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.

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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…

Bad Apples @ Champions 24 Sep

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JoElle are just finishing as I walk in. I’m liking their cool rolling blues guitar riffs coupled with female vocals.

Charlie Hole @ Champions 24 SepNext up is Charlie Hole, I’ve not seen this fella (who’s sickeningly talented for one so young) for a while. He starts with a couple of mellow tunes on the piano, before switching to guitar for some slightly livelier songs. He has a great voice, and is audibly clear tonight, important as his songs tell good stories.

Bad Apples are a bit of a supergroup, formed by drummer Jimmy Copley, with Micky Moody as slide guitar virtuoso, Ian Jennings on bass, Mick Rogers guitar and lead vocals by Robert Hart.

Bad Apples @ Champions 24 SepThey play some laid back blues to start, slow beat with strong bass – Ian plays a string bass rather than bass guitar. Lead vocalist Rob is full of the posturising, the gig is being filmed so he plays up a lot to the camera, which makes for good entertainment. They slip easily into Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Cold Shot, then Muddy Waters Dirty Little Schoolgirl.

Bad Apples @ Champions, Mick Rogers solo songAfter JJ Cale we move into a Hand Jive / Magic Bus medley, then a Mick Rogers rock and roll solo while the stage is reset – exit the string bass and slide guitar, Jimmy joins the duo with Mick, then enter bass guitar and telecaster for original slow blues. Towards the end the pace is picked up, the slide guitar re-entries first as solo by Micky, then a switch to own signature guitar (Bad Apples @ Champions, Micky Moody "named" guitar fretboardMicky Moody on the fretboard, as picked up by photo) for some real good stomp stuff.

An amazing gig for a debut performance, admittedly hardly surprising considering the lineage and heritage of the individuals (Manfred Mann, Whitesnake, Jeff Beck, Go West and Tears For Fears all feature in the commentary. Towards the end drummer Jimmy Copley is lauded as the inspiring creator of the band, and plays some awesome solos on the kit. Great to hear, hope they play town again.

Dubheart @ Cellar Bar Sat 24 SepOn the way home, inevitably drop into the Cellar Bar, where Dubheart are creating a massive storm with their beats, rhythms and overall great reggae sound.