Letchworth bar and restaurant brings music to your living room with virtual open mic nights

PUBLISHED: 10:50 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:44 21 April 2020

Hitchin-based musician Kev Maher has spearheaded the open mic nights. Picture: Khoi Khoi Bar & Vino

Hitchin-based musician Kev Maher has spearheaded the open mic nights. Picture: Khoi Khoi Bar & Vino

Archant

One World: Together at Home may have brought some of the world’s biggest pop stars to your living room, but a Letchworth bar and restaurant has gone one step further – live streaming sets from some of Hertfordshire’s best musicians.

Khoi Khoi Bar and Vino, on Eastcheap. Picture: GoogleKhoi Khoi Bar and Vino, on Eastcheap. Picture: Google

Khoi Khoi Bar and Vino, on Eastcheap, has been hosting virtual open mic nights three nights a week, a project spearheaded by Scallywags founding member Kevin Maher.

Herbie Nyathi, owner of Khoi Khoi Bar and Vino, said that his Facebook Live nights were all about “ensuring that local music has something to lean on during this difficult time.”

“Music is something we embrace,” Herbie told The Comet. “We are a music bar. We invite a lot of groups and local talent to our bar for open mic nights. So in these times, we wanted to keep our tradition going.

“Our virtual gigs are reaching as many as 4,000 people, which is incredible. People are following it quite closely. We just wanted to reach out to as many musicians as possible, and continue to give them a little bit of pennies while they’re doing what they love.”

Khoi Khoi’s virtual open mic nights take place every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – and are free to listen via Facebook live, or can be replayed later.

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Musicians performing sets include Max Trense, Elliott Rose and Skimmington Ride – and the evenings are typically compered by Kev Maher, a leading light of the Hertfordshire music scene.

Kev said that when he came up with the idea, he couldn’t have imagined the streams would be so popular, and said that “so many people have been in touch – it’s mad.”

“When the bar closed, I thought about what we could do to keep things going, so I had the idea of putting on Facebook live videos, one after the other.

“The crowd just sort of builds up as the night goes on, and you end up with hundreds of people watching live by the end. I feel as though we’re giving something back. I never realised how much people had missed it.”

Kev, who works full-time with his band the Scallywags, says that many local musicians have lost all their income during lockdown, and are “chomping at the bit” to get back on the scene.

To listen to Khoi Khoi Bar and Vino’s open mic nights, visit their Facebook page on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Tune in at 8pm this Friday to watch “an unplugged, solo Skimmington Ride set from Joe.”

Herbie is also appealing to comedians and magicians to join the open mic nights – and Khoi Khoi is providing takeaway services at a discount for key workers.


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