Saturday 10 February 2024

The Saturday List #428 - Ten top grassroots music venues in London that you really should visit #SaveLondonMusic Special!

A couple of weeks ago, we had Independent Venues week. I was going to post this list then, but was just a tad too busy to finish it! Anyway, here it is suitably updated with a new speel!

One of the great things about playing in a band, is that I get to visit music venues that I probably wouldn't visit otherwise. I am quite excited that my band, The False Dots will be playing a brand new venue (for us) on Saturday 23rd March. We will be appearing at The Beehive in Bromley by Bow! It should be a great night and I always love the buzz of playing a new venue. I've heard great things about The Beehive, so it should be great, come along if you can. It is actually pretty easy to get to from The Borough of Barnet, just one change onto the the Hammersmith and City line. I'm also seeing friends play at a few gigs coming up at other great small venues. Tonight, we see Whelligan at The Slaughtered Lamb in Farringdon and tomorrow, we are at the Dublib Castle in Camden for The Pogue Traders.

1. The Dublin Castle in Camden Town. Perhaps the best and most iconic pub venue in London. Superstars such as Madness and Amy Winehouse started their career at the pub and it is one of the very best venues to play at. I love it. Even if you are not watching a band, nip in for a pint and a shufti at the music memorabilia. I even wrote a song celebrating it!

2. The Slaughered Lamb in Farringdon. This is a wonderful, intimate venue, as mentioned above, we are off to see Whelligan there later (a great band who performed a wonderful set at The Mill Hill Music Festival in June). The venue is downstairs, the food upstairs is great value, the fish and chips was pretty damn good. We saw a brilliant set from Sunny War their last year.

3. The Fiddlers Elbow at Chalk Farm. This is another wonderful venue. The False Dots have played there a good few times and our mate Alan Galaxy has just started promoting gigs at the venue. Alan is part of the Spizz band and has great connections.  Keep an eye on his Facebook page, there are some great shows coming up (I particularly like the look of legendary Fay Fife of the Rezillos and  guitarist John Ellis of Peter Gabriel, The Vibrators and The Stranglers fame). One of my favourite False Dots gigs was when Connie Abbe was singing with us and we played there in 2010

4. Ronnie Scotts. Is there a better Jazz venue in the world? As the Dots don't play jazz, I doubt I'll ever get to walk on that esteemed stage, but hey ho, you never know. Do yourself a favour and go and see Ben Sidran there on the 11th June. If you are not really a jazzer, I'd recommend the likes of  Ray Gelato or the Jive Aces for an introduction to the venue. I rather like the Sunday Lunch gigs.

5. The 100 Club, Oxford St. Another one of London's stellar venues. I've seen so many amazing gigs at the venue over the years and it is usually the first venue I visit every year, as they stage the Resolution Punk Festival at the start of the year. This year was no exception, we saw 999. The beer is only £3.95 for a Becks, so you can have a cheap night on the booze, if that's your idea of a good night ouit

6. The Water Rats, Farringdon Road. Another venue I've played a few times. The False Dots first played there in in the early 1980's, when it was still The Pindar of Wakefield. I'll be going down on the 16th February to see the rather wonderful Mel Gaynor, who was the Drummer of Simple Minds and also plays with Lee John of Imagination and  Light of The World. It is a nice venue and easy to get to from Kings Cross.

7. The George in Shadwell. A venue I've not played, but one which has some amazing music. I made a film for the #SaveLondonMusic campaign about the venue a couple of years ago. They were facing a threat from a large property development. I am pleased to say it is still going and I hope my efforts helped.

8. The West Hampstead Arts Club.  One of the easiest venues to get to for me! Just ten minutes away by Thameslink from Mill Hill. A really nice little venue with some great gigs coming up. I am really looking forward to Sonny George with Boz Boorer on Sunday 18th February. The venue only fits 100 people, so it is very intimate. 

9. The Hope and Anchor, Islington. I've been going to the Hope and Anchor since the 1970's. I was there when Crass infamously played and riot police shut the gig down. Fortunately, things are far more civilised these days. It is on my bucket list to play, as it's one of the few grassroots venues in London that I love and haven't played. Keep an eye on the Facebook page, there are some great shows coming up (I particularly like the look of legendary Fay Fife of the Rezillos and  guitarist John Ellis of Peter Gabriel, The Vibrators and The Stranglers fame)

10. The Boogaloo Bar. Highgate. If you've not done a 'Gospel Lunch' at the Boogaloo, then you simply haven't lived. I am really looking forward to seeing Pama International there. The Boogaloo is one of the most fun music bars in London. 

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