Number 1 for Oxford nightlife – TripAdvisor
“Britain’s most intimate performance space” – The Times
“One of five essential cultural interludes in Oxford” – The Guardian
“Oxford’s famous Catweazle Club” – TIME Magazine
“The atmosphere is magic” – Virtually Acoustic
Number 1 in TripAdvisor for Oxford nightlife
Feature in The Oxford Student
Feature in The ISIS Magazine
Feature in Europe Magazine
Arriving in Oxford in 1994 with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a heartful of songs, troubadour Matt Sage moved onto a boat on the Oxford Canal.
Having searched in vain for somewhere creative to call home, he had little choice but to set up his own space with the deranged fantasy that people of a like mind might come together for inspiration, the sharing of ideas and a real sense of community.
Drawing on new-found friends from the boats and in the seedier quarters of Jericho, Matt commandeered the snug of the Victoria Arms where people (and pixies) began to gather and warm themselves by the fire of one another’s creativity and expression. It didn’t take long for the room to pack out, forcing a move to the larger Upstairs Room. No microphones, no stage: just a spotlight and a chair, with the audience hanging on the every word and every note of the performer.
An intense and often otherworldly atmosphere soon developed, and still more people came to gather round the flame, responding to that integral part of themselves which had hitherto remained malnourished by the bigger, better, faster world that seemed to be sinking its teeth into every aspect of modern life in the middle of the nineteen nineties.
Another move saw the Catweazle Club commence what was to become a three year residency at Jude The Obscure in Walton Street. People met, fell in love, had babies, joined bands, jammed into the wee hours, care of the wonderful landlord Noel Reilly’s Irish “hospitality”.
This was also the time of the Newbury Bypass, when Catweazle became something of a hub and telegraph post for the various campaigns and protests, with news of planned actions and who had been nicked/released/evicted from the trees. It was a time when many previously unconnected groups swirling around Oxford began to connect up, circles upon circles upon circles overlapping.
When the walls of Jericho could no longer contain the multitude, the whole circus moved to Northgate Hall in St. Michael’s Street, where we spent seven fantastic years before finally crossing Magdalen Bridge and over onto the East Side. The unique and exquisite environment created each week by Matt, Jude, Groovy Su and Bungalow Bill, has played host to all manner of acoustic artistry:from naked mystics and dueling trombonists to every imaginable singer, songer, troubadour and fablista,and so many more that remain simply unimaginable…