Tag Archives: Hootananny

Vox Pops: What’s the best way to tackle gang crime in Brixton?

We think the debate over at Shepherd’s Bush Blog is one we should be having more openly in Brixton too, so we’ve asked some locals (and even one Shepherds Bush resident on Brixton Rd) about what they think to open up debate here. Please do add your own comments.

Interviews by Kaye Wiggins and Zoe Jewell

Suriya Ramprasad, newsagent on Tulse Hill (asked not to be photographed)

“Working here at night, I don’t feel safe. People come in with guns and knives. They don’t care about other people and they have no respect. I don’t know what the solution is. The only thing that might help is more police on the streets, but they also need to stop the drugs problem because that is a big part of it.”

Lachie Gordon, bartender at the Hootananny

“I live in Oval and work in Brixton, and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that looked like a gang, either when I’ve been at work or when I’ve been out at night. I remember reading that Clapham Road had been closed because of violence and I think that might have been gang-related but I’m not sure. Either way, it’s not something that affects me.”

Nabs, 35, Shepherd’s Bush resident

“It’s more about schooling – get them early and get them right! Teach children well, from about five or six, and that will make all the difference. They need to learn how to interact properly with people. It’s about them getting into the right mindset from the beginning.”

Manuel Mendes, local resident

“I don’t see too much trouble, but sometimes around the main roads it can be bad. We need to give young people more of a chance to get involved in activities to fill their time. It’s also about giving them a better education in schools.”

Artor, 37, Brixton resident

“Is there much gang crime? They should educate the youth. I’m not so aware of the problem here actually, but I think essentially young people should have guidance. All these feral teens – in a way it’s a waste of energy because there’s lots of talent among them but somehow their minds aren’t opened to it. I think it’s very important for parents to push their children to achieve.”

Katem Alebranche, local resident

“I think the problem is more about individual people getting drunk and causing trouble than about gangs, although I think there is some gang violence. But what can you do about it? Not much. I don’t think having more police is the right solution. You need to go into schools, talk to the kids and educate the parents as well.”


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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.

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NYE: Mayhem at the Hootananny

Kaye Wiggins reports on a night of chaos at the Hootananny New Years’ Eve party

Brixton’s Hootananny pub isn’t seen as a slick operation whose gigs are organised with military precision – in fact, its laid-back feel is a big part of its charm. But on New Year’s Eve the venue let itself down with a couple of big failures to be properly organised.

The event itself, the ‘Massive NYE Party’ featuring Correspondents, Soul Jazz SoundsystemCongo Faith Healers and Agent Lynch was great. The headliners, swing/hip-hop duo Correspondents, did a brilliant set and lead singer Mr Bruce’s bizarre robot-like costume and wild dancing (where does he find all that energy?) were big crowd pleasers. The atmosphere was good, the drinks were cheap(ish) and there wasn’t the horrendous queue at the bar that you often find at New Year parties.

But there were two big problems. Getting into the pub was the first: my friends and I had arrived at ten past 11 but were still in the queue as the clock struck midnight, so we missed the much-anticipated bagpipes and dancing that welcomed in the new year inside.

A word of warning if you’re going to a Hootananny gig: allow plenty of time to get in. It wasn’t a big queue, but the one person checking everybody’s booking numbers on a handful of sheets of paper was – understandably – having a difficult time.

But this was nothing compared to the chaos we faced with the cloakroom at the end of the night. It sounds more than a little melodramatic to use the words ‘cloakroom’ and ‘chaos’ in the same sentence, but this seems to merit it.

After we and about 100 others, some of them getting violent and picking fights with the bouncers by the stage, had queued (well, crowded and jostled) for more than an hour to get our coats back, it became clear that they had been thrown, in no particular order, wherever there was space. This included buckets on the kitchen floor and worktops next to sinks and greasy pans.

The only way staff could reunite us with our beloved jackets (yes, this could only happen to soft southerners who wear coats on a night out) was to let us find them ourselves. This is what happened…

If the Hootananny wants to be taken seriously as a venue that can host big, successful gigs – and I hope it does, because on the whole it does them well – it really needs to get its act together.

We asked Hootananny for a response to the evening’s events and this is what Sophia Yates, the owner, wrote back to us:

Dear Kaye
I am so sorry your NYE was so badly affected by our bad organisation. We really were shocking on two points.
We should never have left people queuing for an hour to get in to celebrate NYE. We should have had 4 people going up and down the queue with the print outs. We should have had two queues one for those to be ticked off on the ticketweb sheets and one queue for those who had had their tickets posted to them.
Also we made an unbelievable muddle of the coats…which we found so difficult to sort out – quite shocking.
All I can say is I am profoundly sorry to our Hootananny customers. We will never make those two mistakes again. You are right the performance line-up was incredibly good so it was a great shame we marred people’s enjoyment of it.”

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The Brixton week ahead

You’d expect this weekend to be a bit of a comedown after the revels of the Lambeth Country Show. But tonight Brixton is buzzing – Erykah Badu is playing at the Academy, there’s an after-concert ‘jam’ at Plan B and the Alabama 3 are at Brixton Jamm with Outlaw, Acoustic and Unplugged and Alan Mcgee (DJ Set).

And there’s lots more to come this week:

Sunday 25: Set to be 26 degrees –  park, park, park, park. In the evening, enjoy the ‘Sunday Blues‘ music at Upstairs @ The Ritzy at 8pm.

Wednesday 28:  The Lido Cafe is holding the Summer Party, #2. There’ll be live flamenco guitar music and a BBQ. Nothing can bring back the dreamy BBQ parties of the pre-Fusion days – this is the next best.

Thursday 29: It’s the first public meeting to discuss the Co-op Council, from 6-8.30pm – see here for details and then go shout about what you want to happen. And at 7.30pm, a new zine is being launched at The Grosvenor Pub by the I Digress residency – it’s an illustration and short fiction zine put together by a group of local artists and authors who meet regularly at The Grosvenor. [UPDATE 27/7] And later in the evening, Gold Panda is playing at Rest is Noise – for free!

Friday 30: Six-piece reggae band, ‘The Drop’, are launching their EP at Hootananny, accompanied by Mr Benn and Serial Killaz.

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The week ahead

Top tips for this upcoming Brixton week:

All week: Take a look at the In Public’ exhibition at Photofusion Gallery. An exhibition of street photography celebrating the 10 year birthday of the In Public photography collective.

Tuesday 8: Open Mic night at Ritzy Upstairs – sing, tell jokes and perform poetry to your heart’s content. Or just listen to others do it.

Thursday 10: Late night opening at the ‘Brixton Village’ in Granville Arcade. This week’s event is hosted by the School of Everything, a website that matches people who want to learn a skill with people who can teach it. So go expand your minds – who knows, you could learn anything from karate to beekeeping. And there’s fantastic food in the various new restaurants to boot.

Friday 11: The legendary Top Cats and DJ Natty Bo return to Hootananny (and for free too)

Saturday 12: Globoloco take their world music beats to their monthly party at Mango Landin. Reggae, ska, boogaloo, Latino hiphop – it’s all there.


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