Since we started Masters & Harris and Dream On, we have discovered and explored music venues that we never knew existed. In July alone, we went to The Troubadour in Earl’s Court for Tom Dibb’s album launch, and to the Dublin Castle in Camden to watch Red Rose Empire perform.
A few weeks ago, we found ourselves back on the Northern line; this time we were heading for The Jazz Cafe Camden. The opening act, Tom Dibb was a huge draw for us, but it was the headline act that also grabbed our attention, along with a certain ‘special guest’.
Full of intrigue, we arrived outside the Jazz Cafe and joined the line of excited revellers; who were a mix of all ages. Our hearts sank when we heard the news that if you had not printed the e-mail ticket confirmation, then you would not get in… Luckily for us, Tom came sauntering along the line and he sorted us out, taking us to the ticket office and getting us in unscathed. Thanks Tom!
If you have not been to the Jazz Cafe Camden, it is a very cool place. It was opened in December 1990 after being converted from the Camden Town Barclays Bank branch. Originally it ran along the same lines of Ronnie Scott’s with live jazz, seven nights a week. It was bought by MAMA & Company and became a Jazz, Soul, Funk, World, Dance and Hip Hop venue.
As you pass the bar, you see the raised stage which is in the centre of a high ceiling room. The set design for the evening brought a touch of magic to the venue. The drum kit was covered with lights, flowers were on the mic stands, and a huge rose was set in front of the keyboard (a car boot sale find by Rick of Insomnia, of which he was very proud).
A mezzanine level around the edge of the main room offered more seating; the question was how to get up there. Someone told us it was going to be opened up soon, so we waited, as we knew we would get a great view of the stage.
Tom took to the stage to start his set, with his usual air of calm and a great smile. As he put the harmonica support around his neck, we knew what was coming, ‘Whale Song’.
This track is on Tom’s latest EP ‘Lost’ and we have to admit it is probably our favourite. While we were having a good old sing along, we noticed people starting to move upstairs, so when the song finished we followed, and got a great table overlooking the stage, little did we know that we had just snuck into the VIP section…..
Tom’s set was great. His performances are consistently brilliant, but he throws in a few surprises by adding in some tweeks to the songs we know so well, including ‘Old Man’ and ‘Waychange’.
As he performed, Tom engaged brilliantly with the audience, each song introduction giving you an insight to his mind and his life. He is someone who is not afraid to share some of his past failings, and his introductions bring to life the colourful characters that have inspired his writing, making it more than just music.
The cover of ‘Concrete Jungle’ got the Bob Marley fans excited, and you could really feel the audience warming to him. Tom is such a nice guy, and he makes you smile with his laid back charisma; you just enjoy watching him perform.
Sadly, Tom’s set ended too quickly for us, but as he rightly said, there was plenty more to come.
The next excitement, however, was from security; who were starting to clear the VIP area of all non VIP’s. We were about to head back downstairs when a chap came up to us and apologised for us having to move. He said that if it was a huge problem for us to go downstairs, we could stay. Well, what can you say to that?
It turned out that the chap was Adam from Insomnia Music, who organised the event, and is one of the team we have not met before. We got chatting and before we knew it, we had an AAA VIP pass! How cool did we feel…… Now to be honest, we did not blag our way in, we have been working with Insomnia Music recently, so we were not complete strangers to them.
OK, back to the music; next up were two ladies called ‘Wayward Daughter’. The one thing we love about going to these sorts of gigs is that more often than not, you get a really pleasant surprise, and find yet another amazing artist or group.
Wayward Daughter is a duo of Lydia McAllister (vocals) and Becky East (guitar), and they are fantastic, you have to check them out (we bought their EP ‘How Long Will You Wander?’ which has been playing nonstop at home recently). Their set was a great balance of covers and their own songs; we really enjoyed ‘For The Keeping’, the vocally breathless ‘The Game’ and their new song ‘Gravity’.
Their unassuming appearance draws the focus to their amazing, raw talent; Becky plays the guitar with an effortless ease, and Lydia’s vocals are out of this world. The ladies were having great fun, and this spread to the audience, who also had a great time.
Last, but not least, it was the turn of the headline act… If you watched The X Factor in 2011, you would have no doubt come across the fantastic vocal talent that is Janet Devlin.
Janet recently signed with Insomnia Music, and they wasted no time in arranging a tour of the UK and Ireland for her. Recently she has been busy writing and recording her debut album with Grammy Award winning songwriter and producer Eliot Kennedy and his team.
The upbeat opening set the scene for the rest of the performance; as Janet’s beautifully tuneful voice worked effortlessly with a full band.
‘Lost in Flames’ was the first ballad, and an opportunity to hear her haunting, soulful tones, with just a piano in accompaniment.
‘Crown of Thorns’ brought back the full band, and the rocky edge, and we got a chance to see Janet’s raw emotion, and a great guitar solo from the lead guitarist.
When you watch Janet perform, it is hard to remember that she is only 19 years of age. She has the appearance of a gentle, teenage girl, as she performs with a cheeky, bashful smile; but you can already see a maturity growing. To be able to stand on stage and perform to what had now swelled to a crowd of over 100 people, takes some courage. You could sense some nerves at the start, but she soon won us over with the magic that is her voice, and then you could see she was having fun too.
The levels of excitement rose for the audience, and indeed for Janet, when she was joined on stage by one of her music hero’s, Newton Faulkner. The rust-red dreads contrasted to Janet’s flame red hair, but the guitar playing and vocals merged fantastically, as we were treated to a duet of ‘Hide & Seek’ which had the funky, jumpy beats, which made you feel like summer was back.
One of Janet’s last songs of the night was her new single ‘Wonderful’, which was a fun, upbeat toe-tapper.
The great thing about the night was that all the artists were different, and brought their own, original styles to the stage. What we liked was that it was about the music, not sexy costumes, bling or gimmicks. The artists are just that – super talented individuals who all perform with a smile, showing everyone that they are enjoying what they are doing, even if it is hard work.
All were very humble and appreciative that people had turned up to watch them, and the whole room had a relaxed, fun atmosphere to it.
That may also have something to do with the team from Insomnia Music. We chatted to Rick and Matt, who started the label, and who are doing everything they can to help and nurture their artists, so they grow and become the best they can be.
All there is left to say is thank you to Insomnia Music, Tom Dibb, Wayward Daughter, Janet Devlin, and all the team involved with the music, and those at The Jazz Cafe for making it such a great night.
We urge you to check out the artists and download their music. Give them your support, and help them to fulfil their dreams.
Insomnia Music: http://www.insomniamusic.co.uk/
The Jazz Cafe: http://mamacolive.com/thejazzcafe/
Tom Dibb: http://www.tomdibb.com/
Wayward Daughter: http://waywarddaughterband.com/
Janet Devlin: http://www.janetdevlin.com/