I began an interesting working day at the MU’s HQ in Clapham Road, alongside my colleague Maddy Radcliff, presenting to the Union’s Executive Committee video snapshots of the PR coverage we had secured in partnership with our agency Kindred in the last 24 hours. These included excerpts from Sky News and Channel 5 featuring composer David Arnold and General Secretary Horace Trubridge.
I had already greeted Neil Davies and the team from Mobile Exhibition Services who had arrived to collect our promo materials on their way to installing our stand at Tobacco Dock where we were exhibiting at BBC Introducing Live for the next three days. Having left the Executive meeting, I travelled by tube and DLR from Oval to Shadwell and checked in on progress at the venue. Tobacco Dock may be an historic and fascinating site, but it certainly presents a challenge to modern-day equipment movement! So, realising there would be some delay, I walked to my hotel for the duration – the Holiday Inn, Whitechapel – which was to prove an extremely pleasant place to stay. Returning to the Dock, it was clear good progress was now being made and I was able to complete the displays before heading into town at around 5pm.
Stopping to purchase a Hawes shirt in Oxford Street, I strolled down Greek Street in Soho and enjoyed a main course at the Pizza Express. This is located on the former site of the Marquee Cafe, a music venue I had regularly played in the mid 1990s. I then walked back up the street to join the queue outside The Borderline in Manette Street, where the launch of the UK Americana Music Awards 2019 was taking place.
I immediately ran into a gathering of roots music aficionados including Tom Bridgewater of Loose Music, Crispin Parry of British Underground and former MU Official, Ben Jones. Once inside it was clear the basement venue had undergone a refurbishment, with the bar having been moved. It is certainly a different layout from when I last played there with Birdcage in the spring of 2000!
It proved a very enjoyable event and it was especially good to catch up with Michael Leonard, journalist and editor of Country Music, the Wandering Hearts who performed superbly and opened proceedings on stage, plus the Awards CEO, Stevie Freeman.
As the launch began to run down, I made my way to Bar Italia and caught the end of Juventus v Man Utd on the screen. I then crossed the road and dropped into the regular midweek Jam Upstairs at Ronnie’s. Leaving there, I remembered that there is also live jazz on a Wednesday downstairs at the Spice of Life, presented and managed by the charming Paul Pace. Another relaxed hour, before I caught the tube back to the East End and a necessary rest before it all kicks off at BBC Introducing Live.