Our Mission & History
Barleycorn’s principal function is to promote & present the best local, original music. Over the years, the Barleycorn has played a role in the musical careers of a number of now household names. David Kramer recorded his first album 'Bakgat' at the club in 1980 and others who've enjoyed our support include Amapondo, Flat Stanley, Freshly Ground, Steve Newman & Tony Cox, amongst a very long list!
Run by a group of hard-working, unpaid volunteers, the Barleycorn has proved its worth and continues to fulfil its purpose to create an awareness of the amazing musical talent which we have in abundance in this city and South Africa. If you are a musician and you would like to play contact us for more info - email any of the committee members on the Contact page.
We sometimes get asked whether it's not exploitive to expect musicians to play without payment. Whilst we are very much in agreement that musicians should definitely be paid for gigs, we can't afford to do so every week and still run the annual songwriters' competition and festival. Those two events are our opportunity to give back, and it makes us very happy to do so.
It all started in 1975, when a bunch of musicians found it agreeable to meet regularly to jam together, learn from one another & consume beer. Over these past 44 years, the Barleycorn has met almost every week to make what is now a Cape Town tradition & valuable musical resource. US citizen Bob Denton and a group of musician friends encouraged others to join them and play.
The Barleycorn has, in 44 years, met almost every week to provide a platform for local and visiting musicians to exercise their talents before a warm and supportive audience. As a not-for-profit organisation, all funds gathered are used to promote local music and musicians. In the early years the music was mostly 'traditional folk', with a smattering of Blues, Bluegrass, Country music & Olde English & Irish material containing toxic levels of screeching fiddles. Yes, Bob Dylan covers & political protest songs did appear fairly often, but the Club rapidly developed a reputation as a place where home-grown original material by local composers & performers found a receptive audience, and it is these who have gradually formed the focus of the Club.
By 1977, the Barleycorn had become formalised, with a Constitution, paid membership, a member-elected committee and the commitment that whatever funds were accumulated would be held in trust for the furtherance & promotion of local musical talent. 'The Barleycorn Folk Club' name was changed in 1984 to 'Music Club' to reflect that what was being performed was not confined to 'folk' music!