Coke Can Jack, Mountain Feet, Polly And The Billets Doux

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Mr Kyps logoThis Thursday night finds me at Mr Kyps to see Coke Can Jack, who along with Mountain Feet are the opening support for Polly And The Billets Doux

Coke Can Jack KypsCoke Can Jack walk on laid back as ever, and start gently and smooth, very lazy afternoon sun style. That soon changes as they launch into Beg, Steal or Borrow, and start tearing things up a bit. Highly energetic, and much the better for having all four members present, compared with previous times I’ve seen them.

Nathan and Sam provide backing harmonies to Jim’s lead vocals, Chris sticks to the new acoustic bass they’ve just purchased to stay true to their acoustic vibe. This allows them to pick in a way not available to electrics – as they play Bad News it feels like a cheeky secretive trip to where one shouldn’t go, very jaunty and yet furtive. They finish it in their usual a capella way, vocal harmonies and simple repeated refrains combining into a complex whole.

They also play Devil On Your Shoulder, that they debuted last night on the HopeFM radio show they guested. Live and plugged in its raucous and punchy, until they strip it back for the end section, again with the complex rounds in the lyrics.

I didn’t think the majority of the crowd were theirs, however I’m proved wrong at the end, they’ve won the crowd over judging by the widespread applause and cheers.

Mountain Feet KypsMountain Feet are next up, lead singer Jordan’s sporting a The Neon Tigers T-shirt, fitting really since I’ve just met three quarters of TNT at the back of the venue. They open with some strong rolling blues. They’ve also brought a large active and vocal crowd with them, who all seem to be at the front, leaving the rest of the place sparse.

They are having a lot of fun – Freebird is requested, leading them to comment they don’t have a lot of material so with a little help they might play that one at the end. Hmm not sure about this – always keep us in the dark about what you’re doing, and what you can or can’t do – that way we don’t know if things don’t work out.

That’s a minor point, the music is great – really good stomp along to stuff, which a posse of people at the front do, forming up a line and bouncing around in unison…their third song opens quieter with just hamonica and “twiddly” lead, yet ever so slowly builds into the same stomp style, such that by the time the crescendo finally arrives many are pumped for it and appropriately go crazy.

Finally they break into the Stevie Ray Vaughan cover that I was anticipating, based on what I’ve heard so far. They choose Pride and Joy, and pull it off admirably – and I don’t “do” covers!

Polly & BD kyps 2Polly And The Billets Doux join us after the obligatory break, Ben on swing-rock drums, Dan on string bass, Steeny on bluesy guitar and Polly’s strong sweet voice. I would describe the music as a bit rockabilly, with rolling blues rock mixed in…

I thought the single guitar would be a drawback, but the lack of rhythm or lead isn’t really noticeable, just having it play the lead most of the time allows for a lot of space in the music, and allows the string bass to really shine through.

Halfway through the set Ben starts tribal drumming with a strong beat, then Steeny joins in picking up an anti-rhythm to the drums. Finally Polly layers her voice over the top, taking a cross cue again. It shouldn’t work, yet it delightfully does and makes for a lively summery vibe.

Polly & BD bass kypsTo cover an instrument change and tune up, Polly starts a shout of Pump Up The Jamm, just for a bit of fun she says; shows that she could do that soul diva thing if she wanted. Its also the first time I’ve seen a string bass held up on on a rack rather than laid on its side. Probably because of the band name painted on the front. What does a bass stand look like?, well think of a guitar rack and triple the dimensions!

Polly and Steeny take turns at leading on the vocals, and hence alternate harmony and melody as a result. On stomp favourite Who Do You Love Steeny leads, with the rest coming in on the refrain, meanwhile there’s a lot of jumping going on in the front of the crowd. There’s also space in the music for some screaming guitar solos, kicked in with an awesome kickbass beat that shakes the building through the subs.

They take an acoustic break after that amazing sound, Dan switches from bass to acoustic guitar and serenades us with a soulful number, showing off a surprising voice after the previous guttural affair. Then switches to a tenor harmony to Polly’s accompaniment as she comes in for the chorus.

They all switch instruments for Back To Earth, Polly on the string bass and Dan back to the acoustic. They then kick off into a sound that would be very familiar to those who are Absolute Darlings fans, starting without the drums as per the GloGlobes style.

Polly & BD duet guitar kypsFor their last number they turn House Of The Rising Sun into an irristible foot tapping riff, which is instantly familiar, mainly focussed on Ben on the drums again, yet giving Steeny room to shine on rhythm. Then Polly wanders over and takes over the rhythm guitar while Steeny switches back to blues harp. Not seen or heard that one before.

By the end its clear the crowd were for the earlier acts, there’s only a few dozen left from what seemed like over 100…even so the applause is massive from those fans that have stayed the course.

Another unusual take, for the encore the band depart, and Polly a capella solos a gospel number, slow and strong, and receives big applause as a result. Awesome stuff, and worth catching these guys again.

Bournemouth Unplugged Quarter Finalists

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Fairplay logoI’m at the Bournemouth Unplugged Heats results party, huge numbers of musicians here – most of the heats entrants plus many others.

Yellowgroove Bmth Unplugged PartyYellowgroove are the house band for the evening, they kickoff (eventually) in fine form with their former single (that I played on the show tonight) Son Of A Working Man. They merge straight into These Times, no breaks to speak of, just segues galore. Hero Wanted starts like I’ve never heard before, Jack putting in some awesome beats to get the crowd tapping and clapping along. Instead of stopping between songs to call the shots, Simon talks over the intros, which are extended for him to do so, yet not turned into drawn out affairs – there is interest here to keep the ears tickled, and I’m loving it!

Speaking to them afterwards, they’re really pleased to be able to play in front of many fellow musos, many of which (asking around) haven’t seen them before.  I’m really pleased at the way their sound and stage presence has developed, even if slightly annoyed at the excessive volume through the inappropriate house PA.  I’m increasingly finding that overegged live sound never shows off a band to me in the best light.

Anyway, here’s you really wanted to see, those artists that are through to the Quarter Finals (starting next week).
They are annouced in four groups throughout the evening, and there are two artists with drawn scores, so rather than drop both to make 15, Fairplay have awarded both the chance to go to the next round.  In drawn order, we have:

Bob Fletcher,
Boyd & Wain,
Dave Mansell,
Saturday Sun,

Si Crockett,
Tim Somerfield,
Phil King,
Andy Stock Band,

Coke Can Jack,
Krista Green,
Tony Two Dogs,
Ant Henson,

Dan Rumsey,
Chris Woodford,
Jonny Neesom,
The Sabres,

I’m surprised at some results – disappointed the female vocalists are only represented by Krista (who’s heat I missed), as are many of the other ladies I talk to (understandably – means many of them missed out). 

Another thing is the number of Chaplins & Cellar Bar regular artists that have made it through. I try accusing some them of jingo-ism, until it’s pointed out to me that very few of them turned up to each other’s heats to vote, so they must have gone through on crowd-winning accolade only. 

I’m fairly sure the judges votes can’t have been exclusively favoured towards these artists – I know mine weren’t, even though I can’t explicitly remember everyone of the (4 scores *4 acts/heat  *7 heats = 112!) scores I’ve submitted since February (I missed just one heat as a judge).

I must say I like the idea of the crowd vote at the time of the artist appearance, linked with an objective judged opinion.  Means its a little harsh on out of towners (Logan Carter, Saturday Sun), however as the latter have shown (they were in the heat I missed so I don’t know the crowd size) it is possible to do enough to go through.

Congratulations to all who made it this far, and big love to those who didn’t.
With the astounding quality of the majority of the 32 acts seen, the only advice I can give to those who didn’t make it is keep working at the live stuff – looking back through my notes on here, there were only a handful of artists that I thought weren’t at a well-above average level, and all clearly deserved to be there.

HopeFM – Coke Can Jack

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Coke Can Jack HopeFM showTonight I have Coke Can Jack on the show – as can be seen from the other posts featuring them I’ve been hit and miss in seeing them perform since first seeing them in October last year.

They are lively while talking, they are also playing live acoustically, and have plugged the session to their fanbase – there are many emails coming in to the studio computer as the show progresses, many of which we are able to use during the broadcast.

During their live sessions, they are clearly enjoying each others company and participation – I tried to capture the grins they were passing to each other, yet had mislaid my phone.  Hence the posed shot at the end of the interview before they head off to the Bournemouth Unplugged heats results party.  Really god bunch of lads, great to talk to, and I reallyhope things progress for them.

Sunday Best & Sessions

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Very quick post to suit the very short night. 

Krista Green facebook photoAfter a church music group practice I start at O’Neills where Fairplay have informed me Krista Green is playing.  When I walk in she’s playing mellow songs, her voice is really strong which I guess is as she does a lot of busking around town.

I missed Krista’s Bournemouth Unplugged heat (the only one I couldn’t make) so I think the last time I heard her was when she made an appearance on the radio show. Its a shame the place is half empty as she’s giving what I consider the performance of a lifetime – as I’ve not seen her play before I don’t know if she’s alsways like this, but the songs, though soulful, are still uplifting.

After covering All Right Now she finishes with a punchy self-penned song, percussive beating as each chord is played, with the chords being staccato-stopped as a result. Really enjoyable. She’s playing at Mr Kyps On 14 April and would be well worth catching there if you can – message her for a ticket.

I’ve also been chatting with Steve from TL Sound. Looking at the site he has some good material to say he’s only just started doing what he’s doing now with the dedicated studio set up, although he’s been mixing for a long time.

On the way back I drop into Chaplins very briefly – Antonia Edgeley-Long has played, Bex Grant is playing, Tony TwoDogs is waiting to go. A few brief words with Andy (Japan, Andy?) and I’m gone.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged 8

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Ben Pluck (Aim To Misbehave) on HopeFMTonight I have Ben Pluck with me in the studio, he’s one quarter of Aim To Misbehave, a young band who have a heavy/death metal background, yet are reinventing themselves as a result of grabbing hold of a synth.  We have a great time talking music and other things – Ben is young, yet has lived a bit and has some great stories as a result.  He says he’s enjoyed himself, and is disappointed the rest of the band can’t make it.  He also asks for a photo with me – taken in the studio. After what seems far too short a time, the show ends and I’m off to O’Neill’s again for Bournemouth Unplugged, and my last time of judging the heats.

Sofi Reed BU heat 8Sofi Reed starts, outside of the previous billing so I was unprepared for her appearance. In my head I have to forget how amazing her recordings are and go by what I hear and see in front of me. She is confident, a booming hello to the crowd and straight into the songs. I’m tempted to say her cover is her own Breathe, it is so far departed from how I’ve heard her do it before. She chooses Dusty’s (Son Of A) Preacher Man instead, which she says is hard as she doesn’t play covers at all. For her last song Becki (Kimari Raven) is invited to duet – and its a really good performance for one rehearsal and two hours notice. Talking to her afterwards she admits she wasn’t that confident and was unprepared. Well, it didn’t come across that way at all! We also have a good laugh over some of the expressions I’ve captured on camera (not going to be repeated here).

The Sabres BU heat 8The Sabres are next on stage, Richie stridently calls out the tracks, lots of name checks and audience inclusion – they know what’s needed to gain and then keep a crowd, even though they’re sitting down which instantly sets a different tone from standing to perform. Their energy is infectious, they are playing big chords and also intricate picks, Richie drops his pick then recovers it barely missing a beat in the process (I wasn’t going to mention that, then he did – yes I had noticed and was going to gloss over it Rich!)
I Want You Back by the Oysterband is their cover, featuring very high vocals that Rich admits after he can’t fully pull off – I hadn’t noticed though.

Phil King BU Heat 8Phil J King closes this stage of the competition, as another entrant hasn’t turned up. As a solo guitarist one could think there are limitations to what’s possible. Phil is one of those players who can disprove that – that just one man and a guitar, harmonica and voice can provide so much entertainment seems unfair. His songs are uplifting, lively and positive. Counting Crows’ Rain King is his choice of cover, and it fits his voice and mood of his set pretty perfectly. He holds a high note in a chorus, and generates some complimentary shouts as a result.

With all the acts tonight, I’m generally familiar with the songs, which ironically means I have to be harsher on myself for the judge scoring than if I was unfamiliar – I know what all the acts are capable of, and trying to ignore that preconception is hard, when we’re asked to go on the performances we see. Hence I feel those I know have to work harder than those I don’t to impress me, so I can stay true to myself and remain fair.

Si Genaro BU heat 8 entertainsSi Genaro closes the evening in his own inimitable style. He has originals and covers a plenty, thrown together with beatboxing, chants, lyrics, all interspersed with anecdotes; he says he went out with Rhianna for a week, which is how he learnt one particular song he’s doing. Looking him, it’s hard to put together the noises with the lip movements, its all so slickly done.

Pink Moon’s Third Birthday

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As the title suggests, 3 years ago Solid Air started their acoustic night called Pink Moon on alternate Tuesdays in Chaplins and latterly, the Cellar Bar.

Jemma & Annie Pink Moon 3Tonight we’ve had Parallel Universe, Solid Air Conrad’s alter ego with Si Genaro (who only tend to show for significant Solid Air events), Jemma Davies solo, later joined by Annie Winter for some duets before Annie solos, new band Casini Division then old hands Mother Ukers.

Jemma then Annie are on as I enter, they do some guitar and vocal swapping, they’ve brought a vocal crowd with them. There is quite a crowd here overall, band supporters, and moreover Solid Air supporters – those who enjoy experimental and acoustic music

Casini Division Pink Moon 3Casini Division start out looking very nervous – eyes shut, turning away from the crowd. What the nerves don’t mask is the latent talent that they have. Vocalist Lizzie has a good voice, there are some interesting effect generations, and usable backing tracks. In all they foretell promise of good high energy things to come in the future as they develop their direction . They also have a sizable, vocal crowd, always positive on a Tuesday night. I find out afterwards they had EP’s available, they’ve all gone by the time I speak to them, so no chance to play them on the show…

Mother Ukers Pink Moon 3Mother Ukers are allocated the graveyard slot, and sadly some of their audience have already had to leave. For the uninitiated (like I was) Ukers is pronounced you-curs (as in ukeleles). They start with Firestarter (Prodigy), then into 20th Century Boy (T-Rex) like no other versions I’ve heard – I also didn’t realise there were a variety of ukeleles, having missed the ukelele orchestra when they’ve gigged in town, the additions being a bass and a tenor ukelele.

They carry on throwing all types and genres of music at us, Lucifer’s Blues, Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon), Bowie (Space Oddity), The Cure (Love Cats), Happy Mondays (Step On), polished off with a Beatles medley.

All done in differing styles, not simply induced due to the nature of the instruments (well, except Love Cats – nothing can disguise that bass line).  There are also lots of interjections and self-mickey takes – “three big blokes with small instruments” and similar comments. All in all an enjoyable (if late) evening – Happy 3rd Birthday Pink Moon.

Dorset Music Awards – Semi Finalists revealed.

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DMA logoThe results are in from the Quarter Finals of the Dorset Music Awards 2011 , the Semi Finalists being:

Bel Casino
Big Face Reggae
Cella Creeps
County Hospital
New Volunteer

There are definitely some surprises for me there, thought The Neon Tigers would have had it nailed, but then at the expense of whom? – all are deserved looking back at my blog notes.

I am slightly disappointed that Powdered Cows didn’t make it, then surprised and pleased that both County Hospital and Cella Creeps have gone through;  thought two of them would be a victim to the other one of those three rather than vice versa – all three by far offered the best artistic efforts of this round.

Not at all surprised that we have four acts from the last Quarter Final, at the expense of only two from each of the earlier Quarter Finals – although the lack of crowds that turned out for that QF doesn’t bode too well for the near future. As I said at the time, the concluding QF lineup could have been many people’s ideal Final lineup…

It almost disquiets comments about the voting system, in that those bands that had the least people seeing them at this stage have managed to do enough on the campaign trail to reach the next stage. Then again, bands that pulled out all the stops for their QF appearance (Cella Creeps, Pachango , Constellation, Sirpico) have had mixed fortunes.

I do feel for other artistic talents that haven’t made it – particularly Saturday Sun, who fit perfectly into the South-Coast-beach-induced vibe alongside Bel Casino, Fearne and Big Face Reggae

I’m disappointed that after last year’s phenonemal effort, Sarah Griffin didn’t make it; not having a band seems to place one at a large disadvantage at this stage – Lauren Bannon being the only other similiar act to make it through the heats to then fall at this hurdle.

My thoughts for the public voting round to any acts lucky enough to be here next year? Make sure you have a pile of gigs lined up in different places, and get out there and win a new crowd over (easy for me to say – I always bear in the back of my mind that anyone can be a critic, it takes hard work to be an artist).  I think that’s what some bands in particular did in 2010, not that I was keeping that a close an eye on last year’s proceedings 😉

Again, lots of hard and quick work by Rich and Trev to announce the results so swiftly, thanks fellas!  Here’s to the Semi Finals in a couple of weeks at Mr Kyps.

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