Monday 10th December

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Tom Gamble at Jazz Club Soho, London.
Tom Gamble at Jazz Club Soho, London.

Tom Gamble: CD + London dates

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Classically-trained guitarist Tom Gamble recently played a solo set at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, going down a storm with the assembled literary crowd at the Playerist Comedy Night. He’s soon to leave these shores to further his studies abroad so catch him while you can. Meanwhile, music lovers will be more than satisfied with Mr Gamble’s fantastic début Jazz CD Rooftop Music. Recently graduating with a First from Trinity Laban Conservatoire in Greenwich, the maestro leads the Tom Gamble Ensemble at the South Bank Centre on August 8. He then departs with fitting flourish as Director of the Quiet Nights Orchestra at a very special gig at the National Portrait Gallery on August 22.

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Category: Culture
Kenesha
Photograph by Martin Slidel

Kenesha @ Alley Cat

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I rocked up at the great Alley Cat Club about eightish when unusually for live gigs the party had already started. In retrospect unsurprising as the popular Kenesha had not one but three top-level support acts. I made it in to the soulful yet gravely voice of Alex Bay for spot-on delivery of his David Gray-esque Love Never Dies. Next up was Blues singer Winston Skerritt whose gently styled speech-singing was matched by sensitive and rhythmic guitar. Terrific changes of tempo and dynamics included the slowed-down end of the hypnotic The One That Got AwayJoe Garvey’s clever and witty ramble Long Way to Fall boasted admirable articulation of otherwise tongue-twisting lyrics. This followed with what else but a down-and-dirty version of MJ’s Beat It.

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Category: Clubs
Kenesha
Photograph by Martin Slidel

Kenesha EP Launch // Thursday July 10 // Alley Cat

I caught up with North London Roots singer Kenesha over lunch on a not-so-sunny Sunday though her very presence illuminated the afternoon. She spoke with infectious enthusiasm about her forthcoming EP, ahead of its launch at the world-famous Alley Cat venue in the heart of London’s music district. Her new and inspirational collection features pared-back acoustic interpretations of Bluesy yet contemporary balladry, as requested by fans.

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Category: Music
Melissa James
Photo credit: Mike Watts

Melissa James @ Green Note + CD Competition

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First up was Vincent Burke in a natural, warm and easy, performance. What else would you expect when singing about pianos falling down the stairs! Somewhat in the style of old-school balladeers such as Jake Thackray and Tom Lehrer; funny, wise, droll and just jaunty enough to get your feet tapping. Plus a lovely version of Smokey Robinson’s ‘You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me’ replete with new middle-eight. Burke is also a bit McCartney-ish, reinvented with a quirkier, folksier, edge. The punters demanded more.

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Category: Culture
Playerlist
Illustration by Chris Sav (exclusive commission for PPL).

Playerist Poets Live // March 14 // Poetry Cafe

Playerist performance collective returns to the Poetry Cafe on Friday March 14 for a very special night indeed. Doors open at 7.30pm from when guests will be treated to the ethereal folk music of the immensely talented singer-songwriter Skopje. The cafe is open all afternoon so why not arrive early and relax with the scrumptious food and drink on offer. This comfy and cosy venue is centrally located, in the heart of Covent Garden, but tucked-away so check the map. For literary lovers there are shelves of magazines for browsing, with the guarantee of no loud pop muzak.

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Category: Art
Raie: all performers were obviously enjoying themselves, and the groove was infectious.

Map Café: Raie + Caroline Archer

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The Map Studio Café, Kentish Town

First up was Caroline Archer in support: an adept guitarist with an earthy, smoky voice. She performed original material sounding a little like a young Joan Armatrading, especially when using portamento. Caroline’s fairytale for modern times had the topical title ‘Dreaming for My Prince’ and was followed by another aspirational fable ‘Higher’. Then ‘Concrete Corners’ which despite its name gently spiralled out, in turns intensifying or winding down. Caroline demonstrated a sharp sense of phrasing in the delivery and structure of her songs, and was warmly received by the packed house.

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Category: Culture
THE GALLERY CAFE - KAZ3 -
Kaz Simmons performing live at the Café Gallery, Bethnal Green. Photo by Mike Watts.

Gig in a Gallery: Melissa James + Kaz Simmons

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2013 Series

Café Gallery, Bethnal Green

‘Gig in a Gallery’ is a live music event with heart and soul. A tonic on a school night, it makes for a terrific evening at the scrumptious Café Gallery in Bethnal Green – and the menu is mouth-wateringly tempting! As often goes with smaller gigs, the sound-checks and warm-ups accommodated the 7pm start. But this unhurried event proved an excellent opportunity to kick-off those working shoes and fully relax. The first of a series, it featured the talented and personable folk chanteuse Kaz Simmons supporting a fresh yet accomplished set by a radiant Melissa James. Ensure not to miss Malory Torr on August 14th performing at Canvas in Wimbledon Village High Street. Kevin Leo will follow on September 12 at the House Gallery in Camberwell Church Street. And by no means least, Tom Robinson headlines the Queen of Hoxton on October 30th.

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Category: Art
MELISSA JAMES
Photo credit: Mark Guthrie

Melissa James: A life’s work

Melissa James is an up-and-coming singer with influences in the Roots, Blues and Jazz idioms. Over the last five years she has experienced a fascinating journey, in making the step forward to her present life in music. I am thrilled to meet Melissa at one of her favourite tea shops in Soho. As we settle into comfy armchairs in this easy and ambient space, it seems to accommodate her personality. Melissa instantly divulges a love of nature and the opportunities for wandering the riverside in London – recommending watering-holes en route – “So I don’t actually get very far!” She throws out a warm chuckle and lifts her head back depreciatingly.

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Category: Culture