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‘Bermondsey is the gig for me’: Carnival headliners Indika pay tribute to ‘best day ever’

The leader of the top-billed band at the Bermondsey Carnival has paid tribute to “his best day of the year ever”.

Local man Phillip Poleon, who is the band leader and musical director of reggae band Indika, said: “It’s the first gig back after Covid, so it feels apt to be playing at home. Bermondsey is the gig for me. It’s the people who see me every day on the street.

Indika, which is made up of a revolving cast of musicians, formed in 2005 and has played with artists like Levi Roots and Lee “Scratch” Perry. The band has a double album on the way, Phillip said, but has so far resisted creating an online presence. Philip said Indika would get on the internet, but he enjoyed getting work through local word of mouth.

Phillip mostly grew up in Nunhead but moved to Bermondsey about twenty years ago and said it feels like home now.

Philip Poleon with Chas & Dave in a previous year

“Bermondsey’s changed from the ‘folklore’ that it had in earlier times. Now the pandemic might even have made it a better place because everyone had to muck in and stick together, even a joke and a hello. Now I walk the streets and people ask me if I’m alright. People acknowledge you. I’ve felt more togetherness in the community. All the shop owners, all the regulars have a chat. It’s a good community, it’s growing, it’s developing and it’s progressing.”

Philip urged everyone in the area to come to the free event on Saturday.

“It’s a chance to come together. ‘Comings together’ can never be enough, especially since we’ve been deprived of them. It’s okay for the big bands and acts who can set up and people pay loads of money to go see them.

Winston Reedy

“But there are distinct parts of our communities that don’t have the money to do that. This is free, this is on their doorstep, it’s around their own people – it’s important. Any event that brings people together is important.”

Indika will be playing from 4.45-6pm on Saturday, alongside legendary reggae singer Winston Reedy.

Bermondsey Carnival programme

Saturday August 14, 12pm-6pm

Southwark Park (Jamaica Road entrance)
Free entry and all ages are welcome.

The Carnival is taking place in a new format this year to reflect the current situation and safety concerns, organisers have said. Appropriate Covid-19 safety measures will be in place.

Playing at Bermondsey Carnival

Indika have played with a host of legendary reggae artists, most notably being the backing band for Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Now they have teamed up with well-known reggae singer Winston Reedy, who in the 1980s was named Britain’s best male reggae vocalist three years in a row by the listeners of BBC Radio London.

Locally based band Redriffe provide main support with classic hits songs from the history of British rock music, featuring songs from the likes of Bad Company, The Beatles, David Bowie, Free, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Who.

Unity Music Arts Team
Kicking off the day are Unity Music Arts Team (UMAT), a grassroots community musical organisation led by singer Stephen Pierre. Featuring student and graduate musicians from leading London music conservatoires, the group will showcase a repertoire of music from many diverse genres.

12.00 – 15.30: UMAT Community Showcase
15.45 – 16.30: Redriffe
16.45 – 18.00: Indika featuring Winston Reedy


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