Full Length Interview with Poetic Unity: With Ragz-CV, Storm & Ismael

Poetic Unity is a registered charity that encourages the unification, education and personal development of young people through the art of poetry and spoken word.

I spoke with the founder of Poetic Unity, Ragz-CV and two individuals involved with Poetic Unity Storm and Ismael.

Here’s the full Interview:

https://twitter.com/Turner_official/status/848113560324648962

https://twitter.com/Turner_official/status/847744508506775552

 

Here’s a performance by Ragz-CV 

https://twitter.com/Turner_official/status/848113481274576896

Ismael just released a poetry book by the name ‘The Lost Essays’ that’s available on Amazon and has just finished his first headlining show.

you can find him on Instagram @callmeish

Here’s Ismael’s performance of ‘Dreams’

https://twitter.com/Turner_official/status/847400447669186560

I had the chance to speak to 21 year old Storm off the mic to find out a bit more about her and her love for poetry and spoken word here’s what she had to say:

Why did you get into poetry?
“I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember but I decided to actively start writing poetry when I was 16.”

What does Poetry mean to you?                                                                                                      “Poetry means expression, freedom and creativity. No matter where you are physically, poetry can always take you somewhere else vibrationally and emotionally.”

Do you think poetry’s an unappreciated art form?                                                                 “I believe it is becoming more appreciated. The internet has increased its exposure massively which is great. However, I still believe it is underrated because of the stigma it has of being boring and hard to understand. I think the education system has the power to minimise this stigma by keeping up with the times!”

Would you encourage more people to take up poetry and why?                                          “Definitely. Poetry is healthy, it’s the total opposite of bottling things up. There are no rules too, so you can literally write about whatever you want. It’s a creative and interesting way of getting a message across.”

Here’s a performance by Storm entitled ‘Hands’

https://twitter.com/Turner_official/status/847400674367111168

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country 2 Country – Cowboy Culture & Country Music

Country 2 Country is a country music festival held at the O2 arena; This Festival brings southern culture and country music to the forefront with the first concert was announced in the summer of 2012 and was held in March of 2013.

 

Amongst a sea of cowboy hats you’re greeted at North Greenwich station by a huge billboard with Pictures of the weekends three headliners (Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire & Zac Brown Band) Once inside the O2 there’s two stages spotted around the arena which are free entry to the public;

The Big Entrance Stage:

This stage hosts a mixture of British and American up and comers as well as a few established artists. In previous years the likes of CMA Award winner Lori McKenna graced this stage and this year it was host to Una Healy previously a member of girl group ‘The Saturdays’ who recently released her debut solo album.

The Town Square Stage:

while Further in, the Town Square stage is located amidst an array of market styled stools, bars and food vans which all sell something associated with southern culture, whether it be cowboy boots, guitars or southern delicacies and it’s this stage where more established artists who are not on the main arena bill perform with Artists including UK Country Duo The Shires, Charlie Worsham and last year this stage was host to Maren Morris whose career blew up over the course of a year and this performed in the main arena opening for Zac Brown Band following her Grammy win.

In the main arena in-between sets on the main stage the Yamaha music stage would become active with artists doing 2-3 songs. The artists who perform on this stage are nearly always in the early stages of their career and have usually had a radio hit or have a certain level of recognition.

Day 1

Jennifer Nettles

The former Sugarland member shone on stage with her flawless vocals as she came out all guns blazing to her track ‘Playing with Fire’, she then went on to perform crowd pleasers such as ‘Hey Heartbreak’ and the hit single ‘Unlove You’ the biggest surprise come from Nettles’ Mash-up of her song Sugar with Salt ‘n’ Pepper’s ‘Whatta Man’ and ‘Shoop’ to which she finished by saying “Bet you never expected Salt ‘n’ Pepper, did ya?” but it was when she sung Sugarland classic ‘Stay’ that the crowd when wild. This opener was everything you’d expect, Killer vocals, a whole lot of sass and a whole lot of country.

Chris young

Prior to the event I only knew of Chris Young’s Duet with Cassadee Pope ‘Think of you’ but after this set me and 20,000 other people was more than just familiar with Chris Young. Everything from the music to the stage presence was electric. Chris Young’s set was one of the only sets being broadcasted live from BBC radio 2 country and he didn’t disappoint playing all of his hits, ‘Neon’, ‘Lonely Eyes’ and ‘Think of you’ (which he brought former voice contestant Cassadee Pope out for) all included but it was his cover of Keith Whitley’s ‘When You Say Nothing at All’ that left the audience in awe and the arena shining bright with 20,000 flashlights in the air.

Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley graced the main stage as Friday’s headliner with a stellar performance, with hits dating back to 1999. His Charisma shined through as he performed all of the Paisley classics we love including ‘Water’, ‘Alcohol’ and ‘This is Country Music’ not forgetting his killer duet with Carrie Underwood ‘Remind me’ and his duet with Alabama Both who appeared on the screen in pre-recorded videos behind Paisley for their verses.

 

Day 2

Dan + Shay

Dan + Shay are part of the new generation of country acts taking the industry by storm with their blend of pop and country creating a new demographic for the genre. despite popular belief these guys are less of puppets and more generally talented and proved nothing less with their set performing hits like ‘Road Trippin’, ‘You + Me’ , ‘Obsessed’ and their most recent hit ‘From the Ground Up’ which was the turnaround point for many critics and music snobs claiming their music had no substance. They also threw in a cover go Bon Jovi’s ‘You give Love a Bad Name’ which only enhanced the energy in the arena.

Hunter Hayes

Despite having a shorter set due to the amount of main stage acts Hunter Hayes did not disappoint. Hayes had the audience on his side right after he confessed his love and appreciation for the UK and went on to perform a few of his hits of previous hits like ‘Tattoo’ and ‘I want Crazy’ but mainly shifted his focus on his new Material singing two of the three singles released end of last year; ‘Yesterdays Song’ and ‘Amen’ and even giving the audience a taste of the new single.

Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker was absolutely, hands down the highlight of the weekend, everyone’s favourite southern gentleman gave a brilliant performance that fell somewhere between country superstar and songwriter extraordinaire (which just so happens to be everything we love about Country music) he gave you visuals, he gave you soul and he gave you one hell load of a voice. Whether you prefer old school country or new school everyone could raise their beers for Darius Rucker’s performance after all how can you not sing along to ‘Wagon Wheel’? He performed everything from ‘Radio’ to ‘Comeback song’ to ‘Homegrown honey’ he even included two covers one being ‘No Diggity’ and the other ending the set, with a touching tribute to the British music icons we lost last year singing Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’. As soon as he entered the stage the change in atmosphere and energy was undeniable.

Reba McEntirye

Reba, a true country icon took to the stage with such grace. There were no dramatic costume changes or change of visuals there was simply a band, a backdrop stating ‘Reba’ and a woman with one hell of a voice and career trajectory. Reba didn’t disappoint singing a total of 21 tracks the crowd defiantly got their money’s worth. She sung everything from her hits like ‘How Blue’, ‘Whoever’s in New England’ and ‘Turn On the Radio’ to tracks of her new gospel record like ‘Back To God’ and ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ This woman new exactly how to command stage and keep the audience entertained, the set list was spread out perfectly to ensure the audience wouldn’t get bored as you could do with such a long set and bored we were not. She sung her step-daughter Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Because of You’ of her duets album and ended the legendary set with a Bobby Gentry Cover.

 

Day 3

 

Brothers Osbourne

Brothers Osbourne are part of a unique Nashville collective of songwriters including; Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Lucie Silvas and Kree Harleson So them blowing up was no surprise to us. Although there set was short and sweet to compensate the headlining and first supporting acts they really left an imprint on the audience, They sung all of their hits to date including chilled, backyard banger ’21 Summer’, ‘Rum’, ‘Greener Pastures’ and ‘Stay a little longer’ ending with outlaw anthem ‘Ain’t my Fault’ which had one of the best instrumental breaks we had seen all weekend. Whatever Brothers Osbourne are doing they should keep it up. As they not only put on a fantastic performance that not only showcases their voices but showcases their technical ability, their song writing skills and their ‘street cred’ if you will.

 

Maren Morris

Texas native, Maren Morris is already flying high, with her being the first female in country to have a debut place at number one, having just coming of a Grammy win for best country Performance for _’My Church’ and being the only performer to be on the smaller Yamaha music stage the previous year she could be in a stronger place. Morris basically sung the entirety of her record disregarding a track or two. she came out all guns blazing with her huge voice and country crossover instrumentation this debut was filled with potential hits and already established ones so she we can’t blame her for playing the entire album. She’s considered one of the more unconventional country artists out there but is also creating a sub-genre that makes country music accessible for music fans who typically ‘don’t like country’ this was an exceptional performance and a perfect addition to the line-up.

Marty Stuart

Famous for being a member of Johnny Cash’s band before pursuing a solo career Marty Stuart’s mix of rockabilly and honky tonk just showed the versatility Country2Country showcases. Stuart played a lot of his own tracks as well as tracks he’d written for other artists. The standout of this set despite the killer instrumentation shown throughout the set was a song by the name of ‘Dark Bird’ for which Stuart wrote about the man in black himself Johnny Cash, while telling the back story of the song you could feel the whole arena engaged and there with him which is a rarity for a man on a stage with a close knit band with no extras but at the end of it all that’s what country’s about real stories that’s what’s at the core of every country song and that’s why we relate to it so much. Marty Stuart, job well done.

Zac Brown Band

The Headliners for the last night were of course Zac Brown Band who performed at C2C once before in 2014 and like always they always bring the high quality music and the epitome of southern culture. This is why they will continue to get booked they represent the modern day country man and their music reflects that, they have the perfect balance between classic country lovers and modern country. They are considered one of the greatest country acts to see live and we can’t denied their talent they performed all of their hit much like all the artist over the course of the weekend but it was the live rendition of songs like ‘Toes’, ‘free/Into the Mystic’, ‘sweet Annie’, ‘Beautiful Drug’ and ‘Chicken Fried’ that made the audience go wild they also through a knockout performance of Queen’s ‘bohemian Rhapsody’ that showcased their bluegrass harmonies and their stunning vocal ability. Zac brown Band was the perfect way to finish off the weekend.

Rumoured 2018 Acts Include;

  • Shania Twain
  • Dixie Chicks
  • Willie Nelson

 

Guess We’ll Have to wait and see.

 

Government cuts have hit all London councils hard, and youth services have been put on the chopping block across our city as a result.

  • Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, questioned by London Assembly Members on his Final  Budget 2017/18.
  • Cuts made to youth services in London.
  • The London Assembly has an essential role in the cities government, holding the Mayor to account and investigating matters of interest to Londoners.
  • London Assembly examines the Mayor’s progress in key areas.

 

One of the most significant cuts made was to youth services. Liberal Democrat member, Caroline Pidegon mentioned her visit to youth centres and them being on their last foot or closed down and how her party are not prepared to spend money on these types of services including libraries. However the implications of this can result in young people falling into crime and possibly not using their time wisely. Youth services such as centres and libraries help to keep young people busy, entertained and off the streets.

 London Mayor Sadiq Khan was questioned by London Assembly members on his Final Draft Consolidated Budget. The assembly was formed by Labour, Conservatives, Green Party, UKIP AND Liberal Democrat members, which consisted of 25 members on the panel.

The budget incorporates the spending plans for:

  • The Greater London Authority
  • Metropolitan Police Service
  • Transport for London
  • The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority
  • The London Legacy Development Corporation
  • The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation.

The purpose for the meeting is to consider the Final Draft Consolidated Corporation.

Green Party Group member Sian Berry stated that “Government cuts have hit all London councils hard, and youth services have been put on the chopping block across our city as a result.

“Lambeth has lost £1.2 million in funding for services for its young people since 2011, and the impact could be devastating.

“Good quality youth services would help prevent young people from falling into crime and also make them less vulnerable to the exploitation of groups like gangs.

“I am disappointed that the Mayor didn’t take up my budget amendment to invest in youth services – at least another £7.2 million for youth services will be lost across London this year.

“The Mayor should find ways to help councils to save youth centres and the jobs of youth workers. This would genuinely help to improve young people’s lives and achieve his goal of real crime prevention.”

Little Comets: Back .. and Fourth

  • Little Comets
  • Koko, London
  • Thursday 16th March 2017

The North-East’s finest return to play a headline show at Koko in Camden to showcase their brand new album ‘Worhead’.

As I roll my eyes at the support act for this evening’s performance singing about “kids in love” backed sonically by a load of synth tosh, completely lacking in any kind of bottom end or even a whiff of rock ‘n’ roll (remember that kids?!), I manage to let go of my grumpy old man cynicism for one moment, to realise that this is exactly the sort of ‘class of 2017’, partially pubescent, millennial, generation Z demographic that need to hear the lyrics of one Robert Coles.  In actual fact, we all are in need of a sermon from ‘Reverend’ Coles.

At a time when global politics is taking a further slip down the rungs of the fecal matter-covered ladder every minute of every day, the ‘yoof’ need some direction in a world leading badly by example, in addition perhaps to a sometimes badly needed slap (metaphorical or otherwise) to dispel the ever growing air of entitlement and expected privilege that is so predominant with today’s society bred by acceptance and worship of celebrity culture and the idea of being celebrated for doing nothing.

Behold: Little Comets.  The northeast Trio with three albums under their belts have now expanded to a five-piece live band.  The transition has further garnished their dynamic and blistering live set with the addition of extra guitar/synths/percussion and backing vocals.  As the blue lights fill the room at the start of the set, the energy in the room is tangible and the audience respond.

Tonight a string of their previous singles are celebrated by the partisan crowd with utmost admiration, with a splatter of tracks from brand new fourth album ‘Worhead‘ thrown in for good measure.  Recent single ‘Common Things’ is received (as if it is an already established standard) by the audience in amongst ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Little Italy’ proving that wherever Little Comets go musically or lyrically, their fans go with them with equal part complete dedication and a committment to exploration and experimentation.  There aren’t too many contemporary bands out there whose current single begins with lyrics line “When she first gave me cold sores on a park bench in Walsall” but then Little Comets are far, far from a conventional band.  Likewise, moments later they drop ‘The Man Who Wrote Thriller’.  Their nod to Rod Temperton and his detachment from celebrity is once again not a traditional type of song but it goes down well with the crowd despite the fact that the new album has only just been released.

The most life-affirming thing as the gig progresses is that the audience of such a young average age are singing along with lyrics about social mobility, distribution of wealth, political corruption and domestic abuse, whilst letting their hair down and losing themselves in the music with free abandon.   It makes you just sit and wonder what social change Adele, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and One Direction could affect if they just worked a little bit harder at their English Lit and modern history homework!

But it’s not all just about the words.  Little Comets have a sound unlike most of their contemporaries at the moment.  There is a clear Paul Simon and almost ‘World Music’ -like influence on the rhythms and riffs at times that not only make the tunes infectiously catchy but also mean that their songs encourage the body to let go of restraint.  Funny enough the music ultimately matches the lyrical content in that it challenges and motivates the listener to change their position.

LITTLE-COMETS-at-KOKO-Guifre-de-Peray-The-Upcoming-12
Photograph by  Guilfre de Peray

Fan favourite ‘The Blur, The Line and The Thickest Of Onions’ is one of the highlights of the night as lead singer Rob Coles drops his guitar and switches with new touring member Matt Saxon to play keyboards at the back.  The reverence for the words of arguably one of the Comets’ finest works is prevalent around the venue as you can hear teenage girls singing along word for word with lines about misogyny, violence towards women, media hypocrisy and the failure of these issues to be discussed by other artists.  Later we are treated to a rare outing of ‘Woman, Woman’ as Rob lets the rest of the band nip out for a wee break and has the audience in his palm – ‘preaching to the choir’ has never been a more apt idiom, as for a moment the whole hall is one with the singer.

I often wonder if there is some sort of ironic force at work in the universe that means that if you are an act of artistic merit (and actually have something to say or to challenge the status quo) that you can’t have significant commercial success.  Whether Little Comets follow the mould of say the Velvet Underground in being a band that doesn’t get the credit it deserves at the time but goes on to inspire a multitude of others, we will have to wait and see but in the meantime, this Koko crowd tonight celebrates them with what they deserve: a sweaty, passionate and devoted rapturous response.

They say farewell with new track ‘Hunting’ – one of the standouts from the new album which tells the tale of a fox hunter seeking a new way of feeding his pleasure for causing pain.  It begins with a cute 60s girl group refrain, before growing into an all out audio assault as the band wig out and the lights go Olympic, Rob’s falsetto takes off and at one point all 5 band members are getting in on vocal duties.. sublime.  The night ends in the way all Little Comets shows end, with a dance, as Koko rings out to ‘Dancing Song’ and the crowd pogo and conga their way out into the streets of London.

Trump and Brexit, injustice and discrimination are forgotten about and have no place throughout the duration. “For tonight Matthew..We are all little ever-evolving gasses.”

Little Comets fourth album ‘Worhead’ is out now – Buy it here!

Little Comets official website

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Peugeot and Citroen owner Groupe PSA to acquire Vauxhall and Opel after confirming a €2.2 billion agreement from General Motors Europe

  • Peugeot buys Vauxhall, becoming the French car giant’s first major acquisition since acquiring Chrysler Europe.
  • Potential job losses could happen once the acquisition is finalised.
  • Production of several car models from Vauxhall and Opel will remain unaffected.
  • There have been fears of Vauxhall leaving the UK following after Brexit.

Groupe PSA, or better known as PSA Peugeot Citroen, has confirmed that they have agreed to acquire Vauxhall Motors and Opel from its owner General Motors for €2.2 billion (£1.9 billion).

The French car manufacturer, which owns Peugeot, Citroen and DS, announced in a statement that their intention to manage the expanded group by capitalising on their respective brand identities and honouring existing commitments to workers.

This comes after 2016 became the sixteenth consecutive loss-making year for GM in Europe, which declared bankruptcy in 2009, resulting in the discontinuation of the Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac brands the following year, the sale of Saab to Spyker in the same year, along with the discontinuation of the Daewoo brand in South Korea in 2012 and the departure of the Chevrolet brand in the European market last year, leaving Cadillac, Vauxhall and Opel the only GM brands operating in the market.

Once finalised, General Motors will solely focus on their GMC, Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet brands, with Cadillac becoming the only GM brand operating in the European market and their Australian brand Holden set to cease vehicle and engine production by the end of this year.

PSA chairman of the managing board Carlos Tavares said: “We are proud to join forces with Opel/Vauxhall and are deeply committed to continuing to develop this great company and accelerating its turnaround. We respect all that Opel/Vauxhall’s talented people have achieved as well as the company’s fine brands and strong heritage. We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees.”

However, with great acquisition comes great fear as there could be some potential job losses once the acquisition is finalised along with fears that Vauxhall could be leaving the UK following after Brexit.

Mayor of London warns London business owners of £900 million business rate hike as a result of the revaluation of funds to the equivalent tax cut for the rest of the Country.

sadiq-khan-11

 

London Assembly (Mayor’s Question Time) at the Chamber, City Hall London

  • Mayor and other leading business firms write to Chancellor the Exchequer Philip Hammond, urging him to protect businesses from increases.
  • London Business facing 45 per cent rise in rate in their bills this April and 7,500 businesses are expected to close down.
  • Business rates are a property tax set by the Government based on the assumed annual rental value on the open market of business properties as estimated by the national Valuation Office.

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today warned that some businesses in London could be forced to close down if the Government ploughs ahead with plans to increase the business rates bill by as much as 45 per cent this year for many of the capital’s ratepayers.

He has described the Government’s misguided business rates hike, together with the uncertainty caused by Brexit, as a “double whammy for business in London.” Business ratepayers will begin to receive their new bills from early March.

London’s businesses are facing a £900 million business rate hike as a result of the revaluation which will fund an equivalent tax cut for the rest of the country. That figure could eventually rise to £1.1bn.

Three quarters of businesses who responded to the FSB survey said that business rates was the single biggest issue affecting their business, while 27 per cent said they are considering closing for good.

The reduction in the tax free dividend allowance from £5,000 to £2,000 with effect from 2018 was an unexpected hit to owner manager businesses that had only just started making use of this tax free allowance. The method will strike the smaller businesses which utilise the dividend exemption to pay family members.

The rise in National insurance (NI) for the self-employed are the class 4 NI by 1% from next April 2018 to 10% and an additional 1% the following year 2019 to 11%. This is an attack on smaller businesses that run with a higher level of risk than limited companies. The Government is enhancing to level the playing the mediator between owners managed business structures and employed individuals

R & D continues to be a Government supported tax relief that will help business innovate in a competitive way, recently announced to enhance certainty around claims and reduce the administrative burden, but details are yet to be released

 

The government call for the most ambitious education rebirth ever since A-level was introduced and funding is set to increase for training of 16-19 years old by 50%.

  • Chancellor Philip Hammond has expressed his thought on the Andrew Marr Show that the UK needs to dwell more in training and up skilled job is to enhance the future of the young people.
  • Technical skills and Education had been neglected for too long says: by the Association of College chief executive David Hughes.
  • This £500m will boost for the raising the quality and status of workplace skills.
  • Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, “If your bank increases your credit card  limit I don’t think you will feel obliged to out and spend every last penny of it immediately.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hammond expressed his thought towards the 2017 Budget by training young people, the £500m will boost the increase the quality and status of workplace skills.

“I regard my job as a chancellor as making sure that the economy is resilient, that we have over “.

The Treasury will also announce in the Budget it is setting aside £500 a year to boost skills training for 16 to 19-years-old

Dubbed T-levels, the Government claims it is the most significant shake up in the 16 education since the introduction of a level 70 years ago.

Under his budget, thousands of qualification will be replaced by 15 “T-Level” Training routes specific to different industries, from finance and accounting to engineering and manufacturing.

A wide-ranging reform of technical education will see the current 13,000 separate qualifications replaced with “15 world-class routes” better suited to business needs.

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The investment, from 2019, is also aimed at boosting Britain’s productivity levels and will see the amount of training for 16 to 19-year-olds on technical routes increase by more than 50% to over 900 hours a year.

Some young Lambeth unskilled youths were interviewed about the vocational training is to encourage them to engage on skilled training job.

Mike 21, explained why he could not engage in skilled job training ever since, he said it was due to lack of sponsorship funds. A female 19, withheld name, expressed her profound gratitude the Chancellor towards the new development on vocational training scheme.

 

Vox Extra – 6th March 2017 (ish)

On this week’s Vox Extra Jessica talk with #PeterTatchell #LGBT, John meets with the guys from #PoeticUnity. Maame talks slimming sausages and Amirah discussed the need for #housingbenefits for 16-18 year olds in the Capital.

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White Collar Boxing London

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White Collar Boxing London offers the opportunity for any ‘average Joe’ to enter training and ultimately take part in a Boxing match in front of a live audience at Camden Irish Centre

White Collar Boxing London was set up in 2010 and follows the format previously set up in the United States Of America, which allows regular working men and women the chance to train and fight like professional boxers.

 

At a Saturday morning training session we caught up with the man behind WCBL, Scott Borthwick and some of the fighters taking part.

 

For more information, go to the White Collar Boxing official website or alternatively find them on Facebook Instagram and Twitter @WCBLondon.

 

 

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