The great thing about a night out with a few beers is that sometimes anything can happen.  In Leeds I’ve ended up at a party wandering between various artist studios which made up two floors of a mill just outside Leeds.  Last weekend was just one of those nights, starting off over a few beers at the Works in Sowerby, we headed down to the Puzzle Hall Inn see some of the bands who were taking part in their early May music festival.   The band in question was called the Devil’s Jukebox who describe themselves as a 1920’s ragtime burlesque band, that didn’t tell half the story.  Made of clarinet, bass banjo, table accordion and strings, they put the best show I’ve seen in a local pub for a long time.  Trying to work out the burlesque element, it turns out part of the show is that the lead singer strips himself down to the nether garments, which was no fair sight to say the least.

At which moment the power is lost to not only the stage, but the Puzzle Hall Inn and most establishments down to the Firehouse on Hollins Mill Lane.   You couldn’t time it better if you tried.  Not that anybody there was bothered about the dark, the band chatted to the crowd as they packed up after it became clear they were not going to finish their set.  The photographer even with the best of cameras could not do much in almost pitch darkness.  Beers were drank and conversation flowed.  I can’t deny that I’d liked to see the set to the end, but that random madness almost made up for it in the aftermath.  As we walked back into town the unusual sight of the Works empty at 11pm at night on a Saturday went past and life kicked in as light and power was present on the main road through the town.

Power was eventually restored and the final act of the night took place indoors after I had left, but I must come back to the Puzzle Hall Inn, it is a pub I really do like for music.  The place is set up for it with the large covered outside area and dedicated stage space.  Whilst not too large it creates a cozy area where a substantial crowd can build up and really pack the space when needed, whilst not looking half empty for afternoon performances when fewer people are just sitting around having a few beers at the tables watching the artist.   Add to this the indoor performance space, away from the bar and in a large open room as you walk into the pub and it shows someone has really thought how to best show the numerous musical acts which come through the Puzzle Hall Inn.

The pub has a history of being a music venue going back over 50 years and this reputation and heritage certainly does it no harm when drawing in music fans, this continues with 3-4 nights of live music or performances each week.  Some pubs build up a musical reputation quicker, among others the Cross Keys, Siddal is known for having an act on each Sunday afternoon (occasionally moved to a Saturday night).   The Commercial / Railway (Brighouse) is beginning to build up its gig list nicely, driven in no small way by ex-Ship Inn barman Jason Fieldhouse who now works there and his dedication to music generally.  Jeremy’s and the Barge in the same town are also known for their regular music.

Just look at the adverts in PubPaper and you will see that music is one of the main “occassions” pubs use to draw people into their premises and if you are a good musician you can earn a decent side living going round the pubs of Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford (chose your own local triumvirate of local towns) on a weekend.   Add to this regular quizzes, karaoke nights, sports teams and you soon realise the amount of work a landlord or landlady does to keep you coming in.  All of this has to be paid for, promoted so the event is well attended and covers its costs.   Go back 50 years and beyond and you had a steady trade all week just from drinkers coming in for a beer, now you have to pull customers in outside of your core weekend drinking hours.  Some pubs can still do this with the beer, but many can’t, pubs work hard for your beer dollar, so enjoy the pint once handed over.