Wednesday 8th February 2012

Deja Vu, Reading, RG1 2LG

Bohemian Night open-mic hosted by Rob Sowden

"Shameless Pandering"

If I'm honest I really didn't want to go to Deja Vu last night. I've got my head stuck in some work which is proving problematic and I just wanted to crack on with that. As it happens, I made a bit of a breakthrough at the end of the day and the thought of playing in the evening became less onerous. The only problem was that I hadn't practiced as I normally do. Perhaps it's a sign of my growing confidence (yeah, I know, famous last words etc) that I wasn't worried: just see how it goes, I thought to myself.

I started my set off by saying something which I thought was quite important. Phil Morrison had started the night off and I thought his playing and singing were exceptional. He has always been good but last night, I really did think he was very very good. So I commented on that and also (without trying to be patronising) on how much I thought he'd improved since the time when I first started going to Bohemian Night last April. (I'd noted a similar thing about James Histead recently.) Clearly much of this is down to Phil's own talent but another factor I think is the nurturing environment which is Bohemian Night. Rob Sowden modestly describes Bohemian Night as "helping musician s from the bedroom to the stage" but I think if you saw how much these guys are improving you'd recognise there's a little bit more going on than that. Anyway, without wishing to appear sycophantic I wanted to publicly recognise that and thank Rob.

As for my set, well I was lucky. A couple that had previously got up to dance, "throw some wild shapes" and generally be entertaining whilst I played American Pie were there again last night. Of course I shamelessly pandered to them and started playing American Pie and with a bit of banter and coaxing (it's true, it didn't take much) they obligingly obliged to enjoy themselves, though after all six verses I think we were all wishing that we'd all chosen a shorter and slower song to sing and dance to. ("Welcome to the Bohemian Night Cardiovascular Workout folks- no extra cost!") Anyway, that seemed to go well. Actually I seemed to be pretty relaxed and the whole set well received. It does make me wonder if I should bother practising as much as I usually do before I play? (What, you hadn't noticed?!!!) Perhaps I become too overwrought? The energy too congested? Did the evening seem successful just because I'd solved the problem with my other work? Or was it because I was more interested in enjoying myself rather than impressing? Undoubtedly some of the success of my performance was attributable to the "American Pie Couple" and my initial communication with the audience.

The evening was filled with a plethora of great impressive acts. I thought it might be difficult for Luke Paulo to follow the superb act that preceded him but actually Luke's style is so different it cut straight through; don't forget his Deja Vu showcase supporting Damien A Passmore this Friday. (Luke is on at 9:00pm.)

My Set:

Cold Heart

American Pie (Don McLean)

Last Night I Saw You Standing There

Tears of a Clown (Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Hank Cosby)

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Joanne Kelly / Strawberry Sundae Radio Show

Reading DJ Joanne wrote a very nice review of a gig I did in 2012 and has played Something Wild quite a few times on her Strawberry Sunday Radio show. Later in the year I had a great interview with her which can be found here, the success of which I think was largely due to the obvious background work she did in preparation for the interview.

Understandably I'm biased because Joanne has been so favourable but I do think she does a great show if you like indie rock, hearing about upcoming bands and a lot more more besides. Strawberry Sundae is on every Sunday at 7pm for two hours. More details can be found here.