Magic music and a Brixton Christmas

Whatever kind of music you love, Brixton uses it it to lift your spirits … Simone Richardson loves it all

open air music performance
Georgia Jade sings with the Brixton Chamber Orchestra

From its own chamber orchestra, through steel pans, to rap, Brixton has music for everyone.

St. Matthew’s Estate residents enjoyed their leg of the recent Brixton Chamber Orchestra tour – with Matthew O’Keefe conducting, Georgia Jade singing and SBK rapping. 

Jean Ramsey, chair of the St Matthew’s tenants and residents association

Jean Ramsey, chair of the St Matthew’s tenants and residents association, organised the event, with help from many others, including the ladies who helped provide tasty snacks, and drinks including mulled wine.

Helpers (l-r) Alison Ross, Maxine Walters and Dellmarie Coates

Many Christmas tunes were played and BCO founder Matthew O’Keefe who was conducting on his third free local Christmas tour, shared his favourite carol with the Blog. It’s the lesser known Of the Father’s Love Begotten.

“I love doing our Christmas tour,” he says. “The atmosphere is so special.

“People celebrate together most naturally with live music. 

“It clearly means a lot to communities to have these opportunities to share a joyful occasion.’’

Matthew really enjoys central Brixton as well as other areas. “I very much enjoy conducting the estates tours in the programme, I get to practise loads of genres and styles at once,” he says.

  • French horn players open air
  • open air music

The lovely singer Georgia Jade enjoys Once in Royal David’s City, and says “I love doing the Christmas Carols as they are so communal.’’

SBK, a Hackney boy joining the Brixton Tour for Christmas, sang along with his own rap.


Hootananny is one of the central pillars Brixton’s now suffering live music scene. One typical Saturday evening before the latest restrictions again Manzana Tropical, a salsa-style band from Peru were playing.

In the audience was Leyli from Peru, who has lived in Brixton for 21 years. ‘The band are from Peru and I love them,” she said.

Leyli enjoys Manzana Tropical

“Latin American music used to be every two weeks here but this it is only the second time this year.’’


Outside Iceland by Brixton Tube, it was great to see and hear Mikey, who likes to be known as Kat in the Hat, on the steel pan – with his mask – attracting listeners with his steel pan.

Right outside the Tube Luiz is on guitar also stopped people.

Brazilian born, and learning to play the guitar since he was nine, Luiz has lived in Brixton for many years. 

What he loves about Brixton is projected through his playing. It is, he says: “A good, positive vibration. All the music has saved my soul and energy through the lockdown.’’

Sorely missed

Brixton’s best buskers mean music will always be here.

We can only hope and pray that the venues where they used to sing and play live, like the Hootananny, the Windmill, Upstairs at The Ritzy and The Effra’s jazz sessions, with the super singer George Kelly and all the best backing players like Tan Tan, the trumpeter, Alan Weekes on guitar, and Lance Rose on bass – and many, many more – will return. They are all sorely missed.

Thank you all!

This report was researched and written before the latest Tier 4 restrictions.