The Manx Sound Exchange: The husband and wife at helm of something special

Sam and Natalie Jenkins, proprietors of the Northern Lights Community Centre

Sam and Natalie Jenkins, proprietors of the Northern Lights Community Centre

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EVERY scene needs a spiritual home, and for music in the north that home will surely become the Northern Lights Community Centre.

Sam and Natalie Jenkins have created the beating heart for Ramsey’s creative community, with their three-floored centre that houses (or will soon house) recording and rehearsal studios, exhibition spaces, a coffee shop and a live music venue.

Two and a half weeks after opening phase one, Sam says the open mic nights, in particular the under 18s’ sessions, have been going well and have uncovered some exceptional talent.

‘Teenagers told me they had nowhere to hang out and play their music,’ explained Sam. ‘There are now plans for us to run a stage at Mannifest, so along with our recording facilities, these guys have got something to work toward.’

The coffee shop, which is also home to film nights on Sundays, will be the main source of revenue until everything else is finished and starts to take off. Additional funding is now beginning to come in so Sam is looking to get the rehearsal and recording studios soundproofed and open by Easter 2012.

‘There are no dedicated plug-in-and-play rehearsal spaces on the island, which I always thought was strange,’ Sam explained. ‘We will have two fully kitted-out studios, so if a band pays for three hours, they get three hours to play and not waste an hour setting up or down.’

The two rehearsal rooms, along with the recording studio, will be linked to a main sound booth, which means the whole lower floor will be available to hire for larger scale recording projects.

Phil Swan (a character familiar to the Mannifest family, and among other claims to fame is Mungo Jerry’s rhythym guitarist) will be moving his studio equipment up from Portsmouth, and will form a recording partnership with Scott Clark who owns a studio in Ballaugh.

For musicians with more moths than money in their wallets, Sam is happy to negotiate costs. He explained: ‘There’s the time exchange scheme, where people can “earn” studio time by getting involved in the centre. It could be working in the coffee shop, hosting a workshop or even putting up posters. Whatever they’re good at. Whatever enthusiasm they bring, they’ll see it matched by us.’

On Christmas Eve the Northern Lights centre will be holding an open day from 10am, full of food, crafts and family activities before an open mic session that evening.

Natalie says they are also looking for volunteers to begin training in the new year. Contact Natalie on 200663 or at for information.

You can help support the scene by contacting Lee at or on 695674 with Manx music news, reviews and photos

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