General Public Show – Foxy

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The General Public @ HopeFM studio, 21 MarchAfter a long wait The General Public are able to join me in the studio, the delay has been caused by a booking in October being pushed back as the band were recording new material then. The new material is still being recorded and produced thanks to difficulties unfortunately typical to the recording process, however expect six high quality tracks very soon.

Irrespective, its a good time for them to join me, they are in the middle of performing perhaps the best they’ve ever done as part of the Dorset Music Awards, and its my first show for a couple of months as I’ve been on a Wednesday night training course with GodFirstThe General Public generously opt to do a full studio set, rather than a cut back acoustic session, that means small drum kit, bass and amp, acoustic guitar, and (huge) keyboard.

As hoped and expected, we have a great time together; that amount of gear they bring in means we don’t really start the interview segment of the show until the second hour, even so the time flies by. We have 3 live songs, and a couple of recordings. I was privileged to be given the first radio play of their debut EP Seppa Visions, now I’ve been given an exclusive sole early production cut of Your Boring from the aforementioned studio sessions. All interspersed with a lot of interview and chat about their music, music in general, and the song writing reflections on society. There’s also a diversion about face dancing, after one of my comments about Mike’s facial antics during performances. I have a great time, and they say they have too, good stuff.

Fiona Fox & Claire Beeston @ Chaplins, 21 MarchAfter this, and a bit of work tidying up (for example 2 months out and the CD’s are a mess) I head over to Chaplins Open Mic, where Graham Basic Blues Jones is performing some material, followed by Chris Brockman playing some fun covers. Next we have Fiona Fox, making a return to music after nearly a year’s absence. She’s playing a whole bunch of covers, the first ones well rehearsed, however her popularity ensures she’s kept playing and so the songs become ever more random, and some of them fall apart. This could be a disaster for anyone else; Fiona‘s stage presence blows all of that away and turns the evening into a performance to really enjoy.

Fiona‘s out with friend Claire Beeston tonight, and invites Claire to join her for one tune, before Fiona herself is enticed to sing some of her material. This is reluctantly delivered, as she thinks these are old songs, a shame as they are still good, and really show off her voice, still good after a year off.

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Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1

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DMA logoLooking back at this blog, I’ve not written up any gigs in the past two weeks, probably as I’ve been a bit of a hermit gig-wise due to other things going on;  I have been to some open mics though I rarely write these up…
Anyway, we’re here, Mr Kyps is open, we’re congregating here again for the annual two-week pilgrimage to enjoy the current ten best bands in Dorset, courtesy of the Dorset Music Awards 2012.

The General Public @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchThe hard job of starting off is given to The General Public, who take on the task admirably. Lead guitar and vocalist Mike makes a strong effort by calling in the crowd, who respond, and they kick off with a slow starter You’re Boring that warms up into their funk vibe. I love the chords in the middle of this one. A couple of songs and we’re into a vibed up version of Get It On. Here they take solo slots, and miss the opportunity to introduce each other to the crowd. Something that is good in this and a couple of others is their fade outs at the ends of songs, just done by them backing off, very clever. Badges are also being passed about in abundance – I’m talking with Mark from Peace Love and Gloves as they reach us, and he takes one too! Back to the music, and there’s some movement in the crowd to the irresistible beats. A strong starting act of our five tonight.

Paint It Blue @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchPaint It Blue are our second musical delight for the evening – and Fish has made a surprise appearance for the weekend (they played together for the first time in a while at last night’s Wheatsheaf gig). It’s as if he’d never been away, he’s perfectly blending in with the rest of the band as he does, they themselves are cranking things up and giving some amazing virtuoso demonstrations, while still keeping it together within the blues rhythms. During one slow number they leave Pete to do another solo, the rest of them just coming in with a single chord every beat so often – impressively tight.

Another thing good to see is some of next weeks bands’ members making an appearance in the crowd tonight, just enjoying the music, though I’m sure they must also be checking out the competition :).

Peace Love And Gloves @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 March Middle act tonight are Peace Love and Gloves, and as expected the most noticeable thing has been their crowd work, T-shirts are in abundance not only in the audience, but behind the bar and on stage crew members too. Bang Bang Bang is started to the “Goujon” chanted accompaniment, as are the rest of the songs in the set. Second song Ashamed is delivered with particular pizazz, the gaps and breaks are tight and together. Guest vocal poet Jordan makes a “surprise” appearance (throwing shirts – and I miss one) during Dance All Night, while a bit of a disco beat starts up from the guys. Later we’re also treated to our first moshable song in the unfortunately named I F* City.

Yellowgroove @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchWe have an extended introduction to Yellowgroove‘s set, tech problems with lead Simon’s acoustic guitar sorted by a changeover, while the rest of the band carry on with the beats and groove. Any frustration created by this is then let rip for the rest of the set, Simon from Yellowgrove Crowd Invasion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchSimon starting by straddling the stage / barrier gap as Son Of A Working Man is entered, followed by an over-pumped Hero Wanted. I think they’ve found a groove with new song That Man Is An Animal they debut tonight – pacey and spiky, strong rock feel to the drums. They also give a makeover to Fading Out, it is punchier and a lot heavier on the drums and bass, except for a jazz-like riff to end, where they break down the instrumentals. They end with Blood On The Flag; even more martial than previous outings yet still has the guitar work sounding synth-like, that amazing pedal programming that I like so much oozing out into the Mr Kyps Auditorium. A big build to the energetic ending, Simon finishing off playing in the crowd after a stage dive. Awesome.

Know One @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchLast act tonight are Know One, starting with a nicely reverb and delay effected sax solo, they soon break into the thumping ska/reggae they’re noted for. Shame the crowd has thinned out, those remaining are far louder than the dedicated fans of the others we’ve had tonight, though there is still an occasional “Goujon” from the PLG crowd! Child Soldier is worked out well, slower than others, everyone gets down to the vibe. A nice touch – the crowd is shouting for Shot Down; its not on the set list. However they slip it in anyway, and not surprisingly people go even more nuts :). That’s what I really can’t capture in mere words here, the energy on stage, the entire front wooden floor moving with bodies gyrating and jumping, I can feel the floor shaking if I stand still!

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 3

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Dirty Jerkers @ DMA QF3 24 FebWe start early tonight with Dirty Jerkers, who have been carried over from last week due to illness. They have sond good guitar sounds for their opening song that I like, and are throwing plenty of life into their set, for the most part (the bass player rarely turns to face the crowd). Even though there’s a less than normal crowd due to the early start – up to near capacity by the time they finish, the songs are squeezed in short, to get as many in in their set time. Its a shame they need to retune halfway through the set, as they lose the momentum gained from the third song, a strutty number which shows the variety these guys have, and let’s them visually entertain too. It’s a good set, I just feel I’ve wanted more verbal encouragement from the stage to the crowd to mosh, as the music and their antics require it 🙂

Voice Of Reason @ DMA QF3 24 FebVoice of Reason always pull out a lot of stops musically and visually, within the limitations of the showcase format. Singer Addie Jay encourages us to get involved, he’s also worked hard on the promotional material, good quality flyers etc. As an example of a break from their otherwise regularr hard rock, Dead And Gone has an amazing a capella start, voices in unison, while the drummer juggles his sticks in time to the beats during the song.

Veetacore @ DMA QF3 24 FebI’ve previously described Veetacore as a good retro 80’s sound, doing them a bit of an injustice. They are modern while having that cool throwback with the music, aided by clever (one handed! – the other holding the mic) synth work against thumping bass riffs. Becky keeps name checking, and forward throws teasers about gigs and a new EP, which is a good thing. Tom’s guitar pedal board deserves its own photo – its huge.Veetacore - pedal board (well oversize) They also sing harmonies on occasion, and are pretty animated to the punchy music, they go down well with the crowd too.

The General Public @ DMA QF3 24 Feb I’m expecting great things from The General Public, and they don’t disappoint. Starting with a bit of a slant to Talking Heads, they next move into the funkier numbers I like the best from them, starting with Disillusioned Generation, a brilliant capture of the current mood of the nation, whether old or young. Mike’s faces are something to behold, and the dischords between bass and keys (standing up makes a big difference to the visual dynamic) work really well for me. Richie’s drumming is absolutely spot on, I just hope others have seen it this way too for them to have enough votes to push into Mr Kyps, which is what all the acts at this stage are working towards.

Pachango @ DMA QF3 24 FebOur next act is more an experiment to squeeze the ten musicians and percussionists of Pachango on stage together, which works well enough on the wide Winchester stage to also give them room to jump around to the rhythms. They are on good form tonight, punching through the Latin influenced numbers, introducing a new one, including some of Selby’s beat poetry, all in all performing a good set.

Pump Action Radio @ DMA QF3 24 FebPump Action Radio are all that I expected of the theatrical rockers that they are. Big chords. Big riffs. Big jumps. Big hits. Big sound. And all tight with it. There’s a good mix of the heavy rock, the lighter guitar work, the solo vocals (appropriately screamed out) and the varied use of the drum work, along with encouragement for use to participate too. A good live act, which is what this is all about.

Personally I’m pleased that all the acts in the Quarter Finals have had such good performances, it confirms to me that we have such an amazing scene here in the area and that all those chosen to reach this far have been worthy of their places.  Texas Red @ Smokin Aces 24 FebA quick sortie into Smokin’ Aces finds Texas Red entertaining the packed bar, though they are widely ignored by too many people in here they play some good tunes and put on a good act, a good end to a great 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

Saturday & Another Varied Night

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Mischa's Merry Men @ On The Rocks 21 Jan

I’ve had a fantastic day at the Dorset Music Award DMA 40 Heat, yet still decide to catch some more music in the evening, starting with Mischa and his Merry Men, who are in fine form at On The Rocks – I’ve never seen them in this guise, full on, plugged in and really going for it. He’s turned the acoustic folk rock style into a lively pumped up full on rock set with addition of a drum kit rather than percussion, and its great to hear this new sound.

Luke Ferre @ Winchester 21 JanLuke Ferre is starting the night off at the Winchester for Streebeck‘s album launch party for third CD The Peacock. He’s playing good acoustic songs; covering Karma Chameleon as I walk in before going through his own material.

Texas Red @ Inferno 21 JanOne of the acts on at the Inferno gig that Kentucky Fight Club are headlining (The General Public were supposed to be on the bill too yet cancelled) are Texas Red. I didn’t realise Elliot Bradley was in this band, he tells me this is his main band, as opposed to his solo stuff or Admiral Shiny Sides. They play some hard rock ‘n’ roll, with Tanya on lead vocal, wailing and screaming in good fashion, which again distorts the speakers, which I’m getting used to here. They are name checking both themselves and their material, which I like. They have some slick tempo changes too, I can overlook the drummer losing a stick and catching it again, putting the rest off for a beat or two.

Streebeck @ Winchester 21 JanI arrive back at the Winchester unfortunately just in time to miss Del Malone & Lucy Martin, while having to wait 10 mins or so for Streebeck to set up. I notice during the break that more lighting is set up in the Winchester, making it an even better venue than it already was. The lads join the stage and strike up the new tunes. I’ve not heard any of them apart from opener Evening Red, which I played out on the show to promote this launch. They’ve said they’re playing the CD through live, so I can say that the harmonies from Laurence (guitar) and Dani (keys) in Spare A Moment are good as ever, the music is fantastic, if the CD is like the gig, yet again Streebeck have pulled a good’un out of the hat. CD’s are available on order, or via download, from bandcamp.

Mobius Strip @ On The RocksMobius Strip are closing On The Rocks and its all a bit mad and messy in the crowd (I’ve missed Kinky Boot Beasts who have performed in the meantime.) The music is awesome, just right for jumping around and moshing to, which is happening aplenty around the room. As Old Bloke is here celebrating his birthday there’s also a lot of lunging action 😉

KFC @ Inferno 21 JanBack to Inferno for the last of KFC‘s set – they literally finish as I get settled at the front. So its on to the Cellar Bar for the usual end of a night, this time with the excellent Paint It Blue, who are kicking off some amazing tunes and have entered the rolling blues and blues rock phase of their gig. Paint It Blue @ Cellar Bar 21 JanThis just means that everyone in the capacity crowd is going a little bit nuts.

Since I’m now with friend Claire (another birthday celebrant tonight), and other friends Livvy, Sofi, Geoff and Jo, this forms a great place to join in the party, and we continue until the early morning small hours with much merriment and entertainment – means that by the end I’ve been up and active for about 23 hours – since I woke up about 5am Saturday morning, and it’s about 4 when I get in, I love these sober benders 🙂

Inferno Simple Night

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Mr Tom @ Inferno 10 DecI give myself a simple and easy night tonight, ignoring the lure of the Devils Music drum off (even though that features much liked Disco’s Out (Murders In)) to hear two of the four acts on at the Inferno. Southampton based Mr. Tom are the first ones I catch, after Afro Ninja and Kathryn Price. They are definitely indie sounding, but better than that description normally implies, with some good guitar synth work, and tricked out rhythms in some songs to break up the solid four beat pop rock. Some of their endings need a little more polish although they are fairly tight on the whole. While a bit overblown on the bass end this is offset by the good guitar melodies.

The General Public @ Inferno 10 DecAfter the usual flaffy changeover, The General Public start strong with Get It On. This is the one I hear the most as its the one I play most on the radio, and its great hearing it live. What sets The General Public apart is the doubled up harmonised vocals from Hope (keys) & Mike (guitar). Lee on bass is strutting his groove while Rich is hitting some complex beats at the back. They’re here under sufferance since they’re feeling under the weather, so are winging the set as a result, and draw the audience into that, encouraging heckling and song suggestions.

They claim to have a couple of slow songs, yet don’t seem to be playing them – all this music compels one to dance or at least hop on the spot. Mike (guitar) has to retune regularly, and eventually decides to change the errant string, the other three just lead off into an instrumental jam, in itself almost song-worthy independently. Having a keyboard in the mix really helps given them that edge here, and its not just simple chords or pads, Hope gives herself some complex syncopations to match those from Lee & Rich. Like it a lot.

The General Public @ Cellar Bar 29 Sep

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As ever, I arrive too late to see Coke Can Jack – its become a running non-joke that I always arrive once they’re off stage.

The General Public @ Cellar Bar 29 SepInstead I just get the fun stuff of  The General Public. Many will have seen these guys, perhaps for the first time, at 2011’s Grooves On The Green, where its fair to say they pretty much smashed that gig.

They’re being a little bit edgy tonight, experimenting by making up the set as they go along. The bass is thumping, the drums are crashing, keys are mashing and the vocals and rhythms are spot on.

Get It On has become a fave, simply as I play it a lot on the show. as they play it here, it full of a funk driven bass riff, while the harmonies are together and well balanced, good for a live sound.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that they didn’t smash tonight, however the crowd is a little small to say this has been one of their best gigs for ever. It is one of their entertaining performances though, I’m pleased to have been here for it.