Karamel Music launches new season from 18th September
As September shakes the confetti leaves from her throne, and Coburg Road’s rusted metal gas giants bask in the diminishing ochre red autumnal light, so Karamel throws open her doors for another new season of live music. Now into our third year, the Karamel Music Collective is thriving: The last couple of seasons have seen us forge ahead unabated with our ethos of providing a platform for the best new songwriters around (whatever age) while bringing the local community a constant stream of new, and legendary über talent. For Free.
When we told the world we were going to be hosting a songwriter showcase twice a month in Wood Green, the assumption was that neither top artist nor keen gig goer would venture that far ‘out’. 2 years on and we have had a regular rainbow of cochlear tingling magic streaming out through the factory windows. Double Ivor Novello winner, and songwriting legend Chris Difford (Squeeze) continues to support our collective by playing the big shows. Jazz royalty Jacqui Dankworth has graced our stage several times – both with her niece Emily whose new band Vive came straight to the KMC from their primetime BBC1 slot on the One Show; and with her husband Charlie Wood. Charlie is a huge favourite of ours: Long time keyboard player for BB King and Albert King; musical director for Dame Cleo Laine and Harry Shearer; Charlie has also played with Paloma Faith, Van Morrison and Robert Plant to name a few and was rewarded with the Keys to The City of Memphis (and a ‘Charlie Wood Day’ in the city) for his services to music when he uprooted to come to the UK. But it is as a writer and performer in his own right that he is a legend. His songwriting is straight out of the top drawer – a talent so rare it led one punter to describe him as ‘Unicornic.’ A musical Memphis BBQ of the soul with chargrilled plates full of Randy Newman, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Mose Allison. And what a lyricist – ‘I walk the shadow tightrope between the telephone poles/let the fear in my pocket slip out through the holes/like an old soldier scratching the ghost of his knee/I’m still feeling an ache, where my heart used to be.’ As the Jazz Times said ‘Remember the first time you heard Dylan, or Springsteen, or Costello, or Waits? Charlie Wood delivers that same jolt…” We’re very proud to say he’ll be back this season after wowing us several times this last 2 years.
The end of Season party saw Bass legend Guy Pratt regaling us with stories of his days playing for Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Smiths and many more – if you get chance to catch him on the road, or read his book ‘My Bass and Other Animals’ do it – he’s hilarious. We had Fairground Attraction legend Mark Nevin who was superb, as ever; and we had a surprise drop-in from our new friend, the Grammy nominated New York City songstress Leslie Mendelson. Managed by The Who’s management, Trinifold – expect giant things from her (you saw her here in Chocolate Factory 2 first!).
Our Christmas parties have become the stuff of folklore with some of the industry’s best session players and artists gathering for Roast Turkey before all sitting in with each other for a mix of originals and Christmas covers. If there’s one date for your diary, it’s December 18th – anyone who has been to either of the last two will know it’s an absolute corker! Look out for Paul Aiden’s cover of Last Christmas on an Omnichord. (Google it, folks) And Stephen J Payne (or Bongo to his mates) version of Shakin’ Stevens was the show stopper.
So while a host of established names have been through through the doors (like folk queen Kathryn Williams, and various members of Wet Wet Wet, Travis, Oasis, The Leisure Society etc) the heart of the KMC – and the reason these guys keep supporting us and coming to play for free – is to help us help emerging talent.
We’re very proud here both at the Karamel Music Collective, and the Karamel Music Club, that we are trying to change the deal for emerging artists playing in London. To Britain’s shame, it has become the norm for artists to turn up to a gig, to fill a venue with punters, to write, rehearse, travel and play – all at their own expense, and with no compensation at all. Many venues don’t even give them a half pint or a bottle of water. In some instances, it has become the norm to ‘pay to play’. We do not believe that the venue is doing the artist a favour by giving them a show. It is the other way round.
Thanks to Rosely, our lauded chef Ian fed all our artists and Rosely and her front of house team make sure that they have a couple of drinks on the house, and are welcomed like family. After all, the KMC is a family – and it’s an open door policy. Once the audience has seen a couple of the acts, we pass a tip jar around and people put in what they want. Every penny goes to the performers. At the Christmas show, the money for the musicians was around £400 – far more than if we charged on the door… Result. If you make a gig that is about the artists and their enjoyment of it, then it stands to reason that the audience is in for a treat. We at the Karamel Music Collective are incredibly grateful to Rosely for her generosity and guts in supporting our way of doing things. Furthermore, we are going to be streaming our shows online from September, meaning that while we keep the shows free for our local community, for a small fee friends and family of our acts that can’t make the shows (maybe they’re abroad, or on the other side of the UK) can watch from home, and donate further to the artists. This time next year, we’re hoping it’s the norm for the acts to be taking home £100+ for doing our shows (as well as being fed and watered) – without us having to charge our locals a penny on the door. Win/Win.
We’ve had some stunning new acts come play: Matt Woosey blows the lid off the place every time he steps in – he’ll be back in November – a bluesy hurricannic inferno who dominates his guitar like a furnace dominates a piece of dried balsa wood. We had blinding full band sets from The Dunwells – who later appeared on Letterman – from The Jar Family and from Felix Fables. Saturday Sun were astonishing, like Muse meets Nick Drake – and that good. They came on stage after Shannon Saunders (who herself, at 18, already has around 5 million youtube hits) – and wiped away all trace of all before them: we can’t wait to have them back. There were return sets from Chef’s favourite Norman Vladimir; and from Britain’s most underrated, Matt Deighton. Matt was the subject of a Mojo story in March where they hailed him as ‘Buried Treasure’, and they aren’t wrong. He is a really special artist and human being. We had a quite stunning set from Matt, alongside our great friend Ben Trigg. He’ll be back this season (it’s always a full house) as, no doubt, will Ben – who has probably played Karamel more times than anyone else! Ben has been incredibly generous sitting in with countless acts. With a CV that boasts names like Emile Sandé, Professor Green, The Streets, Arctic Monkeys, Duffy, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Tom McRae, Ben is one of the UK’s most in demand musicians and arrangers, and we’re very proud he continues to think of Karamel as home.
The highlight of the last season was quite possibly a bill that featured Iceland’s Lay Low, solo artist and former Seahorses frontman Chris Helme, and Danish trio Boho Dancer. Lay Low was spell binding and Helme (along with our great friend Chris Farrell) had the room locked in a mist of navy blue, electrified silence. But then Boho ‘happened’. By the end they had the entire room on their feet… so thrilled they didn’t know where to look or what to do. As Ida climbed off stage with her guitar hanging from her chest like a baby she’d carried through some dark, ravaged woodland on the edge of an apocalyptic battlefield, she sang unplugged and barefoot among the tables and you knew you were seeing something incredibly special. It was one of those rare moments that make it all worthwhile. One of those moments where you realise what a jewel the Karamel Music Club has become, and can continue to be. Where else in North London will you find a room crammed full of such solar energy – incredible artists, a silent, attentive audience, a community spirit, and the best food for miles around at such reasonable prices?
So, it’s welcome to the new season – Boho Dancer will be back over from Denmark on the 18th September to kick us off. They won’t be alone in returning to the KMC, and they’ll be joined by countless new friends we haven’t even met yet. Keep your eyes peeled on the facebook, tumblr and twitter for line up announcements – rest assured, the Karamel name is a guarantee of quality, whatever night you come along to. We’re really looking forward to welcoming you to our fortnightly instalment of musical Eden.
The dates for your diary are:
Sept 18 – Tom Baxter, Boho Dancer, Daniel Land
Oct 9 – Sansa (TBC), Ian Britt, Bity C Booker
Oct 23 – Snorri Helgason, Sarah Howells (Paper Aeroplanes)
Nov 6 – Songs From The Shed Showcase night with 3 of the best acts from SongsFromTheShed.com
Mary Spender, Hunter and The Bear Plus Special guests TBC
Nov 20 – Matt Woosey, Samantha Whates
Dec 4 – TBC
Dec 18 – The Great 3rd Annual KMC Christmas Ding Dong