Around this time of the year we’re constantly ushered to remember remember the 5th of November but there’s another date you aren’t going to want to forget.
The fireworks will be continuing into the next day as The Jacaranda will be re-opening and it’s planning to be bigger and better than ever. Named after an exotic species of plant and known as ‘The Jac’ to its zealous fans, it is famous for hosting The Beatles when they originally met but you’d probably remember it for the jukebox, chandeliers and live music. Drunken frivolity, the false assumption after consuming too many beverages that you’re a good dancer and trying to find a partner to sing Hey Jude with was the very recipe for success that has made The Jacaranda such a loved place. Its lack of pretension is refreshing and we sat down with Joe, one of the leading guys behind revitalising The Jacaranda, to find out what people can expect from the new Jacaranda when the old meant so much.
The Jacaranda is such a big part of Liverpool’s history, are you feeling the pressure re-opening?
“Being one of the original venues of the Merseybeat era, The Jacaranda has had a long connection with the grass roots music of Liverpool. Before the formation of The Beatles, the original owner of the Jac, Allan Williams, famously put John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe (among others) to work decorating the basement in return for using the space as a rehearsal studio. Without this opportunity, it is difficult to imagine what direction the iconic band would have taken, if any at all. Up until its closure, The Jac was synonymous in the city with consistently providing great live music in the basement where you were always guaranteed a great night. When an institution such as the Jacaranda undergoes the amount of refurbishment as it has, it is always a difficult process to ensure the character of the club isn’t lost. Change is an inevitable part of how concepts and philosophy grow and develop. The trick is ensuring we bring it right up to date with the modern music and bar scene whilst holding on to the elements that made the Jac what it is. The refurbishment has evolved over the last year which has taken the pressure off us as it’s been such a natural process, a labour of love.”
The Jacaranda has always been a platform for bands to get exposure, do you plan on supporting local talent?
“The direction we are looking to take the basement in is one that is all encompassing for live music; a space where the music is both created and played. We will have 10 slots a week that range between 6 and 8 hours that are available completely for free on a first come first serve basis. They way to book a rehearsal slot would be to come into the Jac once its open and see what is day is available in the booking Ledger that will be on the main bar. You can only book up to a month in advance as we want to ensure it is offered to a wide range of people rather than potentially having all the free studio time up until Christmas booked up in the first week!! There will be a full back line of instruments in the basement that will be set up permanently for both bands to rehearse with and play gigs with of a night. These include Electric Guitars, Amps, Bass Guitars, Acoustic Guitars a drum kit with all the breakable and a full PA with several microphones – All you need to start your own band from scratch!”
What can people expect from the new Jac?
“The Jacaranda means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Each generation experienced the Jac in a different way to the last so we’ve tried to create a homage to each era the bar has been through whilst making it fresh and original. We are introducing a range of high quality cocktails as well as a large selection of world beers… not forgetting the obligatory cheap bottles! Whist there will be a lot of new elements to the Jac, there’s a lot we’ve made sure to keep like Mural painted by John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, the famous Jukebox and the basement Vault booths to name but a few. Being such a well-loved venue, people’s expectations are inevitably very, very high, we just hope we’ve created a space that people enjoy being in.”
We know you have historically had a big focus on live and unsigned music, will this continue?
“Closing the Jac two years ago was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make. In actual fact, plans for the reopening started the day we closed the doors and we knew from the ‘get go’ we wanted the Jac to once again become a focal point for the music community. We always knew the basement works best when live music is on down there. As we started formulating plans and looking back at the history of the building, it seemed an obvious decision to allow acts to use the space the same way Allan Williams allowed The Beatles to use it. Providing rehearsal space in exchange for live performances is our biggest tip of the hat to the Beatles and the Jacs heritage and hopefully it will allow new acts the same chance to form, grow and develop.
The famous Jacaranda Open mic will be back with a vengeance with Local musician Thom Morecroft hosting them every Thursday AND Sunday! When we reopen, we’re kicking things off with Thom running the first night down in the basement so we’re all so excited to see what musicians get up and play!”
How excited are you for the big re-opening on the 6th of November?
“There are many plans for the future of the Jacaranda. Once we are in the full swing of things with the Basement and ground floor, what we have in store for the upstairs is really exciting. There’s not a great deal I can say about it right now but what have planned will hopefully complement the concept of the Jac perfectly…. you’ll just have to wait and see!”
That is enough of a teaser, who is excited to see them re-open? It would be unreasonable to assume it is going to be exactly the same. As much as we’d love the original jukebox, we’d probably get skipping and although the original floor is where you might have spent most of your time glued, your feet would probably quite literally be glued if you tried to walk over it. It needed a lick of paint and bit of love but we believe it will still have the same feel, it’ll still be rocking the same shabby-chic and we’ll probably end up on the open mic. Brush the dust off your dancing shoes and get your slummy ready for the jukebox and we’ll see you on the dance floor. In the mean time, we’ll work on getting them on the card.