Musical Haunts: 12 Bar Club, Denmark St, London

Singer / Songwriter Lizzyspit, takes us to 12 Bar Club – London’s smallest, most intimate venue in part two of her series, Musical Haunts.

12 bar club denmark st

12 Bar Club is one of those places you’d never find, unless you knew about it first.

Tucked away on Denmark St, home to one of the world’s biggest collections of guitar shops, the inconspicuous looking club is one of the smallest, most historic, live music venues in London. It’s poster-peppered walls and beaten up ol’ stage has played host to popular artists such as the late Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice, and Regina Spektor, to name but a few.

Entering the club, you’d never guess just what has happened within it’s crumbling walls. Yes it’s dingy, and yes, you get the idea that its pretty old… but if for one second, you consider exactly what’s gone on here, you find yourself at the start of a very different evening. To give you an idea, in 1635 it was a stable, then a working forge until World War I. In fact, the forge fireplace can still be seen at the back of the stage, now a well-used resting place for amps and equipment. It then became a carpenter’s shop until just after World War 2, before being converted into store rooms.

12 bar slideSo, where did the music come from? By the time the 80’s hit, the club had said goodbye to it’s store room days, and had become home to The Forge Folk & Blues Club, championed by Andy Preston of Andy’s Guitar Workshop. This was a vibrant social club and music venue for the staff who used it as an amplifier workshop – dust-sheets were thrown over the amplifiers in the evening before the music began.

In 1994, the club was renamed as 12 Bar Club – and was soon in full swing, proving to be a ‘must stop’ place for up and coming artists touring the Capital.

Fast forward to today, Andy now puts at least 4, uniquely talented artists/acts on every night of the week, except Sunday – I mean, everyone’s entitled to a little rest right?

Alongside it’s history, what’s particularly special about the place is the two-tier viewing platform. Despite it being so small, the venue offers a one of a kind viewing experience. The balcony and ground-floor pit gives the audience an intimate, up close & personal look at some of the most exciting new artists to break onto the scene.

As a performer, the elevated stage puts you firmly in the spotlight, and teamed with the beautiful acoustics, makes you want to stay on stage forever.

12 Bar’s atmosphere is truly one of a kind – and one that’s worth a lot more than the £5 entry fee. PLUS, it has a Juke-box, I mean, what more could you want?

Pic: Phillipa Leigh