Live & Unheard, Lighthouse, Poole

29th February is a day that only comes around once every four years, and it is believed that special things happen on this day if all the correct magical ingredients are in place. Well Hangover Hill’s Matt Black and Mel Berkhauer have been casting some spells and cooking up some magic from their cauldron of musical dreams to bring us February’s Live & Unheard. We have a line-up that could be quite possibly one of the best we have ever had here by looking around at the bums on seats. Tonight, the Sheiling Studio is packed full of eager punters just waiting to be entertained.

First up as a last-minute replacement is our usual host Si Genaro, who is going to preview a trio of tracks from his upcoming album he is creating with his brother from another Mother Chris Payn. Si Genaro is a name many have become familiar with, he has been in a host of different bands including Big Face Reggae, Dubheart, Mischa & His Merry Men, The Ruby Welts and his own The Genaro Project.

His collaborations with other acts probably number into the 1000’s and he runs several well supported open mic nights across Dorset. Si’s moment on television show “The Voice” is something that just showed the world what this man is capable of. Tonight Si, who has a list of Dad jokes longer than any embarrassing Father, shows he’s not just a comedian. He can write songs that are relevant, with lyrics that come from the heart delivered with a real passion. His first number “Ring Ring Ring” is about being in an abusive relationship with powerful words that tell of the heartbreak.

Si Genaro
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As well as his many amusing Tic Toc’s, Si was busy writing songs during lockdown and “Love Is Stronger Than This” came out of that period. With his haunting whistled intro and the delicate vocal delivery, along with simplistic acoustic guitar accompaniment the track shows off his considerable creative abilities. The final number is a typical Si Genaro mash-up song featuring beatboxing and lines from Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and “Dub Be Good to Me” by Beats International… all this and he kept his harmonica in his pocket (until later). The crowd give the man and local legend the reception he deserves and of course he takes in every hand clap, clearly enjoying his moment.

Next up is a brand-new original music trio called the Ben Poore Project, who tonight make their debut right on this very stage. I say debut, frontman Ben along with bassist Dan HM and drummer Matt Åkesson also perform in a covers band together called “The Bandwagon”. Kicking off with “Oh Brother” the trio show themselves to be in fine form, relaxed and not showing any first gig nerves. Next Ben proudly introduces “Nothing Left to Lose”, a fine song that was clearly written from the heart by his eldest daughter.

Ben plays a semi-acoustic guitar and coupled with his ultra tight rhythm section, they create a contemporary sound with elements of Rock, Americana/Country and Folk. The band’s unique advantage is that all three of them have great singing voices and many of the songs feature some impressive layered vocals. Some of the songs include personal lyrics written from Ben’s own personal point of view, along with a few collaborations including “Better Days”; which was written with Dan’s fine tuning after hearing it at an open mic night, before the band was even formed.

Ben Poore Project
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There is also a track “That’s Not for Me” written by Matt’s Father who originally sent the track to Johnny Cash, but sadly Johnny died before he had a chance to check it out. We are treated to a few covers, one in the form of Genesis’s Dad anthem “I Can’t Dance” and a clever mash-up of “Old Town Road/No Diggity”. The audience really seem to warm to the band and there is plenty of generous applause as they take their bows at the end of their fine set.

Tonight’s headliner Archie Ray is originally from Cornwall, but recently moved to Dorset and within a short period of time he has been adopted as one of our own by our local music scene. After surrounding himself with a set of fine musicians including Cornish best friend Victor on bass, Archie has impressed with a plethora of gigs around the area and the release of a set of fine original material. His full band features Saul on Keyboards, Josh on drums along with former “Live & Unheard” performer Keanu Ienco on electric guitar. Archie sporting a waistcoat emblazoned with playing cards, arrives on stage to a huge warm welcome and kicks off with “Cry On Me”.

Bar none, the atmosphere in this studio tonight is euphoric; the place is packed and the opening number sets the benchmark high. Archie is without doubt a gifted songwriter and music creator, delivering tracks such as the powerfully infectious “Lost inside the Rain” and the beautiful “Moth and The Butterfly”. The next single “Queen of Hearts” (hence the waistcoat); which I believe is inspired by Archie’s Mother, shows off his stunning vocal range. Korean singer Dootae Lim is also brought on to give his emotive vocal addition to this wonderful creation, one of the highlights of the evening.

The brilliantly crafted “Siver Linings” is one of the catchiest songs that you will ever hear, you’ll only need one listen. It would be a travesty if this is not picked up by national radio stations, it’s such a great track and tonight its mesmerising majesty was gifted on this Poole audience.

Archie Ray And The Flutterbies
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It is clear there is a chemistry within the band, and you can tell by the looks on their faces the five musicians are thoroughly enjoying being on this stage in front of this capacity crowd. There doesn’t appear to be any nerves at all and each player seems to know exactly what they need to be doing and when. For the final number “That’s Just What Love Is”, Mr. Si Genaro is invited back to the stage (oh yes, he played as part of Archie’s band before also) and what ensues is a Bluesy jam where everyone just lets their hair down giving the audience some great momentum until the final song.

For only the second time here at a Live & Unheard event (I think), Archie and the band are given a standing ovation from the delighted audience. He leaves us with several tunes buzzing around in our heads and his passionately delivered lyrics in our hearts. This guy quite honestly deserves to be playing gigs like this and bigger every week, let’s hope some the music industry magic is sprinkled in his direction.

Set Lists
Archie Ray & The Flutterbies
Cry On Me
Time at The Bar
Singing With Starlings
Friends Come and Go
Lost Inside the Rain
The Moth and The Butterfly
Queen Of Hearts
Silver Linings
End Of the Line
That’s Just What Love Is

Ben Poore Project
Oh Brother
Nothing Left to Lose
Kiss and Tell
Stay With Me Tonight
That’s Not for Me
Better Days
I Can’t Dance (Genesis)
One For Sorrow
Level Up
Old Town Road/No Diggity (Mash-Up)

Si Genaro
Ring Ring Ring
Love Is Stronger Than This
Hellfire Club Sandwich



Words & Media by David Chinery.

Archie Ray & The Flutterbies