Les Cousins

Venue in/near Soho, existed between 1965 and 1972

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Venue · Soho · W1D ·
JUNE
10
2018

Les Cousins was a folk and blues club in the basement of a restaurant in Greek Street.


Les Cousins was opened on Friday 16 April 1965 in a basement venue at 49 Greek Street, Soho which had earlier served as a 1950s skiffle club. Upstairs was the Dionysus restaurant owned by a family called Matheou, whose son, Andy Matheou ran the basement club. The club was reputed to have taken its name from Claude Chabrol’s 1959 film Les Cousins, the story of a young man from the country who comes to the city to study law, but is distracted by the rowdy cousin with whom he shares lodgings.

The club was noted for its all-night sessions and was favoured by the innovative musicians who were less welcome in more purist traditional folk clubs.

Noel Murphy was the first resident musician and compere. Other residents included Alexis Korner and Roy Harper.

Les Cousins was described by Roy Harper as "a spawning ground" for musical talent. In similar vein, Ian Anderson (editor of fRoots) said "...the music got so exciting, ’cause everybody listened to everybody else. So although you might choose to just play one thing, at the same time, you had an open mind for something else."

Roy Harper recorded his album Live At Les Cousins there, 30 August 1969 and The "Spontaneous Music Ensemble" (John Stevens and Evan Parker plus Peter Koward) also recorded there in 1967.

In 1970 a compilation LP 49 Greek Street was released, featuring artists associated with the club such as Synanthesia, Keith Christmas, Andy Roberts, Robin Scott, Tin Angel, Al Jones, Mike Hart and Nadia Cattouse, although most of the tracks were studio recordings. According to Emma Matheou whose father ran the club, the door depicted on the cover is from another address in Greek Street.


Main source: Les Cousins (music club) - Wikipedia
Further citations and sources


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Soho

Soho is a world-famous area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London.

The name "Soho" first appears in the 17th century. Most authorities believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry. James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, used "soho" as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685, half a century after the name was first used for this area of London. The Soho name has been imitated by other entertainment and restaurant districts such as Soho, Hong Kong; Soho, Málaga; SOHO, Beijing; SoHo (South of Horton), London, Ontario, Canada; and Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. SoHo, Manhattan, gets its name from its location SOuth of HOuston Street, but is also a reference to London’s Soho.

Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. Since the 1980s, the area has undergone considerable gentrification. It is now predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues.

Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor. It has clubs, including the former Chinawhite nightclub; public houses; bars; restaurants; a few sex shops scattered amongst them; and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open-all-night" feel at the weekends. Record shops cluster in the area around Berwick Street, with shops such as Phonica, Sister Ray and Reckless Records.
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