Dave Randall celebrates the season with veterans, youngsters, local legends and visitors from North America
Spring has sprung and nature is popping with new life. So too is our fantastically dynamic music scene, but I want to take a moment to celebrate some of Brixton’s veterans. Let me begin by sending belated congratulations to the SoFF (Sistah of Fuller Figure) Music Jam which celebrated its twentieth anniversary on 7 April.
Back when Lauren Dalrymple started the much loved Sunday evening session at the Effra Hall Tavern, the Hootananny was still the Hobgoblin, JAMM was Bar Lorca, Pop Brixton was a multi-story car park and people thought well of a youthful looking prime minister called Tony Blair.
How the world has changed in the intervening two decades. Thankfully the SoFF Music Jam has only gone from strength to strength and still takes place every week at the Effra Hall Tavern.
As Lauren says: “SoFF provides a constant for the community. Every Sunday night we’re here and we remind people this isn’t just a drinking hole, it’s a hub, a community centre.
“It’s in the heart of Brixton, but the global network is huge. People who are into jazz come from all over the world to see it – I’m just trying to do my bit to knit the global community.”
Long may it continue. On Friday 19 April the Hootananny hosts some other long standing local legends, The Top Cats. Fronted by the inimitable Natty Bo, the ten-piece ska and reggae band never fail to get the joint jumping and on this special occasion they pay tribute to reggae’s “Voice Of The People” Prince Buster.
The same venue serves up a night of Afro-funk on Friday 3 May, headlined by Brixton’s own Yabba Funk. Support comes from East London’s double drum kitted, duelling saxes and tuba wielding five-piece Join The Din, and yet another local musical maestro, DJ Blondezilla, keep the fires burning with her infectious dance-floor-filling retro-Afro mix.
South London’s Wu-Lu is far too young to have accrued veteran status, but he has been immersed in music all his life. He’s one of the sons of Soothsayers’ trumpeter Robin Hopcraft and, perhaps predictably for a South Londoner of his lineage, the sounds he creates confidently straddle disparate musical worlds. Catch his refreshing blend of hip-hop, lo-fi, psychedelia and electronics at The Windmill on Thursday 25 April.
Finally, and breaking for a moment from the local legends theme, Brixton welcomes two acts from North America who are well worth a look. Vancouver’s Nov3l bring their politically charged, downcast and danceable new wave to The Windmill on Tuesday 7 May.
The following night, Wednesday 8 May, the same venue hosts North Dakota’s finest troubadour and cowpoke Tom Brosseau.
His songs, plaintive tenor voice and sweet guitar playing have a tenderness, playfulness, directness and depth that are quite sublime.
Of the many excellent gigs on offer in our neighbourhood this month, Tom is my top pick.
Dave Randall is a musician and author of Sound System:The Political Power of Music.