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

Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2

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DMA logoHere we are again, Mr Kyps, Saturday night, Dorset Music Awards, all of last weeks’ bands are represented in the crowd, good to see as this is one of the core reasons the DMAs exist for, musicians celebrating musicians being what its all about.

Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchThis second semi final is being started by Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion. Noticeable for the good music groove, the keyboards, a thumping kick bass, and the backing vocalists synchronised in their dance bobs with the beats and with each other. Starting up-beat before slipping in a slower love song, which has an instantly sing-along chorus and more good grooves. Halfway through they start with the work I really appreciate (I mentioned before the Allman Brothers style of guitar work), I notice augmented with a bottleneck slide coupled with Darren’s clear vocals to create a great sound. Unfortunately I miss having a catchup with them afterwards; they have gigs tonight with two other bands that members are in, so they have to dash off.

Jack Grace solo @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchJack Grace makes an interesting solo start on stage with acoustic riffs and harmonised “oohs” into a loop station, while the others join him on stage, and kick into an incredibly lively opening number – Alex playing some fast drums, Elliott on his special homemade bass, and Jack switching to electric guitar, while the acoustic loop keeps an undercurrent. Jack Grace band @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchI missed their DMA Quarter Final appearance and heard it was good, now I can see why people rave about Jack Grace. They slip into playing some really good tunes, however they seem to start sounding a little samey to me; other commenters suggest that other sets (e.g. at Boscombe Community Fair) have been slightly more involved and varied. I like the name checking halfway through the set, and the beats pick up again for a strong end

Bad Magic @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchBad Magic give us a resounding slap in the face with their musical attitude, and are also the first of the three acts so far who seem to have noticeably pulled a crowd along, lead Chris invites us to get involved, and the response is good with claps, shakes, jumps and shout backs. They are the only one of the many harder rock bands this year that have reached this stage of the Awards, they are the first tonight to make a lot of the large Mr Kyps stage, perhaps as they were here last week seeing what other acts did. What I really like about them is that they may be young, yet they’re not holding that up as a band wagon, just getting on and playing the good music, loud! They’re also brave enough to announce a new song, wouldn’t have noticed if it had been unannounced, to be honest, its as polished as the rest of the material.

The Devils Rejects @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 March As expected The Devils Rejects pull no punches musically and take Mr Kyps by storm with their furious and frantic Irish induced punk folk. The lyrics are clear, the music is great, the crowd are enthusiastically jumping around, and everyone seems to be enjoying the performance. Matt (vocals) is name checking the songs throughout, giving enough of a miniscule intro to each one to keep interest and information without interupting the pace, very hard to do and pulled off well. Likewise the constant instrument changes accordian / violin and guitars are very slick. The whole means there is no let up in the unrelenting pace and the ensuing mayhem in certain parts of the crowd makes for a fun spectacle.

Pachango whole band @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchOur finale tonight is presented by a very on form Pachango, confession time here – I used to find them quite variable in their output and production, this has totally been replaced by consistently amazing, vibrant performance. Pachango horns & percussion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchThere’s so much movement in the crowd, also reflected on stage, hence the multiple photo treatment. Unfortunately the crowd has thinned out before the eleven pm start, yet as last week, those remaining are being treated to even more dance-able music than the previous act, which itself is hard to follow. Pachango vox & strings @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchIts great seeing the chaps from Know One particularly bouncing out to the beats. Unusually and slightly naughtily, we are indulged with an encore – this crowd baying for more being hard to resist – this creates slight confusion as Pachango replug in for this unexpected development but handle it well and more or less straight in to an even bigger finish.

Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1

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DMA logoLooking back at this blog, I’ve not written up any gigs in the past two weeks, probably as I’ve been a bit of a hermit gig-wise due to other things going on;  I have been to some open mics though I rarely write these up…
Anyway, we’re here, Mr Kyps is open, we’re congregating here again for the annual two-week pilgrimage to enjoy the current ten best bands in Dorset, courtesy of the Dorset Music Awards 2012.

The General Public @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchThe hard job of starting off is given to The General Public, who take on the task admirably. Lead guitar and vocalist Mike makes a strong effort by calling in the crowd, who respond, and they kick off with a slow starter You’re Boring that warms up into their funk vibe. I love the chords in the middle of this one. A couple of songs and we’re into a vibed up version of Get It On. Here they take solo slots, and miss the opportunity to introduce each other to the crowd. Something that is good in this and a couple of others is their fade outs at the ends of songs, just done by them backing off, very clever. Badges are also being passed about in abundance – I’m talking with Mark from Peace Love and Gloves as they reach us, and he takes one too! Back to the music, and there’s some movement in the crowd to the irresistible beats. A strong starting act of our five tonight.

Paint It Blue @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchPaint It Blue are our second musical delight for the evening – and Fish has made a surprise appearance for the weekend (they played together for the first time in a while at last night’s Wheatsheaf gig). It’s as if he’d never been away, he’s perfectly blending in with the rest of the band as he does, they themselves are cranking things up and giving some amazing virtuoso demonstrations, while still keeping it together within the blues rhythms. During one slow number they leave Pete to do another solo, the rest of them just coming in with a single chord every beat so often – impressively tight.

Another thing good to see is some of next weeks bands’ members making an appearance in the crowd tonight, just enjoying the music, though I’m sure they must also be checking out the competition :).

Peace Love And Gloves @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 March Middle act tonight are Peace Love and Gloves, and as expected the most noticeable thing has been their crowd work, T-shirts are in abundance not only in the audience, but behind the bar and on stage crew members too. Bang Bang Bang is started to the “Goujon” chanted accompaniment, as are the rest of the songs in the set. Second song Ashamed is delivered with particular pizazz, the gaps and breaks are tight and together. Guest vocal poet Jordan makes a “surprise” appearance (throwing shirts – and I miss one) during Dance All Night, while a bit of a disco beat starts up from the guys. Later we’re also treated to our first moshable song in the unfortunately named I F* City.

Yellowgroove @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchWe have an extended introduction to Yellowgroove‘s set, tech problems with lead Simon’s acoustic guitar sorted by a changeover, while the rest of the band carry on with the beats and groove. Any frustration created by this is then let rip for the rest of the set, Simon from Yellowgrove Crowd Invasion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchSimon starting by straddling the stage / barrier gap as Son Of A Working Man is entered, followed by an over-pumped Hero Wanted. I think they’ve found a groove with new song That Man Is An Animal they debut tonight – pacey and spiky, strong rock feel to the drums. They also give a makeover to Fading Out, it is punchier and a lot heavier on the drums and bass, except for a jazz-like riff to end, where they break down the instrumentals. They end with Blood On The Flag; even more martial than previous outings yet still has the guitar work sounding synth-like, that amazing pedal programming that I like so much oozing out into the Mr Kyps Auditorium. A big build to the energetic ending, Simon finishing off playing in the crowd after a stage dive. Awesome.

Know One @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchLast act tonight are Know One, starting with a nicely reverb and delay effected sax solo, they soon break into the thumping ska/reggae they’re noted for. Shame the crowd has thinned out, those remaining are far louder than the dedicated fans of the others we’ve had tonight, though there is still an occasional “Goujon” from the PLG crowd! Child Soldier is worked out well, slower than others, everyone gets down to the vibe. A nice touch – the crowd is shouting for Shot Down; its not on the set list. However they slip it in anyway, and not surprisingly people go even more nuts :). That’s what I really can’t capture in mere words here, the energy on stage, the entire front wooden floor moving with bodies gyrating and jumping, I can feel the floor shaking if I stand still!

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 4

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DMA logoThis is a first for a long time – having to queue to get into a gig in Bournemouth, let alone queuing for a Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final. Apparently this can be blamed on Peace Love and Gloves and Yellowgroove, who have each brought large crowds with them.

Darren Hodson & the Southern Comfort @ DMA QF4 2 MarchDarren Hodson & The Southern Companion start us off in style with a bit of a country number before playing some awesome blues. This pretty much marks out their set, all of it with a South Coast USA vibe thanks to keys and Allman-esque guitar. As Chinners puts it, “its Country with Credibilty” – nice turn of phrase there from the rock lord… As they finish, I’m really left wanting more from these guys, definitely a good sign!

Escape from 98 @ DMA QF4 2 MarchEscapefrom’98 do not disappoint with their “don’t care I’m going to enjoy myself” approach. Encouraging us to jump, lunge, and generally get involved, the music is pacy and the songs racy. I’ve seen them play a couple of times now, this I think is the most energetic and enthusiastic I’ve seen them. Its really good in the last song to see them win over so many in the audience, Lennon jumping into the crowd, while Lee encourages most of the place into wild abandon.

Yellowgroove @ DMA QF4 2 MarchThird on tonight are Yellowgroove. I’ve made no bones before about my appreciation of Son Of A Working Man – they start with it tonight, with a big intro as they settle into what proves to be a highly charged set. The place is absolutely storming by this point – and the lads make the most of the huge crowd they’ve brought with them, dedicating songs, and – a nice touch – they have yellow roses they hand out to some of the ladies present. A very hard and nascent Blood On The Flag closes this most spectacular of sets, its just been really good music played and performed really well.

Peace, Love n Gloves @ DMA QF4 2 MarchFinally we get to perhaps the crowd’s most anticipated act of the night, fourth in are Peace Love and Gloves, accompanied by their now recognised fan shouts of “goujon goujon” – its on the T-shirts too just to make sure I don’t make that mistake again. They give the impression from the start that they have so much more to give, setting the expectation of only five songs early, knowing that their fans will no doubt want more. The music is maybe not as raucous as others tonight, its no less intense, songs being thoughtful and provocative – another example of capturing the societal mood at the moment.

The Devils Rejects @ DMA QF4 2 MarchLast on and much anticipated by me at least are The Devils Rejects, having seen them for the first and only time at the heats. They are yet another folk / rock / stomp band, yet with their own twist. They have big bass and drum base, with fiddle or accodian providing the difference. Again there’s lots of action in the crowd to the rocky and up tempo songs – they look to have brought some fans and won more in the process – the laudable intention of the awards, after all.

Brave Mariner @ Cellar Bar 2 MarchI try to carry on to Smokin’ Aces to catch The Wishbones, instead have a great set of songs from Brave Mariner at the Cellar Bar thanks to the former place refusing me entry due to capacity.  I don’t think I’ve seen Brave Mariner before (they don’t feature in the blog) yet I’m sure I’ve seen Angus (guitar) and Joey (vocals) in another band together.  Irrespective, they are playing some crowd pleasing tunes to the packed venue, with loads of jumping and shouting accompanying the songs, some of which are rock-like, some quirky antifolk, and all OK.  What a great end to a great night of really active and pumping music.

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 3

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Dirty Jerkers @ DMA QF3 24 FebWe start early tonight with Dirty Jerkers, who have been carried over from last week due to illness. They have sond good guitar sounds for their opening song that I like, and are throwing plenty of life into their set, for the most part (the bass player rarely turns to face the crowd). Even though there’s a less than normal crowd due to the early start – up to near capacity by the time they finish, the songs are squeezed in short, to get as many in in their set time. Its a shame they need to retune halfway through the set, as they lose the momentum gained from the third song, a strutty number which shows the variety these guys have, and let’s them visually entertain too. It’s a good set, I just feel I’ve wanted more verbal encouragement from the stage to the crowd to mosh, as the music and their antics require it 🙂

Voice Of Reason @ DMA QF3 24 FebVoice of Reason always pull out a lot of stops musically and visually, within the limitations of the showcase format. Singer Addie Jay encourages us to get involved, he’s also worked hard on the promotional material, good quality flyers etc. As an example of a break from their otherwise regularr hard rock, Dead And Gone has an amazing a capella start, voices in unison, while the drummer juggles his sticks in time to the beats during the song.

Veetacore @ DMA QF3 24 FebI’ve previously described Veetacore as a good retro 80’s sound, doing them a bit of an injustice. They are modern while having that cool throwback with the music, aided by clever (one handed! – the other holding the mic) synth work against thumping bass riffs. Becky keeps name checking, and forward throws teasers about gigs and a new EP, which is a good thing. Tom’s guitar pedal board deserves its own photo – its huge.Veetacore - pedal board (well oversize) They also sing harmonies on occasion, and are pretty animated to the punchy music, they go down well with the crowd too.

The General Public @ DMA QF3 24 Feb I’m expecting great things from The General Public, and they don’t disappoint. Starting with a bit of a slant to Talking Heads, they next move into the funkier numbers I like the best from them, starting with Disillusioned Generation, a brilliant capture of the current mood of the nation, whether old or young. Mike’s faces are something to behold, and the dischords between bass and keys (standing up makes a big difference to the visual dynamic) work really well for me. Richie’s drumming is absolutely spot on, I just hope others have seen it this way too for them to have enough votes to push into Mr Kyps, which is what all the acts at this stage are working towards.

Pachango @ DMA QF3 24 FebOur next act is more an experiment to squeeze the ten musicians and percussionists of Pachango on stage together, which works well enough on the wide Winchester stage to also give them room to jump around to the rhythms. They are on good form tonight, punching through the Latin influenced numbers, introducing a new one, including some of Selby’s beat poetry, all in all performing a good set.

Pump Action Radio @ DMA QF3 24 FebPump Action Radio are all that I expected of the theatrical rockers that they are. Big chords. Big riffs. Big jumps. Big hits. Big sound. And all tight with it. There’s a good mix of the heavy rock, the lighter guitar work, the solo vocals (appropriately screamed out) and the varied use of the drum work, along with encouragement for use to participate too. A good live act, which is what this is all about.

Personally I’m pleased that all the acts in the Quarter Finals have had such good performances, it confirms to me that we have such an amazing scene here in the area and that all those chosen to reach this far have been worthy of their places.  Texas Red @ Smokin Aces 24 FebA quick sortie into Smokin’ Aces finds Texas Red entertaining the packed bar, though they are widely ignored by too many people in here they play some good tunes and put on a good act, a good end to a great night.

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 2

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Dirty Jerkers can’t make it due to acute illness, so get well soon. Shaun Gary Palmer @ DMA QF2 17 FebThis means the starter is Shaun Gary Palmer, who plays an awesome looking and sounding acoustic guitar. He starts with the intricate fingered chords that won his style over to me in the heats, before slipping into some sombre strummed songs, before livening things up again near the end of his 20 minute set.

Sean Hatton is next; Sean Hatton @ DMA QF2 17 Febhe demonstrates a wider range of strumming chord techniques, picking some of the notes, good twiddling with upbeat chords keeping it happy in nature. He’s using a variety of capo settings to provide an interest to the music, while keeping his vocals in what is probably a comfortable range for him.

Bad Magic wake usBad Magic @ DMA QF2 17 Feb all up by playing some awesome rock, a stunning contrast to the previous acoustic music. Tuneful, loud, brash, with enough attitude to take the building by storm, its hard to believe they’re not out of their teens yet. All the posturing is here, backed up by good music; they also throw in a couple of ballads as if to show they can do those too. Lead singer and guitarist Chris shows good vocal control, able to wail them out long and loud, holding notes on choruses like a pro.

Know One finish off the night in style. SKnow One @ DMA QF2 17 Febinger / MC Dean and the sax player take time out to jump off stage and join the inevitable mosh pit. They finish with Potential, which has a big rock riff in the middle , totally broken time with the rest of the track, a 1-2-3 from Dean and they all break back into the fast ska-reggae beats they’ve been playing, totally tight. Kudos also for giving shouts to the rest of the artists tonight.

I finish in the Cellar Bar Jouis @ Cellar Bar 17 Febwhere the auditory delights of Jouis are entertaining the massed crowd. Hearing them do their funk / soul / psychedelic groove as a full band, on a full PA, with a very active and vocal audience, is another treat for my now well-over indulged ears.

Dorset Music Awards 2012 Quarter Final 1

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DMA logoJack Grace has already played by the time I arrive (8pm start, hard to make if you’re as disorganised as I am and don’t get home ’til late to go out again). Asking around I missed a good one – Jack and the gang did a pretty faultless show, good guitar work, and roped in a female vocalist too to enhance their sound.

Krista Green @ DMA QF1 10 FebKrista Green is performing when I do arrive; having seen her on stage quite a bit recently with various other artists I’m slightly surprised to see her solo on the stage tonight. Not a problem for her, for the most part the near-capacity crowd are enthralled with her act.

Paint It Blue @ DMA QF1 10 FebPaint It Blue are faultless as ever, the songs are amazing, Hannah takes a bit of time out in between solid numbers to introduce the band members, a good important touch in my eyes.

Tom Clements @ DMA QF1 10 FebThe first noticeable element to Tom Clements is the large crowd he’s brought with him, who he enthuses and encourages throughout his performance. He’s playing brilliantly too, though lots of crowd noise is now prevalent, which fortunately doesn’t appear to put him off

Constellation @ DMA QF1 10 FebConstellation again have a large following here, T-shirts and dancing noted. The music has a new edge, honed and appealling, and the performance is visually entertaining too – I slighted them for this in the heat, but they had been partying hard the night before. No signs of fatigue tonight, just another awesome show like the other four acts tonight.

Disco's Out (Murder's In) @ Cellar Bar 10 FebOn to the Cellar Bar where Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) are making a welcome return, and ripping up the place which is as usual full for a Friday night. They inflict a couple of new songs on us which go down well, and Martin is taking more part now with witticisms in some of the gaps between, and within songs. Good end to a good night.

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.

Feedback Comments

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

Dorset Music Awards Final in O2 Academy

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DMA logoWe’re reaching the end of this year’s marathon that is the Dorset Music Awards 2011, being kicked off by The Longest Day in the O2 Academy. Probably understandably for the early start, we have maybe 200 people here, which makes things look really sparse in this wonderfully large venue.

The stage is a vast space, which can really be appreciated from the balcony. There are stacks of subs on either side at the front, providing outrigger platforms for those screaming guitar solos. Surprisingly for a venue the quality of the O2, the on stage lighting struggles to provide sufficient illumination – drummers are in relative darkness, and the ambient lighting isn’t sufficient quality to take photos without flash – even the pro photographers are struggling.

The Longest Day DMA O2The Longest Day have definitely taken things to the next level; their entrance is onto a darkened stage with an introductory narrative piece over the sound system comprising their short track Utopia with voice over.

Dan is singing alone for their opener, then picks up the guitar for Kamikaze Dream, which is kicked out with fury and action – as he has just announced they’re here to have a lot of fun and be the warm up act for everyone.

This fun continues all the way through their set, animated antics, heavy bass and guitars throughout – by the time they reach Breathe More Air they’ve reached a crescendo and hence go out with a real bang.

New Volunteer DMA O2New Volunteer come in with an interesting opener, all gathered around Rich as he opens on the glockenspiel (that’s why the photo shows them huddled together.)

Halfway through Surrounded is simply fantastic, and sounds great on this stage. I miss the end of the set as I’ve been grabbed by Sarah from ISSTV for my thoughts on the Dorset Music Awards; I hear they played their usual brilliant end with drum solos – very brilliant musically and artistically, however some weren’t happy with the lack of visual animation between the start and end of the set.

County Hospital DMA O2County Hospital are next, and are still dressed in scrubs after a fashion. Ed this time chooses a naughty nurse outfit to sit behind the drum kit in. They’ve also set up a traffic cone, and a roadworks sign is collapsed to one side.

By this stage my estimate is we have 400 in the main arena, a good 6 rows deep at the front, spread across the whole stage to appreciate the artists.

Antics including Ed walking out (in said nurse outfit including short skirt) to take the traffic cone behind the drums, while Tim sets up the roadwork sign. He’s also taken the top of the mic stand to play guitar with, holding it under his arm while still jumping around playing. This promptly messes up his tuning, causing a smart aside from Ed as cover for the re-tune..

They are playing a blinder; some comment they’re not making the full use of the stage space available to them – they’ve chosen to set up in the front right corner, though Tim is prancing about in his usual fashion all over the place. All in all an eccentric display of shambolic excellence…

Evolver DMA O2Evolver are third up of the finalists. They are immediately very slick, and look like they own the stage rather than the stage owning them. They have their incredibly vocal fans with them again, which account for half of the front of the crowd.

One other comment from someone else – they have a very 80’s look with the jackets and T shirts, yet also endearingly School Of Rock for those that can picture the band that won the competition in that movie. This look works for me, and fits their sound for tonight.

Evolver Interleaved from Dreadlock PhotographyThey are going all out with the music, and the act – Bring It Back featuring megaphone vocalist and interlocking guitarists anyone? Thanks to Dreadlock Photography for this photo. This coupled with the rest of their performance makes them many’s most enjoyable band so far; I’m still sold on County Hospital

Cella Creeps DMA O2Cella Creeps make a big entrance, Ollie opening on drums as Mark and Ed stride in then immediately start pumping out hard rock.

While other bands’ lead guitarists alone have used the outriggers on either side of the stage front to solo, Ed and Mark each take one simultaneously and rock out on them together

Ed generously dedicates Ride Beat to me from stage, “Tim Heywood who does HopeFM” and then goes on to accuse me of being their number one groupie! Which reminds me, I still haven’t had them on the show in this guise…

Cella Creeps moshpit DMA O2Their finale has to be handed to the fans, big moshing going on, encouraged by the anticipatory suspense brought in by delaying and delaying the big chorus, through a huge build, to a final explosion of musical immensity. Love it.

One can tell Fearne are about to take the stage – for nearly the whole time since Cella Creeps leave the stage their fans have been active and vocal all through the interval. Fearne make a classic entrance all walking on together then start with Sundays Coming.

Fearne DMA O2No moshing going on, however there’s a fair bit of ladies underwear being thrown towards the stage until prevented by security. All while the band play on seemingly oblivious, yet clearly enjoying what’s going on.

What I can’t really express is the feeling of seeing one of my favourite local bands playing one of the top two venues in Bournemouth, punching out their oh so familiar tunes to an awesome house.

There are a couple of comments about the lack of big movement and dance, but that isn’t Fearne‘s forte, they just get on and bang out tuneful and delightful song after song. Alex gives Lily Allen a big build up, talking briefly about the other female stars he wrote songs about before getting a winner with this one. The crowd absolutely erupt at the end of their set, before dispersal for the judges deliberations.

Trevor Hill DMA O2Finally we are at the end of the night, and the end of the awards.

All acts get a trophy award just for reaching this stage of the competition, then the individual judges announce their picks:

Endorse It In Dorset Festival: County Hospital
Beach Break Festival: Fearne
Larmer Tree Festival: Fearne

Stephen Machat DMA O2Finally Steven Machat, music entrepreneur and special guest judge tonight takes to the stage to announce the winner of the 2011 Dorset Music Award. He makes a short speech, specifically stating that normally he’s looking at acts for tomorrow that will make it in the more distant future. However tonight he’s looking to pick the band today that he thinks has the most chance to make it tomorrow.
After much build up, to an increasingly noisy audience, he makes his announcement : Fearne

The place goes wild, Alex looks to be in tears, I’m well pleased, and hearty congratulations go to everyone.

An amazing end to another amazing year of Dorset Music Awards, and we’ve all reached the marathon end tape together. The real winner tonight being live original music in Dorset.

Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2 @ Mr Kyps

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DMA logoAfter the amazing crowd efforts last week, this second semi final finds Mr Kyps in a more muted mode at the start. Mischa are first on, and get some great reaction despite the smaller numbers than last week. This reaction seems to spur the band on to putting on a great show.

Mischa the man is wired and firing on all cylinders, Si is very animated despite sitting on a cajon, he doesn’t just play the box with his hands, his whole body is involved with the rhythms.

Ed (bass) and Rowland (cello / ukelele) look enigmatic, flowing with the lilting melody that is One Of Those Days. Mischa recounts the story behind On My Own, which itself is sad yet appealing, and seems to be appreciated by many in the venue both as the story and the song.

Hessian DMA SF2Hessian start with an absolute blinder “smacking me in the face” as one commentator puts it. They are so clearly and openly happy to be here – big smiles on their faces, big shouts to the crowd. They are tight too, they’ve clearly been working on their cuts and breaks in the music.

Hessian have also brought their fans with them this time, there’s a big party going on in the front. There is some really intricate duelling guitar work happening, courtesy of Sam and Richard, while Tillie (bass) and Alex (drums) lay down a really heavy yet sufficiently muted to allow the guitars and synth to shine.

The vocal harmonies from Tillie and Richard are allowed to play a dominant part in one of their songs, and most of the time they absolutely nail it. There are a couple of misses, but only a couple, really just demonstrating that there is still room for improvement even in the polished performances.

Big Face Reggae DMA SF2Big Face Reggae start with a flourish, throwing out fluorescent glowsticks into the crowd. They kick off with Big Face Reggae, as expected very strong reggae beat – It’s really good to see Rio on the drums again, him having been absent all through the other rounds

What I’m enjoying most is four high quality individual acts in their own right, all getting together to make Big Face Reggae what it is. Ant from Fairplay is stupidly talented in many other ways as well as on the bass he’s using tonight. Si Genaro is doing what he does best, drawing in and engaging the crowd, when not on the mic with the harmonica. Lead Si Crockett warns they’re about to play the last of their laid back songs with Pub Girl, which same really allows his voice to shine. He was right about the laid back stuff, Spill Your Drinks is pure ska, lots of skanking going on, Si Genaro features as MC. This really gets the crowd noisy as well.

It helps that Mr Kyps has filled up by now; there aren’t as many crowded at the front as last week, so the overall venue feels fuller as people are more distributed. What we’re seeing this time is a lot more dancing, Big Face Reggae‘s last song (title can’t be repeated under Radio Rules) gets a lot of people moving, and not just at the front – having witnessed this performance, I can see why a lot of other punters are tipping them to be at the top in DMA 2011

Evolver DMA SF2Evolver are our fourth band of the evening, I’ve been looking forward to seeing them as I’ve missed their other two Bournemouth performances since their appearance in the DMA heats, where what they did made it very easy to put them through to the next round.

They don’t disappoint – Ed (lead guitar) using an ebow and vibrato to create an unusual sound. Their first song is raunchy and lively, before they slip into an announced new song and a tidier pace.

They are all dressed smart – some in jackets, others in shirts; one thing I pick up is their faces, Jordan (keys) is looking very much rabbit in the headlights at the start, maybe awed by being at this stage of the competition. As the set progresses and they get into it more, they start looking more comfortable in themselves and can tell they get a little more relaxed and start smiling a lot more, which is good to see.

Evolver move on into a blinder of a set – everyone I talk to is loving what they’re doing, its all very slick and polished, including the gaps between song for instrument switch overs. Megaphones are also in attendance as for County Hospital last week, really helping make a contrast to what has gone before.

New Volunteer DMA SF2New Volunteer start to a half empty venue, which doesn’t really fill up again despite their clear attraction; they start very gently with Surrounded, showing a true artistic edge. Third song (and title of their CD) Remote Control Parade has a progression of chords that sound like they should be really awkward, yet the whole sequence works in an amazing way.

By their fourth song the guys have demonstrated their multi-instrumental skills, e.g. Chris Pedley started on drums, moved to bass, and is now on guitar. Dean on Bass moved to sax, then percussion, and keys, Rich moves from glockenspiel to drums and vocals; they all look like they’ve been enjoying themselves from the off.

The dance music is catchy and yet still out and out rock. Right at the end Chris Mears collaborates with Rich in a drum solo, using a floor tom at the front of the stage, making an impressive end to an impressive performance.

So, my tips for the five finalists out of the ten acts – Constellation and Fearne from SF1, though I would really like to see Cella Creeps and County Hospital go through as the “artistic” element.  Evolver and Big Big Face Reggae from SF2, again I’d like to see New Volunteer make it as the artistic entry.  That means (obviously) I’ve not plumped for Bel Casino, Mischa or Hessian; no diss on them, every single act has I think each played blinders of sets. The results are announced on Monday, so watch this space…

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