It’s fair to say that Hereford has been crying out for an alternative, do-it-yourself music venue for years. Just over a year ago sister-and-brother team, Willow and Arran Vidal-Hall, moved up from Bristol and took over the Booth Hall.
In 12 months, with the help of other committed people, they have given the live music scene in Hereford a massive shot in the arm.
We sent our intrepid reporter Helen Heckler down to the Booth to catch up with Willow.
HH: How did you end up in Hereford?
WVH: Well to be honest the reason we came to Hereford was the Booth Hall. We had been thinking of starting an alternative venue for many years. We were just checking out possible options, I don’t know how serious we really were but then we drove up to Hereford to see the Booth and kind of just fell in love with the building. And in a moment of madness we just went for it.
How has the first year gone?
Hereford has been so welcoming to us, we feel so lucky. So many people have supported what we have tried to do, even from day one it always felt more like a community project. We had people offering to help with sound and light, come and help build the stage, put on events, decorate, promote and together with all these amazing people I feel like we really have done some amazing things.
We worked out that the Booth must have facilitated over 100 events last year. We just can’t believe it, there’s been an amazing breadth of entertainment and music from blues nights, to heavy punk, rock, metal, reggae, ska and everything else you can think of including circus, dance, theatre and comedy!
What are you plans for the year ahead?
We have amazing plans. We are committed to being open five days a week and we already have a nearly-full calendar of weekend events. To make Thursdays exciting we are offering slots to any charity that wants to run an event; the venue will be free, we will even offer £50 towards making the event happen, and they can take the money on the door. We are also looking to support local bands and musicians to take events into their own hands. So anyone who wants to run a Thursday event should get in contact. We’re really excited about this as it offers live music more days a week while also supporting the community around us.
What have the highlights been so far?
We have so many amazing highlights from 2016, from small moments like Bekki Cameron playing the guitar and Kieran Graham playing the bagpipes at one of our first open mic nights, to massive moments like Hereford Pride, where we had hundreds of people coming through the gates in support of this amazing event. But overall I cannot express enough how lucky we feel to be here, to be part of this kooky and kind community in Hereford, and what an amazing year we have had.