Tag Archives: The Oval Tavern (venue) – Croydon – London – England

Upcoming gigs – Theo Travis Double Talk tour, Death & Vanilla/LUST in London

24 Sep

While I’m not particularly happy with the fact that time and concentration opportunities are mainly restricting me to posting up gig news at present, there are side benefits. One of these is to go on virtual tours of my own, finding out (via tour schedules) where music is still happening in this time of chopped budgets and closed venues. If I’m covering musicians who play in out of the way places, or out-of-the-way venues, I get to find out even more – drawing myself out of my London-centric knowledge or a focus on big-gig places. I get to discover pubs, restaurants or found spaces in which people are still fanning musical sparks or maintaining a tradition instead of just selling up for luxury flats. I find this heartening.

Theo Travis

Theo Travis

Theo Travis has just announced an English tour for his Double Talk quartet, promoting their new album ‘Transgression’. Over the past decade, Theo’s made a name for himself as a musician who slips particularly easily and unfussily between genres. While he’s become the go-to saxophonist for British progressive and psychedelic rock and legacy fusion as well as for assorted ambient projects, he’s also achieved this without denting his impressive if understated jazz credentials. Double Talk – Theo on saxophones/flutes/ambitronics loops, plus Mike Outram (guitar), Pete Whittaker (Hammond organ) and Nic France (drums) – puts him together with three similarly flexible, fuss-free musicians.

Between them, the four can collectively boast involvement with some heavy-duty transatlantic jazz names (Nucleus, Loose Tubes, Tim Garland, Norma Winstone, Herbie Mann, John Etheridge, Slim Gaillard, Martin Speake), but also some serious engagements with rock (David Gilmour, Steven Wilson, The Wonder Stuff, Catherine Wheel), soul and dance (Bill Withers, Working Week), loop work with Robert Fripp and Steve Lawson, drum-and-bass with Photek, contemporary classical with Harvey Brough, and excursions into country and kids’ music. Having straddling all of these approaches via the application of talent and open-mindedness (and, crucially, a lack of preciousness), all four bring the same qualities and the lessons learned to Double Talk’s music – an airy English merge of fast-moving quizzical tunes, omnivorous jazz vocabulary and breezy humour bouncing on a solid chassis, but with the ability to move purposefully into open meditational territory and to stop and smell the fresh air whenever necessary.

The new tour starts on Saturday and crops up hither-and-yon until January next year – and here are the dates:

  • Jazzlive @ The Crypt, St. Giles Church, Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, London, SE5 8JB, UK – Saturday 26th September 2015
  • The Eagle Tavern, 24 High Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1JT, UK (afternoon performance at 1.00pm) – Sunday 4th October 2015
  • Restormel Arts @ Bosun’s Charlestown, Quay Road, Charlestown, St Austell, Cornwall, PL25 3NJ, UK – Wednesday 21st October 2015 –
  • Jazz Steps @ Bonington Theatre, Front Street, Arnold, Nottingham, NG5 7EE, UK – Thursday 22nd October 2015 –
  • The Bear, Mill Yard, 24a Guildford Street, Luton LU1 2NR, UK – Friday 23rd October 2015 –
  • The Oval Tavern, 131 Oval Road, Croydon, CR0 6BR, UK – Sunday 1st November 2015 (afternoon performance at 1.00pm)
  • Sound Cellar @ The Blue Boar, 29 Market Close, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1NE, UK  – Thursday 5th November 2015 
  • International Guitar Festival of Great Britain @ Floral Pavilion Theatre, Marine Promenade, New Brighton, Wirral, CH45 2JS, UK – Thursday 12th November 2015
  • St Ives Jazz Club @ The Western Hotel, Royal Square, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2ND, UK  – Tuesday 17th November 2015 
  • Fringe Jazz @ The Mall, 25 Union Gallery, Clifton Village, Bristol, BS8 4JG, UK – Wednesday 18th November 2015
  • Fleece Jazz @ Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Keepers Lane, Leavenheath, Colchester, Essex, CO6 4PZ, UK – Friday 15th January 2016
  • Arts Depot, 5 Nether Street, North Finchley, London, N12 0GA, UK – Saturday 30th January 2016

 
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Closer to home for me, there’s the opportunity to discover a new set of promoters and their club nights. On this occasion it’s Baba Yaga’s Hut, who’ve been ferreting away for years on the fringes of some of the (once) cheaper, artier and edgier London districts without me hearing about them before. I think I’ll be mentioning them again, as their mashed-up roster of latterday hard-psychedelia, noise bands, alternative pop and assorted fence-vaulters certainly interest me. For now, here’s just one of their upcoming gigs, which is happening this coming Tuesday:

Death & Vanilla, 29th September 2015Death & Vanilla + Lust + T.Edwards (DJ) (Baba Yaga’s Hut @ Corsica Studios, 4-5 Elephant Road, London, SE17 1LB, UK, Tuesday 29th September 2015, 7.30pm) – £9.00/£10.00

Swedish dream-poppers Death & Vanilla have moved some way away from the psychedelic lounge-pop of their debut releases (in which they had a similar sepia-sampler sound to ’90s British post-rockers such as Broadcast and Pram, or even the cunning rush of Laika). These days they’re a tad more musically pointed and direct – positioning themselves straight in front of you, catching your eye and flipping open little musical doors as if they were some kind of musical advent calendar. In some respects, they sound like a more relaxed version of The United States Of America, the late ’60s experimentalists (part distracted folk carnival, part avant-garde tape effects) who arguably grandfathered and grandmothered the likes of Broadcast in the first place, albeit a little more smoothed out and hazy. They themselves offer “hands in the dark” and “Kraut-lullabies” as other labels which we can use. Check out a couple of their more recent songs below.

In support are multinational London-based quintet Lust, who’ve evidently looked back to those mid-’90s dream pop ideals of girl-group coos and quilted waves of balmlike guitar noise and decided, perhaps, to try to do it all better. With a sixty/forty girl/boy split, the instrumentation shared across genders, and Anna Haara Kristoferson, Moa Papillon and Andrea Muller singing in a creamy and hypnagogic triple-blend as they play, you can indulge happy memories of Lush (just one consonant shift away), Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. You can also note that Lust seem a little cannier and calculated than Kevin Shields, Emma Anderson and co – not contrived as such, but perhaps a little more on-the-ball as regards their sense of pop music. The rills of ‘Loveless’ might never be far away, but neither is the songwriting suss of ‘Rumours’ and the directness of The Shirelles… or the option to go all gloriously New Romantic in a video. Take a look and a listen…

One “T. Edwards” is listed as playing as DJ for the night – I suppose that there’s a reasonable chance that this is man-of-all-seasons-and-many-instruments Terry Edwards, but you’ll have to find this out by yourselves.

Tickets available here, while up-to-date information is here.

Coming up – October events. It’s damn well snowballing…

Upcoming London gigs in early June – A Formal Horse & Ham Legion; Olga Stezhko; The Spiders of Destiny play Frank Zappa; a Bowie Night in Soho

29 May

Here’s some quick info on upcoming gigs in early June which I’ve heard about – all of them in London.

Over the last couple of years, Westminster Kingsway College has established itself as one of the capital’s finest homes for quirky art-rock – by which I don’t mean student hobby bands thrown together for campness or for ironic prankery, but a rich, complex, committed electric music spanning the range between gutter-punk and flouncing prog via metal, jazz, folk, avant-gardening and anything else which gets melted down into the stew. Here’s one of those gigs that proves the point.

A Formal Horse, 2015

A Formal Horse + Ham Legion (Westminster Kingsway College, 211 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8RA, Tuesday 2nd June, 6.30pm)

A Formal Horse is a new progressive rock quartet based in Southampton. Although the band’s sound is difficult to pinpoint, their dense instrumental passages are reminiscent of King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra, whilst Francesca Lewis’ lead vocals evoke the whimsical surrealism of the 1970s’ Canterbury scene. Wonky melodies and serene vocals over a brutal sound – their music keeps you on your toes. However, A Formal Horse go beyond simply regurgitating the music of their predecessors. With influences as diverse as Bartók and Bon Iver, the band prove that there is still much territory to be explored in the field of British progressive rock.

In June 2014, the band released their debut EP, which was recorded by Rob Aubrey (IQ, Transatlantic). They went on to perform at London’s Resonance Weekend alongside Bigelf and Änglagård, and were described by Prog Magazine as a “festival highpoint”. Since, they have shared stages with Knifeworld and Lifesigns, cementing their position at the forefront of the British progressive scene.

Ham Legion spent 2014 honing their sound and developing a storming live show. You can expect a collision of beaming up beat power pop, grinding metal outbursts, dramatic changes of mood, sudden passages of twistingly epic prog then moments of restrained delivery and somber reflection. They are striking out in 2015 with the release of their debut album towards the end of the year.

Tickets available here – £6.00/£5.00

Olga Stezkho: 'Eta Carinae'

Olga Stezkho: ‘Eta Carinae’

Olga Stezhko (the far-thinking Belarusian classical pianist whose ‘Eta Carina’ album impressed me so much last year) has two London concerts coming up in the first fortnight of the month. The second’s likely to be an all-access crowd-pleaser. Given its charity fundraiser status, I’m not sure whether the first is likely to feature or indulge any of Olga’s intriguing conceptual preoccupations with Scriabin, Busoni, cosmology and early twentieth century consciousness, but even if it isn’t it’s a great opportunity to see a fine musician at work in a grand location.

Olga Stezhko charity piano recital in aid of Friends of the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (St Pancras Parish Church, Euston, London NW1 2BA, Thursday 4th June, 1:15pm – 2:00pm)

Programme not revealed – free admission, donations requested.

EC4 Music in aid of The Prince’s Trust (Barbican Hall, Tuesday 9th June, 7:30pm – 9:30pm)

The choir and orchestra of London-based EC4 Music return for their seventh fundraising concert in aid of The Prince’s Trust with a stirring selection of music from both sides of the Atlantic.

Programme:

Leonard Bernstein – Overture from ‘Candide’
Aaron Copland – Appalachian Spring
George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue
Vaughan Williams – Serenade to Music
Leonard Bernstein – Chichester Psalms
Eric Whitacre – Water Night
Hubert Parry – Blest Pair of Sirens

Performers:

EC4 Music Choir and Orchestra
Tim Crosley – conductor
Olga Stezhko – piano
Claire Seaton – soprano
Roderick Morris – countertenor
Thomas Herford – tenor
Adam Green – baritone

Tickets available here – prices from £10.00 – £35.00 plus booking fee.

Some of London’s most active art-rockers are brewing up a free Zappa homage in Croydon at around the same time. Details below:

event-20150606spidersplayza
The Spiders of Destiny play Frank Zappa (The Oval Tavern, 131 Oval Road, Croydon, CR0 6BR, Saturday 6th June, 8:30pm)

Great googly moogly! On June 6th, nine-piece tribute band Spiders Of Destiny come to The Oval Tavern to play a marathon set of music by the late, great Frank Zappa. Featuring world class performers with a sense of humour from notable prog/alternative bands such as: Knifeworld, Perhaps Contraption, Pigshackle, Medieval Baebes, The Display Team, Hot Head Show, Poino, Spiritwo, First, A Sweet Niche and more. So polish up your zircon-encrusted tweezers, trim your poodle, learn the mudshark dance and join us as we propagate the conceptual continuity instigated by one of the masters of modern music.

More info here – this gig is FREE ENTRY but there will be a donations jug doing the rounds during the intermission.

book-bowiespianomanAnyone with an interest in David Bowie, rock history, cabaret, electropop and all of the other things that get swept up into Bowie’s art should head to Soho on Thursday 11th June for A Bowie Night at Gerry’s Club, at which pianist and writer Clifford Slapper launches his book ‘Bowie’s Piano Man: The Life of Mike Garson‘ (which also has its own Facebook page).

As well as readings and signings there will be performances of Bowie songs from avowed fans Danie Cox (from “flock-rockers” The Featherz), Ray Burmiston (of ’80s heroes Passion Puppets), club siren Katherine Ellis (Freemasons, Ruff Driverz, Bimbo Jones etc.) and acoustic singer Jorge Vadio. There’ll also be a performance from a longtime ‘Misfit City’ favourite – London balladeer, Brel translator and onetime ‘Pirate Jenny’s’ host Des de Moor, who’ll presumably be singing his Bowie-gone-chanson interpretations from his ‘Darkness and Disgrace’ show. (I’m particularly pleased to see that Des is back onstage. It’s been a long time.)

More on the book below, and more on Gerry’s Club here.

“It is pointless to talk about his ability as a pianist. He is exceptional. However, there are very, very few musicians, let alone pianists, who naturally understand the movement and free thinking necessary to hurl themselves into experimental or traditional areas of music, sometimes, ironically, at the same time. Mike does this with such enthusiasm that it makes my heart glad just to be in the same room with him.” – David Bowie

Mike Garson has played piano on sixteen David Bowie albums, including Aladdin Sane, with his celebrated piano solo on its title track, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, 1. Outside and Reality. He has also played live with Bowie on countless tours and shows, and remains his most long-standing and frequent band member.

For some time Clifford Slapper has been working very closely with Garson to write a book which explores the life of this extraordinary and eccentric modern musician. It documents in detail how as a pianist he was catapulted overnight from the obscure world of New York’s avant-garde jazz scene to a close and long connection with Bowie. In addition, Garson is recognised as a classical virtuoso, a jazz master and one of the world’s greatest exponents of improvisation. He has also recorded and performed live with other rock legends such as the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails. All of this is covered by this first ever biography of Mike Garson.

Its starting point was several days of in-depth and frank conversation with Garson himself, and covers a wide range of themes which will be of interest to all Bowie fans, but also to anyone with a passion for music, social history or the process of creative inspiration. Input has also come from many interviews with those who have worked with him over the years, including Earl Slick, Trent Reznor, Sterling Campbell, Reeves Gabrels, Dave Liebman and many others.

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