Well blow me down and call me Arthur Scargill if it ain’t true; the Devizes Arts Festival’s recently announced line-up looks superb, with one major flaw.
But let’s start with the good news. Toyah and her Full Electric Band and the Corn Exchange on 16th tipped to shine musically, while The Chaser, Paul Sinha doing a comedy show is perhaps the most intriguing.
Organist at Eton College, David Goode is doing an organ recital at St Johns on the 2nd, perhaps more Latino and lively for that day though is at the Corn Exchange where Son Yambu play authentic Cuban-Son, the intoxicating fusion of Spanish and African rhythms that gave rise to salsa.
It’s good to see the festival prompting some local acts, such as singer-songwriter Laura Greaves at the Black Swan for a free fringe event on the 3rd June. Devizes Books also hosts some poetry same day with Jemima Foxtrot, a writer, performer, musician and theatre-maker who blends powerful, sonic-heavy words with snippets of song in her distinctive voice. Or you could take a historical festival walk across the training ground of Salisbury Plain.
Eyes are on the Cellar bar that evening when the intelligent posh boy humour of Andrew Watts takes stage for a free fringe event, or the Corn Exchange with solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie.
The following Monday evening, 4th June The Bath Bach Choir perform at St Marys, while Tuesday lunchtime its over at St Andrews for a recital with Olivia Gomez and Ben Pinnow. The Town Hall though sees something interesting for the computer geeks and historians alike, as Dr Mark Baldwin lectures about the Story of the Enigma machine and the codebreakers.
Awarding winning biographer Victoria Glendinning at The Bear on Wednesday, and there’s New Orleans Jazz with Doolally Tap at the Merchants Suite. Elias String Quartet on Thursday at Town Hall, a Dickens-themed afternoon tea with Lucinda Hawksley, a double bill of soul sessions with Apphia Campbell paying tribute to her father and inspiration, Nina Simone.
Southbroom School seem to host the only children’s event listed on the 9th, when Explorer Dome’s pop-up planetarium explores the universe, and a C.S.I. styled Crime Scene Improvisation at The Merchants Suite wraps up Saturday.
Sunday has free fringe music at the Three Crowns with a roots, rattle & roll trio from Hampshire, The Mantic Muddlers. While actors Robert Powell and Liza Goddard present A Passionate Life which celebrates the extraordinary life and times of the composer Claude Debussy at the Town Hall.
If Robin Maynard is “an experienced communicator and campaigner on a broad range of environmental issues, an articulate and proven public speaker, writer and broadcaster,” then perhaps he could have devised a snappier title of this event, “Café Sci : The Seven Deadly Things we’re doing to trash the planet – & the one nobody wants to talk about… Human Population,” although it sounds apt. Meanwhile the Palace offer a matinee movie, Brief Encounter.
Posting Letters To The Moon at the Town Hall on the Tuesday is a recount of life during the early 1940s with readings of wartime letters between actress Celia Johnson, Oscar nominated for ‘Brief Encounter’ and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming, brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
Thursday 14th June sees the Merchant Suite host the show Lovehard: Murdered By Murder, while St Mary’s has the Embassy Brass Quintet.
Friday it’s all jazz-hands with Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcion at the Town Hall, flowing into Saturday 16th when The Gaulois Brothers play Gypsy Jazz at Pizza Express and Sunday there’s a free fringe event at the Merchant’s Suite with the Flamenco Thief, Craig Sutton. And the festival finishes with the traditional Devizes Film Festival, also a free fringe event.
It all sounds varied and there’s something to interest everyone, but who ordered the spanner in the works, and even gave them top billing? Senior homophobic, racist Tory scumbag Ann Widdecombe is intending to grace our town, and steal sixteen quid, plus book signing fees from punters willing to endure her dribble defined by the Devizes Arts Festival as “engaging, entertaining and refreshingly down to earth.”
I’m sorry to the organisers but this needs to be said; when, why, what in the heavens bought you to decide that this was even entertainment, let alone “arts?” Are we expecting an amusing anecdote about how she submitted a mileage claim for a 50-mile journey for a member of her staff to attend a funeral, or perhaps how she wangled a hundred and forty quid expenses for a pair of glasses for one of her assistants? I want to hear the ever-witty tale of her claims of £522, for newspaper cuttings; can’t she do her own vain scrapbook?
I’d like to hear that funny gag, you know the one, how she voted against gay rights on every count, or how she opted to shackle pregnant prisoners in labour. Why Devizes Arts Festival, would you book a politician with such a formidable track record, who makes Claire Perry look like Ramsay MacDonald, to an Arts Festival? Still, the rest looks fab!