Alannah Francis reviews Americana night Loose Music Jamboree headlined by Danny & the Champions of the World at Windmill Brixton on Saturday – the pub’s penultimate gig for Independent Venue Week. Photos by Holly Whitaker.
The Windmill was still warming up by the time Simon Stanley Ward took to the stage, but everyone was immediately charmed by his comical lyrics and youthful enthusiasm. Clearly a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously, with The Fly Song, a storytelling song about two flies who get separated and lyrics on Water You’ve Got to Have It including “you keep tuna moist when it’s in a can”, but he’s obviously serious about his craft. So serious, in fact, that he broke the string on his guitar during his first song. Thankfully Danny was able to lend his for the rest of Simon’s set.
Although there are few artists like Simon, the act that followed Joana Serrat, couldn’t have been more of a contrast. The Spanish singer-songwriter delivered a stripped back set full of slow and soulful songs. She treated fans to some of her new material including album title track Crossing the Verge.
Jeb Loy Nicholls sat for his set and if you’ve ever been to The Windmill you’ll know that if an act sits on stage and you’re any further back than the first four rows you’ll struggle to see. Despite the limited visuals for Jeb’s performance, his vocals and style switched up the flavour of the night once again.
Even within a country/Americana theme, the styles varied widely with each act. Jeb’s sound was clearly infused with rhythm and blues, soul, and reggae on To Be Rich Should Be A Crime. Even disco, a genre which arguable couldn’t be further from country, was injected into his set via Country Music Disco 45.
Headline act Danny and the Champions of the World drew the largest crowd and as a band with a Windmill history, the sold out venue was audibly excited to hear their set. Danny took to the stage wearing a cowboy shirt and got straight into pleasing the crowd. He performed his strong singalong American back catalogue including Every Beat of My Heart, Colonel and the King and Stay True with such soul.
Danny’s charisma and catchy hooks meant that whenever he asked fans to join in they happily obliged. In return he offered to play Henry the Van, a fan favourite, as a follow up. His set had the crowd dancing the night away, even if there was very little room to do so.
With the launch of the UK’s official Americana chart last week, these artists are definitely ones to watch. It’s likely that you’ll be hearing a lot more from them over the coming years.