Rare Tuesday

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As my GodFirst small group meeting has been in Christchurch town centre, and it coincides with Annie Winter‘s open mic in the Thomas Tripp, I take the opportunity to drop in (Mrs H joins me). I normally never know the Tripp crowd what with having a focus on music in Bournemouth, so I’m surprised to find Graham Basic Blues Jones doing something different to his norm, perhaps as Ash (Blues Machine, Fish Out Of Water) is accompanying him.

Shaun Palmer @ Chaplins Bar, 24 AprilOn to Chaplins, again unusual as I normally don’t bother having been anywhere and everywhere on a normal Tuesday. Irrespective, I’ve missed Jemma Davies‘ set, and instead get to hear the delightful tunes that Shaun Gary Palmer produces from his guitar and voice. Mixing covers and own penned material, all the songs are fairly lively and jolly along, even if some of the lyrics don’t reflect that humour! A nice change to be out on a Tuesday.

General Public Show – Foxy

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The General Public @ HopeFM studio, 21 MarchAfter a long wait The General Public are able to join me in the studio, the delay has been caused by a booking in October being pushed back as the band were recording new material then. The new material is still being recorded and produced thanks to difficulties unfortunately typical to the recording process, however expect six high quality tracks very soon.

Irrespective, its a good time for them to join me, they are in the middle of performing perhaps the best they’ve ever done as part of the Dorset Music Awards, and its my first show for a couple of months as I’ve been on a Wednesday night training course with GodFirstThe General Public generously opt to do a full studio set, rather than a cut back acoustic session, that means small drum kit, bass and amp, acoustic guitar, and (huge) keyboard.

As hoped and expected, we have a great time together; that amount of gear they bring in means we don’t really start the interview segment of the show until the second hour, even so the time flies by. We have 3 live songs, and a couple of recordings. I was privileged to be given the first radio play of their debut EP Seppa Visions, now I’ve been given an exclusive sole early production cut of Your Boring from the aforementioned studio sessions. All interspersed with a lot of interview and chat about their music, music in general, and the song writing reflections on society. There’s also a diversion about face dancing, after one of my comments about Mike’s facial antics during performances. I have a great time, and they say they have too, good stuff.

Fiona Fox & Claire Beeston @ Chaplins, 21 MarchAfter this, and a bit of work tidying up (for example 2 months out and the CD’s are a mess) I head over to Chaplins Open Mic, where Graham Basic Blues Jones is performing some material, followed by Chris Brockman playing some fun covers. Next we have Fiona Fox, making a return to music after nearly a year’s absence. She’s playing a whole bunch of covers, the first ones well rehearsed, however her popularity ensures she’s kept playing and so the songs become ever more random, and some of them fall apart. This could be a disaster for anyone else; Fiona‘s stage presence blows all of that away and turns the evening into a performance to really enjoy.

Fiona‘s out with friend Claire Beeston tonight, and invites Claire to join her for one tune, before Fiona herself is enticed to sing some of her material. This is reluctantly delivered, as she thinks these are old songs, a shame as they are still good, and really show off her voice, still good after a year off.

Oposium on tour, on air

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Oposium Tour 2011Richard from Oposium joins me for 2 hours in the studio tonight. We talk about all things they’re into: 

  • the music, including debug radio plays of the latest two songs (videos available on their youtube channel)
  • the elemental piano cycle (they’ve done playing a piano in water and a piano on fire, now doing earth in this tour),
  • the Herd of Red Bison (the tour is called Have You Herd?)

plus the other wrappings that come by doing things an Oposium way – they are building an online virtual village of businesses wishing to do e-commerce, including the band and one of the church choirs they’re into, all built by their web business Conical Sphere.

Paint It Blue at O'Neill'sAfterwards I head off with some of the other station people to hear Paint It Blue at O’Neill’s. Great music going on here as ever to be expected with one of the most awesome blues bands on the circuit. They kick off with the slower blues in the main for the first half, reserving the punchier rolling blues numbers for the second.

Good stuff from a band with four gigs in 3 days ahead of them, and also a chance to catch up with those I’ve missed during my time away.  Next is over to Chaplins for Andy Stock’s open mic – Bex Grant with her powerful voice, Graham Jones with his blues and Joe Potter from Jouis (amazing gravelly vocals, totally unlike when he speaks) feature here, as well as a catch up for me with many others.  All enjoyable stuff.

Fox Dubs

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Fiona Fox joined me in the studio tonight. I don’t know what she’s done, but whatever it was worked as there were a couple of emails waiting for me on the studio system, and during the show texts came in.

Normally all my emails happen offline as I do my preparation, I rarely get them duuring the show. Whether they are Fans, Friends or Family I don’t know, but Fi scores highly with each of them.

We’re chatting away, and its just too easy to lose track of time – she’s had some amazing experiences in her young life and generously shares many of the more palatable ones with us.

She plays a few songs live, and I’m gobsmacked. I’ve heard her play in rough bars and over dodgy PA’s which have done her voice no justice at all. Hearing her pure and unplugged is delightful, she has a very sweet yet strong vocal, and plays well enough too (one of the conversations we’ve had is over her feeling that she had lessons on lots of instruments, and never got along with any of them!)

Something I pick up on is what I term an “endearing giggle” at certain points within songs – she dismisses this as a bad habit yet not as a put down. Some have obviously suggested to her that this is irritating, I still beg to differ.

After the show I’m talking with the people in reception who’ve heard the show, and they’ve been impressed with her voice and playing, in much the same way I have been previously mesmerised.

On to the Dubs part of this post – Dubnium have arranged a fundraiser for Haiti at The Winchester and Dubheart are playing live (DJ’s later).

The crowd are all up for it, bobbing and swaying to the beats, Dubheart rise to this and know how to play their crowd. Interruptions to announce raffle prizes are all taken in their stride.

How to describe Dubheart for thoe who don’t know their style? Take the necessary thumping bass and add backstabbed beats from a harsh guitar. Mix in stonking drums (particularly crisp toms) and you’d have any old reggae band.

To turn this into Dubheart add keyboard synth blended with sampled noises interjecting the gaps in the rhythm, add in a Djembe and throw some designedly meaningful lyrics, and I’m still only half way to describing their vibe.

Haiti is close to my heart (Samaritans Purse do a lot of work there, and 3 friends have been out with them there as relief and aid workers) and its clearly on the minds of Dubheart and the crowd – every mention of the country gets a cheer.

Halfway through and Dubheart debut a new track. By this time whole place is jumping and rammed – even at the bar there’s no refuge, and eveeryone seems to be here for a party even though it’s a school night!

I leave that hopping atmosphere to enter another one at the Chaplins Open Mic. Poet HiHo is on, followed by Poet David. Jonathan Cotton is in the crowd which is a nice surprise, especially as I’ve just played one of his tracks on the show. JC is talking to Fiona, who has also gravitated to Chaplins the same as I eventually have.

Tina and Lynford are up next. He plays percussive guitar chords while she croons away building to a fever pitched crescendo. What’s particulaly noticeable about Tina is her animation as she sings , she moves along to her song like a mime performing, really refreshing to see and hear. Talking to them afterwards they have no promotional material or online presence, they are just starting something so watch out for that…

Graham Jones is up next with a twist – Michael (rest unknown) gets up to do some MC work on the mic and it works really well with the style Graham’s chosen to play in. At the end Mike gets a huge acclaim, then Graham continues doing his regular blues. I take my leave at that point, bumping into Fiona and partner Phil on the stairs as they prepare something for the Open Mic that regretfully I’m going to miss.

Start of 2011

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I’ve been rather quiet on the blog – taken a break from the local scene over the Christmas break, including making a pre-recorded show for the station between Christmas and New Year – not something I particularly like doing for something I bill as LiveWire Live!

A bit of a storming night on the radio show tonight. Radio Boscombe were in with their dep The Girl From Uncle in place of Laura (who’s rehearsing for the Verwood Panto)

Various Monty Python sketches (in preparation for a new CD launch in March aiming to be for Comic Relief) coupled with a surprising party political broadcast from regular character Tory Marginal.

Phone-in’s included Trev from the Dorset Music Awards (where I’ll be helping judge the opening live heats) giving us some inside news on this years awards, plus plans for the present which may come to fruition in the future regarding a South West Music Awardm – would be good if this could happen, however I get the feeling that (due to Trev and his partner in things music) Dorset are ahead of the other counties in the region, here.

After the show, a brief drop in to Freeway Poets at the Winchester, before heading back home via Chaplins Open Mic night. Ant Henson is up, joined by a couple of friends planned and unplanned since Nicky Hann (over from another night elsewhere) brought her sax out to Ant’s tribute to Gerry Rafferty, who died at home last night having been in Bournemouth Hospital from last year. It all happens in Bournemouth, good and bad!

The song? Well a faltered start (dodgy key) when reset turned into an acceptable rendition, even if the combo was spontaneous and unrehearsed. It was good talking with Ant afterwards – he’s entered the Dorset Music Awards 2011, be interesting to see what he does.

News with the potential to be encouraging was shared by Harry, Chaplins’ owner. Remember gig-swap? Where local bands got to travel to a remote location to other places with a ready crowd, but died a death in Bournemouth when the only venue taking part closed down (Mr Smiths)? Well something similar might be on the way – watch out for some Chaplins’ news on that one.

Next up Fauna Marie (not sure on spelling here, since they said they were on myspace, yet I can’t find them…) playing some sad rock, very melodic with electric acoustic guitar and acoustic bass – first time I’ve heard an acoustic bass and not had it feed back which is a big win.

The bar is really alive and kicking. For an off night in January I was expecting a handful of people. Instead the place is crammed, people in for meals, artists for the open mic, and other kibitzers like myself kicking around. Ace.
Also on the playlist: Richy Jones, Chris Woodford, Graham Jones, Joe Hutchins (debut).

The Neon Tigers on HopeFM

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The Neon Tigers promo shotThree quarters of The Neon Tigers join me in the studio tonight. The music played focusses on their EP, a copy of which I was kindly offered before the show.
The packaging presentation alone is impressive, here’s what Dorset Rock Online had to say about it…

 The Neon Tigers Friends EPI think a quick word on the packaging is needed! … Friends is presented in a silver tin case. It’s a bit of a ^%$ to get in to, but once you do you’re greeted with a card insert featuring the above track listing on one side and the above band portrait by Tim Churchill on the other. The disc itself is cradled in moulded plastic and the whole package comes across like a collectors edition release. With it being a limited run, I guess it sorta is. You can grab yourselves one of these packages from the band themselves at a gig or at Square Records in Wimborne.

 In the studio, I must admit I spend much time talking about the band and their stage act, rather than the music. I’m pleased we seem to be of similar mind – they feel that being in a band, they owe it to fans, promoters and venues to put on an impressive show.

It also helps them stick in the mind, whether because of
the visual presentation (band look);
the makeup (they glam themselves up a bit for their take on Rock Theatre);
the food (Gary makes giveaway titbits for gigs)
or even the music!

Talking to them they are humourously immodest yet humblingly realistic. They seem genuinely pleased as punch to be in the position they are in right now, while taking a short break from a pretty packed gig schedule to threefold:
give themselves a rest,
give Bournemouth a rest from them, and
produce / polish some new material for a second EP.

Again, a thoroughly enjoyable time for me, thanks to these excellent guests, once more I’m humbled that they want to take time out to talk to me and my listener about their art and talent.

After the show I drop in on Chaplins for the open mic, its been a while since I was here on a Wednesday. There’s a posse enjoying a Christmas meal party in half the room, looks like they’ve reached the end of eating, yet they’re sticking around (mainly) for music and drinks.

Andy Stock opens as usual with a long (for him) set of songs.  He includes my favourite cover Shoot The Breeze from Alex Roberts.

Susanah Lea is also present (having seen her last night in O’Neills); she regularly comes down here from her home up-country. I heard her with a more Country twist last night, tonight she’s doing some more of her own material, and a couple of covers for the benefit of the Christmas partygoers.

Del Bishop is up next. Good grunt on his vocals, steady chord work on the guitar. He has an intriging mix of songs, some ballads, some up-tempo. He plays a goodly number of good songs, all of them originally penned by him

Graham Jones is last up. This time he’ s a lot more laid back possibly due to the emptier venue (the party crowd left at 11-ish), so there’s only a handful of us left to enjoy this different side to what he normally does.

Another busy Wednesday night…

An Amazing Revolving Door

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The open mics at O’Neills can be ropey at times; can also amaze through variety and talent – Tonight is one of those that amazes…

I walk in to a packed pub at 10:30pm to hear Si Crockett doing his usual thing, this time with Si Genaro on harmonica and Nacho Jase on Congas accompanying his surf guitar sound and vibrant vocals. While I might have heard the material before, the different musicians (and using the house guitar) gives the same songs a different edge.

Graham Jones next, as Si Genaro described him “the only man to make a guitar sound like a Harley Davidson …and that’s no mean accomplishment”. Graham does his own kind of blues again – similar riffs with a different lyric most times. His riffs made up of rolling chords, with “twiddly bits” thrown in every few chords providing the interest.

Third act up since my time here are Know1, a full band making their 2nd appearance, yet doing a first full acoustic performance – chaotic and disorderly yet all in a wonderful way. They play a combination of reggae and Bournemouth surf sound, pleasing on the ears possibly due to the natural laid back nature induced by the acoustic vibe. Their second song carries on the gentle musical vibe, yet the MC’d lyrics are poignant, describing the atrocities of kids in Africa forced to take up arms in uprisings. Third song changes the beat and rhythms slightly, ring changes reminiscent of Latin rather than Caribbean before their final act ditches the backbeats and offbeats totally, whilst still retaining the hopeful positive sound..

Next up is Howard Tucker doing some solo acoustic strumming, a hard slot to take up following Know1 (who were allowed a seemingly unprecedented number of songs). Howard has a good voice and enhances this with some inventive rhymes in his first song. Unfortunately the guitar moves out of tune slightly for his ballad, just when everything most needs to be correct to preserve the delicate nature of the song. He notices and does something about it for his final number. I forget at the time that I’d met Howard in Chaplin’s open mic a few weeks back, must remember more of these musicians.

Last up is a pure acoustic guitar played flamenco styles courtesy of Stuart Gauntlet, with lots of chords, stops and trills, making a need for intricate movements with both hands – I rarely see or hear true classical guitar in this fashion so this is a nice treat. Stuart tends to feature a lot on the Fiesta Latina Sunday nights at the Winchester, if you’re in the mood for this stuff.

Stuart then invites Si onto the stage to finish off the night with a few Simon and Garfunkel covers, Homeward Bound especially rousing enough of a response to get people singing along, which seems a little incongruous bearing in mind the way the crowd have mainly ignored the music as background for the past 90 minutes… The final number is some river blues, really Stuart allowing Si Genaro to showcase his talents on the harmonica, before Si takes over the mic and guitar to close the evening with one of his own inventions (I hesitate to call it a number or song as there is so much more going on, as ever.)

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