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Life with Lavendar in London town

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Charlotte Street Blues Bar

I woke this morning to find myself bleary-eyed and croaky voiced, all signs reflecting that I'd had a good time last night at The Charlotte Street Blues Bar.

This relatively new venue in London is fast gaining a reputation as being a sure thing for a decent night out with good music and a laid back vibe.

A few months ago I was wandering around Fitzrovia, in search of a cafe called Lantana which has excellent coffee. As I made my way down Charlotte Street, I saw a large crowd of people congregated together outside on the sidewalk. They were drinking, chatting and looking quite happy and pleased with themselves in general. It looked like a fun group party and my interest was piqued. As I approached them, a flyer was shoved in my hand and I saw that the crowd were at an opening of a new venue. The Charlotte Street Blues bar. Something about the whole atmosphere was so appealing that I wanted to go in right there and then but boring life committments called, as did the lure of good coffee.

Last night I finally made it down there with some friends to watch Ash Grunwald play. Ash is a blues and roots musician from Australia. I have had numerous opportunties to see him play in the past at venues such as the Fly By Night or Mojos in Perth but never did. I'd heard he was good but his gigs had always eluded me. Now that I was halfway across the world, it seemed like the time had come.

Ash didn't disappoint. And neither did the venue. It was such a thrill to actually go somewhere that you have high hopes for and actually have those hopes met. How rare is that. The bar was unpretentious both in style and service. The design of the place was intimate without being constrictive and the decor was just the right side of elegant, electic shoddiness. The staff were beyond attentive although I did notice that most of the men beind the bar all had beards. Is this a blues thing? Nonetheless, they actually did their jobs well which to my jaded view of customer service in London is paramount to finding a needle in a haystack.

And then of course there was Ash, interspersing larrikin warmth with frenzied virtuosity and bringing with him that touch of home which is so hard to describe but so tangible a feeling. He played till 12.30am and filled the walls of that place with the distinctive, plaintive wail of blues and roots.

At the end of the day, the venue was alive and warm because of the music that filled it. But if you have to sit anywhere and drink and be with people to listen to the blues, there are worse places you could be than the Charlotte Street Blues bar. I'd recommend you go. Soon.

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