Fiery Bird Woking – Crowdfunder Appeal

All UK music venues are currently under threat.

Obviously, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all live music venues in the UK are closed at the moment. Even pubs that have reopened cannot resume music events either – whether it’s open-mic nights or other gigs.

Fiery Bird, Woking

View of the Fiery Bird stage.
View of the Fiery Bird stage. (Taken from the Crowdfunder page).

Woking is my current home town, and it has it’s own community-focussed venue which is called Fiery Bird. The venue is located in an old nightclub in the centre of the town, and since it opened in 2018 has hosted many live music events. I’ve performed there many times at the regular open-mic nights that were held until lockdown stopped all that.

Fiery Bird’s stay in its current location was time limited as the building that houses it is planned for demolition and redevelopment. Last year, there was an extension granted, but time is running out. Here is a map of the current location for Fiery Bird.

There is a move to a new permanent location on the cards – which was originally slated for late this year (2020). But the lack of income from music and other events, due to lockdown, has put the whole future of the venue in jeopardy.

Fiery Bird Crowdfunder Appeal

The Music Venue Trust has launched a national initiative to try to prevent the closure of hundreds of independent venues across the country. Woking’s Fiery Bird is part of this and has set up a Crowdfunder appeal to help keep the venue going.

Although the venue is currently closed, there is still work to be done, and there are still overheads that need to be covered.

So please consider supporting the appeal to help Fiery Bird survive. A team of volunteers has worked tirelessly for many years to give Woking its own live music venue – let’s make sure that it’s not taken away by the current lockdown restrictions.

Please visit the Fiery Bird Crowdfunder page, and give generously.

Save Our Venues T-shirt

Currently the project is offering a reward if you can donate over £20 – one of the high quality Save Our Venues T-shirts. They’re available in 5 different sizes and if you qualify for one, they’re delivered free.

If you want to know what the t-shirts look like on a person…

Graham Armfield wearing the Save Our Venues T-shirt and playing a guitar.
Me wearing the Save Our Venues T-shirt.


Return to Performing

Since finishing the Life Line album in 2009, my musical journey took a back seat again for some time. I did write a couple of songs but didn’t pursue them at the time.

Vic's Buskers - Rowbarge, Guildford - March 2015
Vic’s Buskers – Rowbarge, Guildford – March 2015

But in 2013 I started performing very occasionally at Vic’s Buskers Open Mic night in Guildford. I would play some of the songs from the Life Line album.

It was through Vic Cracknell that I met up with the organisers of the Phoenix Cultural Centre in Woking in March 2015. The Phoenix Cultural Centre at the time occupied a shop in Woking and put on open mic nights every Monday evening.

The atmosphere at the Phoenix nights was very friendly and supportive, and before too long I was performing there on a regular basis – singing mainly my own songs but with the odd cover.

Woking Town Centre - Aug 2015
Woking Town Centre – Aug 2015

Spurred on by this, I started to bring more of my songs back from retirement – to have some variety when I played. I also started to perform more regularly at Vic’s Buskers in Guildford.

During the summer of 2015 I was able to go busking in Woking town centre a few times and at the Woking Party in The Park. This was a first for me as I’d never done busking before.

Spurred on by all this playing, I found my songwriting skills came back again, and I have been working on many new songs, including one that was written in the autumn – High Time.


An Unexpected Session at the Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

Recently I was in Sheffield with work for a few days. And whilst I was there I made sure to visit the Kelham Island Tavern – a famous real ale pub just on the north side of the city centre.

Graham playing at the Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield
Graham playing at the Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

The Kelham Island Tavern has won many prizes for its beer selection and has twice been the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) National Pub of the Year.

It turns out they have folk music in the back bar of the pub on Sunday nights. The regular guitarist (Ian McDonald I believe) was playing some songs and recounting stories to a small audience.

During a break in his performance I asked if I could play his guitar and sing a couple of songs. He agreed, and I actually did 4 songs altogether. I would never really describe my songs as folk, but they seemed to go down well.

There were many posters up around the pub advertising the upcoming Sheffield Folk Festival. Sadly this was after I was returning south, but maybe next year.

Vic’s Buskers Guildford – March 2016

Had another good night down at the Rowbarge, Guildford on 1st March.

Vic’s nights at the Rowbarge have become so popular now that there’s only enough time for two songs each.

So I did 2 and then I was joined on the stage by Tracy Ginn and we did 2 together.

Here are some pics of our performances.

Tracy and I Start Rehearsing Together

Tracy performing solo at The Phoenix, Woking in June 2015
Tracy performing solo at The Phoenix, Woking in June 2015

I first met Tracy Ginn at the Phoenix Cultural Centre earlier in the year. She’s a singer and was performing solo to backing tracks.

On one visit to the Phoenix, she asked me to accompany her on guitar, and gave me a few song sheets with chords on. I agreed and we performed ‘Smooth Operator’ ( the Sade song). She also gave me the chords for Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ – a song I’d obviously heard before but never attempted to play. We performed this together the next time I was at the Phoenix.

I think Tracy would agree that she was a little lacking in confidence when performing to start with, but I recognised that she had quite a good voice.

So after the summer we started practising together on an occasional basis – with the idea that I would back her at the Phoenix, and other open mic nights.

So far our bunch of songs is small:

  • Smooth Operator
  • Someone Like You
  • Valerie
  • Price Tag

We’ll hopefully be growing our set list over time.