Hatfield Rock Den organisers ready to rock again once COVID restrictions are lifted
PUBLISHED: 15:51 04 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:51 04 November 2020
Martyn Turner Photography / supplied by The Rock Den
Breaks Manor is historically one of Hatfield’s most famous music venues and the Rock Den hopes to reopen once COVID restrictions allow.
The youth centre in Link Drive was the breeding ground for 1960s Hatfield musicians such as Donovan and Mick Taylor, later of the Rolling Stones.
For seven years, Hatfield’s Rock Den has attracted aspiring hard rock and heavy metal bands from all over the country, Europe and beyond.
The Rock Den is run by Dean and Sue Archer at Breaks Manor where, typically, three bands perform at every gig.
“We usually have bands booked up a year in advance” said Dean, “and it’s great being able to provide an opportunity for the up-and-coming ones to showcase their own material – and all get paid too.”
But since the first coronavirus lockdown last March, the Rock Den, like most live music venues, has had to cease operating and may not be able to restart until next year.
COVID-19 has hit them hard, but passionate rock fan Dean is confident they should be OK to continue at Breaks once restrictions are lifted.
Historically, the Breaks has been a vibrant centre for chart acts.
Catch the Wind, Hurdy Gurdy Man, and Mellow Yellow singer-songwriter Donovan grew up in Hatfield in the 1960s – there’s even a blue plaque on the wall of his childhood home in Bishops Rise.
Colin Blunstone, of She’s Not There band The Zombies, is also from Hatfield, and blues guitarist Mick Taylor progressed from the Breaks to playing alongside Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones in the late 1960s and early 70s.
Another Breaks regular was Paul Griggs, of Guys ‘n’ Dolls fame.
In more recent times, the Rock Den can count such luminaries of the British scene as Stampede, Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, Praying Mantis and Oliver/Dawson Saxon.
The Rock Den has also produced a compilation album of original tracks from bands who have played the venue called the ‘Smokehouse Sessions’ in association with Malcolm Scott, CEO of 3Ms Music, who is a great patron of the Rock Den.
However, music industry commentators agree that many venues may not be able to reopen due to the lost revenues and this is why Dean believes the Rock Den is so important within the Welwyn Hatfield borough, as nowhere else locally provides what they do.
“Aside from Sue and I, we also have volunteer support from a couple who run our bar, a sound engineer and a trainee sound and lighting engineer,” said Dean.
“All of these people gain great experience with us, and we must also thank our loyal ‘Rock Den Massive’ fanbase, who have been amazing, and still pay their monthly subscriptions to help keep us ready to rock once again.”
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