Spring Fever at Zephyr Lounge

The Zephyr Lounge in Leamington Spa hosted, at the weekend, Spring Fever a promotion of local bands organised by APE Promotions (run by Johnny Satsangi and George Billington). The line-up included Shanade, The Swaps, GrassRoutes and Dissident Noize Factory.

After the doors were open the room quickly filled with fans of the groups, as well as locals looking to hear homegrown bands.

Shanade on stage

Shanade (Morrow) was first up on stage and is well known in Leamington doing a lot of vocal coaching with local acts, including the award-winning Blues singer/guitarist Laurence Jones who is appearing at Zephyr Lounge on April 19th.

Shanade was playing a solo set, though she sometimes appears in a three-piece band, singing to her own acoustic guitar and using audio loops for harmony backing on some songs. She kicked off with “May as Well” with its soulful singing and strong guitar chords and then moved on to “Don’t let it Stop You” which was a song with slower smooth rhythms with dual harmonies.

Other songs in her set included “There must be More”, “Devil Get Gone” with its passionate vocals, “Gambling Man” from her last EP, and finally the evocative “Lion” with its echoed faraway lyrics and picking guitar style. Shanade finished to lots of applause and appreciation from the crowd to her great singing and guitar playing.

After a short break to get the next band plugged in The Swaps took to the stage. The Swaps line was Beth Brooks (vocals) , James Knight (Guitar and vocals), Tomo Sugisaka (Harmonica), Dave Male (Drums) and Adam Phillips (Bass).
The Swaps style as seen on their Facebook page is “Having met on a witness exchange programme, the band's members know very little about each

The Swaps in full flow

other. And they remain tight-lipped about all aspects of their lives. As is traditional, their funky-blues folk-soul pop music also prefers not to be described.” So classic Blues but with some funk, soul and funk thrown in! This includes some great harmonica playing from Tomo, hiding at the back of the stage.

The Swaps played some tracks from earlier EPs as well as some newer songs. They kicked off with “Beating” with great female vocals and blues style before James joined Beth on vocals for “Coming Home”. Then an older song called “Deep” was performed with nice counterpoint vocals from James.

The song “Success” harked back to The Blues Brothers' style with great harmonica interplay with blues guitar and vocals, backed by bass and drums. Then towards the end of the set they played their new song “Jump” with its smoother vocals and finished off with “Suffering” with James on slide guitar with a Les Paul to give the authentic blues sound with great throaty vocals from Beth.

After a break to set up the next band we had a change of music style with GrassRoutes.

GrassRoutes with their ska/reggae beat

So think of a mixture of Madness, The Specials, The Selector and The Beat and you have got their music style.

The bands line-up was Jay Hall (Lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Ben knight (Lead guitar, backing vocals), Justin Bygrave (Bass guitar, backing vocals), Andy Haring (Keys, & backing vocals), Ethan Shipley (Trumpet) and Tom Graham (Drums).

The bands following had come out in force with lots of Ska fans in their pork pie hats and sharp suits. Not surprising as Ska’s roots are in Coventry.

As the band’s Facebook page states “If you thought Grassroutes are just another run of the mill straight down the line ska band you’d be very mistaken. With additional spicing coming from the Jamaican descent of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Jay Hall and certainly through his reggae inspirations. “

Two years on from its start, the band is earning a potent reputation for their live performances and now working on their debut album, with its unique blend of indie rock ska with a sprinkle of hip hop.

The band kicked off with “Subliminal” which was inspired by how television can make you feel the need to be a certain way. This is a classic ska style song with great trumpet and guitars and vocals.

“Peel head” is based on an old Jamaican folk song that Jay Hall’s grandpa use to sing to the generations of his family. Next up was a more political song “Amnesty” which Jay Hall wrote at a time when he felt a bit down about the deaths of youngsters dying from stabbings. This was a funky reggae song with multi-layered vocals.

Another song performed was about employment issues, through this extended recession, “Jack of all Trades” – as Jay was “getting sick of losing jobs that I thought would be permanent” Then we moved onto a song written by Justin Bygrave “Death of an angel”

Another song about something that Jay Hall feels strongly about was “Trouting for Girls” which is “About the pouting epidemic and the need to destroy your face with plastic surgery” This was back to Reggae with trumpet, offbeat guitar and strong drum backing.

Following on was a joint collaboration from Justin Bygrave & Jay Hall “Wolf” which Justin created and Jay co-wrote about living in a protective bubble. The final song was “Grouze” which was about Jay’s old man (grouze is his nickname).
By the end of this set, the venue was rocking to the ska/reggae style of a polished local band who are looking to get signed up, and should do on this performance.

The last group on the bill was Dissident Noize Factory at what was only their 2nd gig with a style, as per their Facebook page of, “A mash up of punk, ska,

Dissident Noize Factory with George on guitar

gypsy break beat and electronic tunes. Original music to get the dance floor slammin.

The band line-up was George Biddington (Guitar - as well as Producer), Terry Milton (Drums), Liz Allen (Fiddle), Carlos Stein (Harmonica) and Jacqui O (Vocals and a sprinkle of spice for good measure).

The band was formed in late October 2016 by George Biddington, initially with drummer Terry Milton. We quite liked the name Dissident Bomb Factory among others... but if you to a google search it comes up with Irish dissident bomb factories. So not such a good idea. It then became Dissident Noize Factory and Carlos, Liz and Jacqui joined us. We trained hard for our first gig all together, over a period just 5 weeks. And the gig really went off!! with all the songs performed written by George.

Carlos had developed a ska type harmonica technique for it which seemed to work well. Liz the fiddle player joined the band shortly afterwards and added a nice "Gypsy" element to their sound, along with Jacqui's distinctive "Hazel O'Connor" inspired vocals.

The band kicked off with “Dumb us down” and followed that up with “Homemade Bomb” with added props, balloon bombs with LED lights, thrown into the crowd.

Other songs played included “Save the attitude”, “Beat for a pulse”, “Slippery Streets”, Thunk like a punk and Techno Firepit Skank.
“Homemade Bomb” was played again as an encore.

Please check the listing for The Zephyr Lounge and The Assembly in Leamington Spa on their website

Spring Fever at Zephyr Lounge
WiderView Visual Media, Chris Roberts 21 March 2017
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