Parties & Cellars

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This Saturday night I have an earlier than normal start, two friends are holding a 70’s & 80’s party for their birthday. Loads of fancy dress going on – a few dodgy moustaches and clothing; loads of glam from the ladies. This means I miss seeing Cella Creeps, Peachy Jane, Beckett and Chaser at the Music Mania event in The Winchester, and instead head straight for the Cellar Bar for what I hope is going to be a fantastic end-of-night of live music.

Don’t get me wrong – parties and discos are fine, however I find what the DJ is playing a bit of an odd selection for a 70’s & 80’s night, very little Abba, bit of disco, yet lots of New Romantic rubbish that can’t really be danced to; more like standing on the spot bumping up and down. At least Ant Music and Mirror In The Bathroom get me up and dancing so I’m not a total prole.

DOMI Cellar BarFortunately my mates Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) are playing in a totally ram packed Cellar Bar. It’s amazing we can all be jammed in like sardines, but still find room to jig along to the vital beats.

Perhaps due to the small stage, we’re down to just the lads tonight – meaning lots of the brassier sounds aren’t absent, they just carry less potency than would normally be expected form a Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) gig.

Rammed Cellar BarNo one seems too bothered about this though – including the band themselves. The music is vibrant and pumping, us in the crowd are up for a great night, the guys are popping one-liner anecdotes out and taking the rip out of us – it’s a good night.

Loads of jumping up and down encouraged, the screaming along to the choruses, the “Yeahs” to Stuck in the Middle, they are all there.  Tonks is lively on the drums – apparently everything is just too fast for them, so they’re rattling through the material as if they’re at the races and need to get to the end quickly.   So they decide to take a break, then continue with more of the same nuttiness on into close to the next morning.

DOMI Cellar BarThey say they’ve run out of material for encores, and end up repeating Stuck in the Middle – myself I think this is just a cunning ploy to keep things happening; encouraging us to keep jumping and shouting along.   Irrespective the rammed crowd continues partying on; DJ Mr Lively kicks off some cool ska tracks to keep the pogo-ers going and the headbangers happy, I take my leave.

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 1

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If one wants to get along to these Quarter Finals must make it early – they start at 8pm. This is good as hopefully once “the crowd” (myself included) realise music starts earlier than it has been they’ll be prepared to come out early and nights won’t start slow. The knock on effect of this will then hopefully turn the last slot into a proper headline, rather than the graveyard it has started to become…

As intimated above, I didn’t manage to make it here until 9pm, so I’ve missed Evolver and Kinnie the Explorer. What I can’t miss is the capacity crowd – the Dorset Music Awards always pull out a lot of fans and also other musos, from within the competition and without.

Rapids go on as the third act of the evening, my first. They are energetic and loud, yet not to a volume where earplugs are needed. Front man Matt is kicking around all over the place, they are very high energy rock, pacey beats, fast bass and rhythm guitar riffs with screaming lead, and a bit of synth thrown in for good measure.

A bit of flavour is added by Matt jumping into the crowd and jumping away while still shouting the lyrics. The applause is polite, with a few whoops and cheers; there isn’t a lot of other movement going on to match the high energy performance. I’m therefore a little taken aback by the noise when they’ve finished – they’ve clearly won some people over.

Cella Creeps are the penultimate act. I love the spaced out sound lead guitarist Mark creates for their opening numbers. They are also producing some solid rock stuff as well, plus a small disclaimer from bass and vocalist Ed – “no we’re not Mutant Vinyl, some of us just look a little like them!”

This time the audience seem to be behind them more – more swaying for the slower numbers; more movement for the swifter elements. Something strange, Ed seems to have his own personal roadie – even to the point of plying him with a drink while he’s playing – turns out there are 3 songs without a break for bass and he’s thirsty!

At the end as part of their last song, Ed is clearly looking for something special – he steps forward to encourage some mates to start moshing, then jumps down into it – still playing bass – to join in. Cue close of set with tons of feedback….

Saturday Sun play to a still packed house, although has thinned out a little bit due to the 11:30 start time. As ever, they are open, wide open with the guitars and the beats. All dreamy stuff, yet there is still a lot going on with bass riffs, clever drums and rhythm guitar, all doing their build to crescendo then fade away to silence

They bring a different summer evening vibe – a feeling of calm and stillness. Well, to the front half of the room who are still paying attention – those round the bar appear to have lost interest. I think it’s more the nature of Saturday Sun’s music that these noisier people can be heard over the quieter tunes.

As ever with the Dorset Music Awards, a big shout goes to Trevor and Richard from Dorset Music Forum for organising and running another amazing night of live music in Bournemouth.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Heat 4

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Mischa is my guest on the show this week – he brought Rowland (cello & ukelele) with him for the first half  – everything seems a bit manic – I also have Ben from Aim To Misbehave also sitting in to see what the show is like prior to coming on in March.

Mischa is as hyperactive as usual, and is a wonderful guest, talkative, lots of stories and topics to chat about. Since Rowland is only with us for a short time, the live songs keep on coming, until Rowland has to leave.  Looking on Facebook afterwards, Mischa‘s songs have been appreciated by some listeners, who have updated comments and statuses about them.

We spend a lot of time talking about Mischa turning up with a band for the Dorset Music Award Heats (he reached the Semi Finals last year as the only solo artist to reach that far), which leads us to talk about the upcoming Quarter Finals (first one tomorrow night); Mischa is playing at QF4 on 17 March.  After the show we both head up to O’Neills for the 4th Bournemouth Unplugged Heat.

Xander Allen Bmth UnplXander Allen is opening, (all the acts go on in random order), he mixes percussive guitar and almost rapped lyrics. It’s all good, although at one point the guitar drops out leaving his voice exposed – turns out the lead had fallen out the back. He’s got a good sound from his Ibanez, the difficulty to my mind is that the songs are all very similar – not a major hassle since its good and enjoyable, just similar. Then just as I write Xander invites a band up (well, bass and cajon) to expand the sound.

A little aside, as a judge I’m being asked to give marks for the four categories: Originality; Technical Ability; Crowd Interaction and Stage Presence; and Song Writing Ability. Photos will be added later…

Bob Fletcher Bmth UnplBob Fletcher always makes an impression – I’ve not seen him maybe a couple of years yet he instantly warmly greets me. This warmth also comes over while he’s on stage, he has a generous and pleasing manner to win the crowd over. His playing encompasses strums but also a unique hand picking technique, using all the fingers to ‘anti-strum’ the strings. His voice is strident, easily rising over the active crowd in the bar. He’s also taken advantage of a wireless pickup, which allows him to wander into the crowd during fave of his Tom Jones

There are some local notables in the crowd as well – name dropping The Sabres, Voodoo Vegas, & Quinns Quinney among others.

Jenni Boyce Bmth UnplJenni Boyce has a very sweet voice, and plays gentle chord based melodies on the piano. I’m belittling her with that – later on the piano work is elegant and with a full presence, its just very laid back. My perception is she acts as if she doesn’t have a lot of stage experience – at the end of each song there is good applause – she fleetingly issues a shy grin then starts concentrating on the next number. Her vocal range is good, towards the high end, yet not wailing like many artists of similar range do. Unfortunately the songs come across as very similar, all of comparable quality – perhaps the similarity is why many of the crowd seem to not be with her, they appear to have lost interest by the end of her set.

Andy Stock band Bmth UnplAndy Stock is up last. That should be The Usual Suspects – Andy’s rounded up what looks like nearly everyone from the Chaplins circuit to be in his band, and they’ve all dressed up in smart black shirts and ties to make this into an event. There’ a lot going on with the music as well – bass, cajon, blues harp and fiddle (or banjo or bouzouki) all adding to the mix. To say these guys are all talented is understatement, having them playing together is very busy, and is no doubt making the PA job hard. By the third song everything comes together with the sound and within the band, it sounds amazing, and they look like they’re all enjoying themselves.

Andy Stock Bmth UnplTowards the end, Andy switches to a mandolin, and the lads form up into a choir to round off what has been a very enjoyable evening.  Big thanks again to O’Neill’s for putting the event on, Steve for pulling the sound together, and most of all Ant for keeping things more or less on track, and hosting the evening.

Champions Fancy Dress

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Powdered Cows Champions

By far the most noticeable thing about tonight is the large number of animal costumes that have invaded the packed out venue. Turns out a hen party of musos and others have decided to finish off their night in here.

Powdered Cows are playing their last song. By all accounts their set has not been as experimental as usual; a solid string of good tunes, to my mind the last song is musical, melodic and pretty, which fits what I’ve been told by others.

What I’m really enjoying seeing is the varied numbers of people that have come out tonight, so many different musos and hangers on like myself.

Zaardvark Champions

This is Zaardvark‘s debug gig, and its a good one. There were rumours of this being “music one can’t dance to”, different rhythms in every bar and so on – typically artistic and creating a mystique about themselves (as per the facebook bage). That is not the case. Instrumental to the point of being progressive, thumping beats and not much evidence of non dancing going on! To the contrary, many are whirling away…

Zaardvark Pedals

What does stand out is the dominance of sounds being generated by guitarist Mark, and the amazing array of pedals needed to create the effects, to the envy of some of the other guitarists present. Talking to him afterwards, it takes effort and concentration, but worth it!

Halfway through one long number, drummer Dave uses a bass break to turn his snare upside down, and plays it as a djembe. Overall, I’m impressed and loving it and would recommend them to anyone who loves their music instrumentally flavoured, and slightly more trippy than chilled.

Achilles are the closer here in Champions tonight; with so much relying on so many sound generations they take slightly longer than the norm to setup, but it’s worth it.

Achilles Champions


 The music is again instrumental, sax led with overlays of synth and keys, underwritten by very melodic bass tunes, and a sprinkling of synth-esque guitar. The whole being so polished-sounding that one can forget it’s not tunes that have been worked over for hours for a recording, its all being produced live in front of the audience.

As for Zaardvark, the case could be made that the tunes that Achilles put together again isn’t music to dance to; my counter-argument: the driving drumming and the bass riffs make vibrating and gyrating nigh on impossible. An amazing act to see, and it easy to see how Achilles wowed everyone at the 2009 Dorest Music Awards.

BMTH Unplugged Heat 3

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BMTH Unplugged heat 3 tonight. Again to protect the judging & voting I’ll only be giving scant reviews, more of a mention of the acts.

May Day

May Day are kicking off the evening, a 3 piece comprising cajon, guitar and very clear vocalist. They have a bit of a stereotypical Northern bloke look about them, dressed in smart allusions to grunge-grey including trilby and flat cap! Enjoyable enough to listen to musically and vocally. The cover they choose is Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground, and they jolly it along in lively manner.

Ant Henson

Ant Henson  is 2nd on – and he’s the first act I’ve noted to make an entrance, hanging back in the crowd until announced then striding onto the stage. He’s also dressed to impress, and kicks off into an active number initiated by a blues harp player he’s turned into his entourage. His songs are very bright, probably a lot to do with the 12 string he’s toting tonight. His intro to Thin Lizzy’s Boys Are Back is surprising, and shows he can do more with the chord work than he had been showing.

Sarah Griffin

Third up is Sarah Griffin – and at this point a disclaimer is needed – I’ve become a firm fan of Sarah’s material in the past year or so. She bravely starts with heart-pulling sad song, that emphasises voice over guitar, a new thing. Toxic originally by Britney Spears is her cover, and she’s made it totally her own, managing to still the pub into her quiet vibe. The other songs she chooses are equally brave choices for a noisy pub, soulful and emotionally delivered.

Kathryn Ross

The closing slot goes to Kathryn Ross. She starts with strong demonstrations of various guitar techniques, through very pleasant songs, before switching to keyboard for some piano antics. Her voice is very clean, even though the stronger overtones aren’t there as they have been for other artists. For her penultimate song she slips a looper in so subtly it is barely noticeable, and closes with cover Say It Ain’t So by Weezer

Andy Stock

Wandering back via Chaplins, to find the man I want to speak to at the microphone, very inconvenient! The man being Andy Stock, he’s got to that point in the evening where he’s playing requested covers for the rowdy crowd, including favourite Billy Bragg hit New England.

Haiti Fun Fundraiser

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Had a Family Church (FCC) prayer meeting tonight, so didn’t manage to get out to this gig as early as I might have wanted to.

I’ve missed The Extinguishers, I’m reliably informed they played a blinder of a set & made an awesome amount of noise for just 3 people. I’ve also missed much of Mischa‘s set – they’ve been set up outside to draw the crowd, on this wet and miserable evening.

Monkey Puzzle

Monkey Puzzle have just started as I walk in, creating an awesome latino focussed party vibe with exotic rhythms and cool cuts. At one point percussionist James wanders off the stage porting a djembe and dances with the crowd whilst show boating – this bringing the band into the crowd keeps things aIive and moving.

Coupled with the funk vibe, clear vocal harmonies from Elena and Lucy are layered over instrumental solos, clearly going down well with the party goers.

OFS party crowd

It’s not hard to remember this is a fund raiser – halfway through the set “the man with the pirate hat” is highlighted to us – we are to pursue him to donate and purchase raffle tickets all going towards the cause.

Tonight Monkey Puzzle are playing all original material, compared with the last time I saw them in 1812. Not that I can tell – it is all danceable to, melodic hence easy on the ear, smooth and refined, yet with some nicely surprising punches keeping it active.


After a good lengthy set they hand over to the raffle and Disco’s Out (Murder’s In), who are on top form as ever waking the place up with their brassy chords and attitudal vibe.

Sensing the perhaps slightly subdued mood as the evening has progressed (being a wet night, many of the rent-a-mob crew haven’t ventured out), the band strike into some of their more sombre numbers – these rely a lot on keys which don’t appear to be working at all through the PA – much to some people’s obvious frustration…

DO(MI) super heroes?

Costume theme seems to be film heroes tonight – caped crusaders and Wayne’s World taking centre stage, while Martin looks resplendent in some military get up.

Seemingly giving up on what is clearly letting them down in the PA they just go all out at the end with Blow My Mind and Clown, before encouraging the now mandatory lunging action as they close.


More raffle draws later and Dubheart start up. What’s impressive this time is that the whole band aren’t fully set, yet they make a start anyway. Each blends in to a dub jam as they get up and running, before all are in; they call a reluctant halt and kick off into the set proper.

Even though the evening is getting on the guys are going for it, and they’ve brought their own crowd with them to boot. This is a good thing, and surely means the party will continue long after I’ve left…

Mr Christie wows the Tripp

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I was just going to say “Pete Christie performed at the Thomas Tripp – you should have been here for the experience” But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The evening started with the monthly Solid Air outing on the show; all those artists Conrad had tried to tie in to the next Sonic Adventures were unable to make it. With no guest Connie & I ran a talk show based on the music scene instead.

One of the promoters included tonight was Jake Scott – he’s running a fundraising gig for Haiti in the Old Fire Station on Sunday night. Charities benefiting will be administered via DEC, meaning my charity of choice, Samaritan’s Purse, won’t get a look in.

DEC do not fund Samaritan’s Purse – despite their presence in nearly every hotspot in the world, the UK presence isn’t large enough to feature in DEC’s plans 😦 Click here if you want to donate directly

Any help for Haiti is welcome, so please get along to support the efforts and raise some much needed funds for the efforts

Pete Christie Tripp

After doing a bit of delivery running around, I land at the gig that I started with. Pete is on form mainly just playing his guitar unaccompanied by the normally ever-present loop pedal.

Even so he is entertaining not just with the songs, but the overall presence – looking around for people to pick on, yet always making himself the butt of the joke, throwing in stories and anecdotes to boot.

I won’t mention some of the outrageous items Pete’s done tonight – those that are also here will know what I’m referring to – however as ever he finishes with an increasingly extended Easy Come Easy Go, using the loop pedal to full multi-voice effect.

If one hasn’t had a chance to experience Mr Christie in one of these up close and personal gigs, please make a point of doing so real soon. He is playing at Mr Kyps soon, and is totally able to fill that stage with sound and quips, however it is with the close, visible audience that I enjoy Pete the most.

A Creative Evening

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Antonia Edgeley-Long Chaplins

Antonia Edgeley-Long starts up, her initial choice of song allows her to use a wide range of her voice – deep verses and high choruses.

This set is all new material, yet this fact isn’t really noticeable, save for the guitar work being under-developed; strummed chords for the most part. The chord progressions are fun, some switches from minor to major, and some modal work as well by the sound of it.

In her last song there is evidence of the future development, as gently picked arpeggios form an underlay for Antonia’s voice to soar over.

Jules Pitcher Chaplins

Next up Jules Pitcher. Straight off into gentle chord picking; she has a mellow rounded voice, this is music with gaps in.

Jules is also kicking in with the new material, her second number having been written the week before. It’s dedicated to her sister, who is pointed out to the crowd.

Tim Smart is taking the graveyard shift. He’s decided to play an accordian for the first part of hist set. As I walked in he commented he was “off to rehearse” – turns out he’s never played an accordian before so needs to learn the basics! Tim Smart all over.

Tim Smart Chaplins

By the time he gets up, he’s more or less got the chords covered, any way up he’s amusing and looks to be enjoying it as hopefully captured in the shot.

Halfway through the set he picks up the guiar and invites sister Claire to join him. Sandboy is dedicated to an anonymous person in he bar who lives near Tim, and who the song was written about. We don’t know who it is, and Tim’s not letting on, all adding to the mystique. 

Tim & Claire Smart Chaplins

Fed up with the guitar, he chooses to sing I know an old lady who swallowed a fly a capella, with Claire harmonising at certain points, before finishing with favourite Bearded Lady.  As an encore he gets us all to join in with harmonies on a short round song, all uber-creative, totally enjoyable, and uniquely Tim Smart.

Punk & Experimental

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 For this Monday night’s Solid Air I’ve missed Katherine Price and (yet again) Coke Can Jack in full band form.

Damnation Alley are playing their punk/metal thing when I get in. I guess I have to be in the mood for punk, I’m not feeling it at the moment so guess this isn’t one of those nights.

I can’t deny the effort the guys are putting in though, they are just what the smattering of punk fans have ordered . The music is loud and brash, unappealing to me at present, shouted lyrics over crashing chords overlaid on cataclysmic drums.

Whether cover or original the energy is thrown into every song, and the promo presence is there too – as I write I’m interrupted to have the next gig flyer thrust into my hand.
County Hospital Winch

Now the closer for the night come on, County Hospital. The start is artistic, with unmic’d vocals accompanied by alpenhorn, before crashing into a hard rock/punk chorus reminiscent of the previous band


I think I must say something about the visuals. At one point in a moment of tribute bassist Luke unfurls a banner of Laurel and Hardy accompanied by a shout to Stan and Ollie.

Lead Tim is in his trademark raccoon hat, and for some reason he’s in striped tights

County Hospital Laurel & Hardy

 (I later discover these are decorated long-johns).

He’s alternately standing at the mic or wandering around animatedly.

Drummer Ed is just a masterpiece in movement; when loud he’s deliberately all over the place, as they break into a mellow and quiet groove, he’s crouched over the kit as he gets quieter and quieter, while Tim’s movements become gentler to match the mood they’re creating.

As the quiet segment continues Tim wanders around the stage, apologising at one point as he causes feedback, before the jumping starts again to a final crashing chorus reprise.

County Hospital Switch Winch

At the end of the night, the last song is a riff on a couple of chords.  Tim signals for one individual after another to join them and take over instruments, eventually they are grabbing more or less any muso in the room, co-opting them into a jam over those couple of chords. By the end there are none of the original County Hospital left, they’ve left the stage totally in the hands of the new deps.

Scott & Robbie @ The Rydal

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Sunday night finds me at another rare venue for me, New Milton’s The Rydal Arms. I found out via one of my fingers-in-many-pies that Scott McKeon & Robbie McIntosh are playing together for a couple of hours, and boy is it an intimate setting, in the “Acoustic Lounge” as dubbed by Darren Hodson, compere for this night.

As I walk in Robbie is leading Sam Cook’s Wonderful World on a resonator, Scott following on, on 6-string. At one point Scott seems to fluff, and quips “that’s why Robbie is a better rhythm guitarist than me”, gaining a patter of applause 🙂

Robbie & Scott @ The Rydal

They next kick off into a rolling blues jam which just lasts and lasts….eventually finishing to applause & cheers. These mainly instrumental set pieces are the mainstay of their performance – a few sparse lyrics, then mesmerising acoustic rhythm & blues. Just a look passes between them, and the parts switch, one laying a rhythmic base for the other to build lead melodies on. Robbie uses his slide on many of the songs, however each use is occasional, sparse and totally understated.

After a short break they are back up with more of the same good tunes. What I’ve not mentioned is the effortless way in which string bends and trills are inserted into otherwise solid 8 bar staples; containing fingerboard runs from the neck to the body and reversing – the effortless-ness being accompanied by smiles and grimaces in almost equal measure, giving away the amount of concentration required

For the encore finale we hear the fully acoustic 12 string from Scott with Robbie back on the resonator – he’d switched and stayed with a 6-string after that first number I walked in to – before another switch back to 6-strings and a retune for the final last song for a second encore.

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