• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Barman launches album at the venue where he tends bar!

Barman Alex Kirtley had a night off pulling pints to perform at The Exchange in North Shields where he works – in preparation for a gig at one of the country’s biggest festivals.

Singer-songwriter Alex, 19, launched his debut album ‘Broken Winged Bird’ in the venue’s 250-seater theatre, two months before he appears at Bestival.

The gig, dubbed by rising star Alex as ‘his best yet’, will set him up nicely for an appearance at the Dorset-based festival, where stars including Dizzee Rascal and The XX will also take to the stage.

Alex, from Whitley Bay, said: “I was looking for somewhere for a place to play and the best venue just happened to be where I work!

“It is a wonderful venue and it was very special to play there. Lots of people turned out to watch me which was fantastic – I was playing in front of more people than I have before which was an unbelievable feeling.

“It was my first gig where I was top of the bill, so this was definitely my favourite. I loved it, and people were telling me they had a great time and all left with smiles on their faces.

“I suppose it was kind of my warm-up gig ahead of Bestival, which will be brilliant. I know some people involved with the festival, and they contacted me asking if I wanted to play. I couldn’t say no!

“Now I have to just get the time off work and work out how to get myself down there!”

Alex, who has worked behind the bar at The Exchange for a year, has been playing since he was 14 and describes his music as ‘alternative folk with a few other genres mixed in there’.

Sunday’s gig was a little different, however, with the forward-thinking musician and theatre offering fans the opportunity to pay what they thought the show was worth after they had seen him play.

The Exchange reopened in 2016, and now hundreds of acts have passed through its doors including musicians, bands, youth and adult theatre companies, charity fundraisers and art exhibitions to name but a few.

The venue, which is on Howard Street in North Shields and is a registered charity, is now the cultural hub of the town with constant gigs and exhibitions featuring in its auditorium and Café Bar.

Sam Beldon, manager of The Exchange Café Bar, was delighted to have one of his barman take to the stage with just a guitar to show off his talents.

He said: “When Alex came to work for us behind the bar I knew he was a brilliant musician and we are so pleased to see him playing in front of a big audience.

“He is an absolutely fantastic musician and a great guy, and is great to see his music career grow. I think he can really go a long way and when he looks back he’ll remember playing at The Exchange, where it all started!”

For more information on The Exchange, including forthcoming acts and volunteering opportunities, head to http://www.attheexchange.info/.

To check out some of Alex’s music, click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbTmmP1_lYfJmnZ5xEN5f4w

By Emily