Event review: Croydon’s Joe Head releases a solo album and plays live at Project B

By - Wednesday 28th March, 2018

A new solo album by Croydon’s Joe Head and highlights from a talent-packed open mic evening

Joe Head kept up his busy schedule with an appearance at the Project B open mic evening.
Photo by Peter Ball, used with permission.

If you know anything at all about the Croydon music scene, you will have at least a passing familiarity with Joe Head. Chances are that you will have heard him at an open mic night in either Croydon or Carshalton, or if heavier music is your choice, you may have seen him fronting Croydon’s Alice In Chains tribute band, Brothers In Chains, or north London prog metal band Jacknife Seizure.

Joe is one of the busiest musicians on the local stage, while holding down a part-time job.

I caught up with Joe at a couple of open mic sessions in town, first at the Green Dragon and then at Project B – the two dates coinciding due to a cancellation the previous week, thanks to bad weather… but more of the gigs later.

Joe has put together an array of self-penned songs

Joe’s regular open mic appearances have seen him putting together a fine array of self-penned songs, but it was a nudge from his girlfriend, lead singer with French band SheWolf, Alice Adjutor, that prompted him to put his songs together on a CD.

“Alice said that I’d got more than enough material for a CD and it was her suggestion that I put one out”, explained Joe, who quickly had his project crowdfunded by loyal friends and followers.

“I was blown away by the response”, confessed Joe, who launched the recording When I’m Lost In Music I Am Found at his birthday bash at a packed Scream Lounge. “It was a fantastic night, even my mum was there, heckling away!”, he smiled.

This is a cracking, self-produced album

Joe’s album is loosely time-themed – “space and time are favourite subjects of mine”, he explained, adding, “it’s just the way that things worked out, when I looked at my material I realised that there was a definite theme running through my writing”.

Self produced, it’s a cracking album, with intricate production, superb guitar playing and soulful vocals, a package that has attracted comparisons with the great Roy Harper, combining as it does the gritty and the ethereal. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Back to the open mic nights, and Joe had a fast early set at the Green Dragon, where new acts were arriving all the time, before heading up to Project B for his next slot.

El Tel’s showman supreme, Mark Duffield, brings it on.
Photo by Peter Ball, used with permission.

We arrived just in time to catch El Tel in action. Fronted by ace showman Mark Duffield on vocals and jazz hands, with Terry Crew on guitar and Robbie Gordon on congas (both offering vocal support), El Tel was slick, cool and obviously had a great repertoire to work from.

Joe’s set was comprised of songs from his new album, which were enthusiastically received in their stripped-down format. Some of the songs have been around for a while and are established favourites, and these were mixed in with newer material, both featuring on the album.

Josh Gosling – a voice to be reckoned with.
Photo by Peter Ball, used with permission.

On an evening of outstanding talents, Josh Gosling, on a night off from band commitments with The Lunar Effect, slotted in particularly well. With a vocal range that bore favourable comparison to the late Chris Cornell, he produced a mighty ‘unplugged’ session.

It’s not every open mic session that can boast contributions from an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated songwriter, but in Scott McFarnon, Project B had just that. In fine voice, and naturally with great material to work with, we were given a real treat.

Scott McFarnon (left) enjoying the opportunity to jam with Michael Alexander.
Photo by Peter Ball, used with permission.

Inevitably asked for ‘just one more’, Scott responded by calling out the brilliant Michael Alexander to jam with him, and the pair produced some scintillating guitar passages.

“Everyone wants Michael to jam with them”, grinned Joe.

So, a new album and a new (to me) venue. Like Joe Head, Project B looks to be going places, and it has the potential to become one of Croydon’s best live venues.

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis

An award-winning journalist, Paul has worked on angling titles for much of his career, including 16 years as deputy editor of Angler's Mail and 4 years as editor of Total Sea Fishing magazine. He is a regular freelance contributor for a wide array of non-angling-related titles, author of two books on angling and a widely-followed authority on the subject.

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