Dawn Penn Interview – Tramlines 2016

Let me set the scene for you guys. Tramlines 2016, a brisk Saturday morning, I wander down to the main stage and hear the sweet sounds of reggae blasting from Ponderosa park – the legendary reggae singer Dawn Penn and her band are getting ready for their afternoon slot. I meet all round great guy and Sheffield donk pioneer Alex Deadman, who has promised me an interview with the 64 year old singer herself. Alex has never let me down before and today was going to be no exception. I perched myself on a bench next to Dawn in the backstage area and she immediately started chatting about her very own perfume she’d been working on. It’s called The Dawn Penn Experience and despite it not being available publicly (yet, I must add) I had a little smell and I would even go as far as describing it as ‘divine’. Dawn spoke very quickly and jovially, she seemed very at ease chatting away and the conversation soon started flowing…

Chris Arnold: You’ve lived all over the place – New York, London, Jamaica, Virgin Islands…
Dawn Penn: Well I was born in Jamaica, but around the time I became a young adult I moved to Tortola where my Dad’s side of the family was from. But now I keep my whereabouts under lock and key, you got to think about your security!

CA: Is this your first time in Sheffield?
DP: Maybe I came here a long, long, long, long time ago. Because You Don’t Love Me No More was a hit back in 1994, I was touring a lot, was even on Top of The Pops.

CA: Nice! What was doing Top of the Pops like?
DP: I think I was in a dream world, I was so glad to be there. You know it’s always exciting to be on a TV show like that. It was a great experience.

I considered asking her if she remembered who presented the episode she appeared but then thought better of it in case it lead us down a Dave Lee Travis/Jimmy Savile conversation path. Although after doing some research I found out that Vic & Bob presented the episode Dawn appeared on! What a party that would have been.

CA: I want to ask you really quickly about the music industry, do you feel it’s improved over the years? Got worse?
DP: Oh my, well I have a song called Never Hustle The Music, because that what’s happened to me in the industry. The main thing about this business, and some people might called it ‘a dirty business’, is that you have to really PR & market your brand, your product. It makes you try to hook up yourself with people that do that kind of work, and it’s not cheap! That’s what it entails and every 10 years it all changes. Ultimately you have to remember that it’s about the music, and the music connects you with people.

CA: I hear you work a lot with your son, is that correct?
DP: Yeah my son and I run a label called Da Beat. I was signed to Big Beat Atlantic back in 1994, and I just get the idea that I’m going to call my label Da Beat, the ‘Da’ stands for Dawn. My son just graduated with his business law degree, he thinks money, he lives money, he dreams money! He says he’s a strategist but he very much keeps me on my toes. He is an artist as well and has a lot of very good songs, plus he’s been to school in Jamaica, the US and UK so he can do a lot of different styles. He thinks family members shouldn’t work together, but I think if you have your family together with you in a business you can be stronger. I like the idea of ‘so&so and sons’, like Mumford & Sons!

We then chuckled for a few minutes debating whether Mumford & Sons are actually a family business. Upon doing further research I can confirm that nobody in that band is related. What a con.

CA: You seen very busy at the moment, What have you been up to recently?
DP: Well I did a video in Mexico you know! I can’t tell you when it’s coming out though, even though I have it in my bag, watch out for it coming out soon though.

CA: To finish us off as I know you need to go and get ready for your set – you’ve been performing for quite some time now, do you still enjoy it as much as you do when you started?
DP: When I started I didn’t really know what it was, but now I can see why it’s so necessary to me – I get to see the world for free, I live in hotels but I love it. It’s funny when I was younger and in Jamaica I couldn’t travel at all, I would start to puke. But now I can happily travel all the way to Australia! And then stopping in Hong Kong, Dubai, wherever! And I’ve been to Hawaii, that was very nice, I got up very early to see the sunrise, it’s all good.

CA: It’s all good indeed! Thanks for taking time out to chat Dawn.
DP: Thanks for having me.

Dawn & Chris
© Jenn McCambridge

For those who caught Dawn at Tramlines this year will know already that she was certainly a weekend highlight. If you get the chance to go and see her, make sure you pop on down, fantastic voice and fantastic show woman.

Thanks to Alex, Nicola and James at the Tramlines Promo Office for hooking me up! Go grab a ticket for Tramlines 2017 while they’re hot!

Cool Beans X

Game of Thrones – Low Budget Spin Offs

So Game Of Thrones wasn’t on TV last night and is taking a week’s break, probably due to the large number of funerals they’ve racked up. Fear not though Thrones fans (or Thrans as they are sometimes known), here at Cool Beans we have a number of low budget spin offs available for purchase. So big TV companies with cash to spare – get in touch with either Chris Arnold, Dom Kidson, Jimmy May, Toby Burr or Mark Leeming who are all available as actors/directors/producers/sound engineers/runners/archivers. The good news is that we could probably knock most of these up over the course of an afternoon and quench the thirst of the currently deprived GOT addicts.

Game of Homes – Estate agents in lower Buckinghamshire get all competitive with each other. Who can sell the most houses in a week? Will it be Roger? Will it be Barry? Only time will tell.

Game of Moans – A room full of elderly people turns to disarray as they try to out-moan each other. Contains very strong language.

Game of Phones – A thousand different telephones in a very small space, one phone is ringing, but which one is it?

Game of Loans – Mortgage companies try to dish out a loan with the largest interest rate ever. Just like in real life then. Zing!

Game of Clones – Hunger Games style competition in which people clone themselves and then fight their clones to the death. Requires CGI.

Game of Bones – Headed by Tony Robinson, who can find the most interesting archeological artefact in Shrewsbury and its surrounding areas? Rated 18.

Game of Scones – Two upper class gentlemen get awfully riled when they discover they only have one scone left and they both want it in their greedy bellies. Political undertones.

Game of Cones – Two drunkards compete to find out the best usage for a derelict traffic cone. The loser has to down a pint of gravy.

Game of Saônes – A variety of people try to recreate miniature replications of the river Saône which is based in the South of France. We’re really scrapping the barrel now.

Game of Stones – See who can make the biggest line of stones? See who can develop a kidney stone the fastest? Take bets on which one from the Rolling Stones will have a hip replacement next? I think it’s time we nipped this in the bud.

Please get in touch with cash offers for these ideas. Don’t steal them either. Cos we’ll hunt you down and maim your pets!

We spoke about this on a radio show a few weeks back as well…

The Cool Beans Getogethers #3 – Jimmy May & Mark Leeming & Dom Kidson by The Cool Beans Radio Show on Mixcloud

It’s been a slow news day.

Now Then Listings – July 2013

It’s official. It’s now over six months since Christmas. Six months since you were unwrapping gifts, stuffing your face with all sorts and arguing with your family. “But how can this be” I hear you cry? “It feels like yesterday” you murmur. Well life can be a cruel mistress sometimes. Life can be a real slap in the face. You can be plodding along listening to your favourite country & western track, enjoying the delights of the local park and then BLAM – you’re 85 years old and you haven’t achieved anything and that isn’t country & western you’re listening to it’s the sound of your existence slipping away into obscurity. The motto of this month’s listings column – no more dilly dallying on your life ambitions and as a cautionary, secondary motto – don’t mess with time travel.

4th JULY / RIVERSIDE / £3.

An event so colourful it’s claiming to make the gay pride flag look like a beige towel. There’s plenty more where that came from – it’s The Alternative Comedy Cabaret everybody!

5th JULY / PLUG / £6.

After a successful launch event back pre-Xmas, Renegade Brass Band’s new bi-yearly night returns to Plug for a summer session. This time they bring the London based rapper and frequent Dub Pistols collaborator – Mr. Rodney P.


The people of Sheffield have high hopes for Sharrow Festival after the treacherous weather of yesteryear drove the 2012 celebrations into the Vine pub. This year’s entertainment includes Soukous Revelation, the Mighty Vipers, Soulcrates and local legend MC Nige.

10th JULY / REDHOUSE / £4.

Polkadodge, No Fxd Abode, The Verals, Perfectparachutepicture, Harriet Jones and Stop Drop Robot are all appearing at this exciting collaboration between Fourth City & End of The Trail Records.

12th JULY / THE HARLEY / £4.

The legendary Brizzle reggae selector that is DJ Derek returns to Sheffield for an evening of toasting and skanking. The 71 year old surely can’t be far from retirement now, get in before 11 and you’ve grabbed yourself a freebie.

13th JULY / BIG TOP / £26.

A brand new music event coming to Sheffield for the summer featuring The Levellers and Bison on the 12th and big dog Richard on the 13th. Local ales and local food provided.

13th JULY / PENELOPES / £12.

Massive punk rock all-dayer raising funds for Sheffield Hunt Sabs, an organisation combatting illegal blood sports in the Yorkshire area. On the day expect raucous performances from Dry Heaves, Septic Psychos, Oi Polloi, Captain Hotknives and many more.


The Old Junior School on South View Road plays host to a heap of comedic performers running their material by the crowds before they embark on a month long stint in Edinburgh. Includes The Sheffield Revue, Alistair Greaves, Sean Morley, Staple/Face and music from Dominic Rout.


Part of the Cool Beans and Tramlines celebrations this year, Friday night at the Bowery sees 9 piece ska extravaganza New Town Kings return after a lengthy absence from the city. Also playing are Smiling Ivy, The Soul Circle Gang, Counting Coins, The Mega Squad and the band in the running for “Best Band Name of All Time” Johnny Kowalski & The Sexy Weirdos.


The Folk Forest will be returning to the beautiful glade at Endcliffe Park providing the best in folk music, high quality food & drink, arts & craft market, outdoor activities, heritage crafts and much more.

24th JULY / LESCAR / £5.

Jazz Club at the Lescar? Nice. Locus are influenced by Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny and Brian Blade, their compositions deeply rooted in the jazz tradition and range from bop to contemporary acoustic fusion.


The city is treated to a variety of stalls, activities and even stilt walkers all coming together in celebration of wellbeing and the plethora of wonderful services Sheffield has to offer those suffering with mental health issues and their carers.


The South Yorkshire Filmmakers Network returns to their monthly residency at the Showroom Cinema. Also worth checking out – the 2 Weeks 2 Make It Awards Show on the 15th July, also at the Showroom.

That’s it for this month. You all better take care now. Also, improve your life vastly by hitting up the Now Then website here. Thanks once more to Jimmy the Gent & Puzzled for his help with words/research/hip hop lyrics.