I had an excellent night on Wednesday at the "What's Cookin'" club at Leytonstone (for the benefit of our international readers that is in east London - perhaps best known as the birthplace of Alfred Hitchcock).
"What's Cookin'" has been going for about five years but I only got to hear of it recently, so this was my first visit. It certainly won't be my last. It runs most Wednesdays and Saturdays in the tarted up upstairs function room of "The Sheepwalk" pub, and features mostly country and rock 'n roll acts. There is no admission fee but they have a whip-round during the show and you contribute whatever you think it was worth - an approach which encourages you to try out acts you have never heard of as you don't have to fork out £10 or more on the off-chance you'll enjoy them. There are more details at their website (link below) and I would encourage anyone who lives in the area to give it a go.
What made my first visit even better was the fact that the headline act was Otis Gibbs, the pocket-sized Steve Earle (in his current bearded incarnation). He played a solo set. Great songs and - some disparaging remarks about black pudding apart - great banter.
Here are a couple of Otis songs: "The Farmer Is The Man" (from 2004's "One Day Our Whispers") and, from his current album "Grandpa Walked A Picketline", "To Anyone".
And here is a clip of Otis doing "Karluv Most" earlier this year. This was his final encore on Wednesday, which - having strolled round the room playing it - ended with him standing precariously on a rickety chair in front of me. The effect was a mixture of pleasure at the song and fear that he might fall on me.