Tag Archives: rentoclean

Guernsey Gigs Jam Night #2 – The Fermain Tavern – 22/09/17

Who Would Dare Give Me The Raspberry

Who Would Dare Give Me The Raspberry

Back in March Guernsey Gigs put on an event that was a bit of an experiment, based on the idea of some of the open mic nights that take place but formalising it with randomly drawn selections of musicians being given 20 minutes to ‘jam’ and see what happens.

Given that the first was a success for both musicians and the curious audience, there was a bit of buzz around this second version of the event with a broader scope of musicians putting their names in the buckets to play.

While people were arriving and the first of the jam bands were getting things together the Ten Toe Hobo hopped up on stage to play a short impromptu set that found the feeling of the night very well in the way only he can.

Ten Toe Hobo

Ten Toe Hobo (slightly in the dark)

When it comes to a night like this of course it’s a little different to a normal gig as none of the bands are bands and none of the songs are songs and just getting up on stage takes more confidence than certainly I have, whatever the outcome.

The first band, dubbed I think accidentally Not Yet by the evening’s compere Graham ‘G-Dog’ Duerden, were slightly more prepared than most of the night’s combos and delivered a set of funky, jazzy instrumentals led by the saxophone of Boondoggle‘s Dennis Allen.

One thing about a jam night like this which is always something of a worry is that each group will just fall back into a kind of standard bluesy groove, so it was encouraging that even between the first two groups neither came close to doing that.

Deliberate Mistake

Deliberate Mistake

Deliberate Mistake, as they called themselves, threw together elements of psyche and indie with hip hop. With Silas The Assyrian Assassin on vocals, the backing provided a more relaxed groove for his insistent, Beastie Boys like punk rock-rap style delivery but for the most part it worked.

With Christiaan Mariess of Brunt on drums it was no surprise that The Dangles had a heavy groove going throughout nicely balanced by some more of Dennis’ saxophone and his Boondoggle comrade Carrie’s vocals.

While the next couple of bands didn’t quite gel as well they still led to some nice moments. Sexual Content featured some Doors like hints from The Recks‘ Richey Powers before he switched to guitar in Quintessentially Human and showed some fine power blues stylings as they neared their climax, showing off something we don’t get to see normally.

Key Change

Key Change

Possibly the most unexpected grouping of the night saw City Limits‘ lead guitar whiz, Glenn Holmes, teaming up with Ukuladeez (all counting as one vocalist). While they found a few nice jams amongst their bizarre mixture, I think their highlight moment was when Ellie added some percussion in the form of tap dancing. 

And then it was Murray Brown… Named for the Burning At Both a Ends guitarist whose name had been drawn several times across the night despite the fact he wasn’t actually there and combining the forces of Lord Vapour, Mechanical Lobster and Citizen-X, amongst others to create something like a deranged version Hawkwind but with more extreme vocals drenched in reverb and delay creating a highlight of the night.

As the night neared its end things went off the rails somewhat as last group, Who Would Dare Give Me The Raspberry, filled the stage with performers who played with a great fluidity considering the situation.

Murray Brown

Murray Brown

With Rentoclean‘s Kieran Smale scratching on the decks (following drumming duties earlier) adding yet another new sound and Gregory Harrison delivering a kind of scat vocals with beat boxing and rap thrown in, they ended the night in a way that showed exactly the best of what this night could do, getting different groups of musicians together and creating something new that, at the start of the night, no one thought they’d be playing.

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

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: July 2017 – Chaos, Sark Folk Festival and more

Vice and Track Not Found at the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Vice and Track Not Found

Click here to listen to the show

On the July 2017 edition of BBC Introducing in Guernsey we had a festival special of a show with more besides.

For my look back at Chaos Voodoo 13 I spoke to the winners and runners-up of the Chaos/Sound Guernsey Battle of the Bands, VICE and track not found, while hearing music from some of the weekend’s highlight acts.

I also heard from some of the artists who played the Sark Folk Festival including Burg & The Back Porch BandJoe Corbin and Ukuladeez.

On top of that mura masa told us about releasing his self-titled debut album with a special signing at Guernsey’s HMV store and I had a brief look ahead to next month’s Vale Earth Fair.

You can listen to the show by clicking here.

Tracklist

And here’s a new video from The Recks that also came out this month, as a little bonus bit:

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Vale Earth Fair Fundraiser – The Fermain Tavern – 22/07/17

Rentoclean at The Fermain Tavern

Rentoclean

Every year The Vale Earth Fair gears up for their summer festival with a series of fundraisers but this year, they come with a slight difference, as the collective are raising money for a new van and have even set up a crowd funding campaign to help.

With that in mind they presented a night of live music at The Fermain Tavern headlined by the return Rentoclean, a band who, a couple of years ago, had a strong reputation as the band to book if you wanted a party.

With only a handful gathered around tables at the back of the venue Jacques Evans started off the night with a set of reggae tinged acoustic balladry. While he’s always shown a raw talent on both acoustic and electric guitar Evans’ set here showed he has begun to pull it together into something more coherent.

Jacques Evans at The Fermain Tavern

Jacques Evans

Gone are the extended jams of old, replaced with a series of enjoyable, if slightly melancholy, love songs, alongside a few customary reggae covers that are always going to go down well with the Earth Fair crowd (even if they are slightly lost on me).

In addition to this Jacques employed some strategic use of a loop pedal to augment the solo acoustic guitar sound in a way that some who some who rely on the trickery of the loop pedal would do well to learn from (Ed Sheeran and acolytes, I’m looking at you).

An instrumental track later in the set did lose the focus somewhat as its mix of loop work and intricate Spanish style playing led Jacques to become a little too self-absorbed on stage but otherwise he provided a good warm up for the evening.

Lord Vapour at The Fermain Tavern

Lord Vapour

For the second night in a row Lord Vapour took to the Tav’s stage (before heading into town for a later session at The Vault, making it a three gig weekend) and for the second night they brought the impressive, heavy grooves.

They may have been in slightly loser mode than the previous night but still held it together well with new songs providing some highlight moments along with subtly titled set closer, Sugartits. While the audience weren’t as receptive as the youngsters at Sound the band seemed more relaxed making for a highly enjoyable set.

With the audience still rather on the small side and content to stay at the back of the room Citizen-X took to the stage for an audio/visual experience like no other in the island.

Those at the back probably missed the visual side of the show thanks to the location of the projector, but for those who bothered to head forward we were treated to one of the good Citizen’s best performances yet.

Citizen-X at The Fermain Tavern

Citizen-X

With new tracks alongside older ones it was clear he has added a darker tone to his electronic sounds, with creepily surreal imagery to match and the two far more in sync and smoothly presented than in the past.

While one of his tracks made it more explicit, there was a sense of harmony being created from an underlying anarchy and chaos and, while there is still a slightly missing performance element (I’m confounded as to what that could be, mind you), Citizen-X’s show continues to develop into something genuinely fascinating.

After a brief pause for some more reggae, dub and punk sounds from Earth Fair Collective member and regular DJ Rob R, Rentoclean took to the stage and hit the ground running in the manner they always did as tight reggae rhythms with a punk edge filling the Tav.

Unfortunately the small crowd that had gathered earlier seemed to have already started to leave meaning, beyond a handful of enthusiastic fans on the dance floor and another handful lurking at the back, Rentoclean were playing to a nearly empty room.

Rentoclean at The Fermain Tavern

Rentoclean

One of the band’s hallmarks has always been that they are best with a vocal and energetic audience in front of them and as the set went on it wasn’t surprising that things began to drag.

While they remained tight and sharp during the songs, in between they took time to chat with each other more than the audience losing whatever energy may have built up every few minutes and, while they didn’t resort to the extended jams they sometimes have in the past, it still felt like more of a challenge than a show.

While Rentoclean haven’t really changed what they’re doing I can only think that Guernsey audiences have found newer sources for their fun, punky, reggae-ish party music, particularly since the arrival of Honest Crooks and, in a slightly different vein, Buffalo Huddleston, which meant the return of this band wasn’t greeted with the excitement it might have been a few years ago.

On top of that, with the proliferation of live music events around the island, a simple Vale Earth Fair fundraiser no longer attracts the kind of crowds it would have done five or ten years ago making what on paper should have been a great, high energy night, fall a little flat.

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

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Various Artists – Jonah Beats

Jonah Beats album coverA few weeks ago I published my review of the Jonah Beats mini-festival that happened on the first weekend of March at the Vale Castle, along with the launch of the compilation album that was put together to coincide with it all raising money for the Helping Jonah – Helping Others charity.

Well, here now is my review of that album featuring a host of Guernsey and Guernsey related artists spanning genres from folk to doom metal and pretty much everything in between.

You can get the album physically at The Golden Lion or Kendall Guitars in Guernsey or listen and download through Bandcamp.

The review was first published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 9th April 2016.

Jonah Beats CD review scan 09:04:16

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BBC Introducing Guernsey – New Year’s Day 2016 Special

BBC Introducing Guernsey live sessions 2015Click here to listen to the show

Less than a week after the December edition of BBC Introducing Guernsey I was back on the air waves with an hour-long special.

On the programme I had a listen back to some of the highlights from the show’s live sessions recorded throughout 2015.

Every month on the show I feature a Guernsey artist in session and 2015 included Buff Hudd, The Recks and Gregory Harrison, amongst others.

While mostly acoustic guitar based performances, this year has also seen music created live on an iPad, a stripped-back full band performance, sessions from the first BBC Introducing Guernsey live stage and a set from the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

You can listen to the show through the BBC iPlayer by clicking here, or download it using the iPlayer Radio App.

Tracklist

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Music in Guernsey – Review of the Year 2015

2015 has felt like something of a divided year in music coming from the Bailiwick of Guernsey with a lot happening on the island while a few musicians and bands starting to make their mark and get some recognition in the wider world.

Two names that immediately spring to mind in that regard are Mura Masa and Robyn Sherwell.

Mura Masa

Mura Masa

Mura Masa, aka Alex Crossan, rounded off 2014 with the release of vinyl ‘mixtape’ project Soundtrack To A Death through Jakarta Records but has since gone on to receive airplay and support from Huw Stephens and Mary Anne Hobbs on BBC National Radio as well as starting his own label with distribution through Polydor.

The ‘on air’ features included a live session on Huw’s prime time new music show on BBC Radio 1, as well as being heard around the world on Apple’s new Beats Music platform with tracks from his debut EP proper Someday Somewhere.

This all culminated with being selected by Beats Music as one of their artists to watch in the new year and being named on the BBC Music Sound of 2016 long list (at time of writing the short list has yet to be announced).

You can read my interview with Mura Masa from last January here

Robyn Sherwell also saw a big expansion in recognition over the course of 2015. Early in the year her EP, Islander, surfaced with its title track dedicated to her home island.

Robyn Sherwell at Glastonbury

Robyn Sherwell at Glastonbury

This soon saw her featured by Jo Wiley on BBC Radio 2 (who would follow her closely throughout the year) and helped lead to her securing a spot on the BBC Introducing Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, becoming the first BBC Introducing Guernsey artist to earn that accolade.

With more recordings appearing, the second half of 2015 saw Robyn’s music featured on the trailer to the movie Suffragette starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan.

You can read my feature on Robyn’s appearance at Glastonbury here

A few other Guernsey artists also began to make their own strides into the wider world this year.

Following the release of their debut EP, Stranger Sensations, late last year, Of Empires signed a publishing deal with Metropolis Music and spent much of the first half of 2015 working on new material.

Of Empires

Of Empires

This saw them score a support slot on tour with Adam Ant as well as various other shows around London and Brighton and very well received Guernsey shows at the Vale Earth Fair in August and the festival’s Christmas event at The Fermain Tavern.

Robert J. Hunter and his band also made great in roads into the UK releasing two albums over the course of the year, Songs For The Weary in February followed by Before The Dawn in November, as well as completing their first tour of the UK and gigging relentlessly both as a band and solo around London and a few shows in Berlin.

Buffalo Huddleston also received the accolade of being voted Best of British’s Unsigned Band of the Year following a Facebook poll, but more about them later, while The Recks, Static Alice and Flexagon also made appearances off island.

The John Wesley Stone

The John Wesley Stone

Back on home turf most of January was a bit on the quiet side but the Vale Earth Fair’s annual unplugged night started to ramp things up featuring a show stealing, truly unplugged, set from The John Wesley Stone who took their instruments off stage and played up close and personal with the audience.

This was followed by The Get Down doing what they do best and putting on one of the highlight nights of the year in February as they welcomed hip hop legends Blackalicious to The Fermain Tavern and proceeded to not only sell the place out but slay the crowd with beats and rhymes like you couldn’t believe.

February also saw one of Guernsey’s musical prodigal sons, former Jenerator Steven Lynch, return with his new band The Electric Shakes to get The Fermain Tavern rocking and rolling alongside Lifejacket and To The Woods. February at The Fermain Tavern was rounded off by the return to our shores of Rumpus who more than surpassed the nostalgic memories of their Vale Earth Fair appearances.

The Doomsday Project

The Doomsday Project

Having been playing around the island for a few years February marked the launch of the debut album from young pop-punks The Doomsday Project with a special show at The Vault that showed how the four teens had gone from shy youngsters playing their favourite covers at the Rock of Ages nights to a fully fledged band in their own right.

If things weren’t already varied enough only two months in, March was highlighted by a pair of very different shows. First was a visit from Jersey duo Semu Ca, with support from Tantale and Citizen-X, who played excerpts from their new soundtrack for Swedish silent film Haxan at The Fermain Tavern.

Meanwhile live music returned to The Bowl as pop-rockers Static Alice along with Last of the Light Brigade and Chloe Le Page organised the first gig there in many years in hopes of resurrecting it as a venue for all ages.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

Live music in the month then rounded off with the debut of Honest Crooks opening a show at The Fermain Tavern and instantly making a mark that would see them go on to garner quite a following as the year went on.

Guernsey music also took a step into the national limelight in March as BBC Introducing Guernsey took up residency on BBC Radio 1 for a week giving a selection of musicians the chance of getting heard by a much wider audience and letting the outside world have a view into our unique scene.

April got going with an Easter Sunday special at The Fermain Tavern with Last of the Light Brigade, Lifejacket, To The Woods and Isabelle Sheil. The following weekend saw legendary, genre-defying, band The Blockheads follow in their comrade Wilko Johnson’s footsteps by playing a storming set at a packed Tav to help Space Pirate Chris Denton celebrate his birthday – that’s quite a way to have a birthday party!

Lord Vapour at The Vault

Lord Vapour

Having released an EP at the very end of 2014, stoner hard rock band Lord Vapour made their live debut with a mid-week ‘showcase’ show at The Vault and proceeded to not only start off a series of gigs that spanned venues and islands across the rest of the year, but also show how surprisingly good the small St. Peter Port venue can be for seriously heavy music.

Liberation Day in May has become renowned for its live music events and 2015 was no different with it all being highlighted by the JT Rocks stage in St Peter Port.

As well as featuring great sets from Static Alice, Asylum Seekas, Fade2Grey and King Rat & The Soul Cats it marked the return to the stage of Sark based outfit The Recks (with new drummer Mox) and the beginning of what was to be something of a special run for Buffalo Huddleston.

The Recks on Liberation Day 2015

The Recks

And of course it really marked the beginning of the Bailiwick’s big outdoor, summer music events.

Back indoors and a personal highlight was the visit to the island of Eureka Machines, a band I’ve been following for a number of years, who played a great set to a disappointingly small audience but seemed to have a great time doing so regardless.

May came to a close with a double-header of Fermain Tavern gigs spanning everything from folky murder ballads to rock ‘n’ roll to doom metal as Brunt, Tantale, Lord Vapour and Gregory Harrison kicked off the weekend while The Recks, Ray & The Guns, Blue Mountains and Citizen-X closed it.

The outdoor shows continued in June with the first BBC Introducing Guernsey live stage at Arts Sunday featuring Rentoclean, Blue Mountains, Buffalo Huddleston and Chloe Le Page while the month was rounded off by the annual Chaos Festival.

Robert J Hunter

Robert J. Hunter

Now into its second decade this year’s event had many stand out moments from the return of a much more confident and assured Robert J. Hunter headlining the first night to Buffalo Huddleston stealing the show in The Peace Tent in a way that became their calling card wherever they went for the rest of the year.

Other highlights of the festival were To The Woods and The Electric Shakes on the Friday night, Lord Vapour on Saturday afternoon and The Recks and Jersey’s Flashmob closing the weekend out in fine style on the Sunday.

The following weekend many of Guernsey’s musicians and fans decamped to Sark, along with many visitors, for the Sark Folk Festival which, once again, was a special event in the way only it can be.

For me this was the year the locals really stole the show from the bigger visiting names with Robert J. Hunter again putting in a special performance, The Recks mixing things up with a host of new songs (and an epic Led Zeppelin cover) and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine closing the show with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from them.

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

The weekend though belonged (once again) to Buffalo Huddleston who packed the Vermerette Stage tent and had seemingly everyone singing (and dancing) along, so much so the side of the tent had to be opened to allow more people to get in on the show.

Away from the festivals July continued with the release of the debut EP from Blakalaska, Machine, accompanied by a launch gig at The Fermain Tavern with support from Jersey’s Falenizza Horsepower who put in a genuinely unique performance. This was followed by a disappointing visit to the island by a version of 60s band The Animals (though missing pretty much every crucial member of the band).

With the festivals being an opportune time for it a few more bands put out albums and EPs in July with Ukuladeez releasing their Cosmic Tea Party EP and Blue Mountains’ debut LP dropping around the time of the folk festival as the month was rounded off by the Vale Earth Fair’s annual jaunt to the Rocquaine Regatta.

The Recks

The Recks

Over the first weekend of August The Recks undertook a tour of the Channel Islands taking in Sark, Guernsey and Jersey with visiting support act Markuz. While slated as an album release tour the record failed to materialise but that didn’t stop the band and their various support acts putting on some great shows.

This came alongside performances at The Isle of Wight Festival, Boomtown, Jersey’s Folklore Festival, Guernsey’s North Show and even a set in Herm across the summer before, somewhat surprisingly, the Sark based quintet announced their split in December.

While a smaller event on paper, the return of Gay Army to the stage always had the potential to be something special and, along with Ray & The Guns at The Vault it was just that with many hailing it as one of the gigs of the year and I’d be hard pressed to argue that it wasn’t up there with them.

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnson

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons

A very busy August continued with the release of Stone Em All’s Villains EP with probably their best live outing to date at The Vault while the month culminated with the island’s longest running festival the Vale Earth Fair on the bank holiday weekend.

With the main stage highlights for me coming from Thee Jenerators and Of Empires it was The Stage Against The Machine’s line up that stole the show this year, particularly closing triumvirate of Lifejacket, visitors Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons and To The Woods, but many others as well.

Lifejacket continued their run of great shows supporting the release of physical editions of their debut album at a special charity show at The Vault in September alongside Paper Saints, To The Woods and Ollie Goddard. The Guernsey Literary Festival once again presented a night mixing spoken word and music as they welcomed Neil Innes to The Fermain Tavern with Ushti Baba and Buffalo Huddleston while my September was rounded off with a visit to London to see The Wildhearts (not a Guernsey gig but a highlight for me).

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

October started out with the third visit of the year from The Electric Shakes, this time playing alongside Gay Army and Ray & The Guns at The Fermain Tavern and it continued with To The Wood unleashing not only their debut album, but its follow-up EP as well and what was, by all accounts, a standout night of live music on Halloween, though I missed this through attending gigs from Ghost and Tiger Army somewhat further afield.

Following hot on the heels of To The Woods, November saw more records being released with Static Alice launching their new EP with a show at The Vault, while Thee Jenerators dropped their latest, The Devil’s Chords, in a special vinyl edition and Tantale’s second album, Just Add Vice, emerged alongside a series of showcase gigs, including supporting Grant Sharkey.

The Graveltones

The Graveltones

London hard-blues duo The Graveltones also hit the island with support from SugarSlam, Chloe Le Page and Jersey’s Tadhg Daly, while a new series of gigs specifically for under-18s launched under the name Sound Guernsey at The Venue with Honest Crooks and Buffalo Huddleston.

December was all about Christmas party shows with the Vale Earth Fair staging a double-header at The Fermain Tavern featuring Rentoclean, Tantale and To The Woods on the first night and Honest Crooks, Of Empires and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine on the second with Of Empires stealing the show to cap off an excellent year for them.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

Meanwhile Sound Guernsey’s second event was their Christmas special introducing youngsters to Toby Falla, Rentoclean and Asylum Seekas. A couple of albums also surfaced as the year came to a close with the debut from Flexagon gaining quite a following online and newcomers Wondergeist releasing their first record, somewhat out of the blue, too.

Undeniably 2015 has been a packed one for music from the islands but, as it draws to a close, it would hard not to admit that there is a feeling that what gets refered to as Guernsey’s music ‘scene’ is in something of a state of flux. Where it all goes from here is anyone’s guess but with the quality of music being produced I hope more can connect with the wider audience it deserves. Buffalo Huddleston have proved they can connect with a crossover audience and it will just take a few of that crowd to explore a little deeper and things could really take off…

I don’t normally do these but thought I would this year, based on what I’ve seen and experienced, here are a few highlights by category…

Band of the YearBuffalo Huddleston
Festival Stage/Event of the YearThe Peace Tent/Stage Against The Machine
Newcomers of the YearHonest Crooks
Set of the YearBuffalo Huddleston at Sark Folk Festival
Record of the YearLifejacket – Let’s Get This Out Of Our System And Move On
Visiting Band of the YearPussycat & The Dirty Johnsons

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Sound Guernsey Christmas Party – The Venue – 21/12/15

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

With their second event due to fall on Christmas Day, Sound Guernsey moved the show to the preceding Monday and dubbed it their Christmas Party.

As the target age group had all just finished school for the festive holidays, a Monday was as good a night as any and quite a few tickets had been sold before doors opened and a reasonable crowd was there from the start – albeit spread around the main room, front bar, side room and balcony.

Having gained something of a reputation for his performances over the past year Toby Falla kicked off the show with his Ed Sheeran guitar, loop station and tandem mic set up. Technically what Falla did was astonishing, layering up loops of guitar, percussion and vocals to create an amazingly deep range of sounds and all in perfect sync. Despite, or possibly due, to all of the technical wizardry though, Falla’s performance lacked a certain emotional connection making for something impressive but ultimately hollow.

Toby Falla

Toby Falla

That said a few moments stood out where everything fell into place, including a section of Eminen’s Lose Yourself and when he let go a little on the final track after putting down his guitar and rapped over the previously layered loops.

As was to become something of a default setting for the night the youngsters in the audience all seemed to appreciate and enjoy the performance but from a polite distance.

After some choice punk, reggae and ska sounds from the evening’s DJ, Vale Earth Fair Collective member Rob Roussel, Rentoclean took to the stage. From the start were far tighter than I have seen them in a while, and certainly far more so that a couple of night’s earlier at the Vale Earth Fair Christmas party.

While the songs were the bouncy, energetic, reggae-punk we have come to expect, the lack of their usual chat between songs made the set feel a little disjointed – though, having spoken to the band backstage, this was largely down to their fear of saying anything too inappropriate for young ears. Certainly this was admirable but it did mean something of the band was missing from the show.

Dan from Rentoclean

Dan from Rentoclean

Once again the audience was appreciative but distant, with most preferring to listen from seats near the back or the seclusion of the small room to the side of the stage.

It was at this point that it struck me the reason for this may be fairly simple and that, for many, this would be their first chance to experience music like this, not just live but at all, as Rentoclean are about as far from standard pop radio fare as you can get. Maybe I’m doing the audience a disservice but that is how it felt, so it is great that they are now getting the chance to hear and feel this music played live.

For this, rather different, show headliners Asylum Seekas did something a bit different to start their set. With DJ Mini-Rol in place behind the decks Apex and Jimi Riddlz invited some guests to take the stage.

First was Atari, making his live public debut. He delivered two tracks packed with solid, speedy MCing and, despite clearly being nervous nailed it. Though he had little direct connection with the audience (who had come forward following the Seekas encouragement) for a first outing this was strong and showed promise of Guernsey’s hip-hop scene having some new talent on the way up.

Devilish & Doyle

Devilish & Doyle

Added to this ‘new blood’ was the duo of Devilish & Doyle who put in a more developed performance than Atari, somewhat aping the back and forth rapport of their hosts.

Both delivered their raps tightly over well-constructed beats and offered a little more in terms of ‘performance’ and I hope all three will be able to showcase their abilities to a wider audience at The Get Down or similar events in the future.

From the newcomers to Asylum Seekas the difference was evident and served to show just how much talent this trio has. With a lot of new sounding material they combined wit and rhyme with excellent balance as the seemingly permanently wired Jimi Riddlz jittered his way through his parts in his trademark style while Apex added a more grounded and humorous energy the show.

The two MCs may have slightly censored some of their stronger material but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still as edgy as ever. With slightly deeper grooves from Mini-Rol’s DJing in places the set hinted at a slightly new direction and the MCs managed to get the crowd to join in with a few call and response elements.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

While the audience as a whole remained only quietly appreciative the trio did what they do excellently and showed quite how professional they can be – delivering, despite the muted response, to round the night off strongly.

Following the set it was clear they’d struck a chord with quite a few of the youngsters present as they were mobbed for the download cards they were offering for their latest album, showing how the youngsters attending Sound Guernsey events are really looking to discover something new and different.

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

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Vale Earth Fair Christmas Party – The Fermain Tavern – 18-19/12/15

Of Empires

Of Empires

Every year the Vale Earth Fair pulls out all the stops for its end of year shows with past versions having featured Dead Sea Skulls and Skindred amongst others.

2015 was no different as they took over The Fermain Tavern for two nights of music including the return to the island of Of Empires.

The first night got going with Rentoclean who were at their most ramshackle throughout. While the reggae-punk four-piece’s performance was still fun and engaging at times, they seemed to lose momentum as soon as they’d gained any by interspersing their more well-known songs with lengthy jams and half-formed new material.

All these jams came with a good groove but a lot of the time it felt as if even the band weren’t sure where these grooves were going and it was clear from the way the audience began to drift it wasn’t translating off stage either.

Rentoclean

Rentoclean

A highlight of the set came with We Wish You A Reggae Christmas but as their set ended with the band members drifting into silence the whole performance felt unengaging and something of a disappointed from such a renowned ‘party band’.

After a bit of a protracted break, during which we were ‘treated’ to the very random selections of DJ Ormer that ranged from cheesy Christmas classics to pounding dance to (later on) hard rock and metal, Tantale hit the stage.

They started off with a loose and groovy vibe that, as they got going, merged with the grungy feel of their rockier material into something that really seemed to hit the mood of the crowd. Particularly good here was a drone heavy track from new album Just Add Vice, which along with a few others got some intense head nodding going on.

Tantale and 'guest'

Tantale and ‘guest’

Tantale certainly feel reinvigorated following the release of their new album and string of recent gigs and this was particularly evident in frontman Steve Wickins’ more assured performance.

They ended their set with a good run at The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York (complete with impromptu and, I think, unexpected extra vocals from an over enthusiastic member of the audience) and had the energy in the room high for the night’s headliners.

By the time To The Woods hit the stage it was getting late and they were in instantly ‘lairy’ mode. Frontman Bobby Battle was out in the crowd by half way through the first song and soon after nearly wiped out the drumkit before settling down into his usual intense performance style.

Since the release of their debut album in October the whole band have been exuding more confidence and that was in full effect giving them the feeling of being legitimate headliners and not just the band going on last.

To The Woods

To The Woods

Throughout their breakneck set they had heads banging and about as close as we get to moshing at a Guernsey show these days and, while certainly This is Chaos it never felt out of control and ended the first night of the party on a high.


As Honest Crooks took to the stage to start the second night of the party the Tav was already as busy as it had been at its busiest the previous night and there was a real sense of anticipation for the Of Empires return.

That said it was clear this ska-punk trio had brought a fair number of their own fans in too, not a surprise considering their swift rise over the past twelve months. While frontman James Radford still seems to have a hard time connecting physically its fair to say their music is infectious and had a few moving despite the band being on first.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

With their usual mix of well-known covers and their own material they kicked off the night well and got the energy up while their ska-punk version of Fairytale of New York was surprisingly successful and got them a big round of applause and cheers to end their set.

Having spent the last year gigging and working in the UK, Of Empires return to The Fermain Tavern had drawn quite a crowd many of whom headed onto the dancefloor as the band finished setting up.

From the off the band were probably the coolest looking thing to grace this stage this year and it would be easy to see the whole enterprise as something of a pose. However, once all four members hit their stride by half way through the first song it was clear all were playing with their own sense of legitimate conviction that made their set deeply engaging.

Of Empires

Of Empires

Jack Fletcher remains a prototypical frontman, playing to the crowd throughout and even getting Guernsey’s often-reserved audiences singing along, while all three other members had their moments in the spotlight.

Matthew Berry was, as ever, a consummate pro on lead guitar, even when he was having evident technical difficulties he barely missed a beat, while bass player Liam Bewey seemed far more engaged and energetic than when I’ve seen them in the past.

To round off a set of their cool and sexy take on rock ‘n’ roll Of Empires let loose with older fan favourite Carla that showed the band still have that more full on side to them. The addition of some harmonica from Andy Mason brought the song to life even more, rounding off the excellent set on a high as the whole performance demonstrated why Of Empires have had the success they have so far.

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

After the previous night’s less than inspiring DJing work, DJ Oneofakind was on the decks and gone were the Christmas tunes to be replaced with funky, soulful sounds loosely matched to the bands but with the DJ’s own sense of musicality added as well showing why he’s one of the island’s premier genre hopping DJs.

Following Of Empires here was never going to be easy and, for the first half of their set, it seemed the new look Space Pirates of Rocquaine may be faltering. Being currently down a fiddle player, mandolin player Tim Corbett was swapping between his usual instrument and a Telecaster (slightly disappointingly there were no cries of ‘Judas’ from the audience) to add an extra depth to the sound. This seemed to wrong foot them somewhat making the first half fall a little flat.

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

As they headed into their potentially rockier numbers though a switch seemed to go off, with drummer Moxie beginning to thunder on the drums a bit more than usual while Lisa Vidamour got a bit of her old rock band feel back and things picked up.

Certainly this was still very the folk rock band we are familiar with, but here, with that little extra edge, they found a new angle that worked very well for this version.

Newer song Coming Home marked an emotional highpoint of the set before the likes of Sarnia Cherie, Mr Le Goupillot and The Witch of the Longfrie brought the Vale Earth Fair’s 2015 Christmas party to a suitably upbeat and celebratory end.

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

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A summer of music in Guernsey 2015

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

As we head into autumn and all the outdoor music of the events seem to be rounding both nationally and in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, I thought I’d take the chance to look back over a packed summer of shows highlighted by the islands’ three big festivals, but with a lot more besides.

May

The first big outdoor event took place as spring turned into summer back in May, as Guernsey celebrated the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day. Along with the traditional cavalcade along the St Peter Port seafront and events in all the parishes, live music formed a cornerstone of the event with the Vale Earth Fair putting on their now annual show at The Last Post in St Andrews and the JT Rocks ‘mini-festival’ taking place on North Beach.

The Recks on Liberation Day 2015

The Recks

Being a show of two halves JT Rocks showcased some of the best talent the island has to offer in front of a big audience, with the first half of the event featuring some of the islands’ top original bands in Asylum Seekas, Buffalo Huddleston, The Recks and Static Alice.

The second half of the show, meanwhile, presented two of the top cover bands from Guernsey in Fade2Grey and King Rat & The Soul Cats.

Read more about JT Rocks on Liberation Day here

June

Moving into June and the annual Arts Sunday event featured a wealth of live music including the first BBC Introducing Guernsey live stage featuring Rentoclean, Buffalo Huddleston, Blue Mountains and Chloe Le Page.

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

June was rounded off by the first of the big festivals, Chaos. Taking place in a few fields up at Pleinmont and featuring a broad mix of local and visiting acts.

Though somewhat scaled back this year, Chaos offered something of a return to its old atmosphere alongside the music.

This included headliners Robert J. Hunter, Stormbringer and FlashMob with highlight sets across both the main stage and The Peace Tent from Buffalo Huddleston, To The Woods, The Electric Shakes and Lord Vapour.

Read more about Chaos XI here

The same weekend as Chaos Guernsey’s Robyn Sherwell took to the BBC Introducing Stage at the Glastonbury Festival representing BBC Introducing in Guernsey.

July

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

A week after Chaos, July got going with the second big summer show, Sark Folk Festival.

Having sold out in minutes last November there was a huge sense of anticipation and the festival certainly didn’t disappoint with more international acts rubbing shoulders with bands from around the Channel Islands.

Highlights of the folk festival included Robert J. Hunter, The Recks, Buffalo Huddleston, Clameur De Haro and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine while The Rectory Hill Skillet Lickers delivered an inspiring, semi-busking, set.

Read more about Sark Folk Festival here

As the month rolled on BLAKALASKA released their debut EP with a show at The Fermain Tavern featuring an astonishing performance by Falenizza Horsepower while the Vale Earth Fair headed down to Rocquaine for their annual stage at the Rocquaine Regatta with Toby Falla, The Space Pirates, Ukuladeez and French visitors Les Matous.

August

Richey Powers of The Recks

Richey Powers of The Recks

August started out with The Recks completing a mini-tour of the Channel Islands with back-to-back shows in Sark, Guernsey and Jersey as they warmed up for an appearance at Boomtown festival in the UK, following outings earlier in the summer at the Isle of Wight Festival and Jersey’s Folklore.

This was followed by a weekend of big gigs at The Vault with the return of Gay Army one night and Stone Em All launching their new EP with a show alongside Lord Vapour the next.

Guernsey’s annual traditional summer shows also featured a wealth of live music this year including The Recks and Buffalo Huddleston putting in great sets at The North Show.

For the 39th year the Vale Earth Fair took over Vale Castle for the Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend to present what was one of the best of their festivals I’ve attended. The main stage was headlined by hip-hop legends Jungle Brothers while my highlights came in the form of Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons, Thee Jenerators, Lifejacket and Of Empires rounding off my 2015 festival season on a real high.

Read more about The Vale Earth Fair here

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnson

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons

With other festivals and big shows including Chateau Du Son, Dynamicz, Elevate and Smaashfest, amongst others, 2015 has possibly been the biggest summer yet for music in Guernsey with some big names appearing at all the events.

Once again it seems the summer really belonged to Buffalo Huddleston with storming performances in Sark and at Chaos, as well as at other shows including Jersey’s Folklore festival and packing local pubs like hasn’t been seen in a long time.

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BBC Introducing Guernsey Summer Special – 23/08/15

The Recks at BBC Guernsey 2

The Recks in session

Click here to listen to the show

For a special edition of BBC Introducing Guernsey in August 2015 I took a look back at some highlights of the live sessions featured on the show so far this year.

Every month on the show I feature a Guernsey artist live in session, usually playing stripped back acoustic versions of their songs. So far this year BBC Introducing Guernsey has featured everything from pop-punk to electronic soundscapes alongside sessions originally broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and recorded on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

To be featured on BBC Introducing, in Guernsey or anywhere else around the UK, upload your music through the Introducing ‘Uploader’ tool.

Gregory Harrison

Gregory Harrison

The show is available to listen to online for a month by clicking here or you can download it on the BBC iPlayer Radio App.

Tracklist

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