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.