The Pound Café in Brixton now plays host to the aptly-named Pindrop Sessions, an unplugged and friendly monthly event, run by LaLaLa records and Robson Arts, which aims to provide a different experience of live music in a very intimate setting. The venue itself is a community café with a pay-what-you-can ethos, which the Pindrop sessions aims to continue. Entry is a suggested £5 or £10, whichever you feel you can pay, with the entire proceeds going to the musicians, likewise the bar has suggested donations with the proceeds going towards the café. There’s a bit of a homey feel to the café, if your furniture consisted of hard wooden benches and chairs that is – I suggest getting there early for the comfy seats.
Once the lights go off you can almost forget the busy sounds of Brixton just a few feet away. The Pindrop sessions aims for intimate and it certainly delivers. The musicians for this evening were a voice-guitar duo Sylvia Schmidt and James Kitchman, with a programme of Anglo-Americans folk songs from the Appalachian Mountains, but with the rich harmonic language of jazz. It makes for a beautiful and haunting selection of arrangements and improvisations around some well-known, and some more obscure songs. Whilst not strictly as unplugged as advertised, with Schmidt utilising a microphone for the majority of the two sets, and Kitchman not only “plugged” but sporting an array of effects pedals which would be the envy of any guitarist, they balanced the sound incredibly well for the size of the venue. Schmidt’s vocals were at times rich and warm, and at others delicate and ethereal, perfectly suited to this repertoire, with sensitive and thoughtful accompaniment from the guitar, reminiscent of Swedish Jazz trio E.S.T or hints of Pat Methany. Every song had something to recommend it as the ensemble is excellent, but the solo offerings from each musician particularly stood out. It was the kind of performance that draws you in and makes you forget about anything outside the moment, the perfect antidote to the typical manic energy that is Brixton on a Friday night. Of course, with the gig finishing at around ten there’s plenty of time for that too.
The next Pindrop Sessions with The Magic Lantern and InMiriam takes place on Friday 23rd November, doors at 7.30pm, music at 8pm, with more sessions already booked for 2019. For more information visit the LaLaLa records website
Silvia Schmidt and James Kitchman’s EP As Long as Songbirds Sing will be released in 2019. Pre-order your cop via Schmidt_sylvia@gmx.de