By early December the UK was feeling the force of a bitter Arctic grip, (adding further ammunition to the idea that ‘global warming’ is yet another scam cynically invented to control the masses and extort even more taxes … but don’t get me started on that!) It was a bleak start to the month with a death in the family preventing a planned family break in the Lake District. I ended up going by myself on Thursday 2nd for a matter of hours. On the agenda was the 150th instalment of The Block Party at The Wheelhouse in Windermere, one of my favourite UK events which couldn’t be missed. The night was a blast, as anticipated, not least because I got to dig deep into the reggae/ bashment selection for an appreciative crowd. There’s a video snippet of how Beenie Man’s track on the Joyride riddim went down right here:
It was straight back on the M6 in the morning, thankfully avoiding the snow that had engulfed other regions of the North. Later that night I headed to The Living Room in Milton Keynes, a restaurant that takes on the persona of a jumping club as the diners finish up around 10pm. I was playing next to a huge window, and over the course of my set I watched a fresh fall of snow leave about 2-3 inches on the roads. By closing time it had mostly turned to slush, however, enabling another drama-free journey home. A stint at TLR’s Oxford venue completed things on Saturday.
During the week, my batch of 2010 Bangers mixes got unleashed. Bangers is a year-end tradition that involves me blending the year’s biggest club tunes into a series of quickfire mixes. This year there are four. The R&B and Hip Hop instalments cover all the mainstream hits, (an unfeasibly high proportion of appearances from Nicki Minaj,) while the Reggae Dancehall and UK Funky/ Grime mixes go a little harder. All are available for listening or download from my Soundcloud page on the following links, where you’ll also find the track listings:
With Parveen due to give birth to our second child around the turn of the year, Wednesday 8th was the latest point at which it was safe for me to be out of the country, as I headed to Berlin on a brief business trip. While the ice had thawed at home, in the German capital – as with most of mainland Europe – the snow was inches deep. It was bitterly cold at around minus five, and I cranked up the heating in my hotel room as soon as I’d trudged in from the street. There’s a few pics of the frozen landscapes here:
Back at Schonefeld airport, it was a grim scenario. Every flight on the board had been either cancelled or delayed indefinitely, and folk were taking up every available inch of floor space. Just as I was resolving myself to the idea of being stranded for another night, the board announced that my Ryanair back to Stansted was ‘boarding now’ It ended up the only flight of the day to leave Schonefeld – albeit three hours’ late. Considering my flight is usually the only one on any given board to be delayed, on this occasion I counted myself very fortunate. A further Living Room double bill was on the cards for the weekend – MK on Friday 10th, and up to Nottingham for Saturday 11th.
The following week saw the appearance of two Best Of 2010 Just Buggin’ podcasts, marking the heaviest tunes that I busted on the radio this year, along with a few others that had appeared since. In yet another year where what passes for mainstream ‘urban’ music has left me cold, going through the selection for these podcasts offered further encouragement that there IS still timeless quality hip hop being made if only you look in the right places. You can listen back to the JB instalments on the following links:
With more heavy snow forecast for the following weekend, I was lucky to make it into London and back on Friday 17th to spin for an after-work crowd at Cape in EC2. I woke up the following morning to at least eight inches of snow which didn’t let up for the rest of the day. Facebook and Twitter were replete with other DJs complaining about cancelled flights, (including a flued-up Shortee Blitz getting stranded in Dubai) and general travel chaos.
The snow had largely thawed by my next outing on Thursday 23rd. This was to my old stomping ground of Bar OC in Devizes, (which frequently begs the question ‘where the hell is that?’ It’s in Wiltshire.) It’s a venue I used to pay frequently back in the day. The gig was billed as an Old School RnB Academy jam, and it was great to meet a few heads that remembered my Swing Shift show from Galaxy 101 in Bristol back in the 90s, (don’t see many out these days!) and to link with long-standing resident Dick Stacey and proprietor Jim. A few pics from that night are here:
My penultimate gig of the year was the following night back at the Oxford Living Room. Christmas Eve is truly unpredictable; I’ve had some great clubbing experiences, as well as some washouts. With three-foot icicles hanging from buildings this year was quiet, so I was finished and home by midnight. With a particularly demanding two-year-old to entertain throughout Christmas Day, that suited me fine.