The East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club is in desperate need of more members if its 40-year history of providing music for the Wanstead community is to continue. Club secretary Derek Farr reports
The East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club (formerly known as the East London and Essex Organ Society) is 40 years old. Founded by budding organ players and encouraged by their organ teacher, Martyn Rice, and David Thomas (our club president), the club was started in July 1982.
Our first meeting venue, like so many organ clubs, was a public house. For us, it was the Maypole in Barkingside. In those early days, the members entertained themselves, playing organs brought along by our president from the local music shop. Members would also bring along food they had made and a good time was had by all. The society started with a membership of 53 and this number soon rose to 74 – not bad for a new club. The pub soon became unsuitable, so a search was made to find a new meeting place. Wanstead Library, having a hall called the Churchill Room, looked promising. That was back in 1983 and it has proved very successful; we have remained there ever since.
Our first artistes were unknown players at that time. To name a few, they included David Thomas, Danny O’Sullivan and a young man called Mark Brown. Some of the first real professionals we booked were artistes you may know: Steve Lowdell, Byron Jones, Robert Beadle and Harry Jackson. The committee today still endeavours to engage the very best artistes, including some up-and-coming new faces. It is our aim to encourage new talent, as well as supporting established organists.
But with a dwindling membership following the pandemic, keeping the club going has been tough. And last month, at our AGM, we had to vote on the worst decision of the club’s existence: do we close or do we strive to find new members? I am glad to report the members voted to keep going. So, we are now making a plea to Wanstead residents and those from the surrounding area. If you enjoy listening to music, please come and visit us!
We have provided excellent music for the community these past 40 years. The music is varied, from classical to big band and up-to-date tunes, and we are now hopefully adding jazz to the shows. Artistes come from all over the country to play for two hours, with a 25-minute break when you can enjoy some refreshments and socialise.
East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club is well known on the keyboard circuit and, I might add, respected for enjoying the music and a social evening. This is why we have gone on as long as we have. But we need more people to come and enjoy a couple of hours away from their TVs and smartphones, and belong to something special.
The club meets at Wanstead Library on the second Wednesday of the month (doors open at 7.15pm; concert starts at 7.50pm). Annual membership is £20. Monthly tickets are £10 (visitors: £12; under-16s: £2). For more information, call 020 8530 3717