Monthly Archives: February 2011

INTERVIEW: David Rodigan

Debi Ghose, presenter of the Brixton Allstars radio show, met reggae DJ David Rodigan at the Kiss 100 studios in Central London

Where did your love for reggae come from?

My love for reggae started in the ‘60s when I heard Blue Beat ska records and I heard songs such as ‘Phoenix City’ by The Skatalites. ‘My Boy Lollipop’ was a key record, and it was indicative of this new wave of music which had come in from the West Indies that was called ska. That was in 1964. I fell in love with this crazy backbeat then, which had this tremendous energy and was so exciting to listen to and dance to. I couldn’t understand some of the Patois on the records, but that made it even more interesting – having to discover what was being said on the more rootical recordings. In the summer of ’67, ‘0.0.7’ by Desmond Dekker and the Aces went into the British pop charts and the music really had arrived. As I collected these records, I got invited to DJ at people’s parties.

How did you progress from being a party DJ to becoming a broadcaster?

Well, I’d studied speech and drama, and was still collecting this music, then in 1978, there was a job going on BBC Radio London to present the Sunday lunchtime reggae show -Reggae Time. The presenter, Steve Barnard was leaving and they were looking for new presenters, and I got an audition and passed it.

Was it difficult gaining credibility as a reggae DJ as a white person?

It was in the sense that I was the only white presenter at the audition, and they actually stopped my audition and told me that although I knew a lot about the music… they were telling me point blank they were looking for a black presenter. I understood that perfectly because it was hard enough for a black person to get a broadcasting job in those days – why shouldn’t somebody with a West Indian background get a job as a reggae presenter? It made perfect sense. It wasn’t until several weeks later when I got a telegram to say they had played the audition tape to producers and record companies in the reggae circle, and they had all said, ‘You should use this guy.’ But what happened was that people were listeningto the show for a considerable amount of time before I got any public appearances, and they had assumed that I was a black Londoner – they got quite a shock at my first live gig.

Do you think reggae is still thriving in the U.K.?

I think it is still thriving, and thanks to Fabric, the FabricLive CD that I made and other DJs and so on involved in this music, there’s a movement within a young audience not from a West Indian background, who are finding this music fascinating. They are becoming interested because it has such a tremendous history to it, and that’s the difference between reggae and a lot of modern music. And reggae is moving, it’s very soulful, you can’t listen to ‘Satta Massagana’ by the Abyssinians and not be haunted by it, you can’t listen to any recording by Bob Marley really and not be moved by it. I defy anyone to listen to the Black Heart Man album by Bunny Wailer or Bob Andy’s Songbook album and not be moved.

Where is the home of British reggae currently?

Brixton is still very much the heartbeat of reggae music, simply because it has had an indigenous West Indian population since the ‘50s, Brixton Market and so on – its culture has been very much geared towards the West Indian communities that live within it, and you can still hear reggae on a regular basis – whether it’s on street corners, markets or coming out of car windows. I do a regular session at the Hootananny once a month, and I used to play at Mass every week. Brixton is very much the heartbeat of reggae music, andI think always will be.

David Rodigan DJs at the Reggae Train, Brixton Hootananny on the last Thursday of every month.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

REVIEW: The Duck Egg, Coldharbour Lane

Another year, another occupant of 424 Coldharbour Lane. Guest blogger, Carmen Allen, reviews The Duck Egg for Brixton Blog

The Duck Egg Cafe will satisfy breakfast and brunch nerds. Forget oily omelettes and overcooked scrambled eggs – The Duck Egg cafe sources all its produce from the Brixton Market and its duck eggs come free range from a farm in Norfolk.

We went there on a miserable Saturday morning, but the bright tablecloths and art work on the walls immediately cheered us up. I ordered the smoked salmon with the hash brown, hollandaise sauce and tomatoes and my partner ordered the same with bacon and sausage instead of smoked salmon.

There’s a choice between hen or duck eggs, but really the duck eggs are a must – not eating them is like going to a winery and drinking a pint. The yolks explode on the plate when your knife cuts into them and they’re much bigger than a hen egg. The salmon was fresh and the sausage full of tasty herbs.

The servings are large and they always manage to keep me full until dinner. The breakfast comes with two English muffins, which to me always taste better than toast because they don’t turn soggy.

But if breakfast isn’t your thing, the cafe satisfies other cravings too, with a lunch menu featuring traditional fare such as beef burgers, bangers and mash and spaghetti. There are also sandwiches and soup for those who aren’t famished. Or if you want to try something a little different, there’s a Mediterranean breakfast with grilled halloumi, olives, tomatoes, cucumber and pitta bread or the traditional brushetta with a not-so-traditional take – it has eggs on top.  London is not known for its good coffee, but The Duck Egg is a welcome addition to the Brixton coffee scene too.

The crowd who eat at The Duck Egg are generally in their 20s and 30s, so the cafe has a rather trendy vibe. It can get quite busy on the weekends and you sometimes might have to wait for a table, but don’t worry – you never have to stand for long and you can always have a cuppa at the counter in anticipation of someone vacating a spot.

Follow Carmen @carmentheaussie and read her blog at

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Protestors against cuts occupy Lambeth Council Chamber

Kaye Wiggins reports on the extraordinary events of last night’s Lambeth Council budget vote

Around 150 protesters occupied Lambeth town hall last night, forcing councillors to leave the main chamber and hold a private meeting at which budget cuts of nearly £79m over three years were agreed.

Councillors had been due to approve a budget settlement for 2011/12 at a public meeting in the town hall in Brixton. But after ten minutes of noisy chanting from the protesters in the room they left the room [listen to the Audioboo here], which the demonstrators occupied for more than an hour to protest about the proposed cuts.

“We want to establish a people’s democracy to discuss why these cuts are terrible and they’re attacking ordinary people in Lambeth,” said one of the protesters after the councillors had left.

Local residents and union members used the meeting to voice their concerns about job cuts and cuts in funding for libraries, language classes and playgrounds. They also discussed setting up more demonstrations in Lambeth and in central London to protest about the cuts.

Councillors passed the proposed budget cuts within an hour at the private meeting.

Photos and videos from the night:

Protestors occupying the chamber vote on whether they should oppose spending cuts. Unsurprisingly, it was a unanimous ‘yes’.


Filed under Uncategorized

Tonight: Brixton Skill Share

Tip for tonight:

There’s a Brixton Skill Share meeting at Longfield Hall, Knatchbull Rd at 7pm. Here is their description:

“A drop-in gathering for all those with practical skills, creative ideas and techniques for reuse, repair and recycling. Bring waste materials and tools to experiment with – and / or bring your ideas and project proposals to discuss.

Sewing machines, scrap fabrics and paper, tetrapaks and more will be on hand to make stuff with… but please bring your own supplies too

Refreshments will be available – food to share is also very welcome.”

Sounds like fun. From 7-10pm at 50 Knatchbull Rd.  Event details here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brixton Supper Clubs

The trend for supper clubs continues unabated in London, but Brixton was one of the first off the marks. It has a plethora of now well-established supper clubs and last summer I went to three of them.  Better late than never, here are the reviews:

Warning: supper clubbing doesn’t come cheap.

Our top pick: The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club is run by Rachel Manley from her tiny flat in the centre of Brixton. It is the most unpretentious of them all. Two tables and twelve people are crammed into her kitchen, where she also prepares the food. That means you’re not just encouraged to share and chat with all the other guests – you have to. Rachel is generous with her food – you can ask for seconds and there are constant refills of coffee, tea or home-made elderflower cordial. And the food reflects that generosity. We start off with coconut toast and lime marmalade. The coconut toast is just about the Best Thing Ever, buttery, packed full of coconut and not too sweet. It’s followed by Turkish baked eggs on sourdough with sausages from Brixton farmers’ market. That might look like a small portion below, but it was plenty given how much we still had left to eat and Rachel even offered up more sausages for anyone still wanting. The brunch ended with ice cream sandwiches – again not too sweet – and a beautifully wrapped take-home gift of pistachio macaroons.

Rachel doesn’t just do breakfasts anymore either. Her suppers are £25 and her brunches are £17.50. See here for booking details and photos.












A supper club in the market: The Salad Club

Ellie Grace and Rosie French together make the Salad Club. They write a food blog of the same name, charting their experiments with food, mainly from Brixton Market. The recipes all look lovely and they deservedly won the Observer Food Monthly Best UK Food Blog award last year, but I am going to be controversial here – the food at their supper club, hosted by Cornercopia in September 2010, was not worth the £25/head we paid for it. I was a demanding customer before I’d even reached the table – I forgot that one of my guests was a vegetarian until the day before and then another guest cancelled, so I had to change my reservation. All very annoying for the supper club host who has to do everything on a tight budget and plan meticulously ahead. That said, it didn’t much change how I felt about the food. The starter, smoked haddock and sweet potato chowder, was certainly delicious – warm and hearty. But the main – rare roast beef with beetroot, horseradish and dressed rocket – was a rather dull, limp dish. The beef was a little cold and the vegetarian option merely replaced the beef with lentils, which bizarrely tasted strongly of mustard – a dish of lentils, raw beetroot and not much else. Fun. The plum, pistachio and almond tart which followed was tasty, but overall the meal just wasn’t special enough for the expense (remember that doesn’t include alcohol, because it’s BYO). I could have eaten much better at Bellantoni’s around the corner for £10 a head.

The Salad Club are now available for hire, cooking everywhere from private homes to festivals. See here for details.

Design foodie heaven: Saltoun Supper Club

Saltoun Supper Club is the big daddy of the Brixton supper clubs. It’s notoriously difficult to get a table there but it’s worth the wait just to see Arno Maasdorp’s flat. Maasdorp, the creator of Saltoun Supper Club, is a food stylist and a design obsessive. The white-washed stairs leading to the dining room are lined with well-placed objects, from brightly coloured plastic bears to a single bucket of perfectly sharpened pencils. The dining room itself is like a magic den – lit only by coloured lamps and tealights, strange objects sit artfully on the walls and a chandelier made from a branch hangs above the main table.

The food is mostly beautiful too. We started with a very simple dish – stuffed peppers and roasted beets with hummus. In fact, it seemed a little unnecessary given what was to follow. The star of the show was the next starter –  Truffle Infused Cauliflower Gnocchi with Pecorino. Then we were instructed to troop upstairs to the living room, to digest and prepare for the main course. And the living room wasn’t lacking in design novelties either:

Saltoun is different to Rachel’s Breakfast Club in that you are not especially encouraged to mix with the other guests – we remained on our table of two and even in the interval (for it was like being at a show), no-one really talked outside of their own group. Arno himself makes a real effort to chat to everyone, but it lacked the down-to-earth easiness of the Breakfast Club.

The main was Pork Fillet, Celeriac with Pea & Bean Salad. Delicious again – although the beans were on the chewy side. And then it was time for the stunning pudding – chocolate in various different guises – and a beautiful array of petit fours and fruit. Yum.

£30 a head. BYO. See here for booking details.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The weekend ahead in Brixton

Lots of great music and art events going on in Brixton this weekend…

Friday: Plan B has launched a weekly ‘jam’ called ‘Bump!’  It’s all about putting the fun back into going out and getting away from “overpriced West End clubs , or that slightly pretentious thing the kids with the funny hair do in East London.”  Expect anything from dancehall, dubstep and hip hop to house and garage.

Free before 10pm and only £5 after.

Saturday: Brixton Jamm is holding a night hosted by Squatter’s Delight – it’s an evening of live indie, acoustic, ska and dubstep with DJs to follow. Manchester band Everything Everything will be playing a live DJ set and Hacienda Hotel are hosting the front room with a collection of DJs from Kendo Nagasaki to XFM’s Christian Nash.

Sunday: The best thing to do this Sunday after two days of hard dancing? Brian Barnes, the artist behind the Nuclear Dawn mural on Coldharbour Lane, is giving a talk on the history of the peace mural at 12.30pm upstairs at the Dogstar. Entry is free. For a taste of what it might be like, see our blog post on Brixton murals here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

INTERVIEW: Malark and his street art in Brixton

We interview street artist Malark, whose paintings have been appearing on the shop shutters of Brixton this month

How long have you been doing street art for and what got you into it?

I’ve been painting for years both on and off the street, but it’s just really within the last couple of years I have been doing shutters. I started doing some in Newcastle then Barcelona and now these in London.

You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while – what made you want to come to Brixton and do these pieces?

I was back in the UK for a exhibition in London bridge, where I met Billy – who I paint with in Brixton – and we painted a shutter just near there. After that we wanted to get some more done, we wanted to steer clear of East London where most of the graffiti and street art seems to be, and just start somewhere fresh that didn’t really have a scene at all. I’ve always loved Brixton because it’s got such a strong culture; it’s almost like it’s a completly different place to the rest of London. I was surprised it didn’t really have a scene for street art actually.

Why do you think Brixton is a particularly good place to do something like this?

Brixton is real nice for this. Everyone is real friendly, a lot of the shutters are big and smooth and you can buy export Guinness in every off licence.

How long does each shutter take to paint?

Depending on the shutter, it takes 2-4 hours. We usually chill at the same time, have a beer and that – we try to make a day out of it.

You’ve got quite a distinctive style – can you explain what it’s all about?

The style I’m not really sure. I love the bright colours. I just try to paint how I like to see things. I imagine if i was a passer-by what would I like to look at, or what would make me smile and it sort of informs itself.

Have you got permission from the shopkeepers to paint the shutters? What has the response been like generally from shopkeepers and passers-by?

Its easier to get permission so we can take our time and not worry about any sillyness. The response from passers-by has been awesome, always positive, most of the time they cannot belive we are not being paid or anything and we try to explain we like to do it so thats why we do it. Shop keepers are getting more into it now they have seen a few about, but big thanks to the first guys that let us paint!

Is it just you or are you working together with other people?

Mainly I paint with Billy but also some other guys. It depends on who I have spoken to that week. I always love to paint with new people.



Filed under Uncategorized

VIDEO: Brixton on a sunny Saturday

Snapshots of Brixton this afternoon, inspired by the sun – a busy market and snippets of music

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Brixton Week Ahead

Tuesday: It’s the Open Mic Night at Upstairs at the Ritzy tonight. Music, jokes, rhymes, poetry – you can share it all here. Sign up at 7pm for 7.30pm start.

Wednesday and Thursday: Now the cuts are coming in and we’re all about to be unemployed, we may as well spend our time usefully, no?

Two exhibitions in Brixton to keep you occupied:

The Another Lost Child exhibition at Photofusion is well worth a visit. Photographer Adam Patterson started looking at gangland culture in South London in 2008, but his photo project mutated into something quite different when he started to work closely with a 19 year-old gang member, Jean Claude Dagrou. And this is the culmination of their collaboration, with photos and texts by both Dagrou and Patterson.

For photography of the more abstract kind, the Viewfinder Gallery in Granville Arcade is exhibiting three contemporary photographers who tackle gender and identity in their works.  

Saturday: Dance the night away at Mango Landin with our favourite Globo Loco team and their ‘Phat February World Street Party’. Read a review of the World Street Party night by Brixton Beats blog here.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

More videos from the anti cuts demo last night

One protestor’s view of the public spending cuts in Lambeth

Videos by Kaye Wiggins

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized