Here is something interesting (to me at least) that you may or may not find interesting. When I bought Charlie´s Bar it was in my mind that I knew the correct formula for a very good music venue. I hope I was right about that and, as always, you (the customers) are the only judge of that. But the fact is that you (the customers) now see Charlie´s in a different light from how we do – and we see Charlie´s in a light that I would never have dreamed about, and didn’t understand, when I set about re-opening it.
Let’s try to keep this as short as possible by making two observations as I see them, whether right or wrong, and I look forward to your opinions. This is what I see from the customers´ side and from our side after two years now.
1. The customers´ side.
I feel that the customers of Charlie´s, or most of them, see the bar as a fantastic live music venue with a great band, a decent drink and a great atmosphere, and I’m sorry if this sounds cocky because I don’t mean it to be. I ask “why do people come to Charlie´s?” Is it because of the music? Maybe. But you can get good music on CDs and DVDs. Is it because of the drink? Maybe. But you can get drink cheaper in an off licence. So the only reason left is the atmosphere which we create and the new friends they might meet. There are people who will come for the music, the staff and the band for sure, but regardless of how good a band are, you can and will get fed up with them, and yet people come back very often time and time again. We have enough songs to be able to go at least 21 hours – which is a week without repeating one, but that’s not the reason either…
2. The band and staff side.
When I bought Charlie´s Bar I understood what I wanted to do with it, but I can honestly say I didn’t understand why, and never thought about it either. Now I can see why after two years. The truth is for all of us at Charlie´s (as I see it any way) something has emerged naturally and we see Charlie´s in a different way to the way customers see it. Charlie´s for us is about music of course, as you can see from the standard of musicians in Skin & Hide and the guest artists we bring over from time to time, but it is much, much more than music ability now. After two years, we learn new songs every week – but I have to tell you honestly that we do that to make it more interesting for ourselves just as much as for the customers, and maybe even more for ourselves, just to keep moving forward.
What Charlie´s really is for us is a theatre – and not a music venue that sells drink. We take great pleasure in watching people make new friends, enjoy their holidays or their night off, and just having spontaneous off the cuff fun, wherever the opportunity presents itself and, most importantly, not at the cost of others. We change around the songs all of the time, but they are still coming from a repertoir that we know well, and you could ask “is it boring?” The truth is that every night we go to Charlie´s we may have an idea of the songs that will be played which could change by the minute, but we don’t ever know what the night will hold for us and we don’t know who we will meet that we may or may not have met before, or what craic will come from where, except that there is a good chance it will come from somewhere, or someone, on or off the stage.
We have met great characters in the last two years who we are always in regular correspondence with and, would you believe, not all of them are of the opposite sex!!! It seems to me that we are a bunch of positive people with a wish to harm nobody, with a lot of energy and, as I write this, I have no f*cking idea how we all came together and ended up in this little 200 sq meter “asylum” called Charlie´s Bar on a volcanic rock in the Atlantic Ocean!!!
It’s funny, but if any one of us has a night off on the rare occasion, people ask “Where is Sarah? Where is Terry? Where is ….?”, and we can come up with some great answers!!
The conclusion is that I knew what I wanted to create and I now know that the reason was to create a good venue that would consistently attract decent, even if sometimes crazy characters (but not stupid ones), that keep life interesting and enjoyable for all of us.
Good Night Sisters, says Nell McCafferty!