Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Semi Final 1

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Solid Air HopeFM Kimari Raven Sofi ReedLiveWire Live! with Solid Air

My guests tonight are the delightful ladies Kimari Raven and Sofi Reed; Solid Air’s Conrad is my regular guest host. We spend a lot of time talking about the Oxjam fundraiser just been, where over £1300 was collected from a single day event.  There’s also a lot of focus on upcoming gigs, Sofi has one on Thursday at the Winchester, and Conrad is featuring Kimari at Monday’s Solid Air in the Cellar Bar. There are other things he’s looking forward to, we also feature some tracks from his archives looking back, and fresh music he has – it’s great having Conrad on the show as he has such a different outlook than myself on artists and music.

Embodied microphones!Sofi and Kimari have brought guitars with them, so we are serenaded – unfortunately for me, they don’t do one of their duets in the studio, however its fairly clear they’re quietly singing along to each other. We also have a bit of a laugh about Sofi’s elastic face – she pulls the most wonderful expressions while she’s concentrating on performing.

The first photo is while Kimari is playing Monster, the second of their faces obscured by the microphones as we’re talking about Sofi’s expressions. As can hopefully be gathered all in all it’s a fun time in the studio, and we head off together to O’Neills for the first of the two Bournemouth Unplugged Semi Finals.

Mischa

Mischa BU SF1Mischa is first up, he is active and moving, with just enough of a story between songs to keep interest before getting boring. There’s lots of noise in the pub, but he’s overcoming it. All through his set there’s lots of applause from all over the pub – I’m at the back for the first part of his performance and the activity is clearly visible from where I am, let alone from the judges table at the front. 

He has his lumberjack-esque looks with the check shirt, I’m really loving the energy all three are putting into it – there’s also more cello this time.  He goes for the growling lyric option in Overworked and Underpaid, which I feel works for the music and the performance he’s giving, though I think other judges disagree with me on this.

Chris Woodford

Chris Woodford BU SF1He’s brought two guitars with him tonight, yet starts playing on just one, leaving us some anticipation for what’s coming up.  He moves on into playing the harmonics by sliding the guitar on to his lap, dobro style.  Halfway through we hear the second guitar, before he uses a mobile phone to create some industrial sounds on the first guitar – while I’m not sure what that’s about, it’s something different and experimental, which I like.  He gives a big finish, huge volume and a huge energetic shout “Come on!” as he reaches his crescendo and ends.  The crowd react accordingly.

Bob Fletcher

Bob Fletcher Korozyf BU SF1In my mind I bet he’s thinking “How to follow that”, My answer to myself is by being the best that you can, he’s giving some good lively strumming then beat boxing, getting some reaction, not just from his crowd (although they start things off).  He performs a slow quieter song (with permission from the crowd, which is a nice touch) – this is brave and he pulls it off, +1 for originality!

For a couple of songs Korozyf joins him for MC’ing, then Bob gets the crowd clapping along before throwing things into a loop pedal and building a huge sound as a result.  He turns the loop volume down at the end using some fancy foot work while still singing – not seen that before, normally people stoop to control them, interrupting their unlooped playing to do so – this allows Bob to continue playing and is an impressive touch, hard to do and he pulls it off.

The inevitable Tom Jones is performed, and this time he rings the changes by not standing on chairs etc, but just wanders around a small part of the crowd, I like this as I expected him to do the same as before, changing it like that shows he can be flexible while still doing an impressive show.  Definitely my choice act of the evening.

Si Crockett

Si Crockett BU SF1Si is doing his usual material, of which much has previously been said.  We are treated to harmonies from Si Genaro, not just harmonica. Talking of the latter, he’s got “new shiny ones since his last ones got nicked”, as he puts it. Nacho Jase on Congas is putting on his own little show at the back – I later refer to him as Nutjob Jase as a result of his acting as “a yob at the back” – good fun.

Si also plays a slower song compared with the rest of his set, my difficulty this time is that while the three of them are tight as ever, they seem to have changed tonight into three individuals playing together, rather than a band (which was how Mischa felt like). Sunshine takes things up slightly before Cheeky Monkey rocks the place – there’s a hint that Genaro’ll go off on a 30 min solo, he doesn’t, and they move into last song Big Face Reggae, in all a brilliant show, I just feel not one of the best ones they’ve done.

Judges Result

We then move into counting up our scores, and adding an element for the crowd vote (which has been re-introduced for these rounds).  As ever we have been marking out of ten on Originality, Song Writing Ability, Technical Ability and Stage Presence/Audience Interaction.  The crowd vote adds another 10, 8, 6 and 4 in order of most votes received, making it 20% of the total.  There is an additional “clapometer” style score out of 5, and a “star quality Y/N ” for us to pick our favourite two.

I’m surprised to find that we have one act clearly ahead of all the others, the other three just have 0.5% between them, all scores are near the 150 mark (max points available 180 as we have four judges tonight).  We have to go to another (quieter) room to deliberate, as some of us aren’t happy about how these have panned out, and we know how important it is to get this correct.  Even so, we know that our results aren’t going to be popular, as the one with the most crowd votes (Bob Fletcher) has not been selected.  We’ve all had to make compromises in our choices, we agree to abide by our group choice, even if we personally disagree with it.

The finalists selected tonight are Chris Woodford and Si Crockett, so big congratulations to them, and big shouts go out to Mischa and Bob Fletcher, who did everything that was required and more, but then that’s what sucks yet is what competition is about, I guess.

The difficult part comes from the 15 minutes after we annouce this unpopular result, as some very vocal people think we’ve made the wrong decision.  I just try to take the flak from my mates and move on, although Fiona (O’Neills manager) has to step in at some point as things are getting passionately verbal between people.  Funny that I seem to be the only judge around at this point – makes me rather unpopular! 

Its a shame this mars the three hours of absolutely amazing music that have made the rest of the evening an entire delight for me.

Show & Bmth Unplugged Quarter Final 2

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Tonight the Table Top Circus joined comedy regulars Radio Boscombe for what promised and proved to be an amusing take on Sigmund Freud for the first part of the show. It was a bit of a mix up of a show, caused by my forgetting the 6 sides of carefully prepared research, and one member of Radio Boscombe running truant and needing to be reeled in by phone.

It makes for an interesting production style, having to continually think on one’s feet and improvise nearly a full two hour presentation. We pick up on the previous show, Drive‘s theme of the night, uniforms, as a fallback ad lib when our material dries up

Thank goodness I’d prepared one element online: a phone interview with Michael-James Dent regarding Dom Remi, coupled with an exclusive preview of their new song Midnight (now available on their myspace).

Dom Remi (pronounced Ree-Mee) are the band that were formerly known as The Metropolise. The Metropolise received a lot of radio play with their brash and raw sound. The lads recognised the rawness, and have polished themselves up a bit, changing the musical direction of the band in the process.

This change in musical direction warrants a change in name, in an attempt to prevent too much comparison. So, out of the ashes that were The Metropolise, we now have the phoenix arising that is Dom Remi. They are having a series of relaunch events including a renaming gig and EP launch on 14 May in Champions.

Towards the end of the show Radio Boscombe are augmented by Livvi, who we coerce into also giving an opinion on the evening theme of uniforms.

All in all, with everything going on, I was worn out even before going up to O’Neills for this weeks installment of Bournemouth Unplugged. Again the notes presented below are exactly what I wrote on the night, and used as a basis for my live comments on the night.

We are asked to mark out of 45, 10 points for each of Originality, Stage Presence/Audience Interaction, Song Writing Ability, and Technical Ability.  5 points are to measure the Crowd Reaction, clapometer style.  Finally there is a yes/no “Star” rating – do these guys have that undefinable something (the X factor of that show’s name).

Ant HensonAnt Henson starts, with a harmonica accompaniment this time (who’s name check I miss).
They are very animated together, fitting the music.
As they slow the music down, they slow the movement down to suit.
Great having the 12 string – boosts originality, yet doing similar chord work in the main
Unsure on 12 string tuning +1 if he notices, +1 if do something about it. Does it well with Krista filling in
Stereophonics The One cover – Laid back and totally different
Worked on the harmonies with Krista? If so it shows
Cheeky little beat box thing going on

Bob FletcherBob Fletcher
Big noisy songs
Strong intro then into a spiky number, beatboxing included, much like 2 or 3 songs in one
Good crowd working for you – Like the “behind the front row” comment
Looks really pleased to be here, infectious – great with Julian
Really developed in the past couple of years – good confidence
His staple Tom Jones has been taken to the next level
Wandering over the pub after teaching the singalong section
Then a quiet finish to show off different techniques, voice and guitar

Chris WoodfordChris Woodford
Has a rack of guitars with him rather than just the twelve string
Animated despite sitting on a chair. Great dynamics.
Can just never get tired of chris’ stuff
Outstanding
(another judge has written “Masterclass”)
Real mess about of smoke on the water – adding variety through slide resonator dobro

The Sabres The Sabres
Hard job following that! So what do you do? Do what you do best & come in strong and lively
Tight on the breaks
Kept crowd – hard for last act
Ritchie good voice
Lots of audience dancing

The top three tonight were separated by 1 point, with each scoring over 100: 103, 104 and 105 by the time all judges scores are collated.  The Sabres just miss out, as Chris Woodford and Bob Fletcher take the available Semi Final places. Congratulations to both.

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.