Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Jun 18th 2010 10:00AM by Barnaby Smith
Capacity: 398 (Jim Marshall Auditorium)
Come to see: Up until February of this year, you might have spied the late Godfather of British jazz Sir John Dankworth here. Sir John passed away at the age of 82, having left a legacy that includes this music venue, education centre and charity that he and his wife Dame Cleo Laine set up in the town of Wavendon, adjacent to Milton Keynes.
In Milton Keynes, the Stables lies in a town that despite relative economic prosperity and equally relative affordable housing, Britons still find difficult to love. Dame Cleo and Sir John dreamed up the idea of the Stables as a theatre in the late 60s perhaps with an awareness of the potentially culturally moribund nature of this 'new town', and today the Stables stands as an eclectic, respected venue that while maintaining a leaning towards jazz, folk and world music, showcases its fair share of mainstream rock and pop too.
Recent shows here came from Joan Armatrading, Dave Brubeck, Beth Neilsen Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Thea Gilmore and Cerys Matthews. Richard Hawley, Ian Hunter and Nick Harper have also played memorable shows here.
The Atmosphere: In 2000, the Stables moved from its old home -- an atmospheric old building that was indeed once stables -- into a flashy new modern complex. The atmosphere suffered initially, but as the years have gone by, the theatre has begun to grow a new identity, forged mainly out of the warmth and imagination that Dankworth brought to the place. The ultimate triumph of atmosphere came at a gala event in February marking the Stables' fortieth anniversary, an evening overshadowed by Dankworth's death, which had occurred earlier that day, and was announced on the night by an emotional Cleo Laine.
You Saw Them Here First: The Stables' profile was given a huge boost in 2001 when the idea for the Radio 2 show 'Live From the Stables' took shape. The show ran until 2005 and featured performances from a host of young talents, all overseen by Sir John and Dame Cleo, always very much hands-on owners. In its hey-day, the show saw appearances from Jamie Cullum, Lemar and even a budding Amy Winehouse.
Apart from that, the Milton Keynes 'scene' is yet to set the rock world on fire, so local bands performing here are a rare thing indeed.
Claim to Fame: The Stables benefits not only from Sir John's hard work and the continuing efforts of Life President Dame Cleo, but also former Beatles producer Sir George Martin and famed percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who are patrons.
You Should Also Know: The Stables hosts up to 250 educational events each year, and offers courses that run from music technology through to vocal training and music camps. Guy Chambers -- he who co-wrote with and produced Robbie Williams and was once a member of World Party -- was a student here once upon a time.
Booking Now: Al Stewart, Richard Hawley with Robert Forster, Beth Neilsen Chapman, Tom Paxton.