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Amy Winehouse movie spotlights Camden's credibility & clichés

Plus what to eat, see, read and watch this week

As we’ve pointed out before, Camdenist aims squarely at being a publication for the culturally interested people who live, work or play ‘round here.

And as such, we’ve a bit of an aversion to lazy social media reposts of the Amy Winehouse statue with heart emojis, and/or clickbait headlines trading endlessly on the area’s past musical glories, often at the expense of giving new bands and singers the much-needed exposure.

But with the big screen Amy biopic getting a national release today, we couldn’t ignore this significant chapter in an unquestionably amazing artist’s posthumous story, particularly as so many iconic Camden Town landmarks have cameos in the movie.

The NME have gone particularly big on all this, including a special free screening of the film at Everyman KX earlier this week, running NME’s guide to Amy’s Camden, a story (alongside the movie) that virtually guarantees local streets getting clogged with yet more pavement-blocking tour groups over the summer, and even dishing out a special free return to print magazines (pictured above) which you may well have been thrust when exiting the tube.

Meanwhile the Jewish Chronicle proudly republished their early 2003 review that correctly predicts the then young upstart Amy Winehouse will be massive. If she was a Brooklyn babe she already would be. It takes feisty Jewish teenagers from Camden just a little longer to crack the global market.”

More nuanced on the whole Camden-owning-Amy thread was this interesting view from last week’s Observer, looking at Camden Town’s perennial position as a live music’s Valhalla.

Other than venturing to see Back to Black in the cinema, if you want to go the full Amy the there’s a special live performance by the impressive Lucy Randell and her Winehouse covers band, back at the Stables Market amphitheatre (right by that statue) this Saturday afternoon.

Expect plenty more grist to the music tourism mill in the days ahead, and do let us know where you sit on the whole Amy nostalgia fandango and its impact on today’s Camden by voting/commenting in this week’s 1-click poll (find it a litter further down today’s newsletter) 👇

Talking of the movies…

The proposed Camden Film Quarter, an ambitious reinvention of the last great undeveloped industrial zone in the borough (Regis Rd, in NW5) as a facility to rival the likes of Pinewood and Hollywood, is having a community consultation next week.
Head to Kentish Town’s Greenwood Centre on Tues, Thurs or Sat to discover more about the scheme, and add your own thoughts. You can find out more info on the sessions, plus add your comments online too (from Monday), all at the official website.

🔬 New workspace set to bring science and innovation into the local community

Camdenist in partnership with

This week we’ve been speaking with some of the partners behind Impact Hub London Euston, a brand new workspace that’s just opened based around a concept of inclusive innovation. 

It can be found in Regent’s Place, a part of Euston that has recently refocused as a city-centre campus for the life sciences and innovation start-ups.

Success for the hub - which includes a state-of-the-art events theatre, hot desks, meeting rooms and private offices, alongside a programme of regular community events - will be to bridge the gap between the stratospheric opportunities of global science and technology, and the experience of many people living nearby in Camden.


🍨 A celebrity chef in Belsize, ice cream in Hampstead and a sandwich fiesta at Camden Beer Hall

Caldesi Belsize - opening tomorrow

Marylebone and Bray-based Italian Caldesi finally arrives in Belsize Village this weekend.

The restaurants’ formerly larger-than-life TV personality chef/owner Giancarlo Caldesi was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and a severe gluten intolerance a decade ago, but rose to the challenge of not eating his beloved pizza, pasta and breads, and has specialised in low-carb cookery alongside the timeless Italian classics.

Taking over the site of ill-fated Calici, it will be nice to see the Village boasting a quality Italian spot again, after the latest reshuffle in the fantastically global restaurant line-up.

🥐 Popular corner cafe and provisions station Anthony’s Deli has just reopened after a refit, back at the heart Regent's Park Road's thriving brunch and bagels frontline.

🥪 Book now for the first ever weekend-long sandwich festival Sarni Party, taking place 17th-19th May at Camden Town Brewery’s Beer Hall. One ticket gets you three special sandwiches (plus a beer, of course) from the UK’s top sarni chefs including Big Sandwich Energy, The Cheese Truck, Mondo Sando, Ruben's Reubens, Happy Endings and loads more.

📚 Self-confessed Angry Yellow Woman Vera Chok is launching her book of punchy poetry at Werewolf Beer’s taproom under the arches at Randolph St this Sunday afternoon.

🍧 Gelato rose specialists, French brand Amorino, are preparing to open their latest branch up on Hampstead High Street in time for the summer Heath walker influx. If you can’t wait that long (and the weather is supposed to be getting nicer this weekend) then you’ll find them on Camden High St too.

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Comedy, Cabaret, Chekhov…and the Occult

Double BAFTA winner Adeel Akhtar in The Cherry Orchard

Camdenist in partnership with

💻 Insult to Injury is a satirical comedy about misinformation, technology, responsibility, power, and eating other people’s sins. It’s on tonight and tomorrow (12th & 13th) at The Lion & Unicorn.

🐵 Long established Monkey Business Comedy Club is back for their double Saturday night (April 13th) including multi award winning comedy magician Carl Charlesworth and a cabaret show in the later performance at All About Eve.

🍒 Chekhov’s final play, the much-loved classic The Cherry Orchard begins a heavily anticipated run at Covent Garden’s Donmar next week (the show is on 26th April-22nd June).

🎭 Hampstead legend Léonie Scott-Matthews founded Pentameters Theatre above The Horseshoe pub back in the late 60s and it’s still going strong today. She compères their weekly Sunday evening of music, poetry, comedy and open mic, Moon At Night, with her musician partner, Godfrey Old and tickets are only a fiver.

🔮 A fascinating evening of a talk followed by a Q&A, The Grand Illusion: Fighting the Nazis with the Occult turns its attention on a bizarre episode in World War II history on Monday (15th) at Conway Hall.


Live and unleashed this week

YolanDa Brown

🎷 Double MOBO award-winner, CBeebies TV star, Chair of Youth Music, recent OBE and soon-to-be restaurateur (phew!) YolanDa Brown returns to play three nights at Pizza Express Live Holborn this weekend. Tomorrow is sold out, with a handful of tickets left for tonight, and better availability for Sunday. As well as playing reggae, jazz, soul and more, she’ll also be taking questions from the audience.

🧢 Japan's hip-hop wizard DJ KOKO (aka SHIMOKITA) brings his unique scratch ‘n cut turntable skills to the Jazz Cafe on Wednesday (17th). Playing strictly 7” vinyl

🎸 Thursday (18th) sees NW5’s MAP Cafe favourites Naked Yoga join garage rock headliners Rocky’s Cuffs for a night of funk, alt-rock and even jazz at the Dublin Castle.

🔥 Shayanne is a singer songwriter from South London with an ear for melodies and a storytelling style of writing that pulls from pop, contemporary RnB, film scores, and soul. She performs at Primrose Hill Community Library on Friday 19th.


Things change, but some things don’t change too much

The weekly column: reflections on living, working and playing in the borough…

SATURDAY: A birthday party full of three generations of Camden-based families was the start of a long evening. It may often feel like London is full of people who grew up elsewhere, but gatherings like this one are a reminder that many born-and-bred locals haven’t (entirely) been priced out either. We can still be found doing life nearby; walking to work, attending local schools, eating and drinking in the same familiar haunts. Living in a city means having to come to terms with a relentless pace of change going on all around. That’s what makes bringing familiar faces back into the same room a rare but reassuring moment of continuity.

And on that note, our Saturday night progressed on to KOKO, scene of so many local’s first-big-night-out experiences, right? The revamped Camden Palace has history bursting out of it, from legendary performances by global music stars to seminal woozy right-of-passage memories for generations. KOKO Electronic has established itself as a weekly club event in a space I’ve never really liked when used for that purpose. But all credit to the vision, as these modern day DJ shows deliver exactly what the crowds want. It’s a visual spectacle with the artist as centrepiece, yet avoids much of the dull face fowards, phones in the air mentality by making the most of the 360 degree theatrical setting for dancing. Unimpeachable record label Defected’s Glitterbox night was back in the space, with all the disco stylings and an up-for-it crowd to match, many of whom had travelled a lot further to party than we had. It became another reminder of the changing face of London, but also of the thread of history that links it all together. KOKO has finally won me over as a space for clubbing as much as live gigs, and it’s fantastic to have such big shows every weekend on the high street.


📊 This week’s 1-click poll

What do you think about the ongoing popularity of retelling the Amy Winehouse story and her place in Camden's history?

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How do you feel about King's Cross emerging as such a hotbed of Artificial Intelligence (AI) development?

Proud - it's great that cutting edge tech is being pioneered here
🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ 42%

Afraid - nobody knows the impact this stuff is going to have on all our lives
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 58%

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There sure is a lot of uncertainty around AI out there, as you may remember our recent visit to the offices of local startup Autogen AI proved first hand. Nearly 60% of readers hold reservations about the impact of AI coming towards us, although there’s also lots of pride that it’s happening right here, too. Suppose a resounding ‘null points’ is the kind of vote you get when one of the answers is ‘unbothered’ - people can’t even be bothered to click that option!

Reader Quote on AI:

It’s inevitable, embrace it!”

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