Poole Lighthouse 19.9.20 Becoming Branches, Chris Payn, Mischa and his Merry Men
Live and Unheard is an opportunity for unsigned bands to showcase original material, usually in the setting of the Sherling Studio, holding up to about 100 packed into the bench seating in there. Events are promoted by locally based musician and record producer Matt Black.
I’ve been to a couple of these events before and come away with something new. Highlights have included Capulus and DD Allen at previous Live and Unheards This one has been much more awaited though. It’s the first live event put on by Poole Lighthouse arts centre since Lockdown. It’s a restrained and well socially distanced sell out and it’s outside which is not without its risks.
There is a small outdoor arena at one end of the Lighthouse arts centre building, with a steep grassy semi-circular bank, quite well sheltered. I’d never noticed this before despite it being just down the road and passing it most days. I even went up for a look when I bought the tickets and was encouraged. I’ve never known it used but in the viral circumstances this a great solution. Fortunately it’s a warm still evening. The camping chairs and picnic blankets are out, as requested, and the bar is open and I do my best to boost its takings in these difficult times.
I could sense the widespread relief at getting to the starting line without some new Covid rules, a thunderstorm or in my case some knee ligament damage to scotch the much anticipated restart.
Three acts this evening: Becoming Branches, Chris Payn and Mischa and his Merry Men.
Rob, Jaz and Hannah are the interestingly named Becoming Branches from the Fordingbridge area, up to the north of Bournemouth on the edge of the New Forest.
Folky gentle sounds with Jaz Joyner’s beautiful voice was a fantastic start to this evening and a well received way of breaking the live silence for many here.
There’s plenty of room in this very relaxed little amphitheatre, despite all the tickets having been sold. With around a hundred it’s likely to be a bigger audience than would have been possible in the usual studio setting for a Live and Unheard.
My wife Sally slipped away to acquire the Becoming Branches EP Take you Home which is a good listen and can also be found on Spotify and YouTube . A hunt for suitably disinfected virus free pen to have the EP signed before the possible rise to stardom didn’t realise its aim. A great listen though in recent weeks.
So good to hear live music here again but it’s dark already, we’re in the back half of September and I’m wondering how we are going to manage as we descend into full blown Autumn. Another bottle of wine to help support The Lighthouse and let’s worry about that another time. This is relaxing music.
The song about a travelling harpist …. called The Travelling Harpist (!) stuck in the mind after Rob’s introduction to this song about a relative of his – the tale of the harpist who travelled from place to place to play had appealed to him. But why did his old relative travel around nomadically with a harp he wondered – he’d stolen it was the answer, so crushing the romance and hence the song.
A lovely sound.
Next up Chris Payn. We bumped into a Chris Payn live performance on Poole Quay a few weeks earlier on a sunny afternoon. He has an an excellent repertoire of covers and medleys of these crowd pleasers and gigs a lot in the area. Tonight it’s a showcase for his own material though and this was more punchy stuff – had me thinking Jack Savoretti or James Bay. I’d certainly pop to see him again and a bit surprised I’ve not seen him before.
From what the final act said I’m not sure how they decide who plays in what order at these Live and Unheard sessions. At previous ones I’ve been to it has been the bigger bands with the more full on sounds that have finished the evening off and the order has been a seemingly more obvious one.
Mischa and his Merry Men
The enthusiastic feel continued with Mischa and His Merry Men . A three piece including a double bass, and cello on some songs, and a mandolin to accompany the vocals and guitar.
I read since that this band is a changing collective of musicians and instruments with up to 11 taking to the stage on occasions. I’ve not come across them before and not the sort of thing I listen to but they rounded off this unusual evening well.
We shuffled off home with our camping chairs. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed this return. It was by no means what I recall as being ‘normality’ but it was a ‘return’ of sorts for which I am grateful.
I shall be back for the November Live and Unheard for what should be a socially distanced gig in the theatre rather than in the smaller Sherling Studio. There is also another event in October.
I’m not sure where all this is going. I’ve had 21 gigs postponed or cancelled over recent months. Everything booked before Lockdown for 2020 has now become a casualty. Not many venues seem to be trying much – the bigger the riskier. It has become increasingly difficult to plan ahead with the latest increase in Covid restrictions. I shall keep looking out for those brave enough to give it a go… and fingers crossed for a vaccine or some innovative pre-gig testing arrangements some time soon eh.