Monday, March 05, 2012

Music Monday: Ceri James

Ceri James and his guitar have been a feature of the New Cross music scene for some time. His third solo album, The Lost Souls Parade, is out now and includes the song The Real Coffee Shop - not only a catchy upbeat number, but also a nice slice of cultural history celebrating an actual cafe in early noughties New Cross Road (think it was open for around 18 months from around 2000 to 2002, coinciding with the last days of the Goldsmiths Tavern in its wild south east phase). 

The Real Coffee Shop

Do you remember the coffee shop?
Well I admit that I almost forgot
And It was run by Robbie who was loved by Melanie
And it was open whenever you wanted to throw a party

I once saw the crackheads who were smoking in the alley
Beneath the posters of the latest rally
Did you get involved?

At the Coffee Shop A
 place that starbucks couldn’t stop
Somewhere South of The Thames
It was a real Coffee Shop

The building was in desperate need of some renovation
But inside you could always find a decent conversation
It opened just before the internet super highway and you could read a book there by Chomsky or Hemingway

Let’s say the toilet wasn’t always a pretty site
But you could smoke in the lounge all through the night or pass your spliffs if you liked
And it happened a lot

At the coffee shop
Somewhere in New Cross
They had things Costa didn’t stock
It was a real coffee shop

Student philosophers, artists, punks and hippies
All showed up to satisfy their curiosity
Side by side but never in complete harmony
But they tolerated each others company

Outside in the garden there were art installations
But the Police talked about the legal complications
There were undercover cops
At the coffee shop

Where we used to dance alot
It was South of the Thames
A place that Costa couldn’t stop

It attracted outsiders, travellers and renegades
And all kinds of music was DJ’d
Marathon guitar jams with mandolins and banjos
And someone playing on the out of tune piano

Live performers and other festivities
But I don’t remember ever buying a cup of coffee
It wasn’t necessary
When you went

To the coffee shop
Where we used to drink a lot
It was Somewhere in New Cross
They had things Starbucks couldn’t stock

Yes I remember the coffee shop
But the shenanigans had to stop
It all seemed to disappear somewhere into the ether
And the class A’s didn’t help much either

When Robbie needed to move away
The businessman next door opened a new cafe
And it was the end of the cabaret
At the coffee shop

A store that high streets haven’t got
Where we smoke a lot
Somewhere South of The Thames

The real Coffee shop
The real coffee shop

The video was shot in New Cross Road and includes some old footage from the Coffee Shop itself, which I believe was located at 310 New Cross Road. In fact the video was directed by Robert O'Meara, who was involved in running the Coffee Shop - apparently he is the Robbie mentioned in the song, and Melanie is the Mel who still runs Prangsta. Robert recalls: 'The Coffee Shop was a squat which turned a run down empty space into a vibrant hub and resource for the community'.

The Coffee Shop

The shop today - next door but one to Cafe Crema
Deptford Broadway

Back in 2004, Ceri's former band Zen put out another South London song: Deptford Broadway.


Anonymous said...

I remember that place...although I don't remember drinking much coffee in there. Around the same time, there was also a squatted bar on the end of that parade opposite the Goldsmiths Tavern which opened at kicking out time (2am)- the front room was an actual bar that served a range of cans and you were locked in and had to ask to be let out. It was pretty grotty but safer than buying cans from the taxi rank at the top of Clifton Rise.

Anonymous said...

I had some crazy times at the Coffee Shop! Thanks for posting