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.


One thought on “Review: Green Note in Camden, folk music Monday and organic beer

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