People say there’s no music scene in Bournemouth. I have always challenged these people. Are you looking beyond the cover bands spewing out the same old tired Green Day and Deep Purple covers on a weekend evening in the heaving bars of the town centre? OK, Living on a Prayer is an amazing tune especially when you’ve had a few, and especially for those of us who remember it from back in the day. But, if you are prepared to look around and open your eyes, Bournemouth holds musical treasure beyond your wildest imaginings. I have lived in Falmouth, and was lucky enough to be absorbed into the heart and soul of the vibrant student town’s musical scene. People flock from around the country, even the world, to study music in such a beautiful backdrop and emotive landscape, and yes, the results show in the melodies spilling out onto the streets every night from the local bars. It is pretty special. But I say, musically, Bournemouth can hold its own.
Last night, I popped down to Solid Air to watch Si Genaro. Si is the epitome of what is wrong with the phrase, “There’s no decent music in Bournemouth.” Si will, without fail, deliver the most emotive, passionate and beautiful performance you will ever see, each time, every time, despite audience, conditions or technology. What you see on the stage, whatever stage it might be, is intricately special; gorgeous melodies, a gentle voice which breaks into a haunting and broken cry just when you don’t expect it, eerie high notes and pensive dreamy low tones which trail off into the world this man has just created before and around you. Beautiful guitar playing, unbelievable beat boxing and perfect singing are all there, but it’s the achingly raw passion with which Si delivers his songs that gets me every time. It transports you to another world; a dream like state; an altered consciousness.
This is what’s right with the Bournemouth music scene. What’s wrong is…Where is everybody? Why is this room not bursting with people sat in silence, occasionally starring at each other in non verbal understanding of bewilderment and bewitchment? Chris Woodford is another one. In my opinion, there is no finer guitarist, he delivers the most beautiful compositions on his 12 string, which I cannot even comprehend writing let alone playing. Again, despite unbelievable talent, passion is the key to Chris’ performance. Every time I watch Chris, I look around in disbelief at the fact that the room is not full of people like myself, staring in awed silence at the creation before them. And this is all for free!
Conrad Barr, chief magician and Lord of all at Solid Air hosts his music night currently on a Monday at the Cellar bar in Boscombe. Conrad offers original artists the opportunity to present their musical creations to the world and for people like myself, who would never have had the courage to stand up and play their songs to a live audience without his encouragement, support and feedback (of the non screechy equipment variety) it is integral to their musical journey. For so many people in Bournemouth, it is where their musical journey begins, and as Si proudly told his audience last night, it is still his favourite place to play, and I second that myself. Conrad gives everyone a chance to share their creative voice, and without him, I am certain that many talented performers would never be heard.
The Cellar Bar and Chaplins hosts this music every night of the week and Harry Seccombe should be loudly applauded for this, it is, in my opinion, Bournemouth’s best local music venue and therefore, best venue! Ant Lewis is another local musician who through his music nights gives artists the opportunity to play, hosting open mic nights at the Dancing Moose in Ashley Cross and the Dancing Jug in Bournemouth, as well as Showcase opportunities, and who is supportive and encouraging as well as being a fantastic original artist himself.
I would challenge anyone who thinks there is no music scene in Bournemouth to open their ears and their eyes to the musical wonder that surrounds them!