Entries in brixton (6)


William Elliott Whitmore - Windmill, Brixton

Photo by Pieter Morlion

There are many great things about living in Brixton and one of those is being just a stone throw from the Windmill where on Thursday evening William Elliott Whitmore took to the stage. A rare opportunity to see William play in such an intimate venue the gig sold out weeks in advance, however being both slim and very lucky I was allowed to squeeze in!

At the Windmill it's been a fine year for artists of the folk-punk/alt-country genre with Austin Lucas, Digger Barnes, Two Cow Garage, Crazy Arm, Frontier Ruckus and Franz Nicolay to name just a few who with tattooed arms and shots of whiskey have taken the stage in recent months.

Support on the evening came from London based, and Windmill regular JD Smith. I arrived a little too late to catch his set but based on previous times I've heard him play he's well worth checking out if you get the chance.

William's act is a minimalist one accompanied with just his banjo and kick-drum, and there was a sense the evening would be a long one as he invited folk to make room for others saying "there's plenty of room up here on the stage, just don't touch me or touch my shit!". And a long one it was, for the £10 entry you certainly got value for money with a set which topped the two hour mark.

With seven albums to his name there were plenty of songs to play and it seemed as though William would have been happy playing through all of them. Taking numerous requests from the audience William was willing to play whatever the eager and informed crowd wanted to hear, and the frequent stops between songs for banter, a steady flow of whiskey being passed forward from the back of the room and the lights down low it only added to the intimacy of the event.

Although a great banjoist it's William's voice that really sets him apart. His deep, throaty vocals are often described as 'the voice that Tom Waits has been after for years' and something of a mix between Solomon Burke and Captain Beefheart with plenty of whiskey and cigarette abuse thrown in for good measure. A blend of gospel, blues, folk and country it's a sound that wouldn't be out of place in the 1930s but fits equally well in 2011. And lyrics of solid Americana pedigree speaking of drinking, loving and losing, the devil and darkness, as well as reflections of life growing up on his grandparents farm in Keokuk, Iowa you were left entertained, informed and feeling as though as long as people kept making music like that then everything was going to be alright.

If you get a chance to see William live you should, and if you don't then you should at least give him a listen!


A little bit of Brixton was lost this morning.

Image courtesy of Rocker_44This morning squatters of Clifton Mansions were evicted after a 15 year occupancy of building. Lambeth Council who own the building plan to turn it into luxury flats, which for me seems to go very much against the original purpose and essence of the flats.

Located on Coldharbour Lane the 22 flats were built in 1896 to house the workers of Brixton Theatre (now the Ritzy cinema) and over the years have maintained a strong cultural link with the community - former residents have included members of The Pouges, The Cult, and notably 2004 Turner Prize winner, Jeremy Deller.

In recent years the building has suffered a decline in maintenance but lost none of the character which made it special or the sense of community from those who inhabited it, many of whom were musicians and artists contributing to the local area.

In 2007 the Clifton Mansions Initiative (CMI) put together a regeneration proposal at the heart of which the vision was to provide 22 affordable live/work units for use by the Creative and Cultural Industries. It would also provide retail units to help generate income for the workspaces and a centre for outreach programmes focused on tacking Brixton's social problems.

As recently as a few months ago I heard rumours that Lambeth Council may be interesting in resuscitating ideas from the CMI - sadly this seems not to be the case.


Kaosan, Brixton Village

Since it opened around nine weeks ago I've received a bunch of recommendations from friends to try out Kaosan, Brixton Village's newest restaurant.  Today I finely found time and headed down there for a spot of lunch.

The family run Thai restaurant is located at the Cold Harbour Lane end of 2nd Avenue and comfortably seats around 18 people.  On a Tuesday afternoon the restaurant was fairly quiet (a group of six were leaving as I arrived) but during the weekend and evenings you can expect a short wait of 10-15 minutes for a table.  And it's very much worth the wait.

Being a lunchtime I wasn't after a huge meal.  Everything on the menu sounded amazing and for small place there was a varied selection.  I opted for Kaeng Khiao Kai (Thai green chicken curry) and after a short wait my meal came out of the open kitchen where you can see the food being prepared.  It looked, smelt and tasted great!  It was hotter than a typical London thai, but not so hot it caused any discomfort whilst eating!

The average price of a main course was £6.90, a selection of soft drinks and teas are on the menu however if you fancy beer or wine with your meal you'll have to bring your own (apparently with no corkage charge).

If you're about Brixton I'd definitely recommend that you give Kaosan a go, in fact I'd say it's worth travelling to try out.  You won't be disappointed.

Opening times:

Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday – 12pm to 9pm

Thursday & Saturday – 12pm to 10pm