Gaz’s Rockin Blues 35th Anniversary Spectacular
- Category: Music
- Written by Piers Thompson
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Gaz’s Rockin Blues 35th Anniversary Spectacular Presented by Mode and Portobello Radio.
GAZ’s ROCKIN BLUES is a Soho institution and London’s longest running club one-niter. It opened on July 3 1980. The Stray Cats were the first live band, and it’s been open every Thursday since, originally at Gossips in Dean Street and since 1989 at St Moritz in Wardour Street.
The legendary Gaz Mayall is the host, pumping out ska, jive, rocksteady and rhythm & blues. The audience now contains children and even grand-children of the original members. The sounds may be vintage but the atmosphere remains as fresh as ever.
Acts that have played there range from Desmond Dekker, Lee Scratch Perry, Prince Buster, Toots, Louisiana Red and The Jolly Boys to Paloma Faith, Beth Orton, The Strypes and most recently up and coming ska girl from Camden, Emily Capell. If Gaz isn’t DJing, you’ll find Natty Bo, Mark Lamarr, Baby Soul or Duke Vin at the decks. Tracey Emin was the coat-check girl.
Gaz’s Rocking Blues is a classic Soho dive (hot, sweaty, but no longer smokey), in the traditions of 20s Jazz Clubs (like The Gargoyle), 50s Blues, or Mod Clubs of the 60s (The Scene, The Flamingo). The crowd is “delinquents, dandies, thieves, aristocrats and drug-store cowboys, all looking like they own the night” and has included Robert de Niro, Mick Jagger, Lucien Freud, Kate Moss, David Bowie, David Hockney, Damien Hirst, Scarlett Johanson, Jude Law, Joe Strummer. Robert Plant had his son’s 21st there: Ian Dury called it his favourite place in London.
Gaz takes the show to the Rocket Lounge in Glastonbury’s Shangri La every year and has hosted a stage at Carnival since 1989, just outside The Globe, Notting Hill’s ‘last shebeen’. He’s big in Japan of course. His flyers inspired Gaz’s Rockin Blues – The First 30 Years, a book from art publisher, Trolley Books, and an exhibition at Gordon McHarg’s Subway Gallery.
Gaz is celebrating his anniversary by hosting a Rockin Blues Spectacular in the heart of his West London manor, taking over Mode on Friday July 3rd and transforming into a stomping blues, with his favourite bands, his irresistible tunes and his unique collection of people.
First on the bill is the Sweetheart of Portobello, Alexia Coley with her smoove soul. Next up is ‘the Dickensian hip-hop world of Rotten Hill Gang, with tales of old and new London, stories as putrid as decaying vegetables at the end of a day in Portobello Rd’. Top of the bill, as always, is Gaz’s own band, The Trojans, purveying Celtic Ska since 1986. The line up changes but the energy never abates.
Gaz chose Mode because it’s a venue he first played in April 1982, when it was Acklam Hall. He hired it for his then girlfriend’s 21st for £50, charged £1.50 on the door. It was a sell out we hope to repeat again on July 3rd (it’s still only £7). Acklam Hall saw legendary gigs by The Clash, Madness (who were chased off by the Ladbroke Grove Skins), Joy Division, The Fall and many others.
The place became Subterranea, which introduced the UK to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Run DMC, Eminem and many more, then Neighbourhood (owned by Ben Watt from Everything But The Girl), which was on more of a House tip. Now it is transformed once more, into Mode, a canvas on the night for projections that explore Gaz’s relationship with the building.
Selectors on the night are Gaz, Natty Bo and Mr Mass.
Portobello Radio is presented by Chris Sullivan (Wag Club, Blue Rondo A La Turk, GQ) and Piers Thompson (Soul Furnace, Portobello Panto, Portobello Live), every Friday between 1 and 3pm on Ktokradio.com. It is closely linked to both the Save Soho and Save Portobello campaigns.
See related listing GAZ'S ROCKIN BLUES 35th ANNIVERSARY SPECTACULAR