Catherine Burke Album Launch Party

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Catherine Burke & Band @ Catherine Burke Album Launch Party 29 JanI’m at the Bournemouth Folk Club again for this celebration party for Catherine Burke‘s album launch, and Catherine has roped in a few friends to help out with the musical entertainment. Krista Green opens with her usual mix of great acoustic songs, followed by Ant Lewis doing some Dusty Cuts and Our Blinkered Eyes material, followed by Ele O’Kerwin (billed as 13 year old brilliance, she is 13 so no photo published) performing some amazingly touching keyboard numbers.

After the customary break and raffle to keep the folk club going, the main event of Catherine Burke and her band take the stage to gig the new album. I’ve obviously heard her quite a few times live this past week as she’s plugged tonight’s gig round town. Most of the songs are with full band – string bass, banjo & fiddle, a couple of songs are just Catherine on her acoustic guitar. These latter are the soulful songs, the fuller band tunes tend to be more full on in nature; all songs are pretty much autobiographical being inspired by moments and people in her life.

As expected by the instrument choice, and for those that know Catherine’s music preferences, many of the songs have a bluegrass sound and rhythm, and she rattles the lyrics out fast and furious, yet absolutely crystal clear. There’s also a lot of banter about why the songs are written, and some comments read as innuendo by some in the audience, even innocently intended as they are…there’s plenty of on stage shenanigans too, for example one song was only heard by the band this afternoo, yet one wouldn’t know to hear it, a toggle between E and A minor, Jimmy’s Song.

Krista Green @ Catherine Burke Album Launch Party 29 JanAnt Lewis @ Catherine Burke Album Launch Party 29 Jan

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Folk Club – Rex Preston & Miranda Sykes

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Rex Preston & Miranda Sykes @ Folk Club 26 JanI’ve been invited to the Bournemouth Folk Club tonight by one of the promoters, Catherine Burke, as two people she recommended would be right up my street are playing, in Rex Preston & Miranda Sykes. They are an epitomal example of the amazing acts at the folk club – see the folk club website for their upcoming gigs. – Rex is a former local chap (so qualifies for the blog in his own right)

Rex sings harmonies and plays exquisite mandolin work, with very delicate finger picking; he also switches to a bouzouki for some songs. Miranda plays double bass, and has an amazing voice, clear and carrying; a guitar and ukelele are also available to her.

What is impressive about their performance is not only the good tunes, some of their own, plus songs of artists they’ve played with such as Imogen Heap, and other well known tunes (like I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free , otherwise known as the BBC Film 2012 theme). They also move about the stage – its quite engaging to see Miranda move away from the mic to join Rex for an instrumental, as this requires lugging the double bass around to do so.

Kimari Raven & Kat Hattersley @ Kimari Bday 26 Jan

Catherine Burke @ Kimari Bday 26 Jan

Tony Two Dogs @ Kimari Bday 26 Jan

Then on to O’Neills for a more usual night – it’s Kimari Raven‘s birthday and she’s playing as I arrive with Kat accompanying. Tony Two Dogs and Catherine Burke also play while I’m present, before I head home (dropping in on Veetacore in the Cellar Bar, who have stopped by the time I arrive) after another busy night of good music.

Solid Air Cramming & Jamming for Chinese New Year

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Kimari Raven @ Solid Air 23 JanKimari Raven is on stage playing Monster as I enter the cellar; she continues with some softer gentler songs. Some of these require her singing when she’s stopped the guitar and takes short a capella excursions, which shows she can do it and keep it in tune.

Chris Poole (Sola Infrared) @ Solid Air 23 JanChris Poole (from Sola Infrared) does a solo set on acoustic, no effects or anything, which shows the undercurrent of good music there is behind all the processing and synth work of the band. I love some of the chords and notes he’s putting together, one song when combined with added delay fx from Conrad works incredibly well and delivers goosebumps.

Kathryn Price @ Solid Air 23 JanKathryn Price is next up, she’s introduced as the authentic act for tonight’s year of the Dragon Chinese New year – even though she’s from Hong Kong. She plays strummed chords and has a good clear voice, with moderate range; she likes going towards the top end of this. She’s also suffered some tech hassles such that she’s not using her own guitar, for want of a battery for the active pickup.

Aaron Gregory @ Solid Air 23 JanAaron Gregory is fourth on, starting with Bethnal Green, a song that has grown on me since he slipped me an EP for the radio show a few weeks back. While the production quality on the EP is OK, it doesn’t capture the essence of Live. Its a sad song, mournful, yet it is beautiful rather than dirgy. An added phaser effect just towards the end from Conrad is a nice touch as Aaron comments. Social commentary on a seedier side of the town features in Derby Road. He strums a varying amount of chords, ranging up and down the fretboard.

Milk Machine @ Solid Air 23 JanMilk Machine finally reach the stage, starting with an instrumental, Oozlin Daddy Blues, they move into People Are Strange, starting slow then moving into a fast pace for the chorus and remainder. After The Model we have Enola Gay, with kazoo solo – first outing for this song. The synth riff from the original has been ported to the mando, giving Andy “the tricky bit” as they say. After Anarchy In The UK (where they all sing in unison and harmony) into Losing My Religion; this “has to be done as its The Law”, if you have a mandolin in the band 🙂

Daddy Cool follows Take It Easy, then Brick In The Wall, before Blue Monday makes an appearance, first time I’ve heard their version of it – Taff has a strident rich voice and the dub beats from the original are originally replicated on Crowman’s cowbell and cymbal, the twiddly bits covered by kazoo. Sit Down follows Kiss – its a shame that a party I was at once stuck the 12″ special remix of this on, it was parodied then by a chap as “boring song, a boring boring song, a-” and this image stays with me for this song, especially as its a pretty straight cover! They finish with Ain’t Gonna Rain No More and would have used their Dorset love song I Adder as an encore, instead are pressed for more fast ones so pull out Fishermans Blues and a very weird version of Run To The Hills.

Dorset Music Awards Live Heats

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I started writing this halfway through the “DMA40”, 41 live bands over one weekend of amazing live music heats, for reasons that will become obvious as other blog posts materialise, I was unable to publish halfway through the weekend.  For those that don’t know, I had been invited to be on the judging panel for this, the most active event ever on the local music circuit.

I’ve spent 12 hours over two days watching, listening to and critiquing 39 bands (1 extra slipped in at the pre-heat stage, 2 didn’t make it), and while the upfront thought of this was daunting (12+ hours?, 40!? acts), during the day itself it’s an absolute delight.  As ever with the Dorset Music Awards, it’s a highly polished event, and somewhat charged (not as highly charged as some of the later stages can get) as many bands here are aware of how important these awards can be to careers.  I take my role in these proceedings seriously, yet hopefully good humouredly – we’ve all got to live with each other after this, after all…

Overall, the absence of ladies was particularly noticeable – particularly for the rock acts, hence I saw very little to differentiate vocally or visually, and just playing your stuff loud and proud isn’t going to help sway opinion.

It’s a little different this year – the bands can ask us for instant feedback after they’ve played; many unfortunately didn’t take this opportunity, however for those who are interested I have one hopefully two “good thing”s, and one perhaps two “room for improvement”s for each act (looking at it, much of these are repeated comments).  I’ll share these “verbal one liners” that have been shared with those bands that asked, Trevor and Richard have asked me not to publicly share anything about any of our thoughts on details (I’ll be writing individually to bands using the contact email the chaps provide).  I’ll also not be talking about who’s got through and so forth.

Judging Notes

There seem to have been an awful lot of rock bands this year, all playing good stuff, and only some providing anything more than just the music – and we are being asked to judge on live performance above all else.  To me, this means being good at performing, drawing in and working with an audience, a bit of stage movement where possible to suit the music and the mood, it’s not just about having good music, as that’s been proved to reach the live heats. As there were so many rock bands, those that captured our attention for whatever means were seen in a different light than those that just turned up and played (probably really good) tunes.

I’ve also seen many of these acts (25/41), some of those many times before, and some I would count as good friends (12/41).  To keep my impartiality, and prove for Richard and Trevor’s sake that I’m keeping impartial, these acts are “marked” harsher than they would normally.  We supply a “Yes, Maybe Yes, Maybe, No” score for each to enable uu to quickly seek agreement on the majority of the 20 that do or doin’t go through, then “haggle / agonise” over the rest.  I deliberately down-change friends to the next value along, and then rely on the other judges to provide their thoughts to put a band through either directly, or into the melting pot.

I also cannot count past performances (good or bad) into the mix.  I purely have to go on what is presented to me on the day.  This is very harsh, because the number of times I’m out mean I’ve seen bands generally play good gigs and bad gigs (that’s why I still keep the blog going after the first impetus, so I can look back at bands to see what I think).  This will often play against a band in these type of do-two-song competitions, as in the back of my mind I think I know they can do better, or worse, than what they’ve done.  E.g. I saw Mobius Strip on the Saturday night, not twigging they’d be back on the Sunday in the line up.  They performed well both times; on Saturday night they had a massively active crowd going for them, which wasn’t there in entirety on the Sunday.

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As ever, these are my opinions, offered (as ever in my blog) in the interests of encouragement and yet to provide opportunity for improvement.  My opinions aren’t offered to try and pull down or discourage, but in the hope that those that go through will know something to try in the next rounds perhaps, and those that don’t go through perha

Day One

So to some brief notes, in order of appearance, we have:

Sepia Daze – Tough opening as the first band, and did good with this.  Energetic music, would like to see more audience engagement during songs.

Bad Magic – Good solid rock, well played and balanced.

Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion – great South Coast (USA) sound, longest name here, does the “Darren Hodson” bit need to be present? (later discussed it sets them apart from Darren Hodson solo).

States Of Matter – Tidy endings and well conducted to do this. Bit cliche rock. Consider more audience engagement.

Krista Green – Enjoyable.  Visibly get the crowd on your side if you can.

Veetacore – Good 80’s style (retro). Good crowd engagement – looking around etc.  Could smile a bit more.

Escapefrom’98 – Better than last time seen (see last week’s write up).  Good ska/punk and a lot of fun.

Robin Joynson – Good catch of vocal levels (enabling tuning) between songs. Good demonstration of confidence.

Voice of Reason – Lot of fun. Good voice.  Bass player hat entertaining (kept slipping over face).

Estee’s World – What you did would be good for street work, consider finding a DJ for live performance?

Ollie Mutter – Good working the crowd. Would appreciate more interest going on with the guitar work.

Pachango – Awesome.  Never apologise or comment from the stage on how feel about own performance.

The General Public – smashed it (was an amazing performance).  Could Hope (keyboard) stand up?

Sean Hatton (Solo) – Well played, well sung.  Brave and confident doing a new song (and telling us about it).

Know One – Again, another smashed it performance.  Uniforms good (only band noted to have a “look”).

Lets Go Safari – Liked the harmonies.  Good guitar work, but didn’t really “grab” me

Aaron Gregory – Can tell he’s absolutely passionate about the music, yet guitar sounded unclear and “mushy”.

Icarus Falling – Good contrast, and good vocal, though was unsure by the mumbled introduction to songs.

Shaun Gary Palmer – Good vocals and good guitar style, though it sounded “mushy”.

Yellowgroove – Love it. Like the jumping around and the audience incursion.  Normally have a crowd – didn’t see them this time.

Peace Love and Gloves – Good commercial sound, brought a huge crowd (though unsure what they were shouting).  Personally not a fan of the shouted lyric.

Day Two

Simon Lane – Good songs, good vocal range.  Unsure about the use of the music stand.

Dirty Jerkers – Good and loud (not overblown) despite the early start

Blue Stone Walls – didn’t show (think the same band didn’t show last year)

Tom Clements – Want to see again.  would be good for Bournemouth Unplugged (if it runs)

Constellation – Good engagement with the crowd. Second song a winner, unsure about the first (uniqueness)
Monkey’s Uncle – Good crowd winner.  Good harmonies. Cheesey dance, but I like it.

The Devils Rejects – Good songs well played.  Would like to see more stage animation to suit the music (second song better than first). [hard to find on facebook…]

Switchmen – didn’t show

Manikin Time Shark – Like the space they’ve given to each other to solo in.  As this is progressive rock (and niche) consider also dropping keys out for a time too, to make the music more accessible for non-prog fans.

JCJesus – Good bass and violin combination.  Not my preference of musical style but well performed.

Yoofs – Worked on the look re:hair.  Get out there and gain gig experience (easy to say, hard to do I know).

Paint It Blue – Tight band.  Clean guitar work. Hannah is an asset. They noticeably stuck around for much of the day.

Empire Affair – Good tunes and well performed.  Felt they lost the thread through being overblown loud.

Sketchy – Liked the keys work (although they didn’t seem to – used the F word).

Tim Somerfield – Here all day (+++). Good technique, ace timing (counting silence).

Space Ace Robot – What ?!?.  They’re enjoying what they’re doing, though it’s pretty inaccessible – futuristic Jazz.

Mobius Strip – Lots of moving about in keeping with the music.  Need to get the crowd moshing around.

Jack Grace – Like the groove, and like the vocal lines without the band being full on – different.

Pump Action Radio – Good solid rock, well played. Would need to be a bit more animate on stage for me.

The Deltorers – Good vocal work, and OK sounds. The live performance wasn’t stand-out (seen a lot of rock this weekend). [say they’re from Bristol]

Overall Impressions

What am I walking away with from seeing all these acts? Which ones were memorable? Which ones would I like to see go further?

Veetacore impressed me – they were the only band doing what they’d done – and I still have “Dogger Bank” running round my head, despite hearing loads of music since. (I have played this on the show, but even so it’s just memorable). They also one of the groups to feature a female lead, doubly memorable.

Pachango put on a great show – everything seemed to come together for them, though negative comments from the stage at the end spoilt it for me. Remembering back to last year (which I can’t count for the judging part of the job), the performance this time was so much better.

Know One seemed to be the only group that had thought through their appearance with regards a “uniform look” of black shirts and ties, they also played excellently.

Tim Somerfield seemed to have arrived before I did on the Sunday and stuck around for near enough the whole day.  He also played well, though his legendary customary crowd vitally didn’t seem to make an appearance for his performance. I also found out (at the end of the judging process) that he was supposed to have had a fuller band with him

Parisian Walkways & Quiet Ending

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After the fantastic 2nd day of the Dorset Music Awards DMA 40 , and a not so fantastic yet still short session determining the results, the other judge Cath Burke and I are welcomed into The Winchester, where Bethany Jameson is performing On The Banks Of The Seine, a musical journey inspired by the music of France, Paris particularly. This is a mixture of interpretations of e.g. Edith Piaf songs, and original material sung by Bethany, and accompanied by Romano Viazzani on accordion.

Bethany Jameson @ Winchester 22 JanBethany is well able to carry off the provocative French songstress routine, sassy and sultry, full of that joie de vivre. The majority of the audience is seated, as we’re late we’ve had to prop up the bar at the back; we are totally attentive and silent, many are nodding (seated) or sashaying (standing) along to the songs, some telling of love, others political in nature: “It is French Cabaret after all”, Bethany quips. Just great songs, maybe not as emotionally charged as perhaps I was anticipating, finished with risque Just Her Younger Man, which I riskily played out on the show last week to help promote this night.

Two encores later and a quick hello and thank you, and I’m in the Sloop for a battle of the bands that Kimari Raven has told me about. I’ve missed all the acts, and arrive just in time to hear the results. She’s only gone and won it, despite not having many friends here to vote for her, yet she’s managed to win the other artists’ crowds over. Friend Emily said it was an amazing performance, really drawing everybody in with her, and Kat accompanying on cello again.

Sofi Reed @ Chaplins 22 JanBack home via Chaplins Bar, where Sofi Reed is putting the finishing touches onto a well-performed acoustic set, by all appearances. Steve Biddle also in attendance as Joe Potter is also on Andy Stock‘s bill. Just the tonic for a frenetic weekend. Sofi and Joe have been taking it in turn to play tonight, so I see the end of Sofi’s, and all of Joe’s, last sets. Joe Potter @ Chaplins 22 JanJoe plays a wonderfully warm-sounding Fender semi-acoustic, and strums and picks with the right hand, while the left alternates between chords and little harmonics, shown off best in song Queen Of Hearts – he’s had to detune the guitar accordingly, and retunes afterwards.

Andy Stock @ Chaplins 22 JanAndy Stock finishes the night, starting with The Facebook Song, including a pause and a pose for this photo opportunity… :). He’s also written a new song that has been floating around for a while, but only comes out after the event, a witty little ditty about phone tapping and hacking, topical 8 weeks ago, leading to a comment about him missing that boat…  All in all, makes for a peaceful close to a hectic, jam-packed and fun-filled weekend.

Saturday & Another Varied Night

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Mischa's Merry Men @ On The Rocks 21 Jan

I’ve had a fantastic day at the Dorset Music Award DMA 40 Heat, yet still decide to catch some more music in the evening, starting with Mischa and his Merry Men, who are in fine form at On The Rocks – I’ve never seen them in this guise, full on, plugged in and really going for it. He’s turned the acoustic folk rock style into a lively pumped up full on rock set with addition of a drum kit rather than percussion, and its great to hear this new sound.

Luke Ferre @ Winchester 21 JanLuke Ferre is starting the night off at the Winchester for Streebeck‘s album launch party for third CD The Peacock. He’s playing good acoustic songs; covering Karma Chameleon as I walk in before going through his own material.

Texas Red @ Inferno 21 JanOne of the acts on at the Inferno gig that Kentucky Fight Club are headlining (The General Public were supposed to be on the bill too yet cancelled) are Texas Red. I didn’t realise Elliot Bradley was in this band, he tells me this is his main band, as opposed to his solo stuff or Admiral Shiny Sides. They play some hard rock ‘n’ roll, with Tanya on lead vocal, wailing and screaming in good fashion, which again distorts the speakers, which I’m getting used to here. They are name checking both themselves and their material, which I like. They have some slick tempo changes too, I can overlook the drummer losing a stick and catching it again, putting the rest off for a beat or two.

Streebeck @ Winchester 21 JanI arrive back at the Winchester unfortunately just in time to miss Del Malone & Lucy Martin, while having to wait 10 mins or so for Streebeck to set up. I notice during the break that more lighting is set up in the Winchester, making it an even better venue than it already was. The lads join the stage and strike up the new tunes. I’ve not heard any of them apart from opener Evening Red, which I played out on the show to promote this launch. They’ve said they’re playing the CD through live, so I can say that the harmonies from Laurence (guitar) and Dani (keys) in Spare A Moment are good as ever, the music is fantastic, if the CD is like the gig, yet again Streebeck have pulled a good’un out of the hat. CD’s are available on order, or via download, from bandcamp.

Mobius Strip @ On The RocksMobius Strip are closing On The Rocks and its all a bit mad and messy in the crowd (I’ve missed Kinky Boot Beasts who have performed in the meantime.) The music is awesome, just right for jumping around and moshing to, which is happening aplenty around the room. As Old Bloke is here celebrating his birthday there’s also a lot of lunging action 😉

KFC @ Inferno 21 JanBack to Inferno for the last of KFC‘s set – they literally finish as I get settled at the front. So its on to the Cellar Bar for the usual end of a night, this time with the excellent Paint It Blue, who are kicking off some amazing tunes and have entered the rolling blues and blues rock phase of their gig. Paint It Blue @ Cellar Bar 21 JanThis just means that everyone in the capacity crowd is going a little bit nuts.

Since I’m now with friend Claire (another birthday celebrant tonight), and other friends Livvy, Sofi, Geoff and Jo, this forms a great place to join in the party, and we continue until the early morning small hours with much merriment and entertainment – means that by the end I’ve been up and active for about 23 hours – since I woke up about 5am Saturday morning, and it’s about 4 when I get in, I love these sober benders 🙂

Searching for Jaguar

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A strange afternoon & evening, started by a funeral and wake. I eventually get to the Searchers gig in Wimborne with radio friend Geneen, they are in their usual fine form, with their audience all being up for a good time.

Bird Jaguar @ Cellar Bar 20 JanAfter dropping Geneen off head over to the Cellar Bar where Bird Jaguar are doing their blues rock thing. The music is great, all four of them sing on occasion, they tell us they are piloting a new song Lightning tonight, bit of 6/8 ballad, which seems to annoy some of their regulars who are just up for big loud and frantic tunes. Being a little slower it gives greater chance for musicianship to shine through, always a good thing. Overall, many of their tunes are of this decent slower nature, which makes me wonder why there is the call for some more up tempo music.  Its good stuff.

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