Greenbank Music village plays out for the final time

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Iconic Luton landmark Greenbank Music Village is closing.

And as a fitting finale Michael Southgate - uncle of founder Doog Moody – will give a short cello recital, as he did when the hall was ‘annointed’ in 1998.

Creative genius Doog, 61, said: “I’m accompanying him on classical guitar and we’re going to perform Saint-Saens Le Cigne, the penultimate movement of The Carnival of the Animals.

“We played it at my late father’s OBE party. Mum had an MBE so we figured Dad should have an OBE – an Over Bloody Eighty.”

Doog’s Mum is the legendary Jenny Moody who founded Luton Women’s Aid.

And Doog, looking like a Biblical character with his wild locks and flowing beard, admits saying goodbye to the business he built from scratch will be an emotional moment.

“I’m not downsizing,” he insists. “I’m redefining.

“This will be Greenbank 4 – back to my home where it all started.”

Greenbank 1 began in 1983. Greenbank 2 was when it grew to such an extent that Doog had to take on extra staff to cope with the demand.

And Greenbank 3 was moving pupils and personnel into the old Wesleyan Chapel on Cobden Street which Doog transformed into a village, complete with handcrafted shop fronts and numerous practice rooms, as well as a large welcoming reception area with fire, cafe and a mezzanine floor selling musical paraphernalia.

Its slogan was ‘Where music just gets better,’ coupled with Doog’s personal credo: “There are only seven notes, we must learn how to share them.”

In addition the multi-talented Doog has played in various bands and is a dab hand at building PA systems and electronic gizmos as well as repairing them.

His most interesting commission was making synthesizer horns for the official car of a Nigerian grandee. “You could say by royal appointment,” he chuckles.

But it’s all come at a cost to his health. He confesses his diabetes is out of control and he needs to stop stressing and start slowing down.

But the passion that’s been there from the beginning will continue, along with some lessons and a small studio in his Richmond Hill home.

“I’m taking about half a dozen students with me and will keep it low key,” he explains. “People will still be able to buy things online and I’m going to market them through Facebook.”

Greenbank Music Village is littered with amusing mementoes but the one he intends keeping is the Edwardian shop front he constructed so painstakingly all those years ago.

It’s going to be carefully dismantled and rebuilt in his back garden.

Doog regards the Greenbank site as his pension. And in consultation with Luton Borough Council, he intends developing it into four two-bedroom homes.

And while they’re desperately needed, it will be a sad day for Luton when its very own music village is demolished.