Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Last dance at the Hatcham?

Last Friday saw the last Jazz at the Cross at the legendary Hatcham Liberal Club in New Cross. It was packed out as people came to savour not only band Big Chief but the unique ambience of this formica wonderland - note the lights and the curtain. The final song played was 'I wish I knew how it felt to be free'. Not quite the final curtain for the Hatcham - I know that Southwark Unison secretary John Mulrenan is having his leaving do there - but possibly the last public event before the place closes.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Cross Inn

Good time at the New Cross Inn on Wednesday night, particularly liked The Sequins who came down from Coventry. Loads of energy, reminding me a bit of Maximo Park.

There's loads of music on at the New Cross Inn at the moment, good to see and a reminder not to get too down when places we love close down. In the past few years we've lost the Goldsmiths Tavern and the Paradise Bar, both busy venues when there wasn't so much on at the New Cross Inn. It feels a bit as if the scenes there have just upped sticks and moved down the road.

Monday, February 19, 2007

White Noise

Interesting sounding night at The Montague Arms in New Cross this Friday.

'White Noise is a monthly South London gathering with Doug Shipton (Finders Keepers/Delay 68/Battered Ornaments) and Luke Insect (The Laughing Windows) pulling strings left, righ tand centre to deliver some of the best in off-kilter independent music as well as a host of firebrand guest DJs spinning a mixed bag of soft psych, acidik folk, radiophonic anomalies and fuzz-ridden-break-heavy psychedelic platters of yesteryear on the last Friday of every month'.

This month features a performance by the intriguing Woodcraft Folk.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


The currently empty Thomas a Becket pub on the Old Kent Road (corner of Albany Road), played a key role in the development of Performance , the 1968 film directed by Nicholas Roeg and Donald Cammell. In the film James Fox plays the gangster Chas opposite Mick Jagger's rock star.

Public schoolboy Fox needed some training for this role so he was taken 'round the Thomas a Beckett, the famous boxers' pub and gymnasium on the Old Kent Road in South London, and in­troduced to various characters there, including Johnny Shannon, the magniloquent boxing trainer, and John Bindon, an authentic hard man who'd done a bit of film acting, slept with Christine Keeler and was celebrated for a party trick he'd perfected: balancing six half-pint beer mugs on his penis. In their world, Fox cut his hair, dropped the silly King's Road duds, learned to hit and to carry himself hard and even, it was rumored, went out on a dry run for a robbery and got into a tight spot with a stolen car. By the time he returned to shoot the film, he was the very stuff of Chas — he could show a nasty temper around the set — and he had incidentally acquired a pair of costars in Shannon and Bindon'.

Source of quote: Ready Steady Go!: the smashing rise and giddy fall of Swinging London - Shawn Levy (New York: Doubleday, 2002, p.292)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ivy House Still Open

There was a brief scare last week that the Ivy House pub in Stuart Road (Nunhead/Peckham Rye) was closing. In fact it did shut for a short while, but is now back open again 'under new management', apparently following the brewery who own it repossessing it from the previous landlord.

No reason to fear then that its place as an important local music venue is under threat, and tonight Dulwich Ukelele Club were going ahead with their Valentines's Party there. Presumably the Easycome Acoustic Night (which found a temporary new home at Page Two in Nunhead last week) will be back at the Ivy House next Wednesday.

The Ivy House was recently highlighted in a Guardian article by Will Hodgkinson, which also mentioned the fine Indigo Moss as an up and coming band getting attention via this venue. Then there was The June Brides fine gig there last year.

The pub does though have a much longer history as a music venue, particularly in its previous incarnation as the Newlands Tavern when it was a key point on the 1970s pub rock circuit in the lead up to punk. Bands that played there at this time included Eddie and the Hot Rods, Flip City (with Elvis Costello), The Kursaal Flyers, Kilburn and the High Roads (with Ian Dury), The 101ers (Joe Strummer's pre-Clash band), Dr Feelgood and Johnny Sox (with Hugh Cornwall, later of The Stranglers). According to 'No Sleep Till Canvey Island - The Great Pub Rock Revolution' by Will Birch, Graham Parker and The Rumour rehearsed and debuted there in 1975. At this time the pub was run by Reg and Sue Fentiman.

Locals will also tell you that the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd played there, but this may just be pub folklore - there are obsessive Pink Floyd websites which purport to list all their gigs and make no mention of it (on the other hand Syd Barrett was at Camberwell Art College so maybe one of the Pre-Floyd incarnations of the band played there). If anyone's got any further information on these tales, let us know.

February Flixation

FLIXATION, SE London's Underground Cinema Club, takes places on Wednesday 21st Februarythe Miller of Mansfield, 96 Snowsfields, London SE1 (8 pm start, membership £4/ £3 concs).

A night is promised of 'no-budget underground cinema, electronic craft, amateur film Art, performance and music' including celebrity death cult in Shitlist (Grace Connor 2007), extreme piercing in White Blue Air (Inza 2007) and more existential glove puppets in Paul and the Badger Part 2 (Paul Tarrago 2006). Also new work by Clive Shaw (My Eyes My Eyes) and a shiny new performance by Doctor Reekie. The compere will be the diabolical Tar Baby and on the wheels of steel the infamous DJ Mono.

If you have any work you'd like to show or a performance you'd like to do - contact Duncan on 07929876301 or email

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rocklands at the Albany

There's a live in Rocklands party/gig happening at The Albany Theatre, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 on Saturday 17 March 2007.

Bands playing include The Rocks, BLAH BLAH BLAH and Seeing Scarlet.

Check out Music Tourist Board for latest details.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

As soon as this pub closes

As you can see from this photo, the Coach and Horses pub in Pomeroy Street (New Cross) is being demolished. The only other pub in this street (The Arrows) was converted into housing a couple of years ago.

I don't want to turn Transpontine into a Fings Ain't What They Used T'be site, moaning about change all the time. I never went in this pub, so can't make too much fuss. But I do think it is important that there is a balance between places to live and places to socialise and it does seem to me that more and more of the latter are disappearing. In fact CAMRA estimate that five pubs a week are closing in London, and I don't see too many new ones opening.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All bets are off in Brockley

Concern about the loss of the Homeview video/dvd hire shop in Brockley has now spread to a campaign against a bookmakers taking its place. Homeview is closing regardless, but the bookies' still needs Greenwich magistrates to give them a licence to operate at 329 Brockley Road. I am sympathetic to this campaign - there are a million things I would rather see there. I certainly don't want that other corner of Boho Brockley, Moonbow Jakes cafe/bar to go under. Whether a betting shop would have a direct impact on the the cafe remains to be seen, but clearly they are going to lose the passing trade from people popping down to pick up a film.

However, reading through the petition against the betting shop in Moonbow Jakes I did pick up on a nasty undercurrent from some people. One comment in particular caught my eye, suggesting that the betting shop would attract 'skagheads, winos and the culturally poor'. Well yes, there is a link between gambling and other addictions, but there seemed to more than a suggestion here of social cleansing. South East London is one of the poorest parts of the country, but increasingly poverty is seen as some kind of personal stigma that needs to be tidied away rather than a social condition that needs to be abolished. To a large extent the poor are poor because the rich are rich, both are a consequence of the increasingly unequal distribution of social wealth. Don't come slumming it in South London and then complain that the poor are on your doorstep - do something about it. Yes I know it's not always easy to think what to do, but you could always make a start by supporting people fighting to increase their income above minimum wage levels, like cleaners on the tube.

As for the notion of culturally poor, I would suggest reading some Pierre Bourdieu, in particular his notion of cultural capital (knowledge, connections, networks) being as important to social power as money. In South London as elsewhere, the middle/upper classes are very good at holding on to their cultural wealth at the expense of the 'cultural poor' - just take a look at who has most access to galleries, studio space, NCT classes etc.

As it happens, I have known some gamblers who are actually very intelligent and 'cultured' but I don't want to go the opposite extreme of glamourising some romanticised Albert Square mockney culture. As another wise man said, 'glorification of splendid underdogs is nothing more than glorification of the splendid system that makes them so' (Adorno, Minima Moralia).

Of course this glorification is quite widespread. We can imagine that in a few years time, gambling on horses will be colonised by the 'haves'. After all, Walthamstow dogs has apparently become a middle class must post-Blur's Parklife, and 15 years ago football fans were despised as culturally poor scum. Now everybody claims to have been a lifelong football fan (usually of Arsenal or Manchester United), and ticket prices have rocketed to reflect the game's new status as a respectable recreational activity. On balance I would prefer there not to be another bookies in Brockley, if only to save from the future horror of a combined bookies/wine bar full of yuppies placing bets on the 3:15 at Haydock Park.

Good to get that rant off my chest - what do you think?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Blue Collar

One of my favourite films is showing at Cafe Crema (306 New Cross Road, SE14) next week. Blue Collar is a 1978 film directed by Paul Schrader (best known for Taxi Driver), featuring Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor as Detroit autoworkers coming up against the company and corrupt union officials. A great title track too by Captain Beefheart.

I once saw this at the Ritzy in Brixton, with the reels shown in the wrong order, so we got to see the end of the film before the middle - half the audience jeered, the remainder obviously thought it was deliberate - perhaps reminded of Godard's famous remark that a film should 'have a beginning, middle, and end, but not necessarily in that order'.

The New Cross showing is on Wednesday 21st Feburary, 7:30 pm (for food), film at 8.

Kelvin benefits

Kelvin Van-Beeny, a well-known face on South London music and comedy circuit, was hit by a car and seriously injured in Greenwich before Christmas. A successful benefit night to raise funds for his family was held at Page Two in Nunhead a couple of weeks ago, and some more 'Tarzan' benefit nights are coming up soon. On Friday 16th February there's a gig at Cafe Koha (off St Martins Lane, WC2), then on Friday 9th March there's another one at Moonbow Jakes in Brockley.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Holy Southwark

Don't let a bit of snow put you off coming to South East London Folklore Society tonight, up by London Bridge:

"To celebrate our move to Southwark local historian Neil Gordon-Orr gives an illustrated talk on deities, saints and sacred sites celebrated within half a mile of SELFS' new venue. A bronze age barrow at London Bridge, dog burials in Borough High Street and the recently discovered Roman temples of Tabard Square will all feature. The area's shamanic poet John Constable takes us in his experiences of the Southwarks Mysteries. Thursday 8th February at The Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49, Borough High St, London, SE11NA. Nearest stations are London Bridge and Borough. It is just off Borough High Street (see map) Talks start at 8.00pm £2.50/£1.50 concessions".

Monday, February 05, 2007

Spiral Scratch night in Brixton

Picked up this flyer on Friday night at How Does it Feel to be Loved? in Brixton (Kevin Rowland was DJing and it was fantastic - will tell more when I have recovered).

Its a Spiral Scratch night at The Brixton Windmill on Thursday 15 February, featuring Persil from Holland, Slow Down Tallahassee, Monster Bobby and Arthur and Martha. All sound interesting, particularly the last described as 'Kraftwerk meet The Carpenters by the moog in London' (just checked all these out on Myspace and they are all sound like they're worth the journey up Brixton Hill).

Jazz at the Cross - last call for Hatcham

Jazz at the Cross has been running on an on and off basis for a few years at the Hatcham Liberal Club in New Cross. On 23rd February 2007 the club will be happening there for the very last time, featuring Big Chief.
Even if jazz isn't really your thing, you might want to go along and take this final opportunity (for now?) to savour this music venue with its classic 70s decor. The building is in the process of being sold - rumour has it to a church.

Fats Waller in New Cross, 1938

From the Kentish Mercury, 1938, an advert for an appearance by legendary American jazz pianist Fats Waller at the New Cross Empire (on corner of New X Road & Watson St - now demolished), described here as 'The World's Greatest Rhythm Pianist and Master of Swing'. Waller learnt his trade in the rent parties of Harlem, and is famous for songs such as 'Ain't Misbehavin''.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Brockley Video Crisis!

Homeview, the independent dvd/video hire shop in Brockley, is closing in the next couple of weeks. I guess the writing's on the wall for shops like these, with so many people ordering DVDs through web-based rental services, or downloading movies. Still this has been a good place to browse and chat about films, something that is lost online, and Homeview has always had a great selection of obscure art house stuff, foreign language films, classic oldies etc. These are now being sold off in the closing down sale, and the space is due to become a betting shop. Just what we need.