The Neon Tigers on HopeFM

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The Neon Tigers promo shotThree quarters of The Neon Tigers join me in the studio tonight. The music played focusses on their EP, a copy of which I was kindly offered before the show.
The packaging presentation alone is impressive, here’s what Dorset Rock Online had to say about it…

 The Neon Tigers Friends EPI think a quick word on the packaging is needed! … Friends is presented in a silver tin case. It’s a bit of a ^%$ to get in to, but once you do you’re greeted with a card insert featuring the above track listing on one side and the above band portrait by Tim Churchill on the other. The disc itself is cradled in moulded plastic and the whole package comes across like a collectors edition release. With it being a limited run, I guess it sorta is. You can grab yourselves one of these packages from the band themselves at a gig or at Square Records in Wimborne.

 In the studio, I must admit I spend much time talking about the band and their stage act, rather than the music. I’m pleased we seem to be of similar mind – they feel that being in a band, they owe it to fans, promoters and venues to put on an impressive show.

It also helps them stick in the mind, whether because of
the visual presentation (band look);
the makeup (they glam themselves up a bit for their take on Rock Theatre);
the food (Gary makes giveaway titbits for gigs)
or even the music!

Talking to them they are humourously immodest yet humblingly realistic. They seem genuinely pleased as punch to be in the position they are in right now, while taking a short break from a pretty packed gig schedule to threefold:
give themselves a rest,
give Bournemouth a rest from them, and
produce / polish some new material for a second EP.

Again, a thoroughly enjoyable time for me, thanks to these excellent guests, once more I’m humbled that they want to take time out to talk to me and my listener about their art and talent.

After the show I drop in on Chaplins for the open mic, its been a while since I was here on a Wednesday. There’s a posse enjoying a Christmas meal party in half the room, looks like they’ve reached the end of eating, yet they’re sticking around (mainly) for music and drinks.

Andy Stock opens as usual with a long (for him) set of songs.  He includes my favourite cover Shoot The Breeze from Alex Roberts.

Susanah Lea is also present (having seen her last night in O’Neills); she regularly comes down here from her home up-country. I heard her with a more Country twist last night, tonight she’s doing some more of her own material, and a couple of covers for the benefit of the Christmas partygoers.

Del Bishop is up next. Good grunt on his vocals, steady chord work on the guitar. He has an intriging mix of songs, some ballads, some up-tempo. He plays a goodly number of good songs, all of them originally penned by him

Graham Jones is last up. This time he’ s a lot more laid back possibly due to the emptier venue (the party crowd left at 11-ish), so there’s only a handful of us left to enjoy this different side to what he normally does.

Another busy Wednesday night…

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Pink Moon Troupers, Short Revolving Door

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Coke Can Jack‘s last, brief number No-one Loves Me Like You Do woke up what had seemed a sleepy cellar Bar, bringing some inspiration with a spirited performance. Of that one song.

They’d been doing covers from when I walked in – unfortunate given what I’d previously heard from them – uninspired and mainly unwanted, it’s unusual for me to pan a band’s performance in these pages, however there was little original interpretation in what they performed – Driftaway and before that something else that just washed over me. However, they are getting up and doing it, rather than me stood there being the critic!.

Talking around and to them, their opening had almost been as good as normally expected, just not the bit I caught. Turns out they were a key man down – their percussionist who gives them all a lift, so they’d carried on like troupers rather than cancel the gig. So all credit to them for not wanting to let the night down, they are the main troupers of this blog post.

Willowen sound promising. Backed by cajon they play some decent rhythms and different chord sequences that normal for acoustic guitar, definitely part of the Bournemouth Surf Sea sound – upbeat, punchy and positive, evocative of long Summers and so on.

Second song The Story instantly brings a smile to my face, simply because of the chord progressions, and the soulful chorus. Here’s a trio that are a man down (just Jonny & George); this doesn’t really come across in the performance…

Even the ubiquitous singer / songwriter / guitarist ballad stays on the Surf/Sea-style topic, no sign of mournful, maudlin dirge here – “Don’t worry / everything’s going to be alright/you’ll see /just do what naturally what comes to you /
Don’t worry / everything’s going to be alright/you’ll see /just try talking to me”

They play Champions on December 30th, well worth trying to get to see these guys.

Pink Moon over, a brief jaunt over to O’Neill’s for a very short foray into the Revolving Door world, where Tony 2 Dogs is playing his last song – this again is yet more upbeat acoustic stuff (am I still at the Willowen gig?)

Followed by Susanah fresh from gigging in Nashville (not many can say that here in Bournemouth). Nice enough tunes, slip easily into singer songwriter box – lonesome heart tunes from the soul – my mate Paul West would call this New Country no doubt!

I leave before Graham Jones and Patrick get on – been a busy night with a small party before getting out onto the scene…and I want an early finish for a change.

Powdered Cows and Save The Bat!

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Powdered Cows logoAfter a splendid meal with the dive club at the Spyglass and Kettle, saunter into the Winchester for the last act of the night. As usual after a heaving Sunday night the place has been drunk nearly dry – it’s good to see that our pubs are having good nights.

As ever the welcome is warm at the Winch – Steve from Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) is here, since Powdered Cows contain some of them.  Also my first ever Wayne’s World “we’re not worthy” recipient moment, courtesy of Ed Pope (another Powdered Cows member(sax))

I’ve missed the Bunglechords (and the Bongoose trio), but no matter – they (and / or their following) are still around to make a noise so kudos to them and a worthy mention even though I missed them!

When Powdered Cows come on, the music is clear and melodic from this different four piece – it’s the first time I’ve heard Martin sing solo and he has a good voice, even if helped along a bit by the Solid Air reverb system (namely Connie and his twiddly bits)

Guitar, bass, drums and sax makes for a different mix. Martin‘s soundbites between songs add to the atmosphere, whether it be a typical Martin-esge gag, or vaguely serious plugs for the Bat Conservation Trust, which Martin is clearly passionate about.

The three-piece are good and tight allowing the aforementioned Ed to pile additional flair into the sound. He jumps around the stage a fraction also, adding a bit of visual spirit into the aural delight of e.g. final track Vampire Moustache.

Their next gig is Champions 19th Feb as Martin enthusiastically announces at the end of the set.

Friday Runaround

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Start off in Sound Circus, a new venue for me since I don’t normally pick gigs up here on my radar. Those nice chaps from Voodoo Vegas gave me the low down, yet I turn up in time enough to miss the first two acts at this Christmas Monsters of Rock bash (No Turbo No Love and Western Sand), and instead wait for Voodoo Vegas to set up.

They are in full Christmas effect – well Lawrence (vox) and Meryl (guitar) are by wearing Santa hats for their opener So Unkind – lost by 2nd song Tied Up. At least the tinsel remains on the mic stands – well until it goes crowd surfing! 

During their fourth song I shoot off across town to 1812 to catch Monkey Puzzle – I’ve heard a lot about these guys and for good reason – the place is kicking and heaving (seemingly more than as usual for 1812) with young and young-at-heart trendies enjoying the sounds.

There are dancers – proper dancers – doing their thing in front of the band, and everywhere around people are getting down and bopping to the amazing funk / soul fusion emanating from this 7 piece outfit. I’m not familiar with many of the tunes; I don’t need to be since every one of them entices punters to groove and gyrate along to the percussive beats and keyboard glissandos.

During their break lead singer Elena introduces me to Sarah, who’s plugging a new event Ghetto Fabulouse at the Winchester on 19 December. They might have bands in the future; Sarah was I think hoping to engage Monkey Puzzle for one of the nights.

Again I take my leave to drop in on the Winchester and Smokin Aces however a glitch in my programming means I’ve chosen the wrong night for live music at both venues.

Nothing for it then but to wind up the night in usual fashion at the Cellar Bar to catch Alex Roberts’ final set. The last time I saw Alex live was at The Crumplehorn Inn in Polperro, Cornwall. Boy this is (understandably) a different gig.  The crowd are up for some lively blues, Alex’Alex Roberts Live in Cellar Bar stomp box driving the beats turning the crowd into a pulsating mob. Even Harry, owner, is getting on down to Alex – really good to see

Of course, like a wally I’ve forgotten my new phone can easily transfer photos, I’ve only remembered in time for Alex’ gig, so here he is, as usually depicted with his amazing-sounding slide guitar.

Another thing I like about Alex – very little phases him when on stage. A nice heckle is dealt with, and even breaking a string in his last song means he simply switches track, changing to an even better sounding 12-string and kicking things into a frenzy.

This is the first time in a long time I’ve heard the shouts for a third encore (which he graciously delivers) – and the crowd still want more! To calls of “we won’t let you leave” and “you’re here ’til next Tuesday” Alex Roberts delivers the goods – all the time every time. Awesome.

A Quiet Gig After A Quieter Show

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Unusually I was on my own in the studio tonight, just the listener keeping me company as I interspersed alternating Rock and non-rock tracks with phone-ins and chats with promoters. I cheated and left the show early in the hands of the computer playing Betika and Krista Green so I could dash across to Mr Kyps.

Hannah Robinson had texted me earlier letting me know she was playing support to Jackie Leven at Mr Kyps, and how many tickets would I like. This is both unexpected, kind and generous, plus gives me the chance to hear Hannah doing a solo set in an appreciative venue – I’ve seen her quite a lot as the front lady of the excellent Paint It Blue, and yet rarely get the opportunity to hear her solo (although Hannah did serenade me once as my guest on the radio show).

When I arrive she’s already into her set, I can tell by her distinctive voice overheard from the car park! Hannah is very soulful, and has a wonderful manner over the mic. No trace of nerves or collywobbles, each tune mesmerising with the simply played chords capturing the in-the-round mood effortlessly. Lovely!  Her last song in particular must become a showcase – whistling over the guitar, with some “la la la’s” – all very hard to do without a tremor, all achieved pretty much perfectly, to my ears.

There is one major disappointment for me – with doing the radio show (even letting the automation taking over) I’ve missed Pete Christie perform the opening set. “Doors at 8” must mean doors at 8, gig soon after nowadays, unlike other Mr Kyps gigs I’ve attended a while back, where  “Doors at 8” meant the first band of 3 wasn’t on until just before 9…my bad.

Jackie Leven is instantly charming and amusing, disarming a cold night with some warm Scottish Cheer, and dealing with my missing-Pete-Christie-induced disappointment in the way a muso only can, by throwing some amazing songs my way, mixed in with some great anecdotes and heart aching and warming stories.

Jackie has played and is playing with some greats – he tells us this is a penultimate gig of this current tour, before he hooks up with Ralph McTell for a gig, then Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Name drops over he enters a tone poem about his entry into the Johnny Cash fan club Jonny Come Lately division, while stuck in a Norwegian hotel room in Trondheim. Charming, engaging and captivating all at the same time as being a mournful dirge as good tone poems should be.

Jackie has an interesting style – he can generate deep guttaral vocals as if he has a digeridoo on hand. The way he plays guitar means the low E catches the frets in a way that should aggravate through fret buzz, yet it works well within the songs’ dynamics. As I said, interesting.

Something else I like is the way he tells his stories, while accompanying himself on the guitar, much as Pete Christie does if he’s holding a normal conversation with you. Perhaps they have the same affliction – can’t be away from a guitar for a couple of hours without getting some screaming heebies! Either way, it all adds to the engagement, even dispelling some of the vernacular language he uses overmuch for my tastes.

For a couple of photos of the night, check out Fiona Megapix‘ photos on facebook…

An Amazing Revolving Door

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The open mics at O’Neills can be ropey at times; can also amaze through variety and talent – Tonight is one of those that amazes…

I walk in to a packed pub at 10:30pm to hear Si Crockett doing his usual thing, this time with Si Genaro on harmonica and Nacho Jase on Congas accompanying his surf guitar sound and vibrant vocals. While I might have heard the material before, the different musicians (and using the house guitar) gives the same songs a different edge.

Graham Jones next, as Si Genaro described him “the only man to make a guitar sound like a Harley Davidson …and that’s no mean accomplishment”. Graham does his own kind of blues again – similar riffs with a different lyric most times. His riffs made up of rolling chords, with “twiddly bits” thrown in every few chords providing the interest.

Third act up since my time here are Know1, a full band making their 2nd appearance, yet doing a first full acoustic performance – chaotic and disorderly yet all in a wonderful way. They play a combination of reggae and Bournemouth surf sound, pleasing on the ears possibly due to the natural laid back nature induced by the acoustic vibe. Their second song carries on the gentle musical vibe, yet the MC’d lyrics are poignant, describing the atrocities of kids in Africa forced to take up arms in uprisings. Third song changes the beat and rhythms slightly, ring changes reminiscent of Latin rather than Caribbean before their final act ditches the backbeats and offbeats totally, whilst still retaining the hopeful positive sound..

Next up is Howard Tucker doing some solo acoustic strumming, a hard slot to take up following Know1 (who were allowed a seemingly unprecedented number of songs). Howard has a good voice and enhances this with some inventive rhymes in his first song. Unfortunately the guitar moves out of tune slightly for his ballad, just when everything most needs to be correct to preserve the delicate nature of the song. He notices and does something about it for his final number. I forget at the time that I’d met Howard in Chaplin’s open mic a few weeks back, must remember more of these musicians.

Last up is a pure acoustic guitar played flamenco styles courtesy of Stuart Gauntlet, with lots of chords, stops and trills, making a need for intricate movements with both hands – I rarely see or hear true classical guitar in this fashion so this is a nice treat. Stuart tends to feature a lot on the Fiesta Latina Sunday nights at the Winchester, if you’re in the mood for this stuff.

Stuart then invites Si onto the stage to finish off the night with a few Simon and Garfunkel covers, Homeward Bound especially rousing enough of a response to get people singing along, which seems a little incongruous bearing in mind the way the crowd have mainly ignored the music as background for the past 90 minutes… The final number is some river blues, really Stuart allowing Si Genaro to showcase his talents on the harmonica, before Si takes over the mic and guitar to close the evening with one of his own inventions (I hesitate to call it a number or song as there is so much more going on, as ever.)

Bhone@Champions – aka the Ed White night

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Reason for the title…? Ed features in two of the 3 bands on tonight, trumpet in Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) and bass in Dusty Cuts. NoDisco's Out Murders' In 1t content with that Dom (lead of  The Hops) mentioned him & even invited Ed up on stage (declined)!

Mischa opened before I arrived, I heard he gave his usual sterling performance – he must have enjoyed it since he was running around like the mad thing he is, saying hi to nearly everybody at the gig – definitely the friendliest muso on the local scene!

I walked in as Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) were into their set, being as energetic and madcap as ever, costumes in full effect (the photo doesn’t do justice)

Disco's Out Murder's In 2What is good is to see the guys and girls playing on a stage suitable for their act – Champions is generous to the acts that perform there – fitting as it’s on its journey to become the leading venue in Bournemouth

Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) feature an impressive line up, the three piece drum bass and guitar joined by horns normally found at the back with other acts, with Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) they are full on in your face as the major part they are. This includes alternative instruments too – melodica, glockenspiel and all of them switching to fruit shaped percussion shakers during one song. Impressive as ever always this line up leads to huge brass chords on Back To The Start

The Hops up next. Solid pumping tunes, with some in your face cutting lyrics. Apparently former Clam Olly Hopper (lead guitar) is writing a lot at the moment, and some of those songs are finding their way into the Hops set list. Good stuff – rocky, tuneful, melodic and driving along, for example I Want To Be Back On The Beach is all that Everyone Wants to Rule The World (by 80’s band Tears For Fears) should have been and wasn’t!

I’ve now lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Dusty Cuts, either as full band or that one time Ant played through the set acoustically. However this is the first time I’ve seen them perform as a three-Dusty Cuts 1piece, their DJ being off with an ear infection (get well soon LeeRoy).

Kicked off with a strong rendition of People, merged into a full on drum solo by Rio as Ant broke a string – with the aforementioned Ed picking up some bass riffs to go with the flow while guitars were changed and tuned, leading into Pass It On – Brilliant. So I’ve now seen them as solo acoustic, two piece with no lead guitar, 3 piece with no DJ, and full on band – not many I can say that about!

Another of my favourites Barefoot Soldier ensured the majoity of the now-thinned crowd kept pogo-Dusty Cuts -Rioing along to the ska/punk beats with some fun interactions going on (unfortunately not captured by the non-flash camera on my BlackBerry).

Audience request Visitors also went down a storm as the set and the gig drew to a close. Another awesome music night courtesy of bhone and Champions. Thanks.

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