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Marsden Mechanics offers a programme of live music

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Marsden Mechanics offers a programme of live music

Marsden Mechanics announces a series of events – championing live music and artists from underrepresented genres in the area – as £5 tickets aim to remove financial barriers that hinder access to culture and entertainment…

Marsden Mechanics has announced a new season of programming, supported by Arts Council England, that looks to its history and its heritage to inform its latest series of live performances. A stalwart of the Yorkshire creative coterie, the community-owned venue plays host to a season of highly respected global talent, providing rural communities the opportunity to experience high-quality concerts without coming up against cost-prohibitive travel and accommodation.

Consisting of five live music events, the programme supports 83 artists and intends to draw in crowds across the whole of Yorkshire. From jazz and blues to Irish trad, from immersive soundscapes to reggae and dub, no two nights will be the same. Launching with the Valley Voices Choir Fest on Sunday 19th May, this season of events heralds a strengthening of Marsden Mechanics’ live music legacy.

Traversing the Colne Valley on Saturday 20th July is Huddersfield’s Onwards Festival. Since 2016 the festival has been held in Huddersfield town centre, celebrating the emerging talent coming out of the surrounding area and placing them alongside established acts with far-reaching followings. Now, for the first time, the day’s events will span across a host of independent venues, with crowds travelling successively between each space, culminating in the finale at Marsden Mechanics with performances from Axis Valv-a-Tron – the original Reggae Revival Sound System – and King Zepha.

The programme also sees the return of Sonic Threads: the amalgam of Carnatic vocalist Supriya Nagarajan with classically trained harpist Lucy Nolan. Inspired by Jazz legend Alice Coltrane and her love of Indian philosophy, their work seamlessly blends Indian ragas and live improvisation with contemporary harp.

Development Manager Jonny Kelly:

“This new programme is a real step up for Marsden Mechanics and the endeavour is borne from our central goal, that everybody should have the opportunity to access high-calibre cultural and artistic events and experiences, no matter their location or financial status.  The venue is community-owned and this means that a large amount of the events come down to the voluntary donation of time and skill. This has meant that the programme was naturally driven by a collective desire to curate events that are inclusive for all community members, which is what has led to such a creative and eclectic programme of music.

“Connection and inclusion which encompasses the whole community are our core values and we are proud that we are helping to contribute not only to making our relatively rural location a more animated and vibrant place to live, but also a more compelling place to visit and to work in, which in turn strengthens and grows the community further”.

 Set against the rugged backdrop of the Pennines, the Yorkshire village of Marsden has a history akin to much of the North of England. It saw a boom in wealth during the 19th century with the construction of one of the largest mills in the country at the time, and it was during this period that Marsden Mechanics was conceived. Established in 1860, the venue was designed to provide betterment to the workers and wider village community, not only acting as space of learning and socialising, but also hosting live theatre and concerts.

It was an essential part of life in the village, witnessing major events throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, the building fell into disrepair, eventually closing its doors in 1967, and being set for demolition in 1974.

The locals refused to stand idly by and allow the once iconic establishment to be destroyed, and after much campaigning, they were successful in securing the building a Grade 2 listing status, halting its demolition, and paving the way for a regeneration project.

Their grassroots organisation, the Marsden Community Association, successfully petitioned the restoration of the space, and in 2017 the Marsden Mechanics was once again back in the hands of the community after the council transferred the asset to the Marsden Community Trust, a registered charity run by locals. Their involvement in planning ensures that the venue and its schedule feel intrinsically linked to the community it serves.

Marsden Mechanics has restored its status as a vital institution in the village, with a vibrant community-centred arts programme that has seen a substantial rise in local engagement. Thanks to funding from ACE, and Development Manager Jonny Kelly’s creative acumen at the helm, the latest series of events is set to expand the venue’s creative offering and provide the surrounding remote communities a bastion of artistic experiences.

The MCT Board is composed wholly of residents and has committed to removing many of the barriers that restrict access to culture. This includes ffforts to remove financial barriers – many members of the communities are from lower socio-economic backgrounds and face financial challenges.

The events aim to remove financial barriers by ensuring that ticket prices for each event are kept to £5. Also take steps to remove physical barriers by providing accessible and step-free routes and spaces (and the venue is accessible by bus and train) and a commitment to work to combat confidence and wellbeing barriers. The board are aware that many people do not access cultural activities due to lack of confidence and poor mental health, which can exacerbate feelings of isolation. The aim for Marsden Mechanics is to facilitate a welcoming space; checking in with people in advance to understand their specific needs and providing quieter and smaller performances/opportunities for those this would benefit.

The events will also provide a number of opportunities for participation within music events and activities – enabling local musicians and artists to access talent development and performance opportunities.

2024 Events

Valley Voices, Sunday 19th May

Delivered by Artful Playground, Valley Voices brings together community choirs from the Colne Valley and beyond in a sublime afternoon of soulful ballads and toe-tapping classics. What’s more, all proceeds go to support charitable causes.

Onwards Festival, Saturday 20th July

Dubbed “The Roaming Musical Spectacular”, this one-day festival takes place at venues throughout the Colne Valley. This year sees Marsden Mechanics play host to the finale event of the festival, with performances from Axis Valv-a-Tron – the original Reggae Revival Sound System – and King Zepha, the multi-hyphenate composer and producer known for thumping double bass, global rhythms, and dub delays.

Irish Arts Foundation presents… Yorkshire v Lancashire, Friday 16th August

A night of traditional Irish music as Yorkshire’s finest musicians go toe-to-toe with Lancashire’s top talents. The rich tapestry of Irish folk music gives way to the subtle nuances of Northern English heritage, crafting a truly unique evening of musical brilliance.

The Pat Fulgoni Blues Experience, Friday 6th September

Acclaimed vocalist Pat Fulgoni fronts a soulful 5 piece Blues ensemble in an evening of iconic covers and powerful originals. Described as “the real deal”, Pat’s voice doesn’t just lend itself well to the blues, with a CV that includes the likes of Camo & Krooked, Coldcut, and Technimatic to name a few.

Sonic Threads, Sunday 15th September

A daring and innovative duo, Sonic Threads transcends cultural and genre boundaries as Lucy Nolan and Supriya Nagarajan seamlessly merge Eastern and Western influences in their performances. The duo is heavily influenced by the spiritual movement started by Alice Coltrane and both Supriya and Lucy capture that meditative quality in their renditions.

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