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.


Another great concert at the wonderfully accessible NCEM. We’ve seen Joglaresa before playing medieval Spanish/Jewish songs – this time it was medieval Christmas music from France, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia as well as English, using traditional instruments and it was utterly gorgeous! They are sold out for their other concerts in the north but if you are in the south, they still have tickets left for their concerts there – I totally recommend it! You can get a flavour on their Facebook page and on their website which has details of their upcoming concerts. We bought their album ‘Nuns and Roses’ – it made more use of electric music than the concert but it did not disappoint!


See also my review of Sondorgo at the NCEM.