Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Gigs raise money for new classroom

THE Brakspear Jazz and Blues Festival has just been and gone in a 10-day whirl of live gigs at pubs in and around Henley

THE Brakspear Jazz and Blues Festival has just been and gone in a 10-day whirl of live gigs at pubs in and around Henley, writes Matthew Wilson.

But the good news for music fans is that a brand new series of intimate acoustic concerts is starting up in the town on Sunday — with dates booked right the way through to May.

I.A.M Henley, which stands for Intimate Acoustic Music, is the brainchild of Louise Colam, a mother of two who moved to the town with her family just over 18 months ago.

As a folk musician herself, who last year released an album called Louder Than Your Drum, Louise got the idea for organising the concerts because her six-year-old son is a pupil at Valley Road Primary School — which is in the process of raising funds to build a dedicated classroom for music lessons.

She said: “We do a lot of cake sales when we do the summer fair and I thought, well, I don’t bake, and what do I know and what can I do that would help to raise some money for it? Because they’re looking at a massive sum of money, £92,000 or something. It’s an awful lot of money.

“So I thought, well, music’s the only thing that I know how to do where I’ve got a network of people who play music and who are willing to get involved in things like this.”

From Louise’s initial inspiration came the idea of organising a series of “unplugged” house concerts hosted by members of the school community.

“At the moment people are hosting because it hasn’t got any bigger than that. If it became a big community thing that would be cool, but right now it’s people from the school who are hosting it and we’re selling tickets at school to raise money.

“It’s £7.50 a ticket and all that money goes straight to the school. We also have a donations hat to pass around so we can try to pay the artist their petrol money at least.” Contained in that last thought was the seed of what has become the second strand of I.A.M Henley — concerts open to the wider public at a venue in the town centre.

To distinguish between them, Louise explains that the house concerts benefiting the school will be known as “I.A.M at Home” and the new series of gigs as “I.A.M in Town”.

Starting at 7.30pm on Sunday, the first I.A.M in Town gig takes place at the Athlete Service shop in the Oast House in Henley’s Greys Road car park.

The acts on the bill are Bear & The Woods and Philip Murray Warson. Warson was recently the musical director of the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guvnors, fronting the live skiffle band on tour and in the West End.

Tickets for Sunday’s concert are £6 and can be booked in person at Athlete Services or online at http://iamhenley.wix.com/live

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