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James Riley + Natalie Bouloudis + Perestroika

  • Balabam 58-60 High Road, Seven Sisters England, N15 6JU United Kingdom (map)

Our weekly event at Balabam in Seven Sisters, with three amazing live acts every Tuesday in the beautiful Balabam, top sound and lights on stage, and delicious food on site.


Born of a transatlantic relationship, James grew up in South East London listening to the folk and soul sound of 70s America and wrote his first melody at the age of four. His first guitar, acquired at the age of nine, became the tool for surviving the tumult of a nowhere place, and helped James find somewhere he felt he belonged. In his early twenties, he took off, alone once again, hitchhiking and busking through Europe from Amsterdam to Istanbul, writing songs along the way. Back in the UK, these songs became a band, but eventually James had to shed another skin, and disembarked in Nashville, Tennessee. Here he found his producer and they set about making the album which had travelled with him to his maternal homeland, where it could finally get free.

“Awesome… like the Allman Brothers meets the Seeger Sessions” 
Laura Marling

“Riley writes with a deftness often reserved for musicians twice his age” 
Addict Music

"One of my highlights of 2014"
Verity Sharp, BBC Radio 3 

“It hooked us on first listen…from the harmonies to the guitar work there’s nothing to not like”
Folk Radio UK

Dick Gaughan

“James Riley won’t be one of the best kept secrets on the London folk scene for much longer”
For Folk’s Sake 

Winner of the Mayor of London: Gigs Competition 2012  


“My songs tiptoe on the edge of fiction and reality. I like rich melodies, moody skies and charged atmospheres to tell hard-boiled tales.”

A native of East Sussex, Natalie Bouloudis first got her musical education in childhood, having played clarinet in jazz bands and had a few guitar lessons at school. From the age of seven she started writing her own music, and decided to launch her music into the public sphere under the name Aurora Harbinger. She soon played venues like Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston and Green Note in Camden, quickly building a loyal fan base that enabled her to successfully crowd-fund her debut record.

For Natalie, playing live is an important consideration in the songwriting process, a process which focuses centrally on generating atmosphere and intimacy. Her debut EP 'Dead Sea Scripts' was all recorded live at Wax Studios in London and produced by Robert Strauss.

Getting the EP right was dependent on how precisely she could evoke the feelings she had in mind. Though armed with encyclopaedic knowledge of narrative songwriters across the spectrum of folk, rock and jazz, Natalie brings to the table her own brand of atmospheric storytelling. It’s folky in its arrangements, but in terms of sheer vocal delivery she’s a soulful rock and roller, at times calling to mind the visceral and lurching tones of Patti Smith or Etta James. Her debut single ‘Burning Pier’ revealed an artist in the classic sense: thoughtful, precise, and led by instinct and imagination.

Natalie Bouloudis’s debut EP is the perfect document of her humbling creative powers at this point in time. Harbouring her own distinct sound, Dead Sea Scripts channels her experiences and meditations into a deeply enchanting record. By turns evoking sixties’ girl band nostalgia with the concise hook-driven songwriting of ‘Firebird’ or entertaining her darker side with the Bad Seed blues of ‘Whirlwind’, Dead Sea Scripts is a panoramic soundscape, loaded with pearls from her mythic lyricism and imagination. Alongside debut single ‘Burning Pier’ are five unheard tracks, with each song merging magical imagery and folk musicality with Natalie’s fundamentally relatable sentiments. ‘Romantic Bullshit Blues’ and ‘Firebird’ see her analysing the emotional tempest of heartbreak with forensic detachedness, and on the record’s spellbinding bookends ‘Raging Forcestress’ and ‘Float’ she reveals the disarming beauty and versatility in her singing voice. Above all, Dead Sea Scripts is the sound of an ambitious artist arriving fully formed and already at ease with her skills both musically and lyrically.

Natalie Bouloudis and her band ‘The Flamekeepers’ opened up for London Festival of Architecture in 2017 before Florence + The Machine. Their enchanting live performance has also been captured in in their recent 'Margo's Living Room' session filmed at Hermitage Studios, London earlier this year. Natalie also recently got back from a West Coast USA tour including playing dates in Seattle and Portland as well as performing a live session on the KMUN ‘Friday Folk’ radio show. She will be releasing new material recorded with the whole band in spring 2019.



£5 on the door