Bhone Fundraiser – 2nd gig

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Champions is hosting 5 nights of fundraising gigs for a celebration of Bhone‘s fifth birthday. Beneficiaries are Julia’s House and Poole Hospital Charity. Tonight features a Betika reunion gig as a special headline, and Mrs H (Ness) has joined me as a result. I’ll be including her thoughts as one liner entries as we go through.

Head Of A Cuban Trojan are just setting up when I arrive – I’ve missed Grott Party, who have done a set more aimed at fun and amusement as judged by some who saw them – titles like Fat Girl and Gadaffi (changed from Mugabe to remain topical).

There’s a good buzz about, many clearly here for the headline act’s first and last gig f’or a while (vocalist and flautist etc Carolyn has a job in Thailand, and husband Will (bass, backing singer) is going with her).

Head Of A Cuban Trojan

Head Of A Cuban Trojan bhoneNot heard these guys before, though have heard about them; formed from remnants of Dutch Husband some time ago. Playfully artistic rock, they have some massive chording intro thing going on with the music; they are wearing Royalty masks in honour of today’s Royal wedding.

Loads of effects make up a sad rock style to their opener, which leads into a softer ballad start as lead singer and guitarist Lee switches to a stand-mounted megaphone before the mic to distort his sound – I like the mounting to a stand feature – means he can still play guitar while using the megaphone, something others could perhaps learn from.

Obviously this limits the movement, which had been lively, Imogen meanwhile has switched from bass to what I think is a cornet requiring her to also remain static in front of a mic stand for this number.

This latter playing she achieves while left handed tapping her bass through a fuzz box – interesting multi-use I’ve not heard before. Third track is more of a heavy thumper, still with clear lyrics over suitable distortion

They move into an incredibly melodic set of music, frivolous sounding yet with solid vocals over it all

The only song title I catch is Streets Of London, their closing number, this features the brass again, this time loop double recorded and over dubbed live mixed with the guitar bass drums and dual vocals. Would quite like to hear these guys again.

The one line low down from Ness: I didn’t like them, but thought they were good at what they did.

Animal Talent Show

Animal Talent Show are our third act tonight, guitar led with synths featuring heavily courtesy of Henrie (back in town for a few days)

Animal Talent Show bhoneThey have some active fans with them – at one point a gently thrown shoe lands on stage (in lead Nick’s face) – he takes this in his stride and seems to not miss a beat.

In the main the twin guitars of Nick and Alfie stick to chord work and simple melodies, leaving a lot of room available for those aforementioned synths to feature.

This reduction of screaming guitars give the music some big appeal, light major chords making a very positive sound, even as drums and bass laydown a heavier foundation. There’s also visual interest – lots of interaction and enthusiastic movement from stage, encouraging the audience to jig around accordingly.

It helps that things are just so musical and with strong beats and rhythms. Discos, and Disguises before that are particularly notable, I recognise them particularly from the last time I saw Animal Talent Show, possibly over a year ago.

That’s one drawback, Nick is engaging with us a lot yet he’s not passing on the song titles – he seems to be spending a lot of time needing to retune (presumably as the guitar hasn’t acclimatised to the heat in here)  – I’ve caught up on the titles afterwards for the post – having said all that, they don’t make a point of titles.

For example, the first song they ever did is a great example of their sound, musical, rhythms and melodies from the guitars and bass, with pretty keyboard pipe-organ sounds over the top, with engaging lyrics added in. What do they call it bu First Song!

Shame they can’t gig in the area that often, they do a great set and put on a good show.

They finish with New One, appropriately enough a new song, this contains some complex and interesting syncopation, while still being as melodic as those that have gone before. This time there is some dischordant work in the chorus, lyrical melody clashing in a pleasant way with Alfie and Henrie’s lead melodies.

One line low down from Ness: I like them, kinda.


I have a confession to make here – I was relatively late into Betika on the local scene – they were the first ever guests on the LiveWire Live show when HopeFM first started its 24/7 broadcast, back in 2006. While I’d seen them live quite a few times since, I’m still not totally familiar with their non-recorded back catalogue material.

Betika bhoneIts been quite amusing reading the facebook comments in the lead up to this gig as varous members have been relearning the material. The rehearsing has payed off, this is fast and furious, the guys are kicking up a storm from the off; Bob Hope has such energy, its as if their nearly 2 year gap has been spent waiting for this moment. Hatred is also picked up two levels above the album energy.

There is not one single person being static on stage – all are dancing around, or jigging on the spot when tied to a mic singing or whatever – Rich (drums) is obviously the exception being sat down, even so he’s animated behind the kit. When not playing music, the line made up by Kerrie, Carolyn, Martin and Imogen are utilising all sorts of unusually shaped shakers (lettuce or banana anyone?)

All of this just makes me wonder how we’ve managed on the local scene without these guys providing an example of something to aspire to both in musical ability and stage performance, coupled as Betika songs are with Dave’s witty, insightful and incisive lyrics and Carolyn’s harmonies to them.

Another thing I’m enjoying is that they’re not sticking just the recorded material, for example The Candidate and Peter Marfan feature alongside Dormitor and Twenty Five, all pumped up to 11 and beyond on tempo and vehemence.

Something unexpected for an encore – Happy Monday’s Step On. Imogen is now on bass rather than Will, Mark swaps his guitar for a labcoat and Betika‘s original guitarist Chris (Little Boat) steps up. For their second encore Volkspiotr is chosen, really allows Hubcap & Kerrie to shine on their synths. This clearly isn’t enough for this appreciative audience, so a third and fourth encore are called for. Their third encore song is unknown to me yet it turns out it was a cover of Hands originally by True Swamp Neglect, the fourth encore gives us a final ending of all with By Default, so many of us know it, its great to hear everyone singing and acting along.

An awesome gig, Ness’ one line low down: Yep, really good (she gives a thumbs up, despite the late hour).

Thanks to Tone and the rest of the bhone team for a great effort in providing these 5 great gigs in 5 days

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Quarter Final 4


Hessian join me in the studio tonight – or rather, four of the five of them.  Tilly (bass) can’t make it to town, yet phones to join into the interview conversation from wherever she is (London, I think).  The band have played other gigs in addition to the times I’ve seen them during the Dorset Music Awards, so there’s ripe material for discussion there. 

They’ve also been spending time recording some tracks – Sam is putting the finishing touches to their latest recording while we’re in the studio together, mixing the vocal takes. As we play it out towards the end of the show, they listen relatively intensely over the studio foldback, understandable since they’ve not heard it before!

We all make a sharpish exit from the studio, as I head off to O’Neills again to some shock news – Boyd and Wain have cancelled their appearance tonight in the Quarter Finals, effectively putting themselves out off the competition. I’m in two minds about this news – one half says that they are such brilliant musos they would provide a lively and enjoyable set. Many I speak to are also of the same mind.

My other voice is asking what is an act playing gigs in the States and who could easily book themselves a set of London sessions doing in a competition like this anyway.

Moot point really, they’ve pulled out, and Joel Gregory has slipped under the wire as act 16 (Saturday Sun also don’t get put forward for missing their Quarter Final)

Again I’m writing my comments on the fly as I hear the acts, in preparation to make statements to the audience here.

Tim Somerfield

Tim Somerfield Bmth UnpluggedQuiet intro – says “start where left off last time then on into different material” – don’t need to tell me that as I probably wouldn’t remember anyway.
2nd song clever chord work putting on syncopation with left hand. Also in 3rd song, and others – waiting for another style.
Obviously has his crowd here, yet not making the most use of them to my mind. Even at the end when I comment on this in my judges verbal response, there’s no reaction. Leads me to think of that line from John Cleese in the parrot sketch – Voomph? That wouldn’t Voomph if it had 2000 volts through it.
OK chat to cover tuning, fast de tune.
Confident patter for stage presence, yet not much else.
Strong clear voice.
Liked chord work on last one, shows a different style from what’s gone before.

Andy Stock Band

Andy Stock BandBefore start – Cast of thousands or so it seems compared to Tim’s solo slot.
Solo start then band come on one by one helps with working out the levels originally.
Like the reworking of a cover – making it yours – sounds like it was rewritten specifically for tonight?
2nd song a bit too long of similar repetition, still I like the personalisation. Sounds a bit muddy on the PA. Awkward when there’s 2 good PA guys in the band. Tight on the musical breaks.
Set seemed too short, turns out they have space for another song (which Andy solos) There’s a lot of talent there, could do with more polish.

Si Crockett

Si Crockett Bmth UnpluggedSi Genaro has lost his harmonicas this very night, so makes a little notice at the start thanking those who’ve rallied round and helped him out – first time I’ve seen him serious for a long time…
Laid back start, turning Ain’t No Sunshine into his own style. 3rd shows off Si Crockett’s voice with some high pitched crooning.
Big Face Reggae starts waking things up a bit, still laid back yet bigger audience reaction
Si C voice and Si G beat boxing save the day for Sunshine, was becoming a bit samey to my ears. MSSB (full title not repeatable here – Radio Rules) wakes up the stage a bit, a bit of action at the last.
A few ‘in’ gags regarding Small Face Reggae and Big Face Reggae (his non-unplugged band)

Joel Gregory

Joel Gregory Bmth UnpluggedBit of a surprise to hear him back.
He’s not doing that much of particular interest on the guitar. His voice is good though – clear lyrics
One very vocal crowd member
Turns out he’s a wildcard re-entry who responded when Boyd & Wain pulled out. This is a little unfair both on him and on others, however competition runners reserve the right etc. etc.

The winners who go through to the semi finals are announced as The Andy Stock Band and Si Crockett, this doesn’t go down too well with those who felt Tim Somerfield played the better set of at least one of those. Where some weeks have had very close results this time there is only a close-ish gap of 3% between each of the acts; I end up taking some time listening to Tim’s right to reply (as does Fiona, the sponsor of the overall competition) anyway.

Dorset Music Awards Final in O2 Academy


DMA logoWe’re reaching the end of this year’s marathon that is the Dorset Music Awards 2011, being kicked off by The Longest Day in the O2 Academy. Probably understandably for the early start, we have maybe 200 people here, which makes things look really sparse in this wonderfully large venue.

The stage is a vast space, which can really be appreciated from the balcony. There are stacks of subs on either side at the front, providing outrigger platforms for those screaming guitar solos. Surprisingly for a venue the quality of the O2, the on stage lighting struggles to provide sufficient illumination – drummers are in relative darkness, and the ambient lighting isn’t sufficient quality to take photos without flash – even the pro photographers are struggling.

The Longest Day DMA O2The Longest Day have definitely taken things to the next level; their entrance is onto a darkened stage with an introductory narrative piece over the sound system comprising their short track Utopia with voice over.

Dan is singing alone for their opener, then picks up the guitar for Kamikaze Dream, which is kicked out with fury and action – as he has just announced they’re here to have a lot of fun and be the warm up act for everyone.

This fun continues all the way through their set, animated antics, heavy bass and guitars throughout – by the time they reach Breathe More Air they’ve reached a crescendo and hence go out with a real bang.

New Volunteer DMA O2New Volunteer come in with an interesting opener, all gathered around Rich as he opens on the glockenspiel (that’s why the photo shows them huddled together.)

Halfway through Surrounded is simply fantastic, and sounds great on this stage. I miss the end of the set as I’ve been grabbed by Sarah from ISSTV for my thoughts on the Dorset Music Awards; I hear they played their usual brilliant end with drum solos – very brilliant musically and artistically, however some weren’t happy with the lack of visual animation between the start and end of the set.

County Hospital DMA O2County Hospital are next, and are still dressed in scrubs after a fashion. Ed this time chooses a naughty nurse outfit to sit behind the drum kit in. They’ve also set up a traffic cone, and a roadworks sign is collapsed to one side.

By this stage my estimate is we have 400 in the main arena, a good 6 rows deep at the front, spread across the whole stage to appreciate the artists.

Antics including Ed walking out (in said nurse outfit including short skirt) to take the traffic cone behind the drums, while Tim sets up the roadwork sign. He’s also taken the top of the mic stand to play guitar with, holding it under his arm while still jumping around playing. This promptly messes up his tuning, causing a smart aside from Ed as cover for the re-tune..

They are playing a blinder; some comment they’re not making the full use of the stage space available to them – they’ve chosen to set up in the front right corner, though Tim is prancing about in his usual fashion all over the place. All in all an eccentric display of shambolic excellence…

Evolver DMA O2Evolver are third up of the finalists. They are immediately very slick, and look like they own the stage rather than the stage owning them. They have their incredibly vocal fans with them again, which account for half of the front of the crowd.

One other comment from someone else – they have a very 80’s look with the jackets and T shirts, yet also endearingly School Of Rock for those that can picture the band that won the competition in that movie. This look works for me, and fits their sound for tonight.

Evolver Interleaved from Dreadlock PhotographyThey are going all out with the music, and the act – Bring It Back featuring megaphone vocalist and interlocking guitarists anyone? Thanks to Dreadlock Photography for this photo. This coupled with the rest of their performance makes them many’s most enjoyable band so far; I’m still sold on County Hospital

Cella Creeps DMA O2Cella Creeps make a big entrance, Ollie opening on drums as Mark and Ed stride in then immediately start pumping out hard rock.

While other bands’ lead guitarists alone have used the outriggers on either side of the stage front to solo, Ed and Mark each take one simultaneously and rock out on them together

Ed generously dedicates Ride Beat to me from stage, “Tim Heywood who does HopeFM” and then goes on to accuse me of being their number one groupie! Which reminds me, I still haven’t had them on the show in this guise…

Cella Creeps moshpit DMA O2Their finale has to be handed to the fans, big moshing going on, encouraged by the anticipatory suspense brought in by delaying and delaying the big chorus, through a huge build, to a final explosion of musical immensity. Love it.

One can tell Fearne are about to take the stage – for nearly the whole time since Cella Creeps leave the stage their fans have been active and vocal all through the interval. Fearne make a classic entrance all walking on together then start with Sundays Coming.

Fearne DMA O2No moshing going on, however there’s a fair bit of ladies underwear being thrown towards the stage until prevented by security. All while the band play on seemingly oblivious, yet clearly enjoying what’s going on.

What I can’t really express is the feeling of seeing one of my favourite local bands playing one of the top two venues in Bournemouth, punching out their oh so familiar tunes to an awesome house.

There are a couple of comments about the lack of big movement and dance, but that isn’t Fearne‘s forte, they just get on and bang out tuneful and delightful song after song. Alex gives Lily Allen a big build up, talking briefly about the other female stars he wrote songs about before getting a winner with this one. The crowd absolutely erupt at the end of their set, before dispersal for the judges deliberations.

Trevor Hill DMA O2Finally we are at the end of the night, and the end of the awards.

All acts get a trophy award just for reaching this stage of the competition, then the individual judges announce their picks:

Endorse It In Dorset Festival: County Hospital
Beach Break Festival: Fearne
Larmer Tree Festival: Fearne

Stephen Machat DMA O2Finally Steven Machat, music entrepreneur and special guest judge tonight takes to the stage to announce the winner of the 2011 Dorset Music Award. He makes a short speech, specifically stating that normally he’s looking at acts for tomorrow that will make it in the more distant future. However tonight he’s looking to pick the band today that he thinks has the most chance to make it tomorrow.
After much build up, to an increasingly noisy audience, he makes his announcement : Fearne

The place goes wild, Alex looks to be in tears, I’m well pleased, and hearty congratulations go to everyone.

An amazing end to another amazing year of Dorset Music Awards, and we’ve all reached the marathon end tape together. The real winner tonight being live original music in Dorset.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Quarter Final 3

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Bit of a hit and miss show tonight – my guests baled on me with about 20 hours notice, so I populated the time instead with many promoters providing details of their wares:

Trev Hill from Dorset Music Awards: final in the O2 Academy this Saturday – unheard of to have local bands in on a Saturday night. Trev also talked about Smokin’ Aces (feat. Mutant Vinyl this Friday).

Tone Foster from bhone: a weekend of fundraising gigs for Julia’s House and Dorset Cancer Fund over the May Bank holiday

Andy Razz from Chaplins: the weekend highlights inc. Andy Stock band supporting Friday night’s entertainments.

Pete from Apples & Snakes regarding Thursday night’s poetry slam competition between Southampton and Bournemouth.

Finally a phone in from Dave of the New Forest Pit Ponies, who will be guesting on the Radio Boscombe show in a could of weeks.

As usual at present, I leave early to dash to O’Neills for Bournemouth Unplugged. Mischa starts and again I’m leaving my judging comments here.


MischaVibrant. Great Up stuff
Timed percussion on Air I Breathe
City Breaks improv jam percussion. Good effort & different with the tone poem style. Don’t need to tell us (upfront) its a new untried song – we wouldn’t know otherwise
Only applause from crowd during set, whoops only from me that I can hear!.
Starting to sound samey y 3rd song Memories
Lots of patter from Mischa, including judge schmoozing !
lots (too much?) ukelele compared to cello
Great bop at end with Overworked & Underpaid. Typical Mischa putting his all into it.

Us judges get told off at the end for applying some constructive criticism vocally during our feed back section.
Only nice comments allowed vocally in the pub, it seems.  Specifically we’d mentioned the bit about ukelele rather than cello, and Mischa had changed his set that night as a result of comments from the Dorset Music awards.  My response was to ask him to turn and read the screen (where the Bmth Unplugged logo was displayed)!.

Dan Rumsey

Dan RumseyStill got those untrimmed guitar strings (that I commented on at DMA heats)
Nice choice of progressive chords in 1st song (missed name)
She Wolf different style guitar still similar vocally
Has a (vocal) posse with him, yet not really catching on around the pub (unlike Bob Fletcher’s masterclass last week)
“La’s” are brave and show confidence that hasn’t really been that present so far. 5th song.
Also tuneful wailing going up the octave
His stuff grows on you.

Phil King

Phil KingSounds surprised to have a posse. Starts with Life’s Rich Tapestry, one of my faves of his
Good variety chords, finger work,
Good banter to cover tuning, and noticed the out of tune (+1 tech recovered)
2nd Irish style ringing the tempo changes.
Clear lyrics throughout so can properly judge the song writing ability
Come Together is done in a totally gritty manner, taking a low chord approach rather than the high chord in the riff
Good intro to Iridescent Lightbulbs showing off a range of techniques before launching into a solid yet repetitive sequenced riff, broken by bridges and false endings
Good variety of song choices in the set overall – high originality for that.

David Mansell

David MansellGreat ballad opener – rich
Keeps it to a low key set for all songs
Clear voice, rich resonance on the guitar.
Great story telling through the songs.
Not really demonstrating different styles either vocally or on the guitar
Not the type of music to cut across here, which is a shame as it’s good mellow stuff

 On the night the two acts to gvo through are Phil King and Mischa – the latter only clear by half a point.  I feel a bit churlish as Mischa hasn’t stuck around, I suppose being ill and yet still perfoming like he has has to be taken into considedration!

Chaplins Sunday

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Had an interesting start to the evening – Victor dropped by to have a chat, and hand me a copy of his latest album Moonbeams. I then had the church music group meeting, before heading over to Chaplins for their Sunday Session.

Jemma Davies and Del Bishop tonight. Jemma plays a really fun set, showing off her high ranged voice through well chosen covers mixed with her original material. I’ve heard her play many times, and this is the first time I can recall her playing and acting out a radio friendly set.

Herr voice is piercing in places, and is clearly the stronger part of her singer / guitarist act. The guitarwork is a good accompaniment, mainly gently strummed chords, with some thumb strums and percussive slaps to provide variation.

Del Bishop is doing his usual style of material, interesting work on the guitar alternating with strong chord work. His voice is strident, and reaches octave harmonies as well as deep root notes.

He’s had his misses in the past – one he comments on before he plays it tonight, and nails it. All in all a good two sets of acoustic goodness to carry on chatting and catching with people over.

Constellation @ The Inferno

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I’ve come out on a Saturday night to catch up with Constellation, who’ve just missed out on a Dorset Music Awards final place at the O2 next week. Turns out there are three acts on before them; I’m nicely surprised to see Kimari Raven (Becki) playing as I walk in, showing off her voice with a cover and a new song amongst her normal material.  Ali & Martin from Constellation are full of praise for Becki’s voice, I also think she’s grown in confidence a lot since last seeing her play a few weeks back at Bournemouth Unplugged.

Mischa is on after Kimari Raven, I miss his short solo set as I’m outside with Martin and Ali being introduced to the rest of their band. I still can’t understand why they didn’t reach the final of Dorset Music Awards, so we spend a bit of time chewing that fat before talking other things.

Walking in again, Blue Stone Walls are on stage. They’re providing rhythmic rock with a pretty good stage presence; lead singer Adam tries to engage the crowd that are here in some of their energy. He’s also wailing to the music which means I can’t make out the lyrics, and it isn’t particularly to my tastes (strikes me as a little out of tune) but never mind, its pretty good music despite that.

Having come down to The Inferno to meet the chaps, would be rude not to stick around and listen when they finally come on stage about 11:30! Its strangely familiar hearing them in a more ordinary context, as I’ve only previously seen them perform to their utmost in the Dorset Music Awards.

They don’t disappoint in this non-competitive context. The bass hooks are there, the clashing guitars are brilliant, and Ali is still keeping up his performance as a great front man. I’m specifically looking for things to pick them up on since they’ve asked me to; I’m struggling to objectively look beyond my enjoying and liking what they do, and find some room for improvement.

They finally give me an opportunity – they cover Sex On Fire, yet don’t add anything to it to make it theirs. Even so it is well executed, Ali’s voice nearly perfectly suited to the melody (he struggles balancing volume and projection at the top end of the range). Buck Rogers is also given the Constellation treatment, again they are not adding anything to obviously make it their own to my ears. Another missing element from this gig is the look – they are just in regular dress (like most other bands to be fair) so there isn’t anything visual that makes them stand out from the crowd.

Having said that, it is still a great show, they are giving name checks, passing on how to find them online and song name checks throughout. Their songs are catchy; they pass the whistle test and are also easy to sing along to (as I catch myself doing in a couple of songs). A good night out thanks chaps.

On the way back home I drop into the Cellar Bar, where I’ve missed Paint It Blue‘s set due to the lateness of the hour. They’re outside talking when I rock up; talking around they’ve played a good entertaining set. Oh well, another time…

Show & Bmth Unplugged Quarter Final 2


Tonight the Table Top Circus joined comedy regulars Radio Boscombe for what promised and proved to be an amusing take on Sigmund Freud for the first part of the show. It was a bit of a mix up of a show, caused by my forgetting the 6 sides of carefully prepared research, and one member of Radio Boscombe running truant and needing to be reeled in by phone.

It makes for an interesting production style, having to continually think on one’s feet and improvise nearly a full two hour presentation. We pick up on the previous show, Drive‘s theme of the night, uniforms, as a fallback ad lib when our material dries up

Thank goodness I’d prepared one element online: a phone interview with Michael-James Dent regarding Dom Remi, coupled with an exclusive preview of their new song Midnight (now available on their myspace).

Dom Remi (pronounced Ree-Mee) are the band that were formerly known as The Metropolise. The Metropolise received a lot of radio play with their brash and raw sound. The lads recognised the rawness, and have polished themselves up a bit, changing the musical direction of the band in the process.

This change in musical direction warrants a change in name, in an attempt to prevent too much comparison. So, out of the ashes that were The Metropolise, we now have the phoenix arising that is Dom Remi. They are having a series of relaunch events including a renaming gig and EP launch on 14 May in Champions.

Towards the end of the show Radio Boscombe are augmented by Livvi, who we coerce into also giving an opinion on the evening theme of uniforms.

All in all, with everything going on, I was worn out even before going up to O’Neills for this weeks installment of Bournemouth Unplugged. Again the notes presented below are exactly what I wrote on the night, and used as a basis for my live comments on the night.

We are asked to mark out of 45, 10 points for each of Originality, Stage Presence/Audience Interaction, Song Writing Ability, and Technical Ability.  5 points are to measure the Crowd Reaction, clapometer style.  Finally there is a yes/no “Star” rating – do these guys have that undefinable something (the X factor of that show’s name).

Ant HensonAnt Henson starts, with a harmonica accompaniment this time (who’s name check I miss).
They are very animated together, fitting the music.
As they slow the music down, they slow the movement down to suit.
Great having the 12 string – boosts originality, yet doing similar chord work in the main
Unsure on 12 string tuning +1 if he notices, +1 if do something about it. Does it well with Krista filling in
Stereophonics The One cover – Laid back and totally different
Worked on the harmonies with Krista? If so it shows
Cheeky little beat box thing going on

Bob FletcherBob Fletcher
Big noisy songs
Strong intro then into a spiky number, beatboxing included, much like 2 or 3 songs in one
Good crowd working for you – Like the “behind the front row” comment
Looks really pleased to be here, infectious – great with Julian
Really developed in the past couple of years – good confidence
His staple Tom Jones has been taken to the next level
Wandering over the pub after teaching the singalong section
Then a quiet finish to show off different techniques, voice and guitar

Chris WoodfordChris Woodford
Has a rack of guitars with him rather than just the twelve string
Animated despite sitting on a chair. Great dynamics.
Can just never get tired of chris’ stuff
(another judge has written “Masterclass”)
Real mess about of smoke on the water – adding variety through slide resonator dobro

The Sabres The Sabres
Hard job following that! So what do you do? Do what you do best & come in strong and lively
Tight on the breaks
Kept crowd – hard for last act
Ritchie good voice
Lots of audience dancing

The top three tonight were separated by 1 point, with each scoring over 100: 103, 104 and 105 by the time all judges scores are collated.  The Sabres just miss out, as Chris Woodford and Bob Fletcher take the available Semi Final places. Congratulations to both.

Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2 @ Mr Kyps

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DMA logoAfter the amazing crowd efforts last week, this second semi final finds Mr Kyps in a more muted mode at the start. Mischa are first on, and get some great reaction despite the smaller numbers than last week. This reaction seems to spur the band on to putting on a great show.

Mischa the man is wired and firing on all cylinders, Si is very animated despite sitting on a cajon, he doesn’t just play the box with his hands, his whole body is involved with the rhythms.

Ed (bass) and Rowland (cello / ukelele) look enigmatic, flowing with the lilting melody that is One Of Those Days. Mischa recounts the story behind On My Own, which itself is sad yet appealing, and seems to be appreciated by many in the venue both as the story and the song.

Hessian DMA SF2Hessian start with an absolute blinder “smacking me in the face” as one commentator puts it. They are so clearly and openly happy to be here – big smiles on their faces, big shouts to the crowd. They are tight too, they’ve clearly been working on their cuts and breaks in the music.

Hessian have also brought their fans with them this time, there’s a big party going on in the front. There is some really intricate duelling guitar work happening, courtesy of Sam and Richard, while Tillie (bass) and Alex (drums) lay down a really heavy yet sufficiently muted to allow the guitars and synth to shine.

The vocal harmonies from Tillie and Richard are allowed to play a dominant part in one of their songs, and most of the time they absolutely nail it. There are a couple of misses, but only a couple, really just demonstrating that there is still room for improvement even in the polished performances.

Big Face Reggae DMA SF2Big Face Reggae start with a flourish, throwing out fluorescent glowsticks into the crowd. They kick off with Big Face Reggae, as expected very strong reggae beat – It’s really good to see Rio on the drums again, him having been absent all through the other rounds

What I’m enjoying most is four high quality individual acts in their own right, all getting together to make Big Face Reggae what it is. Ant from Fairplay is stupidly talented in many other ways as well as on the bass he’s using tonight. Si Genaro is doing what he does best, drawing in and engaging the crowd, when not on the mic with the harmonica. Lead Si Crockett warns they’re about to play the last of their laid back songs with Pub Girl, which same really allows his voice to shine. He was right about the laid back stuff, Spill Your Drinks is pure ska, lots of skanking going on, Si Genaro features as MC. This really gets the crowd noisy as well.

It helps that Mr Kyps has filled up by now; there aren’t as many crowded at the front as last week, so the overall venue feels fuller as people are more distributed. What we’re seeing this time is a lot more dancing, Big Face Reggae‘s last song (title can’t be repeated under Radio Rules) gets a lot of people moving, and not just at the front – having witnessed this performance, I can see why a lot of other punters are tipping them to be at the top in DMA 2011

Evolver DMA SF2Evolver are our fourth band of the evening, I’ve been looking forward to seeing them as I’ve missed their other two Bournemouth performances since their appearance in the DMA heats, where what they did made it very easy to put them through to the next round.

They don’t disappoint – Ed (lead guitar) using an ebow and vibrato to create an unusual sound. Their first song is raunchy and lively, before they slip into an announced new song and a tidier pace.

They are all dressed smart – some in jackets, others in shirts; one thing I pick up is their faces, Jordan (keys) is looking very much rabbit in the headlights at the start, maybe awed by being at this stage of the competition. As the set progresses and they get into it more, they start looking more comfortable in themselves and can tell they get a little more relaxed and start smiling a lot more, which is good to see.

Evolver move on into a blinder of a set – everyone I talk to is loving what they’re doing, its all very slick and polished, including the gaps between song for instrument switch overs. Megaphones are also in attendance as for County Hospital last week, really helping make a contrast to what has gone before.

New Volunteer DMA SF2New Volunteer start to a half empty venue, which doesn’t really fill up again despite their clear attraction; they start very gently with Surrounded, showing a true artistic edge. Third song (and title of their CD) Remote Control Parade has a progression of chords that sound like they should be really awkward, yet the whole sequence works in an amazing way.

By their fourth song the guys have demonstrated their multi-instrumental skills, e.g. Chris Pedley started on drums, moved to bass, and is now on guitar. Dean on Bass moved to sax, then percussion, and keys, Rich moves from glockenspiel to drums and vocals; they all look like they’ve been enjoying themselves from the off.

The dance music is catchy and yet still out and out rock. Right at the end Chris Mears collaborates with Rich in a drum solo, using a floor tom at the front of the stage, making an impressive end to an impressive performance.

So, my tips for the five finalists out of the ten acts – Constellation and Fearne from SF1, though I would really like to see Cella Creeps and County Hospital go through as the “artistic” element.  Evolver and Big Big Face Reggae from SF2, again I’d like to see New Volunteer make it as the artistic entry.  That means (obviously) I’ve not plumped for Bel Casino, Mischa or Hessian; no diss on them, every single act has I think each played blinders of sets. The results are announced on Monday, so watch this space…

Show & Bmth Unplugged Quarter Final 1

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 Big night on the show tonight, with a double header; Conrad’s Solid Air night is always interesting, Powdered Cows (Martin Roberts) was in tonight promoting the Moozikk album, being launched on Saturday 9 April to raise funds for the Tree Foundation to save the Pygmy Three Toed Sloth.  We spend the time talking about the contributors, the efforts needed to remix and remaster this 22 track master, and about the charity and the sloths (see the links), as well as playing some tracks. In honour of the next guests, Martin is wearing a special yellow shirt with corduroy grooves on it.

After an all too brief hour Martin departs, and Solid Air hand the show back over to me for Yellowgroove to catch up about what they’ve been up to, and their night at Champions for the launch of Fairplay TV on Thursday 7 April.  It’s great having them back on, we spend a bit of time on their set at the Bournemouth Unplugged heats results party, more on their recordings, they play two tracks live in the studio, and the single San Francisco Bay available for free download from their website is played out.

Again after far too short a time I head off to O’Neills’ for the first Quarter Final of Bournemouth Unplugged.

There’s a muted buzz in O’Neills, as not a lot of people are here at the start (the place fills up as we go on, is fullest yet not at capacity for the third act, then tails off during the last). Tonight’s judging is slightly different – we are asked to sit at a table near the front, watch and listen, then present some thoughts at the end of each act.

We are asked to mark out of 45, 10 points for each of Originality, Stage Presence/Audience Interaction, Song Writing Ability, and Technical Ability.  5 points are to measure the Crowd Reaction, clapometer style.  Finally we are asked to submit a yes/no “Star” rating – do these guys have that undefinable something (the X factor of that show’s name)

The notes below are exactly what I’ve written about each of the acts as they play (just edited for grammar etc), which I use at the end to make my comments.

Coke Can JackCoke Can Jack start with a brash beginning. Good song and name check and straight into Beg Steal and Borrow.
Good guitar soloing (Sam) bit of a Steely Dan thing going on
Well mixed overall, pretty tight.
Good eye contact (Jim & Nathan).
Crowd reaction grown 3 yet not interested during the song.
Laidback summery sound.
Wild Woman slightly shaky bass and cajon together, brave doing a new song. [talking afterwards this was an experiment with cross-rhythms and off-beats, that I thought could be slightly tighter to make it clearer what was going on.]
Nice twist with Bad News vocals getting Chris to the mic at the end
Wishing Well cover. (Free)

Tony 2 Dogs is next, starting with an aboriginal style song with an auto phaser in the background. [I forget to take a photo]
Good vocal range, and sticking in the main to strong part of it.
Second song good back beat, clear vocals and tricky
Not catching the song name checks
Clever lyrics again (3rd song)
Only chords, but interesting enough to be above average than just a singer songwriter guitarist.
Fourth song very upbeat chords.
Loving the facial expressions.
Cover hey ya. (Outcast) included most of the elements of the full song, yet in the acoustic vein.

Krista GreenKrista Green
Lively open, lively opener
Good use of percussive guitar.
I know she normally stands up, but has done knee in through being slightly careless on a trampoline!
Amazingly powerful voice (from busking)
Cover all right now (free). Laid back, lots of encouragement to participate – she’s loving it and so are the crowd
She mixes things up by adding brothers for the last couple, congas and harmonica
Great groove going on.

Jonny Neesom finishes in fine style
Moody end compared to the happy songs we’ve had
I think its hard to access his material for new people, but goes down well with the crowd
Good harmonic work on the instrumental, has he been taking lessons from Chris Woodford?
He needs to retune, and fills the space with attempts at brown-nosing the crowd, and particularly the judges. When heckled that’s minus ten for a**-licking, he promptly switches to good humoured insults, causing even more crowd reaction!
Calls up AJ for closing song, gentle and strong. AJ provides good contrast to Jonny’s rap

A bit of swift calculation of the judges scores, and the results are announced – Jonny and Krista are through to the Semi Finals, Coke Can Jack and Tony 2 Dogs are out of the competition.  Talking around afterwards the latter two are good natured about the whole thing – their whole experience in the competition has been a good one, and they feel they can only improve…As for Jonny and Krista, they are expectedly pleased – Jonny heads back to Chaplins and the Cellar Bar for a post victory drink  – I know as I bump into him there on the way home.

Solid Air At The Cellar Bar


Luminaires BadgeThe Cellar Bar is a new home for Solid Air’s sonic adventures, The Luminaires are on stage. Well 2 out of 5 of them, Steven and Aaron; Joel is working behind the bar so can’t join in. They are in for an acoustic set, and it’s fun hearing some now familiar songs in a stripped back and sparse mode. I’m present for a couple of their songs, and forget to take a snap, sorry.

Upstairs Stan McMann is performing at the comedy night, doing a turn about his latest film project (on VHS) as propaganda for dogs. Good visual skit (I walk in halfway through so miss the context).

Oscars Trash Can Solid Air Cellar BarOscar’s Trash Can are on back downstairs, despite them being regular giggers on the scene, I don’t think I’ve seen them before. They are fairly furious with their guitars, the songs themselves being a steady four beat. They have their crowd with them who make some noise.

Ollie M (lead vox) switches from a nice sounding violin bass to a second acoustic guitar for Amplifier, which again is furious and up tempo, and their fans love it. This instrument swapping continues throughout the set, even the drummer Ollie G is on the bass at one point, and 2nd guitar Josh moves to a voice organ. I’m unsure this is doing them many favours as towards the end the bass particularly is distorting through being driven too hard through the PA.

Putting this aside, the music is good and the lyrics are clear, if slightly more downbeat. Lead Ollie suggests at one point “now we’ve got you all depressed….” This isn’t the case, since the music is pretty beautiful.

Issue 22 Solid Air Cellar BarIssue 22 are the headline act tonight. Lead singer Becky has a rich strong good voice, and is able to wail suitably. They merge original material and covers, and have some great music going underneath her voice; pacey, rhythmic & melodic. I’m really enjoying the set, despite the bad language and a bit of flaff factor between songs. This flaff surprises me, since Issue 22 are well rehearsed during the songs – e.g. snap endings are tight as are song breaks.

Good grunge sound, loads of feedback which empties the front room of Chaplins (I have my earplugs, I’m alright) then breaking into a stonking set of bass-led riffs. I’ve also not mentioned Tony Twodogs on drums playing some awesome cross beats on toms and cowbell – I have now…

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