Smokin’ Aces

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Bit of an adventurous afternoon – I have to be at the HopeFM studios by a certain time to be photographed for a cheque presentation. The company I work for have donated us some money under their “Connecting and Protecting” mantra. I make it to town just in time to do that (boy our daytime traffic is abysmal in town – I normally only go in at night…)

When I arrive a surprise is foisted onto me – can I cover Drive for the evening. Unprepared (I was supposed to shop for tea then go home and cook it) I agree anyway – what a blast. I’ve not done Drive for a long time (since 2000/2001 when I started with the station.) And had forgotten how simple things are with no live guests to interview and a computer throwing the music at one. Co-presenters Claire and Sully make it completely enjoyable, throwing in features and randomness ino a rtotally fast paced show quite unlike that mood I try to create on LiveWire Live.

Afterwards a trek across town to where I’d abandoned the car in a hurry, get tea & take Ness to mum’s for a photo hunt (we’re down to one car at the moment) eat my quick bite to eat then out again for the evening. So I finally get to Smokin’ Aces when there’s a gig on – New Volunteer doing what has been billed as an experimental set.

Nothing experimental about the quality, as I’d expect from the group, pretty harmonies and very laid back tunes, totally what the doctor ordered after the afternoon just experienced. Then I find out that was the sound check! The bar has only just opened due to some hassles, and here was me thinking the band were halfway through their first set, it was sounding so good.

So, venue report time. The bar seems small on first look, narrow with diner style booths facing a long bar down the sides, with the band in the window. It is deep though, with a back booth and seperate lounge area in the cellar. This itself is well-appointed with private booth, bar and kitchen area and outside rear access.

Back to the music. I’ve not heard New Volunteer for a long time (since the 2010 Dorset Music Awards I believe). They are impressive, the experimental nature refers to the approach they’re taking with the songs, not the playing since everything is pretty much tight and note perfect, with good orchestration and subtle vocal harmonies. They are ringing the changes, at one point bassist Chris Pedley takes a break while the band reform and continues, at another female vocalist Cassie guests, accompanied just by Chris Mears acoustically. Slowly as the set progresses the other musos join up until they’re back to full strength.

Meanwhile the once empty bar has totally filled up with the beautiful people come out to enjoy a Friday night out on the town. This means many aren’t necessarily live music fans but that hasn’t stopped them coming in and apparently enjoying what’s occurring. Rich and Trev (Devil’s Music, Dorset Music Forum) are here too – Rich is DJ’ing and plays some kicking tunes, some deliberately picked (he indicates) to suit me!

The lads have joined up with the bar to find acts that will fit with the bar’s style. In saying that, though, the ethos of the night is bands are requested to strip back from what they’d play elsewhere, either by ringing the changes in who’s playing at one time, or by playing different laid back sets than normally heard on the circuit. Rich introduces me to owner J (short for JJ – I kid you not!), he’s clearly a man of vision and not afraid of working hard for success – so I sincerely hope success finds its way to this great little bar.

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Monday night = date night

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No music tonight – instead booked tickets to see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Ness, at the Regent Centre.

Great movie – it didn’t come over as supposed to be funny in the trailers, but we both loved it.  Ness had a bit of trepidation – the trailers won her over to see it.

Then the movie itself was so good, within a few scenes she’d said to me “can we get this on DVD when it’s available”.

Great movie (did I already say that?)

Then spent the time back home writing up this blog, rather than going out to enjoy the delights of Solid Air. Ho hum.