LOCAL SPOTLIGHT: The Forge Acoustic Sessions

Of course, there are a lot of “open Mic”-type nights on offer in the local area, but there are very few places that showcase chilled out acoustic based artists on a regular basis. Father and daughter team Anthony and Cami Walsh have been using Bolton Little Theatre to host a popular night known as “The Forge”, which has generated such a platform for up and coming acts to test out new acoustic material in an intimate venue. This week will see the last session of 2012 and as I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about it, I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss is about!

While you may be used to visiting dingy pubs and trendy bars to watch acoustic artists, it is apparent that The Forge is a unique setting, “a cosy, intimate and quiet venue – it has a lot of history and character making for a great venue for performers” . Following several visits to The Little Theatre to see a number of plays, Anthony Walsh decided to approach the venue with a view to hosting acoustic sessions, showcasing local acts and bands. Cami, with lots of previous experience organising similar music events, soon became involved with promoting and sourcing acts to introduce to the stage.

The first session was subject to lots of positive feedback from the audience, the performers and the venue. This has led to a monthly showcase evening that has become hugely popular with artists, who contacting Cami and Anthony citing great feedback from other musicians when requesting to play. New performers bringing their own fans to each event has created a great level of support, creating what Cami describes as a “great way for people to listen to new music”.

Another different factor is that the bar is only open at the beginning and in the interval, so that there’ is no unnecessary noise while musicians perform, such as clanging glasses.  Cami went on to say that “there’s a lot of respect from other performers and the audience keeping quiet whilst they play, plus as it’s a small room there are no amps or mics used, purely because they really aren’t needed with the acoustics in the room.”

Each event features a different line up, although there are a number of regular performers that appear to be in demand at The Forge, such as UltraVergo, Throwing Pandas, The Layzee Maybees, James Mason, Margaux’64 , Olly Neasham, James Carson, Elvis Hardy, The Happy Yaks aka Bosun’s Call, Don McColl and Ook at The Elephant. A number of these acts, some of who are well established within the North West music scene, will be featured this Friday at The Forge, alongside fresh faces such as Gage Boobier, John McFadden, John Ainsworth, Lei Freda, Jessica Buckle . Cami states she is “I’m really excited to have ‘Franco and The Dreadnought’ come and play as he is one of my favourite singer and songwriters – but in general I’m sad that this is the last one for 2012 but excited by who is performing! A real pick n mix!”

Make sure you head down to Bolton Little Theatre this Friday (26th October) to check out the last Forge session of 2012. It would seem that the variety of performers, from rock, to blues, folk and popular music, singers and songwriters, bands testing out their new songs acoustically and the atmosphere is certainly very appealing to many music fans already. I asked Cami what plans are in store for 2013… “I think we want to keep it how it is, as it works great for us. There was talk of moving into the bigger theatre but we knocked it on the head and just brought more chairs into the forge, some people even stand up for most of it. If they keep getting busier, we may need to do as session twice a month! Hopefully by the next session, we will have raised some funds to film the sessions as our last event, ‘Candle Light Acoustic’, was to raise money for filming equipment for the theatre. So watch this space!”

The Little Theatre can be found at 27 Hanover Street in Bolton town centre. The Forge session this Friday begins at 7.30PM and runs through to 10.30PM with an interval. You can also check it out on FACEBOOK.

Article by Colin Liptrot.

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