Was it only four or five weeks ago that we all parted ways from the flat in Mornington Crescent, the guys that I lived with for a year and a half? What a great place – with one of those happy sounding names that makes you glad to live there, it’s basically south Camden Town, which gets a pretty bad rep from most of the rest of London thanks to all the supposed ‘crazies’ frequenting the high street, but once you get back a block or two from the high road, it’s inner city living, about half an hour tube to anywhere in town.
I loved my time there and the guys were great, although the same old drift apart happened with Mr P. After a couple of rows and him basically not talking to me for about four months, I finally knocked on his door to confront him about it and get it all out and try and sort it out, not just leave it to sit there and stew, and he brought up all the relevant events but just all misconstrued, viewing in them in a totally different way to how I saw them, and I knew that it would be futile to try and reconcile them. And then he basically tells me that I’m not his friend anymore. And tells me again! Wow, I didn’t know we hadn’t left primary school….
And so, with a weary sigh, I watched as another ‘friend’ of mine, after yet another living situation disagreement, drifts off into the ether. We went to New York for a week together; I thought that might count for something. But no, I’vebeen through it all enough now, it’s just variations on a theme, so boring and nerve-racking at the same time, but that’s just the way it seems to be I guess.
Thankfully, the ensuing house hunt was circumvented as I already had a place lined up in Whitechapel, in the East End, in a rather extraordinary circumstance. Son Veneno are an absolutely rocking Latin Hip-Hop Funk band from the Emerald City of our great southern homeland, who have all moved over, as a band, to make it big in the Ol Dart and maybe even the world.
The main idea here is a sense of community – a lot of the gigs that these guys do are community festivals, as well as it being a band that lives communally, sharing rooms, food and money. It’s close quarters living in a dodgy looking three-bedroom ex-council flat in the the heart of the East End, paying cash gigs in pubs and clubs, a difficult existence at the best of times, but one totally worth every effort, and don’t they love it!
What an awesome muso house – there’s always an album on, always someone to play or hang or drink with, always adventures afoot. Living there not as a band member works out reasonably well for me; as much as everyone’s in each other’s pockets, they all tend to do things together as a band, and so if they’re all on a gig then I get the place to myself, which works out just fine.
It’s a bit of a first for me, living with musicians, and it’s also a welcome return to the circumstance of having musical instruments actively and regularly played in the living area, a truly soul-enriching experience for anyone who’s been lucky enough to grow up with it, something definitely missed through the years of sharehousing. With acoustic music being now so removed from people’s daily lives, living with these guys is a privilege..
Alas, they’re back off home in September, and for the two or three weeks that I was around in the flat, I was just getting into the Son Veneno groove, whether it was laughing about Oz lingo over a 7AM beer with the great Loochador, piano player/composer, one of the most extraordinarly positive people I’ve ever come across, or talking career with Will, the fast-talking English recruit percussionist, or running off to the local Moroccan bar to smoke a shish with Marty, trumpet player/studio guy, and Cesar, the bassplayer, one of two brothers in the band. With grinning, cherubic face, his even temper and quietly spoken manner seem to preside over the never-ending carnival of activity.
But sadly my time as an East Ender with the Band from Oz will be somewhat limited in the coming weeks, as I am currently writing from a bagel bar in Munich, at the beginning of the second week of a six-month world tour with a West End musical theatre production by the name of ‘Dancing In The Streets’….