29 April 2008

Free blues gig featuring James Hunter - 30 April

Tomorrow - Wednesday 30th April - sees an afternoon of blues acts playing live at the HMV flagship store on Oxford Street. And all for free, courtesty of Mojo Magazine which is launching its 2008 Honours List celebrations.

The music starts at 12.30pm with Son Of Dave, followed by the sensational James Hunter (who I cannot recommend highly enough) at 1.30pm.

There's then a break until 6pm, when Pete Molinari kicks the music off again. The full line-up is as follows:

12.30 Son Of Dave
13.30 James Hunter

18.00 Pete Molinari
19.00 The Fall

The HMV flagship store is located at:
150 Oxford St, London, W1D 1DJ.
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus.

For full details click here.

For More info on James Hunter including London and UK tour dates visit: www.jameshuntermusic.com

09 April 2008

Norton & Bourton @ Home Cookin' - Sun 13 April

Home Cookin' returns to Filthy MacNasty's this Sunday 13th April with two very special guest DJs joining me on the decks for a musical feast of uptempo bebop, hard bop, soul jazz, Latin jazz, blues and funk... and as usual admission is absolutely free.

MARK NORTON - talented sax player and front-man of London's favourite Hammond combo The Gene Drayton Unit will be showing off some of the records that have inspired his playing. He's DJ'd for me at Right On! in the past but this time will be playing an exclusive jazz set. Expect some great 60s dancefloor and Hammond jazz from Mark guaranteed to make you shake that moneymaker.

WILL BOURTON - co-host of It's A Shingaling Thing! and regular guest at clubs like The Stag O Lee, Will has one of the coolest and most eclectic record collections I've yet come across. As well as some amazingly rare Latin tunes, Will has the kind of jazz records that will blow your mind.

Between the three of us you are guaranteed to hear the sort of stuff you just won't hear anywhere else. So whether you want to come and try out your jazzy dance moves or simply sit back and chat with like-minded souls over a pint and some pie and mash, hope you can make it down for this tasty session.

Home Cookin' @ Filthy MacNasty's (lounge bar)
Sunday 13th April. 5.30pm - 10.30pm
68 Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1UU
(nearest tubes: Angel / Kings Cross)
FREE admission

For more info including guest DJ biographies visit www.right-on.org

100 Club gets Council's knickers in a twist

Sad to report that Westminster Council do not seem to share my passion for the art of burlesque.

A few weeks ago the 100 Club ran a retro night that featured burlesque dancers. Apparently there was a member of Westminster Council in attendance who decided that the degree of undress broke the 100 Club's license. This means that the club has had to have all their operations reviewed.

Unfortunately it also means that the all night license for this Saturday's 6Ts Northern soul allnighter has been rejected. But all is not lost; the night will still go ahead, but will finish at the earlier time of 3am.

I've been told that the 100 Club owner was due to meet with the Council this week so fingers crossed the situation can be resolved. More news as I hear it.

For more information on the 6Ts Rhythm & Soul allnighters visit http://www.6ts.info/
For more information on The 100 Club visit http://www.the100club.co.uk/

04 April 2008

Corsets & Courgettes: The London Burlesque Festival

(photo: Elizabeth Shingleton)

Some very funny stories in the press on April Fools' Day this year, but none of them a match for the sheer hilarity and surrealism I experienced yesterday. I'd been looking forward to attending the launch of this year's annual London Burlesque Festival on 2nd April 2008, but little did I know my day would begin with me confusing a recruitment agent offering me a job in Central Europe for a hotel concierge making a wake-up call (in my defence I was actually still sleeping at the time) and end with me trying to buy drinks with a wad of dodgy £10 notes. And that's to say nothing of having a courgette stuffed down my trousers (don't tell my tailor) shortly after having a fake moustache plastered on my upper lip in front of a rather large group of spectators.

I know. I wouldn't believe it either if it hadn't actually happened.

But, hats off to Chaz Royale for organising a thoroughly entertaining evening (though I feel I should clarify he was not responsible for the morning's phone call). Last night's press launch was an excellently executed and promising start to his 5 day burlesque showcase which sees both British and American talent performing in venues across London.

The main show was split into two halves, with a total of 10 burlesque acts. The whole evening was expertly hosted by Paul L. Martin and the intervals were ably handled by DJs and live bands providing a musical spectrum of rock 'n' roll, rhythm 'n' blues, swing and jazz.

Backed by the Black Beauty theme tune, four of London's Teasemaids kicked off the burlesque with their "Horses for Corsets" routine. This ended with some wonderful nipple tassel twirling by two of the girls - a skill that I'm assured is not as easy as it looks.

Emerald Ace from Nottingham was up next followed by one of the most enjoyable numbers of the night: Scarletine Delight performing "Domestic Bliss". These three ladies started their 1950s housewife themed number to the strains of "Fly Me To The Moon". As the routine picked up pace I noticed myself being winked at more than once. Suddenly I was being beckoned to and before I knew quite what was happening I found myself up on stage. Unexpectedly I was to be given a new perspective on the art of burlesque. Despite an initial bout of stage fright I couldn't help but warm to these ladies who handled me with the utmost care and attention. Despite being an act, there was something rather satisfying in the way in which they pretended to fight over me, taking turns to tickle my fancies.

Stripping me of my porkpie hat, each lady in turn adorned me with a hat of their choice, finishing with a beret. To this was added the aforementioned moustache and I then found myself with hands in my pockets that were not my own. Not really knowing what I was supposed to do, I tried my best to improvise and am told I even managed a hip wiggle.

My part in the routine ended with one of the ladies examining steadily larger vegetables before deciding on a large courgette which she proceeded to force into my trousers until it stuck out in a slightly disturbing fashion.

The whole thing seemed to happen so fast I felt I barely had time to breath, but moustache ripped off and courgette reclaimed I made my way off the stage and ready to enjoy the rest of the routine.

The music suddenly jumped up in tempo and these desperate housewives went into a cleaning frenzy. Everything and everyone was dusted and cleaned at an alarming rate - including my photographer.

Extremely funny, yet intrinsically sexy, this routine summed up what burlesque is all about for me. The high level of audience participation in particular made this performance stand out in entertainment value.

But the best was yet to come. Whilst still coming to terms with my stint as a burlesque performer (or should that be "prop"?), the winner of last year's Tournament Of Tease, Siren Stiletto, was announced.

Dancing to "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend", Ms Stiletto showed us how she had beaten the competition. Everything about her routine was pure class, from the confidence, costume and choreography to her excellent timing and tight dancing. Only one word really suffices: wow.

Leaving us on a high, the compère announced an interval and it was time to queue for drinks. Upon paying I discovered what my lady friends had been doing with their hands in my pockets. Slight panic as I pulled out a bundle of fake £10 notes, much to the amusement of the rest of the bar. Worrying I would be unable to pay, I fumbled around and was relieved to find my wallet and cash, albeit in a different pocket from the one it had started the night in.

After meeting one of my new friends who most graciously thanked me for my part in the routine, I discovered that the fake money should have been reclaimed during the act but that my suit's sheer number of pockets had proven confusing to their roaming hands.

Relaxed and drink in hand, it was time for the 6 acts making up the second half of the show.

First up was a routine called "Dirty Laundry" from Double Oh Sassy - a very sexy performer who also proved a great dancer. Hailing from Seattle, Sassy was my favourite of the performers from across the pond. I have to admit I found some of the other American acts a little too akin to straight striptease for my tastes.

London's Bijou Noir on the other hand I found very impressive with an elegant routine paying homage to vintage burlesque complete with appropriate music that included Nina Simone's "I Put A Spell On You". Looking around the crowd it would seem that this lady - resplendent with large feather fans - certainly knew how to put a spell on her audience.

When the entertainment ended, my watch told me we'd been there for over 4 hours, yet the whole evening seemed to pass in a flash. Surely the sign of a good night out.

And so into the Soho night air with a reinforced enthusiasm for Burlesque and a promise to ourselves not to miss next year's festival.

The London Burlesque Festival runs until Sunday 6th April at various venues.

Visit www.londonburlesquefest.com for details.

02 April 2008

60s French Cinema at BFI Southbank - April 2008

Following on from last month's fantastic European Film Noir season, the BFI Southbank presents yet another exciting season of films between the 11th and 30th April: Pop Goes The Revolution: French Cinema and May '68

This season features 12 films from such directors as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut as well as William Klein's cult swinging 60s satire "Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?" (pictured above)

For tickets and full details visit the BFI website

London Burlesque Festival - 2nd-6th April

London Burlesque Festival poster
Tonight sees the start of Chaz Royale's second annual London Burlesque Festival. This is a 5 day extravaganza spread across 8 separate venues and featuring dozens of British and international performers as well as live bands and DJs.

Burlesque has been growing in popularity in London for a few years now, and features regularly at club nights like Lady Luck as well as dedicated nights like The Whoopee Club and The Flash Monkey. There are even popular burlesque lessons and courses springing up. But this has to be the biggest showcase to hit London yet.

I've been invited along to the launch party tonight and will be reporting back... so watch this space!

For tickets and full details visit www.londonburlesquefest.com