The Music nights are back and more jammy than ever
The fortunate unification of Ban Jam Records with Vulture House to bring back Ban Jam's legendary music nights was a cause for excitement for all their loyal devotees; including myself. I first found myself at one of their intriguing events, quite spontaneously, after heeding the recommendations of one handsome hatted fellow; I'd rather classily met on the tube.
This was in the summer of 2008, when I was but a mere tourist to the city, hence relying on the advice of strangers. But marvellously enough this does not descend into some cautionary tale about the dire consequences of trusting the word of curious creatures, one meets below street level but a more gladdening one. Held in the basement venue of the St Moritz Club in Soho, upcoming and established acts gave intimate performances while all manner of characters swanned around under a mood of playful informality.
This charming menu of the excellency of the musicians and one of the least cliquey crowds ever encountered served with a dollop of debauchery, made for an appetising social banquet. Little be-known to me, but said weekly event was very early in its infancy at less than three months and there was a rather delightful element of chaos that accompanies such arrangements, especially one that is common in the music industry. Of course Ban Jam gained a cult following and assisted in launching the careers of many artists they showcased. So I had fairly high expectations of their re-launch whilst hoping they had retained some of their unpredictability.
The billing featured Dj sets from William Orbit, as well as Esser and Radio XFMs Marsha. Tinashe was headlining supported by Kyla La Grange's new band, recently seen playing with I Blame coco. Followed by Rum SheeBeen, back and recovered from Glastonbury with some fantastic Punk Tropicalia as well as Katie Melua.
I was granted an interview with the lovely Kyla La Grange immediately before her performance and she told me about her early musicality "I started off playing the violin and singing but at 15 I got my first guitar" (and presumably never looked back). She went to Cambridge where the acoustic nights around town were of great support to her starting out. She'd describe her sound as "Indie Pop, Folk and Blues".
She cites her influences as "Cat Power, Elliott Smith, Jacob Golden and Band of Horses". As pretty as a picture and with a complex voice both husky and sweet she sang passionately about dark relationships and bitterness.
I also had a brief chat with the front man of punk outfit RumSheBeen. Dave Ashby, or as I heard his friends refer to him as the Infamous Dave Ashby, who fit perfectly with the stereotypes associated with his genre and his role within it, charismatic, unrefined and a likeable rascal with a wonderful intensity about the eyes.
He told me "The band has been together a year or two and that songwriting is shared equally between band members." Their influences are "The Clash, the Pogues, the Stones, Kid Creole and the Coconuts." They all met in the parks of Beckenham and he'd describe their sound as "Tropical Punk". Dave says the network of gigs is more of a board game than a circuit. When asked whether there was anything else he wanted to tell me he replied “I am in a really good mood." Good for him. They played sun drenched punk anthems that would make for good Bacardi advertisements. In particular "I'm an Old Punk" provides a glorious checklist for any aspirants to the title.
I wasn't disappointed with Ban Jam’s latest reincarnation and while their offerings were of a quality expected, their relocation to popular live music venue Proud Galleries in Camden made me realise that the St Moritz Club had its own peculiar allure. But all in all so much enjoyment had been had that I had forgotten that I went there under the guise of working and struggled to make neither head nor tail of my notes which were drenched in beer.