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 ūüôā

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.

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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.

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.

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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 РTough 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 РEnjoyable.  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 РLot 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 РAwesome.  Never apologise or comment from the stage on how feel about own performance.

The General Public Рsmashed it (was an amazing performance).  Could Hope (keyboard) stand up?

Sean Hatton (Solo) РWell 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 РGood commercial sound, brought a huge crowd (though unsure what they were shouting).  Personally not a fan of the shouted lyric.

Day Two

Simon Lane РGood 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 РWant 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 РGood bass and violin combination.  Not my preference of musical style but well performed.

Yoofs РWorked on the look re:hair.  Get out there and gain gig experience (easy to say, hard to do I know).

Paint It Blue РTight band.  Clean guitar work. Hannah is an asset. They noticeably stuck around for much of the day.

Empire Affair РGood 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 РLots 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

Solid Air – Ladies Night

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Miss Interpreted has already been on by the time I walk in, and Veetacore are just starting, in very unplugged mode – Dan (percussion) has left it behind so its over to James (bass), Becky (vocals) and Tom (guitar). They’re very laid back, starting with the song I played on last week’s radio show, The Battle Of Dogger Bank. I’m unfamiliar with the rest of the material, there are slow ones and pacier ones all of which work for the most part.

Becky has a very clean voice, albeit she admits to struggling tonight after a couple of heavy singing sessions over the weekend. The acoustic nature also seems to be unusual for them, they say they’ve made changes to the songs; there are a few hesitant notes before they settle into some tunes. Tom also harmonises on occasion, providing a decent counterpoint. Glad to have finally seen them.

Jemma and Annie are in Snow Wolf guise tonight. Jemma starts with a solo number, on guitar and voice before passing the guitar to Annie while she leads the duet they follow with. They continue to swap about lead vocal and guitar, I’m impressed and pleased that the between song banter is kept clean this time (for the most part – there’s a couple of slips). There’s a bit of uncertainty over their endings where they choose to hum, and don’t quite seem to know when to stop ūüôā That’s the only detraction for me from a pretty fun and beautifully sung set.