The Marquee Club first opened its doors on Wardour Street in 1964, and quickly became an important venue for the emerging British rock scene with the era's most important artists all performing there, including Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Cream, Pink Floyd, Manfred Mann, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Moody Blues and many others.
As Floridita, the venue has brought fresh talent from Cuba to London audiences, but after an eight-year strictly Latin music policy it has decided to focus on performers closer to home. With the help of legendary bookers Geoff Todd and Richard Pite, the venue is now showcasing both upcoming and established jazz, funk, soul and rock performers.
M spoke to Floridita’s events manager Max Rhodes to find out about the recent changes at the venue and get some top tips for emerging artists who are just getting started on the live circuit.
What prompted your latest live music push?
When we opened up at Floridita it was more of a homage to Floridita in Havana. But it has evolved over time to become much more London-centric. Over the last year or so we’ve been varying the music. We used to bring bands over from Cuba. We’d go there once a year to audition them and bring them back for a period of four-to-six weeks. We’ve decided to move away from that. A purely Cuban offering all the time gets a bit tired.
Is there a special live space?
Floridita is our basement venue. It’s huge. It’s a 200 capacity restaurant, 200 capacity bar and in the middle is a stage. Music is a huge attraction, it’s key to us. We have a complete mixture of jazz, funk, soul, a little bit of blues. Recently we’ve had Liane Carroll, Reuben Richards and Niamh McNally. We try to mix it up between household names and younger upcoming artists.
How do you book acts for Floridita?
We’re working with Geoff Todd, the ex-general manager at Ronnie Scotts, and jazz aficionado Richard Pite. They help put together a list of available acts and we go from there.
Why is live music so essential to your venue?
There are thousands of bars and restaurants in London and music gives a point of difference. Particularly with the new music we’ve put on, we’ve drawn a new audience.
What are the key ingredients of a great live act?
Personality is really important. If they haven’t got their heart in it and a passion for the music, they’re not really worth listening to. It’s more than just being able to play or sing. We always book acts that are passionate about their music, even if they aren’t very well known yet. They use us as a showcase.
Do you have any advice for upcoming performers?
It’s a really tough environment out there, so just keep plugging away. If you’ve really got it you will be picked up and you get a following. Also, make sure you think about the look of the band and your image as well as your music. Image is important for performers. Think about the venue you are playing at, your target audience, and try to work towards that.
Floridita will host the inaugural AIM Independent Music Awards later this week.
And on 1 December award-winning father of British neo-soul Omar will perform, with support from Linley Wier. M has a pair of tickets to give away for the concert. To be in with a chance of winning, click here to enter the competition.
Floridita, 100 Wardour Street Soho, London W1F 0TN
Midnight, Friday 18 November 2011
Terms and conditions:
The winners will be chosen at random by M on 19 November 2011 and notified by email. There is no cash alternative to the prizes. One prize per entry. Prize draw is open to residents of the UK and Republic of Ireland except employees (and their families) of PRS for Music, its printers and agents, the suppliers of the prizes and any other companies associated with the competitions. The prizes will be dispatched by first class mail to a UK mainland address.