Ali (and later, Martin) from Constellation join me in the studio this evening.  Despite being together and gigging for over a year, Constellation only hit my radar through entering the 2011 Dorset Music Awards, where they reached the Semi Final stage. I’ve written much about them as a result on this blog. 

Having the chat in the studio is enlightening about how they formed from friendships formed at classes in music technology, and how Ali was subsequently recruited as a vocalist.  We also talk a little bit about now old song The Flower Song, and about their supported charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers

The songs played are special exclusives, prepared yet unfinished cuts from their latest recording sessions, a CD to be produced real soon now.  As ever, really enjoyable, made more so by fan interaction via received texts, calls and emails from fans.

I’m then (in slow time) off to the Bournemouth Unplugged Final in O’Neill’s.  Its been a long journey from that first Heat in February, perhaps made more so by the mad rush to get from the studio to the bar in time to hear the first act.  Of the 32 acts entered, many have been amazing, I’ve picked up many new guests for the show. 

Of course there have been some that have been good, but just uninspiring – there are too many people that are picking up a guitar, strumming some chords and putting over lyrics – it’s not as easy as that, but even so need to be something a little bit different to stand out from the crowd. 

Overall, it has made for some nights of amazing music, even if it means continuous cajon playing (the unplugged bit effectively means no drum kits) for percussive accompaniment.  I’ve also been surprised to see my preconceptions blown away on some occasions, when having to structurally break down music into objective categories to define what’s best.

So, four acts in the final, Si Crockett, Chris Woodford, Phil King and Krista Green.  Every one of them plays what many say is their best set ever. The pub is absolutely packed – other artists from the competition, loads of fans of local live music, meaning the atmosphere is electric, and gives one a chance to catch up with nearlyeveryone who’s anyone on the circuit.  Enough of my ramblings, on to the prizes.

ITG song writer award.

This is for the best overall songwriter in the competition.  Martin from ITG productions wants to reward people with good original content and amazing tunes.  Goes to Ant Henson.

TL sound.

This is for PA hire, studio recording time and other related goodies.  Goes to Si Crockett.

Dreadlock photography.

This is for a free photo shoot by one of the upcoming portrait photo stars of the music scene, Old Bloke. Goes to Si Crockett, “for playing the best I’ve ever seen him play”

Purbeck Folk Festival.

Here Cath Burke is looking for an act that will fit particularly well into the vibe of this specific festival.  Goes to Krista Green.

Endorset in Dorset.

Gee starts by saying he isn’t used to and dislikes this judging lark (thanks for the support Gee, we’ve had to do this for 3 months!) and gets involved this time as the festival organiser available.  Goes to Chris Woodford.

New guitar (vouchers).

This was delayed with the main prize as they’re both awarded by Fiona, O’Neill’s manager. Its £350 worth of vouchers for a new guitar, since she wants the receipient to choose one for their style, rather than force something unwanted on them. Goes to Phil King.

Overall winner Bournemouth Unplugged 2011.

Finally we get to the end of the night – it’s been delayed (along with the previous prize) for 10 minutes beyond the others by Ant in the interests of suspense.  Fiona announces the winner as Krista Green, who wins a nice silverware trophy, a string of pub gigs at O’Neill’s bars in London, and rapturous applause.

Well done to all who entered and got through to any stage in the competition, particular shouts to Ant Lewis from Fairplay for organising everything, to Steve from TL Sound who’s been there each week driving the PA system, and to Fiona for setting aside most Wednesdays to allow musos to invade the bar mainly on their terms!  Also fellow regular judges Harry from Chaplins, Tone from bhone for the heats, Cath from Purbeck Folk Festival for sitting in occasionally, and Martin from ITG for taking some heat with me for unpopular decisions.

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