Musical Fever, The Others, Stoke Newington, Saturday
The Others was the busiest I’ve seen it by quite a large margin. Seems like word is getting out about these nights, which are I guess about ska and rocksteady for the connoisseur. Don’t get me wrong, though, this wasn’t a night for beard stroking. The place was full of the old and young, and the colour ratio was surprisingly mixed for Stoke Newington on a Saturday night.
The organisers are in it for the love and it shows – crisp sound, nice presentation, and most importantly some astounding selections. Once again they’d manage to excavate some senior soundmen I hadn’t heard of, both of whom came loaded with some amazing tunes. As usual I’d never heard most of it before with a few exceptions. There was a nice roots interlude with some Junior Ross and The Spear and The Palmer Brothers.
Then about halfway through the night “Longshot Kick The Bucket” got played. I was pretty surprised at that – it’s an all time classic tune but also one which has been rinsed out on a million Trojan compilations, so not really the sort of thing you’d expect to get aired at Musical Fever. I was then doubly surprised when the the tune went acapella and it turned out it was an impossibly scarce dubplate cut, mixed down by the DJ himself off the mastertapes in JA. Serious.
It was also a proper social night where I hooked up with a whole bunch of people, some I hadn’t seen for over a decade, some internet acquaintences who I’d never met in the flesh before. Grime heads, reggae veterans, people just out for a good night. I didn’t take any photos this time because I was too busy chatting, drinking and dancing.
Next date is September 12th. Advance booking is definitely recommended.
What A Bam Bam, Vibe Bar, Brick Lane, Wednesday
Don Letts is warming up the place and looking spry. I was hoping Martin was going to make it so I could get a photo of them shaking hands or holding a copy of Woofah – but it was not to be. His tunes are OK actually, Barrington Levy, Sizzla, not as obvious as you would think.
There’s a quite strange Jamaican film showing which combines archive footage of people like Daddy Freddy on the mic in a dance with shots of tourists milling about and riding horses. I discuss this with Mr Bug who seems chipper. He’s been doing a bunch of live work with Daddy Freddy and Flowdan and it turns out that Flo’s father knew Freddy when they were both involved with Coxsone Outernational soundsystem. I love those connections between reggae and grime…
The hype gradually builds for Sister Nancy: “She’s in the building!…. Showtime soon!”. Eventually Tighten Up’s MC Champion (himself a veteran of Jamdown Rockers soundsystem and no slouch on the mic) takes the stage and proceeds to hype the crowd up in no uncertain terms. And then, there she is: “the only woman MC with a degree”.
It’s straight into “Transport Connection” over the original Studio One cut of The Answer. She sounds good! The tune gets wheeled up after a few choruses and then it’s heads down for a catalogue of foundational classics – Bobby Bobylon, Boxing, you name it. Nancy’s in good form but there isn’t much banter. The crowd is certainly up for it and show their full appreciation with the natural climax of the set: “Bam Bam”. In fact Nancy democratises chorus duties by outsourcing everything to the punters. It is wicked.
Champian reclaims the stage and proceeds to hype the audience for an encore with his vocal skills over “Greetings” – and by falling flat on his arse. Seems like Nancy is recuperating after her exertions, so I decide to follow Champ’s lead by falling down a concrete flight of stairs on my way to the toilet. Inevitably this is witnessed by some nice young ladies who ask me if I am OK.
“Yes, yes, fine, fine.”
Hobble, hobble, wince.
When I return there is still no sign of an encore so we reluctantly head back to keep in the babysitter’s good books. This was a great little midweek session – nice crowd, pretty good sound, excellent selections. Hopefully there will be more…