Iconic folk venue Green Note reopens after surviving lockdown
- Credit: Archant
When the Green Note reopens tomorrow (May 28) after more than a year in mothballs, it will signal a victory for two passionate music lovers who took on lockdown and created a worldwide audience for their iconic folk venue.
An 18-strong audience of faithful fans will attend the Camden Town venue - which has hosted the likes of Ed Sheeran, Amy Winehouse and Graham Coxon - while a global audience tunes in to the livestream performance of London based singer songwriter Our Man in the Field.
When the first lockdown hit on March 16, 2020, owners Immy Doman and Risa Tabatznik closed their doors and faced a future with no income. But they hatched a plan to keep their business going and stay in touch with loyal supporters. Virtually Green Note - their twice weekly programme of live folk, roots and world music streamed from the homes of singers and musicians - amassed an army of virtual fans with up to 4,500 YouTube views per concert.
Doman, who lives in Highgate, says: “We’ve developed a global audience for our live streams, with people tuning in from across the UK as well as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Europe.
Risa, who lives in Swiss Cottage, said: “We came up with a format that proved to be very popular with artists and audiences, and kept developing and refining them as the months went on. By the end they were pretty slick and professional, but also retained a sense of intimacy and our personal touch.
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“We were meticulous about the sound quality and did sound checks with artists to rule out potential technical issues. The superior sound quality, as well as the interactive element of our shows were appreciated by artists and audiences.
“Over the year we’re proud to have curated and broadcast more than 100 virtual shows, paid out over £65,000 to around 300 musicians, and provided work to many freelance staff.”
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The May 28 event is a test run for the venue's June 25 relaunch when swing-honkytonk-rockabilly band, Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra play to a full live audience of 65 plus a livestreaming audience.
“Our hopes for the future are to return to a safe but atmospheric environment for hosting live music at our bricks and mortar venue, but also to harness the energy and audiences we’ve gained this year who aren’t able to come to the venue but are keen for us to continue with online shows," said the duo who met as teenagers while students at Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
“The problem for small venues is that it isn’t financially viable to run events with a socially distanced audience," added Risa.
“We're doing the test event to make sure we’re all OK technically before social distancing is due to end. After that we plan performances seven nights a week.”
As well as the live stream paying audience the Green Note has garnered donations from loyal supporters, and grants from the Music Venue Trust, Culture Recovery Fund, and Arts Council.
“We couldn’t have kept going without the Music Venue Trust advising us. We’ve become experts on filling in grant applications and thanks to Arts Council funding, we’ve been able to survive this period of closure."
That includes funding a Cool Woman season from July to October celebrating female artists and frontwomen including artists such as Vimala Rowe, Katy Rose Bennett, Katey Brooks, Baskery and the Heard Collective.
Immy and Risa opened the venue in Parkway in 2005 as a cafe restaurant with low key performances. Other memorable nights include 2007 when Leonard Cohen spoke from the stage and signed autographs for fans, the night Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow sang on stage with Mara Carlyle, and various sets by Mercury Prizewinner Michael Kiwanuka, The Magic Numbers, Hank Wangford, and Johnny Flynn.
“In an industry which is still male dominated, we're proud to be supporting and promoting women in music. We are feeling positive about the future mixing live events and livestreaming.”
See Ed Sheeran play Green Note in 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b7cq1kYOXA