What a week, Will Foulstone!

Will Foulstone tries on the hoody sent to him in a parcel of merchandise from Irish alternative rock band The Script, he’s had a busy start to the year.

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Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you’ll have heard the story of the Devizes eleven year-old music prodigy playing piano at the O2 with Danny O’Donoghue, frontman and pianist of The Script and coach on the Voice UK. It was January when Mum Sandra filmed him playing on the street pianos at St Pancras Station in London, and tagged Danny, who replied in a direct message how much he liked it.

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The following month the family heard from The Script’s PR and together they plotted a plan. Will was to return to London and play a street piano at Canary Wharf, whereupon Danny would surprise him with an invitation to join him at the O2 where, during the soundcheck, Will got the chance to play in the arena with Danny singing. This went one beyond Sandra’s expectations, who assumed Danny would just surprise him on the street, but before they knew what was what, they were chauffeured the O2.

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After what must have been an excruciating wait, holding the secret from her son, it happened, but was only followed by another secret delay. Sandra explained, “The band took a while to release their video and asked us to keep the story fairly quiet until they did. They timed the release with the start of the Asian leg of their world tour.”

 
Some great publicity for the band, but more so, an awesome opportunity for Will. The video viral on YouTube begun a fortnight in the spotlight for Will, who was interviewed by Ben Prater on BBC Wiltshire and appeared on Points West last week.

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So after a couple of weeks as the focus of attention, it was time for the Foulstones to reflect on the marvellous experience for Will, expect to say, one thing which struck me was his confidence; he seemed so comfortable in the spotlight. “He doesn’t suffer from nerves when playing piano,” Sandra told me, “he also plays cornet but gets nervous playing that to an audience. So he just loves performing on piano.”

“What about you,” I felt impelled to ask, “was you more nervous than him?!”

 
“Yes,” she understandably confessed, “I was more nervous than him; he’s very chilled!”

 
Will comes across focussed and dedicated, he plays piano every day, learning since the age of seven, earning him a music scholarship at Warminster School. His first performance was the Devizes Eisteddfod in November 2014, where he gained runner-up in the piano beginners class. The following year he won (grade 1,) and again in 2017 (grade 3.)

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Will though, would rather focus on rock and pop piano, rather than the classical grades, of which I cannot argue with! He even started a band in primary school’s year five, but it fizzled out, “they never performed,” Sandra said, “he was keen, but the others lost interest. Now he’s year seven, so at a different school.” That’s the plight of a rock band on the road, even at ten!

 
“He’s enjoying his little bit of fame,” she continued.

 
“I’ll bet,” I replied, it sure is an awesome feel-good story, but I pondered of his classmates, “do they stick by him, without jealously?!”

 
“Some of the boys at school didn’t fully believe the story,” Sandra laughed, “…. and then they saw the video! He says he doesn’t think they’re jealous. Most of his school friends have loved the story.”

 
So, after this crazy week, what would Will like to do in the future, has this happening firmly stamped a desire to work in pop music, rather than perhaps elsewhere; classical or theatre?

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“The O2 experience has made him much more interested in being in a band,” his mum enthusiastically said, “he felt very at home on that big stage!”

 
How would he feel about writing his own music, or does he do this, and singing too?
“He’s tried composing, he thinks he’s a bit young for lyrics, but he sings too,” was the reply. A sensible young guy to know his limits, but to watch his dedication to his music, and with such experiences under his belt, its surely foreseeable.

 
I wish Will all the best for the future, as I’m sure the town is both in awe of his talents and wishing him well too. Can we hear him play? “The next performance won’t be until July in the Wootton Bassett Music Festival,” Sandra explained, “Apart from playing the piano in the Black Swan, entertaining the punters;” C’est la vie!

 

 

Check out the video!

 

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Scooter Club’s Special Brew do Smashed the Tribute Act Dilemma

Disappointment was all I found upon cramming myself around Glasto’s main stage to catch the legend who is Bob Dylan many years ago. The senior star wobbled on stage, croaked a few songs from his new album and buggered off as if the UK’s premier festival was the back room of a pub; a far cry from witnessing the chap in his prime.

 
That said, the Endorse-it-in Dorset festival 2005 headlined the mighty Desmond Dekker, who just a year from sadly passing away, rocked the festival like a teenage hopeful with a voice and raw energy which time never faded.

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Here then is the gamble of opening your wallet for a ticket to a legendary performance and an argument for the tribute act. I have a love/hate relationship with the notion of tribute acts, my initial criticism thwarted upon checking out videos to the Legend Live Bob Marley Tribute coming to Melksham and Swindon in the coming months, as here is someone you’ll never unfortunately see live. Thus this tribute act is truly a tribute, but how do they pit against a band still touring?

 
1980s Two-tone nutter, who made the Nutty Boys contain less nuts by comparison, Buster Bloodvessel and his band Bad Manners are currently touring, the closet they’ll get to us is the Cheese & Grain in Frome on 1st June, The Fleece in Bristol 19th August, Swindon Mecca on 30th November and Salisbury City Hall on 7th December.

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Yeah, fairly close, and check out recent YouTube concerts of Bad Manners, older, none-the-wiser; he’s still “got it,” but it’ll will take Devizes bods some organising of transport, short straws for a designated driver, unsteady stomachs homebound with a chance of a pavement pizza showers; another valid argument for a tribute act. Face facts, few legendary performers will approach Nursteed Road without a large enough venue to accommodate them on arrival, and no such venue will materialise with only a handful of its population eager to pay.

 
Our rural dilemma patched up with a plethora of tribute acts, varying in quality. The Devizes Scooter Club pulled it out of the bag last night though, when Special Brew, the UK’s top tribute act to Bad Manners arrived, shook the rafters and skanked the crowd into a pliable hop and frenzy of can-can dancing, in a way I’d previously have thought only the real Buster Bloodvessel could have, in his prime.

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The act was so convincing from whatever angle you took, the frontman looked the part, sounded the part and engaged with the audience with all the amusing irrational outbursts of Buster. He rinsed the Bad Manners catalogue from known classics to the lesser, added some covers I’m unsure if Buster ever did or not, uncaringly. There were moments on the dancefloor when you wondered where he’d gone, as he paraded the Cons Club in Union Jack leotard outrageously heckling his audience.

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The band never missed a beat and were sublime in backing up this resounding act, the saxophonist particularly proficient being she’d played with the real McCoy, but I credit the lively keyboardist and whole shebang for adding only spice to the roast.

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We covered the ins and outs of Special Brew in our preview, read it here as there’s little point in going over it again. Needless to say they left me with the notion, if a tribute can be this good, it’s well worth the time. Put it this way, although I paid less than half the ticket price I’d have to fork out for Bad Manners, travel expenses and efforts aside, did I have only half the show, or half the fun? No.

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Trilbies off once again to the Devizes Scooter Club, for bringing the town a retrospective evening of pure entertainment and fun; I love you, yes I do, cos I know you’ll put on a cracking do!

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Adventure in Reality

Day dawns through the window of an archetypal bedroom, an attractive woman in her underwear perches on the windowsill with her knees up. Causally she clutches a revolver and gazes wantonly through the window with contented expression.

 
Sprawled across the bed lies a clown with a bullet-hole driven through his chest. A realistic crime-scene, save for the eerie, misplaced clown and perhaps also, two paintings on the wall; a portrait of what appears to be a child clown and Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

 
What version of reality have you tumbled into, or are we instead treated to a snapshot from the mind of pop surrealist Si Griffiths? Welcome to just one of his Adventures in Reality.

 
Because it’s up my street and knocking loudly at my door, I’ve been waiting for any old excuse to highlight the work of Chippenham’s Si Griffiths, a contemporary artist who depicts surrealism with edge and unnerving intrigue. Now, if you’re passing Frome over the next few weeks you’ve the opportunity to bury deeper into this mind. From the 5th to the 18th May, Si Griffiths exhibits at Black Swan arts in Bridge Street; I’d recommend you pop by.

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Among the paintings there’s a running misplaced clown theme, but whether or not he’s present, much of his work balances fun and amusement with a darker element; a bizarre yellow brick road of hell collage, with a suited devil, aliens in doctor’s attire, a grown man dressed as a baby with lager and cigarettes, dice, Frankenstein’s monster and naturally, Betty Boop dressed in nurse’s uniform. Otherwise try a devilish circus ringleader come bookie, or a boy contemplating a heavenly snakes and ladders board.
Find discomforting elements in an otherwise amusing, almost cartoon scenario, or vice-versa. I asked Simon if this is the desired effect?

 
“Oh yes,” he tells me, “my early work was very dark and full of pain, but as it’s grown there is much more humour, irony and satire mixed in.”

 
“I’ve found that life is a mixture of light and dark, of yin and yang,” Si continues, “There has to be balance between the two. That’s how the Universe works. John Lennon said ‘Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.’ We’re out there planning our perfect existence, we’ve got it all worked out, 2.4 kids, new car in the garage, good job, perfect partner, comfortable home (or whatever,) we live in a society which conditions us to expect everything to turn out the way we planned, and then one day there’s a knock at the door……. the reality of life is we never know what’s around the next corner. And it’s not always pretty.”

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“My work tries to make sense of it all. The journey of birth, life, death. I try to hold a mirror up for people to see in themselves in the paradoxes in my paintings. If they can see the reflection and it helps them deal with things, good or bad, then my job is done.”

 
Running themes are warped dreams, depictions of skulls, board games and devilish characters, and there’s parodies of the Wizard of Oz and Frankenstein, but throughout the clown features predominately, be it erroneous everyday scenarios, perturbing poses or as disciples in the Last Supper. So, I had to ask, “why clowns?”

 
“Ha! Not necessarily an easy answer….” I feared he might reply, “my relationship with the clown has developed over the years. I first started using the clown image as a vehicle to symbolise death and my grief after a huge loss in my life, it was a sort of bad guy, representing my anger and pain.”

 
“Yet as I have journeyed with that grief and the clown as part of my life and art they have become somewhat of a friend, including a way to symbolise myself in my paintings. Within the depiction of the clown in my art there is an ongoing series of paintings using a clown called ‘Bozo’ which is the representation of who I am and what I am feeling or going through at the time.”

 
“I love the duality of the clown. The painted face, the illusion of happiness or sadness yet knowing there’s a real person behind, experiencing a gamut of emotions. Every day we all hide behind the mask of what we project to the world, how we want to be perceived, who ‘we’ are, our image our persona. But who are we really?”

 
“To this day the clown continues to guide my art, a sort of wandering Shaman that leads me to new pastures as well as helping me to make sense of the fucked up world we live in and who I am as a human being.”

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Befriending a character in your art is nothing unusual, the despair of Walt Disney upon realising his cigar-smoked horse voice broke the only tie he retained with Mickey, his speech, or Charles Schultz sadly passing away at his drawing board the day the last Peanuts strip was published. Artists devote their time to their characters, their own life merges; it’s understandable they’d bond in such a way only the creative can comprehend.

 
I tire myself of being asked if I am the White Space-Van Man in my books, or any other character I’ve created, when the answer is not so simple as yes or no. Of course they are inside our heads, part of us, but not wholly us, be it caricatured versions or a fragmented layer of the artist’s psyche. As I feel many of Simon’s are too, in my case they’re usually the aspects I hate about myself the most, disjointed satirised personalities which squeeze out. Others can be an ideal persona, the person you strive towards; pit the shyness of Siegel and Shuster against their creation, Superman.

 
Before you point it out, I’m fully aware all my examples are taken from cartoons and comics, but there’s a reason, for through all the surreal despondency, grief and inexplicable rudiments in Si Griffith’s art, I sight an underlying influence of comics and cartoons; being the very reason it attracts me.

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So finally, I was impelled to inquire of his influences, be it a beatnik Hogarth, underground comix like R Crumb and Shelton’s, or perhaps Great British comic artists too; Dudley Watkins, Ken Reid etc.

 
“No so much the British,” Si enlightened, “I was an avid Beano and Dandy reader in my childhood, which must have sown the seeds, but the ‘Marvel’ type comic-books gave me a sense of the fantastic, Mad magazine; home to some great artists, my favourite probably being Don Martin. This magazine introduced me to satire and irony as well as the absurd. Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers was another – all of these comics helping forge my sense of humour and way of looking at the world.”

 
I’ve been lucky enough to share some time with the great Gilbert Shelton, in awe of the charismatic dude on first name terms with Janis Joplin, I can see a clear influence in Si’s art; but it’s deeper than cartoonish.

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“On a wider note,” Si added, “whilst most art inspires me these days I’m mainly influenced by the Lowbrow art that originated in the California (predominantly LA) in the late 60’s and 70’s based on the hot rod, surfer, biker, tattoo, underground comix and music cultures. This genre has become much more recognised as a serious art form these days championed by the likes of Robert Williams the amazing artist and founder of Juxtapoz magazine – the first to promote non mainstream art.”

 
Fans of the weird and wonderful, freewheeling counter-culture should take a trip to Frome on any given day, it’s vibrant and colourful and I’m certain these Adventures in Reality will go down like a hookah at a love-in; see for yourself why don’t you?

Facebook Event info

Si Griffith’s Website

Black Swan Arts Website

 

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Avebury Rocks July!

One thing I did know prior to starting Devizine is there’s more things going on than meets the eye in our considered “sleepy” county, and, in summer when festival season arrives I’d have my work cut out trying to build a comprehensive guide. Still I hadn’t bargained there would be this much.

 
The popularity explosion of festivals and their social acceptability has resulted in the simple fact you can’t expect me to cover all without cloning myself tenfold, which, if technology permitted, I would, but it’d only incite disputes between us!

 
So, in respect I attempt to highlight the few which catch my eye, the few which stand out. Not for being the largest, or for booking the Rolling Stones, or selling the best jester’s hats, but for their ingenuity, variances and often, something which attracts touring festival-goers yet Wiltshire Folk may just drive around daily, their location.

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Here’s one that is stone related though, festivals of yore have always associated with ancient monuments and heritage sites, till the point of civil wars for the freedom to party on them. Though anarchistic days of The Beanfields expired, the attraction remains.

 
Our tourist attractions should never to be taken for granted, in veneration for their protection, contemporary festival placement sees them close but not atop enough to use them as barbeque tables for drunken revellers; you have to admire this. I pondered if this was partially the reason why this year’s Avebury Rocks is actually situated a twenty-minute drive from the stone circle, on Warren Farm between Aldbourne and Liddington, or if the festival had outgrown the original site.

 
Yet Avebury Rocks remains a cosy and friendly event, not near Glasto proportions by far. Genevieve Arney, Events and Community Manager for Swindon’s Prospect Hospice, the charity proceeds go to, explained, “the main reason we move sites occasionally is availability, Avebury is a busy area and we have to fit around different local events, including the pagan calendar.”

 

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My mistake, it’s not the first year it’s elsewhere; Genevieve continued, “it’s actually the second year Avebury Rocks has officially gone on tour, in 2015 the event was held at Marlborough College, and in 2013 a smaller event was held in Devil’s Den.”

 
“We think each location has its own unique charms and brings something different to the festival,” she explained, “but it really is the people who come along that make Avebury Rocks so special for us. It’s a very friendly, laid back festival, great for families and those loving for a relaxing weekend of great live music.”

 
Yep, story checks out, I looked at the initial line-up online; Worcestershire’s multi-instrumentalist, singer song/song writer Chloe Mogg, backed by Burbank Swindon’s own prodigy Lottie Jenkins, who Devizine is pre-bonkers about, Natalie Shay, a multi-award-winning North London indie pop/rock artist, one of the top rocking electric ukulele bands in the country, The Ukey D’Ukes and Swindon-based Ministry of Samba. With more acts to be announced, it’s a varied and humble line-up, with a drive to booking upcoming and local talent. I asked Genevieve if this was something they strive towards, and why.

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Lottie Jenkins

“Yes,” she replied, “we really try to champion new and upcoming artists both locally and nationally. You may not have heard of many of the acts on our line-up but we’re sure you’re bound to find a new favourite if you come along to the festival. We also launched a young artists competition last year, which was such a success we’re running it again this year. It gives performers under the age of 18 a chance to win a space to play at the festival, the closing date for applicants is the 31st May and how to enter is on the website.”

 
You only need to read the influence of the Avebury Rocks Festival on rising star, George Wilding’s bio to appreciate the organiser’s progressive ethos. Legendary singer-songwriter, son of folk musician Roy Harper, and a past member of Squeeze, Nick Harper, created the event in 2011 as a way to give something back to Prospect Hospice, the local hospice who provided care for his late mother. Nick, with the help of David Uttley and the original organising committee, set out to find a talented and willing group of musicians who would happily perform in a field in Wiltshire, next to the famous standing stones of Avebury.

 
“It’s been held annually since,” Genevieve said, “in 2013 a smaller event was held called Devil’s Den Rocks. It’s progressed over the years from a single day event with one stage, to a weekend with two.”

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I wanted to know if Nick Harper is still actively involved with the festival, and more importantly, will he play?

 
“Yes Nick is still very much an active member of the organising committee,” she confirmed, “and really has a drive and focus to help raise funds for Prospect Hospice. He’ll be performing on the Saturday night and helps with everything from booking artists to putting up banners!”

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So, what you need to know, other than it sounds fantastic; it’s Friday 27th to Sunday 29th July, camping is available on site, children and dog friendly, and tickets are very reasonable: Adult – full weekend with camping – £40, Adult – full weekend without camping – £30, Adult – Friday night only – £10, Adult – Saturday only – £20, Under-16s – full weekend with camping – £20, Under-16s – full weekend without camping – £10, Under-16s – Friday night only – £5, Under-16s – Saturday only – £5, Saturday walk – £10, and a live in vehicle / caravan pass – £10.

 

Or help out as a volunteer, there’s plenty of different jobs, from helping with car parking, to supporting the bar – email fundraisingandevents@prospect-hospice.net. for info.

 

Details at Avebury Rocks Website, here.

 

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Sound Affects coming from Marlborough’s Lamb

Two people, a couple of guitars, a banjo, flute and fiddle; think that’s adequate to get an audience on their feet?

 
It is when left in the hands of Iggy Gould and Cath York. Young and old sang along and danced in the two-foot of space between them and the performers known as Sound Affects at Marlborough’s Lamb last night.

 
In attendance I was awaiting to ferry my son home after his hockey club dinner, so reserved to remain sober, what better way to waste a few hours. The Lamb is, and always has been my choicest watering hole in Marlborough, and they’ve always had an appetite for great live music.

 
Last time I was here it was for the now disbanded Killertones, the ska outfit of which both Cath and Gouldy played a pivotal role. Now, as a duo, they’re equally committed to bringing us classic songs we all love, albeit their repertoire stretches far beyond the two-tone ska of the Killertones.

 
Now you know how it is when sober, watching others drunkenly fooling around, it’s hard to move your feet with the same enthusiasm, but blazing through a plethora of classic sing-along folk-rock, retro pop and Irish drinking songs, Gouldy and Cath entertained even me with an air of fun and professionalism.

 

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You can see via expressions the couple are at home with a microphone and instruments as they perform masterpieces like The Jam’s That’s entertainment, ELO’s Mr Blue Sky, Rod’s I Don’t Want to Talk About it and Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, not forgetting dancefloor stomping Dexy’s Come on Eileen, a track which gets your Gran shaking her tailfeather.

 
Each tune is a sing-a-long classic, crafted in their own fashion, some bringing a modern touch, such as Green Days’ Time of Your life, eighties pop benchmarks like The Cure’s Lullaby and a brilliantly executed cover of Wishful thinking by China Crisis, in which Gouldy challenges the younger of the audience to be familiar with it; me, I recall it only too well.

 
The short songs come thick and fast, slipping in Irish folk-rock from Pouges to Dubliners, and comical drunken shouting melodies American Pie and The Proclaimer’s I’m Gonna Be, even allowing a young sozzled requesting spectator join him in Take me Home Country Roads. With wit and charm, every song a blast, and the simplest of formulas made to look easy, Sound Affects would bring sybaritic jollity to a Christian Science Reading Room.

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Booked at the Devizes Scooter Club’s prestigious Scooter Rally next year, I had to ponder how a duo would fair against bands, but last night left me with no doubts. “We done ten songs that we’ve never done before,” Gouldy told me afterwards, but I couldn’t have guessed which ones. Catch them gigging in your area, promoters – do yourself a favour, book them; there’s a maturity to their acoustic sound for newcomers to strive for, and a wholly entertaining evening to be had.

Sound Affects Website Here

 

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See The Urban Lions Rise

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Why is it when the better half cooks I wash up, and when I cook….I wash up? Still, it’s a contribution I don’t mind making, I can stick on some tunes and skank my way through the chore, pathetically attempting to relive my misspent youth. The Mrs, or even my daughter shouts at me to turn it down, only adding to the authenticity.

 
Listening to music isn’t the same for kids these days, all plugged into headphones or else absorbing a tinny rattle through a phone speaker the size of an amoeba. Even if the kids do go overboard, volume wise, parents contact them via Facebook messenger. None of this screaming at the top of your voice from the bottom step, or banging on ceilings with a broom, for speakers in my day had to be immense, sounds had to be ear-splitting and bass had to rumble rafters, knocking Mum’s ornaments off the mantelpiece.

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For this particular washing up chore, a week ago, and therein since, I’ve thankfully been handed See Me Rise, the debut vinyl EP from the Urban Lions, after we spotlighted their appearance at the Save The Barge gig in Pewsey, in exchange for some words of appraisal.

 
Here’s a sound, released yesterday for Record Store Day, on Lionheart Records, which is favourably heard in the archaic method of large speakers and ornament wobbling bass-bins. Here is a contemporary steppers reggae vibe with certain panache, an abundance of bass, melodic rhythms and the whole shebang which makes reggae so blinding. It reminds me of discovering the awesome Zion Train Sound System in the 1990s, when we shared a page in a zine.

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However unlike those crossover bands of the nineties, Zion Train, Dreadzone, etc, there’s a more wholesome dedication to roots. The Urban Lions don’t fuse techno, it’s unadulterated reggae, nodding to UK dub greats like the pioneering Jah Shaka sound.

 
Collective touring band and sound system, The Urban Lions, based in the southwest of England, are currently rising up through the underground UK roots and dub scene, and deservedly out onto the world stage. With this release it’s easy to see why, or hear why, does that make sense? Darn, it is Sunday after all.

 
Recorded and mastered by Matt Martin of Conscious Youth/MOA/Pressure Mastering, See Me Rise plods with natural ease, combining the band’s root reggae foundations with conscious earthly lyrics, narratively progressing to a resistance against the establishment, Babylon.

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It’s a marching riddim, dressed with a wonderful horn arrangement; a vocal and dub on side A, mixed by Matt from a studio in the Balkans, and an instrumental and dub on side B, mixed by Roots Unity in Amsterdam. The accompanying dubs roll with harmony, caressing horns, and melodica echoes akin to the great Augustus Pablo.

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Herein lies the fashion with The Lions, their previous digital single releases of equal quality, Forward to the Sound, bashment funnelling up-tempo little treasure that it is, and Together Mighty, a wailing steppers riddim, lyrically connoting unity, these musical biscuits are dream plates for any rubber-dub selectors and would shake the foundations of any festival.

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The Urban Lions state See Me Rise is the initial of a trilogy which will run as the soundtrack to a short animated fictional film in the future; now, this ambitious claim we need more info on as and when.

 
Until then, skank on Urban Lions, one love, and thank you for dubbing up my washing up chore! And to all you lot out there who don’t fancy getting your marigolds on and helping me with the task, buy See Me Rise to see for yourself, and be sure to catch them live. Locally, Pewesy’s Woodbridge Inn’s “Hopdog Fest,” on 5th-6th May sees them headline; well worth the effort I reckons.

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Save Some Space for Art

Why do they put art colleges so close to parks? Table-top arrays of shoes and bottles left unmanned as us students splashed a quick under-wash of paint as a base, then disappeared to the park to converse lightly, generally loiter, pass funny-fags and perhaps consume the odd jacket potato.

A liberal beard-scratching lecturer peered over his glasses at the still life as the door burst open three minutes before home-time; stoney-faces smirked at him as he examined our hourly efforts; sploshes of random colours. “What sir? It’s like abstract, man!”

Why, oh why did I not pay more attention at Art College, why could I not allow distractions to pass over me; parks, pondering Pink Floyd album covers and hippychicks? Oh those hippychicks. It was an easy life; didn’t know what I had until it was gone. Yep, I’m an art college dropout; still keep my hand in when the mood sets, but if like me, you miss the smell of gouache and wooden easels; a friendly weekly art group in Devizes may suit.

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So dust off your beret, for they’re looking for new members. The group meets every Tuesday morning, 9.30am – 12.30pm, for three terms of ten, or twelve weeks each, with the same holidays as Wiltshire schools; so your children may never find out you’re creative flare has been rekindled (I know they’d only laugh at my canvases of ingenuity!)

Lessons are usually led by tutor Christy Wyper, often step-by-step, but members are welcome to work at their own pace, and on their own projects. New members are welcome to join at any stage throughout the year, but the term begins on Tuesday 24th April.

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Okay, it’s going to set you back £120 for a 12 week term/£100 for a 10 week term, but you’ll be covering projects which will equip you with the confidence and knowledge to practise your drawing and observational skill in still life, portrait/figure drawing, and landscapes. You’ll be using a variety of different media from acrylic paint, pastels, coloured pencils, mixed media and collage, to watercolours in both traditional and contemporary styles.

This sounds like an ideal opportunity to meet likeminded people. What could be nicer than a friendly and cheerful art group, who are welcoming, who enjoy sharing ideas and skills with each other in a relaxed and creative atmosphere, and who, most importantly, customarily fit it in around frequent tea, and home-baked treats?!

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Projects can be flexible; most lessons are presented as directed projects with specifics aims, but none of the lessons are so rigidly planned that you can’t adapt them to your own skills and tastes. You could be adapting your own photos and images to create unique projects, improving your understanding of composition and design, developing appreciation of well-known artists’ work thus enhancing your own creative style, and generally developing your skills further.

Call 01380 730864 for more details, or cast your artistic eye over their Facebook page here. Oh, and let me know how you get on if you attend, maybe send me a picture and we’ll do a gallery, like Take Hart, not that he ever showed one of my pictures, watched every episode in anticipation; I blamed Morph…..still do.

 

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Discover Devizes Wharf Theatre

Did you know that Devizes has its very own canal-side theatre?

Have you ever wondered what goes on in that big warehouse building in the Wharf Car Park?

Have you ever wanted to get involved but not know how?

Have you ever wanted to go to a show but been unsure what the theatre was like?

Do you or your children harbour ambitions to tread the boards or become involved back stage?

Would you like to receive free training and experience in theatre production?
Are you an actor looking to increase exposure?

 

Well if you answered YES to any of these questions then keep SATURDAY APRIL 28th free because The Wharf Theatre is throwing open its doors between 10am and 2pm and is inviting everyone along to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, get a goody bag and see what really goes into putting on a show…….
The theatre runs as a charity and is manned by volunteers but prides itself on offering professional quality productions throughout the year.
Some of these volunteers will be on hand to chat to you about all aspects of life at the Wharf and there will also be an opportunity to have a theatre tour and meet some of the actors. And best of all – it’s free……

EVENT LOCATION: Wharf Theatre, Wharfside, Devizes, SN10 1EB

 

Soul and All That; Devizes Scooter Club’s next Do

Building a reputation for some quality nights here in the Vizes, The Devizes Scooter Club revs their hairdryers ahead of April 28th when renowned Bad Manners tribute, Special Brew, pay a visit to the Conservative Club, to announce their next musical extravaganza, bookmark Saturday the 25th August.

As tickets for Special Brew leave the shelves of Vinyl Realm and Jeffersons faster than Steve McQueen on a Lambretta, the same outlets are sure to be holding the stubs for All That Soul, an extravagant, cool and funky Bedfordshire band, which perform the best in contemporary and classic soul, Motown, funk and Disco. But you can’t hurry my love, tickets aren’t on sale yet, you’ll just have to wait.

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Often posing as a Supremes tribute act, Kaz Wilson heads the soulful trio, aptly attired in glitter and glamour, with a full professional backing band they sure look and sound the part. All That Soul guarantee to be uplifting and to have everybody up dancing; but it doesn’t take me much to shake my tail feather anyway. Like a fish to water when I get going; you ain’t seen nothing like it, unless you’ve witnessed a hippo drunk on a bouncy castle.

With an impressive repertoire of Motown and Atlantic classics, like You Can’t Hurry Love, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Dancing in the Street, Baby Love, Say a Little Prayer and Jimmy Mack, if that doesn’t wet your appetite, they also venture into a disco and eighties soul catalogue, with numbers like Lionel Richie’s All Night Long, Kool & the Gang, Chic, Chaka Khan and naturally, La Belle; so Giuchie, Giuchie, ya ya dada Joe, you wanna give it a go?

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I’m well up for it with La Belles on, the track I’m looking forward to the most? The ever- challenging, For Once in My Life by Little Stevie Wonder; what an anthem, please play that, and all that we mentioned, All That Soul and we look forward to meeting you in August!

Event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/310138252826720/

Sample You Can’t Hurry Love cover: https://soundcloud.com/user-439087815/you-cant-hurry-love

Check out All That Soul: http://allthatsoul.com/

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@ Melksham Assembly Rooms

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No Surprises living in Devizes: Jumpin Jack Flash Hits the Gas

In 1984 Boy George sang, “war is stupid and people are stupid, and love means nothing in some strange quarters;” what a cockwomble.

 
Oh hi, how are you this sunny morning? Ready for war? Over the top lads, long way to Tipperary and all that? Oh come now, just a few fisticuffs with little old me then. It’s been so long since the last No Surprises. What’s that? Gone soft? Na mate, just can’t really find a satirical angle on any of it anymore.

 

Wiltshire’s leader and representative in our “whim” Parliament, Claire Perry tweets the decision for air strikes “was the right one. Chemical Weapons usage must not go unpunished.” Indeed, chemical attack being on everyone’s lips in Wilts at the moment.

 
Even free parking won’t coax people to shop in the new Sarajevo, just in case they’re a Russian spy who was knocked on the head when the biscuit barrel fell from the kitchen cupboard and gave them amnesia. You’re not Geena Davis in the Long Kiss Goodnight; go back to Salisbury, you’ll be fine.

 

Being Britain’s central military base aside, Salisbury is a lovely passive city, with a dreamy “new age” air of tangible folk, some of whom humbly gather at our only wonder of the world, celebrating bygone life in pagan Briton, praying to our original deities; the sun, the earth, and all the natural elements modern man should be contemplating rather than this government’s divinity; money. Stinking weirdos; thank our Christian God their prayers are chargeable to English Heritage.

 

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Salisbury is about country walks and school trips to the cathedral, a peaceful city, where police have always carried novichok nerve agent antidote to every call, just in case old Mrs Farnsworth drops her bottle of Novichok cream cleaner from her shopping basket in Sainsburys.

 
It’s still a hard pill to swallow, ten minute turnaround to defuse a deadly chemical attack in Salisbury, or that Yulia Skripal walks from hospital and her father is doing well, and follows “in due course.” Or so we’re told, not really seen any pictures of him have we? Weird that. Take a look at Mr Putin, does he look like the kind of guy who messes assassinations up? Now look at Boris Johnson. He can’t even play a diplomatic, fun game of rugger with little children without smashing them to the ground; preppy twat.

 
It’s strange to consider our local MP tweets happily away, when she is supposed to be Minister of State in the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department. Should she not be the one then, who doesn’t toe the fracking gung-ho, environmental contravening party line, who blasts against the government and encourages more funding for alternative energy sources?

 
Or do we thank Trump for his hoax theory, while his people drown in floods only caused by God punishing them for voting-in the previous Muslim President? Pour another gin and bullshit on the floor Trump, and we’ll lap it up like your puppy, say, you got a trade deal we could have ha-ha, Europe seem to have taken a titchy grudge with us?

 
How many great oil wars will it take, how much propaganda, lies and deceit must we endure before we admit that what we fight for is nothing to do with being humanitarian saviours in the Middle East, and more to do with piping gas through Syria?

 
Trudging up cold war moods; you know the game was on hold while America took a wee break; kinda like peeking at granny’s cards during the Christmas family Cluedo match while she relieves herself from her sixth eggnog.

 
Come on schoolkids of Parliament, we’ve been biting the hand which feeds us since the lunchbreak of 2009, highlighting how malicious Russia is, never really getting over what Ivan Drago did to Apollo Creed in Rocky 4, despite they’re the chief practical gas supply in Europe. Oh, which also happens to be when the new gas fields of Lebanon and Syria opened possibilities to bypass the Saudi Barrier, but opps; there’s that prefect Al-Assad blocking the corridor and needs a shoulder barge.

 
Wasn’t Assad winning hands down, and in his y-fronts anyways, why would he chemically attack the rebels, knowing the West would retaliate? He’s no saint, but nobody’s fool. Still, OPCW, the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons did promise to look in on it, on Saturday 14th April 2018, oh, which is today. A bit like when your mum comes to visit your student digs and you sweep up and hide your bong.

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Oh stop mucking about matron, we’ve got to find that money tree if we’re to save all those children, by bombing their gaff, because we really care about children; that’s why we’re slashing education budgets back home.

 
Like on a local level, where Tory dominant Wiltshire Council celebrates the billions of extra income to our county with replacement of army troops and their families, by shrugging shoulders at the minute-by-comparison £1.4K to get Breaside and Oxenwood children’s outdoor activity centres repaired, and deciding its best to close them down.

 
Don’t you go believing the people working there every day, who feel the sites didn’t need that much extra cash for renovations now. The experts have been in, seen a couple of beds lying to waste (because schools always have exact male/female ratios in their classes) and figured there’s more money to be made selling the land to the highest building contractor. And we praise one school featured in local news who received a grand via private donation to supply each child with a dictionary. How long will it be before India are sending Diwali gift boxes to desperate kids in the UK?

 
I’m not fully against the closing of such places, should they be considered unsafe for children, should they be beyond economic repair, provided a plan is afoot for a replacement. Which, as far as I can see, the only plan is to take every leisurely pursuit away from our poverty-stricken youth until they beg in a conforming trance for revision timetables, before they combust under exam stress and need lobotomising; tuned for brainless footmen to face those evil Russians in world war three; England prevails, heil Baron May. For fucks sake, what the fuck is wrong with this backward, twofaced government?

 
La-de-da; till next time stay safe, paint your windows white, maybe; that’s what we were told last time, not sure if it’s the same now. At least Thatcher’s government could be arsed to send us a leaflet on how to die slower, shows you how much this lot care.

 

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James Hurn’s Half-Hour or So

I recall my Dad putting on a record of Tony Hancock’s “Radio Ham,” and consequently falling on the floor with laughter. At the time his character-driven comedy felt lost in time, and non-too funny to my adolescent mind, scoped on the contemporary likes of Rick Mayall and Ade Edmondson, but like fine wine, it’s something I’ve come to appreciate with age.

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In fact, character-driven comedy is the backbone of modern British humour, look at the success of Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen, Katherine Tate and the Little Britain team. Steve Cogan quoted his alter-ego Alan Partridge “comes from a lineage stretching back to Tony Hancock.” Today the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society heralds a new era of followers, one being one-man-show James Hurn, who is back by popular demand at the Wharf Theatre Devizes tomorrow night.

 
So, If you’re looking for something different to do in Devizes this weekend, race down to the Library Hub in the morning, pick up a ticket online (here: £12.50 / £10.50 + booking fee, or ring 03336 663 366.) For on his second visit to the Wharf, James will be performing a brand-new programme, including one ‘lost’ episode of Hancock’s Half Hour and two episodes he has written himself in the same style as original writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, with James voicing the entire cast.

 
The new show is performed in the style of a radio performance in front of a live audience, bringing to life the classic days of radio comedy. Tom Dommett, editor of the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society stated, “If anyone is out there wondering; does it work, one man doing the whole cast? Are the new scripts up to scratch? Is it like the real thing? The answers are; yes, yes and yes!”

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Tony Hancock’s melancholic bravura was strictly British-styled, after an unsuccessful movie in the States, and due to artistic differences, Hancock split with writers Galton and Simpson in the mid-sixties. Maybe the dejected soul of his character was none too far from the real man; Hancock committed suicide by overdose, in 1968. One of his suicide notes stated, “Things just seemed to go too wrong too many times.”

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For the younger me, watching my pops rolling around the floor in laughter filled me with confusion, for he’d tell me, just like Tommy Cooper, Tony Hancock had one of those faces which didn’t have to say anything, just one look and you laughed. Why then, I pondered, are you giggling to a record, but I guess the lesser visual generation my Dad belonged to could picture his face from the sounds alone; ah, video killed the radio star.

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I’ve added a picture of James as Hancock here, and I think his expression alone confirms this will be one funny evening. James Hurn, keen to film his Hancock and Co scripts, has launched a crowd funding page to engage the project, explaining, “This production will have myself playing all the roles. To achieve this successfully I will require a very professional team with the right equipment. For example a make-up artist that specialises in prosthetics, camera crew, sound, lighting etc.”

 
“I am very passionate about this project because it has always been an ambition of mine to create more visual content, where the original team finished. As a fan of Hancock’s half hour and many other sitcoms of the time, I have always felt it a great shame that the creators were not able to continue their work.” For one night only, this comes highly recommended.

 

 

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Legendary DOCA gets Colourful this Summer

What would you do if you couldn’t be killed by human or animal? It’d surely go to your head a bit wouldn’t it? Yeah, marching through the Market Place on a Friday night after spoons kicked out, pinching everyone’s chips n doner meat, thinking you’re God and giving it “everyone worship me, just me, aite.”

 
This is what King Hiranyakashipu did in Vishnu legend, albeit not for thieving kebab. He got all high and mighty though. His son, Prahlada, remained faithful to Vishnu and got like, well knocked about for it, by the king (don’t make me type his name again) and his nasty Auntie Holika, who tricked him into sitting in a fire, burning his butt; and you thought your auntie had a vicious streak.

 

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Radha and the Gopis celebrating Holi, with accompaniment of music instruments

Aunt Holika got what was coming to her when Krishna turned the tables, blowing her protective shroud to cover Prahlada and exposing her butt to the fire; legend in more ways than one. She was toast, mate; totals. Then, Vishnu thought, “enough is enough,” took the form of Narasimha, half-human half-lion (as you do,) somehow coaxed Hiranyakashipu to sit on his lap and clawed the nutter to bits.

 
Other than never sitting in the lap of a half-human half-lion, there’s another simple good over evil lesson to be learned here; not letting malevolence get the better of you. Akin to the death of Holika, it’s embodied by a bonfire where people gather to pray their internal evil will be destroyed, hence the custom taking her name. Must be a feeling of great relief to know your evil has departed, no more double-parking on Sidmouth Street, tying dog-poo bags to trees in Drews Pond, stuff like that; you’d want to have a party afterwards wouldn’t you?

 
The festivity begins the next morning, Holi they call it, a festival of colour. Basically, everyone goes bonkers in the streets and bundles each other with paint. Using whatever comes to hand, buckets, water-pistols, balloons, everyone is fair game from young to old, rich to poor. So if you thought the Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts just made up the idea of chucking paint at each other for the heck of it, in their Colour Rush run, you’d be very much mistaken.

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Holi customarily starts in March, to celebrate the coming of spring, but it’d one messy doing in the torrential downpours of England, so DOCA have theirs in August, when hopefully….don’t jinx it.

 
This is not a free-for-all though, you can’t splatter old Joe Bloggs just returning through the park from Morrisons with his Garibaldis, you have to register…. and run 5K in the process. If this sounds like your cup-of-tea, register here, otherwise just join in the fun afterwards at the traditional Confetti Battle, for the Colour Rush is only a tiny part of DOCA’s fortnight of summer celebrations.

 
“Fun run” being an oxymoron to a moron like me, the Party in the Park is more up my street; free too! 19th August, it kicks off the carnival period at Hillworth Park, where there’s a CAMRA bar, bouncy slides and entertainment, free craft workshops. Musical line-up yet to be announced, but going on previous years it’s quality with something to please all, and if not there’s always a zipwire or the big spiderweb swingy-thing to play on; whe-hey!

 

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Party in the Park 2017

Don’t know about you, but I’d welcome DOCA value the wealth of local talent here and source some of the astounding acts from our own area. Not that I’m insular, just think the Devizes area has some awesome singer/songwriters and bands, if you read Devizine you’d know who they are, and they should take first place at our shows.

 
It’s Tuesday 21st at the Corn Exchange when PanGottic, an award-winning street theatre company co-founded by Matt Pang and Revital Gottshalk, returns to town with a new show, Long Shot. DOCA ask “you’re handed a remote control, what will happen when you push the button?” Nothing for me, as the kids usually nick the batteries for X-Box controllers.

 

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PanGottic

They promise a “catapultastic evening of clowning, contraptions, comedy and courage, as one man’s belief in the near impossible is put to the test. Part non-verbal circus performance, part behind the scenes ‘making of’, Long Shot will have you on the edge of your seat. Or hiding behind it. Either way, it’s going to be a blast.” Tickets are £8-12.

 

The Wyvern Club host a skittles night on the 22nd, a fiver entry for teams of four.

 
Southbroom Infant School have the popular Festival Quiz Night on 24th August 2018. Teams of four compete, it’s £12 per team: reserve your place by calling 01380 728671.
By the bank holiday weekend of 26th-27th, Devizes bursts alive, Sunday on the Green and Monday at the Market Place; yep, street festival time. From Pimms to Kennet and Avon Brewery bar, from street style entertainment to a funfair on the little green, take a picnic and enjoy Sunday.

 
Dubbed “Black Rat Monday,” it continues full steam next day, with international acts in the bustling environment which always making you wonder if you’re still actually in Devizes at all, past caring by four o’clock anyway.

 

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2017 Street Festival; image by Gail Foster

Look out for the couple of clowns pictured below, who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag there, cos next day at the Wharf, they’ll attempt to escape an surreal cardboard world in a bizarre 75-minute slapstick, mime and puppetry show; Pickled Image’s “Coulrophobia.” £12 Adults, £8 Concession tickets will be available via the Wharf Theatre Box Office soon for this seemingly nutty show. Without spoilers, seems an escape is possible, as the clowns will be bobbing around the Market Place for the Confetti Battle too.

 

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Pickled Image

Then of course, Auntie Holika gets hers and the Colour Rush is quickly followed by the Confetti Battle on the 29th, with the usual Devizes Carnival parade following weekend of the September the first. Although carnivals of yore may have been criticised, DOCA is not the County Council, it does listen to our concerns and it just seems to be getting better with each year that passes.

 

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Confetti Battle 2017

With £461 raised to date for fireworks at the Confetti Battle this year, let’s hope the total will be enough for them to polish the evening off in style, if not, it doesn’t matter as Vishnu legend aside, there’s no internal evil with DOCA, they do so much good for Devizes. Take My!Laika for example, inspired by classical circus disciplines, dance and rugby, as well as elevator music and the colour of Angela Merkel’s blouse, they bring their Popcorn Machine to the U.K for the first time, and it’ll be on our Green over the weekend.

 

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My!Laika

Devizes Green, the centre of a post-apocalyptic universe where four international artists with a Dadaistic sense of humour unite to throw off cliched “circus,” perform bizarre theatrical situations and provoke a chaos of feelings; where usually there’s just swans and an ice cream van; only DOCA could’ve done this and I’m sure they’ll continue in this fashion this year with the superb line-up; roll on summer!

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Click for more details and booking tickets!

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Legend at Melksham Assembly Rooms: 25th May

 

 

Day by Day, Local Festivals in May

Saw a bumble bee the other day. A bumble bee, everyone, a bumble bee! A couple of weeks ago we were trapped under twenty foot of snow like the Star Wars planet Hoth, now spring is in full swing. Without getting over-excited, there’s a ton of great events on our calendar this April, but May, well, May really is the start of the silly season, and there’s festivals-a-plenty….locally too!

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Bank Holiday 4-7th May: it’s all jazz-hands, for it’s the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, but hey, cool man, if you want to stay local, you’re on the right page! On the Saturday 5th it’s the Seend Summer Beer Festival. Tickets are £12 on sale from the community centre and post office.

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Same day, head to the Woolbridge Inn Pewsey for the first ever two day HOPDOG Ale, Cider & Sausage Festival. There’s limited space camping, book soon. Adult tickets at a tenner, 3 quid for kids, add an extra £6pppn for camping. Then you can expect Ale, Cider, Sausages, Bouncy Castle (couldn’t eat a whole one of those,) plus Arts and Crafts table and the completely bonkers Mad Pete entertaining the kids. There’s also a great live music line-up: Ren Stedman, Larkin, Brian Stone Music and the awesome Urban Lions. Plus Sunday with Cressers Last Stand, Neighbourhood Strange and Dub the Earth. To book tickets call on 01980 630266 or visit the ticket payment page http://buytickets.at/woodbridgeinn/151298 or Facebook.

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Monday the 7th is the Devizes Lions May Fair: Going ahead this year it’s fun for all the family at Devizes Market Place from 9:00am. Live Music, Punch and Judy, The Male Majorettes which never fail to amuse, Steam Engine and Organ, Bouncy Castles, Children’s rides, Charity stalls and more. Fantasy Radio and the Cadet Forces will be in full force, which one of them will play Status-Quo first?!

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And let’s not forget your tucker now, for the Devizes Food and Drink Festival starts here, with the Grand Market on Saturday 12th.
On May 12th head for Calne, where the Town Hall hosts Calne In Tune, a Performing and Creative Arts, and Craft Extravaganza. Calne in Tune are currently campaigning for their own arts space, please show your support for this cracking DIY event.

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26th May and things are heating up. Billy Ocean, yeah, Billy Ocean, I’ll say it again shall I? Billy Ocean, The Stranglers, Paul Carrack, From the Jam, Animals & Friends and the John Coghlan’s Band- damn your eyes sir, what a superb line-up happening in the usually sleepy village of All Cannings. Face it, The Kings Arms is gorgeous place to visit on any day, but the Concert at the Kings, in aid of Cancer Research, takes no prisoners when the going gets tough.

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Failing this, you’ve only to turn your head 360 degrees and head to Bromham, for it’s OwlFest (see what I did there?) Set to be the most musical one yet, from 3pm you’ve a plethora of local talent, from the incredible George Wilding, the wonderful Tamsin Quinn and the mighty Mike Barham and Calne’s amazing Jezilyn Martyn. There’s intriguing agricultural hip-hop scrumpy and western rap with Mamesbury’s Corky, the madness of Surfin Turnips, and the sounds of MiddleEarth with Bilbo Baggins and the Bargain Hunters and, and, and, and it’s FREE…… unless you want to sample the range of ciders from the cider bar (arm twisted) you’ve only to cough up six quid for the wristband. This one is must, unless you’re name is Billy Ocean.

 
Get out of my dreams mate, and into the local festival circuit. But don’t go reaching for your festival jester’s hat and pink shades forgetting there’s a tonne or three of other amazing events across our sleepy neighbourhood during April and May, check Devizine as regularly as you check your hair, and you’ll be there.

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Coming in from the Cold: Bob Marley; Legend, but not the be-all-and-all of Reggae

Forty-five years ago the founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell, had a dilemma. He wanted to bring downtown Kingston’s music to the international stage. Having recorded Jamaican music since 1959, achieving a hit there with Laurel Aitken, he felt the world needed to hear the sounds he heard reverberating around the town where he set his base; and make a pot of cash out of it too, naturally!

 
The music had moved on from ska roots, but reggae was still viewed as “novelty” music outside its native island. He wanted to show the world the words of reggae artists had all the sincerity and connotations as rock, and for this his toyed with two groups; the Maytals and the Wailers.

 
The dilemma was solved by eventually signing both, but initially The Maytals frontman Toots Hibbert sang with conviction and aptitude, but his vocals attributed to gospel; Blackwell considered it wouldn’t agree with Caucasians.

 
Meanwhile the Wailers, were a raggle-taggle bunch of Trenchtown youths who he simply didn’t trust. Still, frontman Bob Marley had one advantage, he was mulatto and might appeal to a wider audience. So he chanced the rude-boys with a sum and instructed them to go record an album, the rest is history; catch a fire, the tables turned.

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Today the everyman perceives Bob Marley as “king” of reggae in similar light as Elvis being the “king” of rock n roll. After a tragic early death, his music righteously defines legendary and is impossible to replicate to perfection, even by the plethora of his children, musicians closet to him and those willing to cash in on the inclination.

 

Numerous movie producers have attempted a biopic but failed on its angle. The Wailers toured the UK recently, partially original line-up, but how can you replace the icon which is Bob Marley?

 
We’ve had “One Love: The Bob Marley Musical,” produced by Kwame Kwei-Armah, best known as the paramedic Finlay Newton in BBC’s Casualty, and Mitchell Brunings playing the Tuff Gong, and now a touring band, Legend are coming to a theatre near you; The Melksham Assembly Rooms on Friday 25th May and Swindon’s Wyvern on Friday 1st June.

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The seven musicians and singers dedicated to the life and music of Bob Marley, led by the charismatic Michael Anton Phillips certainly come with an impressive résumé, working with artists such as The Mighty Diamonds, Dennis Brown, Rankin Roger, The Beat, and Burning Spear to name but a few. They cover the Marley catalogue in a staggering two-hour show, but this notable vita contradicts the opening line of the promotional blurb: “When you think Reggae, there is only one name that comes to your mind. The legend that was Bob Marley.”

 
I’m sorry, I beg to differ; against my warming to the tribute act, while this looks like a grand show and entertaining to say the least, when I think of reggae of course Bob pops to mind, but its far from the only one. Selfless Bob Marley himself was adamant reggae is not a “one man music, it’s a people music.”

 
To the reggae lover narrowly perceiving reggae as “Bob Marley,” is akin to saying Elvis was the only man who rock n rolled, or only Beethoven wrote classical. Through ska to rock steady the music developed, moulded into reggae. From boss to dub, bashment, rockers and steppers, dancehall and lover’s rock, through to breakbeat and dubstep, reggae has avenues far outreaching the cliched Bob Marley studio albums marker, it has pioneered music technology, it has redefined pop and helped to create genres such as two-tone, punk and hip hop (original hip hop creator, DJ Kool Herc was a Jamaican immigrant with a sound system in the Bronx, a fact histories of hip hop appear to overlook.)

 
More relevant to my point though, is that Reggae’s many tangents has made many stars from it’s musicians. Take all, from Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Dekker to Shabba Ranks and Sean Paul, dare I say it.

 
Still the mainstream media start wailing themselves every time a reggae artist breaks through, giving it “is this the next Bob Marley?” No, it’s Joe Bloggs, or Finley Quail Egg, or whatever their name may be, they sing reggae, like Bob did, doesn’t mean they’re attempting to be another Bob Marley, idiot.

 
Am I getting blurry-eyed about this now, or do you see my point? Any other tribute act I’d turn a blind eye, but my chosen musical idol, these guys have got to be good or I’d suggest you spend your money on a ticket stub for an upcoming reggae artist or group. However, watch these guys on their promotional video. I did and I’m tempted to swing this around, they do sound absolutely a hundred and twenty percent awesome.

I stated further up, no one can replicate to perfection the natural genius of Bob Marley, none should try and I’d add, no one here is attempting to; to me, on reflection, this is a bunch of musicians attempting a tribute to someone they clearly have great respect for. You know, I got it in the neck for passing comment on a Little Mix tribute act; how can you have a tribute act to a group currently in their prime? The girl’s responded, enlightening they create a safe and welcoming environment for children to enjoy the music of Little Mix. I ate my hat, they were right darn it; girl power!

 
It’s only the line “think reggae, think Bob Marley,” I’m whining about, I’d suggest they edit it. Maybe I’m just tetchy as I know I’ll never get to see Bob Marley perform; no one except perhaps genetic scientists of the future with cloning technology can change this, so forget my small axe, let the Assembly Rooms and Wyvern be filled with the sound of jamming; here’s a event to celebrate and rejoice all Bob Marley did to spread the wonderful sound of reggae across the world; people get ready.
One love.

 

About Legend Live

Tickets for Melksham Assembly Rooms

Tickets for Wyvern, Swindon

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Gypsy Reggae and Folk Aimed to Save The Barge

 

 by Phil Brady

All Photographs Used

with kind permission of:

Siobhan Boyle Photography

 

As hundreds of colourful misfit-filled, self-built campervans ascended into the sleepy hollow of Pewsey on Saturday night, the unsuspecting locals relived a return to the halcyon days of the peace convoy, only decades later. From the little village where the epic West End production of Jerusalem was set, this pilgrimage of party people were heading, not to Stonehenge, but the Bouverie Hall in Pewsey, where, for one night only, an international crowd of diverse personalities congregated to show their support to #savethebarge.

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For those who don’t know The Barge Inn, Honeystreet. It was an iconic venue in the heart of the Pewsey Vale. Made famous by the global crop circle following, it’s campsite, the bands who have played there and the magical atmosphere created by the people who frequented the pub and it’s ideal location nestled within the Vale of White Horse hill beside the Kennet and Avon canal.

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Sadly the pub is now closed, so a bunch of good people have formed a steering group, namely ‘The Barge Inn Co-Operative’ with the aim of buying The Barge Inn and returning it to its former glory.

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Powered by Pure Groove Soundsystem with help from Earth’s Radicals, the evening fired up with Lionheart Records playing a strictly vinyl reggae, classic dancehall and dub set as the 350 capacity hall started to fill with the love of the Barge community.

The live bands followed soon after; on stage Tripolar played a beautiful passion-filled set of West Country folk as Lenny strummed acoustic guitar and sang ‘Within The Rose,’ with bearded angst and angelic dulcet tones. The astoundingly talented and face-painted Jake accompanied him on the fiddle. Their set took the listeners on a journey from placid poetry to mercurial melody into volatile violin shrieks with ‘Water edge’, ‘Fisherman’s Blues’, ‘God Dam Shame’, ‘Mr Charisma’, ‘Volcano’ and ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’.

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The Barge massive were now buzzing and ready for a night of solidarity and celebration.

The atmosphere was electric as The Boot Hill All Stars burst on and got the crowd jigging with their West Country cider fuelled, bootlegged hoedown music. ‘Folsom Prison Blues’, ‘Smoke On The Water’ and ‘Monkey In The Hold’ got the dance pumping and ale flowing as ‘Smugglers Hole’, ‘Night Bus’ and ‘Devil’s Doorbell’ kept the dance floor jumping. With a run up of ‘Rasputin’, ‘Crusty Girl’, ‘Step Inside’ and ‘Monkey Man’ into a Boot Hill’s take on Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’, the All Stars left their audience singing and dancing and gagging for more.

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The Boot Hill All Stars are another favourite from the Barge Inn with hillbilly banjo and swirling horns played by scantily clad ladies with feather dusters and fishnets escorting naughty piratesque country boys. The crowd were left jolly rogered and ready for the final band of the night; Urban Lions.

Urban Lions are a touring band and sound system based in the southwest of England, currently rising up through the underground UK roots and dub scene and out onto the world stage.

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Urban Lions opened their set as a four piece horn section walked through the crowd sending those filthy, heavenly brass sounds high into the rafters of the hall. Joining the band on stage they kicked their hour-long headline set off with their new single ‘See Me Rise’, which is out on vinyl on the Lionheart Records label this month.

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With a feisty fusion of roots, dub, steppers, bashment, ska, rocksteady beats, filthy horns, skanking rhythms and conscious rhymes, Urban Lions fired up the night as the bass pumped through the huge sound system and had hundreds of boots stomping until they could stomp no more.

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Followed by roots reggae based ‘Forward To The Sound’, to a funked up ‘I Am A Lion’ and into the ska-heavy eastern scales of ‘In The Sahara’, the band dubbed out the vibe and sent 8k of heavy bass and drums, skanking guitars and keys, those filthy horns and shrilling vocal lines deep into the hearts of the Barge community. Keeping with the ska vibe, ‘Buster Man’ kept them jumping into the final song ‘Together Mighty’, a heavy stepper that epitomises the struggle against oppression in society, proving a favourite as the words ‘Alone we are small but Together Mighty’ resonated with the cause of the night.

That love filled room cheered for more as the band came back on to play carnivalesque ‘We Say I’ and the gypsy beat ‘The Bard Of Old Belgrade’ as an encore.

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The event was a benefit gig to raise funds for a survey and legal fees to kick off preceding to buy the Barge Inn. There was a raffle afterwards with loads of amazing prizes donated by local businesses in support of the cause.

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Thousands of pounds were raised from the door, bar, food and raffle for this to go ahead so an overwhelming success all round.

 

The police were happy, the venue people were over the moon with the duty of care taken by the organisers and the hundreds of people who came and donated to the cause were left with memories of a night that will go down in history.

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For more info check out the Barge Co-Operative Facebook page and website.
http://thebargehoneystreet.co.uk

 

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Jack Ascends The Stairs: a night of live music puts Upstairs at Jacks on the venue map of Devizes.

Oblivious to modern life’s rapid consumer demand, my Nan would’ve swooned at the fact making sandwiches was big business; “make yer own bleedin’ butty you lazy so-and-so!”

 
But it is so; watch workers on dumpy lunchbreaks sprint to the closet supermarket shelves and sweep up those wasteful plastic triangles, despite knowing the centre of the sandwich inside is threadbare compared to what you see bulging from the visible cut-end.

 
That’s where the personal touch of the deli reigns; those gorgeous shacks with girls cutting, slicing and preparing your designer sarnie. You know it’s fresh, yummy and it’s going to actually fill you up. Bob does this with great success in Marlborough with his Food Gallery, and you know in Devizes, it’s Jack Spratt all the way.

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But Jack Spratt has come along way from its humble sandwich creations, it’s been in the Market Place for some years now, where sadly that emporium of antique curiosities once was. Loitering in a doorway Saturday evening I recalled rummaging for old Beano annuals in one of those rooms, now it’s a spritely rustic bar. Oh well, Minnie Minx and Dennis the Menace aside, I’m getting a bottle of organic cider.

 
There’s an aura of debonair about the place, but far from snobby, more cosy. Upstairs at Jacks is now chic café, with irresistible aromas submissively assaulting my nostrils as waitresses kindly excuse themselves for hurrying by with plated bar snacks of delicious aesthetics; chunky wedges, bites and tapas served with copious dripping sauces and, and, oh I can’t go on, they looked so good. Just like Jack and wife, I could’ve licked the platter clean!

 

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Bryony Cox: used with permission from Nick Padmore Photography 

 
But I’d had my tucker; I was there, for live music was afoot. Squeezing in the doorway then, while customers actually eating took the tables (the cheek of it!) I talked with employee Bryony Cox, who was there to sing rather than work. She told me this was the first night of live music here, and for it they spared no effort; for as well as her and Hayley, they’d booked Calne’s brilliant Jack Moore and none other than George Wilding.

 

I wondered if she’d booked some overtime for this, as she certainly gave it a hundred percent. After Jack done his thing, Bryony was on keys while singing wonderfully with Hayley, accompanied by George on guitar.

 

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Jack Moore: used with permission from Nick Padmore Photography

 
The evening’s finale was naturally attributed to George Wilding, who with grace, charm and certain ease, took the punters off on his impeccable musical expeditions. Breezing through his own tunes, “Tchaikovsky On The Tambourine” its peak, George made Green Day’s “Time of your Life,” his own, then inquired his spellbound audience for ideas.

 

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Hayley: used with permission from Nick Padmore Photography

 
“Stereophonics,” was the first request but George shrugged in his shy manner, confessing he hadn’t a complete Stereophonic song under his belt. He strummed once, gave it some thought and offered to compromise with a medley of the bits he did know. For anyone else this could’ve gone wonky, but have faith; George Wilding is something else and knocked out a stunning medley landing effortlessly on Handbags and Gladrags, which I could argue is Rod the Mod’s originally, but at this point of George’s performance, you’d be beyond caring.

 

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George Wilding: used with permission from Nick Padmore Photography

 
For a first night of live music, it put Upstairs at Jacks on the venue map of Devizes, save it’s not too spacious, still it’s tranquil, luxuriously overlooking the Market Square with homely décor, cosy fireplace, grand mirrors and an obvious appreciation of Gauguin; could we not knock a wall through and make it slightly larger Mr Spratt?!

 

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Bootlegged: Beatles Coming to Devizes

The Bootlegged Bootleg Beatles UK, vaguely definitive best tribute act to the Bootleg Beatles are set to visit Devizes, playing a mock version of the Exchange nightclub made out of old shoe boxes and blu-tac in the shed of Liam James, nightclub promoter Ian James’ lesser known looky-likey.

 

The news prompted lead singer with the actual Bootleg Beatles to rage. “We are the original Bootleg Beatles,” he snarled, “the tribute to tribute act scene is making a mockery of the tribute act scene; I’m so unhappy I had to tell Mick Jogger, and his dad is a black belt ninja.”

 

But lead singer with the Bootlegged Bootleg Beatles UK, a tribute to the Bootleg Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney announced yesterday that he, “only wanted to make some spare cash mimicking the original Bootleg Beatles.”

 

From a council estate in Mull of Kintyre he spoke exclusively to Devizine. “I saw them a few years ago, realised I kinda look a little bit like their front man and thought it’d be a right money spinner. I never believed for a moment the legendary tribute act would have heard of us, and been offended.”

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Paul, (321) lives with his new, seventeenth wife Geri Hawiwell, who is a singer in the band WannabeUK, a tribute act to Wannabe.

 

“This booking is great news for my husband,” Geri told us, “he suffers with severe memory loss issues. In fact he’s quite bonkers and thinks his real name is Billy Shears, just because an old workmate of his cruelly told him so.”

 

Paul sits regularly in a strawberry field, saying he intends to stay there forever, pictures himself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. “When I call him in for his tea,” Geri claimed, “the flipping lost-it case says I’ve got kaleidoscope eyes.”

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Paul even suggested that if the original Bootleg Beatles singer really didn’t like him, he has created a time machine out of an old submarine, which he painted yellow, and will travel back to 1963 and continue his singing career there.

 

Another tribute act to the Bootleg Beatles formed some time ago, but their lead singer, Liam Gallagher, was unavailable for comment.

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The Bootlegged Bootleg Beatles UK are set to play the Exchangers in Bishops Cannings, a village close to Devizes which thinks it is Devizes and owns the Moonraker folklore fable, on April 1st 2019. Until then, have a good April Fools Day today.

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