THE RED SHED READINGS
Yes, Wakefield's Labour Club Red Shed is the venue for the finest spoken word event in the area. For over ten years now it has presented an astonishingly fine array of guest artists, provided opportunities for support readers and nurtured talent in the open mic slot. Then there is a list of highly accomplished musicians to consider. The event, held on the first Thursday of the winters months, is governed by two key unwritten rules: on no account must any degree of pretension creep in and elitism is equally forbidden. The artistic bar is hoisted to a high level, but this is not an intimidating scenario. Come along to the Red Shed and enjoy a fine evening of spoken word entertainment. Better still, mindful of the strict one poem only rule, bring along some of your own poetry and give it a go.
The Red Shed Hall of Fame
in no particular order. Take a deep breath now.
Michael di Placedo
Maria Isakova Bennett
Scroll down to bottom of page for directions to the Red Shed.
Thursday 6th Feb, 2014
"What a great evening out. The Red Shed is literally what it says on the tin - a two-roomed Labour Club premises that reminds me of our old scout hut. Two eloquent guest readers (Ian Parks and John Hepworth, a musical interlude from the talented Ruby Macintosh and an array of open mic talent. Well organized by John Clarke and Jimmy Andrex. Definitely worth a visit."
Peter R White
Focus groups and image consultants must have worked long and hard before finally a name was found for this fine establishment and here it is: The Red Shed.
Yes, Wakefield's Labour Club Red Shed is the venue for the finest spoken word event in the area. It is governed by two key unwritten rules: on no account must any degree of pretension creep in and elitism is equally forbidden.
Within that framework well over twenty guest readers have appeared at the Shed and taken to the ethos immediately. Likewise, a host of musicians covering a wide range of musical styles have made their contribution as have the readers on the open mic where the one poem only rule is strictly enforced. Everyone is encouraged to have a go and many have made the journey from open mic to support reader and finally to the status of main guest reader.
From the Annals:
The Autumn Season 2012 saw the Readings celebrate their 25th Event. It was a great season too with memorable readings from Julie Mellor, Matthew H. Stoppard and Ian McMillan. The Spring programme for 2013 was equally successful.
Thursday 7th February 7.30, 2013: Kirsty Taylor all the way from Bradford to share her slice of life poetry after a barnstorming performance at the Chemical Tavern. Supported by the Leeds City Stompers, it promised to be a great night. And so it proved:
There are times when it comes together beautifully and last night was one of those nights. Quite immodestly I have to say that the bar at the Red Shed Readings is set pretty high and yet there are nights when the bar is well and truly cleared again. Take it as read that the Jimmy warmed up the audience in his own inimitable style, the Open Mic readers were highly polished and the new feature of a poem of note (Sylvia Plath's Mirror) was beautifully read by Sally Martin. So the groundwork was in place and then Matt Abbott took the place by storm with one of the most powerful support readings anyone can remember. Violence on the dance floor, the delights of Blackpool and a romantic assignation in Scarborough formed just a part of his repertoire and the Red Shed crowd loved it. Matt gave way for the Leeds City Stompers, a guitar, double bass and harmonica combo from, well there's a clue in the name isn't there? And they were brilliant. Your correspondent is not given to exaggeration but this was an extraordinary performance of the blues, tapping deep into the tormented suffering of the regulars. Careless Love and St James Infirmary were two of the stand out numbers in a set which was over all too quickly. The audience wanted more.
Follow that. It would have been an invidious prospect for anyone to fill the guest reader spot in the second half but Kirsty Taylor came out firing on all cylinders and won over the audience almost immediately. She didn't read her poems, she didn't recite her poems, she delivered her poems with an astonishing commitment and her combination of brutal honesty, passion and care was thoroughly engaging. Sausage Roll Baby? It will stay with me for a long time.
As if all of the above wasn't enough, the prize in the world famous half-time competition went unclaimed, so the organisers too went home with smiles on their faces.
All in all, a great night. Well done everyone. John Clarke (8.2.13)
Thursday 7th March 7.30: As predicted, another special night of music and poetry. Keeley Hodgson captivated the Red Shedders with her unique sound and then Peter Spofforth combined poetry and music beautifully with his songs based on famous poems. Who was to know that he was going to make tribute to Stevie Smith when she was due to be featured on the cover version slot? Serendipity; all part of the Red Shed Readings package. Mention should also be made of Pete Lancaster reading from his new collection, Crossing to profound effect. A brilliant way to bring the Spring season to an end. Not that I'm wishing away a long and glorious English summer, but roll on October and the new season.
Autumn 2013 season
October saw the arrival of S.J. Bradley at the Red Shed Readings. She took to the mic to read from her short stories and quickly won over the Red Shed regulars. Why are short stories such a neglected art form? With practitioners like Sarah on the scene, this will not be the case for much longer. Support on the poetry front came from Tony the Great Baltini and he left the audience in little doubt about the radical tendencies of ducks in Otley and the inadvisability of wearing wig moustaches. Completing one of the most varied bills for some time were the musicians Alex and Olly who were extremely well received. A good gig lads, I'm sure we'll be hearing from them again in the future.
November and a crisis on the music front. The booked musicians cried off with 48 hours notice and Plan B also failed to materialise. Step forward Mark Taylor, a seasoned Red Shed performer who produced a wonderful set on his accordion and illuminated once again the technicalities of a Blues song. Ian Whiteley gave a committed performance as he read from his collection, A Step Towards Winter and Miles Salter, interrupting a trip from London to York, rounded off the evening with a series of poems, many of them about animals, how they boarded Noah's Ark and how (lions in particular) attend confession. As always, a visit to the Red Shed Readings is an educative one and one that is highly entertaining. A big well done to everyone.
December saw a particular ambition of the planning duo fulfilled when Ross Sutherland appeared at the Red Shed. All of the time and effort spent in luring Ross up from Peterborough was well spent as he produced a mind boggling performance combining poetry and looped video. Who would have thought that the opening credits to the Fresh Prince of Belle Air could have such an artistic resonance? Or a short clip from Ghostbusters for that matter? That Ross made a big impression would be an understatement: this was a crafting of words, a mastery of form and performance of the highest order. The audience was amazed, and those with artistic/performing aspirations were scratching their heads and vowing to return to the drawing board.
Wakefield Labour Club Red Shed
18 Vicarage Street