Americana music to play key role at Woking grassroots music venue Fiery Bird Live Music Venue


Woking’s Fiery Bird Live Music Venue celebrated its reopening by hosting its inagural Americana Festival with a line-up that included multi-award-winning Alice Armstrong, co-founder of The Jam Steve Brookes, Mark Harrison, The Spike Drivers, local stars The Dustbowl Sinners and newcomer Lola Rose Wilson.

Organised in a partnership between Phoenix Cultural Centre and Nick Hyde of Midnight Special Blues Club, and supported by funding from Arts Council England, the festival, which took place on 4th-5th May 2024 was designed to provide a stage for local artists, performing new and original work, alongside some of the most exciting acts on the touring & festival circuit.

Elaine McGinty, CEO of Phoenix Cultural Centre CIC (the community organization which runs the venue) said, “We were blown away by the reception to the event, Alice Armstrong’s set blew the roof off and the quality of the work was incredible. The response from the audience was so positive and the artists seemed to really appreciate everything that this special venue has to offer. We are determined to ensure that the Fiery Bird in Woking becomes an important stop on any Americana artist’s tour whilst also ensuring that we nurture the next wave of talent.”

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Whilst plans are underway for the Americana Festival to return in 2025, the programme for later this year already includes Grammy-nominated Duwayne Burnside, Alex Voysey and rising stars Emilie Lierre and Lola Rose Wilson.

The festival was the first major event to take place at the grassroots music venue following a turbulent time. Relocated to a new site close to the centre of Woking in 2023, Phoenix Cultural Centre was unexpectedly hit with a £432k rates bill threatening permanent closure. After months of negotiation the rates bill was reduced to £28k, only for the opening of the venue to be delayed by a devasting break-in that stripped the building of all copper piping, cabling, sound-system equipment and even the water tank. Following a crowdfunder the damage was repaired and the venue deemed fit to open.

Speaking about the festival and venue roots musician Mark Harrison said “Being in music, like any other area of life, has its difficulties and the travails have got more challenging in the last years for many of us. But the business of actually doing the music, the bit that involves playing my songs to an audience, the times when we can all put the cr*p aside to be in the moment of the show, that’s still intact for me. I thought this once again at the Fiery Bird Music Venue in Woking. Great place, people, sound, organisation and atmosphere. I hope they build on it at this new venue and have the support to make it what it deserves to be.”

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