Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The wonder that was The Dublin Castle open mic known as Redrock Jam!

The crowd dancing and having fun to local talent Jon Crabb.

Oh what a night is all I can say! I knew to expect great things from an open mic in such a historical music venue as the The Dublin Castle but Redrock Jam certainly didn't disappoint. If you don't know a lot about The Dublin Castle Pub in Camden, then well shame on you ha! But here is abit of history. Like many other pubs in Camden the venue was originally built to serve Irish immigrants working on the railway nearby, and the apart from the occasional tradition Irish session it was not known as a music venue. 
In the seventies Camden Town started to change and lots of popular music venues started to open making it a hub for live music, this meant the musicians started to flock to this part of London. Along with these musicians was a band called Madness, then still known as The Camden Invaders and invade they did. In January 1979 they performed for the first time in The Dublin Castle and were invited back by the landlord at the time Alo Conlon for further gigs to help establish their reputation. Soon enough the bands fanbase grew along with the crowd attending the gigs and a legendary music venue was born. Following on from the success of Madness many bands played some of there first major gigs in the venue. Amy Winehouse would often visit the bar to drink, sing and serve some lucky customers their drinks. Stories like this just add that bit of Camden magic to the venue.

Now as I spoke about in my previous blog supporting live music venues is something that is very close to my heart and very important to me, so it was a absolute pleasure to talk to the guys that organise Redrock Jam and watch them in action. When I first entered the room I could tell it was different to many Open mics I have been to before with a set up for a full band available so that anyone can just rock up and do their thing. The lighting was great and gave it a very edgy rock and roll feel and the energy was high in the room. The support that all the musicians gave each other was great too and a stand out factor with no musicians just leaving after there set, instead staying to listen to the other acts. The musicians socialise with each other and of course jumped back up on stage if needed to support another act. This was most notable when Dave Elvis (a Camden legend is his own right) who is an Elvis impersonator in his seventies, wanted to get up and sing a few songs. To help a fellow performer, a musician called Carlos got up to play guitar for him. Furthermore he was also supported by Dineshraj (one of the organisers of Redrock Jam) which I felt was a nice personal touch.

My overall experience at Redrock jam was one I will not forget. I laughed, danced and witnessed some raw London talent. Personally I couldn't ask for more from an open mic night. This was all topped off by being served by friendly bar staff and getting to socialise with some great, passionate musicians from all walks of life. My friend and I came up with the analogy that the open mic could be described as a big bag of all sorts and as each act got up you just didn't know what to expect, which brought a sense of excitement to each performance.  

For any London musician I can't recommend this open mic enough, and especially if you are new to the scene. You will be supported by all and its a great chance to meet new friends too, because as we all know London is a very big city and not always easy to live in. This is a great open mic to build your confidence up and really showcase what you have got. If you have one original song, a whole album or you want to sing some covers go along and you will be welcomed with open arms. Plus you get to say you have performed in a venue that's been honoured with the Music Heritage award. For my first blog open mic review I couldn't be happier I choose Redrock Jam as I was given great support from the team and Amie took the time to have a quick chat with me and I will feature her interview below.

Links of interest to check out: 
Madness interview about the great Dublin Castle 

My Interview With Aimee Rivers: October 2017

Hi Amiee, so you are part of the band Redwire who are behind organising the Redrock jam, What type of band are you?

We're a London based hard rock band. We've played all over the country and abroad, and we put on a festival in October last year inviting a lot of the bands we've previously played with to come to London for an all-day free festival. It went extremely well, and we recently repeated it for a second year.

Great stuff , When did you start Redrock Jam? 

We began Redrock Jam in November last year as a follow-on from the very successful festival. 

And what made you choose The Dublin Castle as a venue?

The Dublin Castle is the obvious place for it, for its musical heritage and the friendly staff. It's also our second home; we're often to be found hanging out there.

What do you think makes you different from some of the open mics out there?

What I personally love about it so much is the variety and quality of the people we have come to perform. Each week there's a nice mix of newcomers and regulars, but without fail every week there will be something unexpected that blows my mind.

We are one of the few open mic nights that has a full back line so that a band can just turn up and play. We wished there was something like that when we were first starting out as a band. We've seen many bands do their first ever performance at Redrock Jam.

We like to put on a showcase band every week, which is a pre-arranged half-hour slot at 9pm. That is always very popular and breaks up the night nicely. It also encourages more bands to come along. Several of the bands that were a Redrock Jam showcase band also played at this year's Redrock Festival, including Broken Bones Matilda, LaFlamme, Wild Horse, Filthy Militia and Sofasonic.One of the other great things about Redrock Jam is the atmosphere. We cultivate a supportive approach, encouraging musicians not just to turn up and do their bit and leave, but to listen to each other, to cheer each other on. Lots of musical connections and collaborations are made, and we often see people trying new ideas out jamming with each other.

Whats one of the best examples, when you have seen this happen?

A great example of this is Bill Dury, whose dad was none other than Ian Dury, who also played at the Dublin Castle a few times! Bill loves to gather a collection of musicians together during the night to do a 15 minute improv performance. He calls it Bill Dury And The Collaborators. Nothing is planned, but amazing musical creations are created every time. Bill improvises some lyrics to go with the music that his collaborators are making.

What is one if the best success stories you have witnessed while doing Redrock Jam ?

A big success story is Martyn Peters. We supported him when he first moved to London from North Wales. His music is amazing and we've been helping to promote his album. He was recently played by Steve Lamaq on BBC 6 Music. He often comes back to play at Redrock Jam, or just to pop in and listen to the other musicians.

Great stuff Aimee and team keep up the good work. 

If you have enjoyed this blog/interview and are interested in experiencing Redrock Jam please visit The Dublin Castle, its on every Tuesday and sign up is from 7.30 pm or contact The Redrock Jam Team. Feel free to message me if you would like anymore details. Keep supporting the blog guys and your local music venues, feel free to message me any gigs or open mics you would like me to check out , open to lots of suggestions.

Useful Links:

Facebook: Redrock Jam

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Me my passion and my blog!

Hi there friends, musicians and music lovers,

This is my first post to you guys and i am very excited about this blog! I can’t wait to get to work, show you all my ideas and hopefully get some feedback. I would love to get you guys involved too. I need a musical army, some saviours of music! Our aim is to help keep music live, support each other and do our best to help promote all the unsigned artists out there as well as giving recognition to all those business's out there that are hiring real musicians and putting on live music events. I aim to go round the streets of London interviewing buskers promoting any material they have and hearing their stories. I will also be reviewing gigs around london and visiting different open mic nights to hear the raw talent out there on the streets and in the bars of London. Trust me, there’s a lot out there!

A bit about me: I am currently living in London as a student at the wonderful BIMM London where I study popular music performance vocals. I have experience of performing in a band and feel most comfortable with a mic in my hand, belting out some rock vocals. I enjoy a wide range of genres and artists, but my main passion is rock/indie music. You can never go wrong with some good old blues and I can sometimes be partial to the beautiful lyrics and melodies good old country brings us.

The bright lights of London have been like a mecca for many musicians and creative individuals for a long time now. In recent years, however, this seems to be changing and there seems to be a lot of negativity surrounding life as a musician in London. A recent article spoke about the hardships musicians face trying to make it in London and how many are now being tempted to move to other cities, Berlin being a popular choice. Americans went to follow their dreams in New York City and the Irish, English and Scottish came to London. We should be very concerned that this soon could be a thing of the past!

Over the last 20 years more and more recording studios and live music venues are closing down. We now live in the digital age which has made the world seem like a lot smaller place, and although there are positives to take from this such as helping musicians get their stuff out there, it has also taken away a lot of the magic of music in my eyes and bad comes along with the good too. I find it so sad that famous places such as Olympic Studios, where Jimi Hendrix recorded Purple Haze; Hammersmith studios, where Phil Collins recorded his famous drum track for In The Air tonight; Wessex Sound Studios, where the production for the Clash’s London Calling took place (to name a few) have all closed down and been sold on to residential companies. This is in part due to skyrocketing property prices that studios such as these could not compete with and ironically, no musician before hitting the big time could ever afford to buy or rent! These places being built on are rock and roll heritage sites. Furthermore, with people being able to record on a decent laptop with some professional tools, a decent mic and monitor this is not going to stop. Now I am not against people learning to record their own stuff and I am certainly not against technological advances, but I do not want it to end up being the only way to record. I believe this is taking the fun and magic out of recording songs and albums and becoming more like a job than a passion for people. I would just like to take a moment to thank the people who worked to make Abbey Road a grade II listed building. I’m so glad we have that to hold on too in a time of increasing silence for London recording studios.

Now to everyone reading this that thinks we have got to move with the times and don't see why you should have to spend money on studio time when recording at home can be just as good, I want you to do a little research into or even better watch the documentary Muscle Shoals. This special place is just one of my favourite examples. Muscle Shoals was a tiny town in Alabama, there were no recording studios there, the closest ones being in Memphis and Nashville. A farmer called Rick Hall had a passion and decided he was going to open one and build his empire in muscle shoals. In 1967 Aretha Franklin being at a cross roads in her career travelled to muscle shoals and ended up recording the most famous song of her career, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You). What made this track even more special was that the soulful backing vocals were sang by a white country boy band (when boybands were super cool). Now at this point in time white and black people singing on the same track in a place like Alabama was unheard of. This caused a lot of racial tension and Aretha Franklin, who got caught up in this, left with her hit song and never returned to Muscle Shoals. This tiny town and the Fame recording studios Rick Hall built was not only creating its own sound, it was building bridges between races and going against the norm. Musicians from all over the world including The Rolling Stones, U2 and Rod Stewart began to travel to Muscle Shoals wanting this sound saying it was like a magnet drawing them to it. Any artist that recorded in that place said you could feel the energy as soon as you entered; it was an enigma. Now people say that if you go down to the river at Muscle Shoals, known as the singing river, you can hear the river humming. Its magic is said to have come from past tribes who lived there. Now, who would not want to go and record their music in a place like this rather than at home sat in front of a laptop?! I know this is not the case for all studios, and that not everyone has a magical experience because they go to the studio but it’s about the excitement of being in a place with like-minded people, recording what could be your next hit. It’s a time to bond with your bandmates even if arguments out of passion happen, it’s about spending hours going over the same parts until you finally get that right sound and get that correct recording,  the one that gives you chills, and you can all celebrate together. It’s the feeling of standing in a room where one of your heroes was recorded singing into the mic. Its about more than just music, its life, its passion, its about standing together as one about not letting rich men in suits take all our recording studios and close down our music venues. I feel like painting my face and shouting freedom after writing that!

Back to me and my blog, I want to create a buzz about London again and I want musicians and promoters to start taking a stand, showing people that London still is the place to come and follow your dreams. That it’s not all about struggling as a musician, that there are fun times too with talented people working hard and not giving up on their dreams. Yeah, we are living in a celebrity, talent show driven world now and money does talk but so do numbers and passion. If we all help support each other; the people and the venues out there that are paying to put live music acts on, to arrange open mic nights, to busk on the streets and doing cover gigs to fund their own music project. Let’s promote this, let’s remind people and each other why we choose the hard life as a musician rather than having the nice car and the big house. But let’s also make sure that one day, when we have made it, we can have all this too, hopefully writing a few great songs about how we achieved it, and of course have fun along the way.

Looking back in History forty years ago, half a million people came together as one for Woodstock with no social media leading them, it was just the right time. It was historic and will never be forgotten. Again, 20 years later a quarter of a million people went to see a council estate band called Oasis at Knebworth. These were special times and I don't feel like those gatherings with the same feeling are happening anymore. Hey, times change but what I am worried about is what’s going to be happening in another 20 years time from now. We have to ask ourselves will rock and roll be dead? Will it survive ? Well, me and my little blog are going to take on the world and make sure it doesn't die.

Now that’s enough of me ranting, ha. Over the next few weeks I’ll be going round talking to buskers finding out what they are writing and doing, heading to open mic nights and hopefully reviewing lots of bands and solo artists. I am looking for people to help in anyway I can. I’ve had an amazing response from photographers and various creative individuals offering their help already. Please follow and subscribe to my blog if you like what I am doing and want to support me. All my contact info is on here, feel free to drop me a message if you are interested in being reviewed or have got any nights or events you would like me to come along to, please please message me.

Don’t forget to leave me some comments too.

Thanks for reading guys and rock on!