Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hidden London: The Troubadour Club

When travelling, the places I most often wanted to seek out but didn't know where to start were the tiny clubs, the tucked away bars where the locals went to hear good music. Most successful finds were Harry's Bar in Hong Kong, InkSpot in Tokyo and, of all places, the Port Moresby Golf Club in Papua New Guinea where I caught a gig by a Solomon Islands bamboo band. A mixture of tribal music and The Shadows, I have vowed to return and film them one day. This was years ago and the dives, but I'm guessing not the golf club, have probably moved on by now.

In London, one such place that has been in situ for decades and is still going strong, producing some of the best small gigs for serious music and poetry fans in town, is The Troubadour, a 1950s coffee house in Earls Court, West London. One of the primary venues of the British folk music revival of the 50s and 60s, artists who have performed there include Bob Dylan (performing as Blind Boy Grunt!), Paul Simon, Jimmy Page, Sandy Denny, Robert Plant, Bert Jansch, Charlie Watts, Jimmi Hendrix - Sonja Kristina used to organise club nights!

Apparently when Bob Dylan arrived in London for the first time he was given no instruction other than that of his mentor Pete Seeger to seek out "Anthea at the Troubadour".  It's STILL ALIVE! More recently, from one extreme to the other, you could have caught Caggie from Made In Chelsea or Morrissey, who played here in February 2012. Or Houkago Tea Time, whoever they are.

There's a very special gig coming up I want to flag up. It's being organised by a friend's charity The Fine Line Project in aid of mental health MIND:



I've seen Blues Club. This is certainly the most authentic blues music you'll find in London, with a serious blues music muso audience to match who are almost as entertaining to watch as the band. The line up is extraordinary with a founding member of Dire Straits on bass; a guitarist best known for his stints with Paul McCartney and The Pretenders; an ex Mark Knopfler drummer; Mark Knopfler's keyboard player who's played with Knopfler since joining Dire Straits for the Brothers In Arms album; the Jews harp player from Medicine Head (I used to love them!). Topping it all off at the front is the deep, rich, soulful sound of The Blessing William Topley on vocals listen and read about them here.

William Topley - Vocals
Guy Fletcher - Keyboards
Robbie McIntosh - Guitar
Danny Cummings - Drums
Peter Hope-Evans - Mouth Organ and Jews Harp
John Illsley - Bass

Mon June 11th

And here is how it was: cooking!



Amazed to discover the Troubadour also has accommodation: The Garret, an "authentic Chelsea Arts and Crafts secret hideaway" raved about in the Alistaire Sawday Guide reader awards.



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