The Boardwalk: Memories of lost Sheffield club live on
The former Boardwalk music venue in Sheffield is still being honoured '“ eight years after it closed.
Music promoter Chris Wilson, who put on bands there,Â was delighted to be told that one of theÂ seminar rooms at the prestigious three-day Music Venue Trust event in LondonÂ was being called the Boardwalk.
'I think Sheffield should be very proud,' he says. 'The MVT is a highlyÂ respected charity whose patrons include Paul McCartney and KT Tunstall.Â It was set up in 2014 and acts to protect and improve grassroots musicÂ venues.
'Places like the Boardwalk have played an important role in the developmentÂ of British music for many years by providing a platform for artists toÂ develop their music and performance skills. Their survival is crucial for ensuringÂ that successful artists continue to emerge.'
Once the Black Swan, andÂ later nicknamed the Mucky Duck, the Boardwalk '“Â at the corner of Snig Hill and Bank Street '“Â closed as a liveÂ music venue in November 2010.Â It reopened last month as a drum and bass club called Bassbox, operating onÂ Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Chris, who is a member of the Music Venue Alliance, says the closure of TheÂ Boardwalk over lease renewal issues is '˜still a sore point'.Â He had spent nearly 15 years at the site.
'We had some amazing, internationally-recognised artists appearing at theÂ Boardwalk, but I always reserved at least two nights a week for new or breakingÂ talent and many of those artists went on to bigger things - Arctic Monkeys,Â Seasick Steve, David Gray and Kings Of Leon to name a few.
'To get a nod for the team's efforts from the MVT is an honour and I thinkÂ Sheffield should be very proud.'
Beverly Whitrick, strategic director of the MVT, says: 'As one of the iconic lostÂ music venues in the UK we absolutely consider the Boardwalk to have been ofÂ key importance to grassroots music.'
Chris, who has spent 30 years in the music industry and now promotes concerts at The Greystones, adds: 'There's hardly aÂ week goes by without somebody asking me when the Boardwalk is going toÂ reopen as a live music venue.Â I don't think they have any idea how difficult it would be. They would needÂ very deep pockets and good contacts in the business.
'I am proud of what was achieved by a dedicated team when the BoardwalkÂ was a live music venue.Â We were voted the fourth most legendary venue in the world by one musicÂ magazine just months before we left. It was a pleasant surprise to be up there with CBGBÂ in New York, the Hollywood Bowl and the Fillmore - quite anÂ achievement.'
Chris says too many live music venues are now closing because of '˜huge'Â fundingÂ problems. 'The UK lost going on for 40 per centÂ of its grassroots venues between 2007Â and 2015, which is crazy when you consider the music industry contributedÂ over Â£4 billion to the UK economy in 2015.Â A good venue that supports breaking artists surely has just as much right toÂ be considered culturally important as much as a theatre when it comes toÂ funding?Â They employ local people, and I think I'm right in saying the creative industryÂ is the fastest growing sector in the UK. They bring people into city centres andÂ they will use the restaurants, bars and hotels.'
Groups such as Status Quo, Dr Feelgood and Mungo Jerry graced the stage at the Black Swan - but the late Joe Cocker was the act most closely associated with theÂ venue.Â In 1968, the Crookes-born singer was booked forÂ aÂ momentous hometown showÂ when his cover of the Beatles song With a Little Help from My Friends had just gone to number one. The Clash also made their live debut at the club in 1976.