The Barleycorn Music Club: Cape Town’s acoustic institution

For more than 30 years, the Barleycorn Music Club has provided a showcase opportunity for Cape Town’s aspiring – and established – acoustic musicians.

What started as a folk music club in the South African coastal city of Port Elizabeth in the 1970s has become one of Cape Town’s favourite music establishments, where live music lovers can relax in a true “listening” environment to some of the best original music around.

Every Monday night the not-for-profit Barleycorn Music Club presents at least four acts. The events are run by a hard-working, committee of volunteers who take it in turns to host shows, which keeps things fresh and interesting. There are no hard-and-fast rules about who plays, but it is usually a mix of  established acts supported by newcomers.

The shows feature a mix of touring and local Cape Town acts and are generally acoustic-based, although “electric” acts are welcome, as long as melodic delivery is prominent in the act. While no specific genres are turned away, death metal and gangsta rap fans should probably seek their entertainment elsewhere. Testament to the pedigree of the Barleycorn is that many a South African household name got their start here. David Kramer recorded his first album, “Bakgat” at the Barleycorn. Other well-known artists to have played here are Freshlyground, Flat Stanley, Amampondo, Steve Newman and Tony Cox, to name but a few.

Popular annual events to look out for are the Barleycorn Music Festival in March, as well as the popular Barleycorn Songwriter’s Competition, open to all and hosted in August.

The Barleycorn Music Club is now based at the Villager Rugby Club, 11 Lansdowne Road, Claremont, Cape Town. Shows are held every Monday at 20h00.