A POPULAR landlord is celebrating the first birthday of a weekly event that has put his village on the musical map.
Paul Needham took over the Dog and Partridge, in Marchington, in 2012 and put on his first Sunday Club event in January 2013.
Through contacts built up through years as a music venue owner, Mr Needham managed to pull in Derby folk-rock giants Neverland for his first showcase.
Since then, he has seen the Sunday Club grow inexorably to host a range of celebrated artists and develop a huge following across the Uttoxeter area.
Now he is throwing a party to mark the start of his project’s second year, featuring Cajun virtuoso accordion player Lil’ Jim’s new project – Blackwater.
Mr Needham said: “Attendances at the Sunday Club were immediately very strong, even for the first show we put on with Neverland.
“And, particularly for local people, it’s almost become a religion for them to come down every week.”
The Sunday Club enlists acoustic-based acts or unplugged incarnations of louder bands to play from 5pm every Sunday.
Mr Needham mixes established acts from across the country, like rockers Willie and the Bandits and blues act Majosa, with performers from the Uttoxeter area, including Radio Mary and the Vice Bishops.
He also includes ‘world music’ sounds from the likes of African beats duo Twomanting.
Mr Needham, who was previously in charge of Newton Solney music pub The Unicorn and Derby venue the Warehouse, has big plans for the Sunday Club in 2014.
He has ‘close links’ with the organisers of Bearded Theory festival and the Acoustic Festival of Great Britain and is urging fans to ‘watch this space’ for some big names in the Spring and Summer.
He said: “We’ll be seeing a very high calibre of bands in 2014 and are hoping to secure some of the artist performing at Bearded Theory and the Acoustic Festival.
“We’re thinking of doing a fringe festival featuring those artists.
“I’ve announced my roster up to March but we’re in the process of organising April, May and June.
“We’re hoping to make some really big announcements in the near future about artists you would never usually associate with a humble country pub.
“There’s also a preliminary idea to start an unplugged event on Thursday nights but that’s in its very early stages.”
The Sunday Club’s first birthday party takes place on Sunday at 5pm.