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LibRock 2017 – Albert Pier, St Peter Port – 09/05/17

The Recks

The Recks

Once again live music was at the core of the Liberation Day celebrations for 2017.

As well as events all over the island the ‘official’ part came with Centre Stage Guernsey’s LibRock 2017 on the Albert Pier on the St Peter Port seafront with music from The Devotees, The Recks, Clameur De Haro, The Silverados, Problematic and Unclassified.

My review of the show was published in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 13th May, you can read it below with an extended version underneath that, and you can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Liberation Day press cutting 13/05/17

Full Review

The Devotees

The Devotees

Liberation Day has changed.

I remember a day of the St. Peter Port seafront being packed with people, plenty for everyone to do (yes including the controversial ‘fun’ fair) and a real atmosphere and feeling that ‘everyone was here’.

As I made my way along the seafront from North Beach this year though this was not the case. All there seemed to be as an ‘attraction’ were a series of stalls selling locally made gifts and novelties, most of which you can see any given Sunday in the same place over the summer.

Unclassified

Unclassified

Thankfully though something else existed behind this celebration of arts and crafts mediocrity – on the arm of the Albert Pier there was the chance of something genuinely celebratory…

As with last year Centre Stage kicked off their LibRock event with a pair of younger bands.

Unclassified were making their first foray into the world of big public performances and, with their harmonies and varied instrumentation gained the attention of those gathering on the pier.

Though it seemed a little masked by nerves, singer Louise Madden had a good sense of stage presence that grew as the set went on ending on a high point medley of songs including Blondie’s Call Me and Queen’s We Will Rock You.

Problematic

Problematic

Still young but more experienced, Problematic continue to come on in leaps and bounds and demonstrated that again.

Frontman and bass player Harvey Falla showed a nice streak of presence and performance which was excellently counterpointed by guitarist Harvey Page looking aloof and cool behind his shades, in just the way a teen rock ‘n’ roller should.

With original songs standing up along side covers of the likes of Slaves and Royal Blood the trio made a big sound with some great raucous moments and hints of real power.

The rock n roll continued, in a slightly different vein, with The Silverados slick, fun, rockabilly-pop.

Monty McMonagle of The Silverados

Monty of The Silverados

While they took a couple of songs to warm up (both literally and figuratively I imagine given the north-east wind) they were soon rolling along well and started to get the first few memebers of the crowd dancing.

Their best moments came with excellently reworked versions of Eurythmics Sweet Dreams and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars before climaxing with The Stray Cats Rumble In Brighton which always suits a sunny seaside show (though I didn’t see any actual rumbling tonight) and as ever guitarist Monty McMonagle’s was a twang-tastic highlight.

With the beer tent finally open and the crowd starting to ‘warm up’ a little, Clameur De Haro brought their eccentric brand of hillbilly rock to the stage.

It didn’t take long for the growing crowd to start filling the space in front of the stage and for more to get dancing, with many singing along not only to the classic rock covers from the likes of Queen, Black Sabbath and Van Halen, but the band’s own songs too which they seem to have custom-built for a fun and rowdy singalong.

Bob and Rich Klein of Clameur De Haro

Bob and Rich of Clameur De Haro

Clameur De Haro are perfect for a day like this and, in their own slightly ramshackle way, provided one of the two highlight sets.

Since their return at the end of last year The Recks had struggled somewhat to rediscover what I can only describe as their ‘mojo’ but tonight, following an outing at the Reasons festival in Jersey a couple of weekend’s ago, it was all back.

The five piece meandered their way through their set of typically ‘schizophrenic psychedelic’ sounds that spanned everything from indie rock to latin rhythms.

Lovers In The Night started it out and got the audience dancing and singing and that only grew more as they played through both well-known songs like recent single Low Life and In The Garden and brand new songs She Ain’t No Revelator and Parisian Stupor.

Richey Powers of The Recks

Richey Powers of The Recks

The new songs managed to catch the imagination right away with Parisian Stupor bringing those latin rhythms to the fore in a way that at once sounded like one of guitarist/banjo player Gregory Harrison’s solo songs and a Recks song rolled into one in the best of ways.

While the cold weather may have removed a bit of the sweaty, visceral thrill The Recks have often brought to The Fermain Tavern, they reached a crescendo with Train Wreck, Valentine and Lights re-staking their claim as one of the best bands the islands have to offer.

After the traditional fireworks veteran favourites The Devotees hit the stage with a bang!

Chris Dean of The Devotees

Chris Dean of The Devotees

Unfortunately the bang was one of the stage amps blowing a fuse, but, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing from the crew (who did a great job all day), things were soon back up and running and Chris Dean and his band treated us to a rousing set of songs spanning from The Who to Pulp and back again.

For the crowd who stayed out braving the cold it may as well have been a festival as they jumped around and sang along with glee.

For the final salvo the band were joined on stage by Sons of the Desert’s brass section for some expanded tracks including a great take on The Who’s 5:15 from Quadrophenia, Chelsea Dagger and Parklife while The Jam’s Town Called Malice brought Liberation Day 2017 to an upbeat close that almost made you forget the disappointment of the rest of the official ‘celebrations’.

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: April 2017 – Elliot Falla in session and Vorlon

Elliot Falla and Vorlon Daz Carre

Elliot Falla and Vorlon

Click here to listen to the show

On the April 2017 edition of BBC Introducing Guernsey I featured a pair of guests spanning the range of guitar music in Guernsey.

Elliot Falla was in session with his brand of folk influence indie-blues including tracks from his recent Throne EP and brand new songs. He also told us not only about the making of the EP but also how its been expanding his gigging away from the island following regular shows in Brighton and London over the last few months.

Vorlon on the other hand is a project from long-standing heavy metal musician Daz Carre. He told us about his new album, intense extreme metal project False Sense of Security, as well as his time playing music in the islands which began in the mid-90s and has taken in bands such as Crunchy Frog, Earthcorpse, Darker Shores, Mechanical Lobster, Nemesis and more primarily as drummer but also playing bass and guitar.

You can listen to the show for the next 30 days through the BBC iPlayer Radio App or by clicking here.

I also announced that BBC Introducing Guernsey will again be going live as part of Arts Sunday, you can find out more about that here.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: March 2017 – Gregory Harrison in Session and Vinyl Vaughan’s

Gregory Harrison and Nathan Arnaud in the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Greg and Nathan in the studio

Click here to listen to the show

BBC Introducing Guernsey returned to the airwaves on Saturday 26th March 2017 with another two hours of music from around the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

This month I was joined in the studio by Gregory Harrison, one of the people behind a pair of recent shows organised under the Guernsey Gigs banner.

As well as telling me about the shows he spoke about joining The Recks last year, being part of The Rectory Hill Skillet Lickers and of course his own music, and he played an acoustic session for us with Nathan Arnaud accompanying him on the bass.

I also took a look at Guernsey’s new independent record store that has grown out of the charity record fairs that take place around the island, Vinyl Vaughan’s.

You can listen to the show for 30 days after the broadcast date by clicking here.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: February 2017 – WaterColour Matchbox and Of Empires

WaterColour Matchbox on BBC Introducing Guernsey

WaterColour Matchbox in the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Click here to listen to the show

As BBC Music Introducing moves on with its 10th anniversary that has so far included the relaunch of the Uploader tool for submitting tracks (click here to find out more), BBC Introducing Guernsey returned with another show highlighting new music from the islands.

This month’s live session came from WaterColour Matchbox. Live they are a prog-metal-grunge hybrid four-piece but it was founding duo Peter Mitchell and Mikey Ferbrache who joined me for the session, playing acoustic versions of tracks from their recently released debut album Fragments, Artefact and Ruins.

I also spoke to Jack Fletcher, frontman of Of Empires, about their upcoming new EP – the long-awaited follow-up to Stranger Sensations – and what the now Brighton based band have planned for 2017.

You can listen to the show thorough the BBC iPlayer or by clicking here.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: January 2017 – Nessi Gomes and Robert J. Hunter

Nessi Gomes on BBC Introducing Guernsey

Nessi Gomes on BBC Introducing Guernsey

Click here to listen to the show

As BBC Introducing enters its tenth year I started off 2017 with a special live session from Nessi Gomes, a look at Robert J. Hunter‘s new album and a selection of brand new music from around the islands.

Following the release of her debut album, Diamonds & Demons, last autumn Nessi Gomes returned to Guernsey in January 2017 for a show at The Fermain Tavern, while she was in the island she joined me in the studio to record a solo acoustic session featuring tracks from the album and two brand new songs.

Having released three albums in the past two years I caught up with Robert J. Hunter and spoke to him about his latest release, Where I’m From, and what its been like making his mark on the blues scene in the UK since he left the islands.

As well as this there was new music from WaterColour MatchboxBurning At Both EndsElliot Falla and more.

You can listen to the show on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here or with the BBC iPlayer Radio App.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: December 2016 – Review of the Year

BBC Introducing Guernsey 2016 sessions

Some of our sessions from 2016

Click here to listen to the show

To round off 2016 on BBC Introducing Guernsey I put together a show packed with some of the best music featured on the show across the year.

Featured were tracks from our regular acoustic sessions including Burning At Both EndsThe Secret SmilesClameur de Haro and more.

There were also album tracks and singles from The RecksOf EmpiresRobyn Sherwell and others as well as a look at some of the highlight artists from the summer festivals and a few brand new tracks as well.

You can listen to the show on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here or through the BBC iPlayer Radio App on mobile devices.

If you are making your own music you can upload it to BBC Introducing by clicking here

Tracklist

You can read my review of the year here

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Music in Guernsey – Review of the Year 2016

2016 has been another packed year for music in Guernsey and the Bailiwick. With more festivals than ever, events seemingly most nights of the week all year and many records released covering everything from acoustic folk to drum ‘n’ bass to heavy metal its fair to say the ‘scene’ is possibly the most varied it has ever been.

My review of the year was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 31st December 2016 and there’s a full version below.

Review of the Year 2016 press scan

2016 has been something of a landmark year for me with regards to Guernsey’s music scene as it marks ten years since I started reporting on music on the island. In that time countless bands have come and gone, some making massive waves others barely ripples, but it’s been very rare that any haven’t at least given it their all.

This level of enthusiasm from bands, DJs and any other performers can, I think, be credited with 2016 being the year when locally produced music seemed to most crossover into Guernsey’s mainstream public consciousness.

SugarSlam

SugarSlam

One of the ways I think this crossover has occurred has been with the recent proliferation of music festival and ‘all-dayers’, hitting a high of at least 10 across the past year ranging from the established and varied likes of the Vale Earth Fair and Liberation Day to more specific events like Chateau De Son and Smaashfest or charity based shows like Jonah Beats.

Jonah Beats set the bar high for these back in March with a day spanning everything from lo-fi folk to pounding drum ’n’ bass at the Vale Castle. Highlights on that day included Blakalska, SugarSlam, the return of The Swallows and a rare big stage appearance from Last Of The Light Brigade. The organisers also released a double CD compilation album to raise money for the Helping Jonah – Helping Others charity.

The summer festival season got going, as has become the standard, with the Chaos weekend. While the event has been bigger in the past, this year’s slightly scaled down show had something of the old atmosphere back.

PUNiK at Chaos

PUNiK

This was certainly helped by the presence of great visiting bands like Japanese punks PUNiK (who also released a fine debut album), Manchester noise-rock duo The Hyena Kill and experimental rock two piece Science Of Eight Limbs.

As well as the visitors Honest Crooks continued their run of great shows with a standout set in The Peace Tent that had everyone skanking as the sun set, while SugarSlam, Brunt and Static Alice stormed the War Stage across the weekend.

The Sark Folk Festival continued its run of great events with this year’s having less of the ‘us vs them’ atmosphere of traditional folk fans and those out for a fun weekend in a field.

Burg with Becky

Burg And The Back Porch Band

Musically there was a lot of good stuff on offer but it was the artists with their roots in the islands that really stood out for me. The highlight came from Burg & The Back Porch Band bringing some Americana to the spectacular teepee stage on the Saturday evening and invoking impressive singalong moments as well as creating one of the best atmospheres I can remember at a show in a long time.

Meanwhile Robert J. Hunter, The Space Pirates of Rocquaine, Buffalo Huddleston, Nessi Gomes and visitors Mad Dog Mcrea provided other choice moments.

New festival The Gathering took place at North Field in July and showcased a real variety of bands from the island. With three days it felt like almost every band with a slightly mainstream angle was featured on the main stage but it was the Friday and Sunday evening that brought the musical highlights for me with SugarSlam and Static Alice playing to a disappointingly small crowd on the opening night and Kings and Of Empires closing the show on Sunday on a real high.

Static Alice at The Gathering

Static Alice

Whether The Gathering becomes a regular part of the island’s festival calendar remains to be seen but as an event helping spread the word about the great talent in Guernsey to a wider audience it certainly did a good job.

The Vale Earth Fair this year certainly claimed its place as centrepiece of the island’s musical calendar as the Collective presented a year-long series of events celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The festival weekend itself was as big as its ever been with a series of gigs across the Friday and Saturday leading up to the main festival day.

Teaspoonriverneck at Vale Earth Fair

Teaspoonriverneck

Asian Dub Foundation were one of the biggest headliners the show’s ever seen but for me the highlights came with She Drew The Gun, a special appearance from Teaspoonriverneck, The Correspondents and Heads Off, though special mention has to go out to Honest Crooks and Buffalo Huddleston who, with earlier slots, did a great job of getting the festival atmosphere going much earlier than usually happens.

Along with the festival weekend the Collective staged an exhibition of photos and poster art chronicling the 40 years of the event which was a fascinating chance to chart some of the performers who’ve been there for the whole time and see how the event has evolved since its humble origins. The now annual Unplugged and John Peel tribute nights both provided some great moments, but it was the return of Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons that was my Vale Earth Fair related highlight.

Away from the festivals there was of course plenty of other music going on, in fact I think its fair to say that with the exception of Sundays there seemed to be something musical happening every day of the year if you knew where to look.

For me though the highlights amongst all of this came in the form of the Sound Guernsey events for Guernsey’s youngsters. Showcasing a range of music they have grown from relatively humble intentions with shows at The Venue to fully fledged event gigs at The Fermain Tavern.

Honest Crooks at Sound Guernsey

Honest Crooks

Their summer party being a highlight of this as The Doomsday Project, Honest Crooks, Asylum Seekas and Blakalaska shared a stage with already impressive new comers Track Not Found and Equilibrium while their Christmas Party later in December gave was another great night.

When it comes to new bands a few have stood out. As well as the aforementioned Track Not Found, hardcore metallers Granite Wolf made an impressive debut in September developing on the likes of Brutus Stonefist and She Haunts The Roads and I very much look forward to hearing more of what they’ve got to offer.

The real stand out of the new crop though were Burning At Both Ends who have taken the fairly well trodden pop-punk template and breathed a new life and energy into it, winning over many fans with their tight live shows and impressive debut album.

Burning At Both Ends

Burning At Both Ends

As well as great music on the island, musicians continued to spread their wings further afield.

Along with two BBC Introducing showcases on BBC Radio 1 featuring 12 acts, a few stand outs emerged, Robyn Sherwell continued her rise with the release of her debut full length album to much acclaim back in April, including a UK tour and having one of her songs picked up for use on the trailer to Hollywood movie Suffragette.

Nessi Gomes also completed a hugely impressive crowdfunding campaign leading to the release of her debut album, Diamonds & Demons which was supported by a tour of the UK, Europe and the Middle East which will culminate with the official Guernsey album launch event next month.

Of Empires continued their march to becoming bona-fide rock ’n’ roll stars with support from all over the place including debuting new single Baby Darlin’ Sugar on BBC Radio 1 through BBC Introducing and picking up many nods as one of the UK bands to watch as we head into the new year and they prepare for the release of more music and a lot more gigs.

Robert J. Hunter

Robert J. Hunter

Meanwhile Robert J. Hunter continued gigging around London and the rest of the UK regularly, initially supporting his second album, Before The Dawn and then releasing his third, Where I’m From, though the Spiritual Records label a couple of weeks ago.

Plenty more records were released this year with Space Pirates of Rocquaine’s Vraic & Roll, Lord Vapour’s Mill Street Blues, Brunt’s Blackbeard and the aforementioned Burning At Both Ends all standing out, but it was a single, Drifting, from the duo of Flexagon and Buff Hudd that really seemed to take off, receiving much praise and also being picked up by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music.

As the year neared its end The Recks made something of surprise return with a new single and line up and they look set to make 2017 their year as they plan to finally unleash their long-awaited and much-anticipated debut album and in a standout live moment SugarSlam (yes, them again, they’ve had a great year) and Insurrection marked their 25th and 30th anniversaries respectively with an excellent night at the De La Rue.

Insurrection

Insurrection

It’s safe to say that 2016 has been an impressive year for music in Guernsey with a real variety of sounds and styles coming to the fore (beyond what’s mentioned here drum ’n’ bass and electronic music have had a real growth as well with Hard Riddims and Strategy gaining footholds as regular events) and opening up what could easily be a small and insular scene to a wide audience, and lets hope that continues with more people heading out to listen to new music around the island and there’s already some exciting sounding things coming up!

And a few particular highlights by category…

Band of the Year – Honest Crooks
Festival Stage/Event of the Year – Vale Earth Fair’s 40th Anniversary celebrations
Newcomers of the Year – Burning At Both Ends
Set of the Year – Burg & The Back Porch Band at Sark Folk Festival
Album of the YearRobert J. Hunter – Where I’m From
Visiting Band of the Year – PUNiK

You can listen to the BBC Introducing Guernsey review of the year radio show here

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: November 2016 – Burning At Both Ends and Brunt

Burning at Both Ends on BBC Introducing Guernsey

Burning at Both Ends on BBC Introducing Guernsey

Click here to listen to the show

Following the showcases earlier in the week with Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, I was back on BBC Radio Guernsey on Saturday 26th November for the regular BBC Introducing Guernsey show.

My guests playing an acoustic session this month were Burning At Both Ends, while they were in the studio I had a chat with them about their debut album and the state of pop punk in Guernsey today.

I also spoke to Brunt who have recently released a new EP, Blackbeard, and they told me about recording it and the response they’ve had from all over the world to both their previous release and the new one.

You can listen to the show for a month on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here or downloading the BBC iPlayer Radio App.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey on BBC Radio 1 – November 2016

Huw Stephens

For three nights in the week of 21st November 2016 I, through BBC Introducing Guernsey, had the chance to showcase a selection of new music on Huw Stephens show on BBC Radio 1.

All the tracks played were sent to me through the BBC Introducing Uploader which is the best way to get heard by BBC Introducing presenters and producers across the network, you can find it by clicking here.

Day One

The first track to get showcased came from recently reformed indie-folk five-piece, The Recks, with the new single from their upcoming debut album, Low Life.

The Recks at The Fermain Tavern

The Recks

The second track is from one of the hardest gigging bands in Guernsey, Static Alice, with Hurricane from their Beautiful Mystery EP.

Click here to listen to the show (search through to 2 hour 25 minutes)

Day Two

The second day was one for a pair of Guernsey’s top rock bands. First was Of Empires, now based of Brighton the four-piece have recently appeared on the UK MTV playlist as well as touring with Adam Ant, their featured track was new single See You With The Angels Kid.

Things got a bit heavy for the second song with Lord Vapour‘s Misty Meadows from their debut album Mill Street Blues.

Click here to listen to the show (search through to 2 hour 25 minutes)

Of Empires

Of Empires

Day Three

The final showcase had a bit more of a relaxed feel starting off with the recent winner of Best Of British Unsigned’s Best Female Solo Performer of 2016, Nessi Gomes with These Walls.

This was followed by the debut collaboration from two well established members of Guernsey’s music scene, Buff Hudd & Flexagon with Drifting (Into The Light).

Click here to listen to the show (search through to 2 hour 25 minutes)

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: October 2016 – The Secret Smiles and Nessi Gomes

The Secret Smiles at BBC Introducing Guernsey

Three fifths of The Secret Smiles in the studio

Click here to listen to the show

Over the years on BBC Introducing Guernsey I’ve welcomed performers back into the studio as members of different bands several times.

One such is Matt Ward who first appeared on the show back in its early days as a member of indie band The Raffle, a couple of years ago he was back as a solo performer and now, for his third appearance and session, it’s as leader of The Secret Smiles who have been carving out their own niche on the island’s music scene with their brand upbeat, melodious, indie that combines the sounds of 90s British music with hints of the 1960s pop-folk revival movement.

They played a session for us as well as telling us how the band came together and how their year has been so far as they’ve solidified their line up and begun playing some high-profile gigs on Liberation Day, the Vale Earth Fair and supporting The Recks at their return show this past weekend.

We also heard from singer-songwriter Nessi Gomes who has not only just released her debut album but also be named Best Of British Unsigned‘s female solo performer of 2016.

You can listen to the through the BBC iPlayer Radio App or by clicking here.

Tracklist

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