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Friday 11th October 2019 Castle Garth, 
Newcastle upon Tyne, 

The life of renowned Newcastle counterculture figure Keith Crombie, the late proprietor of Newcastle’s legendary Jazz Café, is celebrated with a screening of filmmaker Abi Lewis’ affectionate documentary on his life at Newcastle’s Castle Keep on Friday 11th October.  

The event features a Q&A with Abi and special guestswith live music from Gypsy Dave Smith and more.

Until his death in 2012, Keith Crombie was the internationally-renowned Geordie Jazz Man – a contrary, mysterious figure who spent decades refusing to bow to musical tides and presiding over one of the city’s premiere dive, a home away from home for travelling known musicians and generations of Geordie misfits.  A mystery to many of his Jazz Cafe patrons, whether he was recognized from his exhaustive leafleting of the city’s universities or from his tough door policies and unparalleled musical legacy Keith was an epicentre of creativity in Newcastle. His closest friends and confidantes included local, national and internationally renowned musicians and thespians – with Pink Lane’s Jazz Café the pride of the Newcastle Jazz and live music scene.

When Keith sadly died, his funeral was attended by hundreds of people, and the procession, which moved from the Jazz Café in Pink Lane to the Haymarket’s Church of St. Thomas The Martyr, stopped traffic across the city.

Abi, Keith’s God-daughter, started work on the documentary before his passing:

“I was driven to make the film as, like Keith himself, the jazz cafe was becoming old and worn, and my gut feeling told me it was time someone documented Keith and the history of the venue before it was too late.

Keith had always been part of my life; on the day I was born he captured the first ever pictures taken of my family and me. Years later I would film his final interview only weeks prior to his death. 

What I didn’t quite expect when making this film was to unearth so much more about Keith’s character and lively past, which placed him right at the heart of one of the most exciting periods in musical history in the North-East of England. 

It’s a story that reflects the social history of the UK and its emerging music scenes over the years.

Since his sudden death the story has become ever so more poignant and is real tribute to Keith and all he stood for.”

Abi completed the film in 2016 and after a year of taking the film to over 8 International film and music festivals around the world she’s ready to tell Keith’s story to the people of his home city via thisspecial screening.

Abi says: 

“It’s an incredible story – aside from running an eccentric battered Jazz club, Keith’s past included going to school with two of the Shadows, a brief career as a getaway driver, dealings with the Krays and choosing to book the Rolling Stones over the Beatles. Keith was really admired around the world and we were able to interview stalwarts like Eric Burdon, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Junior for the film.”

The event takes place at the Castle Keep on Friday 11th October at 7pm. It will include a chance to hear from Abi and special guests about the making of the film and about Keith’s life and legacy – and hear some great music too.  

After the screening guests will have a tour of the castle and move to the roof terrace for drinks and live music from Gypsy Dave Smith who performed at the Jazz Café during Keith’s life.

Audiences can find out more about the film at

Tickets for the screening and after-party are priced £9.50 and available from the Castle Keeps website and via the facebook events page 

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