Solid Air Acoustic Dreamscapes

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Chris Hopgood @ Solid Air @ Cellar Bar 18 feb 2013 The amazing Chris Hopgood is on stage when I arrive after a fun earlier skittles evening with my dive club friends. Toby Thorne (All About Tobe) has already played (yes, I missed his set) and is also marvelling at Chris‘ clever techniques and delicate finger picking. Chris is playing Roseflower, the title track from his wonderful album, then Wrecking Ball (another he played live on the radio show late last year) then into the instrumental song Brian (for his son). While Chris might be missing wingman David Lambert tonight, his performance is not lacking in any way, another great example of how fantastic one man and a simple acoustic guitar can be.

Yui Karlberg @ Solid Air @ Cellar Bar, 18 feb 2013Last act tonight is Yui Karlberg, who’s brought a bass player along for the ride, together they’re playing some rather funky tunes, bit of slapbeat on the acoustic, later on the bass too, with Yui‘s falsetto voice rising over the top of every thing, sometimes clear lyrics, at other times cool wails and “ahhs”. Rendering covers or originals, while blending in sound mixtures from other songs, in this unique vocal style. The overall effect is very dreamy, if you allow your mind to wander while the entrancing sounds work their way around you.

Eleven:XI In The Cellar Bar

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Eleven:XI logoPaul and Wally from Eleven:XI dropped into the radio show this week to promote their material and this particular gig, their first here for a few months. I’ve missed earlier act Turn Of The Century Falcon through having a night in with Mrs H, so I’m pleased that I’ve arrived before Eleven:XI‘s kick off. Eleven:XI trying to get a start on at The Cellar BarThere’s a couple of false starts thanks to some whistling monitors; we soon get over this and into the set proper, ignoring subsequent PA hassles as troupers do 🙂

Starting with smooth pop number Heaven And Back with a decent hook line, all material is penned by lead guitar and vocalist Paul Read, some new, some older resurrected songs in a new guise for Eleven:XI. Next up is Deep Blue Water, a slower beat reggae influenced song, giving ample demonstration of the harmonised vocals between Paul and Carly.

Eleven:XI @ Cellar Bar, 15 feb 2013Third song is another smooth pop style, Looking Out For Number One before we’re treated to a new song Broken Wings as Chris switches to acoustic rhythm guitar. This is an outstanding song and has already become one of my favourites, thanks to an early demo CD used on the radio show. Now Carly leaves the stage turning the chaps into a four piece, the music is still good and great listening top tunage. For Halcyon Days (another featured on the radio show) Eleven:XI are back to the five piece format, this time Paul more clearly leading Carly’s alto harmonies in this psychedelic number

Eleven:XI in four piece guise @ Cellar Bar, 15 Feb 2013More reggae with Brothers And Sisters before we reach a close with Kaleidoscopic Dreams, a sure bet for a sample single if ever there was one from the vast range of styles Eleven:XI exhibit. Ending with Strawberry Fields as the four piece, then Fast Train, this has been a most excellent evening for live original music, just from Eleven:XI alone.

Eleven:XI are:
Paul Read – Guitar & Vocals
Carly Green – Vocals
Joe Bushby – Drums
Chris Skerman – Rhythm Guitar
Wally Wallis – Bass

Setlist (as abbreviated):
Heaven And Back
Deep Blue Water
Number One
Moonshine
Broken Wings
Back Down To Earth
Night Like This
Halcyon
Brothers
Kaleidoscopic
Strawberry
Fast Train

Solid Air Show & Standup

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Great show tonight with Solid Air’s Connie, Jorge joins us to plug the Afro Tallawah gig with Solid Air, we have a host of Cuban and Celtic fusion music representing the other bands he’s been involved with.

The second part of the show is with Alex, aka Nesboy Productions, and some of the work he’s produced with others, particularly Hazey and the J’s. Its really interesting hearing about some of the behind the scenes work that goes on.

Martin Roberts does standup as an alligator @ Chaplins 14 Nov

On to the Chaplins open mic, where amongst others, Martin Roberts is doing a standup turn. This is something else – starting with a treatise on the number of pizza places in Christchurch, and the large number of martial arts courses available, coupled with a large coverage sewage works, leads on to the Mutant Ninja Hero Turtles. Catch up with some of his material on youtube

Acoustic Solid Air

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Charlie Hole @ Solid Air, 12 NovemberCharlie Hole appreciates an appreciative audience and says so when comparing us to the restaurant crowds he’s normally in front of nowadays. He’s the third artist in this special acoustic line started by Pete Read and Fran Milner – the front stage area of the Cellar Bar is filled with chairs, candle lights flicker in jars for an ambience reminiscent of Sirius evenings so many years ago.

Charlie has a great voice; the sound set up perfectly for his guitar style with rich tenor tones, and clear high notes. He has many standout songs, his take on Hey Yeah (Outkast) is something else, and a very short song, Birthday, has cut-to-the-heart lyrics that really make one ponder.

Douglas Firs @ Solid Air, 12 NovemberFor the first time in a long time (about 4 years by their reckoning) The Douglas Firs are gracing Solid Air. The intervening time has been filled with tours in Canada and the United States, where more writing has also been a feature. Much of that material is offered to us tonight, still enchanted, haunting, contemplative yet also poking fun at the falsities we construct around ourselves.

Pete Christie @ Solid Air, 12 NovemberOur masterclass in acoustic performance is granted tonight by Pete Christie, starting with the introduction to Ballad Of An Ordinary Man, where the chords are looped with a small amount of slide, to then allow chord picking over the top.

Pete Christie with Fran Milner @ Solid Air, 12 November

What I like is that the looping isn’t the main thing, its just a method to showcase Pete’s guitar skills, voice and clever lyrics within a bigger framework than the single guitar would normally allow.


Fran Milner
 provides keyboard and vocal harmony work for Normal Shade Of Blue just adding to the musical magic that tops off this great acoustic evening.

Powdered Cows CD Launch

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Powdered Cows @ Cellar Bar 17 SeptMartin from Powdered Cows joined us in the studio last week for a plug of this gig, and his new album. He’s been on for about 20 minutes by the time I arrive after swimming, and the usual array of electronica is around him, as I’ve tried to capture in the shots. He’s accomplished as a guitarist, hardly surprising considering his musical abilities, yet its amazing to hear yet another set of instruments being shown off by this versatile fellow.

Casini Division @ Cellar Bar 17 SeptAn acquired taste, Casini Division, which they seem to accept themselves judging by their on-stage announcements. Loads of effects on the electric guitars, with a synth slowly beating behind the vocals, creating a mix of some dreamy trance tunes and heavier riff work. It goes down well with those who are here, especially as they keep this trance-rock style while breaking into poetic shouted chant over each other as a finale.

During the gig I was introduced to a pleasant chap with a not so nice sobriquet (Radio Rules), who played as The Schemers before I arrived. Apparently worth catching, despite the name. Another time…

Cellar Bar Solid Air Punk & Rock

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Sepia Daze @ cellar Bar 6 SeptPunk rock night tonight in the Cellar Bar. Sepia Daze are doing their best to blow our minds (and the PA) with their raucous guitar overdrive and manic drums. They’re not big on making a performance, all headbanging and floor gazing, but for those that love their loud rock they are a definitive article.

EF98 @ Cellar Bar 6 Sept I’ve not heard EscapeFrom 98 for a while thanks to my short hiatus, in the intervening time they’ve acquired a second guitarist. James is unable to be here tonight though so its the usual Lee, Lennon and Mandy I’m familiar with. Starting with a debut song they switch between staples such as Punk Rock Princess and a song I can’t mention – not radio friendly – and more new material, good all the same.

They are a real contrast to the band that’s gone before. Same energetic tunes and frantic guitar and drum work, however the entertainment and performance are superb. Messed words thanks to band and audience intervention, and Lee unsurprisingly comedic particularly in his crowd call outs.

Cellar Bar Singing Butterfly

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Borboleta @ Cellar Bar 4 SepBorboleta (Portugese: Butterfly) are playing tonight. As I walk in Val Bass has started with solo acoustic guitar and sung, two guitarists and percussion join in while she reverts to just singing.

Its all major chords, which coupled with the bright sounding Takamine makes for a jubilant song set. Taking inspiration from books and stories, Caveman in particular being memorable for its foot tapping nature; people getting up and having a classy shimmy on the dancefloor.

I’d not believe I could grow tired of this, but I have, as having heard a few numbers, and the wonderful style, all songs have been very similar musically, good rhythm guitar yet playing the same rhythm, and the lead keeping a similar sound despite a full pedal board, the percussion trying to make things different though limited on djembe, single cymbal and tambourine.

Its great to listen to as providing a musical backdrop, which I do while sitting out with some mates and can still hear Borboleta’s sounds dreamily wafting from the stage.

Solid Air Birthday

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Hardsparrow @ Solid Air 12 BirthdayHardsparrow is doing a wonderfully entertaining variety act when I walk in, acoustic guitar, poetry to backings from Conrad, little rehearsed songs that are funny thanks to the annotations, and totally together pieces showing off a variety of synth work, guitar and vocalistic talents.

Sonic Arkestra @ Solid Air 12 BirthdayThe Sonic Arkestra is always improvised and unrehearsed, with top notch artists from the scene mucking in to make music happen. The quality can vary as a result, tonight however we have Mark (King Razor DJ), Angus (Brave Mariner) and Ed (Mutant Vinyl) providing a root for Martin (Powdered Cows) and Tim (Vulgar Intent, original Arkestra drummer) to hang from. As a result it is entertaining and together from the start, amazing rhythms and a great jazz funk vibe. We have people dancing and getting down, Conrad throwing in his usual effects above it all. It morphs after a time into some really experimental noise generation, still while keeping a solid beat and rhythm, before ending in a triumphant cacophony.

Happy Twelve Year birthday, Solid Air you petulant tweenager you!

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…

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