Month: February 2014

ALWAYS STARE AT JACOB

brunch

Well they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day don’t they? This might apply during the week when you quickly ram something in your mouth before getting out the door to attend the daily grind. However at the weekend, I strongly disagree! Brunch is the most important meal of the day and there’s a great spot in Amsterdam called Staring At Jacob. I love brunch! It’s the perfect time to catch up with friends (usually hungover) and piece together the night before over coffee Bloody Mary’s and food flirting between breakfast and lunch.

Sitting on the corner of Jacob van Lennepkade and Staringstraat you can find this hot bed of brunch brilliance. A popular choice for locals and tourists alike, you’ll find a great atmosphere and grub to die for. Typical American favourites can be found on the menu such as Chicken and Waffles, Bacon and Pancakes and for the health conscious among you some muesli and yogurt combination. With an ever changing menu you can visit time after time and try something new. Speaking from the experience of various visits I can tell you that no matter your preference they’re all delicious. The super cool interior, friendly service, relaxed atmosphere, great food and drinks ensure that it’s always busy with the sound of chit chat.

staring

Should you not quite make it out of bed in time to catch brunch you can even go later and try some of their small bites. So go check out this hotspot for yourself and stare squarely at Jacob!

.S.

BEST OF BRITISH

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I’ve finally caught up on this years Brit awards and it was a pretty good show. I do love the Brits! It reminds me of being a kid and settling in to watch with my family. There have been some memorable moments for good and bad reasons in the Brits history. From Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood doing the worst hosting job ever, to Jarvis Cocker storming the stage during Michael Jackson’s performance, to last year when Adele’s acceptance speech was cut short. What would happen this year? Host James Corden kept things moving and there didn’t seem to be any mishaps…….unfortunately. That’s what you want from an Award Ceremony isn’t it? Celebrities getting drunk, storming the stage or making an insane acceptance speech. Thank you Alex Turner for making the second of the two happen this year.

In recent years the Brit award itself has been designed by some of the greats in British design and this year, despite it resembling a cross between a lightsaber and a pizza cutter it was in fact created by hat designer Philip Treacy. Unlike the Grammy’s (see past post) with their endless list of useless categories us British are predictably more reserved with a concise 13 gongs being given away to, in the most part, deserving winners. This means the Brits are still THE award to win in British popular music so here’s who left the O2 with a little something new for their mantle piece;

British Male Solo Artist – David Bowie

British Female Solo Artist – Ellie Goulding

British Group – Arctic Monkeys

British Breakthrough Act – Bastille

British Single – “Waiting All Night” – Rudimental ft. Ella Eyre

British Album Of The Year – AM – Arctic Monkeys

Best Video – One Direction

International Male Solo Artist – Bruno Mars

International Female Solo Artist – Lorde

International Group – Daft Punk

Global Success – One Direction

Critics’ Choice – Sam Smith

British Producer Of The Year – Flood & Alan Moulder

If we ignore the inevitable inclusion of One Direction in the winners list, this year once again shows that British Music is still leading the way. But Bastille winning British breakthrough act? Surely this should have gone to London Grammar and not only just to give everyone the opportunity to see how stunning the lead singer is. But they’re new, different, current and have a great album which is unlike anything else. Bastille covered “Rhythm Of The Night” on their album! That alone should have seen them shunned from any category.

For the first time one award this year was voted for on the night by twitter users and as predictably as Harry Styles going solo sooner rather than later the crazy One Directioners made sure they scooped this one. Like anyone else stood a chance against the 17.8 Million followers 1D have.

The best performance of the night goes to the unbelievably young brothers from Surrey known as Disclosure. They were joined by Lorde to perform a brilliant remix of her smash “Royals” seamlessly mixing into “White Noise” featuring Aluna George. They have even since decided to release this digitally for charity. You can go get it here

Prior to the night there was the will she, wont she talk about Beyonce performing. One minute she was, then she wasn’t but in the end Mrs Carter did take to the stage to perform “XO” apparently for the first time on TV. Obviously she sounded amazing, its Beyonce! But sorry B it was a little boring.

Well that was it for another year of great British pop music. Next week it’s the turn of the NME awards to take a more indie approach to an award ceremony and it’s bound to serve up some fitting Rock n Roll behavior.

.S.

APP YOUR SERVICE

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There’s nothing worse than realising a band or artist you love  has recently visited your city and you knew nothing about it. Or worse still you found out too late and already the gig is sold out. If like me you love live music it’s no mean feat to keep track of everyone you want to see simply by keep checking various websites. Sure you can go to a ticket tout or try eBay but personally I hate paying someone an inflated price for a ticket they don’t even want and bought it only to exploit the genuine fans. Well fear not, there’s a great free app which will make sure you never miss a gig again!

BandsInTown is available on iOS, Android and Facebook. If you don’t have any of these platforms available to you…….come on…..it’s 2014! And furthermore, how are you reading this?? BandInTown takes information from your iTunes and FaceBook likes to populate a list of artists you’ll track and you can manually add to it whenever you wish. First set your search area based on the GPS location on your device and you’re all set. The minute a gig is announced in your area by your beloved musicians “Ping” a message to tell you exactly when and where. Even a link to buy tickets.

bandsintown

Not only is it great for bands and artists you already know, its also brilliant for new music discovery. Another area of the app shows recommendations of who’s coming to town that you might like based on the artists you already follow. Only a couple of weeks ago my friend Neus and I went through this list of recommendations and before we knew it had booked three gigs for the coming month or so. And just last week “ping”…Kings Of Leon coming to Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome on June 2nd. And now I have tickets, having been ready and waiting when they went on sale.

Without BandInTown my live music calendar would look rather depressing.

.S.

SAHARA JANUARY SUCCESS

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January has been drier than an AA meeting, through choice I might add. There’s always a lot of talk about “Dry January” just as the final party popper confetti hits the booze soaked floor during the New Year celebrations. How many of you said you’d do it? How many of you did? Well by some absolute miracle, I DID IT! Yes, I do feel rather proud of myself and am dangerously close to being that smug non-drinker that laughs in the face of your hangover. I hate myself!

I’ve recently heard via a friend that dry January is actually unhealthy but I’ve felt some benefits. Improved diet, more gym hours and best of all the start of this very blog. Had I spent January ’14 like every month of 2013 between work, drinking, partying, hangover there would have been little time or energy for proactive movement let alone clear thinking for writing. That said it has been a touch on the deathly boring side. Without the fresh vigor of blogging discovery I may just have crumbled. Which does beg the question – Can you really be social without drinking alcohol?

Its not that you can’t have fun without drinking your weight in Gin (although it certainly helps). In my recent experience its very hard to be your usual social self when you’re being boring….I mean….when you’re not drinking. Not because of the need for social lubricant to be comfortable, absolutely not. But when every social occasion revolves around a bar here, a dinner there, a club anywhere I’ve practically hibernated to avoid temptation. And drunk people! When you’re stone cold sober drunk people are not your ally. I do like a drink and so do my friends but really I’d say we’re firmly in the category of weekend binge drinkers. But aren’t we all? These days if someone tells you they don’t drink its more surprising than if they told you their favorite tipple is mentholated spirit!

This weekend I leapt with joy from wagon and began with a visit to the Ron Gastrobar accompanied by my good friend CC. She assures me she’s not had so much of a sniff of the unholy water in Jan and I’ll just about take her word for it. Being an Englishman I’ve visited my fair share of gastrobars/pubs back in the homeland taking in the good, the average and the gastronomically terrible. Here in Amsterdam this seems to be a new concept with Ron Blaauw making the claim this is the first of its kind and I wholly agree with the Michelin stared master chef. I’ve certainly never been to a Gastrobar like this! With a soundtrack including the likes of Wham! and other 80’s delights the atmosphere was casual and relaxed.

The interior was modern and littered with the artwork of Selwyn Senatori, an Italian-Dutch artist I discovered when I first touched down in Amsterdam. It should have come as no surprise when sitting right opposite me was the man himself! We exchanged smiles, mine far more enthusiastic than his. The food was of the quality you’d expect from a place named after and associated to a multiple Michelin stared chef. The  prices on the other hand were not! €15 per course to be precise, affordable for even the tightest of wallets. Upon receiving the first course it became apparent why as the portion size was verging on puny. We did then realise the concept was to have multiple courses and subsequently ordered 3 deserts. I’ll certainly be going back to work my way through a few more.

ron

 Dry January was a challenge and one I’m happy to have succeeded at even if The Daily Mail says its unhealthy. I don’t know whats more surprising, the fact they say dry January is unhealthy or that they’ve spared some column inches away from their usual subjects of immigrants and former BBC presenters turned paedos.

So can you be social when you’re on the wagon? Yes you can but the fact is it’s just not as much fun. A hangover has never felt so good!

.S.