Thursday, 5 December 2013

Solid Silver - the broadest beats in London are 25 years old

This Friday marks the 25th Anniversary of the DJ collective 'Solid Steel'

The best mixers and mixtapes you will ever hear, I first came across them in 2007 - when Pat VTQ played a CD of theirs called 'Now, Listen' on the way home from a band rehearsal. 

I remember quite clearly the moment I fell in love with Solid Steel. We were driving up Old Street, from Acton to Bethnall Green, around 1.15am, when a familar theme began to sneak in underneath some fairly heavy beats. I recognised it - and thought 'Nooooo - they wouldn't' - then the full theme began, and I realised 'They did'.

It was the amazing tone-row based soundtrack to the original 'Taking of Pelham 123'.

Pelham 123.

On a Dance CD?

I squealed slightly, then regained my composure and carried on driving. I lost said composure a few minutes later when a D&B mix of 'Mirror in the Bathroom' dropped in. 

That was it. I was hooked. 

Hundreds of radio shows, filthy beats, and moments of 'I can't believe they just mixed that...with that' later - and it's the 25th anniversary club night. Solid Steel DJ's and all the best from the house of Ninja Tune will be present, I just hope my slightly older bones will be able to keep up. 

Thank you,  Solid Steel, for furthering my musical education and giving me some of the best nights out of my life. And yes, I do like it when the bass comes in. 

Here's to the next 25...


Thursday, 7 November 2013

One of the problems of working as a musician... actually getting to see a gig yourself.

Working most evenings means it's difficult to get out and see other bands yourself - but as I blogged last week, two tickets to Billy Ocean fell in to my lap. The only reason I could get to gig was that it was half term, there were no lessons or rehearsals to cancel.

Serendipitous indeed. And what a night it was.

Billy Ocean is (although after last week - that's now 'was') one of those acts that I would have caught if he was on a festival bill, out of curiosity and for a bit of a singalong in the sunshine. A fan of the 70's northern soul tracks more than his 80's songs I wasn't sure what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a man with a voice like the side of a house, a dude of a bass/synth player and much love bouncing between stage & stalls. I'd not experienced anything like that amount of  reciprocated goodwill since I last saw Stevie Wonder live.

Highlights of the set for me were 'Red Light Spells Danger' and a cover of 'A Change is Gonna Come'. The latter stopped everyone in their tracks, with this incredible vocal performance full of history and hope lifting above a paired down band arrangement. After hearing this I truly believe Oceans' voice is improving with age.

I have been entirely won over, and will seek out future Billy Ocean gigs rather than letting them find me. I suggest you do the same.



Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Red Light Spells Danger - and a Northern Soul classic!

So thanks to the very splendid radio station Absolute 80's - I've won tickets to see Billy Ocean in London.

Being an 80's child - I'm most familiar with his work from that decade (If the Going Gets Tough, Get Outta My Dreams...etc) but his best work for me is in the 70's - including the Northern Soul stomper - Red Light Spells Danger.

A recentish interview with Ocean stuck in my mind, as he recognises he is blessed to be able to work as a professional musician, and how fragile this career can be, with work plentiful one minute and an empty diary the next.

His diary doesn't look like being empty any time soon - his track 'Love Really Hurts without You' is still making it on to blockbuster soundtracks.

I have high hopes for this gig - I shall report back at the weekend.

In the meantime.... here's a reminder of that fantastic song.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


I've just got back from a rather lovely holiday in Venice - here's some of what we listened to - and what the people of Italy were listening to too, courtesy of Radio Italia 102.5

First off - Steven Tyler sings 'Smile'
This was on a DVD playing in Bacaro Jazz, one of our regular Venice haunts. It is bee-yoo-tiful.

Next up - Interpreti Venezia
We saw these guys perform live - Passacaglia was the encore. Amazing musicians, very quick at bowing. And bowing. Couldn't get a pic of them in a row.

And next we have - from RTL102.5 - Capital Cities 'Safe and Sound'
I'm not a pop fan, but I love this video. Check it out.

And lastly. Lorde. RTL102.5 played this at least 8 times a day. What an earworm. I really don't like this song but I thought you should all share my pain.

And there you have it. The music of Venice.



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Busy busy busy

So, as you've probably noticed it's been ages since I've updated my blog.


So, here, in short, is the last 6 weeks. 

BOOMTOWN - Fantastic vibe, great crowd, but shocking organisation. Getting in, gear storage, gear transport, clueless stewards - bloody nightmare. Right from opening the festival on Friday to speaking to the headliners on Sunday - nothing but problems for the bands. I had a great time with the PoC crew, but really, Boomtown. Must. Do. Better. 

BAD MANNERS - It wasn't just a one off. I've been back since. Here's some video from the gig at Reading.

HERTFORDSHIRE - I've gigged there twice in the last month, some good dep gigs. Check out The Iconics & Special Kinda Madness

BIRTHDAY - Yep. Got older. Here's a review of the gig I went to see to celebrate my marching ever onwards into my 30's. 

XMAS - My gig calendar is now booked solid for Xmas, there's a lot of ska coming your way. Keep an eye on the Big 10 Facebook page.

GLASTO HEADLINERS - Are booked, and are people who haven't headlined before. This rules out Mr Bowie. So for the first time in a long time I don't think I'll be heading to Glasto next year. No Bowie - No Showie.

Term has started now so I'll be typing a lot more in general, so expect more updates of ska and music type stuff over the next few weeks 


Friday, 2 August 2013

One week til Boomtown!

It's a week til the biggest UK ska festival - Boomtown Fair :)

The perfect festival for fans of Ska, Ska-punk, Dub & Reggae, Boomtown has been getting quite a reputation, turning up on Festival recommendation lists on various newspapers and music blogs. It's the perfect environment for people who just want to dance like a mad thing with their head in a bass bin.

I'll be performing with Popes of Chillitown on the Main Stage.....

MAIN FRICKING STAGE - sorry, thats not quite sunk in yet........

Anyhoo. Main Stage on the Friday, at midday. This is the slot that Toots would have been playing if some twat hadn't lobbed a bottle at him earlier in the year. Very chuffed to have been bumped up to the main stage by the Boomtown peeps, much appreciated.

Also looking forward to checking out some great bands - some I've seen umpteen times like Babyhead & Bad Manners, The Skints & The Selector, and some more recent discoveries - like Only Joe who I saw at Glasto for the first time this summer.

Here are some recommendations for this years Boomtown Fair viewing! Enjoy :)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Summertime is back in town, Time to get your Scooter out.

And the scooters have been out. Everywhere in fact.

I've played 3 scooter rallies in the past week, up in Northwich at the Mid Cheshire Charity Scooter Rally, locally in Haverhill for Haverhill Scooter Club Scootermania and in North London for Sunday Best - Scooter Fest

Northwich was a great run, where I managed to purchase the most gorgeous pair of Dr Martens - beautiful non patent Sunshine yellow, from Boots & Camo - before playing a huge set with Ska Wars, 5 encores!

I've added some footage of this gig on my video page 

Then came Big 10 at Haverhill - where the boots made their debut at a gig. This was a hot one - but absolutely packed. We all battled through the heat and played a blinder.

Saving the best til last - Sunday Best. A glorious sunny day at Capel Manor in Enfield, scooters & boots all brightly polished, with some great vintage clothes stands and best of all - Meerkats!

Big 10, Ska & Meerkats. What else do you need?

Here are some pics from Sunday Best (and a wobbly video I took when Big 10 had a brass free moment) - really hope we see you next year!

Keeping the faith


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Thoughts on Glasto - 1 month on.

Oops. I did it again. It's nearly a month since my last blog - despite last month promising I'd post about Glasto & other bits.

It does seem a bit silly blogging about Glasto nearly a month after getting back, it's all Latitude Latitude Latitude now, but I do have a few thoughts.

Firstly - Festival Chic. Give me a bloody break.

Wear what you want to a festival - not what the shop window of TopShop tells you. It was depressing - denim shorts & designer wellies. Glasto is not a fashion show - it's about the music, the arts, the social discussion. It is not about being a peacock. So you don't wash your hair for 5 days? So what? The world won't end.

Secondly - Guardianbury

Cloth bags with witty slogans written by no-one who's ever been to a festival ever. These Guardian bags (free if you buy their weekend paper) began a few years ago - initially matching the cloth Yeo Valley bags, but with the Guardian logo. Now they're luminous, with such phrases as 'I made a friend for life last night and I think their name was....' or worse. Elbow Lyrics. Don't. Get. Me. Started.

I've found it quite easy to ignore festival chic & Guardian sponsorship for the past few Glastos - but it's encroaching more and more. Or maybe I'm just getting old & cynical. Either way....I wish I could unsee it all again.

Thirdly - Good happy things now (promise) THE GULLY!

The Gully - the new stage in the Dance Village (or Silver Hayes or whatever it's called now) and it's a REGGAE stage & it is wonderful. It's also long overdue. The Gully and another new stage (The Blues) are in recognition that we are no longer throwing shapes and blowing our whistles, but are in an age where reggae and dub can be appreciated 24 hours a day, not just on a lazy sunny afternoon. I spent more time at The Gully than any other stage, a string of great live dub acts & soundsystems. Perfect, and about time too.

Check out Only Joe - who I saw on the Friday.

Other worthy acts I saw were Beady Eye (as expected) Goat (Bonkers) Toy (Strobey) Don Letts (Very Strobey) Public Image Ltd (Outstanding) Granny Turismo (seen to be believed) Jagwar Ma (Beside themselves with happiness to be there) First Aid Kit (impeccable) The Proclaimers (ever present, infallible) and some guys called The Rolling Stones.

Here's a clip from the fantastic PiL set on a sunny Sunday. I'm stood behind the guy in the red top hat!

Maybe see you next year Glasto, but I'm wondering if we've had our time - sad but true.
If you book Bowie, however - I'll be there with bells on. Whether bells are on the TopShop festival chic list or not....


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sorry sorry sorry....

I've just noticed it's been 3 months since I blogged - and such a lot has happened. So many gigs, such a lot of ska, and a sad farewell.

Lets get the sad bit out of the way first. I was called up as Emergency Pope with Popes of Chillitown in May to celebrate Ginglik's 11th Birthday Party. Ginglik as you know is one of the best venues in London, certainly the best in West London. A basement club built in an old public toilet, I've played some great gigs there with PoC, VTQ and Ruth Theodore.

I'm sad to say though, that Ginglik is no more. The club was sold and dropped it's last beats on 15th June, and I shall miss it terribly. Here's PoC first video, shot in that wonderful club a few years back.

Anyhoo...on to happier things.

This month I joined the very small club of 'Ska Birds Who've Performed on stage with Bad Manners'

An honour, a privilege and a workout - is how I can best describe the experience. I know a lot of the Bad Manners set from work with Big 10 & Ska Wars, and it was a great buzz with lots of energy from the band and the crowd. I know as a girl I was probably a last resort - but I'm quite sure I impressed the man himself - fingers crossed for another booking.

Here are some pics from the gig at Clapham Grand - in my PoC tshirt!

I promise I'll update more from now on. Mostly ska, ska, sax and ska. I've got some thoughts on the imminent Glastonbury Festival - I'll post before I'll leave for Pilton next Tuesday.

Skank on.


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Strength of 10

What a month it's been so far, mostly dominated by Big 10 activities. We've got our new promo pics (nearly) ready to go (thank you Annie Lovett Photography) played to a thousand strong crowds at Modrapheniacs 2013 (video just uploaded here) and this week we get to support one of our favourite bands.

The Beat are returning to Cambridge Junction and will be main support. We had a great time when they played in 2012 and in my opinion are the best of the revivalist acts touring at the moment. I've seen The Specials, The Selecter and Bad Manners in the last few years, and The Beat top all of them for energy, vibe and, for want of a better word...class.

The Father/Son front man combo really works well and I've been looking forward to this gig for months. We'll be doing a few new songs ourselves, including Dexys 'There There My Dear' which has been going down a storm.

Cambridge Junction
This Friday
Bring your skanking shoes.

And just in case you needed a reminder... here are The Beat in action...

Friday, 8 March 2013

Once more, with feeling.

No. Not the god-awful Buffy episode...

The bloody awesome Popes of Chillitown.

The album is done. It exists out there on the web and in physical copies, CD's that you can get your lovely hands on. Positive reviews abound, so I guess it's about time for an album launch.

The PoC launch for the debut album 'A Word to the Wise' will be at the Popes spiritual home, Ginglik, in Shepherds Bush on April 13th. I'll be sharing the stage with the guys one last time, as although it's been over a year since I left the band I recorded a large chunk of the sax work on the album, and will be very proud to play these songs one more time.

So, to recap...
13th April.
9pm onwards.
Fancy Dress tbc (yes, things are never straightforward at a PoC party)

Keep an eye on here and the Popes facebook group for fancy dress inspiration and support act news.
In the meantime, you can download the album from here (warning, contains naughty words)

See you down the front, for the last Dalk?


Saturday, 2 March 2013

February Album Writing Month

Last month was February, therefore time for the internet challenge February Album Writing Month.

Guess what that entails?

As you may or may not know, my music degree is Jazz Composition, which to be fair I haven't done much with since graduating from Middlesex 7 years ago. T'other half and his band colleagues in Jacqui & Geoff have done FAWM for the past few years and find it quite enjoyable, so this year I thought I'd give it a go.

How hard could it be?

Actually....bloody tricky. Finding time to sit down and write, finding inspiration, not editing and rewriting to the nth degree as time is at a premium. In some cases I used techniques from Uni to build my pieces, collecting tone rows from some of my twitter followers.

In other cases it was more organic, taking earworms and random happenings in daily life and turning it into a song. The latter were often melodically and harmonically much simpler, but also catchier.

I managed 5 songs during February, some collaborations, some just me. Songs with me singing lead vox. Songs about chins.

Here are the results - let me know what you think!

If you're looking for some sort of music challenge, give it a go. You've got 11 months to prepare.
See you next year, FAWM :)

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Glasto Wishlist - Part 4

The acts are starting to be confirmed :)

The Rolling Stones are nearly playing, and the previously forlorn hope of David Bowie playing Glasto ever again were boosted incredibly by the surprise release of a new single this month.

Looking to bands other than those on my 'Bands I must see before I die' list... here's a fingers crossed for the World Stage. Yes I know it's not called that anymore, but it is the World Stage. It *is*.

Hermeto Pascoal would be an amazing sight. The brazilian Santa-esque musician has been writing the most complicated yet uplifting music for decades. I saw him live around 8 years ago, and would love to see him playing the World Stage.

Here he is doing his thing.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Hey you...

...don't read that. Reeeeeeeead this.

It's time for the first Big 10 gig of the year.

We'll be performing at The Junction Cambridge on 8th February with Subculture and Walkway. It's going to be a special night, as veteran of the Cambridge music scene Colin Hazel is celebrating 70 years of drinking, dancing and general tomfoolery. Of course he wants you all along to celebrate.

Tickets are available from the Junction website, along with details of times and ting.

We love playing the Junction - check out footage of us from last year when we supported Selecter.

See you down the front? Yes? Good.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Word to the Wise

As regular readers of my blog will know, I used to be a member of London Ska Punk dubbers Popes of Chillitown. From the mid noughties to 2011 I honked and squealed, skanked and drank  with these wonderful people, and now the debut album from PoC is here.


The mixing and mastering are done, but the final copy & distribution is being put together through Pledge Music.

Pledge Music is where the fans help the band they love to produce the album they're longing to here. In return 'pledgees' get access to exclusive mixes and videos.

The PoC album is nearly there - but needs a little more help. If you ever came, saw and skanked with me and the Popes, do give a little. It will help a lot, and finally make 'A Word to the Wise' a reality.

Here's the Muppets with more information.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Bit late, I know :)

I hope you all had a great festive time and are now staring down the new year, ready for anything it may throw at you.

2013 promises to be full of ska, with bookings for Big 10, Ska Wars & UK Ska Club already piling in.

2013 is the year that Popes of Chillitown debut album will be released. Be ready for 'A Word to the Wise'

2013 is another single from Voodoo Trombone Quartet 'Dress Down Friday'

2013 is Glasto Year!!!

2013 is a new year of teaching students everything from Ave Maria to Zoot Suit Riot.

I'll be updating my gigs page in the next few days, and also posting more info on the new Popes of Chillitown order, and how you can help to get it released.

And of course you can always find me on twitter @saxylizbeth

In the meantime, sit back and let the Monday of the year just breeze by. Listen to some of this - it will help :)