Edward Sproat and Elisha Connolly of The Hickory Inn (formerly The Barge) in Tiverton, Devon were crowned one of this year’s winners of PRS for Music’s Music Makeover competition, taking home a £10K prize to revamp their pub into a live music haven of the region.
With the latest sound technology, music equipment and expert advice from sound engineer Liam St Ledger, landlord and lady of The Hickory unveiled their sound system makeover to the Tiverton community at an invite-only launch party last night.
The night was graced by VIP guests PRS chairman Guy Fletcher, an acclaimed songwriter who has written for the likes of Elvis Presley and Frankie Valli who presented Ed and Elisha with their Gold Disc Award. Cabinet member at the Mid Devon District Council and Deputy Chairman of Tiverton & Honiton Conservative Association, Colin Slade also came down to witness the new sound system for himself.
The intimate celebrations featured exclusive private performances from Devon-born folk band Mad Dog Mcrea who filled the pub with classic upbeat country-style tunes and Michael Jackson covers. The six piece band including electric violinist and flautist got guests on their feet congregating the dancefloor.
Along with Mad Dog Mcrea, the launch party included superb Cornish indie rockers, Brother & Bones- the powerful five-piece broke in the new sound system with their alternative rock and acoustic sound, the band captivated the guests with stunning vocals and inspiring percussion solos.
Guy said: “Pubs and clubs are still the core business of the music industry, it all starts with a great song, it all starts with a great place to play so we have decided to help create new music venues at ground level and pubs are a great place to do that.”
Mid Devon cabinet member Colin Slade said: “Young and emerging bands need somewhere to play and need venues like this to provide that platform – initiatives like the obviously can’t be applied to every pub, but it’s great that it’s happened here in Halberton. Wherever people can put money into promoting live music in local community pubs that can only be to everyone’s benefit.”
Landlord and lady Edward Sproat and Elisha Conolly: “The area is quite sparse on music venues, so to have a local venue now with an amazing music system, it’s just great for all the villages around here. There is no way we would’ve had this opportunity without PRS, we wouldn’t have gotten to this stage so quickly – a lot of bands don’t have the ability to bring in equipment like this, it will be a real positive thing to get bands that haven’t performed in many venues before. They’ll be able to get their foot in the door and have an opportunity to do gigs that they might not have been able to do.”
Brother & Bones’ lead vocalist Rich Thomas said: “Small venues and pubs are where everything starts. Doesn’t matter if you’re Zeppelin or whoever the bands are throughout history, you don’t start at Wembley- hopefully this will be encouragement for other bigger organisations to do the same. With the help of PRS, Ed & Elisha can help passionate musicians in pubs, they can try and get more bands and music through the door.”
Mad Dog Mcrea’s lead singer Michael Mathieson said: “We started in pubs and it’s the be-all and end-all of getting the band together. Thank you very much PRS for Music – we have good Christmases, it gives you confidence when you get a cheque and it gives you the confidence to do more and make that cheque bigger”
At PRS for Music represents over 111,000 songwriters and composers – many of whom developed their careers (and still do) in small gig venues and pubs around the country. Pub music venues have been vital stepping stones in British music culture and have contributed to the careers of many music legends of today.
Now entering its fifth year, the Music Makeover campaign was established by PRS for Music, to give landlords a chance to revamp their pubs and make live music a central part of their local communities.
(from a press release)