ONE MAN BAND FESTIVAL | London, The Blues Kitchen

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Innovative, unique and utterly bizarre, One-Man Band Festival celebrates the supreme talents of those Dick Van Dyke-inspired musicians that take to the stage solo, but still deliver the full sounds of a multi-piece band: this is an unmissable week-long celebration of some of the very best in the game.

1. Wednesday 20th March: Dollar Bill + Hollowbelly in Shoreditch (Free)

Dollar Bill is a one-man band that seemingly achieves the impossible with the wide collection of sounds he delivers at once. It’s raw, stripped down, stompin’ and rockin’ blues with drums, a guitar, a harmonica and singing going on all at once.

Hollowbelly is one-man punk blues band, with a 3-string cigar box guitar in his hands, a blues harp at his mouth, a pre-war marching drum at his right foot and a 1930’s low boy at his left. Authentic, fast and furious stuff.

2. Thursday 21st March: Son of Dave + One Man Destruction Show in Brixton (£10.50)

Son of Dave is a maverick Bluesman, providing a one-man harmonica and beat-box experience. He performs catchy, original, world class shows all around the globe.

One Man Destruction Show has created his very own one man rock n’ roll garage n’ blues band.

3. Friday 22nd March: Bob Log + King Size Slim at Jazz Cafe, Camden (£15)

With Bob Log, Delta blues meets electro in a live show that can only be described as a man in a jumpsuit and full-face helmet rigged up with a telephone receiver barrelling around in a lifeboat while beating away on a hollow-body guitar.

King Size Slim’s music is rhythm-led, heavy on the bass and rootsy in the melody. A powerful performer and a must-see on the blues circuit.

4. Tuesday 26th March: Ian Siegal + Big Joe Louis in Brixton (£15)

Ian Siegal presents songs from his latest album All The Rage. Titled Best Male Vocalist and Best Acoustic Artist in the UK Blues Awards 2018, Ian Siegal is a must-see musician for 2019. Classic Rock tags Siegal “a national treasure” and MOJO magazine ranks him “the cleverest writer and most magnetic blues performer in the UK”.

Big Joe Louis is a powerful force on the modern UK blues scene, whose style and authenticity are unparalleled on this side of the Atlantic.

5. Thursday 28th March: Lewis Floyd Henry + Hip Bone Slim in Camden (£4)

Lewis Floyd Henry busks daily on Brick Lane, and has clocked up millions of views on YouTube. A one-man, multi-genre, traveling sonic medicine show, it’s Jimmy Hendrix one moment and Biggie Smalls the next.

Hipbone Slim (aka Sir Bald) plays stompin’ rhythm and blues on guitar, harmonica, foot drums, and maracas, in a very eclectic set.

Book online for these amazing one-man band shows.

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FESTIVAL: International de Jazz de Montréal

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Montreal is into jazz. How much? Well, the festival features 600 concerts, 400 activities and events and 3000 musicians from 30 countries over the course of 10 days. So yeah, loads of jazz. Founded in 1979 with the intention of bringing the best musicians on the planet to the city and its visitors, the 2017 programme delivers on this mission statement as well as giving stage time to artists that are headed in that direction.

Browsing the full schedule (which you can do here) it’s wonderful to see an event that has everything from the ‘indisputable legends, beg-borrow-steal a ticket’ category through to ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard they’re kinda cool and I’ve got a free afternoon’ gigs. To look forward to just some of this enticing mix, it’s great to see Michael League and Shabaka Hutchings each touring their new projects — Bokanté and Shabaka & the Ancestors respectively. For those who think that a Nobel Prize is exactly what you should look for in a musician, the freshly decorated Bob Dylan is in town. Speaking of decoration, the stage of Maison symphonique de Montréal will be heaving with talent in a double-bill that features Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Scofield, John Medeski, Charles Lloyd, Gerald Clayton, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland. What?? Amazing.

For the young guns, the line-up sparkles with rising stars like Cory Henry, Jacob Collier, Anderson .Paak, Too Many Zooz and many more. For fans of the hang (as an instrument as well as a late night dram) it’s exciting to see the return of Portico Quartet, part of a British contingent that include GoGo Penguin and the burningly ear-catching Binker & Moses.

Think that sounds like a lot? We’ve barely scratched the surface and if the staged gigs seem too formal, 130 non-stop street artists are on a mission to make the city swing. We can’t wait.

Montreal International Jazz Festival runs from 28 June – 8 July and you can explore the full programme here.

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RETURN: The Jazz Cafe

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Q. What do Gil Scott Heron, Herbie Hancock, Mulatua, Astake, Lee Scratch Perry, D’Angelo, Lana Del Ray, Bobby Womack and Amy Winehouse all have in common?

A. They’ve all performed at Camden’s Jazz Cafe, which is reopening after a £3million renovation project.

By the looks of the announced line-up, it’s not just the 25-years-old venue that’s had a face-lift. The programme packs a punch, with established quality lining up alongside emerging sounds on the scene. For example, you can get down there to see the likes of Dave Harrington or Portico. How about Mammal Hands with a smattering of soul and hip hop options to broaden the palate? It’s tasty.

With a vibey new look and feel, here’s to London regaining a venue equal to its history and famous name.

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