St Georges Showdown

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Fran Milner @ Solid Air St Georges Showdown, Cellar Bar, 23 AprilAnother week, another Monday and I’m very briefly at Solid Air, this being my first outing for a few days due to unexpected illness. Walking in as Fran Milner reaches the last half of her last song, playing a gentle ballad on keyboard and singing sweet soothing vocals; yet again I’ve disappointingly missed a full set of hers.

Charlie Hole @ Solid Air St Georges Showdown, Cellar Bar, 23 AprilCharlie Hole soon switches in with a keyboard start, before singing an unrequited love song on guitar, because its “the law, somewhere” that this must be done as a solo singer songwriter. There’ll be a lot of this “law” tonight, The Milk Machine are headlining and heckle a bit about “the [unwritten music] law” during these prior sets. Charlie has a great voice, and can throw in different tones, for third song Everyman his voice takes on a deeper sound then back to the higher, clipped notes again. Good stuff done well.

Surfin' Dave & The Absent Legends @ Solid Air St Georges Showdown, Cellar Bar, 23 AprilSurfin’ Dave without The Absent Legends was on the radio show with Conrad a few weeks ago, tonight the three of them (Dave on guitar, Mark on bass and Plim on the smallest drums) are playing some old school rock and roll, very short numbers as we discussed on the show and squeezing them in fast and furious. Its all a lot of fun, Dave’s clearly enjoying himself, and loves the intimate atmosphere, “just like a lounge gig”. Its a shame I feel I have to leave as still not 100%, its all good tunage.  Means I miss The Milk Machine, and hear a few days afterwards it was one of their best ever sets…

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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.

Solid Air Cramming & Jamming for Chinese New Year

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Kimari Raven @ Solid Air 23 JanKimari Raven is on stage playing Monster as I enter the cellar; she continues with some softer gentler songs. Some of these require her singing when she’s stopped the guitar and takes short a capella excursions, which shows she can do it and keep it in tune.

Chris Poole (Sola Infrared) @ Solid Air 23 JanChris Poole (from Sola Infrared) does a solo set on acoustic, no effects or anything, which shows the undercurrent of good music there is behind all the processing and synth work of the band. I love some of the chords and notes he’s putting together, one song when combined with added delay fx from Conrad works incredibly well and delivers goosebumps.

Kathryn Price @ Solid Air 23 JanKathryn Price is next up, she’s introduced as the authentic act for tonight’s year of the Dragon Chinese New year – even though she’s from Hong Kong. She plays strummed chords and has a good clear voice, with moderate range; she likes going towards the top end of this. She’s also suffered some tech hassles such that she’s not using her own guitar, for want of a battery for the active pickup.

Aaron Gregory @ Solid Air 23 JanAaron Gregory is fourth on, starting with Bethnal Green, a song that has grown on me since he slipped me an EP for the radio show a few weeks back. While the production quality on the EP is OK, it doesn’t capture the essence of Live. Its a sad song, mournful, yet it is beautiful rather than dirgy. An added phaser effect just towards the end from Conrad is a nice touch as Aaron comments. Social commentary on a seedier side of the town features in Derby Road. He strums a varying amount of chords, ranging up and down the fretboard.

Milk Machine @ Solid Air 23 JanMilk Machine finally reach the stage, starting with an instrumental, Oozlin Daddy Blues, they move into People Are Strange, starting slow then moving into a fast pace for the chorus and remainder. After The Model we have Enola Gay, with kazoo solo – first outing for this song. The synth riff from the original has been ported to the mando, giving Andy “the tricky bit” as they say. After Anarchy In The UK (where they all sing in unison and harmony) into Losing My Religion; this “has to be done as its The Law”, if you have a mandolin in the band 🙂

Daddy Cool follows Take It Easy, then Brick In The Wall, before Blue Monday makes an appearance, first time I’ve heard their version of it – Taff has a strident rich voice and the dub beats from the original are originally replicated on Crowman’s cowbell and cymbal, the twiddly bits covered by kazoo. Sit Down follows Kiss – its a shame that a party I was at once stuck the 12″ special remix of this on, it was parodied then by a chap as “boring song, a boring boring song, a-” and this image stays with me for this song, especially as its a pretty straight cover! They finish with Ain’t Gonna Rain No More and would have used their Dorset love song I Adder as an encore, instead are pressed for more fast ones so pull out Fishermans Blues and a very weird version of Run To The Hills.

Rare Poole Outing

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Pete Christie @ BricklayersThe Bricklayers Arms was one of the best live music venues a long time ago – Pete Christie says he is playing his first gig here for nearly 25 years, and this was also one of the first venues he played as he just started gigging as a youngster. Live music has returned here after a long absence in celebration of Harry the manager’s birthday; Pete Christie is the artist chosen to play for this auspicious occasion, and Conrad (Solid Air) has been spinning some discs beforehand.

There’s a lot of familiar faces here, brought out either for the delights of the music, or because of the celebration. Since its a new venue for me, I’m unsure who would be a regular here; there is a great atmosphere and makes a good venue – the music is in the long room at the back which used to be a skittle alley. One notable here is Neil King from Fatea, who’s filled me in on the musical history of the Bricklayers.

The music room used to be out beyond what is now the back garden, with outside toilets, long since turned into housing. The Central is opposite just down the street, and across the main road is the Britannia; all 3 pubs used to do music as the Ashley Cross tour, where people could wander around between the venues (and some bands tried to play all 3 in one night!). Each lost its entertainment license until only the Central was left, over 20 years ago, and that has now gone, too. Mr Kyps, the only regular venue here now behind the Central, is a relative newcomer, having converted from a pool hall perhaps some 8-10 years ago.

Pete’s playing is superb as usual – I’ve previously used just about every superlative I know to describe his prior performances. Tonight he exercises a brand new song, Ballad Of An Ordinary Man. This is one of those rare songs that, should winds blow the right way, would be a hit. Instantly familiar, yet totally original, and totally memorable for singalong purposes, hopefully he’ll keep it for future. Neil tells me it is in the forthcoming Fatea showcase (due out on February 1) so catch it there.

Milk Machine @ SloopOn to The Sloop, another first visit for me (watch for drink prices – £1.60 for a squash!), Hawkeye let me know that The Milk Machine were featuring here. As I walk in I’m pleased to see yet more familiar faces, Ski from KFC, Sofi Reed amongst others. The music is cracking, good stomp stuff with old time, bluegrass and hillbilly; loads of us are enjoying the hoedown. The tunes are great, mainly covers played totally originally in the way only The Milk Machine can. Since Hawkeye knows I played Welsh Block on last Wednesday’s show he dedicates it to me, as I’ve just walked in, which is always a way to get noticed! What a night 🙂

Mischa & Merry Men @ Cellar BarBack to more familiar territory and Mischa is with his Merry Men in the Cellar Bar (after an obligatory Night Owl burger). Roland is back, Mischa’s also grabbed bassist Tom and as I walk in Alex has joined them on cajon. Alex’s band Admiral Shiny Sides apparently smashed the place earlier in the evening, being mobbed and “forced” to play 2 encores. Mischa announces he has an EP launch next Friday in Smokin’ Aces – this should be good – I’ve been waiting for fuller recorded material for some time, having had to rely on some open mic sourced material for a while now… I’m only in for 3 or 4 songs and all are performed with Mischa’s usual gusto, the addition of the Merry Men provides for fantastic musical exchanges between them.

November’s Solid Air Show then Open Mic

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Its the turn of Connie from Solid Air to be my co-host on the show tonight; we had Paul Tucker entertaining us with stories old and new, and playing songs from some of his former bands. Between Paul and Conrad there isn’t much that’s happened in the music scene in the area that hasn’t escaped their attention; makes for a very interconnected view of the circuit, since they can link all the various muso’s together with the assorted bands they had, are or have been in.

On to Chaplins for the regular open mic, and a couple of new artists I’ve not seen before, but need to see again – Fawnamarine (Jacqueline Hanna) does a quiet couple of songs; she normally plays acoustic bass, and yet is a multi-instrumentalist – samples are on Soundcloud (check out Movin’ On). Linford Dunston takes the mic after Jacqueline and amazes with his presence.  Alisha does some covers showing off a very sweet voice, then, unusually for an Open Mic, a full band set themselves up.

Milk Machine @ Chaplins 9 Nov — with (l-r) Flemming Fiol, The Crowman, Hawkeye Houlihan, Thomas Taff Morse and Andy Jack Ratt.The Milk Machine (Hawkeye Houlihan & friends) have decided to do a rare UK set – they normally only play in Denmark. Its very Irish in nature, a blend of country punk folk and all good fun and lively. Their version of Another Brick In The Wall is very surprising; totally unguessable by the intro that is given to it. They also look so serious while performing so humorously. Next up Kraftwerk’s The Model, totally originally covered as is The Doors’ (People are) Strange. What I like is one of the chaps just starts, and the others immediately know what’s being played – no flaff. They announce “a waltz” and all immediately launch into yes, a slow waltz version of Anarchy In The UK, full harmonies and everything! What a great night.