Did you know Celtic Gypsy Klezmer is a thing?

NCEM entrance

The Dodo Street Band perform it in spades! Skilful and versatile, they gave us toe-tapping jolly tunes and daft banter to warm us up on the day we had been threatened with freezing rain and blizzards. Fortunately those didn’t materialise, just heavy rain.

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The NCEM has been granted £144,200 some of which will be used to improve access and seating. I remember from when I used to use their seats that they are not the most comfortable so that’s welcome news and as the place is really accessible already, I can only imagine how fabulous it will be with even better access – less bumpy thresholds and more Blue Badge spaces, perhaps?

When we arrived, the only remaining Blue Badge space in the carpark was reserved – we didn’t realise you could reserve them but now we know! We parked in the street which wasn’t really a greater distance – just as well as it was chucking it down! It did mean setting up my chair in the road which was only busy because of the concertgoers and really not a problem. I will remember to book a space next time though as it means not having to go up and down the dropped kerb.

We used a space for wheelchair users on the front row so had a great view of the band and their amazing range of instruments: violin, accordion, double base, clarinet and bodhran mainly but also recorder, mandolin and plenty of others.

There was mulled wine and mince pies on offer as well as a couple of CDs by the band. We bought both the CDs – maybe we should have gone entirely digital by now but I like buying a CD!

I’m looking forward to future trips the NCEM to see how they develop it further.

See my other reviews of trips to the NCEM.


Sklamberg and the Shepherds

NCEM entrance

Sklamberg and the Shepherds are a trio who play Eastern European Klezmer with such infectious jollity that not only were the audience clapping along, but a group of ladies started dancing – a sprightly, circular dance we have seen them perform at concerts of a variety of different bands at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM).

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

We’ve seen a lot of bands playing Klezmer music, with influences from various parts of Europe. Some are wilder, some more heartbreaking than Sklamberg and the Shepherds but I’m not sure we’ve seen any who seemed to enjoy their performance so much! Their album Aheym reflects what the performance was like as much as a recording can – they never have quite the same energy but it is very jolly.

This is the first time I have been to the NCEM with my powerchair and it was a great experience – a member of staff helped us find a good place and removed a seat for us so I could be on the end of a row and still have a good view. It was mid-week and the venue not that full, but there’s always plenty of space. Another member of staff was a wheelchair user, so they must be even more aware than ever of access issues. If ever they have a refurb, they could maybe make the thresholds a bit smoother, otherwise, it is a very accessible venue, with reserved Blue Badge holders’ spaces in the carpark, an accessible loo and leaflets displayed at easily-reached height.

I think it makes for a better sound if there are at least four musicians but Sklamberg and the Shepherds with their piano, accordion and clarinet and  sometimes guitar pretty well filled this lovely venue.

Other reviews of bands at the NCEM.

New travel website

Limitlesstravel.org is a website dedicated to providing clear information websitesabout access, whether that is physical access or other issues such as hearing loops, use of sign-language or the family-friendliness of venues and attractions – all in London and fairly central as far as I could see but all the main ones are there, with user-reviews as well as general information.

For each attraction, you can see if wheelchair hire is available, if assistance dogs are allowed, if there is a hearing loop and various other details which would help you decide whether to visit or not. The hotels list if there is a shower seat, raisable beds, grab rails, emergency cord, adjoining room and lots of other details, which, again, make the difference as to whether or not you would give them your business.

You can search for a specific attraction or filter for different types of access or search on the map.

Looking at some of the press coverage on its own site, some refer to it as a guide to London, others as a guide to the world, so presumably they intend to expand as it does appear to only be London for now, unless I’m missing something, but it is definitely worth exploring this site if it’s London you’re heading for and need access information on hotels or attractions.

See my links page for other useful websites.

The sun is a pancake…

Otava Yo

…or it is according to Otava Yö, the really rather bonkers St Petersburg group we saw last night at the NCEM. I suppose you would call them folk – their songs involved the aforementioned pancakes and also street cleaners and your girlfriend washing her white legs in the river, so definitely an eclectic mix and their range of instruments were too, including electric guitars, violins, whistles, a kazoo, mandolin and scythe!

Otava Yo
Otava Yo

Having seen them on youtube, they seemed in the first half as if they had gone a bit more traditional, but they just got wackier and wackier, coming out for the second half in their trade mark vests and fur hats but the music continued to be a fabulous mix of jolly danceable tunes, love songs  and sweeping, epic stuff. As ever, the venue is completely accessible and has parking available. Definitely worth catching if they come back!


See my other reviews of groups at the NCEM: Joglaresa  Söndörgő