The Winchester, Bournemouth
Featuring Jack Grace, Sirpico, The Bomo Swing & Wikkaman
On the 9th August Aaron Lowney launched the Skirmish Presents: Battle of the Bands contest at the Winchester Pub in Bournemouth. The evening was the first of ten nights which featured the cream of the Dorset music scene; with a host of acts performing, covering many very different genres. The event’s aim was not just to find an outright winner, but to promote local music in a very positive way.
The two Semi-Finals were both hard fought evenings and as the standard was so high Aaron and I really struggled to find the eventual finalists, who all impressed in their own individual ways. The final was set and at just three days before Christmas the atmosphere could not have been any more exciting. The venue was absolutely packed with fans full of anticipation for their favourite artists. To be honest; it was a really daunting task ahead to have to choose between the four, to find an eventual winner.
The first band of the evening were Wikkaman, a band that have recently expanded from their original five-piece to a 7-piece which now includes drums, bass, electric guitar and saxophone. Each heat that they played the band have brought something different to the contest, bringing in fresh material each time. Their songwriting and delivery is something really special, they have a host of tunes which celebrate the Dorset Coastlines including the very infectious “New Dorset Coastline”. The songs have some fantastic dual harmonies and each one is so different from the next. The focal point of the band is the very theatrical ‘Justin’; who dances his way through each number, taking on the very persona of each song. Their half hour on stage was one of pure celebration and to see them live was one really uplifting experience.
Next up were The Bomo Swing which features members of the recently disbanded and popular festival band “Pachango”. I feel that it was a very brave move of Julian and his band to play their first ever gig in one of the Skirmish heats, and to get as far as the final was just amazing. They have Kate and Sarah at the front whose beautiful combined vocals are set perfectly to an infectiously danceable Reggae and Balkan-style beat. They are at this early stage, not quite the finished article as I feel they are still finding their sound. They have the songs and some really top quality musicians who each bring out the best in each other.
To bring some Rock to proceedings next we had Christchurch four piece “Sirpico”, who cranked up the volume and came out of the traps on a mission. They not only upped their game from the heats, they also introduced us to some great new material including songs “Without You” and “The People”. Frontman Al is a lead with a really powerful voice and some really impressive keyboard skills. The audience seemed to love every second of their time on stage. The band finished off their set in style with a little surprise in the form of the 2009 Christmas number one with not a jingle bell in sight………”Killing in the Name of” by Rage Against the Machine which whipped the crowd into a near frenzy.
The final act of the evening did not initially qualify from their heat but were entered as a wild card from third place. They significantly blew us away with their Semi-Final performance to have their place in the final. Jack Grace and his band of hand-picked musicians had a huge amount of support and repaid their fans with a top class performance. Jack and Philip’s vocals; combined with some truly inspiring guitar work, coupled with Joe’s piano created something very special. The new single “Blindside” sounded sublime and the last song the epic “Self-Destruction” showed that this band are certainly destined for big things.
After a short break and lots of head scratching Aaron announced the results to a still packed Winchester Pub. In joint third place was The Bomo Swing and Wikkaman. Jack Grace and Sirpico were level on our points scoring system so just by a mere whisker Jack Grace won it with the audience vote. It seemed so harsh that we had to declare an overall winner out of these four exceptional acts but the lines had been drawn and this was a competition after all. The winners were presented with a cheque from Absolute Music for £750 and they also get 4 hours of house studio time. A really fantastic celebration of local music and Aaron has planned to develop this further into many other events………….watch this space.
If you wish to be included in any future Skirmish Presents events contact Aaron Lowney here.
Words, Pictures & Video by Dave Chinery (Chinners)