Preview: Norwich gig guide March 3-8

The latest UK rapper heading our way is Labrinth - aka Timothy McKenzie, a Tinie Tempah- and Professor Green- and Ed Sheeran-collaborating, singer-songwriter, remixer and producer who has leapt up the high-profile ladder. Plus Souls of Mischief, Chris Smither, Kit Holmes Trio.


UEA, March 4

Labrinth is Timothy McKenzie, a Tinie Tempah- and Professor Green- and Ed Sheeran-collaborating, singer-songwriter, remixer and producer who has leapt up the high-profile ladder, enjoying a chart-topping hit with Earthquake, which featured TT.

Having co-written and produced Tempah's Brit award-winning debut single, Pass Out, two years ago while still in his teens, the Hackney prodigy went on to score two top-five hits of his own after becoming Simon Cowell's first non-talent-show signing in six years.

Despite his East End roots, Labrinth is not a product of the grime scene. His debut album, Electronic Earth, demonstrates musical-magpie tendencies which reflect his background as producer rather than rapper. Plan B has called him 'the Heston Blumenthal of music'.

He will be joined for this date by South London hip hop upstart Dot Rotten — aka Joseph Ellis — who built his first beat on an Atari aged seven under the monkier Young Dot.

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He went on to form the OGz Crew and unveiled a skill in production that has seen him work alongside the likes of Ghetts, Tinie Tempah and Wiley.

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Norwich Arts Centre, March 5

With upstart UK rappers seemingly ruling the roost, it's good to know that there is still room for some old school US rap. Long-running Californian hip hop collective Souls of Mischief — an offshoot of a looser underground hip hop consortium known as Hieroglyphics — stop off at the Arts Centre for one of just a handful of UK tours on a short European tour.

It's the first time back over this side of the Atlantic for MCs A-Plus, Phesto, Opio and Tajai in two years since touring in support of their Prince Paul-produced album, Montezuma's Revenge.

As ever they'll be spitting their introspective rhymes over louche beats including tracks from their classic debut 93 Til Infinity. At that time they drew comparisons to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest for their abstract style of storytelling. However they shucked off their whimsical reputation with a brasher second album No Man's Land.

They've remained prolific artists since with numerous solo and group project and have just released three solo albums. Tajai has already released Machine Language, his new collaboration with Sleeprockers; Opio Vultures Wisdom Volume 2; while Phesto's new album, Background Check, hits shops on March 13.

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Norwich Arts Centre, March 6

Honing a synthesis of folk and blues for more than 40 years and having released 13 records, Chris Smither is an American original.

The blues-based singer-songwriter and guitarist drawd deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets and humanist philosophers and has won plenty of admirers for his Ry Cooder-style of funky roots and raspin' blues.

A blistering guitarist, he melds the styles of his two major influences, Lightnin' Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt, into his own signature guitar sound.

His last studio album, Time Stands Still, was recorded in just three days and mixed original songs with a song apiece from Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, and 1920s country-blues songster Frank Hutchison.

'Back in the old days,' says the resilient blues/folk troubadour, 'writing new songs and making new albums were just chores. My priority was, and still is, performing live. I guess I still write the songs and make the records so that I can go out and play.'

Since then he has released a live CD and, taking a break from writing songs from a new album, last summer he joined forces with a number of friends, including Billy Conway of Morphine, to put the Smither spin on some rock'n'roll classics, including Take Out Some Insurance and You Can't Catch Me, for an EP that's only available online and at his concerts.

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Norwich Arts Centre, March 8

An evening of gorgeous guitar, poignant lyrics and feisty fiddle playing is on the cards as Kit Holmes brings her trademark sultry vocals and virtuoso playing to the Arts Centre.

The young singer-songwriter, who has been hailed as a new British guitar heroine, has won fans across the UK through after she supported The Albion Band and toured with the guitar hero John Etheridge.

Mostly playing acoustic guitar, her blend of mainly rootsy-blues and folk skips across genre boundaries, taking in at one extreme pop-influenced songs and at the other switching to instrumental pieces that echo anything from folk baroque to flamenco and jazz.

'People always say things like 'not easily pigeonholed',' she said. 'I find that quite funny, because who wants to be pigeonholed? I'd like to think it was a little bit of all the things I listen to, whether that's Bach or the Arctic Monkeys'. I guess you could call it folk with a small 'f', with a bit of rock, pop, jazz and blues.'

Her eagerly anticipated third album, Driving into the Blue, released last year, featured the legendary double bass player Danny Thompson and won her critical acclaim.

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March 2

Allo Darlin' + more (indie) — Arts Centre

Tattooed Cow + more (rock/funk) — Brickmakers

Shock!Hazard (metal) — King Edward VII

The Hoops + more (rock/pop) — Olives

Honeydripper (rock/blues) — Rackheath Green Man

Dead Ends + more (indie/pop) — B2

Hot Smoke & Danger (blues) — Walnut Tree Shades

Vegas Fame Index (indie) — Hog In Armour

A13 Allstars (blues/Americana) — Brewery Tap

TrueScape (pop/rock) — Wild Man

Unlawfully Yours (rock) — The Farmhouse

Lucas (soul) — The Stores

Davie J — Perseverance

Joe Bloggs — Lakenham Cock

Ricci — Fiveways

March 3

The Burning Crows (rock) — Brickmakers

Tygers of Pan Tang + more (rock) — B2

Saigon Kiss + more (rock) — Olives

Life In Film + more (indie) — Arts Centre

Sick On The Bus + more (punk) — King Edward VII

San (rock/blues) — The Stanley

The Planks (soul/blues) — The Leopard

Beatdulex (rock'n'roll) — Arkwrights

Honeydripper (rock/blues) — Eaton Cottage

3 Up 2 Down (blues/funk) — Angel Gardens

The Revolves (50s/60s) — Heath House

Alan Ley — Quebec Tavern

Tony Cann — The Marlpit

Daaron King — The Nelson

March 4

Labrinth + Dot Rotten (hip hop) — UEA

Kirsty McGee (folk) — Bicycle Shop

Keno Kings (blues/4pm) — Boundary

Dave Thomas Band (blues/2.30pm) — Brewery Tap

Lee Vasey Big Band (12pm) — Brickmakers

March 5

Souls of Mischief (hip hop) — Arts Centre

Brickie Sessions (open mic) — Brickmakers

Stookey Blue (folk) — Micawbers Tavern

Jazz Jam — B2

Jazz Night — Walnut Tree Shades

March 6

Chris Smither (roots/blues) — Arts Centre

Killing Joke (punk/indie) — Waterfront

Marlene Verplanck (jazz) — Rackheath Green Man

Cuttin Edge (rock) — Brickmakers

Live & Direct (acoustic) — Rumsey Wells

Folk Night — The Beehive

March 7

Mike Harding (folk) — Playhouse

InMe + more (indie/rock) — Waterfront

David Celia (acoustic/singer-songwriter) — Bicycle Shop

The Stones (rock/tribute) — Maddermarket Theatre

Lee Vasey & Friends — Trowel & Hammer

Pure Acoustic (open mic) — Brickmakers

March 8

Kit Holmes Trio (acoustic/roots) — Arts Centre

Energy (pop/funk) — Brickmakers

Against The Grain (rock/blues) — Walnut Tree Shades

Adrian Duffy (singer-songwriter) — Rumsey Wells

The Guevara Brothers (bluegrass) — Rose Tavern

Mark Anthony & Funky Stuff Band (soul/disco) — Beluga

Johnny Jump Band (rock/blues) — Micawbers Tavern

Open Jam — King Edward VII

Open Mic — Wildman

Open Mic — Garden House