Friday, 21 March 2014

We're Jammin'- Jam Jar

I first caught these guys at my favorite open mic night “Sessions 58” at Looking Glass cocktail bar on Hackney road. I love this night for its intimate family feel and the Jam Jar guys completed the scene perfectly. It was a particularly busy night at Sessions and I was sitting on the floor crossed legged between a stranger knees. It didn't feel uncomfortable. Did I mention there was candle light? All we needed was the camp fire. Jam Jar are 3 twenty-something guys from t’up north. Harry, Joe and Adam come complete with guitar, ukulele, Cajon and lush, intense harmonies. They introduced themselves with a humble Yorkshire slur explaining that they've recently moved to this city and they’re gonna be working the London circuit. They weren't lying. Since that cold night in January I have seen them at every open mic night I have been to. And their name on the fixture list of every live music night in town. They have clearly been working hard. And it’s paid off. They were signed to Pete Watermans label, PWL, last month. They are definitely worth checking out. Their re-work of covers songs makes them rather unique on the open mic scene. I always appreciate an artist that makes a cover sound like it should be their song. These guys are the master of that.

 I caught them again last night at “JamTart” open night at Floripa, Shoreditch. (Another top notch open mic night that deserves a blog post of it owns) performing the “Before the jam” set. It can be a difficult set to play. The bar is busy but while you do get the open mic musos coming in later on in the evening, the majority of the audience from 8pm is the last of the after-work crowd, normally a bit worst for where- last night they had a stage invader, a guy desperately wanting to wish his mate Jan a happy birthday. Jam Jar had no problems holding the attention of this audience. They have an unassuming confidence that filled the room. The last time I saw them it was their cover of Daft Punks' "Get Lucky" that gripped the room. They performed a good few original songs last night and they were as polished and tight as the cover songs. Their cover of MGMT’s “Kids” had everyone singing and dancing along. Musos and Jans' friends alike.

If you want to check them out, lucky for you they seem to gig every night. Catch these busy boys:

Tomorrow night- 23/3/14- Vins Night In, The Hospital Club, St James (guest list only)
Sunday night-  24/3/14- The Trinity, Borough.           

Stalk their facebook and twitter for more info on upcoming gigs.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Name That Tune

Sitting in on a Friday night (because I'm just that cool), I sat at the dinning table with my little bro David, side by side, heads down tapping away on the devices that have we have learnt to depend on: our iPhones. We were wakened from our Apple induced coma by a sound that filled the room. But what was this soulful song with house beats? Was it the radio? Perhaps a busking street band? No no. It was coming from the television. It was the sound of Tesco's. F&F Tesco's clothing line was being advertised and the sound that it came with managed to grab our full attention in seconds. In perfect sync David and I closed whatever app we were browsing and went for the music handbook: Shazzam. Shazzam is still the app that impresses me the most. I have no idea of the level of technology involved in it's ability to name a song title and artist after hearing 30 seconds but it blows my mind every time. However, in the time it takes to register that I like the song, open the app and wait for it to load before commanding it to "listen"...that 30 second advert is over and we're left sat listening to the "go compare" jingle. So what do you do when Shazzam just isn't quick enough? (sorry shazzam I still love you...grovel grovel grovel!) If it's an advert then just have a quick visit to It turns out David and I are not the only people hunting for songs we've heard on the box. It's understandable. The scale of these campaigns are immense and I'm sure big money and mind power goes into the choice of music to ensure that it does just that- grabs our attention. Remember the song, remember the advert. Need I mention Phil Colins and the drumming gorilla? So, I had a little scan of tv ad music and I found these absolute jems. Songs I didn't even know I wanted to know. Here's the ones I liked best.

F&F Autumn/Winter 13
Ben Pearce- What I might do
So here it is. The song that spark this post. This track is available for download on itune. Get involved.

Selah Sue- Spoonful
Bradley Cooper, ice-cream and a bloody nice tune. Bravo Haagen-Daz. Bravo.

Elayna Boynton- One Room Paradise.
Sure, the little doll family freak me out as well. But I can't help but sing along to this one.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Wishing Well- The Half Moon Putney

      I ventured south of the river for the most special of gigs last Thursday night. A good friend of mine has been touring Europe for the last 4 months with Australian band, The Wishing Well and they finally landed in London town. Joe Edwards is almost single handily responsible for me surviving my cruise ship contract a year ago. Anyone that has worked on a ship knows that you need a person to keep you sane. Joe was my person. While I was working in the duo, Joe was entertaining guests as a guitar vocalist. He may look like the perfect gentlemen but he’s a mean guitarist and it turns out, a shit hot drummer as well.

The venue, The Half Moon is a charming pub on the corner of Lower Richmond road in Putney, with a live music room with decades of music tradition. It wasn't a particularly busy night in the bar/restaurant area but I found the bar staff particularly friendly and attentive. The burgers were done on the BBQ and were really good. Both food and drink we’re reasonably priced. The Half moon host live music most nights of the week and is definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.

9.30pm: Punters were called to the music room and the show began. The Wishing Well are a wonderfully international band,originally hailing from the land down under. They now feature musicians from Oz, Estonia, Romania and good ole Blighty. When they are not gracing the stages of European venues and festivals, The Wishing Well can be found on the streets of the world busking for passer byers. Don’t be fooled by their humble demeanor. The Wishing Well are no small fish. They have independently released 2 albums and have sold over 26,000 C.D’s. The sound is folky, rocky and luscious. Visually there is something mystical about this band. Maybe it’s the outfits. It’s amazing what a corset and a ruffled shirt can do.

The mystical feeling intensifies when they begin to play. This band feel like a family and the audience felt invited in by their stories and tales of their tour so far. They are almost always on tour and have played over 5000 gigs in the 5 years since forming. This line up have been living, eating and playing together continuously throughout their 2013 tour and you can feel the bond they have (described to me as slightly incestuous but that’s another story). I enjoyed that each musician had atleast one song in which they had their time to shine and all solo’s came without a show-off attitude but felt rich and almost emotional. I found myself watching Joe’s drum solo with a tear in my eye thinking “Oh my god! You’re an f’ing drummer”. I liked how Jai, the lead singer and guitarist, watched each musician play with the pride of a father watching his child being born. Strange analogy I know, but I really couldn't describe it another way. He explained how he felt that songs had a life. A birth, perhaps a rebellious adolescence and it matures into adulthood. I think the whole room felt this when they performed "Haunted life". This was my favourite track of the night and saw Violinist Azita rip the stage apart as she bounced through the song with such passion and authority. An absolute pleasure to watch. The band have a great dynamic. Jai’s strong vocals were complimented beautifully by the angelic voice of pianist Maria. The presence of the Viola, Violin and Cello are undoubtedly impressive and bring the essence of the band together. The orchestral tones of the songs really draw the audience in to an almost spellbinding state.  The songs arrangements are epic, taking us all on a journey. The story telling techniques mirror those of an old gypsy tale. This was particularly true in “Cease fire”. I really loved this song. The intro from Cellist Natasha made me feel like we should have been gathered around a fire in a forest. There's an intense crescendo in the song that force the audience to emote. The performance throughout the set felt really genuine. There is something about this band that made me want to throw on a corset, grab a fiddle and join the party. 

The pictures are courtesy of their very own photographer/ sound guy Sam James- Griffiths. He has taken some really cool shots throughout the tour. Here are a few more of my favourites.

The Wishing Well have 2 U.K dates left this year, both in Dorset before they move on to Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Belgium. Check out their website, Facebook page and YouTube channel for dates, videos and more info. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Thank Funk it’s Friday: The Blues kitchen Camden

Since joining the 9 to 5 world a few months ago (actually it’s 8.30am-5.30pm but who’s counting?), I have come to understand the essence of the Friday feeling and why my facebook news feed is littered with “TGIF” statuses from 7am on a Friday morning. Quite frankly there isn’t much more exciting than after- work plans on a Friday evening. I have once or twice found myself skipping out of the office like a kid in a playground on the last day of term. It’s bliss. Last Friday, my good friend Annie and I headed down to The Blues Kitchen on Camden High Street to get our weekend off to a swinging start.

This bar-diner host live music every night of the week and it draws a crowd in consistently. The weekends are particularly busy; I would recommend booking a table should you want dinner. And you should want dinner because the food is fab. It’s an American diner style kitchen with a great selection of burgers and barbeque foods. Fail proof. The menu is physically big enough to shelter a small family from a storm. The bar is small but has a cool vibe. It brings in a real mix. The dress code says “casual” but there is the usual Camden mix of converse's and platforms. The bar staff look like they would hang out here even if they weren't obliged. I wished maybe a few more of them were obliged to be here on this particular Friday evening because it sometimes felt impossible to get served. Though, this is to be expected in a busy London bar. Prices are on the higher side but again this is to be expected.

The band went on around 10pm and the crowd were ready for them. Friday night is Soul Night and tonight was dedicated to the music of Sly and the family stone. Count me in. I wouldn't necessarily name them in a list of my all-time favourite artists but I have never been one to resist some serious funk, especially when it’s live. The band were made up of The Blues Kitchen’s resident musicians and they were tight and slick as expected. The singers had soul by the truck load. The female lead did a beautiful rendition of “Que sera sera”. My favourite thing about this band is my favourite thing about watching any good band: they looked like they were loving it. I love seeing the electricity between the musicians, when the keys player gets hyped during the sax solo, or when the guitarist feeds off of the singers rifts. I love it when they love it. And that room was one big mass of loving it. Oh and the drummer was wearing a funky hat. Did it make me want to “Dance to the music”? Yes sir.

All in all, it was a really fun night. I ate, drank and danced my blues away. 

111-113 Camden High St
twitter: @TheBluesKitchen

Square Meal The Blues Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Song's for Amy

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the death of Amy Winehouse. Although not necessarily a shock, her passing was a sad day for British music. I'm a massive fan of Amy's songwriting and style. I feel she led the way for stripped back British female artists such as Adele, Palama Faith and Emelie Sande.
I seem to find myself looking for and attracted to artists with Amy's flair. Lots of people (myself included) choose to cover Amy Winehouse songs but few are able to capture her effortless soul. However I had the pleasure of seeing a young girl called Rosie Holloway (@Rosieenglishrose) perform at one of my favorite open mic night's, #sessions 58 at The Looking Glass Cocktail Club in Shoreditch. She sang with such simple emotion, I felt it was such a beautiful tribute to Amy and want to share it with you all. I have so much to say about #sessions 58 jam nights I have to save it for another post. But for now follow it on twitter, Google it, Youtube it. Do what ever you have to do to get yourself there on a Monday night. Check out JamesGuitar's channel on youtube for videos.

Here's Rosie.

Stronger than me- Rosie Holloway feat. Ike Lee on Sax:

Here's all the links you'll ever need.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Don't worry, be happy :-)

Hello blog world. Life is good in here. People greet with a thumbs up when they pass by and it’s full self expression and loving communities. But let me tell you something. The real world isn’t always fragrant with daisies. Sometimes it’s hard just to stay happy within our daily struggles and juggles. So I wanted to start my blog with 3 songs that turned my frown upside down today. Music is an international dictionary of emotions and today I’m looking at “H” for Happy J

Blurred lines- Robin Thicke ft. T.I., Pharrell :
I have recently declared that I was moving away from commercial music in a bid to find some organic inspiration. However, like most of the world I have not been able to resist the sultry drum beats of this tune. This songs makes you want to move and it smells like Summer! “Eeeeverybody get Up”

Heart of life -John Mayer
I have recently become a devote John Mayer fan. Only about 7 years  late, I discovered his 2006 album "Continuum" in March of this year and it’s been plugged into my ears ever since. I’m not exaggerating, I played it on repeat for 4 hours yesterday. The emotional journey of this record is immense but "Heart of life" is the definite pick-me-up of the Album. The message: sometimes life is crap, but at heart it's good.
Here he is live in LA

Three little birds- Bob Marley
This is my ultimate happy song. It was my alarm song for a number of years and was the perfect message to start my day feeling positive (until I ungraded to an iPhone and couldn't work out how to do it). I bet you've never seen this video.It needs little introduction. Just listen, bounce and smile. :-)