John Fairhurst + Heymoonshaker @ The Magic Garden

Last Sunday I was a bit gutted to be missing Secret Folk Club up in Manchester but then SOMETHING WONDERFUL HAPPENED!

One of our fellow guardians works for The Magic Garden in Battersea and he let us know about a sick ass gig they had that night.

The Magic Garden is a gorgeous place. It is the only venue in London that I had really wanted to go and visit. This is because of the absolutely banging line ups they seem to consistently have. Some of my favourite bands have played there since I moved to London and it took ages for me to make it over. I first visited in the early evening a few months back for some dinner (they make a killer scotch egg) and then discovered that they have a beautiful outdoor area. What an idiot. The place is called ‘The Magic Garden’ and it hadn’t even occurred to me it meant that there was probably a decent place to go for a cigarette.

This time John Fairhurst is playing. Coincidentally, I think he used to live with some of the Secret Folk Club lot up in Manchester. Even though it’s a school night we decide to mosey on down and see him and this other band that our group seem excited about, Heymoonshaker.

We get in and Heymoonshaker have just started their set.  Fucking incredible. I’ve listened to an album of theirs since and it just does not capture the absolute dirty blues magic that these two birth, build and then bastardise on stage.  It is deep primal blues woven together with beatboxing. It works so well. Watching them on stage fusing two juxtaposed art forms into something with such depth and energy you can understand why the chemistry between them is so strong. Building a sound with such potency must take a lot of effort, and a lot of knocking about together.

This should give you an idea:

John Fairhurst and his band were up next. Before they came on, Heymoonshaker (one of them, both of them?) said ‘We usually like to say we’re a blues band, but we don’t say that when we’re playing on the same bill as these guys…’. I was a bit confused by this, having just had my socks knocked off by them. They were on to something though as John Fairhurst and his band play big boy blues. Gravelly, pulsating and reeking of power.  At the end of their set they were joined by Heymoonshaker and we were all witness to a glorious love in/jam session between the lot of them.

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This picture was taken by John Morgan – check him out here –  johnnycajon.com

Best gig I have been to in a long time. You know when you’re watching a live act and you suddenly get this warm glowing feeling where the music reminds you that you are a spectator of something bigger than yourself? Something beautiful and terrible that can express things inside you that you had never been able to give words to. That this could be the first time and the last time that these sounds, these vibrations are made and you are there to experience them.

Watching those guys jam together made me feel incredibly lucky.

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The Secret Folk Club

Residents of Manchester rejoice, the ever wonderful Secret Folk Club is back, and it has moved from the Antwerp Mansion ballroom to Band on the Wall.

When I knew it, the Secret Folk Club was on a Sunday, usually at the end of the month, and for the Mansion staff who had been working their hearts out to house/DnB/jungle, was a beautiful piece of respite. The atmosphere was  relaxed, respectful and attentive – something to be really proud of. Rik Warren, with whisky in hand, bringing up a variety of talented and unique performers. Couches which had spent the week being danced on, having drinks spilled over and slightly smelling of vomit would be eagerly snuggled into and then coveted by those sat on the floor.

Luckily enough, Prof (one of the original Mansion founders) made some recordings of the events which you can listen to here:

Tonight looks to be a strong line up with Jim Adama as well as Ellis Davies and Rik Warren.

If you live in Manchester and you’re into folk/blues make sure you keep an eye out for these events, they’re very special.

Family Time in Cornwall – Easter

Cornwall is one of my favourite places on the planet. My grandparents have lived there since I was a kid so it is where I used to spend my summers. It is peaceful and beautiful. My immediate family moved there when I was 17. No one would ever describe them as peaceful. I have five brothers, one sister and now there are ten dogs in the mix as well. There are always various family friends over and it is loads of fun to go and stay with them.

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We spent Easter there this year and it was four days of intense cooking, feasting and laughing. Not to mention lots of puppy love!

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We made doughnuts, cronuts, seafood linguine, bbq pork belly, bread, meatballs, brioche, pulled pork plus lots of other stuff that is bad for the waistline.  My mum and I both love cooking, and so does her friend Wendy and my aunty Eleanor who were also down, so there was a never ending stream of food. Pretty useful as the house seemed to be full of people with unending appetites.

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The house they live in used to be a hotel, it is all a bit mismatched and higgledy piggeldy but it means there is lots of space for all the kids/dogs/relations to play about in.

There is also a lovely orchard for the puppies to play about on, as well as a beach nearby.

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Property Guardians

Property Guardians

Matt and I have moved from Chorleywood and are now living in an old police station as building/property guardians. Guardian is a sick ass title, I feel like I’m protecting the city from danger. What it means in practice is that we pay the property guardianship company an amount every month in order to have a license to live here. This means we are not tenants, and therefore are not afforded the same rights as tenants. Even though in practical terms what we are paying is our rent, legally it is a fee for our license to live here.

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There are obvious positives and negatives to the situation.

Positive – I like living in an unusual building, and there is a lot of space. As a former police station there are cells, interrogation rooms and big communal areas. There is also a killer roof space.

Negative – The property guardianship company doesn’t have the same responsibilities towards us as a landlord would have. There are currently two showers intended for twenty people. There is a door outside our room labelled as a bathroom/shower room which contains a sink that has been knocked off the wall and a toilet. NOT THE SAME THING.

Positive – Coming from a large family, I like a house full of people and so far it looks like we are lucky enough to be living with an interesting group.

Negative – It’s difficult to get on with everyone no matter how good your intentions.

Positive – The rent is a lot cheaper than a normal flat, and the space we have access to is much larger. Rent is extortionate in London and people line up to pay it. Doing this is a relief financially.

Negative – There is a genuine housing crisis here and whilst this solution is working for us right now at this stage in our lives, it is not a fair way of providing housing for people who need it. We have fewer rights than tenants and have to accept bigger risks and responsibilities. Schemes like this are useful but are making it more acceptable to strip away protections which have been built into the law to protect tenants, because we are not legally tenants. Tenants are protected by law because people who own property have such a financial advantage over those who need to lease it. Especially somewhere like London where there are many people eager to take your place. We have to enter into contracts which contain terms we are not comfortable with, and are massively tilted in favour of the property company, because we need a place to live more than they need us as tenants.

Pros and cons aside, it is our decision to live here and I am happy with it. The building is safe and warm, even if the facilities are limited. It wouldn’t suit everyone but for now I’m pleased to call it home.