Organic lager, a super-friendly vibe and a Madchester moment for folk music: these are the memories of my evening at the Green Note in Camden. Find this bijou music bar/restaurant by heading up Parkway, away from the clamour of Camden Market, just at the point where the verdant sanity of Regent’s Park can be glimpsed.
First impressions are of a really pleasant and welcoming little spot – a friendly place which hosts ‘the cream of the crop of folk, blues, Americana and world music’. Its charming and slightly ramshackle interior is indicative of a venue whose owners possess genuine passion for music rather than a faceless conglomerate.
The small restaurant area leads through to the music room with a pocket-sized stage; a bar twinkles invitingly at the far end. Beer is Freedom organic; more interesting are the cocktails, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, food extends to quiches, samosas, wraps, brownies and walnut cake. The atmosphere is very sociable, especially if you’re seated at the communal tables.I chatted to Laurel Swift, who accompanied the support act on fiddle – she has headed the youth programme at Towersey Festival and is involved in lots of folk art projects.
The support is a double act: Laura Smyth and Ted Kemp. Laura is Lancashire born, with a passion for her (and my) home county; she introduces each traditional Manchester folk song with a little explanation of its origins, and much of it is quite colourful. Clearly Madchester began many years before New Order, Inspiral Carpets et al put the cotton-mill city on the map. She’s accompanied by the mystical-looking Ted on banjo, with Laurel playing the fiddle. Their voices harmonise beautifully.
Next on stage are Auriyga, a band who are pushing the boundaries of folk music. They comprise six musicians – five girls, one boy, all from the Birmingham Conservatoire. The set comprises a variety of folk numbers plus a couple of Jewish songs with a klezmer feel. Their ability to switch instruments throughout their long set is impressive, and between them, the classically-trained six play the fiddle, flute, clarinet, guitar, accordion, recorder and percussion.
This is a charming and well-priced little venue with a regular Folk on Monday session, plus plenty of other good nights.