To top off a busy Saturday in Devizes, the Sports Club hosted the Battle of the Bands, as we previewed last week(ish.)
Ambiguous name, for “bands” consisted of solo performers, and despite it being a “battle,” competition, judged by a panel to win a place on the impressive Saddleback Festival line-up, a close-knit group of optimum local acts cuddled, and celebrated each other’s performances with mutual respect and friendship, without throwing so much as a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch at one another, (least I didn’t notice.)
Alas, Battle of the Bands is commonly an apt slogan, which kind of sums up the events last night at the Sports Club. More importantly though, what you need to note; the evening absolutely, totally and unquestionably rocked. For not only did the dazzling and varied acoustic music make this night, it also gave the performers the rare chance to get together. As the mighty Mike Barham told organiser Rick, with me earwigging, they’re always performing at different venues on any given night.
Asked to play three songs each, things moved swiftly, acting like a sampler for each performer’s showcase. It was time for me to hear and meet, not only the ones I’m aware of, but others who I’ve been pre-warned about the excellence of.
And excellent it was from the opening; if this was Alex Cash’s first solo outing he didn’t look lonely there, and Calne’s Jack Moore amusingly continued the fashion with a final song inspired by the Pixar movie Finding Nemo. Even accidentally head-butting the microphone as a finale wouldn’t have lost full marks if I was judging.
Just as soon as I returned from the bar, the lovely Clair Kearley from Devizes post-punk band Browfort replaced Jack and was merrily singing away. It all went so fast, next thing I knew, an honoured chance few words with proficient music organiser, Mirko Pangrazzi, and the Salamander, Pewsey’s Sally Dobson was firing on all cylinders.
I’m losing it now, the notes on my phone abandoned for some great conversation about the Saddleback Festival with Rick on prospective expansions for the event, including camping, and with snapping legend Nick Padmore, who’s so enthusiastic about our local music scene he’s kindly allowed me pinch these fine photos to show you. He had a grand idea that I should interview this crazy bunch, and if you’d have heard them, you’d agree; watch this space, if they’ll honour me.
Meanwhile, if I recall correctly, Melksham’s alternative rock wildcard, The Hound on Mountain blew the audience away. In the preview I mentioned influences of Talking Heads and The White Stripes, but I’m damned if his vocal range and passion didn’t deliver unto me reflections of Jim Morrison, especially leaping off stage and polishing off his song on his knees central in the hall.
Jamie R Hawkins followed, one I was keen to catch up with, such brilliant strumming and acutely written words. Poignant and witty, Jamie delivered the goods, checked them off and handed them over to George Wilding with a professional ease.
For those in the know, George would make this look like a walk in the park; I was wowed, he makes it look like child’s-play, owning a cover of House of the Rising Sun, but somehow he retains modesty and is the most admirable guys you’d ever care to meet; my reason for saying this footnoted.
Fresh from supporting at the Long Street Blues Club, Tamsin Quin awaited her turn in trademark white Doc Martins and magnificent smile. Something irresistible about Tamsin’s appetite for music and drive in her motivation shines through without compromise with every performance. Tonight was of no exception and gained her place in the final showdown with George.
Not before the mighty, I keep calling him mighty, despite he’s such a friendly, approachable guy, yeah, so, the mighty Mike gave us a dose of his loud and entertaining show. Never without an ingenious and humorous angle, Mike Barham fresh from operating the sound at Macs Theatre School’s production of Our House, would’ve won a real battle hands down. But he carried out his hattrick without concern for competition, his only mission to strum Top Gun anthem “Danger Zone,” with impeccable comic timing.
So, with all left but for George and Tamsin to playoff for the winning place, George did his seriously awesome thing, leaving me pondering how Tamsin could comeback from the ropes. I guess she figured covering the Jungle Book’s King Louie song, “I wan’na be like you,” would do the trick, and for me it best did.
I’d have been scratching my chin if I’d been on the judges table and referred the entire to be played again next week. But they came to a unanimous decision; George Wilding won. But in an authentically honourable and sporting twist, not because this was the Sports Club, but because as we said, George is that kind of guy, he offered he’d play the Saddleback provided the others could join him on a song.
What a wonderful culmination to what was labelled a “battle,” proving our local music scene is bonded with a supportive and welcoming ethos. I’m grateful to them for making me feel welcomed and ardent about what we’re trying to do here at Devizine.
Long live our local music scene; support it now. That is an order direct from the passive battlefield!
All Photographs used with kind permission of Nick Padmore Photography