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Turning Ipswich County Library into a music venue

Written by · Published Feb 3, 2016

Gone are the days when libraries were places where everyone was expected to be silent! This is highlighted by a series of upcoming gigs at Ipswich Library over this year.

Having dabbled in small live music events in the past, we put on our first big gig at Ipswich Library in November last year, featuring the Americana band Police Dog Hogan.

I’ve been involved in organising small music festivals and gigs for a few years, but this was by far the biggest ticketed gig that I’d ever been involved in. I was confident that Police Dog Hogan would sell well, not only because they’re a top band, but also because they feature writer and Guardian columnist Tim Dowling – which only helps to boost the band’s popularity.

We had to think about all sorts of things we didn’t need to consider for previous library events – setting up online ticket sales, organising staging, security, arranging PA and lighting and managing a crowd of over 200 people. Thanks to a fantastic team effort involving staff and volunteers, the event was a huge success, receiving unanimously positive feedback and attracting people from as far away as Southampton. The only minor problem was that we misjudged the amount of bar stock that we would need and there was a lot left over – still, better than not having enough!

Fortunately, the beer has a long shelf life, and we’ve got a couple of upcoming gigs where we will be able to shift it! Firstly, on 5 March we’ve got Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer playing at the library, a gig that we’re organising in partnership with a local promoter, Simon Doling.

On 15 April, we’ve got a rhythm and blues night featuring a couple of popular local bands, Back Porch and Chuck Will’s Widow.

In June, we are again working with Simon Doling on a gig featuring Dream Themes – a band that specialises in performing television theme tunes. In November, we will welcome ten piece funk band Primo Nelson to the library.

Ipswich County Library proved to be a great space for live music back in November 2015, so we’re delighted to be building on that during 2016. We’re proud that the library can be added to the list of well-regarded mid-sized live music venues in Ipswich.