This Thursday night is going to be a bit special. For one night only, myself and some dear friends are getting together to do something we did every single Thursday for five-and-odd years, but haven’t done in a long time. Playing tunes in the basement of a small pub on a weeknight doesn’t sound like anything much when you think about it, but for years it was – without question – the most important three hours of my week.
Were it not for The Brickworks sessions, I wouldn’t know most of my best friends. I wouldn’t own half the records I do. I almost certainly wouldn’t still be living in Oxford. Most of my best memories from the past decade may never have happened. I might never have met Peepshow Paddy, and there would never have been a Disco Shed. We wouldn’t have seen DJ Derek, Daddy G, Ska Cubano, The Skatalites and Max Romeo up close like we did so memorably. We wouldn’t have got to watch Alton Ellis rolling back the years at The Zodiac, just months before he sadly passed away.
A great deal can happen to you in five years. For all the great times we had, some weeks I’d turn up with my records at half past eight while personally I was falling apart. Nights like those, finding the right records and playing them in the basement of a small pub dotted with familiar faces can feel very precious. I have very few photos from those years at Brickworks, but even now I can still visualise walking down those steps in twilight, the glow of the candles on the tables, putting that first record that you’d been thinking of while you were walking on the plate. I still miss it.
But it seems that I’m not the only one that does, so I was overwhelmed and overjoyed when I asked some of the people who used to play records back then if they’d be up for coming along this Thursday and got such a resounding response. There should be at least 20 of us in all, which means The Cricketers will be jumping even if no-one else shows up! But I hope that some of you do, particularly if you have good memories of getting cheekily pissed on a school night to the best soundtrack on the Cowley Road between 2001 and 2006. And at least this time you won’t have to take your hangover to work the next day.
Till Thursday, 8:30.
NB: Please note this is at The Cricketers, not the Brickworks!