Folk Club – Rex Preston & Miranda Sykes

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Rex Preston & Miranda Sykes @ Folk Club 26 JanI’ve been invited to the Bournemouth Folk Club tonight by one of the promoters, Catherine Burke, as two people she recommended would be right up my street are playing, in Rex Preston & Miranda Sykes. They are an epitomal example of the amazing acts at the folk club – see the folk club website for their upcoming gigs. – Rex is a former local chap (so qualifies for the blog in his own right)

Rex sings harmonies and plays exquisite mandolin work, with very delicate finger picking; he also switches to a bouzouki for some songs. Miranda plays double bass, and has an amazing voice, clear and carrying; a guitar and ukelele are also available to her.

What is impressive about their performance is not only the good tunes, some of their own, plus songs of artists they’ve played with such as Imogen Heap, and other well known tunes (like I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free , otherwise known as the BBC Film 2012 theme). They also move about the stage – its quite engaging to see Miranda move away from the mic to join Rex for an instrumental, as this requires lugging the double bass around to do so.

Kimari Raven & Kat Hattersley @ Kimari Bday 26 Jan

Catherine Burke @ Kimari Bday 26 Jan

Tony Two Dogs @ Kimari Bday 26 Jan

Then on to O’Neills for a more usual night – it’s Kimari Raven‘s birthday and she’s playing as I arrive with Kat accompanying. Tony Two Dogs and Catherine Burke also play while I’m present, before I head home (dropping in on Veetacore in the Cellar Bar, who have stopped by the time I arrive) after another busy night of good music.
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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.

Pink Moon Troupers, Short Revolving Door

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Coke Can Jack‘s last, brief number No-one Loves Me Like You Do woke up what had seemed a sleepy cellar Bar, bringing some inspiration with a spirited performance. Of that one song.

They’d been doing covers from when I walked in – unfortunate given what I’d previously heard from them – uninspired and mainly unwanted, it’s unusual for me to pan a band’s performance in these pages, however there was little original interpretation in what they performed – Driftaway and before that something else that just washed over me. However, they are getting up and doing it, rather than me stood there being the critic!.

Talking around and to them, their opening had almost been as good as normally expected, just not the bit I caught. Turns out they were a key man down – their percussionist who gives them all a lift, so they’d carried on like troupers rather than cancel the gig. So all credit to them for not wanting to let the night down, they are the main troupers of this blog post.

Willowen sound promising. Backed by cajon they play some decent rhythms and different chord sequences that normal for acoustic guitar, definitely part of the Bournemouth Surf Sea sound – upbeat, punchy and positive, evocative of long Summers and so on.

Second song The Story instantly brings a smile to my face, simply because of the chord progressions, and the soulful chorus. Here’s a trio that are a man down (just Jonny & George); this doesn’t really come across in the performance…

Even the ubiquitous singer / songwriter / guitarist ballad stays on the Surf/Sea-style topic, no sign of mournful, maudlin dirge here – “Don’t worry / everything’s going to be alright/you’ll see /just do what naturally what comes to you /
Don’t worry / everything’s going to be alright/you’ll see /just try talking to me”

They play Champions on December 30th, well worth trying to get to see these guys.

Pink Moon over, a brief jaunt over to O’Neill’s for a very short foray into the Revolving Door world, where Tony 2 Dogs is playing his last song – this again is yet more upbeat acoustic stuff (am I still at the Willowen gig?)

Followed by Susanah fresh from gigging in Nashville (not many can say that here in Bournemouth). Nice enough tunes, slip easily into singer songwriter box – lonesome heart tunes from the soul – my mate Paul West would call this New Country no doubt!

I leave before Graham Jones and Patrick get on – been a busy night with a small party before getting out onto the scene…and I want an early finish for a change.