Friday, 24 November 2017

Common People The Showdown Interview!

Hey guys a few weeks ago i had the pleasure of heading down to one of the Common People open mic nights. The Common People open mic's are spread over 3 venues and i visited the original location Old St Records. It was a great night and the lovely Rosie Hopkins who manages the night agreed to give me a quick interview to fill me in how the night started, further plans and the 1st ever Common People competition The Showdown!

How long has common people open mic been going ?3 years in January

What made you decide to start doing a open mic night ?I was gigging in Venn St Records every Wednesday and chatting to the general manager about how this music venue needed to open a night where anyone could sing. We had been worried about open mic as it can actually be a tricky night to do well. It can be stale, poor in turn out and sometimes it's more of a deterrent for the public to come in. I had been going to Open mic nights for years and thought i know what not to do so I can avoid common mistakes. Also as a musician myself i know how important it is to feel good on stage and have good sound so i said let me run it. And from there its gone from 1 venue to 3 in three years and it's become a really great night!

You are also a musician , are you part of a band?
Yes. I play solo gigs. I am also in a duo called Super Spokes that play different residencies 3 nights a week and then a trio which does events 1 night a week.

How long you been singing and performing?10 years now

Whats your favourite success story from a common people open mic night?It might actually be meeting the two guys who host at two of the venues for me. So Common People is at three venues. I opened each one and therefore had to hand over the night to someone else to run when i went to the next venue. When i met Nic & Joe they were also open mic performers at my night. I thought they were both lovely people (which is think is super important for a host) and they played really well. We did a few sessions on how to use the desk and all the nitty gritty and now they run Venn St Records & Northcote Records for me every week in style! It's so cool that they used to come in to play and now its their job. And they are awesome!

Any favourite moments, performances? Favourite moment... that's so so hard! There have been times when we had a featured act perform and the whole venue has been rammed, not a single free seat in the house and just a buzz in the room where we are all in it together... theres this amazing music for FREE and we are all in a basement in Shoreditch experiencing this beautiful music with the hustle and bustle above us.
There have also been a few times when someone has gotten up on stage and silenced the crowd. One performer called Amy does it every time... she isn't confident, she gets up and you can feel how shy she is... then she slays it. The whole room falls silent and jaws drop, that's special. And i love it when i leave the open mic at 11:30 and there's musicians who met on the night sat outside jamming, i love that!

Why do you think Old St records makes a great venue?When the night is in the basement at Old St the whole night is dedicated to the open mic. It is intimate and fully equipped for live music. Everyone in that room is there for the music, and the respect given to the performers is beautiful. Every seat has a view of the stage, and the vibe in there is very cool but also cosy and just the perfect space to come and try out new music. People who don't play now even come and book a table to watch because its a night with so many amazing performers and you can actually hear them sing! You have to come and feel it... so awesome. I would go as far as to say its the perfect venue for an open mic if you don't want loud and rowdy.

There is a common people open mic competition starting, can you tell us bit of information about that and the idea behind it ?The Showdown! Since the first year of doing Common People i wanted to do a battle of the bands style comp. And now with all three Records venues up and running we thought it would be amazing to make it happen. Nearly 100 people submitted an application to compete, and 45 got through. For three weeks 15 acts will compete and a total of 9 chosen by the judges and 1 by the public will go into the final on Nov 29th. The prize is 3 day in a recording studio and a limited edition vinyl run, plus 2nd and 3rd prizes. It just seems mad not to do it, with so many musicians coming in to our venues each week its an really good chance for people to meet other musicians and to step up their game. And we are utilising all three locations, going between the venues taking our regulars from one space to the other. It's all just going to be a lot of fun with a big party at the end, who doesn't love a good battle hey!

Will the open mic nights take a break over Christmas?
So open mic won't be on at Old St over December sadly due to bookings. But it will be on at the other venues. All dates will be posted online on our FB.

What can we expect in the new year from Common people open mic nights and from you as a musician any big plans ?
In the new year we will be bringing back our featured acts. Every months we ask a musician to feature and do a longer slot. This is on the back burner due to the music competition but that will be back! And myself as a musician... well i often end up forgetting to do my own music as i gig for a living and it sucks up a lot of my time. So i have a deadline from my music managers for getting more material ready. So once xmas is over I'm back to writing and focusing on my own music.

                                         Rosie Hopkins on the right at one of The Showdown Heats!

The Showdown final is on Wednesday the 29th at Old St Records in Shoreditch. If you love live music please go and support this night and venue. A lot of time and organisations goes into events like this and the support is really appreciated. If you are a musician this is a great chance to go down and check out how it all works and next year you could be entering and possibly competing yourselves in the competition (how ace would that be). Furthermore Rosie is a very talented down to earth musician and i am sure she would be happy to give you some great advice and support. In addition to this she is very professional and dedicated and her nights won smoothly and she makes all the acts feel very comfortable.

If you are a musician wanting to play at one of the Common People open mic's or you enjoy live music head down to one of the records venues. The venues are very unique and trendy and the atmosphere is always great. The staff are fun and chatty and very experienced when it comes to cocktail making. The bars have great happy hour offers and the pizzas are yummy (what more could you want). The venues are dedicated to putting on live music acts so check there pages for the latest line ups.

Useful Links

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The unique Guitar Social Open Mic Night!

Not sure where to start really I have so much to say about my experience at this open mic and the night was very close to my heart. One reason being, it was organised by my good friend Thomas who is the founder and director of the fabulous The Guitar Social. Secondly I got to witness the results of some amazing charity work I am hoping to get involved in and hopefully after reading this a few of my lovely readers will want to as well.
First some background information on The Guitar Social company and the concept of it all. The Guitar social was set up by Thomas Binns a guitar teacher who relocated to London from up North, definitely the Norths loss and the Souths gain. The idea behind it was to be able to give group guitar lessons at an affordable price and, well make the experience more social (the clue is in the title). By joining one of The Guitar Social courses not only do you get to have guitar lessons, but hopefully make friends with people with similar interests and get involved in weekly activities and social events. Furthermore to make sure everyone feels comfortable there are different levels of guitar classes ranging from beginners to advanced. On top of all this there are also weekly workshops including jamming sessions, song writing sessions and finger picking lessons. I experienced The Guitar Social community first hand when I joined in 2015 on the beginners course. It was a great experience, I made great friends, started a band, and got to experience camping The Guitar Social Style. To summarise its a great community to get involved in, a lot of hard work and preparation goes into classes, events, workshops and you won't be disappointed if you join.

This Months The Guitar Social open mic took place in the basement room of The Roebuck, Hampstead Heath, which was a really nice intimate space. I arrived early and was surprised at how fast the room started to fill. Soon the corridors were filled with musicians practising for their performances, I thought this was great and made me smile because it reminded me of a scene from one of my favourite films The Commitments (which is a must watch by the way). From the first performance the respect in the room was high everyone was silent and very supportive. The variety was great from Radio One live lounge worthy covers to original classics. Some acts featured songs they had written and worked on in The Guitar Social songwriting workshop which was a great insight into the outcome of taking part in one of these workshops.

One of the many highlights from the night for me was  an instrumental guitar piece performed by William Goodfellow. With the help of his loop pedals he captivated the room and with the silence of the audience it was quite a haunting piece... definitely a hair standing on end moment for me. As much as I love lyrics I do enjoy some instrumental pieces, I find them very raw and they leave little room for mistake so they can put a lot of pressure on a player at times. To hold a crowd and keep them interested when it is just you and your instrument is not an easy task and this is why this performance was one of my highlights. Like many of The Guitar Social performers he finished his performance and left the stage oblivious to how good he actually was. More highlights included a family performance, they were like the Von Trapp family (but way cooler) and we got to witness beautiful harmonies from the brother and sister. The wonderful Eric finished the night off demonstrating his excellent slide skills playing some cool blues on one of his handmade cigar box guitars. I have to add I also won the raffle (proceeds going to the guitar social foundation) and got to take home my very own handmade guitar courtesy of Eric and was even given a quick tutorial by Eric on how to play it.

                           Handmade Cigar box guitar, crafted by Eric @

                                          William performing his instrumental piece πŸ‘

Now I come to the main highlight of the night (and I think everyone that attended would agree), The Guitar Social Foundation performance. The Guitar Social Foundation is a charity ran by The Guitar Social which offers free guitar tuition to those who might benefit from it most but may not be in a position to pay the cost of guitar tuition. This cause is very important to me and I believe music therapy can really change peoples lives and its a career I hope to go into after my studies. Thomas and the team work in a variety of settings with different groups that a third party referrer has suggested may have a need for it. The main aim behind it is social connection and what this can do for peoples health and generally happiness. Being part of a community, having a hobby and having friends around us are sometime things we take for granted, as not everyone has these things. It was a beautiful thing to see this group who have only been learning guitar for 10 weeks have the confidence to get up and perform. Lead by Thomas and with the support of the crowd the groups performance ended in a singalong with the whole room singing together, we had our own Guitar Social choir. The smiles on the faces of the performers said it all, the moment was heart warming and it actually started to feel like Christmas ha!

I am going to be Interviewing Thomas for the blog and hopefully getting lots more info for any of you guys wanting to help or get involved with The Guitar Social Foundation.

Also you can find out information on guitar lessons and joining one of The Guitar Social courses. If you are thinking of learning guitar, improving your skills or just getting involved with a guitar loving community there really is only one place in London and its The Guitar Social.

                                                            Two wonderful performers
                                    Mr Thomas Binns , The Guitar Social founder and teacher!

Useful Links

Further reading and watching πŸ˜ƒ

The Commitments movie

Les Paul


Friday, 3 November 2017

She speaks five languages and one of them is definitely music!

Interview with singer songwriter Annie Green:

Hi Annie i seen you perform at a recent open mic night and i thought you were amazing, you have great stage presence and a beautiful voice. Can i ask what age you are and where you are from?

So I am from Bulgaria. Though I have something Greek and Russian from my mother’s side and I speak about 5 languages so I look and sound like nothing πŸ˜„ I’m 22.

How long have you been doing the open mic nights for?

I haven’t been doing open mics for long actually. It’s been literally like a couple of weeks. I am trying to do them more regularly so about 4-5 times a week. So I usually go spice of life or the library (the library because it has a nicer vibe), Dublin Castle, the Destiller, King William fourth, Noteworthy or the one in Hideaway on Sunday. I’m still not doing gigs but that is going to change soon.

What genre would you class yourself as ?

I do pop, with occasional pop-rock and hip-hop.

As a singer songwriter do you have a routine when you write your lyrics? do you need to be in a certain place, like somewhere quiet?

I usually either snap and start thinking about a situation (usually on the public transport) then slap me it’s December, or I sit in my room in the quiet and start analysing ‘okay why are you angry/upset/grateful?’, ‘ where does it come from?’, etc. Weird but oh well.

Then everything flows and I just want everything to make sense. And I tend to sometimes use a lot of metaphors.

The rest of the time it’s just literally what you hear is what it is. But I think it’s quite easy to get when am I being descriptive and when am I trying to be Kendrick Lamar with all those metaphors πŸ˜„

So when you are songwriting you think of a mixture of things really?

songwriting-wise I would say... I don’t know if you have heard the term emotionally unaware ( I’m really into psychology) but that’s basically whenever you are afraid of emotions and refuse to acknowledge them or recognise them. Songwriting is actually my way of facing the emotion usually. The second song you heard on Tuesday was mine and that was so far the only song I’ve written and I was completely aware how I felt. It’s actually about 3 different people whose selfish need of self-validation annoyed me. All 3 people i wrote about were looking for guys to lead on, use for money and let down, and that’s something I do not approve of. Because who are they to make themselves feel better by using other people for money or by making them feel bad, sad, etc.

Great stuff, i love psychology. 
So even though as musicians we are individuals and tend to have are own writing style, Who are your influences? Who made you want to start singing and writing music?

I properly started singing when I was about 10-11 and I watched High School Musical, beforehand I was doing arts. I Watched High School Musical 29 times exactly πŸ˜„ I knew all of the dances and the songs. Then I started sitting and learning the songs and karaoking (it’s a verb now) on them. Then I went from Hannah Montana and Justin bieber, to Tokyo Hotel and Linkin Park, to Eminem, to BeyoncΓ© and Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera. So I would say all of them influenced me and developed me music-wise as I went through listening to loads of different styles of music. I still try to listen to everything, I think the only artist I don’t listen to from the above mentioned are Tokyo Hotel and that’s only because I replaced them with slipknot.

So what are your plans for the future? What can we expect in the next 6 months from Annie Green?

I’m currently developing my social media presence. So concentrated over Facebook and Instagram, I used to have a YouTube channel. Mostly it got 12,000 views and then I remembered I needed to graduate so kinda left it for a while. I think if I restarted it now, because it’s been awhile, it would be pretty much like starting from scratch so might as well do Facebook and Instagram for now. At least it makes sense in my head πŸ˜„

Thanks a lot for your time Annie I am sure you are going to go far you have the dedication, voice and are really putting the time in. I am sure the gigs will start coming soon.

If you are interested in following Annie's journey and checking out some of her stuff here are some of her links:

Thanks for reading as always guys. Remember you could be reading about the next big superstar on this blog so please keep checking it out. Keep supporting your local live music venues and if you hear something you like share it. It's a tough old world out there sometimes for musicians so a like or a follow and some words of encouragement go along way.

More Interviews this week guys. So like my Facebook page or subscribed to my blog  by email to be the first to know. Peace out.