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Reason To Believe

It is 2013. Happy new year. Back in the old year I reported much on the Karamel Music Club – a favourite haunt. Free music, cheap food, good company, accessible premises. Well in this age of austerity, the collective’s masterful leader, Chris Sheehan, has only gone and opened another club night ‘The Northern Embassy’, dedicated to northern songwriters in the heart of Soho, which access aside retains much the same endearing qualities. And so it was, on a cold, wintry, snow laden day that I made my way to central London from the frozen wastes of Potters Bar.

Sansa had put more miles in. Flying to meet us from Helsinki. A strong, natural performer with expressive hands that stave off diva hell. She leads with her own songs. Her lyrics real; “I didn’t mean to make you cry. I’m sorry my love”, and what about this advice in the season of economical hell; “Create your own vision, let it set you free. Follow a path of your own. Be true to yourself.” Something’s Got Me Started, she re-arranges Simply Red, into a stately folky gauze wherein the lyric is given prominence over glossy, pop production. I never knew Hucknall wrote so well. Learn here Mick. Bring back the Stars to your eye.

Blair Dunlop is my main draw tonight. Scion of the revolutionary folkie Ashley Hutchings, Blair is on the crest of having his debut solo album released on vinyl this very day. It’s on sale by the bar and seems worth a peddle. Blair seems to have all bases covered. He has depth and lighter edges, covering all required bases. It seems sons of famous fathers shiver in the shadow of paternal achievement. Blair could yet prove the exception and may soar above the Thompson’s and the Wainwrights. A song about Christopher Marlowe sees him admitting, “I’ve seen a trick or two in my life”. Blight and Blossom takes you through a year in a relationship ending in the hopeful phrase; “My thirst is greater than it was at the start of the year”.

And then came the young, exuberant Dunwells all the way from Leeds. Certainly the crowd’s favourites, they “don’t need safety anymore”. This may not come over from the video presented here but tonight they are Mumfords without sham rock and Eagles who soar above the wasted scene. Their break up song; ‘Oh Lord’ speaks to me with its line “Oh lord, I’m calling out your name, oh lord, I feel so ashamed” – the guitar lines bringing spirit to the powerful sense of rhythm that rattles out tonight with enthusiasm and energy – as do lines given elsewhere; “Find your feet my friend, just go forward. Shit goes down just carry on regardless”.

Each and every highlighted lyric gives me a reason to believe in a better year a coming. They relate to true feelings and empower. The Northern Embassy adds to the creed being spoken. It’s too good to believe that this night will be repeated at the Karamel Club whose members show up in force to give their support to Chris and it’s hard to believe that Chris Sheehan will host a better line up this year but talking to the faithful Kevin, Sound Engineer, you know….. I think he will.

With respect to Tim Hardin

Posted by Rich Downes, 22 January 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 22 January 2013

Get stuck into Karamel Music for the last time this season

Rosely Funari is manager of the Karamel Club and she is is very serious. Every time she talks to me she talks to me about Disability Issues. I listen to her, she tells me what she is doing and then I buy a drink.

Her latest pride other than employing a disabled person is the new ramp and an access audit that says other than the gap between bars the loo is accessible.

She is so serious she won't even turn on the glitter ball because she was asked to turn it off once. I'm teasing her about turning it back on and she said she might next time unless someone asks for it tobe turned off because of an impairment issue. Rosely Funari is one of the many reasons i love the Karamel Club.

Another reason is the Karamel Music Club Nights. Free Music from Chris Sheehan's collective. An attentive crowd. Ian's very reasonably priced food. The mix of politicos and artists. Next time around, wednesday 25th January Chris is showcasing his mate Chris Difford from Squeeze, Norman Lovett from Red Dwarf and Kate Threlfall - for all i know probably a new act who excited Chris one night he was out on the town.

Oh and there is currently a great exhibition of Andrew Wiard's photos showing off all the best direct actions of the last 40 years, across the political spectrum.

Its a good line up. I'm going.  Rosely is very serious. She wants cheering up. Go tell her you like her ramps and toilets and to turn the glitter ball on.

Posted by Rich Downes, 17 July 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 19 July 2012

Rock N Rollers don’t wash their hair.

This is a fundamental tenet of my beliefs.
And I’ve had it dashed.

Repeat exposure to old copies of Top Of The Pops, ancient photos revealed in the holy book of Mojo show the fathers of rock n roll, the progenitors of pop flouncing around with clean locks.

I feel sick to my stomach.
I keep on telling myself I will never believe again.

But where did I create this mantra. It was forever in Chuck’s ducktail, Little Richard’s pompadour, Elvis’s Quiff. And blow me down; even Buster Bloodvessel’s bald head was cleanly shaven – in all likelihood even dabbed with aftershave. Brut-ish brutes.

Eyeliner, make up, lipstick. They’ve all been at their momma’s pots.

Even last night, back at the Karamel Club, Nia’s deep bluesey, Karen Dalton, Billie Holiday, barnet was washed. Charlie Snelling’s positive pop evoked tainted love tresses proved pure. Adam Masterson’s urban pagan pernickety lion’s mane pristine preened. What has been going on in mind.
Rock N Roll gave me a commitment to rebel long hair, regular face fluff and ear wax. But did it have to be so dirty.
Where was I in aligning myself to rock, greaser, grebo, hippy, punk and permed footballers. Why couldn’t I see that my religion was dominated by fake pretty priests. When did music stop getting real and when will it return. Chris Sheehan I ban you from the shampoo.

Posted by Rich Downes, 29 March 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 April 2012