Any other day, it may look unsuspecting. A nifty little bar, tucked away on the hill of Crossgate, The Holy GrAle comes alive on one night each week. Every Wednesday, jazz junkies and curious customers queue to see Durham’s best-kept secret, the band Tiny Fred’s Collective, also newly rebranded as The GrAle Soul Sessions. The small venue becomes the joint for sixty, all waiting to experience the best jazz Durham has to offer.
Despite only forming in February of this year, Tiny Fred’s Collective really created some noise in the music scene of Durham, and The Holy GrAle became the middle-of-the-week ‘sanctuary’ for Durham students and the music-loving public; even throughout last year’s exam season, it still reached its full capacity. It quickly grew to be the favourite night of the week for all of those involved, including the staff, who are always welcoming and lively. Not only does the cosy venue feel more intimate, creating a unique atmosphere that I have yet to discover elsewhere in Durham, but the band truly connects with its audience through their charismatic personalities and raw performance style. Whether it is the improvisatory fusion of funk-jazz that leaves the audience questioning where the performance is heading or hearing last year’s drummer, Freddie Krone, shouting to the then emcee, Zach Nezianya, “Get the audience to sing something!” in the middle of a song, the performances are always filled with questions of “what’s going to happen next?”
For an hour, they guide you through dynamic, captivating harmonies and groovy tunes and the final song ends the night in the most perfect way. This large closing number will have you jammed in between friends and strangers, balancing your pint in one hand and your phone recording in the next while chanting “We made it!” You may question how you got in this position, but the smile on your face tells you that you will be back next Wednesday.
It also goes without saying that Durham is overflowing with talent, and The Holy GrAle showcases a unique type of talent that is rare to find elsewhere in Durham. This new academic year, The Holy GrAle is featuring The GrAle Soul Sessions, which is the new iteration of Tiny Fred’s Collective, featuring some of the talent from last year’s cohort. You can expect to hear a mix of funk-jazz from current jazz figureheads like Ezra’s Collective to some classics by Stevie Wonder, with a little bit of smooth jazz sprinkled here and there. It is exciting to see what The GrAle Soul Sessions will bring to the jazz scene in Durham, this yer.
Those who have already discovered Durham’s secret jazz ‘hole-in-the-wall’ keep coming back. From the moment you enter the bar to the moment you leave, you feel as if you’ve been transported to a world of vibrancy, ease, fun, and comfort… all found in the unsuspecting bar: The Holy GrAle.
You can find The GrAle Soul Sessions next week Wednesday, October 18th, at The Holy GrAle. For more information on the times of their gigs and other live updates, check out their Instagram @_the_grale_soul_sessions.
Image credit: Claudia Tan