Kingston upon Thames has many music connections being the birthplace of musicians John Martyn, Steven Wilson, Dave Swarbrick, Rat Scabies, drummer with the Damned, Peter Cox from Go West and Richard Butler singer with the Psychedelic Furs. These days the towns musical connection is to be home for one of the UK’s most innovative record shops ‘Banquet Records’.
The shop rose from the ashes of the Beggar’s Banquet record shop chain. Formed by Martin Mills and Nick Austin in 1977, the chain had rose on the back of punk. The label went from strength to strength achieving worldwide success with artists including Gary Numan, The Cult and The Charlatans amongst many others.
As Martin and Nick concentrated on the label it was eventually decided to close the shops the last one standing being the Kingston branch.Former employees Jon Tolley and Mike Smith bought the Kingston business. Since then they have gone about transforming it into one of the most creative record shops in the country.
The local music fans are spoilt as the numerous instores they put in attract top acts. Artists such as Laura Marling, Frank Turner, Babyshambles, The Maccabees, The Cribs and The Foals have all played there.
In 2016, the shop showed its solidarity with the NHS and offered all junior doctors a free album of their choice up to the value of £20. It was a fantastic gesture and for junior doctors wanting to take advantage of the offer they just had to bring their ID in and they received a free album. If the was an award for the most generous record shop Banquet would win it. As well as free vinyl for junior doctors, free gigs by some of the best new artists the shop also dishes out free veggie burgers to the people who queue outside the shop the evening before Record Store Day.
It is not just the NHS they support, the local football team Kingstonian FC are sponsored by them. The shop does have its own 5-a-side football team and although they don’t claim to be great they would be happy to have a game against any other record shop team.
Jon has also become a Liberal councillor which came about through a musical connection. Banquet had always provided the music for the Kingston Carnival and when the Carnival was cancelled Jon campaigned to get the decision reversed. Following that he campaigned against the closure of local music venues. Nowadays he campaigns on much broader issues for the people of Kingston.
As if they don’t already have enough on their plate the boys promote gigs in the town and somehow find the time to DJ. Banquet have involved themselves in as many ways as possible with the locals. They are a true community record shop and in 2017 were voted ‘Best UK Independent Record Shop’ in the Music Week awards.
I asked Jon what releases from Proper they were currently enjoying:
Toddla T – Foreign Light
A cross shop favourite from the DJ / producer who played in the shop to celebrate its release. The third full length album from Toddla T, released through his own label Steeze, travels from house and London garage to reggae and dancehall, and features guest spots from the likes of Wiley, Chilly Gonzales, Andrea Martin and more.
While She Sleeps – You Are We
At the other end of the spectrum, While She Sleeps. Third album from the Northern metal-core powerhouse. DIY, now with their own label, it’s UK metal-core which packs as much a punch as their contemporaries Bring Me The Horizon (from which Olly Sykes features on one of the tracks).
If you would like to be Proper’s Featured Store, contact Graham Jones
Tel: 0208 459 5871
Vinyl, CD, in-stores
Monday – Wednesday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday – Friday: 10am – 7pm
Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Sunday: 12am – 5pm
52 Eden Street
Kingston Upon Thames