BMTH Unplugged Heats & Solid Air

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The Winchester is host to this years BMTH Unplugged competition. I gave 4 months of my Wednesday nights to this last year, so it feels weird walking in halfway through the heats, only catching what turns out to be 2 full artists tonight

Chris Woodford, 2 April, Winchester PubToby Fitton is winding up as I wander in; Chris Woodford offers his masterclass on how to musically beat the crap out of a guitar – not content with keeping this to Geoff (Mr Lively)’s Yamaha, Chris has a new toy to play with in a well-suited Taylor – 3 pickups, solid body, floating sound hole, ebony and bone neck work. This time he’s wandering about the stage a little to provide some interest, and also announces songs – previously unheard of from this past-master of just letting the music speak.

John Jfl Llewellyn at Winchester Pub, 2 AprilJohn Llewellyn follows up to close the night with some pure songs, nicely sung, with slight interest from the chord work. Shame that for me the lyric refrains are rather depressing – “why get hired when you’re gonna get fired” – though I appreciate the ludicrously high note he reaches for that last line to end the song on.

The Neon Mile, 2 April, @ Cellar BarOn to The Cellar Bar, where The Neon Mile are running through some of their staple numbers, slightly progressive, insistent beats and oh, those gorgeous melodies and the beautifully dissonant chordwork to accompany them. Miscreants, near the end of the set, is just an amazing anthem, just needs 3000 people swaying with a lighter in the air to make this any better. Weight In Gold has been given some new treatment, making it more upbeat than the recorded versions.

Jemma and Annie from Snow Wolf are here having played earlier, I should have saved myself the hassle of getting over to the other side of town (and the ensuing door fee) to hear these girls play instead, since I’ve not heard them for a while, and I hear they’ve really tightened up their act.

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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.

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 🙂

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