Friday, 10 May 2013


Saturday night a couple of weeks ago...
I and a few friends are here to have a good time, one of the best clubs- not in the centre of London- but up town, in remote Hackney, a borough filled with musicians and artists from almost every corner of the world.
This is Passing Clouds and it is April 13th....2013.
The beers we are drinking seems to have  a Swahili name, but Mongozo does not come from East Africa, who cares?   Mwongozo  ( not “Mongozo” )means guidelines, in Swahili, mind you. Which might fit our theme today.

“Tastes good,”  Angolan, world travelled bon vivant, Antonio Mamede, a  jazz enthusiast who plays Trumpet says with relish.
As we sip  Mongozo and swing to the house DJ's  blues and jazz and the Afro and the funk and the reggae... Passing Clouds  suddenly unleashes its melodic tsunami.
 Band on stage is doing the most beautiful sound-check I have seen for ages. I will tell you why in a second.
On keyboards is confident looking Cyrus Richards (UK/Grenada), who I am told has just been touring with Culture and Abyssinians while Gabriele - Italian and newest member of the band - stands tall on Sax ;  Kit drums? It's Juba who also plays for Sam and the Womp, Tumbaito etc.  Bass bassing bass, is the swinging and tingling  rhythms of Caswell Swaby...

“We will sound check and play you something...” Says the man with the red guitar, long dreadlocks and a very pleasant vibe. Passing Clouds vibe.
The vocals "welcome" everyone to dance and enjoy themselves and by the time we start to move, the guys, these artists, have balanced their sound. There is no "testing one two three", that old fashioned, monotonous rivulet....
This is Planetman in action.

At first glance I am reminded of Robert Cray, that 1980s guitarist and blues man who also sings without back vocalists.  Songs pour out one after the other; mostly easy going chants, mostly positive, mostly Reggae.
“We don’t need War...”  brings back Bob Marley’s similar theme song- if you are aware and like the history of popular music.  After another number ( One Time), Planet man reminds us of a  personal hero  and launches into “Pressure Drop”...again if you know the history of reggae, Toots and the Maytals(who is still alive) wont be a stranger ( I love his Monkey Man song); Pressure Drop of course gets us rocking like  kids in a school playground.  By the fifth song it is "High life" time,  to Africa grooves. But it is not just Highlife ;Zouk is in the beat and the menu; we are all getting rid of the Mongozo beer in our guts. And start to sweat. I notice more smiling and togetherness in the audience.
Gabriele blows his Sax like roaring clouds....

“Mama Please Mama” further brings the audience closer; singing along, arms waving is effort less.
Generally, the music has well arranged breaks and what Brazilians call “conventions” i. e. stabs and  subtle changes.  Planetman the singer and songwriter is also an able guitarist always playing short, super charged melodious riffs, tight meandering speedy brief solos and eclectic sound effects without overdoing it ... while sharing the limelight with his remarkable musicians. Sax solos  equally shared with the guitar – a sandwich of strings and winds...
Sandwich of music?
Planetman changes his string- while the music keeps rocking...

No wonder  a guitar string splits – Planetman is on the floor, kneeling and changing his tools of work. Think the audience is kept waiting? Don't think so, my friend., Bass man Caswell Swaby takes over the helm as we continue to rock. It is Eek A Mouse's “A Wa Na Do Dem”....once again to lessons of reggae the  days of that tall pre –Dancehall toaster, Eek A Mouse...
Everyone loves this mix of a few reggae standards and Planetman's original material.
 Ladies, mostly take pics on their I phones and guys dance non stop.
Someone from the floor offers Planetman a drink.
“I prefer it natural, no ice please..” He says of the rum.
Always talking to his audience, always communicating, always natural and normal as any artist can be.

There-after more songs from his  Album flow : Man Fight Man, Truth and Rights, Jah Give Me Love, We Go Jam, Shine your Light.
By the time “Shine Your Light” comes in, dawn is around the corner, we forget we are in the coldest Winter... of 2013. Once again, music plays a role in making people love life and roll and smile...and forget these troubled and turbulent times.
So then...
Bass man , Caswell  Swaby sings Eek a Mouse's classical 1980s number...

Planetman  is a name that evokes celestial vibrations and like multiple stars fits this Hackney based London musician : an entertainer and innovator of music.
Being sensitive and talented is not enough It has been said that  one needs 10 percent inspiration and 90% perspiration.
Planetman is always doing those flyers, always talking about events and gigs (including  Passing Clouds) his CDs and new songs , the musicians he promotes . A guy who loves what he does and in the process makes things happen.
Which is what we need. 
The days of musicians just practising and waiting for managers and talent scouts are gone- one has to be as innovative too.
Tomorrow Saturday another act; another gorgeous night at Passing Clouds...
More info...go here 

No comments: