This is the first Guest Dad post on BewilderedDad.com and it’s from Toby Chelms who runs a fantastic gig in Leeds where parents can take kids; a brilliant idea if you’re struggling to get your live music fix due to all the responsibilities that come with being a parent. Here Toby explains the background and what happens at one of the Youth Anthem gigs:
Growing up in Watford (for a point of reference just imagine any small town high street in the UK) where there were very few places a teenager could go without threats of violence, frost bite (drinking in parks gets cold!) or a wonderful combination of both, the D.I.Y music community was the most wonderful thing I could have stumbled across. In Watford this meant some amazing local older ‘kids’ putting on great punk gigs in some weird and wonderful places (local colleges, rugby clubs and even once on a golf course). This experience helped me to realise that there were other people out there who might be considered ‘alternative’ (for want of a much better word), who didn’t get all of their political views from the Daily Mail and who wanted to have a fun night out that didn’t begin or end in Yates Wine Lodge.
The older I got the more I became involved in this ‘scene’, putting on gigs, playing in bands, writing fanzines and then two years ago a wonderful little person moved into my house (my daughter in case you were thinking this is a weird statement to make). Time for going out to gigs shrank a little bit and the idea of spending an evening putting on a gig become less appealing. Then I had a good chat with my neighbour (a fellow parent) about how you feel a bit removed from the music community once children arrived and I decided to try and do something about it.
So…for the past year and a bit I’ve put on gigs that people with children can attend. They are exactly the same as ‘normal’ gigs, they are at the fantastic, inclusive and accessible space that is Wharf Chambers in Leeds, they have a mix of punk, folk and indie bands (though other genres are really encouraged to get in touch) and the bar is certainly open (though a brilliant array of non-alcoholic drinks are also available). However, these gigs take place between 1:30 and 4 on Sunday afternoons, the music is turned down a touch and there is cake available (if I’ve learnt one thing after all these years it’s that cake is always welcome at gigs). It’s also free for under 14s and cheap (£4) for everyone else. We’ve had a great response with around 40-120 people turning up to each event and a great range of ages, from babies to teenagers to grandparents and also people without kids who just want to watch bands on an afternoon.
We’ve also started to use the gigs as a way to fundraise for local charities; we raised £170 for St. Gemma’s Hospice in August and then £150 for PAFRAS in November. In February the money from the gig will go towards making Wharf Chambers even more child-friendly (getting a permanent wall fixed baby changing table) so come along and see what you think.
Hopefully there will be more Guest Dads showcased in the coming months, all with interesting, funny or hopeful stories to tell. If you are a parent who can only manage to get to one or two gigs a month, then take a look at the Dad Gigs section of this site which recommends one show a month that is really worth paying a babysitter to see!