Oxjam Takeover 2012

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oxjam bournemouth 2012 posterThere’s been much anticipation and build up yet again for the takeover this year, and the start is slightly delayed in the Pier Theatre due to VT difficulties creating more suspense…

Martin interviewAnd we’re off – Powdered Cows start with Lobster, Martin fresh from being interviewed by Beth Graham who’s producing an Oxjam Bournemouth Takeover Rockumentary. Powdered Cows @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012There’s been promise of a spectacle from Martin, he starts solo with his electronics for a couple of songs, before a lion and a crocodile join him for Lion Lion, with invite for the audience to take some percussion and create the song together

Catch up with Livvy in relaxed mode @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012There’s delays in 60 Million Postcards too, so I catch up with one of the Oxjam queens, Livvy, who’s taking a moment outside.

Boolays @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012

I head back to the Pier where the Boolays are hitting their last two songs, both of them debuts for the band. Soprano sax, twin dueling acoustic guitars and twin female vocals with male accompaniment means I’m in a brief delight.

Jack Grace @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Jack Grace is solo acoustic today, and sounds absolutely crystal clear on the vocals, while the guitar gently plays along to itself for much of the material thanks to his loop pedal. The fantastic ambience of the awesome pier theatre really works well for Jack’s voice.

Jack Vallier @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012I reach 60 Million Postcards in time to hear Chris Woodford have a large shout up by compere Si Genaro. As ever, Chris plays a blinder. Jack Vallier is next up, and chooses to do a set of acoustic covers, starting with Wonderwall, which doesn’t go down as well as Krista’s version did last night. One bit of really good news – Tony Warren is back on the local music scene having had three years away in London; we have a bit of a natter and a catch up.

Citizen Perez @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Citizen Perez (Steve Perry) is up next in 60 Million Postcards, and everyone that’s told me about Citizen Perez has been right – what Steve does here is totally different to the other material he’s produced in the other acts he’s in. He’s doing new material (some involving kazoo) as well as acoustic versions of songs from other acts (like Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) ). Something that works well for him is the novelty kazoo taped to the microphone, such that he can still play guitar whilst using the kazoo. Makes for an interesting combination.

Not Made In China @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Back to The Pier, and one of my favourites, the happiest band in Bournemouth, Not Made In China are on stage. Their music is in major keys, with some great contrary bass work, big positive rhythms, and the killer vocals which somewhat tell of life in these times. People are clapping along, the only thing missing for me are the dancing idiots like me, but then this is a seated venue after all… Lee (Escape From 98) is with me, between us we cook up a new genre, African Indie, to place Not Made In China.

Annie Winter @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Annie Winter is doing her set at 60 Million Postcards; she’s recruited a full band behind her, Tim on string bass, Ben on cajon and Joe (Potter) on guitar and vocal. She’s singing winsome songs with a laid back feeling, perfect for a dreamy afternoon; with my rushing back and forth I’m feeling I’m not partaking in that vibe. My loss, and yet I wouldn’t have it any other at this moment in time 🙂

Compere Si Genaro introduces Tim Somerfield @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Tim Somerfield is given another of the Si Genaro treatments, and kicks off with last years Oxjam CD contribution There There. Tim’s voice soars over the guitar chord work, as if a bird released to float around the venue, major chords giving a positive lift to the songs. As I leave to reach the pier Tim starts Supervillain Alter Ego, which is on this years Oxjam album.

I’ve missed Our comperes Martin Roberts & Timo Peach @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Mischa and catch Martin & Timo filling the gap so the Chicken Soup Choir can set up. They interview conductor Julie, who together with pianist Esther inherited a choir and set up Chicken Soup, because its good for the soul as she puts it. The Chicken Soup Choir @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012When the choir are revealed as the curtain lifts, I’m amazed at the size of it. They’re singing various pop rock songs, starting with what I think is Elbow, then Ash and Radiohead (I really don’t know my modern non-local music anymore). All the various instrumental components are sung, with oohs and ahhs and the like to make up the accompaniments.

Southern Ukulele Store Boscombe Ukelele Social @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Susbus (Southern Ukelele Store Boscombe Ukelele Social) fill the stage as did the choir. Lisa McQuillan and Jonty Johnson share most of the singing honours, though many others are pulled out of the esemble to solo and sing. I must admit much of my attention is on Nacho Jase, who’s playing bass ukelele and hiding at the back, yet seems to be filling the stage with his presence. Paul Tucker is our narrator, and there’s a spare appearance by Martin Roberts on kazoo.

Mutant Vinyl @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Mutant Vinyl have something special prepared for us tonight – I was with them last night as they were preparing the act for tonight. Ed starts trying to get his sax and vocals working to his satisfaction with the sound guys and the effects processing. Its not working for him so he invites his friend, birthday boy Tim Smart to join the stage. Luke also steps in, as Ed moves to the drums and Tim announces …. County Hospital…. County Hospital takeover the takeover with Mutant Vinyl @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012This means that the charismatic Ed switches to the enigmatic Ed and starts playing the tricked out beats he’s so good at, while Tim, Marc and Luke rock out some wonderful experimental stuff – then promptly leave the stage after the one song. Artistic Impression or what?  [It later transpires that this early exit wasn’t in the plan, its just that Ed couldn’t get the over-FX sound he wanted, so rather than give a bad show in his eyes, took the brave decision to chop his act, even though this causes angst and consternation for some – particularly the poor organisers of the venue].

head of a cuban trojan @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Head Of A Cuban Trojan (HOACT) have nearly played their awesome set out as I walk in, there are just three songs left, and they are amazing. Heavy bass, over egged guitar, a bit of a grunge thing going on. Then they start megaphoning the lyrics just to add to the musical contusion. Love it

El BosCo @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012El Bosco are a subset of Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) in appearance, totally different sound. Great melodies on Steve’s guitar, Ttubbs has some great beats going on, and Ed is pumping out the bass like a live one. Proper pop rock stuff, and everything starting to be turned up to the max on the PA. Its a little bit grungy like HOACT, yet not similar as there’s different things going on in the music and the vocals. Again I’m liking it, and am a bit torn to move to another venue.

Get The Tape @ Ontherocks Bar, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012On The Rocks next (as I turn up at The Pier for Momo:Tempo to hear Tim say he’s finished), where Get The Tape have just started. Big screamo shouty rock, upon which regular readers will know my views. Even so, Get The Tape are different from the rest, their drummer is able to play some really fast timely stuff, while the lead guitar is producing great tunage, rather than the mushy chords I normally associate with the style. Another band I want to hear more from in the future, despite my general reservations on the genre.

Know One @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Know One are playing what’s been dubbed as their last ever set on the Pier Theatre stage. Starting with some long-lost Two Tone material as an intro and sort of soundcheck, they soon move into the moshing stuff they’re known and loved for. Massive bass work, big horns (Callum still running around with that sax) and the others making good with the drums and the chord work. They are really on fire, and they even play their request song that they never normally play, Invisible Reality. I leave before the end, though, for…

Yellowgroove @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 201260 Million Postcards again, this time for Yellowgroove who are in the middle of their 5 hour remix of Spread Your Love (Like A Fever), by all accounts they’ve done everything needed to satiate this noisy and active crowd. They get such a great groove on as they start Manimal, while still managing to take the rip out of their mate Nick. A brief crowd incursion causes a bit of havoc with Simon’s electrics, before they go into their next single Fading Out (available on the Oxjam CD), which is where I move out to On The Rocks.

Escapefrom'98 @ Ontherocks Bar, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Escape From 98 have just started, and immediately start the heckling going. I have no paper to throw at them in return (their gig the night before in Salisbury culminated in a paper ball fight), so just bellow instead. We need to start a thing going – they have a new song Chorus where they encourage the crowd to shout the title – just shout “NO!”, kids. And they’ll love you forever and stuff :). A great set and a good end to this venue.

Mother Ukers @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 201260 Million Postcards now have the Mother Ukers down, we’re still rammed in here as they play Love Cats then Cars before murdering Bowie (in a nice way), by turning Space Oddity into a chirpy number, while still retaining the modal nature of the song.

The evening ends in fine form with a little auction trying to sell off some particular one-design T-shirts, all to raise more funds for this worthy cause, before we continue partying the night away. I give up the party and take the option to leave for home, since I have diving in the morning.  A great, if wearing, day, thanks to the full on efforts of the team, Katy, Liz, Lauren, Livvy, Jo, Geoff and Andy, and all the others that I’m not aware of.  Please can we do it again, next year?!?

Chris Woodford

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Chris Woodford @ Chaplins Bar 14 OctA very quick post – after a GodFirst Manthing (men’s evening with the church) event, headed over to catch Chris Woodford in what seems to be his spiritual home at Chaplins.  As ever he’s doing all sorts of tricks with a 12 string guitar; he’s already played for about an hour by the time I get there, after 30 minutes he takes a short break before continuing to the early hours.  Well, so I hear afterwards, I’m long gone by then.  Chris was voted the winner of the Dorset Music Awards in 2008, and he still plays up to the worthiness of the title.

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.

Show, Open Mic & Tripp Out

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Radio Boscombe arranged their Christmas Special Show for listeners to HopeFM. Comprising the usual mix of original material performed live, canned material from prior shows, and classic material from other comedy groups they’ve been associated with there’s a good blend and balance, even if the ironic tribute to the Pearl Harbour 70th anniversary fell on some ears harshly (had a phoned complaint).

Aaron Gregory dropped in with some tunes and his new EP to promote a charity fundraiser he’s organising for Sparkles, providing a hydrotherapy pool for St Victorias school, Branksome, and much was made of some of the artists who are giving their time for free to play and hopefully swell the coffers.  Rock Regeneration reviewed the night.

On to the Chaplins open mic, where Chris Woodford sets a strong tone by opening with his usual harmonic symphonies. What I find amusing is he drifts from movement to movement, with breath pauses to allow a change in mood, mode and tempo, and those breaths are always thought of by some in the crowd as stops, hence a couple of claps soon falter.

David Mansell takes to the chairs. He’s another amazing guitarist, I’d normally have thought him more of the blues persuasion than other genres, unlike Chris he sings too. Tonight he’s sticking to gentle folk ballads, the archetypal story in a song. He’s playing with including some Jazz guitar expressions, I like that he throws in a gliss chord at the very end of a piece, slowing down the a big burst to signify “I’ve finished, cue your applause”. Dave’s big finish is a blues number, good 8 bar staple.

Madison Tar Heels are 3 Jack Ratts members under the watchful eye of Hawkeye. They kick off a bit of a stomping set with CrippleCreek, really fast banjo work, slap string bass and washboard making great taps. The lively nature of the music is catching, there are whoops and various Southron phrases thrown around from both the band and the audience. The music is all old time, 19th century Americana  (I did call this Bluegrass though I’m later informed this is called old-time, invented before bluegrass; its all in the picking action, aparently…) – Cluck Ole Hen, Turpentine and the like. Short, snappy and a lot of fun.  Its so much fun, that by the time I leave, I’m too late to catch Pete Christie at the Thomas Tripp tonight – the difference in bar closing times & travel between can be awkward sometimes…

Oxjam Takeover 2011 Saturday 22 October

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Oxjam 2011 logoIt was at Oxjam last year that the idea was first asked of me (by the lads from much missed Bel Casino) to write up the gigs I go to, to help promote the bands I see and big up this amazing music scene.

Now one year on, this blog has grown its own shape, and the Oxjam takeover is bigger and better than ever. Its all started for 2011 at On The Rocks, where the Grubnium DJs are starting things off, and 60 Million Postcards, where I’ve come down for an acoustic afternoon with Ness.

Si Genaro @ Oxjam - 60 million postcardsJohn Llewellyn is just finishing, Sofi Reed is just heading out having started things off, and Si Genaro takes to the stage. He’s playing some more laid back and contemplative numbers, perhaps as its an afternoon chill; Ness likes that he has a different style to many other artists. Si Genaro with Kimari Raven @ Oxjam - 60 million PostcardsAt the end he’s joined in a duet by Kimari Raven, and final song has MC Jon on stage with him.

Tim Somerfield @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsTim Somerfield takes Si’s place, again staying chilled at the start. Saying he’s chilled though, there’s a lot of fast left hand fretwork going on in conjunction with the chorded right hand. Tim picks up the pace and goes more upbeat toward the end, making more of the crowd that have turned up for him.

Chris Woodford @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsThe penultimate artist this afternoon is senor Woodford, just him and his 12 string guitar, playing it as brilliantly as ever, though he seems to only do a short set.

Krista Green @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsKrista Green dashes in, cold off the street having busked for a while, provides great musical entertainment, yet its time for us to leave, having been here for a few hours, Ness needs to get home and I prepare for the night to come…

Sofi Reed @ Oxjam - SpyreI start the night at The Spyre, where Sofi Reed is kicking things off for the evening, having also started it all earlier at 60 Million Postcards. There are a few lighting and power problems – as I walk in Sofi ends her first song with no PA, which she wittily and humourously blames on my walking in, in this intimate environment. She plays favourite Breathe, then Broken Windows. As she starts the latter, the room descends into darkness as everything trips out. She soldiers on totally alone, in the dark, and still sounds fantastic!

MC Pat Page with County Hospital
Ed Pope back in Bournemouth

County Hospital @ Oxjam - WinchesterOn to The Winchester, where County Hospital are in full swing. They play their first song they ever played here in the Winch at their first gig, Mystery Shopper. The enigmatic Ed Pope is back in town, giving it large on the drums, its also great seeing Tim so relaxed and enjoying himself at this first County Hospital gig in town for a while. Luke on bass seems just one big grin. Pat Page joins them for one song as a guest MC, something different again, while Tim mucks about on an iPad. Slipping into their closer, Clare joins the stage to add some vocal changes to what has possibly been the best and most intense performance I’ve seen them give, ever.

Not Made In China @ Oxjam - Smokin AcesThe happiest band in Bournemouth, probably (Not Made In China) are in Smokin Aces starting off the nights festivities. DJ Trev from the Blind Pig Hot Swing Floor Show is hosting this evening. Not Made In China start as they mean to go on, straight into an African style guitar led swing / calypso. Trevor Hill introduces Not Made In China @ Oxjam - Smokin AcesThey also have some great harmonies going on.

Martin Roberts - Safari Park @ Oxjam - WinchesterBack to The Winchester and Safari Park (yet another band the irrepressible Martin Roberts has formed) have replaced Powdered Cows on the bill. I’ve not heard this 3 piece before, all three sing, Martin is on bass with this one. They are playing eminently accessible music, tuneful and enjoyable, not at all the quirky yet fun material I was expecting from knowing the other acts Martin is behind.

Trac Pawley introduces Mischa @ Oxjam - SpyreOn again to The Spyre. Trac Pawley of Language, Timothy! is hosting the Spyre, with The Chairman providing musical interludes. Masters Of None (Chris Woodford and Jeven) are halfway through their set, making good magic on their dual guitars. Masters Of None @ Oxjam - SpyreIts all instrumental, which makes it all the more special, especially since Chris takes it on himself to barrack some of the audience (well, Mischa and myself) in this great venue. 

Mischa @ Oxjam - SpyreMischa is on next, he’s lost his Merry Men this time and is performing solo, however he’s promised a few changes to his set as a result. He starts strong, announcing a feed line I gave him regarding DMA (billed as soloist and came with a band) whereas now he’s billed with band and is himself. Nice when people take what you say and reuse it ! Back to the music, as expected he’s animated and energretic, even though he’s come back from Devon, just for this gig. The Bands That Saved My Life is a song I don’t think I’ve heard before, though I must have done, full of angst yet still upbeat and happy. Love it.

Spiders @ Oxjam - WinchesterSpiders are another new band to me, they are playing good solid rock pop when I walk in to The Winchester. Strong drums and bass work with guitar riffing over the top. These guys then grab Ed Pope for his sax skills and they break into a form of jazz funk number for his appearance. The two guitarists are sharing vocals across songs since both have decent voices. We also have some dance moves being busted at the front of the crowd, good stuff.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.230707500316938.61483.100001330690156&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=234519013269120&set=a.230707500316938.61483.100001330690156&type=3&theaterI catch the last 3 songs of Empire Affair‘s set at Champions. I’m personally pleased to see a largish crowd here too. The lads are giving it large and loud, I’m pleased I made the detour to visit. Neil is doing just about everything he can to inject energy and verve into the performance, which the others resolve with their pumping tunes.

Mutant Vinyl front line @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsI arrive at 60 Million Postcards in time for Mutant Vinyl‘s set, just missing the ends of both Kentucky Fight Club at Smokin Aces, and Dirty Jerkers here at 60 Million Postcards. Mutant Vinyl announce this as their reunion, and its a bit different than their last gig in town, full 6 piece plus roadie Mitch. They are funking around with the rhythms something amazing, Mutant Vinyl back line @ Oxjam - 60 Million Postcardswith Ed’s lyrical eloquence interspersed with little sax solos in the opening number. All this while being able to hear “f… all” through the monitors (as he puts it). As expected there’s a full crowd here all in anticipation of the return, covering the full length of the long bar at the start, and quite reaching to the door by the middle of the set. Crowd to the doors @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsAt the end Acid Honey is inevitably thrown in, however totally remixed live and thrown around, both pumped up, then taken to a chilled out vibe, as Pat takes to the stage briefly to MC some stuff. The band carry on building a crescendo from chilled to full on crashing rock chords at the end, to immense applause and cheers. Mutant Vinyl are back (for this one night only, at least)!Mutant Vinyl Sax break @ Oxjam - 60 Million Postcards

Peace, Love & Gloves @ Oxjam - On The RocksOn The Rocks has Peace, Love and Gloves doing their rock thing to their usual huge crowd of people, all jumping around to the incessant beats. They also feature MCs doing bits and pieces of the vocal line, turning an otherwise three piece into five. Having heard a very early demo tape, almost acoustic in nature, I’m impressed with their live set, and the huge energy they produce from stage, send into the rowd, thhen feed off to push for a better gig and show

Michael Wookey @ Oxjam - SpyreI started the evening at The Spyre, and end here (well, almost), right at the very end of Michael Wookey‘s set, and manage to hear his encore, which is a simple number on onmichord and vocal synthsizer. He’s also shirtless when I walk in, I hear afterwards it was as intense a performance as an artist can offer; right on the boundaries of music and fine art, and is loved all the more as a result.

DO(MI) @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsJet down to catch the last last act – Disco’s Out (Murders In) at 60 Million Postcards again (running a little late). Like so many of the acts tonight, they are really going for it and giving out one of their best sets ever. The usual unusual costumes are evident; they end in grand style, with Martin ending up on the drum kit hiding in the ceiling… DO(MI) finale @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsA great party end to a great party night, with DJs on after to continue into the small hours.

I head on to Smokin Aces just to see what’s happening, and really enjoy the set played by DJ L33R0y, though I can only stand the pace until 2am or so, having been out for nearly 12 hours!

In all, 6 venues, 8 comperes/DJs, 17 bands and artists all crammed into 1 day/evening … How cool and together is this music scene in Bournemouth?!?  – please remember the Oxjam Bournemouth CD is available on bandcamp – 22 tracks for £5.

Bar Zuka launch Open Mic; Solid Air

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Chris Woodford @ Bar Zuka 10 OctMonday night means its Solid Air in the Cellar Bar, first I drop in on Ant Lewis’ new open mic in Bar Zuka. Aaron Gregory is just finishing, and Chris Woodford goes on as I’m there.

Spending that 20 mins or so means I miss Fran Milner’s Solid Air opening set; Si Genaro is out-performing himself on stage in an acoustic appearance. I wander upstairs to see some people, meaning I miss Krista Green’s first set for a while (she’s just returned from a break in Thailand).

Ant Henson & Krista Green @ Cellar Bar 10 OctWhen I return Ant Henson is sharing his stage with a couple of people during his slot, Krista dueting vocally with him in a cover of The One, then another friend on harmonica joining for the last couple, by which tiime he’s broken both G strings on his 12 string, hence going commando (his gag) for the closer.

Si & Si @ Cellar Bar 10 OctSi Crockett is doing yet another last gig ever, this time not with full band (since Ant is running aforementioned open mic, and Rio is unavailable.) So it turns into Si and Si double act, almost fitting for his last last gig, since its how he started before forming the band around him.

Birthday Outing – Chris Woodford

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July 5th is my birthday, so going along to homegroup (church small group) I was surprised they’d thrown an impromptu small party together (normally we just wish the birthday recipient “Happy Birthday” present a card and move on with the rest of the evening). This time it was a sung rendition as I walked in, balloons and assorted cakes and sweets – very nice.  After a successful homegroup time discussing hospitality and generosity, with a bit of money management thrown in, I thought I’d treat myself to an evening with Chris Woodford.

Chris has become one of my favourite musicians on the local scene, not just for his playing.  He’s also a guitar teacher, cocktail maker and inventor, and always has a few stories of life, as well as being generally pleasant and entertaining, whether behind a guitar or not.  Once he has his instrument with him, he enters a different world, and is capable of transporting one to that world as well. 

I’ve previously mentioned the array of styles Chris utilises when playing, and have also expanded in short on his animation and experimentation.  Tonight it’s just Chris and unfortunately an empty bar which still doesn’t dissuade him from giving another amazing performance, to my total enjoyment. Chris also tells me that he’s started a duo and will be playing the Cellar Bar soon.  Looking forward to that one.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Final

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Ali (and later, Martin) from Constellation join me in the studio this evening.  Despite being together and gigging for over a year, Constellation only hit my radar through entering the 2011 Dorset Music Awards, where they reached the Semi Final stage. I’ve written much about them as a result on this blog. 

Having the chat in the studio is enlightening about how they formed from friendships formed at classes in music technology, and how Ali was subsequently recruited as a vocalist.  We also talk a little bit about now old song The Flower Song, and about their supported charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers

The songs played are special exclusives, prepared yet unfinished cuts from their latest recording sessions, a CD to be produced real soon now.  As ever, really enjoyable, made more so by fan interaction via received texts, calls and emails from fans.

I’m then (in slow time) off to the Bournemouth Unplugged Final in O’Neill’s.  Its been a long journey from that first Heat in February, perhaps made more so by the mad rush to get from the studio to the bar in time to hear the first act.  Of the 32 acts entered, many have been amazing, I’ve picked up many new guests for the show. 

Of course there have been some that have been good, but just uninspiring – there are too many people that are picking up a guitar, strumming some chords and putting over lyrics – it’s not as easy as that, but even so need to be something a little bit different to stand out from the crowd. 

Overall, it has made for some nights of amazing music, even if it means continuous cajon playing (the unplugged bit effectively means no drum kits) for percussive accompaniment.  I’ve also been surprised to see my preconceptions blown away on some occasions, when having to structurally break down music into objective categories to define what’s best.

So, four acts in the final, Si Crockett, Chris Woodford, Phil King and Krista Green.  Every one of them plays what many say is their best set ever. The pub is absolutely packed – other artists from the competition, loads of fans of local live music, meaning the atmosphere is electric, and gives one a chance to catch up with nearlyeveryone who’s anyone on the circuit.  Enough of my ramblings, on to the prizes.

ITG song writer award.

This is for the best overall songwriter in the competition.  Martin from ITG productions wants to reward people with good original content and amazing tunes.  Goes to Ant Henson.

TL sound.

This is for PA hire, studio recording time and other related goodies.  Goes to Si Crockett.

Dreadlock photography.

This is for a free photo shoot by one of the upcoming portrait photo stars of the music scene, Old Bloke. Goes to Si Crockett, “for playing the best I’ve ever seen him play”

Purbeck Folk Festival.

Here Cath Burke is looking for an act that will fit particularly well into the vibe of this specific festival.  Goes to Krista Green.

Endorset in Dorset.

Gee starts by saying he isn’t used to and dislikes this judging lark (thanks for the support Gee, we’ve had to do this for 3 months!) and gets involved this time as the festival organiser available.  Goes to Chris Woodford.

New guitar (vouchers).

This was delayed with the main prize as they’re both awarded by Fiona, O’Neill’s manager. Its £350 worth of vouchers for a new guitar, since she wants the receipient to choose one for their style, rather than force something unwanted on them. Goes to Phil King.

Overall winner Bournemouth Unplugged 2011.

Finally we get to the end of the night – it’s been delayed (along with the previous prize) for 10 minutes beyond the others by Ant in the interests of suspense.  Fiona announces the winner as Krista Green, who wins a nice silverware trophy, a string of pub gigs at O’Neill’s bars in London, and rapturous applause.

Well done to all who entered and got through to any stage in the competition, particular shouts to Ant Lewis from Fairplay for organising everything, to Steve from TL Sound who’s been there each week driving the PA system, and to Fiona for setting aside most Wednesdays to allow musos to invade the bar mainly on their terms!  Also fellow regular judges Harry from Chaplins, Tone from bhone for the heats, Cath from Purbeck Folk Festival for sitting in occasionally, and Martin from ITG for taking some heat with me for unpopular decisions.

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.

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