Tuesday, August 2, 2011

20 (000) Gigs Under The Sea

After four (or is it nearly five?) years of ramshackle lo-fi, folk, leftfield pop and backwards raffles, this Friday sees the final voyage for Club Anemone. I moved to Scotland last month, and will be travelling back down briefly to do 'the honours' at the last show. In the time that the night has existed, I have personally had some wonderful nights which will stay long in my memory.. and I hope that others feel the same.

I can't give one single reason why I started the night, but it was certainly not to make money, or to become anything other than a bloke that sometimes arranged for some bands to come and play. It did in part stem from a desire to fill what I perceived to be a hole in the local scene, to put on bands that I would like to see, that would often play Southampton or Brighton, but would give Bournemouth a miss, and to bill those bands alongside some of the many amazing local acts. It's been great to see so many superb left-field acts in Bournemouth.. whether it was Sam Amidon, perched on the stage-edge at the Central (he would return to support Beth Orton at the 02 this year), or Andre Herman Dune, singing sweet calypso songs in the belly of the ibar. It's also been an uphill struggle at times - and the fact is that the hole is very much still there. But people are still digging, and Bournemouth seems only to be on the rise, culturally-speaking, and in terms of the increasing amount of interesting gigs.

The night could not have survived without the existence of free-hire venues. Unfortunately, it has often only just been financially viable for me to host these gigs in Bournemouth, even with free venue hire. Often, acts have taken considerably lower fees than they are accustomed to, in order to play a new town. The painful truth is that an act of the size I would host might sell out a small venue in Brighton or London, but would find less of an immediately responsive audience in Bournemouth. So I would like to salute those local establishments that are forward-thinking enough to allow promoters to use their venues for free, in return for bar-takings, allowing promoters like myself to book more "risky" acts. Ibar has grown to be the spiritual home of the night, and, despite its arguable aesthetic failings, is the place that has done most for Club Anemone, as well as providing a home for other similarly independent promoters. Thank you Leigh and Andy!

I'd also like to tip my hat to those who have supported the night as paying customers, many right from the start, and often willing to take on trust that they would have an enjoyable night, based on previous experiences rather than any prior knowledge of the bands - I was taking a gamble with this night, that that sort of adventurous gig-going attitude might exist in the area; so thanks to those that have proven me not entirely wrong!

The Blue Boar has recently provided a change of scenery, and has also been very accommodating. I'd like to say that I miss the early days in the Central in Ashley Cross, but, in spite of all the drinkers we brought into their otherwise near-empty pub, they didn't seem to like us, for reasons unknown.. hmmm..

.. perhaps it was something to do with the over-athletic sound guy there, who, having quit the role following a barney with the venue, nonetheless arranged, at great personal financial risk, to sneak his PA back in, so as not to leave us in the lurch? Biggest thanks in the early days would without a doubt go to that living wonder of a man, Mr. Alf Lee, who also served as a ridiculously cheap (if not occasionally free!) soundman in those early days. Genuine legend!

Many other individuals have also given invaluable assistance, whether through manning the door, lending equipment, or any number of other jobs necessary to help a one-man-maniac hold a night together! Thanks for various things go especially to Lee Jones, Tony Foster at BHOne, Ed Mitchell, Marcus Edgar, Chris Catlin, Rob Langdon, Conrad Barr, Dan Barrow, and Nick Churchill, and more latterly Patrick Gough, at the Daily Echo .. and apologies to any others I have surely forgotten!

More recently, the gigs at the Blue Boar have been entirely dependent on the involvement of Mr. Michael Tanner, who has essentially put on the last couple of nights, while I have simply stood at the door and done bad Jools Holland impressions. Michael and Nick Palmer, of Directorsound, have also been responsible for bringing many of the nights most interesting visitors to my attention, and many of the gigs would simply not have happened without their invaluable input.

With Friday's gig set to be the last for the forseeable future, a bit of a party would seem to be in order. And no-one could be more perfect to help celebrate this final gig than our good friends, and most regular return visitors, Rachael Dadd, Rozi Plain, and, of course, the incredible Ichi! In the cosy nautical environs of the Blue Boar cellar, with party atmosphere compulsory, this should be another unforgettable night! Full details here and here!

Those who have seen these acts before will know what to expect: evocative and subtle world-folk invocations, reminiscent of Seven Swans-era Sufjan Stevens, from Rachael Dadd (The Hand, Whalebone Polly); fuzzy, wavelike indie-pop from the Fence Collective's Rozi Plain (ahead of a slot at the Apple Cart Festival in London on Sunday); and Ichi, from Nagoya, Japan, bringing a host of homemade instruments and party tricks, the most jaw-dropping, entertaining and hilarious one-man-band you are ever likely to see!

There will be free party bags for early arrivals, naturally, and then Club Anemone will slip its moorings and move quietly into the night one last time.. satisfied in the knowledge that there will always be other, similarly naive and single-minded people out there, also mad enough to put on gigs.. and some of them will probably be the most interesting nights that Bournemouth has to offer, whether it be Alan Krayon's irregular nights of improv-grind insanity, or Houschka's bold new ventures. And who knows, perhaps Conrad will start booking crazy Japanese laptop-electronica singers again one day? We can but hope..

The Pictish Trail and Rozi Plain, shortly before boarding The Simulator.

Golden Ghost and Viking Moses upsetting the neighbours, after the first gig, many many moons ago.

Confused but happy punters.

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