Show & Bmth Unplugged Quarter Final 2


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
(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.

HopeFM – Coke Can Jack

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Coke Can Jack HopeFM showTonight I have Coke Can Jack on the show – as can be seen from the other posts featuring them I’ve been hit and miss in seeing them perform since first seeing them in October last year.

They are lively while talking, they are also playing live acoustically, and have plugged the session to their fanbase – there are many emails coming in to the studio computer as the show progresses, many of which we are able to use during the broadcast.

During their live sessions, they are clearly enjoying each others company and participation – I tried to capture the grins they were passing to each other, yet had mislaid my phone.  Hence the posed shot at the end of the interview before they head off to the Bournemouth Unplugged heats results party.  Really god bunch of lads, great to talk to, and I reallyhope things progress for them.

Smokin’ Aces

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Bit of an adventurous afternoon – I have to be at the HopeFM studios by a certain time to be photographed for a cheque presentation. The company I work for have donated us some money under their “Connecting and Protecting” mantra. I make it to town just in time to do that (boy our daytime traffic is abysmal in town – I normally only go in at night…)

When I arrive a surprise is foisted onto me – can I cover Drive for the evening. Unprepared (I was supposed to shop for tea then go home and cook it) I agree anyway – what a blast. I’ve not done Drive for a long time (since 2000/2001 when I started with the station.) And had forgotten how simple things are with no live guests to interview and a computer throwing the music at one. Co-presenters Claire and Sully make it completely enjoyable, throwing in features and randomness ino a rtotally fast paced show quite unlike that mood I try to create on LiveWire Live.

Afterwards a trek across town to where I’d abandoned the car in a hurry, get tea & take Ness to mum’s for a photo hunt (we’re down to one car at the moment) eat my quick bite to eat then out again for the evening. So I finally get to Smokin’ Aces when there’s a gig on – New Volunteer doing what has been billed as an experimental set.

Nothing experimental about the quality, as I’d expect from the group, pretty harmonies and very laid back tunes, totally what the doctor ordered after the afternoon just experienced. Then I find out that was the sound check! The bar has only just opened due to some hassles, and here was me thinking the band were halfway through their first set, it was sounding so good.

So, venue report time. The bar seems small on first look, narrow with diner style booths facing a long bar down the sides, with the band in the window. It is deep though, with a back booth and seperate lounge area in the cellar. This itself is well-appointed with private booth, bar and kitchen area and outside rear access.

Back to the music. I’ve not heard New Volunteer for a long time (since the 2010 Dorset Music Awards I believe). They are impressive, the experimental nature refers to the approach they’re taking with the songs, not the playing since everything is pretty much tight and note perfect, with good orchestration and subtle vocal harmonies. They are ringing the changes, at one point bassist Chris Pedley takes a break while the band reform and continues, at another female vocalist Cassie guests, accompanied just by Chris Mears acoustically. Slowly as the set progresses the other musos join up until they’re back to full strength.

Meanwhile the once empty bar has totally filled up with the beautiful people come out to enjoy a Friday night out on the town. This means many aren’t necessarily live music fans but that hasn’t stopped them coming in and apparently enjoying what’s occurring. Rich and Trev (Devil’s Music, Dorset Music Forum) are here too – Rich is DJ’ing and plays some kicking tunes, some deliberately picked (he indicates) to suit me!

The lads have joined up with the bar to find acts that will fit with the bar’s style. In saying that, though, the ethos of the night is bands are requested to strip back from what they’d play elsewhere, either by ringing the changes in who’s playing at one time, or by playing different laid back sets than normally heard on the circuit. Rich introduces me to owner J (short for JJ – I kid you not!), he’s clearly a man of vision and not afraid of working hard for success – so I sincerely hope success finds its way to this great little bar.

LWM show

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Solid Air’s Conrad joins me for his monthly outing; tonight he has Lady Winwoods Maggot as his special guests.  This is a lot of fun for me, I’ve known and loved their music for a long time now.

LWM have been regular guests and their music is often played, simply because they are gigging somewhere locally nearly every weekend, even if not in Bournemouth.

Conrad has them on since they are playing for him this coming Monday, 24 January (Solid Air at the Winchester) – he always tries to fit in a guest from the next week’s sonic adventures onto the show I give him.

There are high jinks galore, both on and off mic – fortunately the robust language and subjects (as far as I can tell, anyway) is kept off-air, with manager Cassie keeping a rein on things with strong looks; her rein isn’t that tight – she glares at Mark when he lets something slip that shouldn’t have been said, leading me to quickly insert a musical interlude so she can chastise him privately.

As I said at the start – a lot of fun! (no I’m not going to disclose any juicy bits here, that’s not the nature of the blog!)  You’ll just have to come along to their solid air gig – I’m sure they’ll be happy to tell you all about it!

We play a few not-yet radio-played tracks from the new album Buffalohead, including an exclusive Beargrillz remix of the title track the chaps have brought in (available on soundcloud should you so wish) – Conrad is overjoyed as he likes giving the listener little behind-the-scenes insights

After the chaps leave, C0nrad and I hang out a little while longer going through a few things, before heading back to home for him and the Chaplins open mic for me.  Chris (aka Sir Lord Percy) is there hanging out, enjoying a night off from Mr Kyps (he’s the resident sound man there) – he reminds me of the Curiosity gig there on Thursday; I explain I’ve already plugged it, and played The Sabres, who are on the bill.

As for the open mic, well Si Crockett has been playing since the start. Si is playing Cheeky Monkey as a closer when I get here – it’s his first time out due to illness. Next up is Dave from The Luminaires (he also works at the bar). This is the first time I believe I’ve heard him play solo, the best way I can describe his style of playing is like listening to that opening to Pinball Wizard, the fast strummed chords and changed top notes within them – that’s the example I can find of his strumming technique. Having said that he’s keeping it fairly quiet and low key, unlike in the example I’ve chosen. 

I also have a chat with Andy Stock about a few things – he is preparing another Live at Chaplins CD, so making recordings of the acts ready for that. Andy, the kit needed is a Behringer Composer, MDX2100 used, or MDX2600 new. Huh, tech talk, I ask you. I head off after a short time in the bar, missing the later acts.

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…

What A Night

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Nathan 24 hrTonight (well, all day as well) its the 24 hour Hope FM marathon by Nathan Wells. I join Nathan as he starts  into the last few hours.

Nathan's 24hr suppliesI’ve been finding a couple of muso’s to join Nathan during the broadcast. Nathan is tired, (obviously) but still buzzing and up for doing the rest fo the time – he’s had a slow point at 3pm, just before food arrived for him, and everything had been fine since then.  I took a shot of the detritus people had provided to sustain Nathan during the show.

Mischa Weston-Green was on board from about 7pm before doing a 90 minute headline at Chaplins & The Cellar Bar. Meanwhile I’ve had a great night at Church small group – we had a couple go to Israel on holiday and they offered a report back.

Mischa & Si 24 hr nightThen dropped in on Mischa‘s gig (Si Crockett accompanying) at Chaplin’s just to catch the end of the set.

Off to O Neill’s with Andy Stock in tow to catch the end of the Revolving Door open mic session run by Si & Sarge with Nacho Jase. Missed the name of the duo playing covers as I walked in, however Chris Woodford did the final set, before I jogged into the studio with Nathan and Gordon Sherren from Smoothies on Monday.

Graham Jones 24 hrFirst on air in the live music nightshift is Graham Jones, talking about his inspiration, aspirations and disappointments before playing a couple of tracks live.

Then Chris Woodford joins us along with Andy Stock (they’d taken a detour to pick up some bits) to play live on air individually, and together (4 hands, one guitar)!

One guitar four hands 24hr

I have to duck out after 3am – I have work in a few hours… Well done, Nathan for pulling it off…

Entertainment in the Studio

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The Luminaires were my guests on the show tonight.

They are a new band, made up of remnants and soloists from around the area – they are so new, that they’ve only played 3 times before coming on the show!  Normally I wouldn’t entertain such a concept, since I prefer guests to have a CD to hand, plus have a few stories of life on the music road.

The Luminaires are different.

When I saw their first gig (at the Oxjam Bournemouth Takeover) they blew me away – they were the only band I put a (brief) description up about, compared with all the other artists seen over that weekend.

In talking to them, we had such a wide ranging interview, covering :

  • their own music (plugged and unplugged);
  • X-factor (we all dislike what it’s doing to live music);
  • The Princess Bride and other pop kitsch movies;
  • pub quizzes (Dave particularly is a bit of a savant);
  • Chaplins and the Cellar Bar (since they believe it’s the ideal venue – small and pumping when music kicks off)
  • various known and unknown African countries!

In all, a most enjoyable interview for me, although we did spend a lot more time talking than playing music!

They played a couple of tracks from the forthcoming album live in the studio – Today (a solo by Joel on the night, that will become a Luminaires number); Reality Check (about what the future could be like if X-factor is the only source of inspiration for budding musicians); and opener Hostage, which we didn’t talk about much at all!

In all, the two band songs showed off some good talent – lead and rhythm guitarists (Steve & Joel, although they swap) giving their all with twiddly bits and riffs respectively, Simon and Dave providing a decent enough bass and drum accompaniment (even unplugged) for Aaron’s vocals

After the show, dropped in to Urban Reef to see another friend, Victor, only to find he’d finished his two sets by the time I got there, so ended up just talking and catching up in his van instead. Shame I missed his set, he’s another brilliant acoustic artist.

Mr Husky, live on air…

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I’m always humbled on a Wednesday night. Humbled that talented musical artists will spend the best part of their evening with me talking about their art, creativity and other things of life.

This Wednesday was the turn of Tom Collier (facebook, myspace), who was in with Connie from Solid Air.  It was fortunate Connie was there, really. My voice had given up (come down with some form of illness), so to various catcalls of “Whispering Bob” and “Mr Husky”, arranged for Connie and Tom to do most of the links and promoter phone-ins.

I’ve reviewed Tom’s album Red Wine And Tangerines in the November 2010 issue of Listed Magazine (see page 44). I make mention of clear  (to me) Pink Floyd overtones – there are also signs of Prefab Sprout influences there…

Tom himself comes across as a quietly confident, passionate man, enthusiastic and eager to make good things happen.

The way he described the album was that critics had suggested it was slightly downbeat and perhaps depressing.  I would disagree, some songs may appear downbeat maybe, but I do find Tom’s tunes hauntingly beautiful.  Whenever I suggested a track to play it was “oh yes, that’s a good one” – and they are, all of them.

We even had a HopeFM exclusive (something Connie always likes as an angle) – the first ever airing of the final incarnation of the album, through including the brand new single Lost Horizons in the show output.

For some reason, the phones seemed incredibly busy –

  • Mark from the Winchester promoting a weekend of musicians’ musicians, beginning with Doug McLeod;
  • Sofi running the debut Mouseboy Productions night at Champions with a CD launch by Nick Harpham.
  • Beca promoting the BHF Red Rock night (featuring some of my fave artists) at Champions.
  • and finally Andy Razz with news of a Cellar Bar gig by my favourite female singer songwriter with band at the moment, Sarah Griffin.

After that packed yet slightly subdued show due to my illness, decided best not to go out afterwards to a gig; dropped in on Andy Stock’s open mic at Chaplins (my now usual Wednesday night haunt) to explain this – Andy had 8 acts wishing to perform, before anyone had touched a note…Missed a good one there.