A MONTHLY performance event which showcases the musical and poetic talent of local performers is reflecting on a successful year in providing a platform for young people to express themselves creatively.

Shake the Shelves takes place on the last Thursday of every month at Tavistock Library and is staged through a collaboration between the Tavistock Youth Cafe, Zephyr Music Project and Libraries Unlimited. The idea for an evening of live music and performance was first pitched during lockdown, with plans from Shaun Smith, Vicki Lloyd-Walsh and Fred Harper of the Tavistock Youth Cafe and Denise Gatley, first assistant at the library, rapdily becoming a reality when the different parties joined forces, with the first edition taking place in the spring last year.

The event’s format typically sees a host, such as Millie Sailsbury, warm up the crowd before inviting youngsters involved with the youth cafe and those from outside to peform music or poetry, keep everyone entertained during a break and inbetween performance slots, then welcoming other local acts to take stage.

Vicki Lloyd-Walsh, manager of the Tavistock Youth Cafe said: ‘This last year of Shake the Shelves has been really really good. We’ve had a lot of new people coming to join in, coming back again and again and a whole host of new acts. The library of all places is such an interesting venue to perform — it’s a pleasure that we’ve been able to ensure our young people can perform in their hometown.

‘Anyone is welcome to come and play and word of mouth about the event has naturally spread — it just goes hand in hand. We always welcome new acts and would love to have more people come and join in. The event has grown considerably since we first started. Our evening in April which was part of a music festival in town attracted a huge turnout.

‘Getting involved doesn’t just mean performing. We have people coming along to watch our performers and volunteering as part of the youth cafe on the desk, taking money from the audience as they arrive.’

The event sees a small entry fee of £2 for those wishing to watch the acts perform, which is then split equally between the library and the youth cafe.

Throughout the year, the event has featured performances from local acts including: Squandered Youth, Zephyr, Fluster Cluck, Horce Divorse, Jack of all Trades, Suryan, Sidewinder, Mike & Tilly, The Curve, Pork Chop with a Cider Banjo and 3’s a Crowd.

Shaun said: ‘For a small town it’s really surprising how many acts have come forward and performed. Numbers are consistent and there’s always something for everyone. I used to book in acts that I found through local music scenes, both in town and even from open mic nights over in Gunnislake, now it’s gone completely the other way with people making contact with me asking for a performance slot. There’s so much interest that we never have the same act twice.

‘For the younger acts, they range up to about the age of 19. It’s all scheduled beforehand so no one misses out. A lot of the time they may only perform one song as this could be their first time singing to others so it acts as an icebreaker. It’s not just music — we have spoken word poetry performances and we’ve even had comedy acts and a young man of 15 called Tobias do magic in the past when he was hosting which went down really well.’

The final instalment of Shake the Shelves is scheduled for June 29 at 7pm before a summer hiatus. Hosted by Shaun for the first time with his friend Toby as a duo called Fixxer, the event will host acts such as The Alley Cars, duo Graham and Gail and Buffalo and is set to be livestreamed through the Facebook page. The event is then provisionally scheduled to return in September.

Shaun added: ‘For this being our last event before the summer break, we’re expecting a strong turnout. After the summer, the event’s continued success is dependent of guarenteeing volunteers, both at the youth cafe and the library. People give their time to make sure this happens. We’re aiming to return in September, but by October definitely.’

Vicki said: ‘The plan is to keep going after the summer. At the youth cafe, we’re very busy running a whole summer programme of trips and activities so we have a break from Shake the Shelves; people are also away on holiday too.

‘Before we come back in the autumn, you can find us at Tavistock Pride on July 1. We’ve just been awarded money to host a stand at the event which allows for inclusive opportunities for younger people. We’ll have a photo booth set up with lots of wild and colourful props and selfie sticks so come down and see us. On Sunday, July 30 there’s a BMX trails jam, a competition with bikes and we’ll soon be announcing more information about a new project of ours involving a sanctuary garden.’

For more information on Shake the Shelves visit the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ShakeTheShelves