Friday, 7 May 2010

new kids on the block ......

Songwriters Playtime now moved to The Looking Glass Braunstone Gate

There are mixed opinions about whether Leicester can cope with another open mike, so any that do pop up like songwriters playtime better cut the mustard .... (ill hold up my hand and admit I have a vested interest in this one so no reviews im afraid....). Anyway as far as 'cutting the mustard' goes, thats down to YOU THEN. Its all about the performers and the quality and intellect of the listeners, OK im off scot free now =]

One unusual thing about this open mike is, that its timetabled directly after the African Kubanza drumming workshop and i'm hoping some of these guys will hang on and get up and play during the evening, giving a special percussive slant to the proceedings.

The relaxed atmosphere and great layout of the arts centre on Humberstone Road, lends itself to getting the most from a performer. Having been involved in running the first 2 woodwork parties there i can speak from experience so i personally am looking forward to some special nights there ... and i think you should too

see you at the next gig

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

somethings rumbling ....

... a little birdy tells me theres a 3rd woodwork party coming along very soon ..........

Saturday, 16 January 2010

You SSOOOO missed out here.....

'Answers On Postcard' night with Sally Hossack, Mike Sole and Boppa @ The Shed

THE SHED = punk, hardcore metal, sweaty leaping moshers helicoptering there way to a LARGE hangover doesn't it?

Not this Friday night it didnt.

It was the first 'Answers On a Postcard' night of 2010, AOP is a periodic night with an eclectic and often esoteric music policy, this was my first visit to the night and I think I'm going to enjoy them a lot, coz to get kind of Arnie about it .... 'ill be back' and so should you.

So why am i raving?

Well Sally Hossack of Free Control, Mike Sole (Gadjos and others) and Boppa (Jack of Hearts) played a set that simply took me gently somewhere else for an hour then softly brought me back down to earth. Its the first time I've seen sally perform away from the outstanding Free Control and i was blown away. The set started with Sally playing some wistful and heartfelt solo songs, filled with melody and originality. Her voice and presentation stopping me 'mid sup' when she began the first song. Sally was then joined by Mike Sole. Now I've seen quite a few amazing musicians in my time and Mr Sole could hold his head high on ANY stage Ive seen. The ability to improvise and STILL stay listenable and add something to the song, is a talent that isn't learnt your born with it and Mike has it in bucketfuls.

The pairing kept reminding me of a sound and style that I couldn't quite recall. Then it dawned on me (and i don't mention this lightly as personally i dislike comparing acts, but this is one of my all time favorite duo's) Sally's voice has the same haunting and fragile quality as Beth Gibbons work with Rustin Man. With Mike adding something that takes their music into a beautiful place from a different time.

As the set went on more friends joined them and the music gracefully moved up a notch and grooves started appearing, Boppa (Jack of Hearts Band) joined them with some 'Django' guitar then a sax player (sorry i didn't catch your name) turning the whole set onto a swing tip. The set was ended with a stomping version of 'I'm King of the Swingers' yes, from jungle book and believe me it worked, and worked well.

OK OK ill stop gushing now, but really if you didn't come along YOU MISSED A TREAT. If you see them billed again don't hesitate to drop all plans and go see ... They really are that good.

The 'Answers on a Postcard' night has a facebook group and I suggest you join it and keep up to date with their events as I for one am loving what they are doing.

see you at the next gig.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Mule Plows on..........

The Donkey open mike is in new hands

Fresh off the press so ill fill in the gaps as i get the info. But i gleaned today that none other than Mr Plow has taken over the hosting of the donkey open mike night.

Firstly I would just like to take the time to thank Calder McLaughlin for running the nite for so long and adding his own stamp on it. I know he has big plans this year, and sometimes you just have to get your head down and get on with it, good luck fella!

I'll be along to check out Mr Plows hosting asap and report back on his songs about kittens, sunny meadows and all things soft and fluffy......

see you at the next gig.


Monday, 21 December 2009

Woodburner ....


Well actually it was bloody freezing! ... but that didn't alter the fact that 70 or so people turned out at the inaugural Woodwork Party acoustic session organised by Mike Harper and Leicester Music Scene.

Braving sub zero temperatures, on the last Friday night before Christmas to see a first class acoustic line up, I have to say everyone I spoke to seemed impressed. With a great line up and a really special venue, the Independent Arts Centre on Humberstone Gate has only been open to the public since October and I suspect it will quickly become a favorite music and arts venue around Leicester.

The stage was dressed like a lounge with rugs and lamps, an old grundig cabinet radio and films of jungles, sunrises over Stonehenge, Mayan temples and ocean waves projected throughout the entire evening.

Kicking the night of in fine style was Matti Wilson. Singing us a set of her neatly written, and beautifully observed songs. Its always a shame that someone has to be first on and play to a smaller crowd. I have a feeling Matti wont be playing that type of slot for much longer as her talent is incredible. If you missed her here then you missed a treat, as Matti plays with more confidence and depth every time I see her.

Next up in total contrast was Rhett Barrow, playing storming set of garage'y yet insightful songs, his dirty blues and dare i say 'grungeyness' coming together to form a powerful sound that I think has a big future.

Contrast is important, and after Rhetts heavy set, the floating, lilting tones of Mary Anne Ratcliffe took us off to faraway places. Her beautiful poinient and heartfelt songs leaving us in no doubt just how talented she is.

Next was some bald, gobby fella called Markus Reeves. He says he enjoyed it lots.

After a short break, (the music between sets was provided by the fantastic Planet Mondo and the full mix can be found here .... I heartily recommend you listen to his podcasts if you like a healthy, irreverent, sideswipe at all that is modern culture).

Once set up Grace and the Magic Roots provided us with a set that PROVED originality and listenability can go hand in hand. I love this band and you should too! One of the very few technical hitches of the night was that the projected name for them read 'race and the magic roo' ... hmmmm marker pen and paper came to the rescue though.

And so on to the final act, The Gadjos.

This was the first full set Ive seen from them and bloody hell those guys can play!! An hour of non stop, good time, Gypsy jazz; a brilliant end to the night and after three encores, sadly they had to stop so the staff at the arts center could clean up and go home! As a musician I have massive respect for anyone who can play as well as these guys , but it goes further than ability, as they forget about all that and PLAY.

Now that's what I call music.

Leicester Music scene intend to put on more event like these so keep an eye out on their facebook page here for more info about the next Woodwork Club...

see you at the next gig


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

one of these days i'm gonna get myself acousticalised.....

THE WOODWORK PARTY; Shaping up like no 'normal' acoustic session.... for a start no bar owner is going to hold you to ransome over your drink, you can bring your own!!

Its on FRIDAY 18th DEC @ The Independent arts centre, on humberstone gate.

With a stellar line up a shouty bald bloke....

£3 on the door.

The artists from this event will be paid a (good) share of the door takings, so come along and support the Leicester music scene :]

The Gadjos

Grace and the Magic Roots

Markus Reeves

Mary-Anne Ratcliffe

Rhett Barrow

Matti Wilson

plus the fire breathing/throwing/jumping talents of 'COMBUST' will be performing outside

there are rumours of projections of sunrises over Mayan temples and top flight sound tracks while the artists aren't on

I'm really exited about playing this night and hopefully the plan is for a few more through 2010... if all gigs could be put on this way the Leicester music scene would be a healthy wealthy and wise place to be....

see you at the next gig


OPEN MIKE REVEIW 'The Quay' every thurs

Top Top venue ... new new night ... bags n bags of potential...

Well last Thursday I took myself off to The Quay on Western Boulevard to check out the newest open mike night on the block. Never having been there before, I had no idea what to expect. So I was somewhat taken aback when I walked in to the huge and recently (very nicely) refurbished 'New Quay' for their weekly open stage.

Everyone was really friendly and the whole place seemed very relaxed with people arriving for their great drinks offers and atmosphere all the time. The stage is situated in the far corner of the bar (dead batteries so no photos sorry) and around 9 o'clock the first spot was quietly ushered into the limelight and started his set of 4 songs, as a side note he was a 'first timer' and did really pretty well too so hats off to you!.

This is were I started to think, as the lack of a host made for an unengaged crowd and each act was silently ushered on and rather hurriedly announced by one of the bar staff (hosting these things isn't everyone's idea of fun lets be honest). Each act played well and the general atmosphere was busy with conversation like a busy bar should be.

Not having a host left the proceedings with no real show of character though, plus I do think they need someone to take a little more ownership and control over the sound as it was pretty rough going as a player. As nights like these rely on getting a good mix of abilities from newbies to more experienced 'quality acts', the night itself needs to be attractive to the artists and good sound is right at the top of the list.

BUT and I stand by this, it was still a good night and given a little more attention and thought from the owners I think it could be one of the better nights in the city, the venue is great. The staff are friendly and there was something definitely 'right' about the whole thing. I'll definitely be going back and would encourage other players too as well.

Given time and a little more 'ownership' I think Thursdays at the quay could become a very popular night, if your a player looking for a wider audience and 'non open mike crowd' to play your songs to ... get your self down to the quay on Thursdays.

If you not a player get yourself down there... the beers dead cheap and the open mike promises to get better and better.

As a foot note, my write up might sound a little harsh in places, but its really not meant that way, in fact if it didn't have so much potential I may not have made my points so clearly.

Ill certainly be playing The Quay again soon.

see you at the next gig