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.)

LiveWire Live & Open Mic

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It was a show night, having had a band booked who were subsequently unable to come in, and having had such a fantastic weeked of Oxjam, decided to turn the show into a retrospective.  Having said that, still managed to fill the live music time with Andy Stock, who joined me in the studio.

Andy is real passionate about the music scene – he runs an Open Mic at Chaplins on a Wednesday (which he delayed for me to make this appearance tonight), plays in Hollowood and formerly Burning Shepherd and has made the occasional solo piece.  He was very much behind the scenes at Bournemouth Oxjam takeover; involved in the 6 month run up, then not being available on the weekend. Andy also arranges benefit gigs at Chaplins & The Cellar Bar – one’s coming up in a couple of weeks time (6 November)

Chaplins Banner
Chaplins Banner

After the show, which as usual seemed to be packed with music, chat and phone-ins (thanks to many of the Bournemouth Oxjam takeover promoters & organisers) I popped along to Andy’s open mic night, to find (surprise surprise) him opening up the night (once it was set up – late – thanks to me!). 

After Andy, Mischa (who had just stopped by briefly to say hello) was coerced into one performance (brilliant as ever, though he was on a borrowed guitar, and not “in his zone”).

After a short break, Howard Tucker got up and did a turn.  This was his debut performance in Bournemouth, having moved here 5 months before.  Hope to hear more of him, good solid work, and not much sign of the nerves. He commented that he didn’t yet know many people on the scene – at least he’d found the best bar to bump into many muso people…

Howard was followed by Graham Jones, with his inimitable guitar style and stomping blues.  Graham has a good voice, and is very generous within the community. I just find his manner of playing and shouting repetitive after the first two songs, which is a shame as he is good, it’s just me I guess…

Hans Slack was up next, the crowd really got along with his tunes. He finished with his cover of Sex On Fire, which I have heard a few times now. I think (about to annoy other acoustic artists here) that Hans’ rendition was one of the best ones I’ve come across, even with a slip up here and there.

Last act of the night was Chris Woodford.  I use a rendition of Chris’ Best Foot Forwards as the backing music for my show nowadays, his pieces (while they have names) are all instrumental, plucked slapped and strummed on a 12 string. 

As a closer, Andy Stock again took to the mic with a dedication to me – a cover of Alex Roberts’ Shoot The Breeze (we’d been talking about this song on the show). A nice rendition, if a mournful song (Alex’ version can be purchased from his website to raise funds for the Big Issue, and the story behind the song is posted there.

An open mic night for me isn’t only about the music – a lot of friends are there, Fiona Fox being one. Normally she’d be playing in a slot, however she wasn’t feeling up to it this night, shame. Also had a chance to catch up with David, the new chef in Chaplins – he’s with Harry for the long haul, trying to make a go of the cafe bar opportunity during the daytime with interesting menus, and reasonable prices, in the laid back atmosphere that Chaplins offers. 

Spent a lot of time with Harry, the owner of the bar – he’s making changes continually – the latest one being a replacement shelter over some of the back garden, and making good the existing fountains and waterfalls around the fishpond.  He has a strong vision for what he wants to see come of Boscombe, with the uprating of the seafront and redevelopment of the area in general, and a welcoming cafe bar is part of that redevelopment.