This post talks about the Friday night Chaplins gig by Mischa with Si Crockett, and The Sarah Griffin Band. Also a bit of a packed weekend (more later).

I managed finally to catch Sarah Griffin in concert with the full band; I’ve missed the last couple of performances (e.g. Oxjam) and last saw her solo acoustic a few months back… She was ably supported by probably the nicest musician on the current Bournemouth circuit: Mischa (fresh from folk club appearance the night before).

Mischa was doing a solo acoustic set when I walked in, before he was joined by Si Crockett to make some things up on percussion.  While Mischa‘s tunes are always really good, and he wholeheartedly enters every performance, my highlight tonight was enjoying the interaction between them both.  Unrehearsed, Si was more or less making things up as they went along, on either Djembe or Cajon, depending on how Mischa felt and directed.

Asking Si about this afterwards, wondering how he did it, all he offered was that he enjoys playing percussion for others since he’s not responsible for everything in the gig, as he is when he’s the solo artist.  Admittedly, to my mind he was paying a lot of attention to Mischa‘s rythmns, and managed to acheive an exceptional level of accord, such that the endings and beginnings were coherent; no mean feat for an unrehearsed jam!

Mischa’s voice ably carried itself over Si’s sideshow – with his usual references to lifes loves and hates, whether in the upbeat and strummed shouting numbers, or the more intimate ballads.  Every song with Misha comes with a (just right length) story, and an encouragement to members of the audience – just making him such a delightful artist to behold.  After a big shout for Sarah Griffin, he abandons the stage on a high, bathed in sweat after another “give it his all” performance.

After the usual and obligatory break, The Sarah Griffin Band take to the stage. Sarah has been a real enigma to my mind, I’d heard her solo before, and thought she was good, nice but just good.  Then in February/March this year a CD comes along and smacks me between the eyes.

Sarah’s album (Above The Parapet) more or less came out of the blue for me – and her live band performances at that time were enough to see her through to the final of the 2010 Dorset Music Awards (didn’t win, however did receive the accolade from the judges as “one of the acts with most promising commercial viability”).

The tunes on Sarah’s CD are all fantastic – every single one of them.  I reviewed the CD for Listed Magazine (Issue 26) earlier this year; nearly every tune was eligible for inclusion on the HopeFM playlist (even other artists have raved about it – Lou Brown was on the show and spent a lot of time praising Sarah’s CD instead of previewing her own work.)

Some new songs received an outing, and some re-workings of a couple.  Of particular note was a cover of Abba’s Mamma Mia – a very brave alternate tuning rendition, downkey and to an interesting set of chords that in my mind gave new meaning to this old favourite.

I’m unsure how the rest of the audience found it – admittedly as the last song in the set it subdued things a little, such that the shouts for more had to be encouraged a little; the encore of an upbeat and pacy Fall of the Meek showed again the variety the troupe of artists around Sarah can handle.

Saturday was taken up with a HopeFM fundraising Christmas Fayre – the relevant item to this blog was that by chance the stall I was helping with was next door to Kestrel Medical, the owners of VocalZone. I’d not heard of this before; apparently (according to the testimonials) many musicians and public speakers never do a gig without it.

I tried a free sample – wish I’d had these last Wednesday – might have saved me a day off work sick with a lost voice. They do not contain any anaesthetic at all, merely ingredients that relax the vocal chords without affecting the vocal sound at all – much better than the couple of Sambucas that I know some artists insist on to relax their throat!