Noteworthy Open-Mic Night – Paper Dress Vintage – June 9th 2019

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that I’ve been nomadic of late. AirBNB has served me well as I transition into London life but the time is now right to stop the lugging of luggage on Mondays and Fridays.

Yesterday, I moved into a place; it’ll give me a semi-permanent room in London’s zone one. I’d been attracted by the idea of Property Guardianship since first reading about it; a collective of individuals getting together to protect space that might otherwise be susceptible to squatters. I’ve got a large room in a building that was once a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. I love that I can make this my own. Creative millennials seem to occupy the rest of the property. I’m evidently the eldest here but I won’t let that bother me. 

London doesn’t sleep. That much is clear. I’m not used to the night bus noise And I’ll have to invest in a pair of ear plugs if I want to still function by day. 

After getting my room ready (mattress down, clothes rail assembled and rocking chair strategically positioned) I decided to do what I’m accustomed to when in London and headed off to a gig. Sunday night shows hadn’t been possible before so this was a fine way to see the weekend in and to get myself ready for a busy Monday in the office.

I headed up to Paper Dress Vintage. The vintage clothes space has never let me down on previous visits and I was intrigued by the Sunday menu. Noteworthy is a well regarded open-mic night. Back in the day, when I first moved to Leicester, open-mic nights were a staple necessity; Monday nights at the Musician a thing not to miss. I was keen to see how London compared. 

Noteworthy gives space over the course of the evening to a shed load of acts. Perhaps because of its sheer popularity, performers get to play one song only. This makes for a fast-moving show. If an act is really poor (of which there are delightfully few) you only need to grin and bear it for minutes.

Compered excellently by Max Bandicoot (who also opens proceedings with a tune), most acts do a singer-songwriter thing and seem content with their five minutes of fame. There’s variety to be had as well. One happy chap sings to a beat-fuelled backing track before launching into a choreographed dance routine that has to be seen to be believed. A trio play a fine, stripped-back version of Video Killed The Radio Star; their harmonies are charming. A duo valiantly attempt French Chanson whilst a grey haired man with an epic beard creates a wonderful soundscape via guitar, voice and electronica. Those acts stick in the mind yet there are others with equal appeal.

“I’ve not done an open-mic for ages”, says Cerian, the featured artist of the night who gets a twenty minute slot. “I’ve remembered watching how lovely it is and how we’re all just here for the music.” 

And she’s right of course. Cerian more than justifies her headline slot. She plays the harp whilst singing delightfully arranged pop tunes; at one point she covers an Ariane Grande tune which I suspect all know apart from me. She gets a backing singer to join her (Barry) who has already played a song and has the skilful ability to make his voice sound like a vocoder. 

There’s more to come after Cerian but I call it a night. After all, I have permanent lodgings to return to now. Noteworthy returns on the third Sunday of July. Stone Jets (I think that’s their name), purveyors of a radiant African musical style, play that featured set after treating all gathered to a sample of their wares in the June edition.

Chances are that I’ll pay Noteworthy another visit. 




Low Leaf – Rise Up

This is a blog that’ll never become a jazz mag. 

Just to clarify that, this is a blog that’ll rarely focus upon tunes with a jazz tinge. Largely, that’s because I don’t get it. It would be like Beatrix Potter writing about Quantum Mechanics. 

But I concede that there’s more than a jazz tinge to Rise Up by Low Leaf. It’s jazz of the tropical variety though, a very worldly jazz. It’s a track that with slightly different production wouldn’t look out of place on a new Noisettes album. It could quite easily sit on an MIA album. There’s something about the crackle and hiss that’s within this track that gives it oomph. And I’m quite captivated by it.

It’s got a simple, uncomplicated positive message of peace. “People, how we gonna rise up?” Sings Low Leaf, rhetorically. She doesn’t leave us thinking long before suggesting that we “be a peaceful people”. Nothing wrong with that sentiment.

I guess what I’m saying is that this definitely isn’t jazz wank.


Low Leaf has her roots in the Phillipines but is now living in Los Angeles. Rise Up is a track from her forthcoming album, Akashaalay. I’ve no doubt that it’ll deal with some serious themes and awakenings. She’s quite a multi-instrumentalist, citing piano, harp, machine and voice on her Facebook page. This video of her playing the harp live is pretty wonderful. One for Womad?