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Laurel Canyon Music celebrates Independent Music Day 2017

Venue: The Sound Lounge
Town: Tooting
Date: 24/02/17

Artist, promoter and venue websites are at the bottom of the review as there are quite a few of them.

Independent Music day is a new venture which aims to promote independent music, and the venues that support it, right across the UK. It is activism at its very best, getting people to get out and watching live music. For its first ever day on the 24th February over 40 promoters came together to arrange concerts, which is huge success and a solid base to build on for the future.

My chosen destination for the night was a new venue for me, mainly because it didn't exist in 2016. The Sound Lounge in Tooting, South London used to be a bed shop which closed down some 10 years ago and has been boarded up ever since. After Christmas work started on turning it into an exciting new music venue in London. For that reason, if no other, it deserves to be a success. It's certainly easy to get to, being just a few minutes walk from either Tooting tube station.

The Sound Lounge is a large space but intelligently thought out. The well stocked bar serves smoothies, local craft beers, vegetarian and vegan food at average-for-London prices and occupies one wall opposite the stage. Seating is a mixture of theatre style and tables giving a choice of viewing options and a chance to eat in comfort. The walls are light painted, with pictures and murals giving a very airy feeling and opening up the space even more. It has a warm feeling, though, helped by copious amounts of upcycled scaffold boards which are use to clad everything from the shop front to the sound desk, bar and stage giving a sense of continuity to the whole thing. The night I was there both the lighting and sound quality were excellent.

The concert was promoted by Laurel Canyon Music, who are rapidly gaining a reputation for quality music across London, ranging from St Pancras Old Church to The Winemakers Club and several others. Good music is guaranteed. The event was also supported by FATEA magazine and Blues and Roots Radio, both of whom are almost fanatical in their support of independent artists.

So, on to the event itself. The host for the evening was Brian Player, known to may for his Acoustic Café radio show. He has a relaxed style that invites you in to sit down with something comforting, knowing you're amongst friends and will enjoy yourself. The impressively large audience certainly did.

Five acts on the night meant an early start, resulting in me missing all but the last song by Hannah White & Keiron Marshall but what I did catch sounded good and I hope to be able to see them again in the future.

Second up was Hattie Whitehead, who is gaining a growing reputation. This was my first chance to see her and I was impressed. It was a gentle, soulful performance and Hattie has such a lovely voice it really was a delight to listen to her. She's somebody else I will certainly hope to see again.

The vagaries of travel meant that Kadia (from Dorset) got to the venue quicker than Forty Elephant Gang (from East London), so they swapped places on the bill. Kadia can only be described as stylish, with classy harmonies both vocal and instrumental. We were treated to songs from their début album 'East of Alexandria' and, even better, the band have been in the studio producing a new EP to be launched in April. They play traditional folk but in a way that sounds so fresh that seeing them is always a delight.

Forty Elephant Gang were another new act for me. It was a sparkling set combining music from across the genres with a clean, tight sound and the stage presence that comes from three friends enjoying what they do. They also have a début album on the horizon which is certainly worth checking out.

Finally, Fred's House took to the stage and ripped the place up in the way only they can. Full bore, powerful tunes, great harmonies and an energy that is infectious. The audience were soon clapping and stamping along and there was even some dancing in the aisles.

It was a wonderful, and fitting, celebration of independent music at its very best and I hope there were a few newcomers in the room who are converted and will spread the word. Huge thanks are owed to all involved in the evening but special mention must go to Gary Smith of Laurel Canyon Music for all the work he puts in to bring us great music.

Organisers, Promoters and Supporters

Musicians. Pic 1 Pic 2 Video Pic 3 Pic 4

Words & Pictures: Tony Birch

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