The 12 Bar Club is one of the smallest live music venues in London, England. It is located in Denmark Street, aka "Tin Pan Alley", just off Charing Cross Road and close to Soho.
The most famous acts to play at the 12 Bar before they reached a wider audience include Martha Wainwright, Joanna Newsom, KT Tunstall (all of whose first London dates were at the 12 Bar), Damien Rice, Regina Spektor, The Libertines, Keane, Seasick Steve and Jamie T. Jeff Buckley also played an impromptu set at the 12 Bar some time before the launch of his debut album 'Grace'.
Its name makes it sound like a blues club, but the 12 Bar does not feature one type of music. Though broadly 'indie' in nature, some nights feature country, folk, punk or even a mixture of styles.
The club's building was originally constructed in 1635 as a stable. It was later converted into a forge for the St. Giles area that was used until World War I. The fireplace from the forge is still visible at the rear of the stage and regularly houses the performers' guitar amplifiers. The building then became a carpenter's shop until shortly after World War II, when it was converted into store rooms.
During the 1980s, the building housed The Forge Folk & Blues Club, founded by Andy Preston of Andy's Guitar Workshop. It was originally a social club and music venue for the staff at the guitar centre who used the original forge area at the back as an amplifier workshop - dust-sheets would be thrown over the amplifiers in the evening before the entertainment began. In 1994, the club was expanded and renamed the 12 Bar Club. More recently, offices and a restaurant have been added.
The 12 Bar is famous for its 2 level viewing arrangement despite its small size. A small 'balcony' section (allowing for 15 or 20 people) originally prevented those standing at the back on the ground level from seeing the heads of particularly tall band members. A refurbishment in 2006 corrected this problem by reducing the size of the balcony.