Independent record label, live music promoter and publisher Communion is 10 years old! Growing from a monthly live music night at Notting Hill’s famous basement Arts Club venue, the artists and fans-based supportive community nature of Communion expanded from that monthly music night to what it is today.
Boasting a roster of artists, recorded output and live shows that seems to have developed into a who’s who of genre-bending, mould-breaking and spirit-lifting acts, it’s hard to believe that Communion is only 10 years old.
Founded in 2006 by musicians Kevin Jones, who went on to form Bear’s Den a few years later, Mumford and Sons’ guitarist Ben Lovett and producer Ian Grimble, the idea behind Communion was to foster a place where artists could find the platform and community to succeed in growing as artists away from the ever money-driven recording industry.
And the money these artists can now generate just proves how well a collaborative environment can foster and grow talent that might just redefine what mainstream is.
The likes of James Bay, Daughter, Jack Garrett and Catfish and the Bottlemen are just some of the artists supported by Communion’s three streams, while American Nathaniel Rateliff and Canadians Half Moon Run have received greater exposure, demonstrating their reach. Communion artist Michael Kiwanuka’s sophomore album Love & Hate made the cut for this year’s Mercury Music Prize shortlist alongside greats such as David Bowie and Radiohead.
The Communion New Faces tours each year bring a collection of artists to music fans in great environments, such as Shepherd Bush’s St Stephen’s Church, the likes of Luke Sital-Singh, Frances and Eliza And The Bear taking their music around the country and building up a fan base in an open-minded community.
Their annual Bushstock festival in London’s Shepherd’s Bush takes the one-day festival in a new direction as Communion take over the smaller venues of the area and stuff their stages with great acts, the 2016 edition featuring Dan Croll, The Big Moon and Shura.
For “Commun10n”, as their 10th anniversary party was dubbed, Jones, Lovett and Grimble hosted a party at London’s House of Vans venue, giving tickets away in a prize draw and encouraging a celebratory atmosphere.
And what better way to celebrate than to do away with the standard showcase concert and instead invite down Nathaniel Rateliff and his Night Sweats band to provide both their own tunes alongside house band duties as the faces of Communion stopped by to sing covers of hits from different, inspiring eras.
Dan Croll gave Smokey Robinson’s Tracks Of My Tears an outing while Jack Garratt belted out an energy-filled rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s classic 1970 tune Move On Up, The Night Sweats bashing the brass.
Rukshana Merrisse channelled her inner Aretha Franklin for Respect while Andrew Davie and Communion founder Kevin Jones’s Bear’s Den got soulful for Walk On By.
Joseph J Jones, MarthaGunn and James Bay all had their turns leading the Night Sweats before all the artists at the party came out on stage, alongside Communion and Mumford & Sons man Ben Lovett and his bandmates Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall for an uplifting take on The Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends with Marshall refusing to leave the stage, bashing out covers of Free classic Alright Now and AC/DC hit Highway To Hell.
Communion is 10 and the music world is richer for it. And the hope is that this Community sense of collaborating in the music world will spread beyond their world and encourage the talented youngsters to help each other find their platforms and take their music into the world while the resurgence in vinyl will also help the business side of music grow.
Feature on Communion by Kalpesh Patel on 1st September 2016.
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate