Tag Archives: Withington

Catching up with Johnny Sly

Johnny Sly are one of the bands we (M20) have seen emerge and develop over the last two years – and not to sound biased, but we’re very fond of them! We worked with them in their earlier days when M20 were doing regular Solomon Grundy events and local gigs, and they just keep moving onwards, upwards and side ways (quite literally as they get bigger and bigger as an outfit)! It was great to catch up with them on their movements of the last year or so and the Sly journey, thus far.

Tell everyone a bit about yourselves, the story till now…

Jonny: I think the band grew like a plant in that it started with one seed and each new element was a natural progression but also an evolution, so it was organic and no-one feels responsible.

Jack: Jonny started playing and writing music in Brighton when he was lil, and then when he came up here he started playing open mics on his own. Me and Aeve joined three years ago – we used to practice in this little basement room in some upmarket uni halls we sneaked into. It was really echoey and we’d go there at night and get weird. We were a funny lil’ threesome, not quite sure what we were doing, but we managed to get some gigs like Antwerp mansion and open mics.

Aeve: We recorded a video for Mosaic Sessions on this really nice sunny, autumn weekend on Salford Quays. These guys on pit bikes kept appearing on the horizon every time we’d start a take and steadily get closer and louder until all you could hear was engine revs, and we’d have to start all over again. We all look really sad in the video because we were trying to look like serious musicians. But we loved it! Some people in a high rise flat clapped out of their window at the end.

Johnny: Although there are nine of us now it doesn’t feel like an ensemble – it still feels like a family – and that’s because we’ve never really sought out new members, they just seem to come along and it fits.

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You performed on BBC Radio 4, how was that?

Aeve: It was great because they gave us breakfast and I got to play a Steinway. We all got really pissed afterwards in the BBC bar and Jack was flirting with Joan Bakewell for ages. And we gave Jennifer Saunders a CD as a christmas present! It was all very surreal and giddy.

Jack: And we met duke from Tracy Beaker! He was a very flamboyant man, I never knew. I remember we watched back some footage that our friend Arthur had video’d from the sound booth and having this realisation that we sounded so much better than we’d heard ourselves before, recorded really clearly, and together and live. That was where the idea for our new EP came from.

What’s been your favourite gig to date, anywhere?

Jonny: We loved Berlin this summer because we were introduced to lots of interesting, creative people who showed us an inside view of the city. We were lucky enough to stay in a beautiful apartment and played a really nice set to an audience of mostly horizontal people. There’s a sense of freedom in Berlin which is inspiring musically. You can drink beer in the street and then put your bottles by the side of the road and people looking for pennies pick them up and recycle them for you. It’s better than some uniformed bruiser tipping your bottle down the drain just because you’re too poor to go to a pub. We saw a rainbow there in the sky with no clouds around it and it looked like the sky was smiling. I have no idea how it did that.

Jack: Also Amsterdam – we felt like we’d dropped into the coolest place to be with these great people that were all creative and cool and way more organised than us. It was inspiring. And sunny. It seems a long way away right now…..

Aeve: Special mention needs to go to Mischief Festival, who booked us way back when we were a three. It was a very strange vibe, really small and everyone looked like gangsters or pirates. At one point we played Deja Vu and the bass from the main stage was bouncing perfectly in time with us. It was a little adventure.

What about in Manchester?

Aeve: We’ve had some really special gigs in the last year or so, it’s so hard to pick a favourite! But one that really stands out is the gig we did at the Roadhouse [R.I.P] before it closed down last January. We put a lot of energy into promoting it, and had two of our favourite Manchester bands supporting us: Kolo Tamam and Oh Man, The Mountain. Loads of people came down and there was a really great vibe, and we all wore wacky hats on stage which is always a winner! We were all on a massive high after that gig, it was loads of fun.

Tell us about the New EP then

Jack: The EP we released last year, Lost Thoughts, was all recorded in my bedroom, with all the parts laid down one by one. It was a cool process, and one I’m really proud of in retrospect, but at the time it felt frustrating. Sometimes the parts just didn’t move together and mixing it all felt like tricks. That’s why we wanted to do this new one live. For me it’s a mystical thing – I just think you can feel the magic of it all being played together, in the pauses and the lifts. And this way we didn’t spend hours getting each take perfect, we had the weekend, and at the end of that weekend the product (and then Andrew Glassford spent two months mixing it… Thanks Andrew!)

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(Artwork for the Lost Thoughts EP released Nov.2014)

https://johnnysly.bandcamp.com/album/lost-thoughts-ep

Jonny: We recorded videos of the live tracks, which we’re releasing one by one. They were stressful at the time but there was a real sense of focus and emotional energy, and although we were all worrying about the little details, I think we took for granted that we were playing a set that had been honed over many months of consistent gigging in Manchester. Our bodies knew what they were doing and the pressure just added to the ‘pizazz’….

Do you have a favourite Johnny Sly tune?

Aeve: I am really in love with White Light, White Lies from the new EP. It’s just got such a lovely groove and makes me go ‘mmmmm’ inside. I’ve always been drawn to chilled music though so I think the feeling of this one just connects with me more than some of the others.

Phil: Totally agree with Aeve. Also really digging our latest song ‘Tryer’ but it’s not yet on record, so you’ll have to join us for a gig to hear that.

Oli: My fav is probably Remember, from the new EP, cuz it’s f****** epic and ends with a bang and I like bangs because I’m a drummer!

How do you guys write your music?

Aeve: Jonny has always been the songwriter, because of the way the band has grown from his solo project. Essentially, he writes his guitar parts and vocals, and then we all mainly write our own parts. But there is always lots of collaboration and discussion: someone will have an idea for how I could play a part on the keyboard, or one of us will find a harmony for someone else, or Jonny will already have an idea of what he wants someone to do in a certain part of a song. So it starts with Jonny’s parts, then is just a process of trying out different things and sharing ideas for the rest of us!

Who are the biggest influences of the band?

Rosalie: Each other! We all have such varied influences and we share them all.

Any local inspirations, bands killing it in the scene (or off the scene)?

Jack: We’ve already mentioned our band brothers / sisters Kolo Tamam and Oh Man, The Mountain, they are both great in different ways. Pareidolia – they’re a bit like us if we were cooler and less weird. John Ainsworth and Rosalie 23 are honestly two of the best and most original musicians I’ve ever seen. And honey feet. I saw Honey Feet play after us at The Hotspur Press once and they were amazing, upbeat fun, with a mama-jama, diva of a front woman with an insane voice. Further afield Cousin Kula are releasing some insane live videos of their new material at the moment – its Snarky Puppy meet Syd Arthur meets Riot Jazz. And The Mouse Outfit, they have some freshhhhh hip hop sounds that I can’t quite believe are from where I’m from. Gigging and attending gigs can be exhausting and sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have seen and heard musicians like these guys. And Arctic Turn, our bassist Phil’s solo project. I feature on a track of his called Bait and he’s got it on the Tom Robinson playlist on 6 music. Great work Phil. We’re going to record a music video where we throw gross stuff at him in slo-mo and he plays the song. I’ve got a cameo in it but I don’t know what to wear… (video now released see below).

If you could describe Johnny sly as an animal what would you say?
Phil: Some kind of flying iguana mongoose. Next question.

See and hear more of Johnny sly on any of these below links

http://www.facebook.com/johnnyslymusic
BUY their new EP here: https://johnnysly.bandcamp.com/

 

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Local business news: ManKind Male Grooming

Alex Webb reports on the services provided by local business ManKind Grooming.

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Rachel and James make up the team of Mankind Male Grooming, a Withington-based barbers. This duo have never failed to give me a haircut I have been completely satisfied with as soon as I leave. Whilst you’re sat in their chair every step of your haircut/shave will be explained to you giving you confidence in what the pair are doing. When I was speaking to James he said that he joined the Mankind team because it has a focus on craftsmanship as opposed to getting you in and out as fast as possible. Knowing this, I knew my hair was in safe hands (literally), something that is a god-send when you are looking to change up your style or just update a cut you’ve had for years. Before you start, the upkeep that my style would need is explained which means you are not left with a haircut that requires more effort than you can afford to give.

One of the best things about Mankind is the incredibly reasonable prices, especially their students and over 65 rates which offer 20% off. For students, £13 got you a haircut and a clipper shave/trimming! I have only seen prices this good in discount hairdressers where speed is often the priority, instead of quality. At Mankind you can have a quality haircut in 30 minutes and the damage to your wallet is still minimal!

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Above: Before

What has kept me coming back to Mankind is the lack of pretense that often comes with barbers, I felt comfortable being gay here and just being myself whilst the whole room spoke together. Rachel also made a point to note that she would happily work on girls’ hair that she felt confident cutting, mostly shorter styles. This emphasises the fact that everyone in the barbers is invited to be part of the huge conversation going on meaning that it feels like hanging out with friends more than an appointment. Another thing I loved about the shop was Rachel’s and James’ willingness to accept what they excel in. Rachel excels at blending hair smoothly and creating styles that involve contrasting lengths and textures. With Rachel any style you want will be expertly sculpted around your head shape and hair colour. James is the expert in facial hair out of the two, and when I sat down with him he explained different approaches to shaving which again gave me confidence in what he was doing. I left the barbers with a shave that looked even all over but was in fact 3 different levels, something James has perfected to leave beards looking smooth.

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Above:After

This barbershop is ideal whatever you want, whether you are a student looking for a haircut that is fashionable with minimal upkeep or a full-time worker who needs a quick, enjoyable shave leaving presentable for their workplace. This place is one to watch out for in the new academic year, for any freshers needing a new hairdressers since leaving home – look no further. Rachel and James have you covered in their more than capable hands.

Enquiries: MankindMGenquiries@gmail.com

Website: http://www.Mankindmg.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MankindMG

If you;d like to submit news on the independent business of the M20 area submit an email to: them20press@gmail.com

Storm by Jonny Heath

The storm arrived in the middle of the night. Nothing and no one was prepared for its force.

They had said on TV that people should expect heavy wind and rain. Maybe the weatherman was new or asleep or drunk on the job, or maybe the weather itself had made the last minute decision to behave in a completely new and unexpected way, because no whisper of a warning ever came close to reflecting the savagery of that wind, that rain; that force.

First it arrived as an icy wind so powerful that as it swept through the city’s streets it tossed up cars, pulled down chimneys and ripped out road signs; obliterating with whistle, howl and moan the silence that hangs between dancing and dawn.

The first three victims of the storm were, in order:

A set of traffic lights,

The front window of St. Margaret’s Church,

And a papier mache elephant named David.

St Margaret’s was the church on Witherton High Street, and it had a window display that was updated every now and then with a new symbolic item. For a while there had been an elephant there, along with a sign that read:

 

‘ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGET. DON’T FORGET GOD.’

 

When the storm hit, the traffic lights came off best, because they were mostly made of metal; the window of the church shattered into a million pieces, and poor David was caved in like a collapsed meringue.

The storm’s first lucky escapee was a man called Lou, who at the time was watching his feet.

When the wind tore the traffic lights from their moorings in the concrete, pulling up a big clump of it like the earth that comes up with the roots of a weed, Lou was pretending to be in the Bahamas. Lou had never been to the Bahamas, but he had the idea that it was warm there. He was watching his feet because when he brought his face up any higher he got scared that the wind would scrape it off.

The traffic lights missed him by three inches. He didn’t see them but he heard them go; the dreadful rumble as they were ripped from the ground, and immediately after that the dreadful crash of the window as it shattered.

Lou was saved by the same gust of wind that got the traffic lights. It picked him up too, taking him off his feet and throwing him into the opening of an alleyway running alongside the church. If it hadn’t been for that gust of wind, those traffic lights would have taken Lou’s head off. (Although actually they wouldn’t have done any such thing, as if it hadn’t been for that gust of wind, those traffic lights would have stayed just where they were meant to.)

Lou went into the alley on his hands and knees, not thinking anything at all. He held on tight to the bottom of a gate a little way inside. Still Lou had no thoughts, but he knew he should hold on tight to that gate. Sure enough, as soon as his gloved fingers closed around the bars another gust swept through the alleyway as if a giant was trying to blow the dust out, and lifted Lou’s feet clean into the air. Then Lou was upside-down, and his arms near torn from their sockets, but still he thought nothing.

Then he came down with a thump. Then, he had his first thought:

Bloody hell.

His second thought was for Deirdre. She was in the breast pocket of his fraying jacket. Deirdre was a rat.

You’re alright, Deirdre, Lou thought.

(Lou’s thoughts only came every so often, and when they did they were white on a black background with a white embellished border, like the narrative frames of old silent films.)

Maybe Lou felt a wriggling near his chest, as if Deirdre was letting him know she was alright and hadn’t been crushed. Before he had time to check, the spire of St. Margaret’s fell into the alleyway.

There was first a flash of blinding white, then there was a sudden tumbling around, and then there was darkness.

The darkness was total. The darkness was like velvet, blacker than black, and the darkness was deep, stretching out in front of Lou forever. An unmeasurable number of moments passed. Then a thought came:

Can’t feel my feet.

It was true. He couldn’t move them either. One peculiar thing was that Lou couldn’t tell which way up he was. There was pressure from all sides. Soon the parts of his body that he could feel began to complain about the weight of the stones or the ground or the sky or whatever it was that had fallen in on top of him.

Deirdre.

   One of his hands was trapped up against his chest, the arm bent at the elbow. He wriggled his fingers to discover a small cave of space to move around in. He cupped the bulge in his breast pocket; it was warm. Carefully he freed the button of the pocket. His wrist had just enough room to bend so that his hand could slip inside. His fingers met fur.

You’re alright, Deird. You’re alright.

And Lou felt a nibble on his index finger.

Must be terrified.

And he stroked her with one finger, up and down.

You’re alright, Deird.

In the dark with weight on all sides Lou lay, and with each thunderclap he felt the rat quiver in his hand. He heard another window shatter. Kebab King? Solomon Grundy? The One Stop Supermarket? Then came a noise like clashing titans’ horns, and the scream of tearing metal, and thunder erupting in cracks and booms; the wind was a chorus of tortured creatures; high-screeching banshees and low-groaning undersea giants, and car alarms, whistles and shrieks, howls and moans, and ever more breaking glass, breaking glass, and every so often the faraway rumble of a wounded roof.

Lodged in the black, Lou could have been a stone in the belly of a mountain. He remembered the time when playing hide and seek with Uncle Felix as a child he had found the perfect spot, a space behind the washing machine where there was barely even room to breathe.

Felix couldn’t find me as hard as he tried.

Then he noticed wetness seeping through the back of his jacket, and that made him notice the constant radio hiss of falling rain which before he had taken for silence.

The only clues given by time of its passing were each white clash of the storm and the spaces in between.

There were no thoughts for a while.

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Interview | Jo Po and the Manchester Arts Scene

Alex Webb speaks with poet and performer Jo Po about her life, her work and inspirations in Manchester…

When I sat down with Jo Po, a Wythenshawe-born artist, it was obvious just how passionate she is about what she does. Jo Po is a lover of lyricism be it through spoken word, music – however you want to express yourself with words. Space for self-expression, and the ability to utilise it, is something very important to Jo.

When I asked her what advice she would give someone who is looking to enter the Manchester spoken word scene, she replied that if you’re already writing – embrace it! Work with your style and make it your own because spoken word is about putting out messages in interesting, individual ways. YouTube is a good place to start just to get a general idea of what spoken word is and Jo Po recommended the Manchester-based channel ETV to see how vast the talent in our city really is.

“Work with your style and make it your own”

 

Her spoken word career started just over a year ago at a One Mic Stand night and from there she carried on doing it because it gave her a way to express her thoughts. Passion is a commanding force in spoken word for Jo, who thinks without passion, any kind of art comes across as very two-dimensional and fails to get the attention it could deserve.

In terms of her writing, Jo Po addresses a lot of different ideas as her writing style and content changes with her emotions. However, she said that politics is a big focus of her work: coming from a working class background Jo Po is very concerned with addressing social difference and challenging unnecessarily negative views people hold in order to make a change.

A lot of her inspiration comes from her creative friends who all make content and put it out there with a message behind it. However, Jo Po notes that even for her the message of her work isn’t always clear, stating that she enjoys the cryptic nature of some of her pieces. “I can have two different people come up to me quoting the same line with completely different interpretations” Jo told me, saying this was one of the best things about her life as an artist.

“A lot of her inspiration comes from her creative friends”

In terms of what she is trying to achieve with her work, Jo spoke for her friends saying that they are looking to break the image people have of the young and the working class; something Manchester-born talent is very concerned with. Deprived areas often have an unjustifiably negative representation in media and her friends are looking to show just how inaccurate this really is. Some of the Manchester-based talent Jo suggested I check out were collectives such as Mothership Connection and acts like Levelz, Lyricalligraphy, Room2 and 8 Gold Rings. The latter’s name is a tribute to Salford John who very sadly passed away this year, showing just how personal all kinds of art can be. Jo Po cited her very talented friends as her motivation to carry on improving. She takes some of her inspiration from musicians and club nights as opposed to other spoken word artists and this shows in her very distinct style of work. Some nights that were recommended to me were Ballin On A Budget, Hit&Run and Project 13, all giving talented acts a platform to get their content out into the world.

Aside from her writing, Jo is an inspiration and possibly one of the most hardworking people I’ve met. I only spent a short amount of time with her but it was obvious just how motivated she was in life and in her work. When I asked her where she sees herself in a few years’ time she said that she’d love to be carrying on with her spoken word and was interested in collaborating with other artists, especially getting music involved in her pieces (something that she has started to experiment with recently). Jo isn’t trying to become “big and famous”. She just wants to have her voice heard and enjoys the responses her work receives. It is this that Jo Po and so many Manchester spoken word artists love most about what they do, and is just one of the reasons this artist is one to watch in the coming years.

 

For a taster of what Jo Po has to offer check out this video: ETV – Spoken Word – Jo Po (Session 3)

 

I asked Jo Po to give me some people to check out. She recommends these guys to anyone who is interested in Manchester-based acts and is looking for something new both musically and poetically.

Nights: Ballin On A Budget, Hit and Run, Swing Ting, Levelz, Red Eye Hi Fi, Project 13.

Artists: Mothership Connection, Lyricalligraphy, Skittles, Fox, Sparkz,Dubbul O, Kathika, Reuben, Bluntskins, Room2 Records, Bricky Mortar, 8 Gold Rings, The Mouse Outfit.

Subscribe to ETVs Youtube channel for a huge variety of Manchester artists: https://www.youtube.com/user/ETVMCR

 

 

– Alex Webb

Fashion for the Frugal

Natalie Proctor takes a walk through Withington and tells us why we should trade ‘high street’ shops for the actual local high street when it’s time for some retail therapy…

You don’t need all the money in the world to get the style you’re after. Fact. Perhaps the easiest way to get great style for a fraction of the price, is hunting through charity shops for all your fashion needs. The problem that I often find with charity shop searching however, has always been their lack of accessibility; with shops dotted all about the place it’s hard to find the energy to source out these hidden gems. However, in Manchester, we have a hidden Oasis of these cheap and cheerful places in Withington and East Didsbury.

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Students in particular, are often unaware that there is life beyond the end of Fallowfield, but if you walk just a few minutes further into Withington you will find plenty for the frugal fashionista. In Withington alone, there are more than six charity shops in a 100m stretch of road, which is perfect for those of us who like convenience. Cancer Research houses an awesome vintage section towards the back of the store, where you can buy both clothes and accessories, and turn off Wilmslow Road and onto Copson Street, and you’ll find multibuy deals galore – like three items of clothing for £3 in Age Concern, or three DVDs for £1 in St. Vincent’s. Additionally, there are some independently run shops that are full to the brim with donations from the local area, but also offer great prices because of this.

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Just ten minutes on the bus will take you to East Didsbury, which is another hot bed for charity shops. A ‘Sue Ryder’ shop towards the end of the high street offering loads of great things for the home as well is great news for students trying to make their house a home on a very tight budget!

Charity shops are a fantastic way of revamping your style for pennies, but they also offer some great quality clothes if you’re prepared to do the rummaging. Who knows, you may stumble upon someone’s designer shoes that were forgotten in time! It also gives the extra benefit of owning clothes that are not being made anymore, so you are sure to be unique.

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Disclaimer: Louboutins not guaranteed!

Let’s not forget though, perhaps the greatest aspect of taking yourself down to the charity shops for a new dress, over going to the big brands – you’re actually doing good. No matter who you are, or how much money you have, it’s hard to avoid the slight pang of guilt when you buy clothes that you really rarely need. But now you can shop guilt free, and maybe even feel pretty good about yourself! So now you can grab a bargain as well as doing your bit.

Note: Charity shops in Withington and East Didsbury are looking for volunteers! If you fancy doing something charitable in your spare time just go along and ask.

Eat: Trove Bakery

If, dare I say it, you were to leave M20 at some point, heading straight down Mauldeth Road, past the train station, through Burnage, across the park and to the left, you’d end up – well probably back where you started, my sense of direction is notoriously bad. But if you use a map or something, you might just be able to find your way to M20 once removed – or Levenshulme, M19.

In some ways, M19 is like M20’s friendly older brother: it’s bigger, a bit hard to get to/in touch with and always seems to have an upgraded version of your stuff. This last is definitely true if we compare our beloved but undeniably Greggs-y Withington bakery, Martin’s, to the homey, good smells n’ happy vibes factory that is M19’s Trove Cafe and Bakery, suppliers of all things baked and wheaty to many of Manchester’s gastronomic greats – inc. Chorlton’s Unicorn Co-Op and Electrik Bar, West Didsbury’s brand newest eaterie Volta, and the lovely Fig + Sparrow on Oldham St.

outside Trove
outside Trove

You could walk right past it if you weren’t actually looking for it. Amidst the myriad bric-a-brac shops, newsagents and supermarkets dotted around along Stockport Road, the tiny Trove Cafe, with its Scandinavian interior, all thick wood and minimalist decor peeking out from behind impossibly shiny glass under a simply illustrated sign, has the kind of unassumingly cool yet invitingly cosy atmosphere that any given venue Hoxton-wide would sell all kinds of limbs to achieve. 

inside Trove
inside Trove

But Trove’s philosophy couldn’t be further from the pretension of the big city: the tables are arranged around a large central table designed intentionally to foster a sense of community and openness, where:

the people of Levenshulme can come and socialise and communicate. We love the idea that our neighbours can come to meet, talk and eat and new friendships might be made over a decent cup of coffee (or tea).

With frequent events like ‘FOLK + PIZZA’ night, or next week’s ‘BUMPS + BABIES COFFEE MORNING’ (where babymamas and mama’s babies get 1/2 price brews), Trove facilitates people meeting through food and fun. Ain’t that nice?

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And most importantly – so is the food! The menu offers delicious twists on classic breakies – like spiced spinach + coconut with fried egg – and everything is lovingly homemade. Just try and resist the rows of cakes and breads as you head up to order…! I left with a fresh loaf of fennel seed rye, a half price ciabatta and some sage advice on how best to enjoy them both (the rye bread keeps improving from the day after it’s first been sliced; ciabatta makes a bangin bruschetta or simple garlic bread – just grill with some olive oil and mushed up garlic). And, needless to say, a big smile on my face. Actually, from their old blue delivery van affectionately named Cyril down to the hand printed brown paper bags you get with your purchases, everything about Trove makes me, and my tastebuds, smile.

Cyril the van
Cyril the van

See you at the next pizza night!

***All images taken from Trove’s site, and snapped by Giulia at www.onlovendphotography.com***

http://www.trovefoods.co.uk

twitter.com/trovefoods

twitter.com/trovebakery

13th February 2014: Get down to the M20 Love-In at the Brewers Arms!

January has been a great month for the arts world in general, and M20 Collective in particular. The 2014 Oscar nominations look set to reveal a first time majority-minority category in Best Director (Steve McQueen [12 Years A Slave], Alfonso Cuaron [Gravity] and Lee Daniels [The Butler]), Big Boi and Andre 3000 are back in cahoots, and someone has found a good use for drones. On a more local level, our room at Pangaea: Lost City went absolutely off (check some of the pics on our Facebook page), there’s a new club venue in Manchester, and exams are over (for now at least). Hooray! Thanks to everyone for making it a swell start to the new year 🙂

And now it’s already the 1st day of a new month.

The 1st of February can only mean one thing – 13 days till the 14th February. Valentine’s Day is definitely the Marmite of all bizarre national celebration days: you either love it or hate it. But whether you’re planning on spending the international day of luuurve and overpriced stuffed animals in the warm arms of another human – or with an Emmerdale omnibus – make sure you come on down to the Brewer’s Arms on the 13th of February for M20 Collective’s pre-Valentine’s folk fiesta!

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Ah; fat, naked kids. The international symbol of love.