Three free concerts for music-loving London bicyclists

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Mercury Music Prize nominees Sweet Billy Pilgrim, MOBO award winner Soweto Kinch, and the 45-piece London Gypsy Orchestra are teaming up to offer east London a total of nine free shows on Sunday, March 7.

The concerts are part of Cycle East, itself finding a place in the six-day East festival designed to celebrate the cultural mix found in that area of the capital.

The Cycle East festival is intended to encourage Londoners to use bicycles as an environmentally-friendly and economic mode of transport, especially given the Mayor of London's interest in rolling out a public bicycle hire scheme and two of twelve Cycle Superhighway routes to be completed by the summer.

So it is that these musicians are playing at three venues that well within half an hour's walk of each other, never mind the leisurely two wheeled cruise that Cycle East is encouraging potential attendees to use from venue to venue.

Each gig will be an hour long, with start times at 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm. The venues are ensconced within the Bethnal Green and Whitechapel districts, close to both subway stations and with Kings Cross not too distant, for those preferring underground routes to their overground counterparts.

Sweet Billy Pilgrim, who are signed to David Sylvian's Samadhisound label were, in a former incarnation, a post-industrial rock band who then traded in heavy distortion and guttural vocals for banjos, laptops, and a garden shed recording studio. Their 2009 album 'Twice Born Men' was met with critical acclaim.

Fellow Mercury Music Prize nominee Soweto Kinch became a modern-day jazz legend when in the first five years of the millennium he received two awards from the BBC, one from the Montreux Jazz Festival and the curators of the Peter Whittingham Award for young musicians, as well as two more at the Music of Black Origin annual ceremonies.

The London Gypsy Orchestra (LGO) is a Balkan-themed ensemble led by the classically trained violinist Gundula Gruen, who was brought in by composer Howard Goodall to assist with the Channel 4 miniseries How Music Works. The LGO specialise in fusing the vigorous music of Eastern Europe using string sections, accordions, mandolins, and instruments even more traditional such as the cimbalom (a dulcimer) and tambura (lute).

Further details regarding the Cycle East sessions can be found on the event's page at