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Music for no money in the heart of the city
Strapped for cash but still want to see some top quality music shows? You're in luck because during June there are free performances at Birmingham Symphony Hall's Cafe Bar.
Afro Mio (June 1, 10.30am) The quartet from Angola and Congo bring the feeling of summer to Birmingham at Symphony Hall's monthly Musical Picnic. Drawing on their African heritage, the rich vocals of Ben Pathy and Fidele Bisengo Ndonbasi, who sing in five languages, combine with Alpah Elema's rhythmic conga playing and the melodious guitar of Jean-Pierre Elema to create harmonious music.
A year ago New Orleans trumpeter, vocalist and composer Abram Wilson died. To mark the anniversary, and to honour his contribution to jazz in Birmingham, including being the first Jazzlines Associate Artist at the city's Town Hall and Symphony Hall, his rhythm section of Reuben James, Alex Davis and Dave Hamblett will perform some of his compositions.
Remembering Abram Wilson: Alex Davis, Dave Hamblett and Reuben James
Steve Ajao (June 7, 5pm) Guitarist and singer Steve Ajao is well known on the Birmingham jazz scene and this is a great chance to see him perform with his band, Blues Giants. The trio – Steve, bassist Mike Hatton and drummer Pete 'Washboard' Hammond – were runners-up to Steve 'Big Man' Clayton Blues Band in the 2012 Audience Award.
Guitarist: Steve Ajao
Tony Woods and Lyric Ensemble (June 14, 5pm) The Lyric Ensemble was formed by Michael Garrick to perform poetry set to music. Since his death in 2011 his vision has been maintained by vocalist Nette Robinson, pianist Nikki Iles, saxophonist Tony Woods, bassist Matt Ridley and drummer Chris Nicholls.
Lyrical: Tony Woods
Chopin Masterpieces and More (June 20, 5.30pm) Pianist and Head of Keyboard Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire John Thwaites introduces talented young musicians performing solo piano works by the likes of Frederic Chopin and John Ireland as part of the Conservatoire's Delius/ Ireland Festival.
More than Chopin: John Thwaites
Afro Mio (June 21, 5pm) Another chance to see Afro Moi, which means 'My Africa' and hear songs sung in Kikongo, Swahili, Lingala, French and Portuguese. This performance is part of the Celebrating Sanctuary Festival.
Encore performance: Afro Mio
Sanju Sahai (June 22, 1pm) Tabla player Sanju Sahai performs with keyboardist Rekesh Chauhan to give Saturday afternoon visitors a taste of World Music. Sanju has collaborated with a number of international artists, exploring various musical genres, from jazz and hip hop to folk and blues via opera and classical.
Tabla master: Sanju Sahai
Wooden Horse (June 27, 5.30pm) The Worcester-based duo of Jamie Knight and Ben Church, aka Wooden Horse, present their mix of Americana and country blues using slide guitar, stomp box, banjo and harmonica. Expect original material and some inspired covers.
Americana: Wooden Horse
Reuben James & Soul Train (June 28, 5pm)
Following his appearance at the Abram Wilson memorial pianist Reuben James returns to Symphony Hall with his own Soul Train quartet, Jay Phelps on trumpet, Tom Ford on guitar, Kristopher Currie on bass and Ian Haughton on drums.
Back with his Soul Train: Reuben James
The Notebenders (June 29, 1.30pm)
The Notebenders Big Band consists of talented and enthusiastic musicians from across Birmingham. Founded by jazz legend Andy Hamilton, they continue to offer fun and uplifting tunes at their monthly Symphony Hall residency.