Grooves: Jamal Edwards; Blue Carpet Band; The Amadeus; Dom Pragg

Thursday, 24th February — By Róisín Gadelrab

Blue Carpet Band photoshoot 33

In at the death? Blue Carpet Band

IN 2011 we featured an inspirational young man whose YouTube Channel, run from the basement of Camden Town Unlimited’s Mornington Crescent buildings, was giving MTV down the road reason to pay attention. The man was 20-year-old Jamal Edwards, whose popular SB.TV channel emerged after he began posting clips of MCs from his neighbourhood online, filmed with a video camera he got for Christmas. Soon, SB.TV was attracting millions of followers, featuring the likes of Alicia Keyes, Wretch 32, Devlin, Bruno Mars and Wiz Khalifa. His F64 series – where MCs known and unknown recorded 64 bars of freestyle grime – and acoustic A64 series – helped launch the careers of countless British stars. In the intervening years, Jamal continued to inspire, his positive approach, support for the music scene and charitable work winning him unending respect. So, it is particularly sad to hear of this life cut short at the weekend, at the age of 31. Jamal’s influence and reach will continue to be felt for years to come. RIP.

Should we be offended by or nod along to London five-piece Blue Carpet Band’s new single The Slow Death of Camden? In the song frontman Djamel Abina (giving John Travolta in Grease vibes in the video), who works in Camden, rails against gentrification. He said: “Lyrically the song is a lament, where have the rock’n’roll bandits all gone? What has Camden Town become? The death of Camden reflects the death of London as the alternative capital of the world.” While we have lost some venues and shiny new buildings spring up, we still have many places to celebrate, The Underworld still advertises the scariest bands around, KOKO is on the verge of reopening, The Dublin Castle continues to host a huge variety of live bands and The Hawley and Lock Tavern remain the most Camdeny of haunts. Is Camden dying a slow death? Listen to the single and let me know.

• Anyone who has stood in the pit up against the sound system, desperately trying to snap the perfect gig picture while dodging other photographers, restrained by the three-song, no-flash rule will understand the skill and challenge of being a music photographer. So, Abbey Road Studios’ new music photography awards (presented in May) are welcome – recognising this art with famed Kentish Town photographer Rankin among the esteemed panel of judges. Find out more here

Under the new management of Gus Robertson, Little Venice’s The Amadeus reopens with a series of six intimate concerts, promising a musical journey through blues, jazz, gypsy, gospel and spiritual rhythms and rhyme. Robertson, who has run other successful venues, as well as being Razorlight’s former lead guitarist, launches Live at The Amadeus on March 4 with Ma Su and Redberry.

• Self-described narrowboat-based folk singer Dom Pragg holds his Needle & Thread album release party at MAP Studio and Café, Kentish Town, on Feb 28.

Roundhouse Rising Presents – a series of gigs showcasing hot and breaking artists – has two exciting nights celebrating top Welsh talent coming up. On March 1 Focus Wales Presents Bandicoot, Adwaith, Mace the Great and Eadyth and on March 2, Horizons / Gorwelion Presents XL Life, Clwb Fuzz, Tara Bandito and YazMean.

• The Libertines’ Giddy Up A Ding-Dong Tour stops off at The Forum on Feb 25-26, then, on March 10, The Coral bring their 20th anniversary tour to the venue.

Check out the Barbican’s website for the full weekend programme of its 40th anniversary long weekend of celebrations (March 3-6) – including the incredible Songs In The Key of London (March 5).

• After nine years, The Spitfires will play a farewell show at Electric Ballroom on Feb 26 on the eve of the release of their final album Play For Today.

Mercury nominated jazz quartet Sons of Kemet bring their innovative sounds to the Roundhouse on Feb 26.

• In the two years of his musical project, singer songwriter, producer and guitarist edbl has already released music with more than 20 artists. See him at Camden Assembly on March 3. Also at The Assembly are California punks Destroy Boys playing their first London headline show on March 7.

More upcoming gigs: Jam Baxter + Sammy B-Side + Stinkin Slumrok, Jazz Café; Joel Culpepper, Islington Assembly Hall (Feb 25); Kanda Bongo Man, Jazz Café; Irish Country pop star Nathan Carter, Palladium (Feb 26); Pale Waves + Bitters + Hot Milk, Roundhouse; Sinead Harnett + James Vickery, The Forum; Nouvelle Vague, Union Chapel; (Feb 28); Brazilian bass sensation Fernando Rosa, Jazz Café (Feb 28, March 1-2); Foxes, Islington Assembly Hall; Los Bitchos, Scala (March 2); Lupe Fiasco, The Forum (March 4); The Hold Steady, Electric Ballroom (March 4-5); Death Blooms, Black Heart (March 6); The Plot In You, The Dome (March 7); Orchestra Baoab Union Chapel (March 7-8); Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Scala; Paul Carrack, Palladium (March 10).

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