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.