Acoustic Cellars

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We’re gathered in the Cellar Bar for tonights Sunday Acoustic session, rather than the more usual Chaplins upstairs. This means we have a fuller sound system, a little unnecessary for what is soloists on acoustic guitars. Xander Allen has been first on, with a little bit of drum, and a French rapper joining him, he tells me as I meet him after his set as I walk in.

Andy Stock @ Cellar Bar, 29 April

Its good to have a chance to hear a fuller set from my mate Andy Stock, as normally he opens the open mic with a couple of songs then moves on to allow the open mic participants their space. Tonight we also have a fuller crowd, very vocal, unusually for a Sunday, this Andy plays up to, enticing heckles and callouts as he sings about life, poor TV shows, and having the technology to communicate with the world yet being alone in a bar when on stage. Andy calls AJ up to participate on a couple of harmonica accompaniments, one being See You On Sea Road, a good singalong while some in the crowd start some jigging going on. Great laugh.

Gaz Brookfield @ Cellar Bar, 29 AprilGaz Brookfield takes to the stage after a quick turnaround, some here in the crowd already know his material enough to shout along to, as he opens with a song about life on the road, or it would be if his van was reliable enough! He’s been billed througout the evening as the amazing Gaz Brookfield, he modestly admits this makes him feel like Superman or Spiderman :). He has a recurring theme of support independent music and don’t trust the establishment, whether that be music machine companies, corporate bosses, journalists, or politicians (all tarred with the same brush). His guitar playing encompasses a clever right hand style, able to slap the bottom of the guitar, strum and also tap the front face, all in one slick stroke (that others can emulate only with the help of a loop pedal), while creating a good stomp feel to his songs. All good.

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Great Music, Messy Night

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Admiral Shiny Sides @ Inferno, 28 AprilProceedings start tonight from Alex and Elliot aka Admiral Shineysides; Elliot’s home made stick bass eliciting comment and questions from spectators. Series of their usual country and soft rock covers, with Johnny Cash taking dominance, and the occasional same-veined original slipped in. Another tough gig at the Inferno, with very few of the many punters paying attention to what’s going on, instead accepting it as background.

Kimari Raven @ Inferno, 28 AprilRock Regeneration’s Chinners walks in just at the end of their set, and Kimari Raven takes the stage after what seems an inordinately long wait. Starting solo with a two week old number with a rather long title she whizzes through some of her staples. She’s admitted to nerves, and being wired on cola, yet looks totally relaxed, sitting cross legged on the stool. Shame the lack of Inferno lighting with the crapberry really can’t do justice to her cheeky grin, and the energy she’s putting in to her show. Kat joins her for Monster and stays for the remainder of the set.

Pachango @ Cellar Bar, 28 AprilSo on to the Cellar Bar, where Pachango are playing an absolutely rammed venue, upstairs on the front landing, on the stairs and down. The music is raucous, Selby’s chants and poetry in-yer-face, and the party totally ripping as a consequence. What a good laugh. Shame I decide to leave to catch the end of the Inferno, especially as I’m rear-ended on a roundabout on the way over, thanks to the incredibly messy wild wet weather and slippery roads :(.

Gaz Brookfield @ Inferno, 28 AprilAt Inferno Bristol based Gaz Brookfield has been given special billing during the week. Now, despite the small active listening audience, those here are on their feet and shouting along to the choruses he’s introduced. One man and a guitar can definitely rock a joint. Photo courtesy of Jay, a nicely merry punter on an different smartphone. Gaz sings a bit of blues, slightly country, and pop/rock. As well as singing, he’s also capable of the rap/chant lyrics style that is so in vogue at present.

Wednesday Contrasts

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Darren Hodson is tonight’s show guest, along with Rock Regeneration’s Chinners. Having vaguely known Darren for many years, it’s a great opportunity to just sit and chat about him and his music, we get to play a few tunes from the “solo” album Short Stories & Tall Tails. I quote solo since he wrote most all the material, and then got a lot of mates (very talented musos) around him to record it. As such it is a fuller Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion project; a lot of time is spent talking around the various bands he’s in, and the music played is all The Southern Companion, very smooth, bluesy, country, South California style.

What really comes across is Darren’s humility, here we find someone who has rarely seemed to seek success or favour, yet has enough about him to make a living from his music.

Pronghorn @ Lord Nelson, 25 AprilFrom this well produced sound to the on stage madness that is Pronghorn, playing tonight at Poole’s Lord Nelson. Deliberately ramshackle, furious pace thanks to John’s incessantly quick drumming, fast guitar chords, and mad fiddles and banjo. It’s ages since I’ve seen Pronghorn (at least the first time since I started this blog) and its all great. I’m also amazed at the crowd in the pub, for a wet and wild Wednesday night, there’s very little room to bounce around in, exactly what’s needed for the tunes.

Steve Perring with Nikki Hann @ Portsmouth Hoy, 25 April Since I’m in Poole, I drop in to the Portsmouth Hoy open mic, to find Steve Perring playing, being accompanied by host Nikki Hann on flute and gushing praise, which is great. Rob and Matt @ Portsmouth Hoy, 25 AprilRob and Matt are next up, a keyboard and acoustic combo playing quirky, jerky and upbeat tunes. The vocals are good too. However, seeing them leave at the end, makes me wonder there must be easier ways, as they lug a huge box containing said digital piano behind them! The final act here are totally enthusiastic, Glen on a great sounding 12 string guitar and Nikki again belting out Big Yellow Taxi, amongst others.

Rare Tuesday

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As my GodFirst small group meeting has been in Christchurch town centre, and it coincides with Annie Winter‘s open mic in the Thomas Tripp, I take the opportunity to drop in (Mrs H joins me). I normally never know the Tripp crowd what with having a focus on music in Bournemouth, so I’m surprised to find Graham Basic Blues Jones doing something different to his norm, perhaps as Ash (Blues Machine, Fish Out Of Water) is accompanying him.

Shaun Palmer @ Chaplins Bar, 24 AprilOn to Chaplins, again unusual as I normally don’t bother having been anywhere and everywhere on a normal Tuesday. Irrespective, I’ve missed Jemma Davies‘ set, and instead get to hear the delightful tunes that Shaun Gary Palmer produces from his guitar and voice. Mixing covers and own penned material, all the songs are fairly lively and jolly along, even if some of the lyrics don’t reflect that humour! A nice change to be out on a Tuesday.

St Georges Showdown

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Fran Milner @ Solid Air St Georges Showdown, Cellar Bar, 23 AprilAnother week, another Monday and I’m very briefly at Solid Air, this being my first outing for a few days due to unexpected illness. Walking in as Fran Milner reaches the last half of her last song, playing a gentle ballad on keyboard and singing sweet soothing vocals; yet again I’ve disappointingly missed a full set of hers.

Charlie Hole @ Solid Air St Georges Showdown, Cellar Bar, 23 AprilCharlie Hole soon switches in with a keyboard start, before singing an unrequited love song on guitar, because its “the law, somewhere” that this must be done as a solo singer songwriter. There’ll be a lot of this “law” tonight, The Milk Machine are headlining and heckle a bit about “the [unwritten music] law” during these prior sets. Charlie has a great voice, and can throw in different tones, for third song Everyman his voice takes on a deeper sound then back to the higher, clipped notes again. Good stuff done well.

Surfin' Dave & The Absent Legends @ Solid Air St Georges Showdown, Cellar Bar, 23 AprilSurfin’ Dave without The Absent Legends was on the radio show with Conrad a few weeks ago, tonight the three of them (Dave on guitar, Mark on bass and Plim on the smallest drums) are playing some old school rock and roll, very short numbers as we discussed on the show and squeezing them in fast and furious. Its all a lot of fun, Dave’s clearly enjoying himself, and loves the intimate atmosphere, “just like a lounge gig”. Its a shame I feel I have to leave as still not 100%, its all good tunage.  Means I miss The Milk Machine, and hear a few days afterwards it was one of their best ever sets…

Solid Air

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Will McNicholl is entertaining with his last classical guitar number as I walk in, playing Spanish style (I hear he’s given a masterclass of guitar work during his set), yet I’ve missed most of it, and of John Llewellyn‘s thanks to being otherwise engaged with the dive club swim session.

Alice Watts has a full band with her – we previewed some of her material on last weeks show in teasing this gig tonight. Her voice is something else, Cranberries without the nasal whine, surrounding herself with friends acting as star session musicians in her band, makes it a delight to listen to. For example one track Coco has tricksy jazz drum syncopation and a good bass funk groove – very quirky yet seriously mainstream both at once.

Tim Somerfield has the graveyard slot, starting with an upbeat one that I’m unsure I’ve heard before, he slips into a funky little number called Ease; a bit of spanish guitar and some clever syncopation that I know I haven’t had the pleasure of previously listening to. Tim has an overpowering voice for this PA system, he barely needs the amplification it offers.

Apologies for no photos for this gig…

Dorset Music Awards Grand Final

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DMA logoWe start an evening celebration of local music in Dorset tonight at the (rarely visited for this hack) O2 Academy, with the new Dorset Music Award prizes for 2012.
One Best SongDisco’s Out (Murder’s In)
Best Album / EPConstellation
Favourite Venue (Voted By Musicians): Mr Kyps
Contribution To The Music Scene: HopeFM

DMA judgesSurprised and pleased with those results, HopeFM can only play a part in the scene because there is a scene to contribute and participate in, therefore are standing on the shoulders of all the other nominees in this catogory, promoters and studios alike. Mr Kyps have a great venue, I’m sure more bands have played other venues than Mr Kyps, however they are the stage local bands aspire to, so deserved for that. Since I love Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) and Constellation so much, I’m chuffed on their behalf for the music awards.

14 April DMA final - Know One pwn the O2 AcademyOn to the Best Live Act, and Know One start in grand style jumping all over the stage, making the most of the various risers and podiums; the fans are loud and vocal even above the massive bass whumps and brass/wind showoff. Dean drops off the stage and skanks around in the camerapit, before jumping into the crowd (security chasing him) while the others in the band continue. 14 April DMA final - crowd shot attemptThe interlude while he rejoins the stage is filled with crowd chanting as encouraged by the band via drum beats, and jumping on the risers. A great opener and setting a high bar for the others to follow.

14 April DMA final - Bad Magic rock outBad Magic work really hard to reach said bar, and in my mind do achieve this towards the end of the set, with the crowd finally jumping around to their hard rock. While some say they are a blend of Guns and Roses and Def Leppard (possibly why I’m not personally a fan of their music – I gave this up as I left my teens), their guitarist is awesome, and lead Chris’ Freddie Mercury-like posturings result in shouts from the crowd. A good performance, with all the movement worthy of this stage, and though I’m not into their genre, its a solid performance overall.

14 April DMA final - Peace Love & Gloves Peace Love and Gloves are next, we can’t get away from the goujon crowd shouts even as they are setting up. 14 April DMA final - Peace, Love & Gloves soft toy merch - very originalThe crafty mums -literally- have been busy behind the scenes making hundreds of Peace Love and Gloves logo soft toys, which are liberally thrown into the crowd. As ever the music is good, and Mark’s lyrics about life and love, won and lost, are insightful. The crowd are moshing from the off, everybody – band and crowd alike – are really happy to be here, and the exuberance shows.

14 April DMA final - PachangoPachango have the unfortunate task of combating a now very noisy crowd, there are shouts all over for all of the bands. How to do this? Kick off loud and proud, and blast us away with sax ensemble and awesome percussion. Making the most of the huge stage just in being able to fit, rather than active movement compared with say Know One, vocalists Selby and Claudia are the only ones dancing about. No one can deny the fiesta atmosphere they create, its really good to see all the floor area filled with moving bodies, not just the front mosh area.

14 April DMA final - winnersThe winners are announced – Pachango win all the festival slots, Peace Love and Gloves are given an unprecedented Larmer Tree second slot, and also scoop up the big prize. Big Congratulations to both those bands.

The result astonishes many, until one understands how the three judges reach their decisions – they each pick two bands, one for their festival, and a different for their award winner. All unanimously pick Pachango for their festival, and pick each of the other bands as their winner, creating a 3-way deadlock. All bands have performed well and are absolutely fantastic at what they do, yet are all deemed derivative of their chosen genre. Peace Love and Gloves are considered the most original and “now” so walk away as the best out of the deadlock.

Again we have controversy aroused from the passions all fans feel for their love of music, all it means to me is that music is the overall winner and that everyone can choose to walk away from the 2012 Dorset Music Awards celebrating the vibrant variety and passionate nature in the Dorset music scene.

14 April DMA final - all finalists14 April DMA final - Paddy - Dare 2 Festival14 April DMA final - Catherine - Purbeck Folk Festival14 April DMA final - James - Larmer Tree festival

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