BREVIEW: The Flyover Show 2016 @ Hockley Circus (underneath Hockley Flyover) 20.08

The Flyover Show / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

Words by Ed King / Pics by Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media)

For the full Flickr of pics, click here

One of the great things about The Flyover Show is the roof. Sounds odd, but as I stare out of my bathroom window at sheets of early morning rain knowing I’ll be spending the rest of the day with the B4100 as an urban canopy is somewhat of a comfort.

Luckily by lunchtime the skies have settled into a dry, battleship grey, with splashes of sun and good humour – archetypal English event weather. And as the background sounds of DJ Winchester welcome us on to the curiously effective event site, the concrete concourse that connects the underpasses of Hockley Circus (underneath the eponymous ‘flyover’) the day begins to take shape.Soweto Kinch @ The Flyover Show 2016 / By Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media) © Birmingham Review

Soweto Kinch’s ‘one-day festival of music, art & dance’ has been out of action since 2012, when around 6,000 people came through the Maxi Priest headlined line up, and it’s eventual return is both welcome and precarious.

A week is a long time in ‘small p’ politics, and to be off the funded event calendar for nearly half a decade is arguable suicide; the big thing hanging over The Flyover Show 2016 – other than two lanes of asphalt – is if it can win back its supremely supportive crowd.

Since its inaugural event in 2008 The Flyover Show has fostered a safe, friendly and diverse audience – with a clear mandate “challenging the preconceptions surrounding the area, showing that community and culture can thrive in all corners of our city’s heart.” But four years without a sound… if you build it again, will they come back?

Black Circle @ The Flyover Show 2016 / By Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media) © Birmingham ReviewThe first live performance comes from the six strings and sultry tones of Affie Jam – a local singer/songwriter with more to offer than most. Everyone’s giving it their all, on stage and off; as the line up unfurls The Flyover Show’s curator and creator – Soweto Kinch – parades the open event site with an infectious call to arms, like a mix between the pied piper and Mos Def.

The event doors have just opened and it’s a little thin on the ground, with most of the early birds perched on the slanted cobbles tones that adorn this accidental amphitheatre. Kinch marches on, it’s hard to ignore or resist; The Flyover Show has always relied on more than just bodies to fill out the empty pockets on site.

Black Circle kick start the full band performances, and introduce the first flavours of reggae that will culminate in this year’s headline – the legendary within certain circles guitarist, Ernest Ranglin.Call Me Unique @ The Flyover Show 2016 / By Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media) © Birmingham Review

Ranglin has an impressive portfolio, having played with many jazz and reggae greats, alongside running both Studio One and Island Records back in the days when you would really want those jobs. And at 83 the man is on his ‘Farewell Tour’ – playing a litany of high profile events including Glastonbury Festival, The Barbican, Montreux jazz festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival… and now The Flyover Show.

It’s a coup for Birmingham. But to see this artist at a free, community focused event (as opposed to a bank breaking bill at the Symphony Hall) is another feather in The Flyover Show’s cap.

As well as breaking the media myths Handsworth, Lozells and Hockley are so often hung drawn and quartered with, Soweto Kinch set up the annual event to “break down these constraints of culture and class, and brings world renowned acts right into the heart of our community.” With Ernest Ranglin headlining The Flyover Show 2016, this particular arrow has arguably never been closer to its mark.

Basil Gabbidon & band @ The Flyover Show 2016 / By Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media) © Birmingham ReviewCall Me Unique is next on stage, performing tracks from her soon to be released Urban Gypsy EP. Strong, confident and engaging, Call Me Unique is a solid performer – with a developed edge coming out in her new material.

The Flyover Show crowd, many of whom have grown up, with and around the Handsworth based singer/songwriter (Call Me Unique lives round the corner, and has done everything from street flyering to broadcast interviews to help promote The Flyover Show) and it’s another of the day’s welcome sights to see her on stage.

Call Me Unique’s set introduces a further series of local artists, including TrueMendous, Trope, RTKal, Deci4life and Juice Aleem – performing mainly hip hop focused sets, with rhyme and verse holding a firm grip over the growing audience (it’s heading into late afternoon and there’s about 700 people here now). Some technical difficulties bring the running order into sharp light, but allow for more on stage banter from the section of the line up with a closer bond to Birmingham. Shout outs are given, given back, and a feeling of warm familiarity flows on and off stage.

Eska Mtungwazi, or Eska for short, ushers in the headline acts – coming on stage as the late August light starts to dip into early evening. A stalwart performer, Eska’s rising balloon saw her as a highlight of the recent Mostly Jazz festival – with her sonorous delivery and rich melodies now rippling across concrete and crowd at The Flyover Show Ernest Ranglin @ The Flyover Show 2016 / By Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media) © Birmingham Review2016. It’s (she’s) pretty spectacular, and steps up the on stage flair in time for Basil Gabbidon and his band; brass and bright strings washing a wave of Birmingham reggae out across the crowd.

As Gabbidon and company strut through their set, it all gets a little carnival; with a mouth of pipping hot jerk chicken I join the dancing front rows. But as the lights on stage come up, and those above us come down, it’s time for the headline act – Ernest Ranglin has entered the building… well, municipal urban concourse, but you get the adage.

Dub riffs and decades of confidence ooze off stage, as the crowd dutifully drag themselves into the barriers and shoulder drop skank. I didn’t know about Ernest Ranglin before seeing him on the bill for The Flyover Show 2016, but you can tell almost instantly that you’re watching an artist of serious intent and caliber. The rest of the crowd gets this too – and show a reassuring appreciation to the man who agreed to play the event due to the audience it attracts. “I might get too warmed up, but I think I’ll be alright,” Ranglin jokes to the crowd – who have, by this penultimate point, grown to well over 1000.

Ernest Ranglin @ The Flyover Show 2016 / By Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media) © Birmingham ReviewRanglin’s set is a joy to watch, and I suspect the people on stage are having just as much fun (maybe more) than those dancing at the front. Soweto Kinch and Alex Wilson have been touring with Ranglin, but still seem in appreciative awe that their on stage with the man.

Then, in a suitably special finale, Basil Gabbidon comes back on stage for a final thank you performance; the atmosphere is thick with pride, respect and camaraderie, and it’s a little hard not to feel like you’re watching something special. And that you’re part of it.

After running a little late (the line up warrants an adventurous approach to on-stage logistics) The Flyover Show hangs up its hat at around 9pm – with the families and friends that made up the day’s crowd standing strong since about 3pm. The champion returns. The Flyover Show 2016 has been a resounding success, with any fears of torrential downpours and apathetic crowds being dispelled by mid afternoon.

The Flyover Show 2016 / By Michelle Martin (Visual Voice Media) © Birmingham ReviewBirmingham has seen a recent redaction of events that celebrate black culture, as well as burning a few cultural bridges between potentially disparate communities – The Drum has closed, Simmer Down has folded and Birmingham Carnival is on a sabbatical. So the return of The Flyover Show could not be more box tickingly pertinent – with arts funding and council representatives needing something to show ‘diversity’.

But the success of The Flyover Show, what made it, developed it and what has reintroduced it nearly five years since its last outing, is the crowd. A cliché perhaps, but it’s the people off stage that really make this event – responding to what is being brought on stage with a sense of pride and ownership.

It works, it worked before and it has worked again, and as I pack up to go home – still early enough to have some light to see me up Great Hampton Street, I circle one sentence in thick bold.

‘Proud of our crowd’.

Then I add, ‘already excited about The Flyover Show 2017.’ And I don’t think I’m the only one.

For more on The Flyover Show, visit

For more on UPRIZE-CIC, visit

For more on Soweto Kinch, visit

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BPREVIEW: The Flyover Show 2016 @ Hockley Circus (underneath Hockley Flyover) 20.08

Flyover Show 2012 / By Rob Gilbert

Words by Ed King / Pics courtesy of UPRIZE CIC

Today, in a few hours time (we’re posting early/late), The Flyover Show returns to Birmingham – to ‘once again transform the grey space beneath the Hockley flyover into an oasis of cultural expression’.

It’s bold rhetoric, but Soweto Kinch’s ‘one-day festival of music, art & dance’ does pretty much exactly that – building a seriously serious stage and soundsystem on the forgotten grey concourse that connects the underpasses of Hockley Circus (see above).Birmingham Preview

Add an international line up of reggae, roots, jazz, soul and hip hop, with a sprinkling of homegrown talent, turn the oven to Gas Mark Free Entry and cook on a slow heat between 12:30pm and 9pm. Crikey Nigella, this puts your aubergine pasties to shame.

You’ll forgive me. I get somewhat excited about The Flyover Show. But it is a remarkable event, and not just for the line ups and artists that it brings to the city (The Flyover Show 2010 was the first time I saw Akala). Soweto Kinch consistently challenges the preconceptions that Lozells, Handsworth and the less bohemian patches of Hockley are marred with – combating tired media with a line up that the Symphony Hall would soil themselves to get.

Soweto Kinch - The Flyover Show 2012 - lrAnd it’s free. It’s Free. IT’S ALL FOR FREE. Tell me of another fully community focused event in Birmingham, with no door charge, that welcomes all ages, and has the same brash line up panache and cultural gall – combining international legends (this year it’s the jazz and reggae guitar great, Ernest Ranglin) with homegrown talent and UK wide headliners . I’ll give you some time… you can’t, can you?

So… (cue dream swirls, wavy trail hands and nostalgia glockenspiel…) Why are we here? The Flyover Show began back in 2008, as Soweto Kinch was on a photoshoot in the derelict underbelly of the Hockley flyover. For more background on The Flyover Show from the man himself, read Helen Knott’s interview with Soweto Kinch – click here.

Recognising the acoustics, and being tired of the one sided reputation the area has carried for some years, Kinch decided to throw a big party. Well, what better way to combat a media circus than with music, dancing and food. The Flyover Show held its inaugural event in May 2008; what started as good idea gathered some serious momentum, then a following, and after seeing the likes of Andy Hamilton, Bashy, Goldie, Lady Dynamite, Akala, and Goldie all headline The Flyover Show (plus a jaunt across the world to hold The Flyover Show in Johannesburg) The Flyover Show took a break after 2012. Ernest Ranglin

Now, four years since around 6,000 people turned up to see Maxi Priest headline, The Flyover Show is back – with the renowned jazz/reggae guitarist, Ernest Ranglin, sitting at the top of the bill.

Ernest Ranglin has played with an absurdly sexy portfolio of artists, and was music director for both Island Records and Studio One back in the days when you would really, really want those jobs. Plus this is part of Ernest Ranglin’s farewell tour – a globetrotting series of goodbye gigs that reads Glastonbury, The Barbican, Montreux jazz festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival, The Flyover Show… erm, I think that’s pronounced ‘SCORE’.

Next on the line up is Eska, who if you’ve not heard of before just stop reading… click on Google (or our links)… type in ‘Eska Music’ and start reading again. Eska grew up with The Flyover Show, is generally quite spectacular, and her set at the recent Mostly Jazz festival was one of the highlights of the weekend. Now you can see her FOR FREE at The Flyover Show.

The Flyover Show 2012 / By Rob GilbertAlso this year event sees the welcome return of Basil Gabbidon, a Birmingham reggae legend and founding member of Steel Pulse, who will be playing with his own band and possibly someone else’s… but you’ll have to be at The Flyover Show to see this in all its mystery and glory.

Then there’s top some draw jazz from Reuben James, Alex Wilson and Soweto Kinch himself. Whilst in the home grown cooler we have Juice Aleem, Call Me Unique, TrueMendous, RTKal, Deci4life, Affie Jam, Amerah Saleh, Aliyah Hasinah, Alisha Kadir, Jae Sosa and Trope.

Oh, and did I mention it’s free..?

The Flyover Show runs from 12:30pm to 9pm, on the concourse inside Hockely Circus – underneath the Hockley flyover. Entry is free all day.

Here’s a few helpful online links to find and find out about The Flyover Show:

Google Maps (to Hockley Circus/event site):

The Flyover Show on Facebook:

The Flyover Show on Twitter:

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INTERVIEW: Soweto Kinch

Soweto Kinch - The Flyover Show 2012Words by Helen Knott 

It’s about preserving ideas and versions of Britishness that aren’t often celebrated, which should be celebrated.”

The Flyover Show is back on Saturday 20th August, returning to its old home beneath the Hockley Flyover.

But if you’re relatively new to Birmingham, you might not have been to The Flyover Show before – after running annually for five years from 2008 it has been on hiatus since 2012.

The Flyover Show’s founder and curator (and a MOBO-award-winning jazz star in his own right) Soweto Kinch admits to some initial trepidation that people may have forgotten about the event. But he has been relieved by the positive reaction, “people have been saying this is exactly what we need. It has been missed, especially in the realm of Black British Brummie expression.”

Indeed, in a year when The Drum has closed and Simmer Down Festival has been cancelled, Soweto Kinch believes this ‘one-day festival of music, art and dance’ is more important than ever to Birmingham’s inner-city communities. “I think that whilst there’s great, new opportunities opening up in some venues across the city there’s a real absence of stuff happening in Ladywood, Hockley and Handsworth. It seems like resources are being pulled away from places that need it.” Kinch is keen for The Flyover Show to counteract this and to celebrate the “rude health of Birmingham’s arts scene”.

Consequently, the theme of this year’s Flyover Show is Birmingham artists – with all but headliners Eska and Ernest Ranglin coming from Birmingham. Soweto Kinch is full of enthusiasm for the acts that the festival will showcase. “Ruben James is a pianist and features on my latest album. He plays with Sam Smith too, so watch this space… Amerah Saleh, I think she’s a really exciting poet, you should be looking out for her… Truemendous – if you don’t know her music check it out. She’s a very industrious woman, I don’t know anybody who’s released three independent albums and got all the videos she’s got online. She’s got more Youtube videos than me.”Ernest Ranglin

But an appearance by the 82-year-old headliner – the legendary jazz/reggae guitarist Ernest Ranglin, should be very special too. And it’s a bit of a coup for Soweto Kinch, “bringing him (Ernest Ranglin) to Birmingham feels like a real privilege. He’s normally doing big ticketed events and charging huge fees, but I think that the opportunity to play in front of a diverse audience, and certainly a community with a strong Jamaican and West Indian heritage, was music to his ears.”

Kinch is currently playing on Ranglin’s farewell tour, appearing at high profile gigs in places like Glastonbury Festival, The Barbican, Montreal Jazz Festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival and Philharmonie De Paris.

Ensuring that The Flyover Show is a community event is also clearly important to Soweto Kinch. Of course the jazz and hip hop fans are welcome, but he’s also keen to reach out to more diverse communities – including the audience that attracted Ernest Ranglin to the event. Kinch has formed a Community Interest Company (CIC) called UPRIZE to run the festival and to take forward other projects and ideas, “so it’s not just a flash-in-the-pan festival but an entire philosophy of how work is created, of Eskahow ‘diversity’ is promoted and what the arts ecology of Birmingham really looks like.”

The fact that The Flyover Show remains a free event is also key. “It’s very important,” explains Kinch, “because as well as attracting the jazz acolytes and the hip hop heads who already know these artists, there are so many people in communities such as Ladywood, Hockley and Handsworth that will never know that they like classical music, for example, until they have the chance to hear it.”

In the years since the last Flyover Show in 2012, where over 6,000 came to see a line up with Maxi Priest at the top, Soweto Kinch has further developed a successful broadcasting career – presenting a weekly jazz show on BBC Radio 3 and a TV show on Big Centre TV (“I’m Mr Media now” ). And alongside preparations for The Flyover Show 2016 he’s currently putting the finishing touches to new album Nomagram, his first since 2013’s The Legend of Mike Smith.

Nomagram is due for release in October and is “based on principles of sacred geometry, numbers, and healing – that sound can give us visions of the best versions of ourselves and can literally psychologically and physically make us feel better.” You’ll be able to hear tracks from the new album at The Flyover Show on Sat 20th August.

The Flyover Show 2012So a fair amount in the diary. And Soweto Kinch admits to feeling busy, but it’s a good busy. “It’s all consuming so I’m not sleeping very much,” admits Kinch, “but I had an epiphany a couple of days ago, you know, I’m doing a lot, I’m really tired but it’s a great job! I was at a friend’s birthday party on Wednesday and Rodney P just walked through, gave me a high five and there was a little bit of ‘Rodney P just said hi to me! I’m living the dream.’”

But there’s little let up in sight; having taken a four year break from the festival, Soweto Kinch has big plans for its future.

“The idea is for it (The Flyover Show) to grow, to move to different cities,” tells Kinch. “We’re starting to speak to Hull about doing a Flyover Show next year there, as well as Coventry, London and Manchester. We’re keen to keep exporting this model of creating work in unconventional spaces and celebrating the things that people normally dismiss.”

The Flyover Show returns to Birmingham on Saturday 20th August, running from 12:30-9pm – taking place at the same event site, underneath the Hockley Flyover in-between Great Hampton Street and Soho Road.

Entrance to The Flyover Show 2016 is free, welcoming all ages all day – but to ensure your place at the front of the crowd, and on the mailing list, visit

For more on The Flyover Show, visit

For more on Soweto Kinch, visit

For more on UPRIZE CIC, visit

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