Charlie Landsborough at the Tivoli Theatre

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Unusually for a Sunday night I’m with my friend from HopeFM Geneen (Principle Personalities), taking her to this Charlie Landsborough concert at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne.

Charlie Landsborough Tivoli blue stageThe place is about 80% capacity, talking around some have travelled a long way from further SouthWest for this experience. The empty stage is hung with elegant drapes backlit with blue initially (the lighting changes colour through the show)

The intro backing music starts; the band walk on one at a time and join in, guitar, organ keyboard, pedal steel, bass guitar, piano keyboard, and finally Charlie himself. They go straight into two numbers, then he’s into a couple of anecdotes and funny stories, very entertaining.

The openers have been Country style, the third folk ballad shows what an amazing voice he has, he’s clearly kept it in good order for the 16 or so years he’s been gigging (despite playing for much of his life, he only got “noticed” in the ’90’s when in his fifties).

Charlie Landsborough TivoliFrom then on each song is interspersed with Birkenhead and scouse jokes and stories, and reasons behind the songs, much in “an audience with” style. He’s very engaging, and generous with his time. There’s a large contingent from Bluebird Silver Dollar counry music club here too, very vocal when mentions and thanks them for being his only audience for the early times.

His latest album is love songs he’s covered, he chooses one tonight – Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are – to dedicate by name to a number of people who’ve written to him prior to the concert.

He also shares a bit about his life as a Christian, before moving into a couple of Gospel oriented songs, still within the country theme.

Charlie Landsborough Tivoli styled stageHalfway through the second half the band depart and Charlie covers an Irish ballad just on his acoustic guitar. He has a gizmo on the side of his stool that acts as volume and tone contol by the sound of it, however to me the best thing is the clever use of simple lighting against the white sheet backdrops. During the song they are painted rich emerald green to match the subject, with the green changing to white and orange in the middle and right to turn them into a depiction of the Irish flag at the close. Very stylistic.

As usual with Geneen we go backstage to meet Charlie and his wife Thelma for ten minutes, they are a very humble and pleasurable couple to hang about with. Geneen has had wonderful feedback from listeners about the show he did for her, which she shares with him, we also have the obligatory photos courtesy of Geneen’s camera (will post here once available). All in all another great night out!

The Luminaires EP Launch

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Luminaires Badge The HarriotsThe Harriots start the evening off. I didn’t know these guys were playing for the launch – I first heard them and fell in love with their sound at a Solid Air last year. They kick off with a slightly staider performance of I Can’t Stand The Silence compared with how I remember; it’s good to hear them in a venue like Champions with a decent PA and decent stage. The only thing missing is the mosh crowd. They have some really catchy bass hooks, and drums that push the tracks on, as they warm up to the set, the venue and the crowd, and start winning the latter over. They save their best two for last, Mothers Son and Liability, which both go down really well – the only thing missing is a call from Joe (lead) before Liability for the crowd to edge forward a bit – I normally hang out in the middle of the floor, and I’m well in front of all other kibitzers.

Hannah Williams & the Tastemakers Hannah Williams And The Tastemakers immediately make an impression. Striding onto stage and inviting the crowd forward then, after being announced, kicking off into a word riff seemingly inspired by James Brown. Hannah does a great job in that vogue calling out the breaks and shots. The music is furious funk, sax led with keys bass and guitar underpinning Hannah’s vocals, drums tricking out over all. These guys have brought a crowd with them, who are eventually, irresistibly drawn towards the stage. As the set moves on, we move more towards the smooth end of the scale, note and beat perfect, with loads of appropriate movement from the band as we go through.

The LuminairesAfter that great soul set the headline enter the stage. The Luminaires storm the venue;  the crowd are theirs – they’ve brought many who have been hiding round the corner during the support acts – they have energy and vigour. Aaron parades around the stage, engaging audience and band alike. They open with Untouchable which is driving and strident, yet finished gently with Joel (lead guitar) almost making it sound like the start of another song. When a lead falls out during the intro of second song Trigger, Steve & Simon carry on with the opening hook while said lead is sorted out – very slick, and far better than stopping in a mess then having to restart.

Another example of their advance planning – during the set lead singer Aaron chooses a guitar, only to have a string break on him as soon as he checks the tuning. No fuss or bother, just switch in a spare acoustic they’ve brought with them and the show goes on. Again they’re not fazed by a PA lead failing, just switch mics and move on. I really don’t know what it is about EP or album launches, I’ve seen many and it always seems that something goes awry during the performance.

Joel deserves special mention – he’s using what seems like a third of the stage, wandering around as is Aaron both into the crowd and around the stage, making the effort to make this look good. The only detraction to this is it makes The Luminaires look like a 4 piece with Aaron leading, and Joel on his own.  It’s hard to get a photo of all five of them together, even trying creative angles.

Aaron & Dave LuminairesAt the end we have a chink in the planning armour – they haven’t any more songs for an encore, they cover this up via an acoustic track from Aaron, with just Dave accompanying on drums. Good, just a bit of an anticlimax compared with what’s gone before.

It’s at this point that I’d throw in a little review of the EP, prior to arranging for a review to be included in Listed magazine.  However there has been production issues with it, and the mixing is slightly out for some of the tracks – so much so that Aaron has asked me to hold fire on an EP review here.

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 4

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DMA logoWe’re at the last week of the Dorset Music Award Quarter Finals, and anyone watching Facebook and Myspace will already be well aware of this – 20 bands, most of which are actively on the “vote for me” campaign trail have reached this stage, ten will be decided upon by this, the public voting round.  On paper, this last night promises to be the best of the four, the line up could almost be construed as anyone’s ideal final lineup, all the acts here are huge names on the circuit.

Sarah Griffin Dorset Music Awards QF 4Sarah Griffin opens, again she’s performing solo, and being soulful with it, really pouring out her heart into the songs. Upbeat Crazy Kate is an exception, otherwise she’s keeping with her ballads. There is promise of upbeat to come, (or even a beat, she jokes) if she gets through to the next round.

issTV are here again this week, catching interviews with a number of the bands (OK, I have a little bit to do with some introductions). They’re intending to produce a package on the whole music awards, so are trying to catch everyone they can in these stages

Mischa Dorset Music Awards QF 4Mischa is the second act presenting himself to us tonight, he’s again gone with the full more or less unplugged band; he was on the show the other week with Roland (cello, ukelele), he’s also brought Ed  on bass and Si C on cajon, making for a full rich sound, yet still laid back and summery feeling. Opening with his classic Air I Breathe, its more of an extended jam session as they all bounce off each other.

I also have another catch up with Alex Marle – he runs the Music Mania events at the Winchester, and is organising a stage at the Rugby Sevens over the Spring Bank Holiday (6 bands,2 days, £30 a ticket, unless you speak nicely to Alex as he has some reduced price ones available.)

New Volunteer Dorset Music Awards QF 4New Volunteer seem to take a long time to set up, but its worth it. They open with just a looped glockenspiel, growing their sound and building it in a very open manner – not much soloing going on, just a laid back crescendo. As the set progresses they become more mainstream – one song reminds me a bit of See Emily Play by Pink Floyd, melody-wise. They are flamboyantly dischordant and wonderfully artistic musically.

What I am disappointed at is the crowd, or lack thereof. This is really surprising since (as I said at the start) the 5 acts on tonight on paper make the best line up of the competition so far. Having said that, none of them (with one exception) have really brought much of a crowd with them, excuses could be it’s paddy night (I’m still puzzled that everyone goes a bit mad for an Irish night) or that they are on too late (in Fearne’s case probably true, they have a lot of fans at the younger end of the age spectrum).

Big Face Reggae Dorset Music Awards QF 4Big Face Reggae (Si Crockett in band mode) is our penultimate liner tonight – I’m wondering if he’s feeling a bit misplaced – this is his 3rd gig in 2 days now and he starts with a cover (I thought DMA was an original music competition, unlike last nights comp.!)
He’s roped in Nacho Jase, and Si Genaro again tonight, with the addition of Ant Lewis on bass. The cover was a laid back Bobby McFerrin number which settles the lineup and sets a good scene, he then slips more into his beach induced surf / skank material. The four of them are very tight, as pauses, accelerandos and rallentandos in the music demonstrate.

Fearne Dorset Music Awards QF 4Last on tonight are Fearne who kick off an awesome set – they are really antsy on stage as if they have a point to prove, like they own this competition (as they well should). This is DMA year 6, Fearne have been going in varying guises for 6 years, and this is the first time they’ve entered. They are also the only band tonight that have a vocal crowd, that (as per last week’s final act) have to be in contention for most tenacious fans award. The fans are active, moving forward on request and very vocal. I really hope that in particular these guys have done enough to get through this fan vote round.

In conclusion then, Fearne have given the best overall performance, and New Volunteer are my pick for the most “arty”, and also just about have an edge on the others for providing the most musical interest; all acts have been superb tonight.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Heat 7

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Bmth Unplugged 2011My guests tonight are Amity Road, they have 3 gigs in 3 days coming up. They are a lot of fun to talk to, both on and off mic, we spend a lot of time talking about sooo many differnt topics.

I have very little pre-prepared material to go on, my research notes are a ripoff of what I said about their Dorset Music Award Heat appearance:  Movement and action with the music. Lee (bass)  good moves. Good crowd management. Loud heavy rock, very musical. Getting crowd to clap along first time seen here, and liked it. Already had a crowd, rare for 2nd stage, then pulled more across. Audience responded well to clapping in song, and afterwards.  Drummer in arm cast !?!?  good soloing guitar when not solo vox.

They have a lot of texts and emails coming in to the studio – they’ve plugged facebook hard before joining me on the station. We only get to play 3 of their CD tracks, and Karl performs Angels solo live acoustic, filmed by both of the others – he wants some content for youtube or something – while they’re discussing it I’m on mic promoting choice gigs. I left my phone outside the studio so couldn’t take a snap of this for your pleasure.

After what seems far too short a time I head off to Bournemouth Unplugged at O’Neills, penultimate time for the heats.

Kimari Raven Bmth Unplugged

Kimari Raven starts, she has some upbeat songs, and a strong voice and compact vocal range to sing them with, which suits what she’s doing. Her fave song she chooses to cover is The Moody Blues Knights In White Satin, which also happens to be one of my faves. She does a really god job of making it her own, even though she afterwards admits she had a number to choose from, and decided on that one more or less at the last minute…

Johanna Stahr Bmth UnpluggedJohanna Stahr is accompanied by one third of Mother UkersJonty on ukelele, which is different to many of the other acts in the competition. She is playing her usual material on chorded guitar, with Jonty providing some flavour with harmonies and melodies. As Johanna doesn’t normally play covers , she also switches to Ukelele for their take of The Carpenters (They Long To Be) Closer To You. Again her songs are upbeat up to a point, Si Genaro is invited up for her ballad Sunshine to add some flavour, and the crowd love it.

Si Crockett Bmth UnpluggedSi Crockett starts with Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy, featuring Si Genaro on blues harp again. It creates a laidback tone to the set, and allows the chaps to harmonise with each other in the choruses. Nacho Jase joins on congas and the summery vibe continues, in a very laid back fashion, yet absolutely belted out. I know Si C can really kick things up, even just on his own, tonight with the additions of Genaro and Jase he’s keeping it low key. Despite this the place is buzzing with his compelling tunes.

Tim Somerfield Bmth UnpluggedTim Somerfield closes and has clearly brought a big crowd with him judging by the noise despite some now empty tables. I last heard him some six months ago, and said then I’d want to see him again. I like what he’s doing; chord choices and progressions are unexpected, what sound like dominant sevenths and minors create an interesting contrast. He’s also throwing in chopsa nd staccato chords, and at one point breaks into some intricate finger work on the fretboard. Mountain by Biffy Clyro is his cover for the evening.

Another night of good playing and entertainment, making it so hard to judge between the acts – looking over my notes I can only find a one or two point difference across the criteria we’re asked to score under.

As is customary on my way home, drop into Chaplins and The Cellar Bar with Steve for a catch up with the open mic, which while it’s finished still has a lot of people talking music with guitars.

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 3

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DMA logoAs with the other heats, tonight I’ve seen and heard 5 high quality acts, and would not be in a position to pick any clear winners were I to be asked.

Seems the voters can’t either – no specific spoilers, but I’ve heard the voting is very close across many of the 20 acts, and this year looks to be record voting. When Trev was on HopeFM’s LiveWire Live show with me this week, he let it be known that at this halfway stage of the public voting round, around 5000 votes have been cast, compared with about 6000 in total for the whole competition last year.

Therefore the message to acts is clear – please please please if you want to have a clear win to go through to the next round, rather than have to go through another tiebreak judging process, shout your “vote-for-us” plugs about everywhere.

Hessian DMA QF3On to describing this Quarter Final: Hessian start – I’ve been looking forward to hear them again since they gave me such a wake up call at the Heats. This time they’ve not brought the huge crowd with them, this also means the room is half empty as they start.

Guitar led synth based rock, hooks and melodies, tight silences, lots of motion and communication between each other; also plenty of plugs for themselves. One of the last songs features some cutting harmonies from the two singers, lots of pauses in the music also feature demonstrating just how tight this band are together. All good stuff.

NMIC DMA QF3Not Made In China are as ever a lot of fun, while still being unable to box or label genre-wise. Really happy upbeat chords from JJ, Gav’s smile and ska-like bass riffs, Tiff’s clear lyrics above everything, with Matt’s personality able to shine through the drums. The Winchester has now filled up, though still not at capacity, and there’s a modicum of movement on the dance floor.

Sirpico DMA QF3Its the middle of the evening, and Sirpico‘s turn to wow me, which they easily achieve. Even before being announced by Trev, Al is on the mic welcoming people and encouraging them to step forwards. This sets up the scene for a rocked up set of 4 lads dressed in cool black, playing their guts out to a crowd that the majority of don’t start out as theirs, but are slowly being won over. Their fans have some quality heckles too, e.g.:
     Al: here’s the only slow one we do
     Heckle: and I bet that’s at f*^*in’ 1200 BPM too

Powdered Cows DMA QF3Powdered Cows take my artistic award for the night (no real surprise there) something that I haven’t appreciated before is how, while the songs sound like they’re in similar keys, there are subtle differences between them, making it well nigh on impossible to just jump in and accompany them, as Ed Pope does on sax for a couple of numbers. Tonight the first few tracks are very heavily guitar oriented, with strong drum beats. Soon Martin switches from guitar so the synth plays a big part, drums turn into tambourine & whistling before there’s a total instrument switch around between Amy (drums now guitar) & Deena (vice-versa). Meanwhile Angus stays solid playing bass throughout.

Constellation DMA QF3Constellation have had a crowd here since the beginning of the night, so understandably there’s a lot of noise when they finally take to the stage. This also means that The Winchester is still absolutely packed as they play – if there was an extra award for crowd commitment and dedication, these guys would be strong contenders! Once announced they kick straight into a big drum solo to start the set. These guys are a great party band, positive major keys, upbeat/ reggae style guitar beats, and everyone here seems to be here for good time, judging by the noise and heckles.

A specific shout out to Josh from Conversion Studios, he’s offering part of the prize package, and we had a brief chat once introduced by Trev to each other.  Also to two particular members (who will remain nameless – they know who they are) of one of the acts in the Quarter Finals – placing bets on whether they get a mention by name or not in this blog – nice try chaps, I’d say OP wins for that!

Show & BU Heat 6

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My guests tonight are The Luminaires, with a cut direct from the studio of their debut EP. Its still in final mixdown stage, so the track that’s bought in to play has not been heard by some of the band even, it’s that fresh. They were last in the studio with me in November, after wowing me with their debut performance at the Oxjam take over; then our topics ranged across all sorts of topics; this time the chat is slightly more focussed – probably as band savant Dave is keeping a lid on himself and his wide-encompassing knowledge.

Afterwards I head onto the now familiar jaunt for Bournemouth Unplugged, O’Neills.

Jonny Neesom Bmth UnpluggedJonny Neesom draws the opening straw tonight. He’s got an interesting style, playing plucked open chords while providing an overwash of MC’d chant rap. Previously I’ve only heard him do 2 or 3 songs at an open mic, to hear him perform a fuller set is good, and shows he does have more songs in his repertoire, with more or less similar styles. When he sings, its very much tone poem style, really allowing a focus on the originality of the lyrics.

Chris Woodford is second. A very quick setup ( and tune up) and he’s in. The first chords still the place, he pauses, one can hear the silence spread across the room, before he launches into his now familiar routine. I’m sort of au fait with the material, yet I never know if I’ve heard each piece of his before or not. It’s varied both in dynamic and style, in that there is chord picking, chord struumming, finger picking (with either hand), taps, pulls, and then when one thinks there is no other style to show off, he slips into lap steel mode and throws in the other moves he’s known for. Winner of the 2008 Dorset Music Award, he’s no doubt on a cert to go far in this competition. Foo Fighters’ Everlong is his choice of cover – yet he’s made it totally his own.

David Mansell Bmth UnpluggedPenultimate act David Mansell starts with a little introduction, promising us a range of genres, and a (very short) story behind his opening song. I’ve not heard David play for a long time. He’s a traditional guitarist compared with the first two acts, he is not coming across as the singer songwriter-guitarist he really is. No sign of the endless strumming here, we are presented with some well-orchestrated chord sequences and foot tapping rhythms, accomplished jazz guitar and blues beats.

Shanon Fontaine Bmth UnpluggedShanon Fontaine closes the evening. She’s bright both with the greeting and the appearance. I must admit to having seen shanon around in crowds at gigs and speaking with her, yet not knowing she played. She has an open picked chord style for verses, pretty much a perfect accompaniment to her isolated voice. Yet for the choruses the now sliced chords pick up the pace and her voice boosts accordingly. In another song she hits some staccato chops that again augment and complement. Shanon is also experimenting with a loop/delay pedal, very basic usage but it helps provide extra depth to the deeper tones she’s singing this time around – this range seems to suit her better than the higher end she’s used up to this point.

Another enjoyable acoustic musical evening courtesy of Fairplay and Bournemouth Unplugged.

Open Mic Tues

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Rincewind O'NeillsJust a short report about tonight, I was flitting about running errands and dropped into O’Neill’s for the Revolving Door open mic night, to find Rincewind doing passable Hawkwind covers; a 5 piece band fronted by Sarge, with Nacho Jase on sound and Si Genaro on some sort of sound generating ring modulator/ pitch shifter adding the necessary Hawkwind doodad effects.

Coke Can Jack Pink MoonAfter just the one act I head off home via the Cellar Bar where Coke Can Jack are putting on a great finishing touch to what by all accounts has been a good night – it helps that the place has filled up for the last of their set after the Levellers gig at the O2 Academy.

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