’s best songwriters. I’ve not booked anything for
November or December because my co-promoter Al is back from New Zealand and
he’ll want to get his teeth stuck into booking some bands. I’ve also been
talking to the Guildhall team about doing an Acoustica night at the
Gloucester Festival in a big top tent in Gloucester Park in August. The
Guildhall programmer wants Acoustica to become a regular part of the live
music programme at the Guildhall so we’ll be carrying on indefinitely which
is good news.
4. How have those gone? Which one stands out most in your mind?
The pilot was good for me because I played the support with Dan as Ghosting,
sad thought because until Dan gets back and tells me what he wants to do
there’s always the possibility of it being our last ever gig together. The
Beauty Shop were an amazing way to try out the format and they delivered a
brilliant set. Duke Special was fantastic the other night as support for
Juliet Turner. He’s one of my favourite live acts and he managed to shift
60 CDs from an audience of 185 during the interval so that gives you an idea
of how moving his performance is.
5. How has the turnout to the concerts been?
The first gig we got in about 80 people. The second one we counted about
120 heads. At the Juliet Turner gig last Friday there were 185 tickets
6. Which upcoming show are you most excited about?
The Iain Archer show in May is the one I’m particularly excited about as
he’s a Snow Patrol collaborator and an amazing songwriter and performer in
his own right. He’s had success on the folk circuit, but never really
set-out to be a folk performer so took some time out to take stock and
returned as co-writer on Snow Patrol’s platinum selling Final Straw album.
Having got the confidence back to do what he wants artistically he’s gone
out as himself again, but with a band and a determination to play music that
he wants to play rather than catering for a circuit like before. My
friend’s band Bell Jar are playing as well so that’s a bonus.
7. Is there signifigant interest in this type of music already, or are you
trying to drum up interest in the scene?
There is a lot of interest from people around my age for which music is very
important still, but perhaps have become a bit disillusioned with new big
bands and their inability to play intimate shows because of their fame. I
also run an open stage every month during the week and have been
co-ordinating a young bands project in the city for the past 3 years and
there’s a lot of younger people from those things showing up to discover
something different at Acoustica. There’s been some oldies show up as well.
Hopefully we’ll generate a core audience for the night and Acoustica will
gain a reputation for being a good night out whatever your preference.
Hopefully we’ll be known for putting on good live acts irrespective of the
categorisation and style.
9. And just because it’s an obligatory question- who are you listening to?
I’m trying to put my entire CD collection onto iTunes at the moment which is
taking me a while, but it does mean I’ve been checking out parts of my music
collection that haven’t been visited for a while.
Incognito, Julie Lee, Prefab Sprout, Fat Boy Slim, Jim White, Royksopp,
Kings Of Convenience, old U2, Nitin Sawhney, Amy Wadge, Deacon Blue and Iain
Archer all seem to be dominating at the moment.
For more information on the Acoustica concert series, go to www.acoustica-guildhall.co.uk.
-Interview conducted by Stephen Carradini by E-mail in the month of March. Photo by Tom Oldham.