On this page we’ll be showcasing some of the impact that the Phoenix Centre has had on Woking and the local community – contact us with your stories.
“Our first appearance at the Phoenix Cultural Centre will stay in our memory as one of our favourite gigs”
David, Quiet Wish
Carola and I formed Quiet Wish in Autumn 2014, and by Feb 2015 we were looking for places locally to play. Our music was already drifting away from a pure acoustic format, and we were very wary of playing places where people might not relate to it. We had seen a few places too where the crowd largely ignored the musicians and continued chatting over the music, making it a rather soul-destroying experience for the performers.
The Phoenix was fairly local to us, and we made contact and arranged to come down for an Open Mike slot at one of the ‘Lovely Music Nights’.
For some reason, now forgotten, we were not too hopeful of having a good gig that evening. We arrived at the intimate setting in Woking Town Centre, and were made to feel most welcome. The venue quickly filled up, with people sitting on chairs or slouching on settees.
It was nice and relaxed, but we still feared that there would be continuous chat to play over. We were announced and started playing, and the crowd quickly fell silent, paying respectful attention to our music. We had that lovely feeling you get as a musician when you think “Hang on, this is nice!”.
Well, we sold a few CDs that night, and met some lovely new people, including Elaine and Joe, and our current band-mate Dave Salsbury. The rest of the night’s music was lovely too.
We have gone on to many other things as a duo since, including a great gig at Weyfest Music Festival, and a headline gig for our new full band line-up. But our first appearance at the Phoenix Cultural Centre will stay in our memory as one of our favourite gigs.
DAVID QUIET WISH WWW.QUIETWISH.COM
“What I found was a really welcoming, relaxed place where everyone was friendly & respectful of the performers”
My first Phoenix experience was in early 2014, when my old friend Darren Patoto persuaded me to come along and play at an open mic. At that point I hadn’t performed for quite a while, so I was a little hesitant at first. What I found was a really welcoming, relaxed place where everyone was friendly & respectful of the performers. After that first time I was invited to play at one of their Lovely Music nights, and since then a lot has happened.
I played loads more times at the Phoenix, I got to know Elaine & Joe and all the other great folks at the centre, joined Blue Trouser Records, met and played with some great musicians & friends, started performing in other venues, including a slot at Weyfest, recorded my first CD, been interviewed and played a live set on Radio Woking, and in early 2016 joined up with Carola & David in Quiet Wish. All this has followed from that first time I went to the Phoenix Centre!
“It all adds to the sense that there is something growing, that the Phoenix has sparked something.
Who knows what will happen next? ”
Back in 2013 two members of Woking Writers Circle – myself (Greg Freeman), and chairman Peter Morley – went along to the Phoenix Cultural Centre in Goldsworth Road to find out what it was all about. We met with Elaine and Joe and key sidekick Andy Mabbutt and heard about their vision. It was all very exciting, and I wrote it up at the time in an article for our website. We asked about poetry, and they made it clear that they were very keen for spoken word to be included as part of the mix on their open mic nights. So we started coming down at regular intervals, to deliver some poems in between the music. Subsequently I turned up on a night that was being filmed by local internet TV company Pyrford TV Arts.
That in turn led to Pyrford TV Arts doing a special film about my poetry pamphlet Trainspotters, filmed down at the old Bramley railway station south of Guildford.
It wouldn’t have happened without the Phoenix! Since then a regular monthly poetry workshop has been held at Goldsworth Road, with the hope and expectation that this will transfer to the Fiery Bird in due course. Last summer a few poets manned and read at a spoken word and buskers tent at the Phoenix festival in Woking Park. It all adds to the sense that there is something growing, that the Phoenix has sparked something. Who knows what will happen next?
GREG FREEMAN, WOKING WRITERS’ CIRCLE
Although I had lived in Woking for more than a decade… I felt quite isolated. Thanks to the Phoenix Centre I have found a vibrant arts community and a lot of friends.”
The Phoenix Centre has impacted my life in two major ways. First of all I spotted a post looking for new musicians to play at Woking Bandstand. I am a member of UkeJam in Guildford so I mentioned it on their group, a few of us got together and the Surrey Ukeaholics was born!
That first performance was pretty ropey but the supportive and welcoming ethos of the Phoenix Centre made us want to continue and grow as musicians. A big part of that growth was at the open mike nights, held in the Goldsworth Road premises. It was there that I met Greg Freeman from Woking Writer’s Circle.
Like many people I had dabbled in writing but never had the confidence to take it anywhere. Discovering like-minded people in the town was essential for my confidence and development so I naturally chose the Phoenix Centre for the launch of my novel,
Mighty Like a Rose, published under the pen name of Kitty Campanile. Although I had lived in Woking for more than a decade, I didn’t work in the town, didn’t know many people, and felt quite isolated. Thanks to the Phoenix Centre I have found a vibrant arts community and a lot of friends
Please send us any of your stories we would love to hear them