Daylight Music at the Union Chapel is 10 years old. My first introduction to Daylight was back in July 2013 when some friends of mine, The Untied Knot, were playing on the same bill as Abi Wade and Future Band. Like many gig goers I had been to the Union Chapel for evening gigs but had no idea it was such a beautiful venue during the day with all the wood of the aisles bathed in the same natural light that also highlighted the beautiful stained glass windows. Religious or not, there is something calming about church spaces; evoking memories of weddings and funerals and notions of prayer or sanctuary, and Daylight music is a sanctuary. It’s a space that offers solace for the chaste or the hungover with delicious smells of tea and coffee and homemade quiche and cakes (cut into generous slices) all served and made by the chapel’s community kitchen, run by The Margins Project charity which offers a range of services to support people facing homelessness, risk of homelessness and crisis in Islington.
The first Daylight Music was in the spring of 2009 and was the brainchild of Arctic Circle producer, Barbican podcaster, Classic FM contributor and musician, Ben Eshmade who had wanted to offer an eclectic range of live music free of charge and accessible to all. Islington’s Union Chapel was a perfect venue, not just for the location but due to the enthusiastic backing of the team there who wholeheartedly embraced the idea. With the help of cutting edge digital technology (a MySpace account), and the more analogue word of mouth, it quickly grew in popularity and attendance.
If you haven’t heard of Daylight Music before it’s likely you will have heard of many of the acts that have played there over 10 years: Aldous Harding, This Is The Kit, Rozi Plain, The Frank Chickens, Nick Heyward, Nils Frahm, Poppy Ackroyd, Kathryn Williams or Ed Dowie and plenty of artists have also been featured on the Joyzine site: Piny Gir, Codes In The Clouds, Emily Barker, Yndi Halda, Frank Sidebottom, Pictish Trail, Hannah Peel, Her Name Is Calla, Nadine Khouri, Alabaster DePlume, Trans-Siberian March Band, Darren Hayman, Emma Kupa and Emma Pollock.
Daylight Music is programmed with so much care and thought it’s a true unicorn in the concert world as it has created an event that doesn’t just rely on Band A or Solo Artist B to fill out the venue with their fans and boost bar sales, it also draws in people who trust that the programming will always provide some great music. It’s a family-friendly haven for the curious music lover where you will see artists who delight and captivate you as much as artists who will befuddle or bemuse you and Daylight’s Saturday afternoon cocoon is a beautiful respite from the acrimonious times we currently find ourselves in. People will chat to you in both queue and pew and strangers might even smile at you, but trust me, go with it and you will get a glow from having joined a community of like-minded individuals. It’s like a warm bath for the soul.
There are still plenty of events left this year which celebrate Daylight’s milestone anniversary. It’s ‘Pay What You Can’ on the door but the suggested amount (to keep the daylight shining) is £5. If you want a taste of Daylight then you can watch a huge selection of previous performances on their excellent YouTube archive.
2 November 2019 Bex Burch, Beanie Bhebhe & Tom Herbert, Çiğdem Aslan & Tahir Palali + Maria Chiara Argirò & Jamie Leeming
9 November 2019 Atsain Priddin: The Gentle Good, Accü, Georgia Ruth + Toby Hay
16 November 2019 EFG London Jazz Festival: Nils Økland, Kaidi Akinnibi & Lorenz Okello-Osengor + Helena Kay & Sam Watts
23 November 2019 EFG London Jazz Festival: Jherek Bischoff, Robert Stillman & Anders Holst + Rosie Frater-Taylor
30 November 2019 Matthew Bourne presents: voix outré Dorothy Lehane, Seaming To, Keeley Forsyth, Polly Gone Wrong + Andrew Plummer
7 December 2019 Tomorrow’s Warriors Soon Come Big Band present The Nutcracker Suite
14 December 2019 Lost Map present: Yuletide in a Scotch Sitting Room with Pictish Trail, Callum Easter + guests tbc
Article by Paul F Cook
Photography by Cath Dupuy