Tag Archives: guernsey gigs

School of Popular Music and Guernsey Gigs Summer Show – The Fermain Tavern – 04/08/17

The Lemmings

The Lemmings

For the last few years Guernsey’s School of Popular Music (SOPM) have held a week-long summer school where they put youngsters together in ‘bands’ and, with the help of the school’s teachers, put a set together to busk in town on the Thursday before performing for friends, family and well wishers at The Fermain Tavern on the Friday evening.

As with last year the event then continued with a group of more experienced bands organised by Guernsey Gigs.

Once again the bands pulled together by SOPM were very impressive given their ages and mixed experiences with each one of the eight having at least one highlight moment.

Avocado Geff

Avocado Geff

The Lemmings started the night off with some pop punk before what looked like the youngest band of the night, Thee Unloaders, delivered the a truly unique version of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Clash of the Bloosers and the improbably named Squidward On A Chair both went down well with the crowd before Avocado Geff (featuring The Violet Diversion’s Kiya) delivered some grunge-tinged acoustic songs with Kiya continuing to stake her claim as a true up and coming front woman.

Purple Paradox and World On Fire featured some of the best moments, particularly on the latter band’s version of Sweet Child O’ Mine before Lady And The Tramps closed the first part of the event with some semi-acoustic songs.

The second part of the night when, unfortunately, due to the awkwardness of Guernsey’s licensing laws anyone under 18 had to leave, began with relative newcomers, The Buried Kings.

The Buried Kings

The Buried Kings

Made up of Elliot, Harvey and Steve Falla they are something of a family band, but, I’m pleased to say, that while that sounds like a rather naff concept that isn’t what they were.

Taking Elliot’s style of blues and adding in a nice dose of modern folk, with the inclusion of Harvey’s mandolin and Steve’s double bass, made for a broad and deep sound with all three providing vocals as well.

More lighthearted than Elliot’s solo material many of the songs contain Guernsey and Sark references including Bec Du Nez (the cider rather than the place) which sounded like something of a family favourite tipple.

While they had a few technical issues with the upright bass it wasn’t enough to entirely detract from the overall performance which was a fine way to start the evening, even if the crowd was woefully small.

Lifejacket

Lifejacket

Its been quite a while since Lifejacket have graced a stage and it showed during their first few songs as they seemed to struggle to find their usual intensity.

By the time they got to the celebrity baiting Meanwhile In Hollywood though they hit their stride and the last half of their set was heading back to their past form.

A few new songs showed that, while they sticking to the same formula of powerfully hard indie rock, strongly inspired by the likes of Mclusky, they are developing it in their own ways with different rhythms slipping in behind the barked vocals.

While this wasn’t their most slick outing, with a set at the Vale Earth Fair coming up I hope we get to see more of them and hear more new material soon.

Gay Army

Gay Army

Another band who haven’t been seen in a while are, Gay Army. Despite this they were as darkly intense as ever as frontman Rolls prowled the Tav’s dance floor while Jo, Ian and Jay owned the stage with the swirling wall of dark disco noise that has become their trademark.

Rolls once again showed that he is genuinely one of the island’s most charismatic frontmen whether playing to 5 or 500 people (I’ll let you guess which number tonight’s audience was closer to) and with tracks like Cracked Amerika sounding enormous Gay Army proved they’ve lost none of their power over the years.

Blasting into a set with a raft of songs from their early days Thee Jenerators seemed reinvigorated playing the back to basics trashy garage songs that made their name. As the set went on newer songs came too with the same energy driving them.

Thee Jenerators

Thee Jenerators

While it was one of their more physically restrained sets until the very end, possibly down to the sadly small audience, the band were more relaxed than I’ve seen them in a while.

Mark Le Gallez lead them in a non-stop garage rock blast highlighted by the best rendition I remember hearing of I Hate You So Much along with classics like Mystery Man and Burn Down The House to close the night on an energetic, if disappointingly barely witnessed, high.

You can see more of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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Acoustic Night with Blue Mountains, Mick Le Huray, Richey Powers and Llewellyn Van Eeden – The Fermain Tavern – 08/04/17

Richey Powers

Richey Powers

After a jam night and an international Folk Americana night, Guernsey Gigs continued their run of shows at The Fermain Tavern by inviting four acoustic acts on to the stage. Spanning veterans of the scene to new performers the night featured a mix of sounds, once again in a relaxed ‘club’ style setting.

First up was Llewellyn Van Eeden. Having played open mic nights and a few smaller gigs including a set on the busking stage at last year’s Vale Earth Fair, this was only my second chance to catch him play and, for the most part, it was an enjoyable performance.

With a blues feel to the majority of his set, Van Eeden added a nice abrasive edge that didn’t feel forced to a fairly standard sound.

Llewellyn Van Eeden

Llewellyn Van Eeden

Adding a harmonica to a few songs rounded it off, albeit in still standard way, and, combined with a relatively easy-going nature on stage, made for a nice way to start the night.

Later in the set we were treated to a folkier song in Afrikaans before the set closed on a pair of what can only be described as ‘pirate folk’ that, while a little novelty, were good fun and went down very well with the audience.

While better known as frontman of psychedelic folk beast The Recks, Richey Powers had the opportunity to show a slightly different side of himself going solo. For the most part it was what you’d expect with folk sounds from various traditions rubbing shoulders with something of an American indie rock sensibility.

Richey Powers

Richey Powers

Much like with The Recks, Richey’s songs were often long, and in a solo setting a little over long on a couple of occasions, but generally were engrossing rides that drew the audience in.

The solo setting also gave us the chance to hear the more intricate side of Richey’s playing that often gets lost in the multilayered sound of The Recks.

With Frugal Heart providing a nice highlight the set then ended with a more intense stomping blues-y song that, if nothing else, proved a good pair of Cuban heels can work just as effectively as an amplified stomp box.

Mick Le Huray is a longstanding member of Guernsey’s music and folk scene and has been a fixture of the Sark Folk Festival since its inception and many events before. With his first solo album recorded and released in the last year he has found something of a new lease of life and that was evident here.

Mick Le Huray and Andrew Degnen

Mick Le Huray and Andrew Degnen

Accompanied by Andrew Degnen on fiddle, Mick played a set strong with the feel of the 1960s folk revival delivered with a real sense of feeling and humility. Andrew’s violin expanded the sound nicely but didn’t help the set dragging a little in the middle for me when it went a little too traditional folk for my tastes.

A song with Guernsey French lyrics and a more upbeat closer brought Mick’s set to an end on a high point though and made a nice contrast to the two younger solo performers that came before.

In trio mode tonight Blue Mountains delivered a set made up of many songs, but all continued their journey into a melancholy side of dark Americana.

Colleen Irven and Mike Bonsall of Blue Mountains

Colleen Irven and Mike Bonsall of Blue Mountains

With Andrew Degnen’s fiddle and a few tracks where Mike Bonsall swapped from guitar to banjo, Blue Mountains new songs expanded their range of sounds but it was the harmonies and style that remained at the heart of their songs.

A real highlight of the new songs came with Hummingbird, while We Come & Go shifted things into slightly more upbeat territory towards the end of the set, it was just a shame the audience had drifted away somewhat by this stage of the night.

Rounding the night off on a great vocal harmony moment to close their take on Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Girl, Blue Mountains concluded things on a high point and, as this gig was clearly promoted as the first in a series, I hope to see more music of this quality in this relaxed setting going forward.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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Guernsey Gigs Folk Americana Night – The Fermain Tavern – 25/03/17

Great North and Will Wood

Great North and Will Wood

Following their inaugural Jam Night event the Guernsey Gigs guys were at it again on Saturday 25th March with a night of international playing folk americana style songs at The Fermain Tavern.

Guernsey’s Gregory Harrison was behind the event and opened the show with Chris Callahan from Nashville, Great North from New Zealand and Will Wood also from New Zealand but via Berlin.

My review of the show was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 1st April 2017 (you can read it below) and you can see my photos from it on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Folk Americana night review scan 01-04-17

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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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Guernsey Gigs Jam Night – The Fermain Tavern – 03/03/17

Agents of Obscure Enterprise

Agents of Obscure Enterprise

While most weeks we have the pleasure enjoying live music from a variety of bands, Guernsey Gigs staged a show with a bit of a difference to kick of March with a ‘jam night’ at The Fermain Tavern.

The set up was pretty simple, any musicians could put their names in one of the ‘sexy buckets’ (no one could work out why they were sexy but we were told they were) related to their particular skill and names were chosen at random to form a band generally consisting of a guitarist, bass player and drummer with, in some cases, a vocalist and a ‘wildcard’ entry as well.

The newly formed band would then, after coming up with name, have twenty minutes on stage to jam and see what would happen.

The first band of the night were possibly the one with the toughest job of getting things underway but with John McCarthy, Pete Le Lacheur, Jack Crisp and Gregory Harrison amongst them things were in safe hands. Going by the name Agents of Obscure Enterprise things were mostly blues rock noodling but at points some nice grooves were found and Greg’s violin added some extras along with Jack’s funk-scat like vocals.

Bitch Master General

Bitch Master General

The second act found a kind of jazz-hip-hop-punk fusion with the addition of a saxophone as the wildcard and Silas The Assyrian Assassin himself on vocals. While this might sound like a mismatch the band, going by the name of Bitch Master General, provided one of the highlights of the evening.

Featuring Lord Vapour guitarist Henry Fears and Brunt bass player Elliott Mariess it was not surprising which musical direction Existence is Pain (a cheery name) took as the duo were joined by Seven Day Riot drummer Scott Angus for a long hard rock jam. Henry did what he does so well in his regular band with some cracking riffing and solos, while Elliott found space for some enjoyable rolling grooves.

With James Dumbleton being drawn as the wildcard and coming armed with a tin whistle and violin amongst other instruments (we were spared the bagpipes tonight!), Prolapsed Conscience created yet another hybrid sound with a kind of Celtic funk blues with Henry Fears on guitar, Claire Moxie on drums and Jack Crisp back on vocals.

Prolapsed Conscience

Prolapsed Conscience

Despite some interesting moments, particularly thanks to the wildcard instruments and drums, most of their sound felt a little too much like the same riff rolling on and on for the twenty-minute set in fairly unremitting fashion.

With Elliott Mariess on guitar, Graham Duerden of Tantale (and the evening’s compere) on drums, Tom Relf on bass and Gregory Harrison back with his violin Black Slags (can I repeat that? I just have) spent 20 minutes building up an epic instrumental with Greg’s violin working well alongside Elliot’s guitar work.

It had to happen eventually but The Screaming Ninnies, made up of Static Alice‘s Dominique Ogier (vocals), Jawbone‘s Dan Keltie (bass), Rob Gregson (guitar) and Brunt’s Christiaan Mariess (drums), felt like the first real miss match of the night with grunge, punk and pop all battling. Despite the groups’ best efforts they never quite wrangled their own styles into something coherent so, if nothing else this served to show quite how hard this jamming thing can be.

Nick Farnham

Nick Farnham

Named after a member of the audience, Nick Farnham was comprised on two-thirds of Lifejacket, John McCarthy and Claire Moxie, along with Tom Relf on bass, Paul Dowdney on tuba (possibly the wildest of the evenings wildcards) and Jade Grace on vocals.

Jade’s particular style brought a 70s rock vibe to the beginning of their jam with tuba adding a nice dynamic to the bass sound before things took a more indie turn with Moxie and John taking something of a lead and building the whole thing to great dance rock climax.

To round off the night it became a bit of a bigger jam with Henry, Graham, Elliott, Greg, Jack and Dom all taking to the stage and they developed a sound that I can only describe as a kind of sonic madness with everyone just going for it over one another, so to speak, but again with some fine moments amidst the chaos.

Final jam of the evening

Final jam of the evening

While the night as a whole was a mixed bag in terms of the music, and there seemed to be something of a drought of guitarists, for a first go at something like this it worked really well. Added to that in the relaxed atmosphere everyone seemed very much in the spirit of the occasion both onstage and off.

What stood out most thought was just quite the level of talent there is in Guernsey’s musical community as just getting up on stage with a group you’ve never played with before is certainly not an easy thing and if this happens again it would be great to see even more and varied a group of musicians take to the stage and see where things end up.

You can see more of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey website

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The Recks tour the islands – The Fermain Tavern – 07/08/15

Richey Powers of The Recks

Richey Powers of The Recks

In preparation for their set at Boomtown Fair 2015 The Recks played a trio of shows around the Channel Islands with support from various local acts and German guitarist, MarKuz.

Things started out at The Mermaid in Sark on Thursday 6th August and wound up at The Watersplash in Jersey with The Pirate Party Brigade on the 8th but in between they put on a show what they called their ‘spiritual home’ The Fermain Tavern with support from Brit-style indie band The Secret Smiles and psychedelic hard rockers Lord Vapour.

My review of the show was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 15th August and you can read that below. You can also see more of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page by clicking here.

The Recks, Secret Smiles, Lord Vapour, Markuz review scan - 15:08:15Guernsey Gigs were on hand as well and got a few videos of the show:

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Guernsey Gigs Battle of the Bands

On Saturday 4th August Guernsey Gigs staged a Battle of the Bands event at the KGV clubhouse.

With 11 bands playing across the day there was a great atmosphere throughout and the top prize went to recently formed reggae-punks RentOClean.

You can read my interview with the winners and organisers for BBC Introducing Guernsey by clicking on the screen grab.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

And here is my review of the show:

RentOClean

With sporting competition on every mind at the moment with the Olympic Games going strong, Guernsey Gigs presented a contest of a different kind on Saturday 4th August 2012, a Battle of the Bands.

For a Saturday afternoon in mid summer it may have seemed an odd choice to spend the day inside to some, but, thankfully, the weather wasn’t the most sparkling it could have been and so from the start there was an audience for the bands and performers at the KGV clubhouse today.

First on stage was Robert J Hunter, who has become something of a mainstay of acoustic blues in Guernsey with regular performances at gigs and festivals and in many of the islands pubs, which have clearly sharpened his playing skills. Today he displayed this with an, as ever, consummate performance which set a high standard from the off and went down well with the small but growing audience.

Songs In the Key Of G

There was more solo acoustic action next, though with more of a punk edge, from Songs In The Key Of G (aka Mark). Playing a more controlled performance than many I have seen from him recently Mark put in a solid show and again went down well as more made their way into the venue.

The days first full band, The Black Vote, took to the stage next and much like Songs In The Key of G, their early stage time seemed to lead to a slightly more controlled performance than usual, although they still trod their customary fine line between control and chaos. While this is a band that will never appeal to everyone, I once again very much enjoyed their set of attitude and experience driven punk rock that veered from the lyrically downbeat to the ridiculous in fine form.

Dealer’s Left changed the musical mood somewhat next with their set of pop rock sounds, mostly drawing on covers but with a few originals, they once again played a great set that hints at great things to come, which was reflected by their runner-up position in today’s contest.

The next act was The Phantom Cosmonaut who it would be a challenge for me to review (it being me) so I will just say I had a good time and apologies to the organisers for over running my slot!

The DeadBeats

The path to some early evening heaviness began next up with The DeadBeats. With only a handful of gigs to their name they played a great set tonight which once again highlighted frontman Bobby Battle’s unique stage presence and vocals within a heavy grunge context.

The band’s drummer, Dan Garnham, also displayed his recently developed skills, but still with that sense of attitude which many local gigs goers will remember from his tenure with band’s like Spat and the Bio-Nightmares.

Modern thrashers Distant Shores brought their mix of NWOAHM and NWOBHM to the Battle of the Bands next and, while their sound was a bit murky for the first few numbers, they were soon firing on all cylinders and once again played a blinder.

Distant Shores

As possibly their last performance in Guernsey before half the band head off to university in September their signature track As The Stars Collide brought a satisfying end to their set – I just hope they keep the band going as they are something new and refreshing in Guernsey’s current metal scene.

From something new and refreshing to a trip down memory lane next as Iron Cobra reformed after four years for the first of a couple of reformation gigs.

My memory had given me something of a sense of expectation for this southern metal band’s return and I sincerely hoped that it wasn’t a sense of nostalgia that had produced this, but, as the band tore through a set of originals and covers of the likes of Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster, I realised I needn’t have worried.

Once again Bobby Battle demonstrated his combination of musicianship and stage presence and frontman Dave Riley delivered an astonishing vocal performance, which I can only think, must lead to a sore throat later in the evening.

Iron Cobra

Closing on Dead Man’s Hand, Iron Cobra were one of my true highlights of the day and I hope these few reformation shows aren’t the last we see of them.

Having not caught any of their previous gigs (be it their first full-scale appearance at Chaos, or their smaller outings) this was my second time seeing RentOClean in as many days.

While their set last night had been good it had failed to ignite the crowd, tonight however was a different story as many seemed to be there to specifically to see this band and were soon skanking along to their reggae-punk sounds.

Following their brilliant and uplifting performance tonight, which engaged the audience with the between song banter as well as with their music, it was no surprise that RentOClean came out on top in the Battle of the Bands.

Party In Paris

Party In Paris were penultimate band tonight and it was my first time catching them, though I understand the band have undergone quite a few line up changes in their short history but now seem to have settled on this six piece version.

Playing a full on set of what can only be called proper pop they sounded excellent with piano and saxophone alongside the guitar, drums and bass, adding something different to most of the other bands today and young vocalist Gemma Honey was a particular highlight of their already very good set.

Lifejacket

Finally on stage were Lifejacket, another band I was seeing for the second time this weekend. After what was not their best performance last night they were back on fine form tonight and seem to have developed something of a following judging by the reactions to their original songs. For me they were another of the highlight of the day, though, to be honest, I don’t think there was a bad set all day and any of the acts would have been deserving winners.

So, that was the first Guernsey Gigs Battle of the Bands, won by RentOClean with Dealer’s Left and Party In Paris as runners-up, and while my personal view on Battle of the Bands is that they are an odd concept, as a reason to draw people to a venue and check out some local music, this one seemed to do the trick and I hope these become regular events and I can give nothing but credit to Guernsey Gigs for doing their bit in drawing Guernsey’s live music community together.

All photos by Tom Girard and courtesy of BBC Introducing Guernsey.

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