Writer Jasmine Khan / Photographer KASA
On the first Monday of each month, Neighbourhd runs its regular showcase and jam session at The Night Owl, in Digbeth. Neighbourhd’s approach, unsurprisingly, is heavily community focused and the inclusive night is regularly attended by music scene staples, as well as newcomers and everyone in between.
A frequent attendee myself, Neighbourhd is my go to for interesting chats, interesting people and fresh tunes. But, get there early because there’s banging food, and if you arrive late, then it’ll probably be gone.
Neighbourhd always has a cool and relaxed vibe when you first arrive, lights typically shine in green and red hues and the disco ball is in full rotation – groovy. Resident DJ Tehan, spins records that catch you off guard in a good way and despite it costing more than £5 for a swallowable pint, the drinks and conversation flow in equal measure.
There’s no guarantee about the type of artist you’ll see at Neighbourhd, or the genre of the sound. Sometimes it’ll be Hip-hop, RnB or Rap, sometimes it’ll be Jazz or Neo-Classical, other times it’ll be Soul, Funk, or Blues. Once I’m pretty sure it was local rap legend Tarju’s mum, Chrissy Lemonte, and she totally stole her son’s spotlight.
There’s always a full house band, including drums, bass, guitar, and keys. Although, it’s not a surprise to spot a saxophone and the odd trumpet. There could be synths, there could be South Asian vibes… Every Neighbourhd so far has been different.
More often than not, it’s impossible to pin down exactly what’s going on musically. You’ll just be compelled to move your body or stare at the impressive technical skill on stage. Neighbourhd is best described as fusion, and pretty great fusion at that.
The night’s consistently high energy is maintained, not only by the of array musicians that perform, but also by the organiser Michael Bird, and regular host Maddie Saskia, who riff casually in between sets. Whilst the vibes are abundantly positive, lots of the artists sing or rap about the struggles of living in modern Britain and Birmingham specifically. This bravery is always rewarded with loud whoops and cheers from the crowd.
Audience participation is not just welcomed at Neighbourhd, it’s demanded. And, the final jam, which typically results in half the audience flexing their artistic talents on stage, is always my most anticipated event of the evening.
The next Neighbourd is at The Night Owl on Monday, 4 April and you can find them on social media via @neighbourhdbrum. Feel free to introduce yourself, everyone’s very friendly.
For more from The Night Owl, including full listings of all upcoming events, visit www.birmingham.thenightowl.club