Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Bohemia Music Night - Friday 4th October

Hamptons live at the Bohemia music night
Regular readers of the blog may have noticed we've been less prolific in our output than normal recently. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for our readers, we have other work commitments and have been exceptionally busy of late. This means that the time for researching various themes we normally cover has been restricted. Much as I'd love to spend all my hours working on the blog, I have to pay the mortgage and buy food for the kids & dogs. I have several big projects on the go. Perhaps the biggest is the new documentary film about Capita. For the two films we made last year, we simply got a stack of people of interest locally to come in and talk about subjects that they care about. For the new film, we need to do a whole stack of research and the interviews are located around the country. The logisitics of what we are doing are ten times greater.

I also have my other business interests and work to do. This is busier now than any time in the last couple of years. In all of the juggling of interests and work I have to balance, the thing which has suffered most is my music. I have had little chance to pick up a  guitar, let alone spend time writing songs. This has been a source of much grief to me. Since the age of 15, I have dedicated the vast majority of my spare waking hours to making music. To have no time to do this is a huge strain.

On Monday I received a text from my friend Helen Michael, who runs Cafe Buzz in Finchley. The new tenants in the Bohemia had decided to have a music night. Could I provide a sound system and lights? As my business is a music studio and hire business, dedicated to promoting the local music scene, I could hardly refuse. Helen also asked if I could supply some musicians. I would have dearly loved to have played myself, but having no time to rehearse, niothing prepared and most of my regular collaboraters available, I had to sit it out.

Instead I took on the role of sound man/stage manager for the night. I arrived at 6.30pm  with a PA, lights and a Dj station to get the show on the road. I arrived to meet Pete Phoenix, the organiser and work out the program. Due to the lack of lighting, the first phase was to set up the stage lights. Local green activist, Mike Gee had built a stage and so the area was well prepared. Having set up the lights, the nest thing to do was set up the PA and get some music on. For such events, I find that some chilled out reggae is a pretty safe bet. Having got the music going, I quickly soundchecked the mics and we were ready for the acts.

As I was working and pretty busy all night, I didn't have the luxury of a pen and paper to write notes. I was quite excited to find out that one of the performers was Charles Shaar Murray  who was a writer at the NME when I was a young punk rocker. Seems like he's a big friend of the team at occupy who reopened Friern Barnet Library. I'd have loved to have had a beer and a chat with Charles about rock and roll, but I had to keep busy and keep my mind on the job. 

As with many such "Open mic" arrangements, the evening evolved. It started off with Pete Trip, a bluesey song writer, We then had Ellie, a 12 year old singer who gave a stirring performance, much to the delight of the large contingent of friends and family. Next up was Anna Chen, poet and collaborater with Charles Shaar Murray. Carole gave a few readings which chimes with the crowd. For her final reading Charles joined her, on his dobro slide guitar. Charles then played a few solo numbers, reminiscent of his finest hours with Blast Furnace and the Heatwaves.  As an officianaodo of such music, it was a rare treat. Next up was the real star of the show. This is where the lack of a notepad etc came in. I didn't catch her name (wait for Mrs Angry's blog I am sure she won't make the same schoolboy error as me). Anyway, for her act, a piano had been provided. She gave a barnstorming set of music, despite an out of tune piano and a whole host of other problems. How to describe? Well if Little Richard was a white female from the London Borough of Barnet, with a sprinkle of filthy humour, you'd be pretty near the mark. 

Rock and Rokll Sons live at the Bohemia
Next up were the Rock and Roll Sons. They played an acoustic set of fine rock and roll music, with a slight flavour of country rock thrown in. I must add that this is not their normal set which is full on rock and roll. I thought that the acoustic treatment gave the songs a real edge and a great feel and showed the depth and strength of Fil Ross as a songrwriter.

Then we had another guy who I didn't catch the name of, who is a star of the Occupy/ssquatting network. He gave us a diverse and humourous set, getting across a few important points in the mix. He shot off after three numbers as he had to "be in Deptford".

The penultimate band were "Hamptons", featuring Charlie Honderick, who gave a rousing acoustic renditition of some of their finest numbers. Last up were a new band, so new I didn't catch their name, but they gave us a good sing along to a few recent hits. 

All in all it was a great night. Arranged at short notice, no alcohol on sale (but food and drink available at Cafe Buzz over the road), well over 100 people turned up and everyone had a great night. 

There was also some good news from Phoenix. The landlords are working on a custodian deal with the occupiers, whereby they are granted leave to stay on agreement that if and when suitable tenants are found they agree to leave amicably.

Many local right wing pundifiles have made all manner of disparaging comments about the occupiers. Most of these are ill informed. Firstly the occupation is not illegal. The occupiers have not broken the law. They are meticulous in their observance of it. Secondly, it has been suggested that the occupation would make North Finchley less attractive. This is nonsense. The worst thing for a town centre is empty shops. A community run centre with activities and entertainments is a boon. There has also been a string of comments about "taking other peoples property". This is again nonsense. All along the occupiers have said they would vacate upon a suitable tenant emerging. They are just making sure an empty building does not go to rack and ruin. Having people in a building safeguards it. Pipes don't burst, fires aren't started by rats chewing through cables. The new tenants are meticulous in their concern for neighbours. In the course of the evening, Pete Phoenix took regular sound readings and was keen to ensure neighbours were not disturbed. My guess is that of all the places having music and events in Barnet last night, the best one to live next door to was the Bohemia.

My hope is that Mitchells and Butler, the owners find a great tenant. In Mill Hill we've a couple of excellent pubs, such as the Adam and Eve and the Rising Sun, run by management who know what they are doing and who have enhanced the area. If we can make Barnet a place where there are good pubs and great communities, we all win.

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