Mad March, Madder April

After an exciting March, I was looking forwards to a nice relaxing April, and with a uni trip to Greece sandwiched in between two stints at home I assumed I was in for one. So much for that…

I believe I played 11 times between my gig at the Talking Heads on 1st April and my gig at the Railway on 25th. And I was in Greece for the best part of 10 days. Obviously I’m taking this month easier…no, seriously. I have exams.

As for the gigs, I’m going to try to sum a few of the best ones up, talk about them, and then at the bottom give a little ‘top three’ of the artists I played with this month, because I genuinely play with some outstanding people and I love to share the love around and give them a bit of exposure on here.

So, without further ado…

THE GIGS

1/4/15 – Talking Heads, Southampton, Bands On The Rise Showcase.

Bands on the Rise have been helping me with photographs, radio time and general niceness ever since the wonderful John Dunning set the company up and so I only thought it fair to go and repay them by playing at their showcase. The standard of the night was pretty much exceptional; it never fails to amaze me how much local talent there is down in my home county. I was up second, the last of the acoustic acts and I just had a lot of fun. I played the same set I’ve been playing lately, but then an impromptu rendition of Uptown Funk with The Winter Project and Meg Parkinson from Insomnia insued later at the command of S1mple, the most charismatic man in the world. All in all, a top night and an opportunity to hang out with some great friends, new and old.

2/4/15 – RMA Tavern, Portsmouth, Nick Courtney Presents.

My first gig at the RMA started LATE. I mean, I was scheduled for 11pm, which was late. And then I ended up starting at 11:30, which was also late. And then I finished at about 1:15 am, after some last minute acoustic sets from a few of the bands. This, as you can imagine, was late. Despite the lateness of it all, it was a lot of fun and I’ve managed to book myself back in Portsmouth twice from that gig. Before me there was a terrific cover band and a lot of really decent artists, and I’m told every night is that good in Portsmouth. If you’re down there, support your local music scene, because the Cellars in Eastney has announced that it’s closing this week and despite never having played there, any time a music venue closes it’s a tragedy. Please support local live music, guys. It’s really key.

And here’s that ENTIRE GIG, including all the acousticness afterwards.

3/4/15 – The Ferryman, Warsash.

Another new venue to me, I stepped in to play a small set after my good friend Dan from Eagle & Weeks was in a car accident. Thankfully, he’s up and moving again now, but the opportunity to play the gig gave me the opportunity to play a really fun gig and despite what felt like a tough crowd, I think I managed to get them on-side by the end of the set. The selection of artists was fantastic as well, big props to Shoot The Duke, Jamin With Steve, Frankie Drain and Sam Weeks.

4/4/15 – Cafe Reflections, Shirley (Southampton), Mirrorman Presents.

Cafe Reflections is a tiny venue on Shirley High Street and I was playing there for the second time (and for the 4th day in a row.) I love that it’s really chilled in there and therefore I did a slightly more relaxed set, with Welsh Winds going down really well. Have a listen.

25/4/15 – The Railway, Winchester, supporting Beth Porter/Nuala Honan

I stepped in at the last minute to open at my favourite local venue, the Railway. This night was doubly exciting for me as I managed to pull off playing a brand new song I’d written about sibling rivalries, and to a really fantastic reception as well. It was also special because I got to bring my wonderful girlfriend Sophie to her first gig since Christmas time, and I just love playing the songs I’ve written for her while she’s in the room. There were tears aplenty, I’m reliably informed, though she won’t take kindly to me saying that!

Sorry I didn't post for a while. I was here...

Sorry I didn’t post for a while. I was here…

I spent the rest of that week at the end of April with her, not concentrating on gigging, but I did play at O’Neills Winchester’s open mic night and also Mr Jones’ Open Mic in the Fareham pub, which (shockingly) is in Fareham. These were both new open mics for me, and one of them is run by Mr. Sean O’Brien, the Canadian Crooner and charmer spectacular, so I particularly enjoyed playing some tunes with him.

I’m back at university now and I’m going to be playing my FIRST gig in Swansea outside of the Student Union at the Garage on May 9th. It’s £3 entry and I know it’s going to be huge night so I’m really, really looking forward to that gig. I’m gonna be playing with Atlas, with whose members I’m really good mates, and also brand new uni band Handd who have sounded fabulous at every turn so far.

TOP 3

So I said I was going to do a top 3 of the local bands and artists I’ve played with over the last month and I will hold true to that. Here’s a quick run-down, in no particular order:

Ed Allen Trio

The Trio seen as a trio. Very rare.

The Trio seen as a trio. Very rare.

The best 5-piece trio I’ve ever heard. Bluesy, jazzy and altogether just a sublime modern take on a genre that just isn’t played very often. I confess that I haven’t been able to keep a certain hook that goes something like ‘I didn’t love you enough’ out of my head for the last few weeks. I was really impressed by the tightness of the set and the fact that they had two trombone players! Ed himself is a really clean guitarist and the whole set was excellent from start to finish.

The Winter Project

The Winter Project.

The Winter Project.

Like Ed Allen and his 5-piece trifecta, I saw these boys at the Bands on the Rise showcase, and they blew me away. Having recently split off from their former band Civil Eyes, they have a ethereal beauty that can only be described as The War On Drugs-esque, as well as electric guitar work that put me in mind of Ben Howard’s most recent offerings. Jimmy Herrity is a fabulous lead vocalist with guitar skills to match and Alex Dunning is possibly the best guitarist I’ve ever seen, with his outstanding work really complimenting melodic waves that the band was making. On the night they played with a guest drummer and bassist but they look set for big things. They don’t seem to have any music online yet, but I can’t wait until they do.

Shoot The Duke

Shoot The Duke being shot (by a photographer).

Shoot The Duke being shot (by a photographer).

Every time I see this energetic and enigmatic duo, I’m reminded why I play music. They put so much effort into every set they play and it’s completely infectious. Lead singer Tommo Bryan has been playing guitar a shockingly short amount of time, all things considered, and yet he seems to be one of the most natural rhythm guitar players than I’ve seen, slapping the guitar like it’s nobody’s business. He also has a singular gruffness to his voice, like an angry lion doing an impression of Bruce Springsteen. Neil Cripps’ tight lead guitar work layers wonderfully over the songs and his eye for a riff is astute, as well as his occasional harmonic interjections over the microphone. For their final song, Tommo grabs a harmonica and has a (very tuneful and exhausting) fit. Cracking band, cracking boys.

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