Hawkeye’s Birthday – A Poole Story

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Milk Machine @ Hope FM 15 FebIts a Sunday evening, I’ve been at a family party in Southampton all afternoon, and Hawkeye Houlihan let me know about his open celebration tonight, when one of the bands he’s in, The Milk Machine, were featured on the radio show a couple of weeks ago.  Much fun ensued on mic and while we were off air too – the photo kind of shows it all – 5 large blokes squeezed into a small box.

Quinns Quinney @ Sloop for Hawkeye Bday 26 FebBack to tonight, and Quinns Quinney (well, a much reduced version augmented by some The Milk Machine hangers on) are on stage at The Sloop, doing their usual array of mixed up covers, Eye Of The Badger, then a Greek dance version of Hit Me Baby One More Time (with orders not to laugh). Despite not being full complement, they are still playing their folk stomp material, fast, furious and demanding to be jumped to.

The Milk Machine @ Sloop for Hawkeye Bday 26 FebThe Milk Machine are in full effect tonight, even though Hawkeye has by this time been plied with enough rum to make him comically forget the set order, delegating (or delicating as he puts it) to the other members of the band both choice and vocals. Lots of Happy Birthdays and even a champagne presentation interrupt the set, with much merriment too. For their last song we have a kazoo orchestra to improvise a brass section, as the song is revealed to be Dance The Night Away

The Jack Ratts @ Sloop for Hawkeye Bday 26 FebThe Jack Ratts are the last band for this night, and have grown to a musically filling seven piece from when I’ve seen them before. Furious irish style, much like the Pogues thanks to the accordion and fiddle, and with added washboard from Crowman making a repeat appearance. Sidney on the mandolin and bouzouki has been in all three bands tonight, a bit of a master effort considering the frenetic nature of the tunes.

A Frenetic Pink Moon

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Phil. J King is just starting when I arrive – I spoke at length about him a few gigs back – suffice to say this time I get to hear my favourite track of his, Life’s Rich Tapestry – loaned guitar and all (broke a string in the first song – big thanks to opener David Brown for being generous) .

Iridescent Lightbulb and Pointless Graffiti also please this critic, well written, and offering different musical perspectives between them. Each of these are available on Phil’s 2009 EP Life’s Rich Tapestry, available from Phil at gigs, or by messaging him.

Next up Annie Winter and Jemma Davies; they’ve picked novelty name Constable for this gig, starting by a debut of a track penned last night, fresh indeed. Annie plays, Jemma sings. They’re very giggly and a lot of fun, not taking themselves at all seriously, even though the song topics feature strong issues such that the giggles and crude comments are a bit of a distraction.

It’s also interesting to hear their alternating voices as Annie solos the second song; Annie much like a deep Stevie Nicks, Jemma more of an Amy Winehouse. It takes until the fourth song for them to sing an arrangement together, Jemma harmonising in the chorus of a song predominantly Annie’s. They switch the guitar over for one song, Jemma’s turn to be doing the solo, before handing back Annie’s musical dominance.

Next up an amalgam of Quinns Quinney and Jack Ratts. The instrument mix is something else – bouzouki, washboard, fiddle, acoustic guitar, two banjos and a bass guitar!

With this mix it’s no wonder they launch straight into frenetically pacey bluegrass – Cripplecreek up first. Eventually the vocals catch up with the music volume-wise, with 9 things going on all at once there’s a lot to keep ones ears occupied..

Jack Ratts feature one of the fastest pickers as noted by Andy Stock in bouzouki player Andy. He’s also calling many of the shots for this jam session – they’ve not played together before so everything is one big experiment, which works (for the most part, broken strings excepted). What I find vaguely amusing is my mate, Hawkeye, is up with the second banjo, however a string break causes him to miss out on a few songs, then he can never get back into it (so he comments after). Hawkeye is a professional troubadour, particularly playing in Denmark – shows that even pro’s can get thrown with this sort of playing.

Chris Woodford closes the evening on the nightshift, however I’m leaving before pumpkin time.