Here you can listen to a selection of venues in the Kingston borough that are still flying the flag for live music today: the Fighting Cocks on Old London Road, the Grey Horse on Richmond Road, and the Lamb on Brighton Road in Surbiton.
In addition we also feature interviews with people involved with the early years of Creative Youth and its partnership with the Rose Theatre, and ask all of our interviewees to ponder the future for live music in the borough and beyond.
The audio clips you can hear below come from a small selection of the interviews conducted for the AMP Kingston project. Other listening stations on the Heritage Trail covering different themes and interviews can be found at FUSEBOX and Kingston University (Town House).
Jamie O’Grady ran The Fighting Cocks for 21 years, from 2000 to 2021, ushering in a distinctive and iconic era at the pub. Recalling how he took control of what was then a much more traditional outfit, he spoke to AMP about instilling a welcoming culture for all – where ‘men with mohawks and a bolt through their nose banter with businessmen in pinstripe suits’ – whilst developing a music and comedy culture that makes it one of Kingston’s most treasured spots today.
Ali Parcell took over the running of the Fighting Cocks with her husband Matt Barnwell when Jamie O’Grady moved back to Australia in 2021. She spoke to AMP about how Jamie was adamant that the pub would never be taken over by the kind of landlord that would abandon its ethos. Instead, her and Matt maintain the Cocks’ reputation for raucous live music and high profile comedy acts, whilst still adding their own touches – and even finding themselves part of the Marvel universe!
Richard Fletcher moved into the Grey Horse as its landlord in 2000 and spent the next 15 years fostering a live music culture that brought a community of regulars together as a family. One such regular was Randy Baldwin and the two of them sat together for an interview with AMP, in which they recalled the many great acts they witnessed, the comedy and other arts that could be found in the Ram Jam Club (a former stables at the back of the pub), and most importantly the friends they made along the way.
Joy Bowers is the Events Manager at Ram Jam Records at the Grey Horse today (formerly the Ram Jam Club). She spoke to AMP about first discovering the space whilst still a student, stumbling upon a poetry show as part of Creative Youth’s International Youth Arts Festival. Later finding herself working at the Grey Horse, she spoke passionately about the wide range of artists she feels lucky to be approached by and translating these approaches into the Ram Jam’s multiarts programme of nightly events.
Adam and Liz Lewis first took over the Lamb pub in 2007 and quickly set about making their living room one of the most community-minded establishments in the area. Working closely with the ‘State of Seething’, Adam and Liz soon found that live music was one of the more popular elements of their community events. Together with bar manager Tina Dézart, they built up a vast network of musicians who graced the Lamb’s stages indoors and out, to the extent they are now Surbiton’s foremost live music venue and host the Lambstock music festival each year.
Aniela Żaba was the very first Artistic Director of the International Youth Arts Festival, today Fuse International. From 2009 to 2015, she worked closely with Robin Hutchinson, Frank Whateley, and Colin Bloxham, founders of IYAF and the Rose Theatre. Aniela spoke to AMP about those fledgling years as the festival strove to provide a space for young experimentation and ambition. She also reflected about how she herself was a young person at the time and the platform the charity gave her as her career in the arts evolved.
Andy Currums was Festival Director for the 2016 and 2017 iterations of the International Youth Arts Festival, having previously been involved with the festival’s earliest years as a theatre performer. Today the Executive Director of the Carlow Arts Festival, he passionately recalled to AMP the importance of Creative Youth to his career – from the wisdom of mentor Frank Whateley (a Rose Theatre co-founder) to the ‘freedom to experiment’ culture that IYAF/FUSE’s lack of financial imperatives gives to its young performers; all while insisting that youth arts does not equal ‘amateur’ arts.
Here you can hear a collection of soundbites from all of our interviewees. They reflect on the importance of music and the arts within Kingston as a whole, the challenges facing young performers and venue owners today, and as Creative Youth moves into its new home at FUSEBOX, the future for these passions we hold so dear.