Say Hello To Somerset’s ‘Shed Of The Year’

Jon Earl's Shed

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle, and if that is true, then his shed must represent something equally noble, a cathedral perhaps, or some kind of shrine.

For Jon Earl of Clevedon, Somerset, his shed ­– a former World War One billet hut – is also a valuable local entertainment resource. So much so that it has been named ‘Shed Of The Year’, after playing host to over 1,000 gigs.

And it’s not just local bands that play there either. Jon has played host to the likes of Fairport Convention, Steve Harley, and the cream of the British folk scene (so long as there aren’t too many people in the band, obviously).

Brilliantly, he says he was planning to use his shed as the headquarters for a three-person cheese and cider society, but he elected to dip his toe into the waters of live music instead. And of course, being a shed, there are certain restrictions placed on all of the performers. Electricity, for example, is a no-no.

He told Sky News: “They arrive and they come in, and it’s very simple. There is no sound set-up, no testing, they get their instruments out and play, probably like they used to in their bedrooms.”

And Jon records the sessions on his camera, and puts them up on his website. It’s very simple, and very charming.

Just like this, a song by Roddy Woomble, the lead singer of Scots indie stalwarts Idlewild.

Jon continued: “It has been amazing actually, it has got its own wheels, I think it is out of my control now.”

Well you know what they say; a rolling shed gathers no dross.

PS: If you’re interested in bands playing in exotic locations, you could do worse than explore the delights of London’s Black Cab Sessions, where performers are plopped into the back of a taxi and told to perform a song. It’s equally strangemazing.

Is there anything like this near where you live? Tell us about it.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

See more posts by Fraser McAlpine