Leek's always had more than its fair share of good musicians. In the old days (my old days anyway), there was a cinema which held concerts, pantomimes, amateur opera as well as movies, we even held open-air concerts in the park. It's changed of course; the main venue, The Swan, is no more after decades of music, and there's a new co-operative venue, The Foxlowe Arts Centre. The town's home to Leek Arts Festival, possibly the longest-running independent festival in the country, which continues to bring great entertainment to the town after nearly 40 years.
This is the way it used to be. A 40-foot trailer in the park. People would turn up in their thousands if it was a sunny day. We (Hunter) did a lot of these. Hassle-free, a great audience, and you could leave your gear on the "stage" and go to the pub safe in the knowledge it would still be there when you got back for the gig. I remember a gig, probably around 1975, where the view from the stage was just a sea of people soaking in the music and the sun. The arts festival still stages open-air concerts in the Silk Street car park from time to time.
This is the view looking up Saint Edward Street towards the church. On the left is The Wilkes' Head pub, probably the last venue to offer open-air concerts. The so-called car park is big enough for a stage, though we used to back a 40-foot trailer up to the back wall. Demon's Unexpected Guest and Plague albums were written in the old stable block in the courtyard. The main venues now in the town are pubs, and of course, more pubs. Mind you, they're good pubs, with good people.
Here's a page from The Leek Post And Times from around 1990. I did my radio show from the gig, and there was a great line-up. Everyone pretty well played in everybody's bands back then. It's a bit like Cairns in that respect, rivalries set aside for a good cause. Back in those days, the only Leek bands to achieve success were Hunter and Demon, still are in fact, but there's still a healthy music scene in the town. They've just held an "Americana" festival, and music continues to thrive in the town. I've no doubt it'll continue to do so. Look up The Deep on YouTube if you've time. They're madmen, but you'll have a laugh, and if you're ever in Leek, head for The Wikes' or The Cock in Derby Street. You'll get a nice welcome. One band I'm especially hopeful for are GreaterGhost, not least because my son is the guitarist. Here's a taste.