Solid Air HopeFM Kimari Raven Sofi ReedLiveWire Live! with Solid Air

My guests tonight are the delightful ladies Kimari Raven and Sofi Reed; Solid Air’s Conrad is my regular guest host. We spend a lot of time talking about the Oxjam fundraiser just been, where over £1300 was collected from a single day event.  There’s also a lot of focus on upcoming gigs, Sofi has one on Thursday at the Winchester, and Conrad is featuring Kimari at Monday’s Solid Air in the Cellar Bar. There are other things he’s looking forward to, we also feature some tracks from his archives looking back, and fresh music he has – it’s great having Conrad on the show as he has such a different outlook than myself on artists and music.

Embodied microphones!Sofi and Kimari have brought guitars with them, so we are serenaded – unfortunately for me, they don’t do one of their duets in the studio, however its fairly clear they’re quietly singing along to each other. We also have a bit of a laugh about Sofi’s elastic face – she pulls the most wonderful expressions while she’s concentrating on performing.

The first photo is while Kimari is playing Monster, the second of their faces obscured by the microphones as we’re talking about Sofi’s expressions. As can hopefully be gathered all in all it’s a fun time in the studio, and we head off together to O’Neills for the first of the two Bournemouth Unplugged Semi Finals.

Mischa

Mischa BU SF1Mischa is first up, he is active and moving, with just enough of a story between songs to keep interest before getting boring. There’s lots of noise in the pub, but he’s overcoming it. All through his set there’s lots of applause from all over the pub – I’m at the back for the first part of his performance and the activity is clearly visible from where I am, let alone from the judges table at the front. 

He has his lumberjack-esque looks with the check shirt, I’m really loving the energy all three are putting into it – there’s also more cello this time.  He goes for the growling lyric option in Overworked and Underpaid, which I feel works for the music and the performance he’s giving, though I think other judges disagree with me on this.

Chris Woodford

Chris Woodford BU SF1He’s brought two guitars with him tonight, yet starts playing on just one, leaving us some anticipation for what’s coming up.  He moves on into playing the harmonics by sliding the guitar on to his lap, dobro style.  Halfway through we hear the second guitar, before he uses a mobile phone to create some industrial sounds on the first guitar – while I’m not sure what that’s about, it’s something different and experimental, which I like.  He gives a big finish, huge volume and a huge energetic shout “Come on!” as he reaches his crescendo and ends.  The crowd react accordingly.

Bob Fletcher

Bob Fletcher Korozyf BU SF1In my mind I bet he’s thinking “How to follow that”, My answer to myself is by being the best that you can, he’s giving some good lively strumming then beat boxing, getting some reaction, not just from his crowd (although they start things off).  He performs a slow quieter song (with permission from the crowd, which is a nice touch) – this is brave and he pulls it off, +1 for originality!

For a couple of songs Korozyf joins him for MC’ing, then Bob gets the crowd clapping along before throwing things into a loop pedal and building a huge sound as a result.  He turns the loop volume down at the end using some fancy foot work while still singing – not seen that before, normally people stoop to control them, interrupting their unlooped playing to do so – this allows Bob to continue playing and is an impressive touch, hard to do and he pulls it off.

The inevitable Tom Jones is performed, and this time he rings the changes by not standing on chairs etc, but just wanders around a small part of the crowd, I like this as I expected him to do the same as before, changing it like that shows he can be flexible while still doing an impressive show.  Definitely my choice act of the evening.

Si Crockett

Si Crockett BU SF1Si is doing his usual material, of which much has previously been said.  We are treated to harmonies from Si Genaro, not just harmonica. Talking of the latter, he’s got “new shiny ones since his last ones got nicked”, as he puts it. Nacho Jase on Congas is putting on his own little show at the back – I later refer to him as Nutjob Jase as a result of his acting as “a yob at the back” – good fun.

Si also plays a slower song compared with the rest of his set, my difficulty this time is that while the three of them are tight as ever, they seem to have changed tonight into three individuals playing together, rather than a band (which was how Mischa felt like). Sunshine takes things up slightly before Cheeky Monkey rocks the place – there’s a hint that Genaro’ll go off on a 30 min solo, he doesn’t, and they move into last song Big Face Reggae, in all a brilliant show, I just feel not one of the best ones they’ve done.

Judges Result

We then move into counting up our scores, and adding an element for the crowd vote (which has been re-introduced for these rounds).  As ever we have been marking out of ten on Originality, Song Writing Ability, Technical Ability and Stage Presence/Audience Interaction.  The crowd vote adds another 10, 8, 6 and 4 in order of most votes received, making it 20% of the total.  There is an additional “clapometer” style score out of 5, and a “star quality Y/N ” for us to pick our favourite two.

I’m surprised to find that we have one act clearly ahead of all the others, the other three just have 0.5% between them, all scores are near the 150 mark (max points available 180 as we have four judges tonight).  We have to go to another (quieter) room to deliberate, as some of us aren’t happy about how these have panned out, and we know how important it is to get this correct.  Even so, we know that our results aren’t going to be popular, as the one with the most crowd votes (Bob Fletcher) has not been selected.  We’ve all had to make compromises in our choices, we agree to abide by our group choice, even if we personally disagree with it.

The finalists selected tonight are Chris Woodford and Si Crockett, so big congratulations to them, and big shouts go out to Mischa and Bob Fletcher, who did everything that was required and more, but then that’s what sucks yet is what competition is about, I guess.

The difficult part comes from the 15 minutes after we annouce this unpopular result, as some very vocal people think we’ve made the wrong decision.  I just try to take the flak from my mates and move on, although Fiona (O’Neills manager) has to step in at some point as things are getting passionately verbal between people.  Funny that I seem to be the only judge around at this point – makes me rather unpopular! 

Its a shame this mars the three hours of absolutely amazing music that have made the rest of the evening an entire delight for me.

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