the girls are weekend @ The Forge


We’re getting there, but women still under-represented in the music industry. Kate Bush might be back, but other than major names and pretty pop singers, the female presence is lacking – as journalists, photographers, producers, engineers, programmers and performers. So the fantastic supporters of females in music the girls are  and Camden venue The Forge have come together to produce a weekend dedicated to supporting female musicians, and women in the music industry. Taking place over the weekend of Friday 17th October – Sunday 19th October 2014 will be a number of events, meetings, gigs and workshops all aiming to increase the inclusion of women in this most exciting of industries.

It kicks off on Friday with Namvula, who combines the folk and urban traditions of her Zambian homeland with her Scottish roots with London’s eclectic music scene, in a blend African sounds and rhythms with Latin, jazz and folk. There’s a Live Music Review Workshop, 12pm – 1pm where editor and founder of the girls are, Annette Barlow, Deputy Editor Cheri Amour and Jazz & Classical Editor Rosie Hanley offer advice and tips on how to write an engaging live music review, followed by a Live Music Photography Workshop in which Emily Barker, Picture editor at the girls are guides you through her top tips to taking an excellent live music shot. More music comes from Esther Dee, a singer-songwriter concerned with all things dark and beautiful. Haunting fairgrounds and magical, blood hungry wolves dominate the stories of her musical collective. She has lent her stunning soft silky tones to projects as diverse as chart topping classical act Mediaevel Baebes, gypsy swing jazz favourites Trio Manouche and Grammy award winning spectacle Riverdance The Show. On Sunday morning make sure you are up bright and early to hear the Albany Piano Trio perform three exciting works by contrasting female British composers. Written within a century of one another, the works offer a rich variety in instrumental colours and musical styles.

Whilst later in the day hear some newer, contemporary music, courtesy of ensemble rarescale. They present a selection of chamber works by female composers. putting classic works by Kajia Saariaho, Thea Musgrave and Pauline Oliveros are heard alongside works by a younger generation of composers, demonstrating the breadth of female compositional talent working today.



the girls are is a UK based online magazine championing women in music, posting daily content from a global team of writers and photographers. Feeling that the machinations of the music industry are largely based on antiquated, irrelevant, inherently sexist values, and as a result women working within music are often under – or mis – represented, their coverage aims to redress this imbalance. Founded as a blog in 2009, has rapidly grown a network of loyal followers with over 100 contributors and an editorial team of ten. Without the collaboration and support of this team of creatives and music-lovers, the site simply would not exist.



Plague Vendor – Breakdance on Broken Glass


‘Voodoo punks’ Plague Vendor shred up their instruments and your ears in this superlatively scuzzy urgent assault, Breakdance on Broken Glass. Note, this isn’t one to listen to after a heavy meal.


Pre order now.

Andreya Triana – Everything You Never Had Pt. II


If ever proof was ever needed of Andreya Triana‘s talent the soaring vocals, powerful piano, soulful emotion and sizzling strings on new single Everything You Never Had Pt II may well be it. Simple in scope but hypnotic in execution, this is the sound of textured and tender promise.

Mojo, White Bear Theatre


Jez Butterworth’s 1995 play Mojo won numerous awards when it first opened at the Royal Court Theatre, and its revival for the tiny White Bear Theatre in Kennington by One Fell Swoop sees it down size in scale, but not at all in power and emotion.

Set in a 1950s Dean Street club under the shadow of gang culture and a feared overlord, it might be considered a dark play but director Sebastien Blanc believes that Butterworth’s characters are deep down just out of depth kids in a playground, struggling with being the big guy in the gang and being bullied by peers. Their world is anything but glamourous – Baby, Potts, Sid, Silver Johnny, Oscar, Sweets and Skinny are all damaged and disturbed, damaging and disturbing humans living in the shadow of the felt but never seen Ezra.

Scheming, plotting, and paranoia all descend into murder and intrigue, but this violence and disturbance are born from fear, and the fact that perpetrators are simultaneously the victims makes them relatable even whilst we detest their actions.

Blanc’s approach to acting is very much from the Meissner school, and the emotional intensity sparking between the actors is palpable. Max Saunders Singer, who plays Potts and Sid has been nominated for  an Off West End Award for his portrayal of the latter, but the whole cast bring visceral menace and deep vulnerability to their characterisation of those humans caught in this world of chilling activity from which they can’t escape.

It’s incredibly fast paced, despite taking place in only one room, due to the frantic amphetamine fuelled paranoia that descends upon the gang, and the tight space of the theatre. Full of dynamic tension, sound tracked by a buoyant fifties jukebox, and a detailed set, the senses are assaulted along with the emotions. Described as a comedy, this is not exactly a laugh out loud couple of hours, but bitter comedy.

One Fell Swoop Productions was founded by Blanc and friends to create and deliver theatre that does not just  sat back and enjoyed , but changes lives, perspective, and forces the viewer to ask questions (all of their shows support a charity with particular resonance to the play, and so this time around it is Beat Bullying).

On these grounds, Mojo at the White Bear Theatre is a success.

Director: Sebastien Blanc
Luke Trebilcock (Baby)
Max Saunders Singer: Potts
Oscar Blend: Mickey
Skinny: Max Warrick
Sweets: Jack Heath
Silver Johnny: Ben Hall

Mojo is produced by One Fell Swoop Productions and runs until the 21st September. 

The Rainbow Cafe, Cambridge


Usually when Gillian McKeith raves about something it makes me want to run a mile. That’s not to say that spirulina can’t taste good, but when dished up with a side of guilt, it’s not an alluring idea. Thankfully in this case I didn’t listen to the urge to flee, and when looking for somewhere to dine in Cambridge on a recent trip, decided to swing by the vegetarian Rainbow Café.

In a basement down a side alley, and marked only by a colourful sign on Kings Parade, the city’s only vegetarian café could easily be missed by the hordes of tourists  bustling for dining options. Those who do are missing out. There’s far more on offer here than just vegetarian lasagne. Also specialising in vegan and gluten free food, the menu is packed with delicious, hearty and varied dishes, with a rotation of specials also on offer.

We go for the Vegan Artichoke Parcel, where flaky filo pastry parcels envelope artichoke heart, red pepper, black olives, sun dried tomato, and vegan cheese, and the ever popular Tagine L’Algerienne, where roasted sweet potatoes, aubergines and whole roasted carrot chunks, are slow cooked in a rich North African tomato casserole. All meals are served with salad, brown rice, cous cous or pasta, covering all food groups and appetites. The idea is that not only are diners treated to a trip of the tastes, but also the world, and are introduced to different national cuisines, reflective of the vast travels of owner Sharon Meijland and her staff. There’s Jamaican Roti Cups, Latvian Potato Bake, Indonesian Gado Gado as well as Italian Pasta Marinara.  Portions are vast, and even though we struggle, the taste means it is impossible to give up. And besides, we’re staying at nearby St Catherine’s, the college dating from the 16th century, and only a stumble away.

No one said that treats have to be unhealthy, and even the wines, beers and ciders are organic and vegan. The scrumptious ‘Miracle Cake’ tastes like the very best rich chocolate cake, but is actually made of super nutritious chestnuts, dates and walnuts, and Nigel Slater apparently described their carrot cake served with sour cream as the ‘best I’ve ever tasted.’

In addition to being wholly vegetarian, additives,  colourings or flavourings are avoided, which means that nearly every dietary requirement can be catered for. But what is crucial is that so can every taste. The room, with its open kitchen, softly lit nooks and crannies, small and large tables is filled with all different types of people. Vegans sit alongside normal carnivores, glowing yogis with big burly men, couple and families, all just here for tasty food.

It’s not only Gillian McKeith. Men’s Health, Nigel Slater and The Observer have all raved about it. And now I am too.

Ethical, healthy, and delicious dining at its best.

The Rainbow Café is in the centre of Cambridge. During holiday season you can stay at the university colleges with University Rooms



The Flowers Band from Gloucester are in their 46th year. Oh no, that’s the wrong one. This Flowers isn’t an ancient brass band, but a trio of indiepop perfection. The fourteen tracks on debut album are like brief catchy morsels planted into a youthful time capsule, frantic and feverish in energy and sentiment. They flirt with fuzzpop shimmer on first single Joanna, explicit reveal the pain of love on Drag Me Down, start soothingly stripped back on opener Young, and wear the influence of producer Bernard Butler most evidently in the teasingly sensuous I Love You. Comprising the best of bedroom creation with inventive melodies and intense performance, this is a sweet, wholesome and very Fortuna record.

Swinging East!

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It might not have actually been a total blast, being bunged in a bunker whilst bombs rained down around you, but the passing of time and a healthy dose of nostalgia has seen ‘the blitz spirit’ pass down as legend. Bringing the good times camaraderie back to the East in 2014, and specifically the Village Underground, Bourne & Hollingsworth are once again decking the halls with authenticity with The Blitz Party. It’s like passing through the alley in Goodnight Sweetheart. Sandbags line the walls, and army clad men lean up against them. Girls with red lips and Oxo legs compete with one another and the service vehicles for attention. Live bands make everyone swing, in mood and music, and the Union Jack bunting rouses pride and passion. All that buoyancy needs sustenance, and so there’s Kent’s Spitfire Ale for the lads and cocktails in jam jars for the girls, alongside hearty warming food purchased with ration books (what else?).

If you want to practise your steps, here are some swinging wartime tunes to get in the mood:

Images courtesy of The Blitz Party.