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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Ant Henson Leaving Party

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Si Genaro @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovSi Genaro is on stage back-announcing Rachel Henson‘s Imaginary Jam Band as I walk in, he then takes the music floor with a couple of surprisingly decent and straightforward tunes – he’s giving the beat-boxing a miss (apart from the last song of six) instead playing and singing his songs au naturel. Something that works well is whistling between his teeth, with a touch of reverb its very atmospheric. Shows that as well as being the performance, he can also be a performer.

Hannah Robinson @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovHannah Robinson starts her set with Monster, and continues with some more great work. Its better hearing her in this folk club venue, even though its noisier than a normal folk club evening, its still quieter than the music pubs and clubs she normally frequents. Her voice is very clear, the guitar work very open and delicate.

Ant Henson @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovAfter a short interval (where I take the opportunity to catch up with some of the great and the good in the room) Ant Henson takes to the stage. I’ve not heard him in such a long time; I realise I’ve missed the rotund sounds from his 12 string when I hear them again.

Ant Henson with Nicky Hann @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 Nov

He’s inviting various people to join him in songs, Tom Francis starts with him on Djembe, first joiner is Nicky Hann on flute for something fairly contemplative; they explain that she was the one that really got him gigging through a Parisian busking tour years back. Ant Henson and Fran Milner's helping hands @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovLeo joins next, he’s accompanied Ant with percussion pretty much everytime he’s played recently. They all leave and Fran Milner joins Ant, to “cover his mistakes on piano”, as he puts it. He does a cover of an Our Blinkered Eyes song, Glass Eyed Doors. Ant Henson with Tom Flanery & Si Genaro duelling harmonicas @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovNext up are  Tom Flanery and Si Genaro on duelling harmonicas as the pace picks up, such that the music is fast and furious by the time Tom Francis and Leo rejoin on percussion for 20 42, a supposed spoof song that kept its place in Ant’s set as its turned out he likes it.

Ant Henson with Tom Francis, Tom Flanery, Stephen King Leo @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 Nov

A good evening, and a great send off.

I drop into Chaplins Bar on the way home, and Adam Phillips (Asp, Fish Out Of Water) has the whole bar clapping and hollering as he finishes an energetic song.

Alex Cope @ Chaplins, 11 November

Alex Cope is running the night for Andy Stock, and closes the evening, playing a few covers, and also inserting a lot of his own material, in the style of some of the covers

Oxjam Show & Gigs

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What a packed show – and with no live music session. Geoff from the Oxjam Bournemouth team drops by to give Chinners and I a run for our money on the talking front. There are so many gigs this week that the entire show was filled just with a gig guide and a few interspersed songs.

Fran Milner @ O'Neills 17 Oct

We’re so full, with texts and calls coming in, I completely forget my prep to promote Fiveways Folk, a new plug in and play folk night starting on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, the first session being on 24 October.

Sweetchunks @ O'Neills 17 Oct

On to O’Neills, where its my first chance to hear Fran Milner since she started gigging again a few months back. She’s just playing guitar, fairly simply, and her voice is compelling, really striding out across the muted audience.

"Stewart" @ Chaplins Open Mic, 17 Oct

Next up we have Sweetchunks, bravely going solo with a 6 stringed banjo. This doesn’t work (or rather, his fingers don’t) for the song he wants to start with, a Levellers cover, so instead switches to an old time style blues number and continues in the Americana trend. I’m enjoying it, there is a lot of self- and banjo- mickey taking, and the humorous songs despite seeming novelty, show a deep thoughtfulness too.

Antonia Edgeley-Long & Alex Taylor @ Chaplins Open Mic 17 OctOn to Chaplins for the open mic. There are rumours that Joe Potter and Antonia Edgeley-Long will be playing, not yet though, Stewart is renditioning some guitar and harmonica for us. Antonia is up next, with Alex paying some clever Spanish guitar for her to sing some covers with, along with added effects from the mixing desk.

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…

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.