Oxjam Takeover 2011 Saturday 22 October

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Oxjam 2011 logoIt was at Oxjam last year that the idea was first asked of me (by the lads from much missed Bel Casino) to write up the gigs I go to, to help promote the bands I see and big up this amazing music scene.

Now one year on, this blog has grown its own shape, and the Oxjam takeover is bigger and better than ever. Its all started for 2011 at On The Rocks, where the Grubnium DJs are starting things off, and 60 Million Postcards, where I’ve come down for an acoustic afternoon with Ness.

Si Genaro @ Oxjam - 60 million postcardsJohn Llewellyn is just finishing, Sofi Reed is just heading out having started things off, and Si Genaro takes to the stage. He’s playing some more laid back and contemplative numbers, perhaps as its an afternoon chill; Ness likes that he has a different style to many other artists. Si Genaro with Kimari Raven @ Oxjam - 60 million PostcardsAt the end he’s joined in a duet by Kimari Raven, and final song has MC Jon on stage with him.

Tim Somerfield @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsTim Somerfield takes Si’s place, again staying chilled at the start. Saying he’s chilled though, there’s a lot of fast left hand fretwork going on in conjunction with the chorded right hand. Tim picks up the pace and goes more upbeat toward the end, making more of the crowd that have turned up for him.

Chris Woodford @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsThe penultimate artist this afternoon is senor Woodford, just him and his 12 string guitar, playing it as brilliantly as ever, though he seems to only do a short set.

Krista Green @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsKrista Green dashes in, cold off the street having busked for a while, provides great musical entertainment, yet its time for us to leave, having been here for a few hours, Ness needs to get home and I prepare for the night to come…

Sofi Reed @ Oxjam - SpyreI start the night at The Spyre, where Sofi Reed is kicking things off for the evening, having also started it all earlier at 60 Million Postcards. There are a few lighting and power problems – as I walk in Sofi ends her first song with no PA, which she wittily and humourously blames on my walking in, in this intimate environment. She plays favourite Breathe, then Broken Windows. As she starts the latter, the room descends into darkness as everything trips out. She soldiers on totally alone, in the dark, and still sounds fantastic!

MC Pat Page with County Hospital
Ed Pope back in Bournemouth

County Hospital @ Oxjam - WinchesterOn to The Winchester, where County Hospital are in full swing. They play their first song they ever played here in the Winch at their first gig, Mystery Shopper. The enigmatic Ed Pope is back in town, giving it large on the drums, its also great seeing Tim so relaxed and enjoying himself at this first County Hospital gig in town for a while. Luke on bass seems just one big grin. Pat Page joins them for one song as a guest MC, something different again, while Tim mucks about on an iPad. Slipping into their closer, Clare joins the stage to add some vocal changes to what has possibly been the best and most intense performance I’ve seen them give, ever.

Not Made In China @ Oxjam - Smokin AcesThe happiest band in Bournemouth, probably (Not Made In China) are in Smokin Aces starting off the nights festivities. DJ Trev from the Blind Pig Hot Swing Floor Show is hosting this evening. Not Made In China start as they mean to go on, straight into an African style guitar led swing / calypso. Trevor Hill introduces Not Made In China @ Oxjam - Smokin AcesThey also have some great harmonies going on.

Martin Roberts - Safari Park @ Oxjam - WinchesterBack to The Winchester and Safari Park (yet another band the irrepressible Martin Roberts has formed) have replaced Powdered Cows on the bill. I’ve not heard this 3 piece before, all three sing, Martin is on bass with this one. They are playing eminently accessible music, tuneful and enjoyable, not at all the quirky yet fun material I was expecting from knowing the other acts Martin is behind.

Trac Pawley introduces Mischa @ Oxjam - SpyreOn again to The Spyre. Trac Pawley of Language, Timothy! is hosting the Spyre, with The Chairman providing musical interludes. Masters Of None (Chris Woodford and Jeven) are halfway through their set, making good magic on their dual guitars. Masters Of None @ Oxjam - SpyreIts all instrumental, which makes it all the more special, especially since Chris takes it on himself to barrack some of the audience (well, Mischa and myself) in this great venue. 

Mischa @ Oxjam - SpyreMischa is on next, he’s lost his Merry Men this time and is performing solo, however he’s promised a few changes to his set as a result. He starts strong, announcing a feed line I gave him regarding DMA (billed as soloist and came with a band) whereas now he’s billed with band and is himself. Nice when people take what you say and reuse it ! Back to the music, as expected he’s animated and energretic, even though he’s come back from Devon, just for this gig. The Bands That Saved My Life is a song I don’t think I’ve heard before, though I must have done, full of angst yet still upbeat and happy. Love it.

Spiders @ Oxjam - WinchesterSpiders are another new band to me, they are playing good solid rock pop when I walk in to The Winchester. Strong drums and bass work with guitar riffing over the top. These guys then grab Ed Pope for his sax skills and they break into a form of jazz funk number for his appearance. The two guitarists are sharing vocals across songs since both have decent voices. We also have some dance moves being busted at the front of the crowd, good stuff.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.230707500316938.61483.100001330690156&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=234519013269120&set=a.230707500316938.61483.100001330690156&type=3&theaterI catch the last 3 songs of Empire Affair‘s set at Champions. I’m personally pleased to see a largish crowd here too. The lads are giving it large and loud, I’m pleased I made the detour to visit. Neil is doing just about everything he can to inject energy and verve into the performance, which the others resolve with their pumping tunes.

Mutant Vinyl front line @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsI arrive at 60 Million Postcards in time for Mutant Vinyl‘s set, just missing the ends of both Kentucky Fight Club at Smokin Aces, and Dirty Jerkers here at 60 Million Postcards. Mutant Vinyl announce this as their reunion, and its a bit different than their last gig in town, full 6 piece plus roadie Mitch. They are funking around with the rhythms something amazing, Mutant Vinyl back line @ Oxjam - 60 Million Postcardswith Ed’s lyrical eloquence interspersed with little sax solos in the opening number. All this while being able to hear “f… all” through the monitors (as he puts it). As expected there’s a full crowd here all in anticipation of the return, covering the full length of the long bar at the start, and quite reaching to the door by the middle of the set. Crowd to the doors @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsAt the end Acid Honey is inevitably thrown in, however totally remixed live and thrown around, both pumped up, then taken to a chilled out vibe, as Pat takes to the stage briefly to MC some stuff. The band carry on building a crescendo from chilled to full on crashing rock chords at the end, to immense applause and cheers. Mutant Vinyl are back (for this one night only, at least)!Mutant Vinyl Sax break @ Oxjam - 60 Million Postcards

Peace, Love & Gloves @ Oxjam - On The RocksOn The Rocks has Peace, Love and Gloves doing their rock thing to their usual huge crowd of people, all jumping around to the incessant beats. They also feature MCs doing bits and pieces of the vocal line, turning an otherwise three piece into five. Having heard a very early demo tape, almost acoustic in nature, I’m impressed with their live set, and the huge energy they produce from stage, send into the rowd, thhen feed off to push for a better gig and show

Michael Wookey @ Oxjam - SpyreI started the evening at The Spyre, and end here (well, almost), right at the very end of Michael Wookey‘s set, and manage to hear his encore, which is a simple number on onmichord and vocal synthsizer. He’s also shirtless when I walk in, I hear afterwards it was as intense a performance as an artist can offer; right on the boundaries of music and fine art, and is loved all the more as a result.

DO(MI) @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsJet down to catch the last last act – Disco’s Out (Murders In) at 60 Million Postcards again (running a little late). Like so many of the acts tonight, they are really going for it and giving out one of their best sets ever. The usual unusual costumes are evident; they end in grand style, with Martin ending up on the drum kit hiding in the ceiling… DO(MI) finale @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsA great party end to a great party night, with DJs on after to continue into the small hours.

I head on to Smokin Aces just to see what’s happening, and really enjoy the set played by DJ L33R0y, though I can only stand the pace until 2am or so, having been out for nearly 12 hours!

In all, 6 venues, 8 comperes/DJs, 17 bands and artists all crammed into 1 day/evening … How cool and together is this music scene in Bournemouth?!?  – please remember the Oxjam Bournemouth CD is available on bandcamp – 22 tracks for £5.

Bar Zuka launch Open Mic; Solid Air

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Chris Woodford @ Bar Zuka 10 OctMonday night means its Solid Air in the Cellar Bar, first I drop in on Ant Lewis’ new open mic in Bar Zuka. Aaron Gregory is just finishing, and Chris Woodford goes on as I’m there.

Spending that 20 mins or so means I miss Fran Milner’s Solid Air opening set; Si Genaro is out-performing himself on stage in an acoustic appearance. I wander upstairs to see some people, meaning I miss Krista Green’s first set for a while (she’s just returned from a break in Thailand).

Ant Henson & Krista Green @ Cellar Bar 10 OctWhen I return Ant Henson is sharing his stage with a couple of people during his slot, Krista dueting vocally with him in a cover of The One, then another friend on harmonica joining for the last couple, by which tiime he’s broken both G strings on his 12 string, hence going commando (his gag) for the closer.

Si & Si @ Cellar Bar 10 OctSi Crockett is doing yet another last gig ever, this time not with full band (since Ant is running aforementioned open mic, and Rio is unavailable.) So it turns into Si and Si double act, almost fitting for his last last gig, since its how he started before forming the band around him.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Final

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Ali (and later, Martin) from Constellation join me in the studio this evening.  Despite being together and gigging for over a year, Constellation only hit my radar through entering the 2011 Dorset Music Awards, where they reached the Semi Final stage. I’ve written much about them as a result on this blog. 

Having the chat in the studio is enlightening about how they formed from friendships formed at classes in music technology, and how Ali was subsequently recruited as a vocalist.  We also talk a little bit about now old song The Flower Song, and about their supported charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers

The songs played are special exclusives, prepared yet unfinished cuts from their latest recording sessions, a CD to be produced real soon now.  As ever, really enjoyable, made more so by fan interaction via received texts, calls and emails from fans.

I’m then (in slow time) off to the Bournemouth Unplugged Final in O’Neill’s.  Its been a long journey from that first Heat in February, perhaps made more so by the mad rush to get from the studio to the bar in time to hear the first act.  Of the 32 acts entered, many have been amazing, I’ve picked up many new guests for the show. 

Of course there have been some that have been good, but just uninspiring – there are too many people that are picking up a guitar, strumming some chords and putting over lyrics – it’s not as easy as that, but even so need to be something a little bit different to stand out from the crowd. 

Overall, it has made for some nights of amazing music, even if it means continuous cajon playing (the unplugged bit effectively means no drum kits) for percussive accompaniment.  I’ve also been surprised to see my preconceptions blown away on some occasions, when having to structurally break down music into objective categories to define what’s best.

So, four acts in the final, Si Crockett, Chris Woodford, Phil King and Krista Green.  Every one of them plays what many say is their best set ever. The pub is absolutely packed – other artists from the competition, loads of fans of local live music, meaning the atmosphere is electric, and gives one a chance to catch up with nearlyeveryone who’s anyone on the circuit.  Enough of my ramblings, on to the prizes.

ITG song writer award.

This is for the best overall songwriter in the competition.  Martin from ITG productions wants to reward people with good original content and amazing tunes.  Goes to Ant Henson.

TL sound.

This is for PA hire, studio recording time and other related goodies.  Goes to Si Crockett.

Dreadlock photography.

This is for a free photo shoot by one of the upcoming portrait photo stars of the music scene, Old Bloke. Goes to Si Crockett, “for playing the best I’ve ever seen him play”

Purbeck Folk Festival.

Here Cath Burke is looking for an act that will fit particularly well into the vibe of this specific festival.  Goes to Krista Green.

Endorset in Dorset.

Gee starts by saying he isn’t used to and dislikes this judging lark (thanks for the support Gee, we’ve had to do this for 3 months!) and gets involved this time as the festival organiser available.  Goes to Chris Woodford.

New guitar (vouchers).

This was delayed with the main prize as they’re both awarded by Fiona, O’Neill’s manager. Its £350 worth of vouchers for a new guitar, since she wants the receipient to choose one for their style, rather than force something unwanted on them. Goes to Phil King.

Overall winner Bournemouth Unplugged 2011.

Finally we get to the end of the night – it’s been delayed (along with the previous prize) for 10 minutes beyond the others by Ant in the interests of suspense.  Fiona announces the winner as Krista Green, who wins a nice silverware trophy, a string of pub gigs at O’Neill’s bars in London, and rapturous applause.

Well done to all who entered and got through to any stage in the competition, particular shouts to Ant Lewis from Fairplay for organising everything, to Steve from TL Sound who’s been there each week driving the PA system, and to Fiona for setting aside most Wednesdays to allow musos to invade the bar mainly on their terms!  Also fellow regular judges Harry from Chaplins, Tone from bhone for the heats, Cath from Purbeck Folk Festival for sitting in occasionally, and Martin from ITG for taking some heat with me for unpopular decisions.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged Semi Final 2

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Victor is in the studio with me tonight – eventually. He’s been suffering from car trouble, which is a little worse when said car is also one’s home when away from home.

Irrespective, he makes it for just over an hour, and what a delightful time it is, wandering all over as he reminisces about places he’s been, including national TV on his parents native Malta, where he spent his early years.

We play much from his latest CD Moonbeams, and hence talk some about the recording sessions (mainly all just one take, in a garden) and the reasons behind the songs. 

At the end I head off to O’Neill’s for the last of the judging sessions for Bournemouth Unplugged.  As ever, the notes here are those I jotted on the night for comment.

Krista Green

Krista GreenGood reception, working it by encouraging the crowd with clapping etc Well received throughout, yet not going absolutely nuts
Clear vocals, breath-y where it matters (2nd song)
Good eye contact
Walking Talking Catastrophe I like the harp-like sound she produces

Good variety of standard styles, pick, strum, percussive, staccato, well executed and chilled out
Overall a very clean set and pleasant, doesn’t grab me with excitement, as it is so chilled.

Wakes things up a bit with the last song through loop pedal use, yet tells us its an experiment so of course it doesn’t work out first time around (or 2nd or 3rd 😦 )
Once programmed up it is effective, and I like that she’s persevered with it – must be first use over a PA too. Unfortunately it all goes horribly wrong at the end, yet might have still worked had I not then picked up the “oh that didn’t work”!
So awards to trying, and I hope she carries on developing it as it will bring an extra dimension to her already accomplished set

Johnny Neesom

Johhny NeesomVery clever stuff, fast rapping over the plain chords
However, he’s running out of breath a bit (at least he recognises this) Again, clear vocals (they need to be as his performance hinges on that)
Not overfond of the near continuous swearing – he’s already had one song banned by the pub from previous appearances.
Sitting down is never going to deliver the energy that standing can deliver, even though this mode suits the songs he’s playing, which puts a sombre mood into things, even though he goes down OK with the crowd. He sticks to three songs as the last one Lullaby is symphony length.
As its a symphony style, there are multiple phases, picking, tapping, percussion, strumming, plucking, then harmonics as if a lap steel – all very open and laid back – it helps that I’d heard this at a session a few days back, as its somewhat familiar in places, albeit its perhaps 12-15 minutes long

Andy Stock Band

Andy Stock BandFirst impression is they’ve all dressed smart – except crockett. Even AJ has put a suit on for the gig!
Andy starts solo, then brings the rest of the band in with a “let’s do this thing”
Musically there’s a lot going on, and it takes some time for all instruments to be picked up.
Good bass lines and runs from Johnny, good guitar work from Andy, can’t really hear AJ’s harp or Ben’s banjo, and overall thiings aren’t really together.
For 3rd song AJ sings and Ben switches to violin, Andy joins AJ in a gravelly harmony
Things start coming together with a song castigating the modern tech life where we speak loads on facebook and through phones, yet can seem to be in a pub on our own a lot. The banjo is more audible, other things are less intense, and the song is a proper lament.

Phil King

Phil KingIts funny, I find myself willing him to pick things and kick them off, which I know he can do. Its Amanda (friend) that starts things going, trying to get people up and dancing.
Phil threatens to kick things off the stage literally, as Si Crockett has left his cajon on stage, comments about which get a good laugh
He then proceeds to give us a show and a half, good styles, good songs, good voice, good set.

Judges Result

This time (compared with last week) it’s fairly clear cut, all judges are of the same opinion.  The two Finalists are Krista and Phil, so congrats to them. When the results are announced this time, there’s no massive barracking from the crowd.  Its a shame it was so obvious, yet we still had four good performances.

Show & Bmth Unplugged Quarter Final 1

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 Big night on the show tonight, with a double header; Conrad’s Solid Air night is always interesting, Powdered Cows (Martin Roberts) was in tonight promoting the Moozikk album, being launched on Saturday 9 April to raise funds for the Tree Foundation to save the Pygmy Three Toed Sloth.  We spend the time talking about the contributors, the efforts needed to remix and remaster this 22 track master, and about the charity and the sloths (see the links), as well as playing some tracks. In honour of the next guests, Martin is wearing a special yellow shirt with corduroy grooves on it.

After an all too brief hour Martin departs, and Solid Air hand the show back over to me for Yellowgroove to catch up about what they’ve been up to, and their night at Champions for the launch of Fairplay TV on Thursday 7 April.  It’s great having them back on, we spend a bit of time on their set at the Bournemouth Unplugged heats results party, more on their recordings, they play two tracks live in the studio, and the single San Francisco Bay available for free download from their website is played out.

Again after far too short a time I head off to O’Neills’ for the first Quarter Final of Bournemouth Unplugged.

There’s a muted buzz in O’Neills, as not a lot of people are here at the start (the place fills up as we go on, is fullest yet not at capacity for the third act, then tails off during the last). Tonight’s judging is slightly different – we are asked to sit at a table near the front, watch and listen, then present some thoughts at the end of each act.

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 we are asked to submit a yes/no “Star” rating – do these guys have that undefinable something (the X factor of that show’s name)

The notes below are exactly what I’ve written about each of the acts as they play (just edited for grammar etc), which I use at the end to make my comments.

Coke Can JackCoke Can Jack start with a brash beginning. Good song and name check and straight into Beg Steal and Borrow.
Good guitar soloing (Sam) bit of a Steely Dan thing going on
Well mixed overall, pretty tight.
Good eye contact (Jim & Nathan).
Crowd reaction grown 3 yet not interested during the song.
Laidback summery sound.
Wild Woman slightly shaky bass and cajon together, brave doing a new song. [talking afterwards this was an experiment with cross-rhythms and off-beats, that I thought could be slightly tighter to make it clearer what was going on.]
Nice twist with Bad News vocals getting Chris to the mic at the end
Wishing Well cover. (Free)

Tony 2 Dogs is next, starting with an aboriginal style song with an auto phaser in the background. [I forget to take a photo]
Good vocal range, and sticking in the main to strong part of it.
Second song good back beat, clear vocals and tricky
Not catching the song name checks
Clever lyrics again (3rd song)
Only chords, but interesting enough to be above average than just a singer songwriter guitarist.
Fourth song very upbeat chords.
Loving the facial expressions.
Cover hey ya. (Outcast) included most of the elements of the full song, yet in the acoustic vein.

Krista GreenKrista Green
Lively open, lively opener
Good use of percussive guitar.
I know she normally stands up, but has done knee in through being slightly careless on a trampoline!
Amazingly powerful voice (from busking)
Cover all right now (free). Laid back, lots of encouragement to participate – she’s loving it and so are the crowd
She mixes things up by adding brothers for the last couple, congas and harmonica
Great groove going on.

Jonny Neesom finishes in fine style
Moody end compared to the happy songs we’ve had
I think its hard to access his material for new people, but goes down well with the crowd
Good harmonic work on the instrumental, has he been taking lessons from Chris Woodford?
He needs to retune, and fills the space with attempts at brown-nosing the crowd, and particularly the judges. When heckled that’s minus ten for a**-licking, he promptly switches to good humoured insults, causing even more crowd reaction!
Calls up AJ for closing song, gentle and strong. AJ provides good contrast to Jonny’s rap

A bit of swift calculation of the judges scores, and the results are announced – Jonny and Krista are through to the Semi Finals, Coke Can Jack and Tony 2 Dogs are out of the competition.  Talking around afterwards the latter two are good natured about the whole thing – their whole experience in the competition has been a good one, and they feel they can only improve…As for Jonny and Krista, they are expectedly pleased – Jonny heads back to Chaplins and the Cellar Bar for a post victory drink  – I know as I bump into him there on the way home.

Sunday Best & Sessions

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Very quick post to suit the very short night. 

Krista Green facebook photoAfter a church music group practice I start at O’Neills where Fairplay have informed me Krista Green is playing.  When I walk in she’s playing mellow songs, her voice is really strong which I guess is as she does a lot of busking around town.

I missed Krista’s Bournemouth Unplugged heat (the only one I couldn’t make) so I think the last time I heard her was when she made an appearance on the radio show. Its a shame the place is half empty as she’s giving what I consider the performance of a lifetime – as I’ve not seen her play before I don’t know if she’s alsways like this, but the songs, though soulful, are still uplifting.

After covering All Right Now she finishes with a punchy self-penned song, percussive beating as each chord is played, with the chords being staccato-stopped as a result. Really enjoyable. She’s playing at Mr Kyps On 14 April and would be well worth catching there if you can – message her for a ticket.

I’ve also been chatting with Steve from TL Sound. Looking at the site he has some good material to say he’s only just started doing what he’s doing now with the dedicated studio set up, although he’s been mixing for a long time.

On the way back I drop into Chaplins very briefly – Antonia Edgeley-Long has played, Bex Grant is playing, Tony TwoDogs is waiting to go. A few brief words with Andy (Japan, Andy?) and I’m gone.

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