Saturday, 16 March 2013

Keith Crombie's Jazz Café Clear-out!

Boxes and beer crates full of books, records and CDs were taken away from the Jazz Cafe yesterday by helpers from the nearby Town Wall pub
Keith Crombie's sisters in Newcastle's Jazz Cafe clear-out
Keith Crombie’s sisters were given access to Newcastle’s Jazz Cafe yesterday, almost three months after he passed away

Joanne Butcher
7 March 2013

Mountains of books, records and CDs lay piled on the pavement as the family of Keith Crombie began the big clear-out.

Keith’s sisters were given access to Newcastle’s Jazz Cafe yesterday, almost three months after he passed away.

The Pink Lane venue – which Keith ran for over 20 years – is piled high with the music lover’s lifetime collections.

A team of helpers from the nearby Town Wall pub carried out beer crate after beer crate stuffed with thousands of vinyl records, CDs, books, videos and art-deco pictures.

Each item was recorded before being loaded into a removal van.

Sisters Janet Walmsley and Valerie Crombie said they were trying to empty the three-storey building within a six-hour slot.

As previously reported, landlord Mike Tilley, of the nearby Newcastle Arts Centre, changed the locks shortly after Mr Crombie’s death in December to make the building secure. CCTV cameras have also been installed inside.

“We made an inventory on Tuesday and now we are trying to clear it,” said Janet. “There is a lot to do.”

Valerie added: “He had a large collection – he was 73 after all. We couldn’t do it without the help of these men.”

Seaham-born Mr Crombie died on December 29 after being admitted to the city’s RVI with a lung infection on Boxing Day.

At his funeral, mourners bade a final farewell as they followed his coffin through the streets in a New Orleans-style send-off. A possession notice appeared on the Jazz Cafe’s doors saying the locks had been changed at the start of January and the venue, a favourite for local music lovers and visiting performers alike, has remained closed since.

Regulars have set up the Pink Lane Jazz Co-op to try to reopen it and keep it running in the same spirit.

Currently they are running jazz nights at alternative venues, including The Star Inn on Westgate Road and No 28 on Nelson St, and have met with Mr Tilley to discuss the possibility of taking over the lease.

Mr Tilley previously told the Chronicle he was keen to see the building re-open as a live music venue but it would need extensive refurbishment to bring it up to modern standards.

He confirmed discussions were moving forward in a positive way.

“We had a very useful discussion about the way forward with the group,” he told the Chronicle.

“They want to see jazz happening there again.”

He added: “The family initially asked for a four-hour slot to clear the cafe of items which belong to Mr Crombie’s estate.

“They had a day on Tuesday to do the inventory and yesterday they were picking them up.

“The items are being recorded because we are in a difficult situation at the moment and we don’t want any future disputes.”

If you are interested in joining the co-operative, you can email pinklane

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