Oxjam Jets & Jammin’ Evening Session

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Oxjam event posterGehko make Gehko@Oxjam jets & jammina delayed start following line up order changes to the gig tonight. Cool acoustic guitar with industrial leanings on the effects, as the bass riff kicks off what becomes a chirpy song. The next songs in the set create this vein of happy tunes with doubled up vocals.  Gehko have been around in this four piece guise for about a year now, their prior experience shows in the way the set hangs together, even with drum kit and PA hassles which caused the initial delay. They’ve been recording a debut CD engineered by Tom Clements, announced tonight not yet available.

Andy Stock continuesAndy Stock@Oxjam jets & jammin the paced style with his over sung acoustic style – he’s struggling off stage with bruised ribs and the like, yet there’s no sign of this from his set, giving it all with his voice as ever, with a mixture of own material and others’ covers all telling stories in song about gig life and home life.

I’veJack Grace Band@Oxjam jets & jammin not heard The Jack Grace Band since their DMA semi final appearance back in March. Tonight, in a slightly different guise, and more percussive than full on drums, its a very dreamy and laid back set, evocative of this Bournemouth surf and beach induced sound that’s being nurtured by so many bands here now. A friend of mine has tagged along with me this evening, they are most impressed with Jack’s band’s performance

Half Hour Hotel @Oxjam jets & jamminI’ve been waiting perhaps a couple of years to hear Half Hour Hotel in a previous guise of theirs, Lostaura, and I’m pleased to say the wait has been worth it. They are playing acoustically tonight, like the latter two acts, even so tech difficulties pervade their setup, causing yet more delays. Its a shame as various tech issues have invaded the whole evening causing delays to each act leading to dramatically shortened sets.  While Half Hour Hotel might hail from Brighton now, they were originally from Bournemouth, moving for a perceived livelier scene. This is most definitely Bournemouth’s loss; the vibe they have in this acoustic guise is fantastic, two guitars and an acoustic bass with cajon, rather than an electric bass as sometimes found with acoustic acts of this nature. Its all great and I’m disappointed when their shortened set has to come to an end

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.

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.

Show & Open Mic

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Radio Boscombe & poets studio takeover @ HopeFMThe studio was full tonight, as Radio Boscombe are back to full strength (George has returned) and two poets Steve Biddle and Carrie Wild (Mothgirl) also joined us, prior to their appearances at tonight’s Freeway Poets.  As ever there’s a lot of ad lib banter, this time mainly revolving around George’s long absence (due to filming his role in 14 Girls Named Rebecca). Steve and Carrie perform a number of poems, some humourous, some dark, all impressively delivered live, we also feature music from Jouis’ EP (recorded in Steve’s studio) and Bad Magic (Steve favourites, playing Champions later in the week).  Afterwards I head off to the usual Wednesday Open Mic at Chaplins.

Shaun Gary Palmer @ ChaplinsAndy Stock opens before inviting Shaun Gary Palmer to make his debut. Good guitar work for his first choice of tune, and an amazing show of vocal performance for his last song; a Ben Howard cover in the middle, and a few elements of retuning required (his guitar – an Ibanez – is apparently notorious for it).

Admiral Shiny SidesAdmiral Shiny Sides take the spot next, playing some old country stuff, Johnny Cash and so forth. They’ve improved since I last heard them, getting tighter and less mucking about but still with some fun thrown in. Andy’s booked them to play the Cellar Bar this Friday, and at this point I take my leave.

Show & Open Mic

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Yellowgroove @ HopeFM 16 NovYellowgroove are on my bill tonight, Simon and Ben only show up, with core fan and videographer John in tow (Mark and new drummer Chris can’t make it). I’m always guilty of turning the music show into a talk show when friends like Simon and Ben join me – they always have interesting topics to talk about; I always seem to be able to divert the interview into digressions based on the lines they feed me.

Yellowgroove @ HopeFM 16 NovThe upshot is we only play a few songs over the whole two hours on air, 3 of theirs from CD/Soundcloud (San Francisco Bay, These Times, Son of a Working Man) , 2 live (Lovin’ Man , Wheels of Fire (which Mark later comments (he’s listening) is a cool new version)) and 3 other artists – Fawnamarine, The Frequency and Veetacore. I really enjoy the show, despite my lack of music.

After last weeks excellent Wednesday night session, another one is in store tonight. Joe Potter, Louis Pavlo and Annie Winter have formed a trio and are rumoured to be playing tonight. Before then, we have Kimari Raven, a new dude called Joe playing the likes of Savage Garden covers, the Admiral Shiny Sides (yeh, you try pronouncing that) doing mainly Johnny Cash Covers; Andy finishes the night after the rumour-proving-true main attraction for many here of Joe, Louis and Annie.

Joe Potter, Louis Pavlo and Annie Winter @ Chaplins Open Mic 16 NovLouis’ Nord keyboard creates a great 70’s Rhodes vibe sound, backed by Joe’s acoustic guitar with Annie taking a vocal lead. Joe and Louie switch guitar and keys occasionally, Annie sometimes just sings, other times includes her acoustic guitar in the ensemble.

They cover a couple of Beatles numbers before breaking into some of their original songs, continuing to intersperse covers and originals, much to the appreciative audience’s delight. Definitely worth waiting for, expect to see them booked at a venue near you real soon.

Vida Plugged & Acoustic Sessions

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Vida @ Walkabout Sun 30 OctI’m in Walkabout for Vida‘s performance – they’ve been offered a Sunday night slot as a result of a competition they were in at the bar. I’m surprised at the way the venue works for live bands – the stage is decorated and well lit, with the expected plenty of space for dancing. While there are maybe 30 people here, Walkabout is so large the place seems empty, which is a shame as I’d like to see bands like Vida breaking into newer venues, showing that local live music can work for a platform.

Soapbox over, this is the first time I’ve heard them non-acoustic, outside of their Smokin’ Aces residency. This means Rio (drums) can use his proper kit, and its given him a new lease of live – or he’s just missing the opportunities to flair in Big Face and Dusty. The numbers are funkier, and there’s strong disco evidence in effect too, as well as the as ever strong harmonies from the girls. Karl (guitar) and Tim (bass) seem to be enjoying the groove too, though playing to a seemingly empty house must be hard.

Some (other) punters do step forward – including a rather butch Amy Winehouse dress-alike – who Elena picks up on and engages with, before launching into the Vida version of Back To Black. That’s what I like about Vida, having plenty of stagecraft means they work with whatever they’re given, even if its lemons not plums 🙂

Sunday Sessions @ Chaplins, 30 OctOn to Chaplins for their Sunday Sessions, where Andy Stock is regaling the select few with his sung stories. As usual for me, by the time I’ve been downstairs for a drink and returned, he’s finished! Sunday Sessions @ Chaplins, 30 OctWe’re left in the uncertain hands of Lorenzo (beat pad), Andy (guitar) & Michael (Bass), more or less jamming together since they’ve not played before.  Andy is on solo again afterwards, and regales a totally incorrect song, that is actually really funny. Not to be repeated here, sorry (radio rules) 😉

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Semi Final 2

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Victor is in the studio with me tonight – eventually. He’s been suffering from car trouble, which is a little worse when said car is also one’s home when away from home.

Irrespective, he makes it for just over an hour, and what a delightful time it is, wandering all over as he reminisces about places he’s been, including national TV on his parents native Malta, where he spent his early years.

We play much from his latest CD Moonbeams, and hence talk some about the recording sessions (mainly all just one take, in a garden) and the reasons behind the songs. 

At the end I head off to O’Neill’s for the last of the judging sessions for Bournemouth Unplugged.  As ever, the notes here are those I jotted on the night for comment.

Krista Green

Krista GreenGood reception, working it by encouraging the crowd with clapping etc Well received throughout, yet not going absolutely nuts
Clear vocals, breath-y where it matters (2nd song)
Good eye contact
Walking Talking Catastrophe I like the harp-like sound she produces

Good variety of standard styles, pick, strum, percussive, staccato, well executed and chilled out
Overall a very clean set and pleasant, doesn’t grab me with excitement, as it is so chilled.

Wakes things up a bit with the last song through loop pedal use, yet tells us its an experiment so of course it doesn’t work out first time around (or 2nd or 3rd 😦 )
Once programmed up it is effective, and I like that she’s persevered with it – must be first use over a PA too. Unfortunately it all goes horribly wrong at the end, yet might have still worked had I not then picked up the “oh that didn’t work”!
So awards to trying, and I hope she carries on developing it as it will bring an extra dimension to her already accomplished set

Johnny Neesom

Johhny NeesomVery clever stuff, fast rapping over the plain chords
However, he’s running out of breath a bit (at least he recognises this) Again, clear vocals (they need to be as his performance hinges on that)
Not overfond of the near continuous swearing – he’s already had one song banned by the pub from previous appearances.
Sitting down is never going to deliver the energy that standing can deliver, even though this mode suits the songs he’s playing, which puts a sombre mood into things, even though he goes down OK with the crowd. He sticks to three songs as the last one Lullaby is symphony length.
As its a symphony style, there are multiple phases, picking, tapping, percussion, strumming, plucking, then harmonics as if a lap steel – all very open and laid back – it helps that I’d heard this at a session a few days back, as its somewhat familiar in places, albeit its perhaps 12-15 minutes long

Andy Stock Band

Andy Stock BandFirst impression is they’ve all dressed smart – except crockett. Even AJ has put a suit on for the gig!
Andy starts solo, then brings the rest of the band in with a “let’s do this thing”
Musically there’s a lot going on, and it takes some time for all instruments to be picked up.
Good bass lines and runs from Johnny, good guitar work from Andy, can’t really hear AJ’s harp or Ben’s banjo, and overall thiings aren’t really together.
For 3rd song AJ sings and Ben switches to violin, Andy joins AJ in a gravelly harmony
Things start coming together with a song castigating the modern tech life where we speak loads on facebook and through phones, yet can seem to be in a pub on our own a lot. The banjo is more audible, other things are less intense, and the song is a proper lament.

Phil King

Phil KingIts funny, I find myself willing him to pick things and kick them off, which I know he can do. Its Amanda (friend) that starts things going, trying to get people up and dancing.
Phil threatens to kick things off the stage literally, as Si Crockett has left his cajon on stage, comments about which get a good laugh
He then proceeds to give us a show and a half, good styles, good songs, good voice, good set.

Judges Result

This time (compared with last week) it’s fairly clear cut, all judges are of the same opinion.  The two Finalists are Krista and Phil, so congrats to them. When the results are announced this time, there’s no massive barracking from the crowd.  Its a shame it was so obvious, yet we still had four good performances.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Quarter Final 4

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Hessian join me in the studio tonight – or rather, four of the five of them.  Tilly (bass) can’t make it to town, yet phones to join into the interview conversation from wherever she is (London, I think).  The band have played other gigs in addition to the times I’ve seen them during the Dorset Music Awards, so there’s ripe material for discussion there. 

They’ve also been spending time recording some tracks – Sam is putting the finishing touches to their latest recording while we’re in the studio together, mixing the vocal takes. As we play it out towards the end of the show, they listen relatively intensely over the studio foldback, understandable since they’ve not heard it before!

We all make a sharpish exit from the studio, as I head off to O’Neills again to some shock news – Boyd and Wain have cancelled their appearance tonight in the Quarter Finals, effectively putting themselves out off the competition. I’m in two minds about this news – one half says that they are such brilliant musos they would provide a lively and enjoyable set. Many I speak to are also of the same mind.

My other voice is asking what is an act playing gigs in the States and who could easily book themselves a set of London sessions doing in a competition like this anyway.

Moot point really, they’ve pulled out, and Joel Gregory has slipped under the wire as act 16 (Saturday Sun also don’t get put forward for missing their Quarter Final)

Again I’m writing my comments on the fly as I hear the acts, in preparation to make statements to the audience here.

Tim Somerfield

Tim Somerfield Bmth UnpluggedQuiet intro – says “start where left off last time then on into different material” – don’t need to tell me that as I probably wouldn’t remember anyway.
2nd song clever chord work putting on syncopation with left hand. Also in 3rd song, and others – waiting for another style.
Obviously has his crowd here, yet not making the most use of them to my mind. Even at the end when I comment on this in my judges verbal response, there’s no reaction. Leads me to think of that line from John Cleese in the parrot sketch – Voomph? That wouldn’t Voomph if it had 2000 volts through it.
OK chat to cover tuning, fast de tune.
Confident patter for stage presence, yet not much else.
Strong clear voice.
Liked chord work on last one, shows a different style from what’s gone before.

Andy Stock Band

Andy Stock BandBefore start – Cast of thousands or so it seems compared to Tim’s solo slot.
Solo start then band come on one by one helps with working out the levels originally.
Like the reworking of a cover – making it yours – sounds like it was rewritten specifically for tonight?
2nd song a bit too long of similar repetition, still I like the personalisation. Sounds a bit muddy on the PA. Awkward when there’s 2 good PA guys in the band. Tight on the musical breaks.
Set seemed too short, turns out they have space for another song (which Andy solos) There’s a lot of talent there, could do with more polish.

Si Crockett

Si Crockett Bmth UnpluggedSi Genaro has lost his harmonicas this very night, so makes a little notice at the start thanking those who’ve rallied round and helped him out – first time I’ve seen him serious for a long time…
Laid back start, turning Ain’t No Sunshine into his own style. 3rd shows off Si Crockett’s voice with some high pitched crooning.
Big Face Reggae starts waking things up a bit, still laid back yet bigger audience reaction
Si C voice and Si G beat boxing save the day for Sunshine, was becoming a bit samey to my ears. MSSB (full title not repeatable here – Radio Rules) wakes up the stage a bit, a bit of action at the last.
A few ‘in’ gags regarding Small Face Reggae and Big Face Reggae (his non-unplugged band)

Joel Gregory

Joel Gregory Bmth UnpluggedBit of a surprise to hear him back.
He’s not doing that much of particular interest on the guitar. His voice is good though – clear lyrics
One very vocal crowd member
Turns out he’s a wildcard re-entry who responded when Boyd & Wain pulled out. This is a little unfair both on him and on others, however competition runners reserve the right etc. etc.

The winners who go through to the semi finals are announced as The Andy Stock Band and Si Crockett, this doesn’t go down too well with those who felt Tim Somerfield played the better set of at least one of those. Where some weeks have had very close results this time there is only a close-ish gap of 3% between each of the acts; I end up taking some time listening to Tim’s right to reply (as does Fiona, the sponsor of the overall competition) anyway.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Heat 4

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Mischa is my guest on the show this week – he brought Rowland (cello & ukelele) with him for the first half  – everything seems a bit manic – I also have Ben from Aim To Misbehave also sitting in to see what the show is like prior to coming on in March.

Mischa is as hyperactive as usual, and is a wonderful guest, talkative, lots of stories and topics to chat about. Since Rowland is only with us for a short time, the live songs keep on coming, until Rowland has to leave.  Looking on Facebook afterwards, Mischa‘s songs have been appreciated by some listeners, who have updated comments and statuses about them.

We spend a lot of time talking about Mischa turning up with a band for the Dorset Music Award Heats (he reached the Semi Finals last year as the only solo artist to reach that far), which leads us to talk about the upcoming Quarter Finals (first one tomorrow night); Mischa is playing at QF4 on 17 March.  After the show we both head up to O’Neills for the 4th Bournemouth Unplugged Heat.

Xander Allen Bmth UnplXander Allen is opening, (all the acts go on in random order), he mixes percussive guitar and almost rapped lyrics. It’s all good, although at one point the guitar drops out leaving his voice exposed – turns out the lead had fallen out the back. He’s got a good sound from his Ibanez, the difficulty to my mind is that the songs are all very similar – not a major hassle since its good and enjoyable, just similar. Then just as I write Xander invites a band up (well, bass and cajon) to expand the sound.

A little aside, as a judge I’m being asked to give marks for the four categories: Originality; Technical Ability; Crowd Interaction and Stage Presence; and Song Writing Ability. Photos will be added later…

Bob Fletcher Bmth UnplBob Fletcher always makes an impression – I’ve not seen him maybe a couple of years yet he instantly warmly greets me. This warmth also comes over while he’s on stage, he has a generous and pleasing manner to win the crowd over. His playing encompasses strums but also a unique hand picking technique, using all the fingers to ‘anti-strum’ the strings. His voice is strident, easily rising over the active crowd in the bar. He’s also taken advantage of a wireless pickup, which allows him to wander into the crowd during fave of his Tom Jones

There are some local notables in the crowd as well – name dropping The Sabres, Voodoo Vegas, & Quinns Quinney among others.

Jenni Boyce Bmth UnplJenni Boyce has a very sweet voice, and plays gentle chord based melodies on the piano. I’m belittling her with that – later on the piano work is elegant and with a full presence, its just very laid back. My perception is she acts as if she doesn’t have a lot of stage experience – at the end of each song there is good applause – she fleetingly issues a shy grin then starts concentrating on the next number. Her vocal range is good, towards the high end, yet not wailing like many artists of similar range do. Unfortunately the songs come across as very similar, all of comparable quality – perhaps the similarity is why many of the crowd seem to not be with her, they appear to have lost interest by the end of her set.

Andy Stock band Bmth UnplAndy Stock is up last. That should be The Usual Suspects – Andy’s rounded up what looks like nearly everyone from the Chaplins circuit to be in his band, and they’ve all dressed up in smart black shirts and ties to make this into an event. There’ a lot going on with the music as well – bass, cajon, blues harp and fiddle (or banjo or bouzouki) all adding to the mix. To say these guys are all talented is understatement, having them playing together is very busy, and is no doubt making the PA job hard. By the third song everything comes together with the sound and within the band, it sounds amazing, and they look like they’re all enjoying themselves.

Andy Stock Bmth UnplTowards the end, Andy switches to a mandolin, and the lads form up into a choir to round off what has been a very enjoyable evening.  Big thanks again to O’Neill’s for putting the event on, Steve for pulling the sound together, and most of all Ant for keeping things more or less on track, and hosting the evening.

BMTH Unplugged Heat 3

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BMTH Unplugged heat 3 tonight. Again to protect the judging & voting I’ll only be giving scant reviews, more of a mention of the acts.

May Day

May Day are kicking off the evening, a 3 piece comprising cajon, guitar and very clear vocalist. They have a bit of a stereotypical Northern bloke look about them, dressed in smart allusions to grunge-grey including trilby and flat cap! Enjoyable enough to listen to musically and vocally. The cover they choose is Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground, and they jolly it along in lively manner.

Ant Henson

Ant Henson  is 2nd on – and he’s the first act I’ve noted to make an entrance, hanging back in the crowd until announced then striding onto the stage. He’s also dressed to impress, and kicks off into an active number initiated by a blues harp player he’s turned into his entourage. His songs are very bright, probably a lot to do with the 12 string he’s toting tonight. His intro to Thin Lizzy’s Boys Are Back is surprising, and shows he can do more with the chord work than he had been showing.

Sarah Griffin

Third up is Sarah Griffin – and at this point a disclaimer is needed – I’ve become a firm fan of Sarah’s material in the past year or so. She bravely starts with heart-pulling sad song, that emphasises voice over guitar, a new thing. Toxic originally by Britney Spears is her cover, and she’s made it totally her own, managing to still the pub into her quiet vibe. The other songs she chooses are equally brave choices for a noisy pub, soulful and emotionally delivered.

Kathryn Ross

The closing slot goes to Kathryn Ross. She starts with strong demonstrations of various guitar techniques, through very pleasant songs, before switching to keyboard for some piano antics. Her voice is very clean, even though the stronger overtones aren’t there as they have been for other artists. For her penultimate song she slips a looper in so subtly it is barely noticeable, and closes with cover Say It Ain’t So by Weezer

Andy Stock

Wandering back via Chaplins, to find the man I want to speak to at the microphone, very inconvenient! The man being Andy Stock, he’s got to that point in the evening where he’s playing requested covers for the rowdy crowd, including favourite Billy Bragg hit New England.

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