Find­ing a home to hit the right note

Why not buy a house in the heart of your favourite mu­sic scene, says Fred Red­wood – out­side London, they’re avail­able for a song

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Lifestyle -

These are good times for live mu­sic in Bri­tain. Au­di­ence num­bers for ev­ery­thing from clubs and gigs to ma­jor con­certs and fes­ti­val per­for­mances were up by 12 per cent to 30.9mil­lion last year, ac­cord­ing to UK Mu­sic. As­sum­ing you han­ker for the thrill of a live show – ei­ther play­ing or lis­ten­ing – where, out­side London, will you find hot­beds of your favourite mu­si­cal genre?

Here are the rec­om­men­da­tions of ex­perts who have trav­elled the length and breadth of the coun­try to per­form the mu­sic they love.

Folk

The suc­cess of singer-song­writ­ers such as Ed Sheeran and Laura Mar­ling en­sures that acous­tic and folk mu­sic re­mains rel­e­vant for another gen­er­a­tion. Dave Pegg, who has played bass with vet­eran folk-rock­ers Fair­port Con­ven­tion for al­most 50 years, be­lieves Ox­ford­shire is its heart­land.

“I love the clubs where you can see the whites of the pun­ters’ eyes,” says Pegg, who also or­gan­ises the band’s an­nual Cro­predy fes­ti­val, which gets crowds of 20,000 peo­ple. “I have had some great nights at The Crooked Bil­let in Stoke Row, near Hen­ley-onThames, and the Net­tlebed Folk Club is prob­a­bly the best in the coun­try. Ban­bury puts on ter­rific mu­si­cians in The Mill Arts Cen­tre, the two pubs in Cro­predy reg­u­larly fea­ture folk-rock, while The Bell Inn at Ad­der­bury holds tra­di­tional folk nights, when any­one is wel­come to join in.”

To re­lo­cate to Hen­ley-on-Thames could cost you dear; the av­er­age price of a home sold there last year was £712,000, ac­cord­ing to Right­move. De­tached homes sold for £1.2mil­lion. It’s a dif­fer­ent story in the bustling mar­ket town of Ban­bury. Pop­u­lar be­cause of its ex­cel­lent train link to London and M40 to the Mid­lands, you can pick up a mod­ern semi-de­tached for £250,000. The north Ox­ford­shire vil­lages out­side the town – such as Mil­ton, Wil­liamscot and the Bar­fords – have cho­co­late-box cot­tages built from dark-flecked Horn­ton stone and gen­er­ally cost 15 per cent less than their coun­ter­parts in the nearby Cotswolds.

Jazz

Ac­cord­ing to Barb Jungr, once de­scribed by The Daily Tele­graph as “an al­chemist among jazz singers” and “a mar­vel who should not be missed”, in­di­vid­ual clubs of­ten put a town on the map for jazz lovers. “It’s cer­tainly true of An­nie’s in Southend-on-Sea,” she says. “It has a lovely vibe be­cause it is run by a singer. The weekly per­for­mances are well at­tended – packed when I was there – and it’s a great, friendly place to meet other jazz en­thu­si­asts.”

There is some­thing just a lit­tle bit seedy about Southend, with its pier and fun park, that makes it com­pat­i­ble with jazz. Hip­sters with an eye for vin­tage lap up the Rem­edy Tea Shop, while the the­atres and gal­leries add to the artsy vibe. Be­ing one hour by train to the cap­i­tal makes it com­mutable and the av­er­age house price of £250,000 – 60 per cent be­low the Essex av­er­age – is a fur­ther at­trac­tion.

About a quar­ter of the homes in Southend are Ed­war­dian, ac­cord­ing to Knight Frank, and the fam­ily homes that line Southchurch Park sell for £340,000. For London émi­grés, that’s worth croon­ing about.

Choirs

Choirs – both male voice and mixed – are still in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar through­out Wales – nowhere more so than in the val­leys around Neath, home town of Kather­ine Jenk­ins, the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar op­er­atic singer. The shopping cen­tre in Neath has seen bet­ter days (the out-of-town su­per­mar­kets have seen to that) but the sur­round­ing vil­lages are a rev­e­la­tion.

In Cimla, sub­stan­tial Thir­ties-built fam­ily homes on the wood­land-named roads (Po­plars Av­enue, etc) sell for un­der £200,000; The Gnoll Es­tate Coun­try Park, a for­mer great house and grounds with or­na­men­tal ponds, minia­ture wa­ter­falls and woods, is nearby. Bryn­coch and Dyf­fryn on the north side of the val­ley have stag­ger­ing views across Swansea Bay and in­land to­wards the Bre­con Bea­cons. Be­ing on the edge of the M4 means you are spoilt for choice of choirs to join. Pem­brokeshire or Bre­con are un­der an hour away and the bright lights of Cardiff just 40 min­utes. Oth­ers are al­ready talk­ing up the area’s po­ten­tial – no­tably Bear Grylls, who is set­ting up his own Sur­vival Acad­emy, due to open in 2020. It will be in the Afan Val­ley Ad­ven­ture Re­sort, east of Neath, where 400 lodges are cur­rently be­ing built with prices start­ing at £175,000 for two bed­rooms.

Ellis Davies, chair­man of the Welsh As­so­ci­a­tion of Male Choirs, be­lieves that be­com­ing a mem­ber of a choir is a great way to get ac­cepted in the com­mu­nity. “If it’s a bi-lin­gual area then singing in Welsh will also help

you learn the lan­guage,” he says. “Don’t imag­ine you need an ex­cel­lent singing voice to be in a choir. If I could sing I’d be a soloist but I’m a cho­ris­ter, which is a dif­fer­ent thing al­to­gether – I sing har­monies. If only for the travel and the ca­ma­raderie, join­ing a choir is well worth­while.”

Clas­si­cal

“Lots of peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly re­tirees, re­lo­cate here for the clas­si­cal mu­sic,” says Barry Smith, co­or­di­na­tor of the Chich­ester Fes­ti­val. “Apart from the 250 events we put on for the fes­ti­val, we have choral so­ci­eties, cham­ber con­certs, groups play­ing baroque in­stru­ments and another spe­cial­is­ing in for­got­ten mu­si­cal pieces.”

The ar­chi­tec­ture of this mini-city, which takes 20 min­utes to cross on foot, is sim­i­larly clas­si­cal, with the cathe­dral steeple loom­ing over the Geor­gian streets. As for the de­mo­graphic, you only have to see the va­ri­ety of restau­rants and the num­ber of shops sell­ing ex­pen­sive sail­ing clothes to get the idea that aus­ter­ity has not reached Chich­ester yet. New builds gen­er­ally take the form of lux­ury de­vel­op­ments where homes are priced at £500,000-plus. Less ex­pen­sive schemes are sprout­ing up a mile out­side the cen­tre at Shop­wyke Lakes. The flat ter­rain, not to men­tion the the­atres and the gal­leries, makes Chich­ester pop­u­lar with re­tirees but it is by no means an OAP ghetto. It has three pri­mary schools and one sec­ondary, Chich­ester High School, rated out­stand­ing by Of­sted.

Brass bands

Show an ex-bands­man the 1996 film

Brassed Off star­ring Ewan McGregor and Pete Postleth­waite and he’ll soon be search­ing for his old in­stru­ment.

Grenville Moore, the mu­si­cal di­rec­tor of Dobcross Sil­ver Band, be­lieves that Sad­dle­worth in Greater Manch­ester is the heart­land of brass bands. “They vary in stan­dard from the pre­mier­ship, for which you’ll have to au­di­tion, down to the fourth sec­tion, where they’ll quite likely wel­come you what­ever your stan­dard,” says Moore, a for­mer pro­fes­sional French horn player. “But be aware that it’s a big com­mit­ment, with band prac­tice at least two evenings a week.”

Brass bands sym­bol­ise a cer­tain north­ern grit­ti­ness and the Sad­dle­worth area, with its sturdy cot­tages, windswept moors, ex­cel­lent pubs and Hud­der­s­field Nar­row Canal, is the per­fect back­drop. It in­cludes vil­lages such as Dobcross, Dig­gle and Grot­ton – names to evoke an Alan Ben­nett yarn. Schools are good, it is 30 min­utes by train to Manch­ester and you can pick up a ter­raced cot­tage for £162,000 on av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to Right­move – yet prices are up 11 per cent since 2014. That’s some­thing to toot your horn about.

‘Singing in Welsh will also help you learn the lan­guage’

Folksy: two-bed­room Peartree Cot­tage in Ban­bury is £315,000 with Strutt and Parker

Har­mo­nious: Mo­ordale Pad­dock in the brass band hub of Dig­gle, main, is £750,000 via Hun­ters; a four-bed­room house in jazzy Southend-onSea, left, is £735,000 with Ab­botts; new lodges at Afan Val­ley Ad­ven­ture Re­sort in South Wales, right, start from £175,000

It’s a clas­sic: a 17th-cen­tury house in Chich­ester, right, is £1.275mil­lion with Sav­ills; Barb Jungr, be­low, is “an al­chemist among jazz singers”

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