Essex has some wonderful medieval barns, notably the two enormous ones at Cressing Temple, and the Coggeshall Grange Barn. However, in addition to those turned into houses and restaurants, there are some other innovative uses they are being put to.
The High Barn, at Great Bardfield, is a great example of a barn that is earning its living whilst serving the local community. Indeed, it serves a broader community as High Barn Music is building up a reputation for itself as both a location for live music and as a recording studio.
We went along there last night and loved every minute of it. The barn is renowned for its ‘upright timbers’ and indeed almost looks in too good a condition to be several centuries old. The roofspace is enormous, quite different to the music clubs of my youth, where I once famously pogoed so high I hit my head on the ceiling.
It provides an amazing setting for music, with the backdrop for the bands an eye-catching one, especially with the excellent lighting, moving across the colour spectrum through the sets.
It’s a seated venue, with round tables at the front and rows of chairs at the back. The support band was David Booth with colleagues, who warmed the audience up nicely, and had a dizzying number of instrument changes – first time I’ve seen a guitarist swop for a bass, and vice versa!
Larkin Poe headlined, and wowed the audience with an eclectic range of bluegrass, country and rock. Not as bluegrassy as I would have preferred, but excellent, and the sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell gave outstanding performances. Rebecca was lead vocalist, and handled her mandolin beautifully, and Megan handed her lap steel like a 75-year old good ol’ boy who had been playing the instrument all his life. Excellent guitar and bass playing, with the drummer doing plenty enough himself, and enjoying his solo.
They’re coming to the end of a 2-month tour of Europe, so you’ll have to wait a while for them to return to these shores, but check out their website and you’ll find videos aplenty on YouTube.
Head over to the High Barn website for more details about the history of the barn and to see what bands they have coming (Dean Friedman and Andy Fairweather-Low). Do try to get over there at some point – it’s close to Finchingfield, so a visit to a gig at High Barn could make a great ending to a lovely day in the Essex countryside.