Sunday, 29 January 2012

Mr Wolfs, Bristol (25.1.2012)

I'm of the opinion that Bristol follows its own distinct musical path.  You'll hear things in Bristol you're less likely to hear anywhere else on account of a long tradition of eclectic, electronic and dance music influences.  I'm not saying it's better than other cities, it's just different - which makes it a great place for music.  If you read my book you'll know where I'm coming from, Bristol has its own musical micro-climate.

This night at Mr Wolfs is run by musician Jack Baldus and takes place every week on a Wednesday night.  Mr Wolfs is an independent bar and music venue in an area of the city centre where there are mostly generic pubs and clubs to be found.  The focus at Mr Wolfs is on the latest up and coming music (and sometimes art) with a stage that is set squarely looking out through the three areas of the bar.

Jack Baldus and the house band start the musical proceedings at around 9.30 with a nice funk influenced stretch of music.  The house band is made up of Jack on Nord keyboard, Dave on drums and a superb bass player whose name I didn't catch.  They pack a powerful musicality and you wouldn't know that they hadn't rehearsed, particularly given the way they work the jazzy audio into a genius cover of a Radiohead tune.

A nice mix of R&B tunes follow the house band from a duo called Miss Mally and Miss Twist, and an acapella vocal goes down well with the decent crowd that have gathered here on this night.  I follow up with some of the digital beat poetry and it feels good to be playing in Bristol again.  I finish my set with 'Disappeared Friend'.

Disappeared Friend (unmixed) by Poet and the Loops

A full band play some upbeat rock classics such as Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd and OK, this isn't the Bristolian uniqueness I've been going on about - but it's still fun.  A poet called John from Birmingham treats the audience to just the right amount of ranting, dealing skillfully with a bit of friendly heckling.  An MC follows and she is accompanied by a multi-talented keyboard player, who also adds some neat human beatbox (unlike the version I described in my recent Manchester post).  The MC gets some audience participation going with a piece about having had way too much to drink the night before.  And the house band finish the open mic to a now packed out Mr Wolfs.

Bristol is always a great place to play and listen to music.  So if you're out and about on a Wednesday night you should definitely check out Mr Wolfs open mic.


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Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Chemic Tavern, Leeds (19.1.2012)

The last of Old Man Pie's trips to open mics in January takes us to North Leeds and a wet and windy night in Woodhouse.  The open mic here is every Thursday (except the first one of the month) at The Chemic Tavern and is run by Cloth Cat Studios.

Cloth Cat is a music and educational charity which supports people living in inner city Leeds through a range of music based activities including courses and events, plus this open mic.  They run projects for young people, those with mental health issues and the homeless, as well as a programme of community based courses in partnership with Workers Educational Association (WEA).  Every city should have a Cloth Cat.

The night is organised by Mike Jolly of Cloth Cat, who also does loads of other interesting stuff for the Leeds music scene, and the compere is local musician and guitar teacher Graham Young.

The musical proceedings kick off with some humuros ditties from Matthew Evens, including a piece about putting a lovenote on the windscreen of the car of some woman he fancies, only to see it taken away by the angry boyfriend.  Guilty Pastimes are up next, though Graham introduces them as Guilty Pasties!  Which is an equally good name in my book.  Guilty Pastimes are a duo and continue the theme of upbeat and fun tunes, even managing to include the word 'oesophagus' in one of their songs about Codeine I believe.  Rod follows the Pastimes with some well played slide guitar.

I Was Odd by Old Man Pie

Me and the pie guys play three chaotic and swift numbers including I Was Odd (see above), Small Talk in a Small Town and Less is More.  It feels like we've only just started when we've finished and that's always the draw back as a band when your playing open mics - but rules is rules, and its time for the main act, the Mike Medved Band.

The Mike Medved Band are musically very tight and highly skilled musicians.  They play some rock and blues numbers with a strong American influence on account of Mike's origins in the USA.  The friendly audience give the music a great reception and the room has now filled almost to bursting.

After the Mike Medved Band the night returns to the open mic proceedings.  They've got the balance just right here with a half hour or so for the main act, and then back to the open mic'ers and the three songs rule.

It's always a special night here at The Chemic and the link to the community based activities make it even more so.  The audience are a good mix of students and music lovers from across Leeds and further afield - with the occasional nut job thrown in for good measure.  You can find out more about the work of Cloth Cat Leeds on the website here:


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Friday, 20 January 2012

Open Mic Travels - 25% Discount to end of January 2012

25% Discount

The publishers are offering 25% off the price of Open Mic Travels until end of January 2012.  Just follow the link to lulu from the 'Buy Now' button and enter the coupon code below.

Coupon Code: LULUBOOKUK305
Coupon expires 31 January 2012
£50 Max Savings

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

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Monday, 16 January 2012

B-Lounge, Brunswick, Manchester (13.1.2012)

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Another night out for Old Man Pie, heading over the moors to the centre of Manchester and an open mic run by the group Naymedici.  This night is designed for bands as well as solo performers - and takes place every Thursday night in the B-Lounge (Brunswick) near Picadilly.  It's a mostly word of mouth event and always well attended due to the organisers high standing in the Manchester music scene.

The evening begins with a random drunk in a suit and tie subjecting us to some mediocre human beatboxing.  It was entertaining in some ways, but I've heard this type of thing done well and when its good its brilliant - this wasn't one such moment.  During the second piece he tells the audience, predictably, "if you (k-chish) don't like (k-chish) my shit (k-chish) you can (k-pfff) suck my (kchish) dick!"

Things pick up when Edwin Miles follows the suited beatboxing with some great acoustic songs.  Beginning with an upbeat number called Narcissist.  A guitarist called John also has some equally good songs, but doesn't get such a fair hearing on account of an upsurge of drunken banter from the suited beatboxer and his pals.  But this is the middle of Manchester and you have to expect things to get rowdy every now and again.  I don't catch the name of the next player, with a head of long hair, attacking his guitar with relish whilst he shouts out a vocal.

Then Charly Tiefenauer (pictured) gets the whole place jumping with some quality guitar work and rockin blues and country rock pieces.  Everyone has stopped talking to listen to Charly play, particularly when he is joined by a skilled cajon player, who has rolled up his trouser leg and taken off his shoe to get the full effect from the instrument.  I was searching for a sample of Charly's work to include here but could find very little of film or publicity that did his strong set justice. 

Charly is a tough act to follow and it falls to the pie guys.  We play a similar set to the one we did last week in Hebden, but this time include a rendition of Mackerel Fishing.  The audience are brilliant fun and I completely forget the words half way through one song on account of laughing at the umpa lumpa dancing that has broken out at the bar.

My Lyrical Mind introduce their set with some nicely reverbed guitar and violin, a piece of music that is experimental and right up my street.  I get a free CD off them later and exchange it for some pie music and poetic loops.

We leave the B-Lounge to head back over the Pennines at about12.30 and there are still musicians arriving to play.  It's a late one here in the middle of Manchester.  My only regret was that I didn't get to see Naymedici themselves perform because Josh, the lead singer, is unwell.  So I'll leave this blog note with one of their songs, the most excellent and eclectic 'Lobster Boy'

Gig News:
Just heard Naymedici, Deaf Sirens and Sam Haine and The Bloodflames will be playing Ducie Bridge, Corporation St, Manchester on Saturday, 28 January 2012


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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Open Mic Travels - 25% Discount until end of January 2012

25% Discount

The publishers are offering 25% off the price of Open Mic Travels until end of January 2012.  Just follow the link to lulu from the 'Buy Now' button and enter the coupon code below.

Coupon Code: LULUBOOKUK305
Coupon expires 31 January 2012
£50 Max Savings

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

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Friday, 6 January 2012

Bar Place, Hebden Bridge (5.1.2012)

[Or: The Rehabilitation of Old Man Pie!
The start of a New Year and the rebirth of a musical adventure that didn't do a great deal during 2011 other than re-organising and the very occasional gig.  Now Old Man Pie are back in the saddle and starting to reconnect with reality.]

The New Year began with ferocious storms that felled huge trees and took out the power supply to hundreds of homes.  So I wasn't sure whether we would make it from our base in the valley over to Hebden Bridge, and an excellent night run by Craig Priestley at Bar Place.  As luck would have it, the wind and rain was almost gone when we set off via Marsden and on across 'suicide bridge' to arrive in a Hebden earlier than expected.

Bar Place is a good setting for an open mic, with a room large enough for drinkers to sit and chat, and also listen in to the array of musicians and performers that pass through this place.  The venue is on Crown Street, just next to Joyces Closet (a name which made us chuckle).

On previous visits to Craig's open mic the place has been busy, but this looks like a quiet one, it being the first week back after New Year celebrations .  Still, there were enough players to make it a worthwhile cause and the night kicked off with Barry Smith.

Barry plays a number of covers on guitar including 'You couldn't have come at a better time' and then switches to an upbeat Irish tune on the flute.  I love it when people use different instruments and would have liked to heard more of his playing, but it was soon time for another performer.

Dylan Brierley is next and he's a young guitarist, and I mean 13 years young, with a bright outlook and some excellent songs.  He mixes an Ed Sheeran number with a little bit of Rehab and then sings one of his own songs about his Mum, who also happens to be in the audience.  It's a relaxed piece about how his Mum is his hero - and so she should be for transporting him from Leeds to Hebden and back on this stormy night in January.  Dylan finishes with an impressive interpretation of the JCB song during which he tells us his website and contact details, which as it happens are here:

It's always good to hear young musicians like Dylan and there should be more places for them to play and practice their art.

Bill Pringle plays next and I've seen Bill play a few times now and he's an accomplished songwriter.  His first song is a cracker called 'Blame it on the moon!' and by far my favourite of his tunes tonight.  He also plays a New Order piece which I hardly recognised, but it worked well.

After Bill it was the turn of Old Man Pie and the cool thing about a night like this is that you get a decent amount of time to play.  We did six songs in total and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  The small but appreciative audience listened in to the pie message - which is essentially about having a good time because life is for living and all of that.  Here's the song list:

1. I Was Odd!
2. Leaky Old Roof
3. Beer Monster
4. Less is More
5. Small Talk in a Small Town

It was a good night for us at Bar Place and I even sold a copy of my book 'Open Mic Travels' to young Dylan - though afterwards I realised it is full of swearing and a smidgen of drug taking so I hoped that it wouldn't offend anyone, those were just the characters I came across during that time.

Next week the pie guys are off to the heart of Manchester and a night run by the awesome Naymedici at the B-Lounge.

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