Thursday, 21 November 2013


I'm usually far more of a jazz fan than a folk music fan. But just last week, some friends of mine persuaded me to come and listen while Norwegian Hardanger fiddle virtuoso Annbjorg Lien and Swedish guitarist Roger Tallroth treated us to a straight ninety minutes of Scandinavian folk. It was staged as part of the London Jazz Festival, ironically enough. And they were brilliant, magical, carrying you away on ever-ascending spirals of song, rhythm, and melody. A spellbinding evening. Catch them if they ever come your way.

And to make it even better, it all took place at a venue that I've never visited before, a terrific arts center called King's Place on York Way, very nicely designed and laid out and with a cafe backing out onto a houseboat filled cutting of the Regent's Canal, so that the evening was memorably picturesque as well. I wish I'd taken my camera along, and shall next time. And all this in an area of London -- north of King's Cross station -- which had quite a nasty reputation not so long ago, a grubby red-light district and the scene of gang fights and some pretty notorious crimes. Some people believe that gentrification is a bad thing. I'm not one of them.

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