The Ram Club was one of the most successful acoustic music venues in the UK, able to attract some of the world’s finest musicians. It was founded in October 1983 by Brian and Jane Ravenhill and came to be run by a small group of music enthusiasts and performers. There was no committee – everything was managed informally, and this was reflected in the warmth and intimacy of the concerts. It was called a club – but everyone, whether a member or not, was made more than welcome.
The club was based at the Old Cranleighan Club in Thames Ditton from January 2009. Previous venues were The Foley Arms in Claygate and the The Greyhound pub in Weston Green.
The bar would open from about 7.30pm, the concert room doors open at 8.15, with the music beginning at 8.30. Support for the headline artists was provided by two “floor spots” – talented musicians from the audience who played two songs each. The headline guest then played two sets of about 45 minutes each, with an interval, followed by the raffle draw and another floor spot at the start of the second half. The concerts finished at about 11.15.
The club’s reputation meant it attracted artists who would not normally play in small venues (see archive), with musical styles ranging from traditional to contemporary folk, blues, bluegrass, ballads, instrumental, a cappella, comedy, and country and western to a smattering of jazz, pop and acoustic rock. It paid to ditch your preconceptions about “folk” music and just go along every week.
The club ran on a break-even basis, with entrance fees going to the guest artists after essential costs were covered. The usual entry price was between £9 and £13, with a £1 or £2 discount for members. Club membership cost only £5 a year.
The club operated a “pay-at-the-door” system: advance tickets only went on sale when the club suspected demand for seats would outstrip capacity, with paid-up members being given advance notice.
The only house rules existed to ensure that everyone could enjoy the music and to ensure our Old Cranleighan hosts benefited from us using their facilities:
- Please turn off all phones during the concert;
- Please limit conversations to the gaps between songs;
- Please only enter or leave the room between songs;
- Please do not bring drinks bought elsewhere to the club – the Old Cranleighan Club provides us with a very good bar.
Ram Club members enjoyed reduced entry prices for all concerts and occasional advance notice of special events.
Among the ways in which we kept people informed of our programme was by email. We sent roughly one message per week to all on our mailing list, with paid-up club members occasionally receiving advance notice of special events.
For the purposes of General Data Protection Regulation
Everyone receiving our email distribution does so at their own request. The Ram Club keeps no digital data, other than names and email addresses, all simply held as Gmail Contacts, in a password protected MailChimp account. No information or data is ever, or will ever, be shared with any other organisation. You will not receive any unrelated marketing: our emails are purely for sharing information on the club’s activities.
If you no longer wish to receive emails from the Ram Club, simply inform us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your details will then be removed within 30 days (normally far less) from the Gmail Contacts list. Anyone wishing to change or verify their data can do so by contacting the Ram Club using the same email address.
Support for our guest artists was provided by members of the audience and we offered a warm welcome to anyone who would like to play one or two songs on our stage, as advised by the MC, who ensured that general fairness applied.
We very occasionally accepted the pre-booking of a floor spot where special circumstances applied.