Isobel Thatcher

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Isobel Thatcher @ Chaplins 12 FebI arrive in Chaplins, after a pleasant time with my church small group, in time for Isobel Thatcher‘s second set of the evening . Mixing covers with her own material, Isobel has a great voice that shadows and complements her well-thought-through guitar playing. With a deeper vocal range than some, and not sultry like others can be accused of, she’s commanding in the room, yet not over powering; she exhibits little of the angst others feel they have to demonstrate. As a consequence listening to Isobel of an evening is a really enjoyable experience.

Gehko & Tom Clements Show & O’Neills

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Tom Clements with Gehko looking on, Livewire Live on 90.1 Hope FM Oct 24Gehko join us tonight in the studio, we review some tracks from their album. Tom Clements produced the album, he’s joined us all too and since he’s the only one with a guitar, plays Promises out live for us. We have some interesting chat, and I also remember to include a phone in with Karen from Fiveways Folk, a new folk night starting in town.

Isobel Thatcher Music @ O' Neills Bournemouth Oct 24Afterwards, on to O’Neills where Isobel Thatcher is starting the evening, performing to a rowdy bunch who only want to hear Wonderwall. That’s become a bit of an in-joke thing, since Tom was asked to play Wonderwall five times at the Inferno Human Jukebox evening. I digress; Isobel has a strong voice, and carries on regardless of the rowdies, who move on to another pub as part of their crawl, leaving behind a more appreciative, and still full, pub crowd

'Taff' @ O' Neills Bournemouth Oct 24Taff (Thomas ‘Taff’ Morse) is also on stage, taking an unusual break from running things in Poole to play here. He has Jack with him on cajon, they start with a  cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, its a little different from The Milk Machine stuff I’ve previously heard him do. Next we have Jungle Book’s I Wanna Be Like You, then into When Doves Cry melded with Never Tear Us Apart. Each is placed into its own space, Taff plays each fairly regular, and yet this shows that he can both play decently, and belt out some corkers, even if they are all crowd pleasing covers. He breaks into an Axis of Awesome-style medley, loads of songs in the same key, slightly different rhythms, whilst in the middle of With Or Without You.

Annie & Jemma as Snow Wolf @ O' Neills Bournemouth Oct 24Jemma and Annie enter while Taff plays. Its Jemma’s birthday today, and they are doing a set as Snow Wolf. They’ve brought their own crowd with them too, filling the bar out again. They are on good form tonight – despite birthdays they’ve been staying away from the booze, as last time was a bit giggly so I’m told. Jemma’s strident voice commands the attention of the pub, and Annie takes some easy chord playing, before they swap roles. Annie’s voice is also commanding, and they harmonise well together. Thay also provide a comic interlude – for some reason, Jemma needs to lose a boot, and Annie decides to remove it for her during her own song. Annie tries to remove the other one, and instead removes the heel. Its all a bit random and bizarre, they’re giggling, including us with them makes for entertainment.

May Focal @ Smokin’ Aces


Smokin’ Aces is a great little bar – its obviously a good place to hang out, many people I don’t recognise as musos are here just enjoying what’s going on. The only blights are the abysmal lack of free parking at 10 pm in the town centre, and an exhorbitant £1.50 for half a glass of squash.  Just a short report tonight…

Isobel Thatcher

Isobel Thatcher Smokin AcesShe’s on when I arrive, she’s got a great voice, she’s also sickeningly young with a huge amount of talent. She’s just playing an acoustic guitar and singing, but I’m doing her an injustice with that description, definitely worth seeking her out again.

Natalie Betts

Natalie Betts Smokin AcesBelied by the name as this is a four piece band, Natalie leading on acoustic guitar and voice, with bass, drums and accompanying female vocal. They are playing good stuff too, voices working well in harmony. At the end they cover Teenage Dirtbag, its rhythmic, and an amazing difference to the original showing their creativity.


Vida Smokin AcesThese are the house band for Focal evenings. Three incredible ladies with amazing individual voices, combining their talents together and having a good time with it. Oh – there’s Karl & Rio playing for them to sing against. The ladies being Kristy, Elena and Natalee, they all have their various heritages, indeed Kristy and Elena were in much missed funk band Otto together.

Vida Smokin' AcesThey take turns leading each song, with the other two placing harmonic Ooohs and Aaaahs accordingly, or singing a choral lyric, again harmonised. Their cover of In The Air Tonight is incredible, each takes a different harmony, combined singing a capella, plus taking one line at a time solo, while still in their harmonic key.

As Karl gently brings the music in the verse is more poetised than sung, and we get two drum ‘ins’. The thing I really like is the clear communication between the ladies, signals showing counts, going high or low, and ordering their voice parts. Brilliant.