What a weekend! August 10-13 was the ﬁfth year of the N16 Fringe and, although the previous four were just as good, this year seemed to have an extra edge of simplicity and compactness. Every venue was crammed with local talent, and every venue ensured this talent was showcased in the best possible way.
The festivities began on Thursday with local punk legend John Paul Holt III (featuring the Mental Oriental), and dirty blues band Dr Blue whipping up storming music in Ryan’s to welcome in the Fringe.
Martin Simpson, an outstanding folk singer and acoustic guitarist with an international reputation, produced a riveting solo set at St Mary’s Old Church on Friday night. This was despite having to drive ten hours during the day from Montrose, as it was the day after the airport ‘terrorism’ shutdowns. He arrived in time for the sound check and, as soon as he kicked into ‘Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather’, the audience knew they were in for a special night. Two and a half hours later he walked off stage to thunderous applause. Music of a very different type was belting out of Ryan’s over the road, with Weird Love, Creepy Morons and Mystery Meat taking to the stage. As you can imagine, this was not Elizabethan baroque but good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll. Down on the High Street, the crowds jammed in to the White Hart to hear the Dogs, Great Bear, Soixante Neuf, Scintilla and 3rd Rok, and Irish folk was represented by the Other Brothers at the Shillelagh.
Saturday was particularly eclectic, and ranged from mellow afternoon jazz in the garden of the Shillelagh from Brian Iddenden and his band, via a Mexican Mariachi band at Mercado, Jazz Reloaded and SriVibe at Yum Yum’s Orchid Lounge, Penny Rimbaud and Bron Jones performing powerful, avant-garde poetry and jazz downstairs at Barracuda, alt-Americana from Hickey at the Yucatan, the Gamblers at Stage B and all-day punk rock with the Corn Rocket Club at Ryan’s, to an evening of Polish music and culture at Booth’s Bar. Then there was Saturday night at the Old Church, featuring the seated Luxury Condo, Gibbo’s City Farmers and the exceptional Washington Rays. At the White Hart, the bar rocked to The Hells, Pockets, Plakka, Thundercrack and Barbosa, while the Lion was packed over the weekend, featuring a variety of local performers and bands.
Sunday was altogether more mellow, with The Touchy Two and Stokey’s King of Soul, Luddy Samms, accompanied by ex-Small Faces keyboardist Pete Marsh, entertaining an appreciative lunchtime crowd at Barracuda with a set of soul and blues classics. Then down to the Shillelagh to see the excellent Tony Wrafter Quartet for an afternoon of quality jazz, with Luddy joining for an impromptu number. A quick kip, then up to Stage B for the Jazz Troubadors (plus exotic burlesque dancer) in the evening, followed by Dan Chester, Paul Mosley’s band (complete with bassoon and harp) and an energetic, Jacques Brel-tinged performance from the Cesarians at Birdcage. Tad and Goldie ended the Fringe at Barracuda with an absinthe-fuelled, comedy double act.
Most of Monday was spent lying on the sofa, wondering what had happened. What had happened was one of the most exciting musical weekends that Stoke Newington has witnessed in years. And we’re doing it again next year, God help us.
Our gratitude goes to everyone who made the ﬁfth Fringe such a huge success, and to everyone who attended and contributed to the amazing atmosphere. Good evening, Stoke Newington, and many thanks.
See www.n16mag.com/music for band details.