Oxjam Takeover 2012

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oxjam bournemouth 2012 posterThere’s been much anticipation and build up yet again for the takeover this year, and the start is slightly delayed in the Pier Theatre due to VT difficulties creating more suspense…

Martin interviewAnd we’re off – Powdered Cows start with Lobster, Martin fresh from being interviewed by Beth Graham who’s producing an Oxjam Bournemouth Takeover Rockumentary. Powdered Cows @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012There’s been promise of a spectacle from Martin, he starts solo with his electronics for a couple of songs, before a lion and a crocodile join him for Lion Lion, with invite for the audience to take some percussion and create the song together

Catch up with Livvy in relaxed mode @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012There’s delays in 60 Million Postcards too, so I catch up with one of the Oxjam queens, Livvy, who’s taking a moment outside.

Boolays @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012

I head back to the Pier where the Boolays are hitting their last two songs, both of them debuts for the band. Soprano sax, twin dueling acoustic guitars and twin female vocals with male accompaniment means I’m in a brief delight.

Jack Grace @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Jack Grace is solo acoustic today, and sounds absolutely crystal clear on the vocals, while the guitar gently plays along to itself for much of the material thanks to his loop pedal. The fantastic ambience of the awesome pier theatre really works well for Jack’s voice.

Jack Vallier @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012I reach 60 Million Postcards in time to hear Chris Woodford have a large shout up by compere Si Genaro. As ever, Chris plays a blinder. Jack Vallier is next up, and chooses to do a set of acoustic covers, starting with Wonderwall, which doesn’t go down as well as Krista’s version did last night. One bit of really good news – Tony Warren is back on the local music scene having had three years away in London; we have a bit of a natter and a catch up.

Citizen Perez @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Citizen Perez (Steve Perry) is up next in 60 Million Postcards, and everyone that’s told me about Citizen Perez has been right – what Steve does here is totally different to the other material he’s produced in the other acts he’s in. He’s doing new material (some involving kazoo) as well as acoustic versions of songs from other acts (like Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) ). Something that works well for him is the novelty kazoo taped to the microphone, such that he can still play guitar whilst using the kazoo. Makes for an interesting combination.

Not Made In China @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Back to The Pier, and one of my favourites, the happiest band in Bournemouth, Not Made In China are on stage. Their music is in major keys, with some great contrary bass work, big positive rhythms, and the killer vocals which somewhat tell of life in these times. People are clapping along, the only thing missing for me are the dancing idiots like me, but then this is a seated venue after all… Lee (Escape From 98) is with me, between us we cook up a new genre, African Indie, to place Not Made In China.

Annie Winter @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Annie Winter is doing her set at 60 Million Postcards; she’s recruited a full band behind her, Tim on string bass, Ben on cajon and Joe (Potter) on guitar and vocal. She’s singing winsome songs with a laid back feeling, perfect for a dreamy afternoon; with my rushing back and forth I’m feeling I’m not partaking in that vibe. My loss, and yet I wouldn’t have it any other at this moment in time 🙂

Compere Si Genaro introduces Tim Somerfield @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Tim Somerfield is given another of the Si Genaro treatments, and kicks off with last years Oxjam CD contribution There There. Tim’s voice soars over the guitar chord work, as if a bird released to float around the venue, major chords giving a positive lift to the songs. As I leave to reach the pier Tim starts Supervillain Alter Ego, which is on this years Oxjam album.

I’ve missed Our comperes Martin Roberts & Timo Peach @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Mischa and catch Martin & Timo filling the gap so the Chicken Soup Choir can set up. They interview conductor Julie, who together with pianist Esther inherited a choir and set up Chicken Soup, because its good for the soul as she puts it. The Chicken Soup Choir @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012When the choir are revealed as the curtain lifts, I’m amazed at the size of it. They’re singing various pop rock songs, starting with what I think is Elbow, then Ash and Radiohead (I really don’t know my modern non-local music anymore). All the various instrumental components are sung, with oohs and ahhs and the like to make up the accompaniments.

Southern Ukulele Store Boscombe Ukelele Social @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Susbus (Southern Ukelele Store Boscombe Ukelele Social) fill the stage as did the choir. Lisa McQuillan and Jonty Johnson share most of the singing honours, though many others are pulled out of the esemble to solo and sing. I must admit much of my attention is on Nacho Jase, who’s playing bass ukelele and hiding at the back, yet seems to be filling the stage with his presence. Paul Tucker is our narrator, and there’s a spare appearance by Martin Roberts on kazoo.

Mutant Vinyl @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Mutant Vinyl have something special prepared for us tonight – I was with them last night as they were preparing the act for tonight. Ed starts trying to get his sax and vocals working to his satisfaction with the sound guys and the effects processing. Its not working for him so he invites his friend, birthday boy Tim Smart to join the stage. Luke also steps in, as Ed moves to the drums and Tim announces …. County Hospital…. County Hospital takeover the takeover with Mutant Vinyl @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012This means that the charismatic Ed switches to the enigmatic Ed and starts playing the tricked out beats he’s so good at, while Tim, Marc and Luke rock out some wonderful experimental stuff – then promptly leave the stage after the one song. Artistic Impression or what?  [It later transpires that this early exit wasn’t in the plan, its just that Ed couldn’t get the over-FX sound he wanted, so rather than give a bad show in his eyes, took the brave decision to chop his act, even though this causes angst and consternation for some – particularly the poor organisers of the venue].

head of a cuban trojan @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Head Of A Cuban Trojan (HOACT) have nearly played their awesome set out as I walk in, there are just three songs left, and they are amazing. Heavy bass, over egged guitar, a bit of a grunge thing going on. Then they start megaphoning the lyrics just to add to the musical contusion. Love it

El BosCo @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012El Bosco are a subset of Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) in appearance, totally different sound. Great melodies on Steve’s guitar, Ttubbs has some great beats going on, and Ed is pumping out the bass like a live one. Proper pop rock stuff, and everything starting to be turned up to the max on the PA. Its a little bit grungy like HOACT, yet not similar as there’s different things going on in the music and the vocals. Again I’m liking it, and am a bit torn to move to another venue.

Get The Tape @ Ontherocks Bar, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012On The Rocks next (as I turn up at The Pier for Momo:Tempo to hear Tim say he’s finished), where Get The Tape have just started. Big screamo shouty rock, upon which regular readers will know my views. Even so, Get The Tape are different from the rest, their drummer is able to play some really fast timely stuff, while the lead guitar is producing great tunage, rather than the mushy chords I normally associate with the style. Another band I want to hear more from in the future, despite my general reservations on the genre.

Know One @ Pier Theatre, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Know One are playing what’s been dubbed as their last ever set on the Pier Theatre stage. Starting with some long-lost Two Tone material as an intro and sort of soundcheck, they soon move into the moshing stuff they’re known and loved for. Massive bass work, big horns (Callum still running around with that sax) and the others making good with the drums and the chord work. They are really on fire, and they even play their request song that they never normally play, Invisible Reality. I leave before the end, though, for…

Yellowgroove @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 201260 Million Postcards again, this time for Yellowgroove who are in the middle of their 5 hour remix of Spread Your Love (Like A Fever), by all accounts they’ve done everything needed to satiate this noisy and active crowd. They get such a great groove on as they start Manimal, while still managing to take the rip out of their mate Nick. A brief crowd incursion causes a bit of havoc with Simon’s electrics, before they go into their next single Fading Out (available on the Oxjam CD), which is where I move out to On The Rocks.

Escapefrom'98 @ Ontherocks Bar, Oxjam Bournemouth 2012Escape From 98 have just started, and immediately start the heckling going. I have no paper to throw at them in return (their gig the night before in Salisbury culminated in a paper ball fight), so just bellow instead. We need to start a thing going – they have a new song Chorus where they encourage the crowd to shout the title – just shout “NO!”, kids. And they’ll love you forever and stuff :). A great set and a good end to this venue.

Mother Ukers @ 60 Million Postcards, Oxjam Bournemouth 201260 Million Postcards now have the Mother Ukers down, we’re still rammed in here as they play Love Cats then Cars before murdering Bowie (in a nice way), by turning Space Oddity into a chirpy number, while still retaining the modal nature of the song.

The evening ends in fine form with a little auction trying to sell off some particular one-design T-shirts, all to raise more funds for this worthy cause, before we continue partying the night away. I give up the party and take the option to leave for home, since I have diving in the morning.  A great, if wearing, day, thanks to the full on efforts of the team, Katy, Liz, Lauren, Livvy, Jo, Geoff and Andy, and all the others that I’m not aware of.  Please can we do it again, next year?!?

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Oxjam Jets & Jammin’ Evening Session

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Oxjam event posterGehko make Gehko@Oxjam jets & jammina delayed start following line up order changes to the gig tonight. Cool acoustic guitar with industrial leanings on the effects, as the bass riff kicks off what becomes a chirpy song. The next songs in the set create this vein of happy tunes with doubled up vocals.  Gehko have been around in this four piece guise for about a year now, their prior experience shows in the way the set hangs together, even with drum kit and PA hassles which caused the initial delay. They’ve been recording a debut CD engineered by Tom Clements, announced tonight not yet available.

Andy Stock continuesAndy Stock@Oxjam jets & jammin the paced style with his over sung acoustic style – he’s struggling off stage with bruised ribs and the like, yet there’s no sign of this from his set, giving it all with his voice as ever, with a mixture of own material and others’ covers all telling stories in song about gig life and home life.

I’veJack Grace Band@Oxjam jets & jammin not heard The Jack Grace Band since their DMA semi final appearance back in March. Tonight, in a slightly different guise, and more percussive than full on drums, its a very dreamy and laid back set, evocative of this Bournemouth surf and beach induced sound that’s being nurtured by so many bands here now. A friend of mine has tagged along with me this evening, they are most impressed with Jack’s band’s performance

Half Hour Hotel @Oxjam jets & jamminI’ve been waiting perhaps a couple of years to hear Half Hour Hotel in a previous guise of theirs, Lostaura, and I’m pleased to say the wait has been worth it. They are playing acoustically tonight, like the latter two acts, even so tech difficulties pervade their setup, causing yet more delays. Its a shame as various tech issues have invaded the whole evening causing delays to each act leading to dramatically shortened sets.  While Half Hour Hotel might hail from Brighton now, they were originally from Bournemouth, moving for a perceived livelier scene. This is most definitely Bournemouth’s loss; the vibe they have in this acoustic guise is fantastic, two guitars and an acoustic bass with cajon, rather than an electric bass as sometimes found with acoustic acts of this nature. Its all great and I’m disappointed when their shortened set has to come to an end

Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2

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DMA logoHere we are again, Mr Kyps, Saturday night, Dorset Music Awards, all of last weeks’ bands are represented in the crowd, good to see as this is one of the core reasons the DMAs exist for, musicians celebrating musicians being what its all about.

Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchThis second semi final is being started by Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion. Noticeable for the good music groove, the keyboards, a thumping kick bass, and the backing vocalists synchronised in their dance bobs with the beats and with each other. Starting up-beat before slipping in a slower love song, which has an instantly sing-along chorus and more good grooves. Halfway through they start with the work I really appreciate (I mentioned before the Allman Brothers style of guitar work), I notice augmented with a bottleneck slide coupled with Darren’s clear vocals to create a great sound. Unfortunately I miss having a catchup with them afterwards; they have gigs tonight with two other bands that members are in, so they have to dash off.

Jack Grace solo @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchJack Grace makes an interesting solo start on stage with acoustic riffs and harmonised “oohs” into a loop station, while the others join him on stage, and kick into an incredibly lively opening number – Alex playing some fast drums, Elliott on his special homemade bass, and Jack switching to electric guitar, while the acoustic loop keeps an undercurrent. Jack Grace band @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchI missed their DMA Quarter Final appearance and heard it was good, now I can see why people rave about Jack Grace. They slip into playing some really good tunes, however they seem to start sounding a little samey to me; other commenters suggest that other sets (e.g. at Boscombe Community Fair) have been slightly more involved and varied. I like the name checking halfway through the set, and the beats pick up again for a strong end

Bad Magic @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchBad Magic give us a resounding slap in the face with their musical attitude, and are also the first of the three acts so far who seem to have noticeably pulled a crowd along, lead Chris invites us to get involved, and the response is good with claps, shakes, jumps and shout backs. They are the only one of the many harder rock bands this year that have reached this stage of the Awards, they are the first tonight to make a lot of the large Mr Kyps stage, perhaps as they were here last week seeing what other acts did. What I really like about them is that they may be young, yet they’re not holding that up as a band wagon, just getting on and playing the good music, loud! They’re also brave enough to announce a new song, wouldn’t have noticed if it had been unannounced, to be honest, its as polished as the rest of the material.

The Devils Rejects @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 March As expected The Devils Rejects pull no punches musically and take Mr Kyps by storm with their furious and frantic Irish induced punk folk. The lyrics are clear, the music is great, the crowd are enthusiastically jumping around, and everyone seems to be enjoying the performance. Matt (vocals) is name checking the songs throughout, giving enough of a miniscule intro to each one to keep interest and information without interupting the pace, very hard to do and pulled off well. Likewise the constant instrument changes accordian / violin and guitars are very slick. The whole means there is no let up in the unrelenting pace and the ensuing mayhem in certain parts of the crowd makes for a fun spectacle.

Pachango whole band @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchOur finale tonight is presented by a very on form Pachango, confession time here – I used to find them quite variable in their output and production, this has totally been replaced by consistently amazing, vibrant performance. Pachango horns & percussion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchThere’s so much movement in the crowd, also reflected on stage, hence the multiple photo treatment. Unfortunately the crowd has thinned out before the eleven pm start, yet as last week, those remaining are being treated to even more dance-able music than the previous act, which itself is hard to follow. Pachango vox & strings @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchIts great seeing the chaps from Know One particularly bouncing out to the beats. Unusually and slightly naughtily, we are indulged with an encore – this crowd baying for more being hard to resist – this creates slight confusion as Pachango replug in for this unexpected development but handle it well and more or less straight in to an even bigger finish.

Dorset Music Awards 2012 Quarter Final 1

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DMA logoJack Grace has already played by the time I arrive (8pm start, hard to make if you’re as disorganised as I am and don’t get home ’til late to go out again). Asking around I missed a good one – Jack and the gang did a pretty faultless show, good guitar work, and roped in a female vocalist too to enhance their sound.

Krista Green @ DMA QF1 10 FebKrista Green is performing when I do arrive; having seen her on stage quite a bit recently with various other artists I’m slightly surprised to see her solo on the stage tonight. Not a problem for her, for the most part the near-capacity crowd are enthralled with her act.

Paint It Blue @ DMA QF1 10 FebPaint It Blue are faultless as ever, the songs are amazing, Hannah takes a bit of time out in between solid numbers to introduce the band members, a good important touch in my eyes.

Tom Clements @ DMA QF1 10 FebThe first noticeable element to Tom Clements is the large crowd he’s brought with him, who he enthuses and encourages throughout his performance. He’s playing brilliantly too, though lots of crowd noise is now prevalent, which fortunately doesn’t appear to put him off

Constellation @ DMA QF1 10 FebConstellation again have a large following here, T-shirts and dancing noted. The music has a new edge, honed and appealling, and the performance is visually entertaining too – I slighted them for this in the heat, but they had been partying hard the night before. No signs of fatigue tonight, just another awesome show like the other four acts tonight.

Disco's Out (Murder's In) @ Cellar Bar 10 FebOn to the Cellar Bar where Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) are making a welcome return, and ripping up the place which is as usual full for a Friday night. They inflict a couple of new songs on us which go down well, and Martin is taking more part now with witticisms in some of the gaps between, and within songs. Good end to a good night.

Dorset Music Awards Live Heats

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I started writing this halfway through the “DMA40”, 41 live bands over one weekend of amazing live music heats, for reasons that will become obvious as other blog posts materialise, I was unable to publish halfway through the weekend.  For those that don’t know, I had been invited to be on the judging panel for this, the most active event ever on the local music circuit.

I’ve spent 12 hours over two days watching, listening to and critiquing 39 bands (1 extra slipped in at the pre-heat stage, 2 didn’t make it), and while the upfront thought of this was daunting (12+ hours?, 40!? acts), during the day itself it’s an absolute delight.  As ever with the Dorset Music Awards, it’s a highly polished event, and somewhat charged (not as highly charged as some of the later stages can get) as many bands here are aware of how important these awards can be to careers.  I take my role in these proceedings seriously, yet hopefully good humouredly – we’ve all got to live with each other after this, after all…

Overall, the absence of ladies was particularly noticeable – particularly for the rock acts, hence I saw very little to differentiate vocally or visually, and just playing your stuff loud and proud isn’t going to help sway opinion.

It’s a little different this year – the bands can ask us for instant feedback after they’ve played; many unfortunately didn’t take this opportunity, however for those who are interested I have one hopefully two “good thing”s, and one perhaps two “room for improvement”s for each act (looking at it, much of these are repeated comments).  I’ll share these “verbal one liners” that have been shared with those bands that asked, Trevor and Richard have asked me not to publicly share anything about any of our thoughts on details (I’ll be writing individually to bands using the contact email the chaps provide).  I’ll also not be talking about who’s got through and so forth.

Judging Notes

There seem to have been an awful lot of rock bands this year, all playing good stuff, and only some providing anything more than just the music – and we are being asked to judge on live performance above all else.  To me, this means being good at performing, drawing in and working with an audience, a bit of stage movement where possible to suit the music and the mood, it’s not just about having good music, as that’s been proved to reach the live heats. As there were so many rock bands, those that captured our attention for whatever means were seen in a different light than those that just turned up and played (probably really good) tunes.

I’ve also seen many of these acts (25/41), some of those many times before, and some I would count as good friends (12/41).  To keep my impartiality, and prove for Richard and Trevor’s sake that I’m keeping impartial, these acts are “marked” harsher than they would normally.  We supply a “Yes, Maybe Yes, Maybe, No” score for each to enable uu to quickly seek agreement on the majority of the 20 that do or doin’t go through, then “haggle / agonise” over the rest.  I deliberately down-change friends to the next value along, and then rely on the other judges to provide their thoughts to put a band through either directly, or into the melting pot.

I also cannot count past performances (good or bad) into the mix.  I purely have to go on what is presented to me on the day.  This is very harsh, because the number of times I’m out mean I’ve seen bands generally play good gigs and bad gigs (that’s why I still keep the blog going after the first impetus, so I can look back at bands to see what I think).  This will often play against a band in these type of do-two-song competitions, as in the back of my mind I think I know they can do better, or worse, than what they’ve done.  E.g. I saw Mobius Strip on the Saturday night, not twigging they’d be back on the Sunday in the line up.  They performed well both times; on Saturday night they had a massively active crowd going for them, which wasn’t there in entirety on the Sunday.

Feedback Comments

As ever, these are my opinions, offered (as ever in my blog) in the interests of encouragement and yet to provide opportunity for improvement.  My opinions aren’t offered to try and pull down or discourage, but in the hope that those that go through will know something to try in the next rounds perhaps, and those that don’t go through perha

Day One

So to some brief notes, in order of appearance, we have:

Sepia Daze – Tough opening as the first band, and did good with this.  Energetic music, would like to see more audience engagement during songs.

Bad Magic – Good solid rock, well played and balanced.

Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion – great South Coast (USA) sound, longest name here, does the “Darren Hodson” bit need to be present? (later discussed it sets them apart from Darren Hodson solo).

States Of Matter – Tidy endings and well conducted to do this. Bit cliche rock. Consider more audience engagement.

Krista Green – Enjoyable.  Visibly get the crowd on your side if you can.

Veetacore – Good 80’s style (retro). Good crowd engagement – looking around etc.  Could smile a bit more.

Escapefrom’98 – Better than last time seen (see last week’s write up).  Good ska/punk and a lot of fun.

Robin Joynson – Good catch of vocal levels (enabling tuning) between songs. Good demonstration of confidence.

Voice of Reason – Lot of fun. Good voice.  Bass player hat entertaining (kept slipping over face).

Estee’s World – What you did would be good for street work, consider finding a DJ for live performance?

Ollie Mutter – Good working the crowd. Would appreciate more interest going on with the guitar work.

Pachango – Awesome.  Never apologise or comment from the stage on how feel about own performance.

The General Public – smashed it (was an amazing performance).  Could Hope (keyboard) stand up?

Sean Hatton (Solo) – Well played, well sung.  Brave and confident doing a new song (and telling us about it).

Know One – Again, another smashed it performance.  Uniforms good (only band noted to have a “look”).

Lets Go Safari – Liked the harmonies.  Good guitar work, but didn’t really “grab” me

Aaron Gregory – Can tell he’s absolutely passionate about the music, yet guitar sounded unclear and “mushy”.

Icarus Falling – Good contrast, and good vocal, though was unsure by the mumbled introduction to songs.

Shaun Gary Palmer – Good vocals and good guitar style, though it sounded “mushy”.

Yellowgroove – Love it. Like the jumping around and the audience incursion.  Normally have a crowd – didn’t see them this time.

Peace Love and Gloves – Good commercial sound, brought a huge crowd (though unsure what they were shouting).  Personally not a fan of the shouted lyric.

Day Two

Simon Lane – Good songs, good vocal range.  Unsure about the use of the music stand.

Dirty Jerkers – Good and loud (not overblown) despite the early start

Blue Stone Walls – didn’t show (think the same band didn’t show last year)

Tom Clements – Want to see again.  would be good for Bournemouth Unplugged (if it runs)

Constellation – Good engagement with the crowd. Second song a winner, unsure about the first (uniqueness)
Monkey’s Uncle – Good crowd winner.  Good harmonies. Cheesey dance, but I like it.

The Devils Rejects – Good songs well played.  Would like to see more stage animation to suit the music (second song better than first). [hard to find on facebook…]

Switchmen – didn’t show

Manikin Time Shark – Like the space they’ve given to each other to solo in.  As this is progressive rock (and niche) consider also dropping keys out for a time too, to make the music more accessible for non-prog fans.

JCJesus – Good bass and violin combination.  Not my preference of musical style but well performed.

Yoofs – Worked on the look re:hair.  Get out there and gain gig experience (easy to say, hard to do I know).

Paint It Blue – Tight band.  Clean guitar work. Hannah is an asset. They noticeably stuck around for much of the day.

Empire Affair – Good tunes and well performed.  Felt they lost the thread through being overblown loud.

Sketchy – Liked the keys work (although they didn’t seem to – used the F word).

Tim Somerfield – Here all day (+++). Good technique, ace timing (counting silence).

Space Ace Robot – What ?!?.  They’re enjoying what they’re doing, though it’s pretty inaccessible – futuristic Jazz.

Mobius Strip – Lots of moving about in keeping with the music.  Need to get the crowd moshing around.

Jack Grace – Like the groove, and like the vocal lines without the band being full on – different.

Pump Action Radio – Good solid rock, well played. Would need to be a bit more animate on stage for me.

The Deltorers – Good vocal work, and OK sounds. The live performance wasn’t stand-out (seen a lot of rock this weekend). [say they’re from Bristol]

Overall Impressions

What am I walking away with from seeing all these acts? Which ones were memorable? Which ones would I like to see go further?

Veetacore impressed me – they were the only band doing what they’d done – and I still have “Dogger Bank” running round my head, despite hearing loads of music since. (I have played this on the show, but even so it’s just memorable). They also one of the groups to feature a female lead, doubly memorable.

Pachango put on a great show – everything seemed to come together for them, though negative comments from the stage at the end spoilt it for me. Remembering back to last year (which I can’t count for the judging part of the job), the performance this time was so much better.

Know One seemed to be the only group that had thought through their appearance with regards a “uniform look” of black shirts and ties, they also played excellently.

Tim Somerfield seemed to have arrived before I did on the Sunday and stuck around for near enough the whole day.  He also played well, though his legendary customary crowd vitally didn’t seem to make an appearance for his performance. I also found out (at the end of the judging process) that he was supposed to have had a fuller band with him

Solid Air with Damnation Alley, Jack Grace

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Jack Grace Cellar BarJack Grace starts as I walk in late. Clever left hand work on his 6 string acoustic in contrast with the simple strumming right hand chords. As can be seen on the photo, he also relies on blues harp chords to augment some songs, and has a good clear voice too. The songs are mainly soulful, laidback stuff.

Damnation Alley Cellar BarAs would be expected, Damnation Alley are raucous, full on and in your face. Massive thrashing guitar, manic solid bass, and Addie J doing his best Animal (muppets) impression behind a brash set of bins. Energetic and vibrant, good if you like that stuff. Not many here though to enjoy it.