Issue 446
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Two of the West Mids most exciting foodie start-ups are combining to put the spotlight on arguably the region's hottest and most unsung gastronomic suburb: Bearwood.
Instagram and YouTube channel Bearwood Bites and their chums at Brum-born restaurant review app, Revuie, are tag-teaming to persuade the region's epicureans to visit five of Bearwood's best food spots (and to review them on Revuie) to win a very limited edition badge and, more importantly, to support the splendid Bearwood bars, restaurants and delis that are making it our go-to culinary quarter.
"There are areas of Birmingham that are, quite rightly, getting the recognition they deserve as food destinations," says TV presenter and Bearwood Bites founder, Rosie Wells. "I'm thinking about Kings Heath and Stirchley and Southside. But Bearwood? I don't feel like Bearwood has the sort of spotlight it warrants. Hopefully I'm correcting the imbalance somewhat."

Rosie has lived in the Smethwick suburb for 14 years. When she moved there she was a teacher. Prior to that she wanted to be a chef but she switched it all up in 2010 and became a TV presenter working, predominantly in shopping telly. "I love what I do very much," she says. "I first became a presenter because I'm drawn to people and I was hungry to combine this with my love of food, Bearwood and and all the great stuff going on here. So I started presenting Bearwood Bites a passion project, with the help of my friend and director, Alex Burton. We've done five episodes so far and season two will start filming soon."
Those five episodes, that are nattily condensed into bitesized 20-minute instalments wracking up thousands of views, have centred on A La Mexicana, Cody's Italian Shop, Vaz Portuguese, Craft Inn and Tamu, demonstrating the area's breadth of diversity. "I think what's particularly notable about Bearwood's extremely international array of venues is the pure authenticity of them all," says Rosie. "They're not anglicised version of what you'd find in the mother countries of those that run them. They are exactly what you would find there. They're reasonably priced, they're real and they're owned and run by such good people."

Rosie insists that her and Alex have barely scratched the surface on Bearwood's food and drink offering. "We have an Iranian supermarket, a Jamaican supermarket, a Polish supermarket. We have Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi options, we've got food from Hong Kong, Ecuador, Indonesia and Turkey — and there is no sense that Bearwood's hospitality micro-industry is full. No sense that the new openings are slowing. If there's a more exciting West Midlands suburb right now, then I don't know of it."
Walking around Bearwood it feels like, in a thoroughly multicultural region, it's one of our most multicultural spots, and therein lies the success. "Absolutely," Rosie agrees. "But it's also down to the people that live here. There's no judgment in Bearwood. No pretension. Be it a family of five or a youngster who lives alone, everyone seems to want the venues to succeed — and they'll spend with them — but also the venues want each other to succeed too. Not only that, but in the sheer quality of the product they are putting out, they are driving each other's standards up, too. It's a perfect storm and it deserves documenting."
While Rosie has been filming west of Birmingham, Revuie founder John Bennett has been honing and tweaking his app just south of the city. Revuie is a genius bit of kit and the tiny team behind it are revolutionising the reviewing process, with a commitment to genuine reviews only. They're like a Brum-made rival to a certain huge restaurant reviewing website that's long past its best.

The way it works is that you can only review a venue that you've actually been to. This cuts out all the, shall we say, gamesmanship that plagues other review aggregators. Reviewing is incredibly easy and, if you prefer not to write anything, you don't have to. Just take a photo or a video and leave an honest score out of five.
After launching their test version, the Revuie crew conducted a roots and branch assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their app, workshopping it with a core team of Birmingham's biggest foodies before putting the new look Revuie live. There are too many new features to list but the most requested one allows users to 'follow' other reviewers and 'like' their posts. In short it's much more social and they're keen to get a load more Brummies on the app, teaming up with Bearwood Bites to do it.
One of the key elements to Revuie's early success is the digital badges users can earn when they tick off various in-app challenges. Now, having teamed up with Rosie and Alex, one of those challenges involves reviewers visiting all five venues from season one of the channel's shows (Tamu, Vaz, A La Mexicana, Craft Inn and Cody's) and leaving a little review. Once you've done that you won't only win the Bearwood Bites digital badge to wear proudly on your online profile, but they'll send you one of 100 physical versions to wear, well, wherever they heck you want. And, moreover, you will have contributed to arguably the most unsung food destinations in our mighty region. Win-win.

You can watch and follow Bearwood Bites on Instagram or YouTube and you can download Revuie right here


Chicago, New Orleans, Paris, Birmingham. The quintessential quadrangle of global Jazz locations.

Okay. So some might not see our city as a Jazz powerhouse... yet. But, in true Brummie low-key style, we've been embroiled in a love affair with Jazz for a century now, pre-dating Rock n Roll, Heavy Metal, Reggae, and Punk by some time. 

From 50s all-nighters at the city’s majestic Town Hall, through to ground-breaking research; swanky new music spaces, and a vibrant live scene, Birmingham has been the creative playground for thousands of Jazz artists, bands, promoters, educators, and venues — all hugely influential in the genre, influenced by the culture, or part of the popular art form’s endless evolution.

That long roll-call includes the Birmingham Palais, Andy Hamilton, the Spencer Davis Group, Jim Simpson, Steel Pulse, The Beat, Fine Young Cannibals, Tony Dudley-Evans, Julian Arguelles, Jaki Graham, Rockers Hi-Fi, Pram, Chris Bowden, Soweto Kinch, Leftfoot, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, Laura Mvula, B:Music, and Xhosa Cole, to name but a few important threads in the ever-evolving cultural fabric of UK Jazz.

Similarly, Birmingham City University has sat at the heart of British Jazz for the last 40 years, steadily building a reputation for producing world-class performers, education, and composition out of its Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and delivering extensive research, and building important archives within its School of Media.

Bringing this supergroup of elements together for a milestone event at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on May 24, Inspired Jazz will celebrate and present the talent and achievements of its Jazz students, staff, and alumni.

Highlighting international credibility with a headline Bradshaw Hall show from acclaimed group Mammal Hands, plus rising stars Ishmael Ensemble, music fans in attendance will also get access to sets in RBC’s Eastside Jazz Club from Birmingham artists ‘Friends’ and homegrown Conservatoire talent the Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra.

Throw in a set from contemporary Jazz DJ, Tina Edwards, in RBC’s main foyer and an exhibition celebrating BCU’s rich Jazz heritage and research — curated by the University’s best job title-holder Keeper of the Archives, Dr Pedro Cravinho — we're pretty sure you'll leave the extravaganza firm in the belief Birmingham is the new centre of the Jazz universe. Book 


Highly acclaimed Indian street food and craft beer specialists Bundobust are coming to Brum this summer and to celebrate they're feeding you for free.

Yep, that's right, Bundobust are giving away 4000 Bundo Dishes (two each) for you and up to five guests during the first fortnight of opening, at their new Birmingham restaurant, on Bennetts Hill. You've got over 20 street food favourites to choose from — think Bhajis, Bhel, Bundo Chaat, Vada Pav and more.

To be able to claim two free dishes on your visit, you have to be signed up to their mailing list to get first dibs on bookings and to grab your voucher. The offer is only valid for guests that book via the link that will be shared exclusively with Bundo newsletter subscribers, so sign up now here and keep an eye on your emails for when bookings go live — best be quick as there's only 4000 to giveaway.

(T&C in the 'Thanks For Signing Up' email that Bundobust will send you. Check all inboxes.)


I have crazy fond memories of going to see Colourscape in Cannon Hill Park as a little boy. Originally created by artist Peter Jones in the early 70s, over 35 have been made, in many different sizes and shapes offering different experiences.

I vividly remember running around the interlinked chambers with my brother (running probably not allowed these days — probably wasn't then, either) and feeling giddy, drenched in light and a little bit lost. It was my first ever immersive art experience and still one of the very best.

These days Colourscape, which runs May 13 and 14, includes a large silver dome filled with musicians, dancers and even fragrances, which I have no memory of in the late 80s. You'll find the labyrinthine experience not far from MAC's Outdoor Terrace, but be sure to book as it's always very popular. It's £11.50 for an adult and child which seems like a steal if it provides 35 years of memories. 


Arguably the theatrical event of 2024 will be the arrival of Hamilton at the Hippodrome and if you weren't part of the almighty wave of ticket purchases yesterday, well then you still have time. Just. Tickets do remain available and there are some banging seats available for the The Olivier, Tony, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical which arrives in Brum on June 25, next year, and stays until August 21. Hamilton is the story of America then, told by America now, featuring a score that blends Hip-Hop, Jazz, R&B and Broadway. But you knew that already.


The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, in the JQ, is hosting their Graduate Artists exhibition and, as is becoming their way, it's a real thinker. Take Martin Brent's tableau above, for example.

Martin, whose studio was once in the Jewellery Quarter, specialises in constructed landscapes. Perhaps one of the most famous constructed landscapes of all is this one of Tony Blair taking a selfie in front of an enormous explosion, constructed by KennardPhillips. And although Martin's work does have political nods, they're more subtle.

"I grew up in industrial West Midlands and the world was a tiny place to me," he says. "But the older I got the more the world expanded and the easier it became to visit the further reaches of our planet. But in the Trump and Brexit eras the world started to shrink. Trump wanted to build a wall and everybody became very lathered over "national identity". And I wondered whether these people really, if challenged, would know their country from any another. What if I started mixing things up and challenging them, that way? Juxtaposing objects that have become synonymous with certain nations in places you're not expecting to find them."

In the piece Martin has on display at RBSA a NASA space rocket (Martin didn't take that shot, NASA gave him permission to use it) is pictured through the window of a dated dated motel room, a photo Martin did take in Coco Beach, Florida. In some of his other works, the Eiffel Tower is spotted on Route 66 and the Statue of Liberty stands in the background of a Swedish Fjord.

Perhaps the most immediately arresting piece in the new exhibition, though, is Ross McCormick's installation, An Act of Contention (below), which features 1,860 Rajasthani-made wooden gavel hammers in front of an ajar filing cabinet. "I devised it during the height of the Brexit debate," says Ross. "And I think it alludes somewhat to the difficulties of import and questions of colonial histories. There are law and order nods in there [the filing cabinet pointing to order] and perhaps it echos current debates as to whether nations should be apologising for their historic behaviour. At the time of making it the air was very tense here, in the UK, and perhaps it has touches of that about it too."

The exhibition is free to attend and is on until June 11.


Brum-based Feminists Work For Change are running a new fundraiser for Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid called SKILLS FOR GROWTH. The campaign is inspired by the women who work for the mighty BSWA, an organisation that started 40 years ago, providing front line domestic abuse support to women and children. The online shop sells limited edition t-shirts, tote bags, tea towels and artwork all designed and produced in Birmingham by local artists. All profits go directly to BSWA.
One of the most electric nights in Birmingham's calendar, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Hockley Social Club, is tonight (May 11) and tickets are only a tenner. It's the best way to listen to our world class orchestra *and* eat our world class street food. Tickets 

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience (correct spelling before you all start writing in) lands at Council House's Banqueting Suite, October 26 to November 5. Having just got off a Zoom with the cast I am properly PROPERLY excited about this. And yes, Dad, I'll buy tickets. Early bird gets 10% off here

You can watch Eurovision this weekend at Everyman cinema in the Mailbox or you can watch it in the Centenary Square Fan Zone. But you can't do both, you're not Agent Smith!

Ahead of (hopefully) opening their own bricks and mortar restaurant ramen specialists Koba Ko will in residency for a whole month at Kings Heath's Blow Water Cafe starting today and open Thursday to Saturday, with a special one-off Sunday opening this weekend. More 

Speaking of this Sunday and Kings Heath, the delightful KH Artisan Market returns there and then (10am to 4pm). Details

Friends The Experience comes to the NEC, July 8. Tickets go on sale in six days.

The Enemy and waaay more importantly, Cast, will play Shrewsbury's Heal Festival, June 30 to July 2. More

Birmingham Pride is May 27 & 28. What the heck do you mean you're "not booked in yet"?
WORDS: Tom Cullen

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"Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life"

Art Blakey

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