Roasted Grooves: A dish best served with jazz

Roasted Grooves is moving to new venues.

In the Summer of 2017 an opportunity arose to revive an event first conceived in the early 90s when we at Illicit Grooves were asked to create a series of fringe events to complement the Jazz by the Sea Festival in Bournemouth.

Using independent venues only we framed our contribution as ‘Grooves On The Fringe‘ and the South Coast Roast Cafe hosted a Sunday afternoon session in which we placed Roasted Grooves. Intended to be a one off it proved so successful and popular it became a monthly residency which lasted in that venue until the April 2018 edition which was an official event for both International Jazz Day #JazzDay and the Bournemouth Emerging Arts Festival.

Now as time and tide waxes and wanes and brings forth changes so do ideas and visions and thus the mutually fruitful relationship between the venue and the event has come to an end as a monthly event.  No doors have been closed or bridges burnt.  Both parties seek new directions and we move on.

It is this moving on that allows for a brief reflection on how we started ‘Roasted Grooves’, as part of the Illicit Grooves canon, back in the early 90s and the changes and the innovations which have occurred in those 25 plus years.

So let us digress to 1992 and the start of the concept of the Sunday afternoon food, drink, jazz, soul and grooves social event.

1992, the year plucky underdogs Denmark won the European football championships, the year the EU opened its internal borders and created the single market, the year Barcelona hosted the Olympics, Linford Christie won the 100 metres gold medal and the year when, having lived in Paris for 18 months,  I returned to a small town in Oxfordshire  with an idea, a ton of vinyl and enough money to buy a set of decks.

The idea of a Sunday afternoon jazz DJ session was not a new one; Giles Peterson and Patrick Forge’s Sunday Afternoon at Dingwalls had been done before along with many others.  Bank Holiday Sundays hosted various Soul All-dayers up and down the UK.

What was different about the first ‘Roasted Grooves’ was the idea that it would be a Sunday afternoon set in a food and drink context where the music provided an atmosphere for socialising whilst eating, where dancing was welcome but not expected or aimed at and where the menu was as important as the set list.  Hence the name ‘Roasted Grooves’, a play on Sunday Roast.

The first residency was in a small market town in Oxfordshire, the second in Oxford itself in a wine bar, followed by one offs, of what we would now call pop-ups, in London, more in Oxon and then, after a career move, in Bournemouth.  All on Sunday lunchtimes and afternoons, all based around food as well as grooves and all adding numbers and food revenues in each venue.

I remember sharing the initial idea with others who saw it as a non-starter (no pun intended). ‘Who’s going to want to listen to music while they eat?’.  ‘You’ll never find a venue’ and my favourite feedback ‘if people wanted to hear music when they eat they’d take a Walkman in with them.’…aah, the Sony Walkman, memories lol.

But it worked, and continues to work as the right blend of music not normally heard, creating a relaxed setting where people can meet, eat, drink, chat and dance if they want to and be home in time to have a decent kip before Monday comes around is such a winning combination that it has spawned venues like Spiritland, events such as the brilliant ease Your mind in Banbury and many others where the DJs and the music work with the venue and the food sales.

There is no claim to being the first to do this, to be honest I nicked the idea from a bar/cafe in northern Paris in Le Marche aux Puce de Clignancourt (flea market) where I would go record digging every Sunday in 1990-91. But, as with all good ideas, there has to be reflection, innovation and a sense of evolution and this brings us to where we are now as we ready ourselves to launch a new series of ‘Roasted Grooves’ in different venues.

As I do reflect, I remember dragging boxes of records and turntables to venues where now I can take CD wallets and a compact CDJ and controller.  I remember taping the 4 hour sessions on to two C120 cassettes and then labouriously copying them to sell afterwards whereas now I livestream the gigs on social media and record on an MP3 player which I upload to podcasts.  I remember literal cutting and pasting and gluing of posters and flyers which I now can do on InDesign and I also remember strangers coming over and expressing how much they love the music and thanking us for providing a great Sunday afternoon which now still happens.  Plus ca change at its best.

So, there is my reminiscences of 25 years or so of Roasted Grooves and I look forward to new incarnations in new venues with innovation and quality music always being the consistent factor.

To stay informed of Roasted Grooves and other events ‘Like’ The Return of the Illicit Groove Facebook page here and why not follow this blog?

You can listen to and follow the Roasted Grooves Podcasts and The Illicit grooves radio Show podcasts here

Roasted grooves Radio show Podcast Generic banner

Please do comment below if you have been to and enjoyed a recent Roasted grooves at South Coast Roast in Bournemouth or indeed any of our other events where we’ve played Groove For The Global Leftfield #g4gl


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