The Charlbury Speakeasy



The Charlbury Speakeasy happens on the third Friday of the month at The Shed in Nine Acres Lane OX7 3QZ. It aims to present top quality live music interspersed with poetry, prose or comedy in a relaxed, club-style setting. Come on your own and meet people or come with friends and make it a party. The doors open at 8pm and entry is £7.50 on the door. There's no advance booking but you can drink whatever you can carry in with you. Come and get the weekend started in style!

The Charlbury Speakeasy is a non-profit social enterprise supporting The Shed as a performance venue for the community.


2017: 20 October, 17 November, 15 December
2018: 19 January, 16 February, 16 March, 20 April, 18 May, 15 June

Details of each show will appear in advance on this page, on the events page and on posters around the town. If you're on the Speakeasy mailing list, you'll get updates once or twice a month. If you'd like to be added to the mailing list, please email


Friday 17th November
The Epstein have been playing their melodic, rootsy, electric folk/pop to enthusiastic national (and international) audiences for many years so it's a special pleasure to be able to welcome them to the Speakeasy. Supporting them, though more with words than music, will be local singer/songwriter Gaz Pacho (aka Adrian Lancini).


The 2017/18 season got off to a great start with hot gypsy jazz and a fund of Django-related anecdotes from the hugely popular Hot Club of Hastings. This was finely complemented but some very cool verse from poet Liz Soar.

To help round off the Charlbury Festival, the Charlbury Speakeasy moved to the Memorial Hall (and from a Friday to a Saturday) for a special one-off programme of music, poetry and dance.

There was swinging jazz from Alan Fraser's Mingus Tree and the extra space meant there was room for dancing. There were swing dance experts from Just Jive to show how it's done.

In another first for the Speakeasy there was a full scale Poetry Slam led by performance poet Lucy Ayrton. There were entries from Liz Soar, Richard Cocks, Alasdair Ross, Ed Fenton, Tony Bicat, Tina Sederholm and Neil Spokes. The quality of the verse on offer was astonishingly high and the competition very close but in the end Liz Soar was a very popular winner.

The Rob Terry Trio brought their brand of classically-infused jazz back to the Speakeasy and more than one audience member called it the best jazz gig they'd heard outside Ronnie Scotts. Wonderful stuff. Glena Chadwick showed us how music appears in the words of some of the great novelists - a great Speakeasy blend of music and words.

10cc lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Mick Wilson's interaction with his Speakeasy audience was so engaging that you might almost not notice you were being treated to singing and musicianship of the highest professional standard. Almost, but not quite!
Another real treat was Jane Griffiths whose exquisite poems bowled at least one audience member right over. It was great to hear some of these ahead of the publication of her latest collection Silent In Finisterre next month. Try and catch the launch at Jaffe & Neale in Chipping Norton on 11th May.

It was great to have The Knights Of Mentis back at the Speakeasy. Although working without their lead singer (and with another of them nursing broken ribs) they rose to the occasion and filled the Shed with their wonderful bluesy Americana. Madeleine Wheare read a selection of poetry and prose which matched it beautifully.

February's Speakeasy was suspended in support of Charlbury Refugee Action Group who transformed the Memorial Hall into a Weimar-era nightclub for the evening. There was music from Manouche Etcetera, comedy, singing, dancing and gorgeous outfits for Valentine's Day. It was a fine evening and raised good money for CRAG.

It was easy to see why Ben Cox and Jamie Safir are making a big name for themselves in the world of jazz and getting great reviews in the press. Both in their fresh versions of standards and in their original songs, Ben's exquisite vocal tone and range and supple jazz phrasing sat perfectly in Jamie's rich, exciting piano arrangements. It was top stuff. Rob Stepney's poetry and prose fitted in beautifully (and included an exclusive preview of his piece next day on From Our Own Correspondent!)

​Rocking a packed Shed towards Christmas with a wily combination of music, comedy, poetry and prose, Alan Fraser led The Men from the Mingus Tree through some of his inimitable jazz repertoire​ (with John Lanyon on guitar, Paul Deane on double bass, Simon Fenn on drums and Simon Bradley on guitar). Ed Fenton's lovely poetry and Steve Hay's fine readings rounded out a great evening.

Another treat with the subtle and beguiling close harmony work of The Victrolas complementing a special spoken-word programme from two of our favourite BBC presenters, Kathy Clugston and Jim Lee. The Shed was packed and it was a splendid evening.

Fabulous Jazz Manouche (or gypsy jazz) from the Hot Club of Hastings. They gave us a feast of this irresistible music and guided us through its evolution in Paris from the musette music of the Auvergne and accordion dances of Italy via Argentine tango and American jazz into the swing music of geniuses like Django Reinhardt.

This is the music of travelling people and we were delighted also to have Juliet Heslewood picked up this theme in the spoken-word section of the evening and read an atmospheric, thought provoking story of her own


The Speakeasy 2015/16 season had jazz, Americana, Braziliana and cool pop brought to us by musicians of the highest quality and alongside the music we enjoyed poetry, drama, journalism, literature and comedy in various stylish guises. And we had great audiences who gave the Speakeasy its special atmosphere and gave the performers, without exception, a reception that they enjoyed enormously. Thank you all.

For the final Speakeasy of the 2015/16 season we had an evening of fine jazz with the Rob Terry Trio skilfully blending modern jazz with classical music. Check them out at And to complement the music, Alasdair Ross told us a couple of excellent stories. It was a great way to end the season.

This was the final Open Programme evening of the year and featured readings from Glena Chadwick and music from James Pearce, Nigel Brown, Jesters, Mark Pigeon & friends and the Mark Atherton Band A thoroughly good time was had by all and thank you to all who contributed.

A brilliant evening of Brazilian jazz performed to the highest professional standards by Shannon Harris and Friends and featuring vocals from Marianna Magnavita. There was poetry, or possibly comedy, or possibly commentary, from The Poet (aka Adrian Lancini) and the place was packed.

The Knights of Mentis, nine of them crammed onto the stage of the Shed, played a brilliant set and matched the mood of the Speakeasy exactly. The music was clearly drawn from American string band music, roots, country and rhythm & blues but the way they engaged with the audience was all about Oxford and Oxfordshire! Check out their website:

​Alongside the Knights Kieran Cooke gave us a wonderfully eclectic piece drawing on his ​long experience as a foreign correspondent and a knowing eye for the ridiculous, the moving and the sinister.

One of the Speakeasy's regular Open Programme evenings featured music from James Pearce, Richard Cox, Robin Taylor, Phil Garvey, Jesters and Mark Pigeon, and stories from Alasdair Ross and Alexandra Ford.

The new year saw the welcome return of jazz to the Speakeasy with Alan Fraser's MEN FROM THE MINGUS TREE: Alan Fraser (horns and vocals), Shannon Harris (keyboards), John Lanyon (guitar), Paul Deane (bass) and Simon Fenn (percussion) with Mike Hadley contributing prose and verse. The house was packed and what we got was a wonderful mix of extremely cool quirky jazz, rumbustious blues, wry comedy and left-field literature in a true Speakeasy concoction.

The last Speakeasy of 2015 was a real pre-Christmas cracker with a return visit from the fabulous Victrolas (Rob D'Ath, Rupert Fenn and Dickon Collinson). The audience was spellbound by the quality of singing and musicianship in their close harmony versions of some of the best songs of the last few decades.

Counterpointing the Victrolas there was a delightful miscellany of poetry, prose and comedy confected for the evening by the tastylicious Three-out-of-Four Wordsmen (Rob Stepney, John Lanyon and Ed Fenton - alongside the Christmas ghost of Adrian Lancini).

The first Open Evening of the new season brought a great bill of talented performers. Alasdair Ross told an extraordinary story from Peru in the time of the Shining Path, very thought-provoking just after the Paris massacre. Humour from Jakob The Dane made us all really laugh. There was original music from Charlbury's James Pearce (EP now out!) and Jonathan Luxmoore, from Oxford's Phil Garvey (of The Reckless Sleepers) and Mark Atherton & Friends. The evening finished loud and up-tempo with a jazz funk set from Calling Stanley.

A capacity audience heard Hollies lead singer Peter Howarth give a brilliantly varied solo show with singing and musicianship that really set the bar high for the new season. Alongside Peter we heard a Naomi and Dominic Bullock's delightful "Sweet Sixteen 1914", dramatised from Naomi's grandmother's WWI diaries.

The final Speakeasy of the 2014/15 season was an Open Programme Evening which featured verse from John Lanyon, music from Mary James, Brian Honeyands, The Jesters, The Auctioneers and the trio of Rob Hemingway, Alex Thomas and Tom Vallance and a fine traveller's tale from Alasdair Ross. There was a really nice balance of poetry, prose and different musical styles. Thank you to all of them!

We hope you enjoyed as much as we did the beautiful, thoughtful songs, exquisite guitar and droll commentary that Jack Harris brought to the Shed. It was a wonderful evening. If you want to hear more of Jack, look at his website

Alongside Jack we had Ed Fenton whose short poems were deeply satisfying and Dylan "Zxåvier" Hyperspace (aka Adrian Lancini) whose version of singer/songwriting was very funny.

17th April really was a cracker with scintillating Brazilian inflected jazz of the very highest standard from Shannon Harris and his band. This was punctuated by delightful sketches from Adam Potterton and Dominic Bullock. The place was packed. If you missed it, you missed something special.

20th March was an Open Programme session bringing contributions from eight different acts, all with local connections to Charlbury or nearby:

Kath Lucas and friends (from Voices Unlimited), singer-songwriter James Pearce, poet Rachel Brushfield, guitarist/composer Colin Broad, contemporary folk three-piece Jesters, singer-songwriter Mary James, Dave Oates (of 1000 Mile Highway), The Lost Art (aka Gordo Francis and Greg Hooper). Here's a web link for each of them (where possible) so you can follow them up or get a sense of what you missed.

Voices Unlimited (
James Pearce (
Jesters (
Mary James (
1000 Mile Highway/Dave Oates (
The Lost Art (

Two fine vocal acts and a slice of professional journalism. In reverse order, Chris Padmore closed the show with a fine set of his melodic, thoughtful songs; Kieran Cooke gave us a wily mix of Yeats's verse and insider stories from the world of the foreign correspondent and to open the evening The Victrolas spellbound us with their intimate close harmony versions of pop classics. As always, there was time for people to gossip and to share the goodies they'd brought with them. It was a fine evening.

If you were at the January Speakeasy, you'll have heard great music from Jess Goyder and her band, Emma Butterworth on cello and Neil Burton on percussion ( and from Liza Fitzgibbon ( along with verse chosen and read by Nick Johnson. The Shed was rocking and there was a great atmosphere!


Back in Swinging Sixties London, the notorious Speakeasy Club was run by one Mr Roy Flynn, currently hiding out in Charlbury (and a great inspiration to us). Roy has passed us this article about "The Speak". Sadly, similarities to today's nights in the Shed are few and far between so far....

Published in Record Collector, issue 372, February 2010.

Last updated: Thu 26 Oct

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