‘The Blacksmith’s Craft’; John Girvan at Wiltshire Museum, by Gail Foster

Gail Foster takes a visit to John Girvan’s exhibition at Wiltshire Museum:

Read it here: ‘The Blacksmith’s Craft’; John Girvan at Wiltshire Museum

School Summer Holiday Activities at Wiltshire Museum

Wiltshire Museum in Devizes present a creative day for children aged between 7 and 13; something to avoid the constant whine, “mum, I’m bored!” They’ll explore the amazing objects in the museum’s archaeology and prehistory collections, explore their patterns and shapes and discover more about the people who made them.

 
This workshop is on Tuesday 14th August. There will be 3 or 4 art-based activities, including exploring patterns in clay, printing and creating mixed media canvases. Participants will be given a log-book to record their investigations into the objects in the Museum galleries, and the artists who created them. It’s £12 per child, booking is essential.

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Take a packed lunch and something to drink, and at the end of the day the group will share their discoveries and art-work; there will be cake, oh a chance to obtain an Arts Award Discover!

 
To achieve an Arts Award Discover, the museum states, “children and young people need to participate in arts activities, find out about artists and their work and share their arts discoveries with others.” Find out more about the Arts Council England’s Arts Award Discover: www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=2300

 
This is all part of the Museum’s packed Summer Holiday activities program, with a weekly program every Wednesday. There’s a different theme each week and only cost £5 per child. They’re suitable for ages 11 and under, although 8 and under need to be accompanied.

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There’s two sessions per day: 11.00am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 3.00pm. These sessions are very popular so booking is essential.

 
The 8th August kicks off in monstrous style with Prehistoric Sea Monsters. Wednesday 15th August is all about Snakes and the Rainforests. The following Wednesday, 22nd August looks at Tudor Crafts, and on the 29th ahoy landlubbers, it’s about Pirates and the Sea, argh!

 
So, if you’re kids are already swanning around, randomly kicking the furniture, balls, or younger siblings, let our wonderful museum take them off your hands for a while and engage those precious little minds!

More details here.

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Upstairs at Jacks with Bryony Cox

I don’t know who “they” are, but Bryony tells me they say you shouldn’t mix dry and wet mediums. “I thought why not,” she shrugs, as we ponder a stunning pastel and ink landscape of Alton Barnes.

Why not indeed? In this painting of an atypical day in Wiltshire, a dark cloud looms over the down, the ink emphasises its shadows across the fields impeccably. In art, rules are made to be broken, provided you understand them first, and judging by the range and panache of Bryony Cox’s paintings, she certainly does.

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You’ve a day left to drop into Upstairs at Jacks and see this Devizes based artist, who studied and remains in Falmouth, and her humbling exhibit as part of Marlborough Open Studios; I suggest you do. I first met Bryony as an aspiring singer, but it’s in her paintings where she really shines.

“You’ve got to be the youngest artist at the open studios, haven’t you?” I asked, knowing how to flatter a girl! She suspected she was but wasn’t completely sure. If it’s true her work certainly fits the bill, it comes across as sophisticated and as mature as anything else on display throughout the county.

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A moody sky landscape takes pride and place, so we ponder Turner; it’s takes no words to see his influence on Bryony’s work. Turner has that instantly recognisable style, rare in a landscape artist and as well as major inspiration, I can see a definite style in Bryony’s work developing.

She appears most comfortable with landscapes. Although there’s a detailed range of pencil studies of animals and wildlife, some sublime scenes from travels in Sri Lanka and even an instantly recognisable wildcard of fellow singer George Wilding with birds nesting in his scraggy hair to add a slither of humour. Although these other subjects show Bryony’s skill has range, the landscapes are simply breath-taking.

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Beauty in small moments of stillness is the essence of what she wants the viewer to engage with; I was just passing while on my way to the supermarket! Unusual for me to do the shopping, I find myself very structured and meticulous while undergoing the task, ensuring I get only what I need and get out as fast as possible. This is so unlike me, who favours to stop and stare at the wonders around me, so if you’ve a spare quarter hour or more, need a break from the shops as I did, I’d recommend you stop by Upstairs at Jacks tomorrow and check it out.

Bryony’s Website

 

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Angela’s Secret Swindon

My satirical rant, No Surprises Living in Devizes, once popular Sunday reading, now lies dormant. I’ve deliberated writing a conclusion, but that would be the final nail in the coffin I’m not ready to hammer in. The issue; I loved trudging my week, hunting a subject to bombast about the town I live in, and receiving the relative responses, be they positive laughs or death threats.

 
The reason for its gradual demise is simple; there’s finite topics to explore, and while at first the obvious flooded me, as time progressed I struggled. Methods to keep it running when subjects wore thin were many fold; more positive episodes transpired into what we now have, Devizine. The negative I’ve abandoned under the premise life is too short to be whinging, even if some thought it amusing. One of my earliest methods of trapping a good rant when nothing in Devizes sprung to mind though was to take the column to other towns, as a kind of “unwanted roadshow.”

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Chippenham took the brunt of these outings, but one Sunday, when the subject centred on Swindon, I predicted many would assume it’d be the icing on the cake, as it’s a common joke that Swindon has a lot to rant about. However, for this episode I twisted the cliché, determine not to follow sheep and waffle how cultureless and uninspiring our nearest metropolis is, rather share my opinion that while, as any large town does, Swindon has its social issues, it is far from the negative stereotype it’s frequently perceived as.

 
This turned the head of a fellow writer at Index:Wiltshire, Angela Atkinson. Angela was brought up in a Derbyshire mining village and moved to West Swindon in the 1990s. It’s fair to say she has fallen head-over-heels for Swindon, and alongside her proofreading business, AA Editorial Services, scribes a popular local blog called Born Again Swindonian. The original blog entries were the exploration of her new surroundings; a guidebook to the Magic Roundabout or a piece on the West Swindon sculpture trail, and, akin to the direction I took my article the aforementioned week, it now centres around her conviction that Swindon is actually a great place with more than first meets the eye.

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Her argument is convincing and thorough, to the point where she was approached by Gloucestershire publisher, Amberley Books, to pen a title on Swindon in its ‘Secret’ series. This week sees the book “Secret Swindon” released, and its launch is at Swindon Central Library, between 11am and 1pm; July 28th. Angela will be there to sign copies, and it’ll be available in the library shop afterwards.

 
Intrigued to know what “secrets” Angela could uncover to challenge my assumption everything that may be of historical or contemporary interest in the town I’m already fully aware of. That then, some topics did not spring surprise, Angela commences with a brief general history, from it’s namesake “pig hill” origins to the birth of its industrial revolution; the GWR. But it’s the depth Angela goes which is informative, and in the loose, blog-style, she writes which entertains.

 
I thoroughly enjoyed this read, gaining knowledge of many aspects and artistic properties of Swindon I could’ve driven past and only causally pondered their history. From the wonderful mural on the side of the house near Lion Bridge, which I pass, like, but seldom aspire to seek any knowledge of its artist or background, to the thought process of the contemporary architecture which Swindon holds, with all its 1970s futurism; the Meccano-fashioned “Renault” building, or the curvaceous landmark David John Murray tower. All of these popular sites of Swindon are featured and detailed, with fascinating facts you never thought to ask about. And yeah, the Magic Roundabout is covered too!

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There’s quantity and a vast array to subjects, meandering off the concept Swindon has a magic roundabout and that’s about it. One would be forgiven for assuming “Secret Swindon” is going to be a mammoth read and ponder why they’d want to take up so much time reading about Swindon. But while it’s arranged with copious facts, it remains brief enough not to grow tiresome of, and with informal speech style of writing, doesn’t aim to baffle.

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Angela covers art, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, industry, war eras, and many notable Swindonians. In one neat, ephemeral but enlightening package Angela challenges Swindon’s negative stereotype, steps in the ring and knocks it for six in the first round. It’s a perfect natural progression and extension of Born Again Swindonian.

 
It also highlights areas I was totally unware of, agreed I’d heard of Spitfire Way, having worked on South Marston Industrial Estate, but confess I was ignorant as to why it was named thus. So aside the fascinating facts about the more renowned landmarks of Swindon, and people, such as a captivating insight about Edith New, there are some completely new things I learned, awarding the book’s apt title.

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Here is a book which will inform and entertain the proudest Swindonian, the curious history hobbyist, and any mere window-shopper of local history. A perusal for students, or general passing interest, I tick none of the above, but still adored this. I only apologise to Angela for waffling on about my own little column at the beginning of this review, but it was necessary to elucidate my personal relevance to it!

 
If you ever pause while shopping, look around for a brief second, in any town you’ll note something you may not have ever noticed but bears heavy importance to the history of the area; “Secret Swindon” proves Swindon is far from the exception.

 
Secret Swindon’s RRP is £14.99. It can be bought through Amazon and via Amberley Books at https://www.amberley-books.com/secret-swindon.html.
To follow Angela’s blog visit http://swindonian.me/ and for more information about AA Editorial Services go to: https://www.aaedits.co.uk/

 

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Devizes Scooter Club’s Grand BBQ

All images used with kind permission of Ruth Wordly

@ MoongypZy Creative Photography

 

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If last weekend in Devizes belonged to rockers, as the Sports Club shook by the awesome Saddleback Festival, it was small mercies for the Mods this Saturday as Devizes Scooter Club hosted a more moderately proportioned charity BBQ day, which wasn’t without equal summer fun and frolics.

The corner of Hillworth Road and Long Street became a haven for scooter enthusiasts, who’d travelled from far and wide, and local lovers of soul, reggae and ska who gathered outside the Conservative Club to raise some funds for the Devizes and District Opportunity Centre.

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How much was raised at this tender morning moment (at the time of writing this on Sunday) is unconfirmed, majority of organisers I’d wager are taking a fully-earned rest, if not nursing a sore head!

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I’ll let you know the grand total as soon as I get some feedback, but cake stall helper Paula told me she’d sold twice as many as last year’s family fun day, as husband Andy, whose task it was to man the barbeque looked vacantly into space through sheer tiredness. “I reckon he’ll be flipping burgers in his sleep,” I imagined.

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The bar and garden packed out by lunchtime, extending to the car park, which converted into a showroom of lamberttas and vespas, with an added parts stall. As enthusiasts admired each other’s “hairdryers,” their families enjoyed the plethora of side stalls, the hall of bouncy things (castle and a Gladiators-styled battle arena) and the quality music.

Contrary to their name, Swindon’s Daybreakers turned up early afternoon. Thank heavens I figured, lesson learned that day; a cider breakfast does no good when attempting to operate a mixer. Thanks to Tony who danced around me doing all the technical wizardry and gave our musical show a voice.

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By 2pm The Daybreakers were off, with no one willing to stop them they revved through a glut of benchmark early 80s pop, the likes of the Specials and Dexy, to sublime renditions of crusty rock, such as the Levellers. Wherever Cath, Gouldy and gang land there’s guaranteed to be a blinding show and today was no exception.

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An awesome team effort blessed the event with an uncompromising community spirit. From face-painted kids guessing names of teddies, shooting footballs and munching cake, to adults estimating the weight of a ham, shooting down beers and munching burgers, a village fete atmosphere ensued with a retrospective, hedonistic angle, as opposed to being all vicars and teacakes on the lawn.

By late afternoon Chippenham duo, Blondie & Ska had pitched inside and began their dazzling show; a precise Blondie tribute meshed with other two-tone classics in a style as if Debbie Harry would’ve covered them. They made a fantastic sound for just a duo and relished every minute despite fatigue setting in with the punters, who tended to loiter outside to begin with.

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With most exhausted from the day’s affairs already, it took a while for the show to push the audience into gear, hangers-on remained in the shadows of the garden to begin with, or those with families retired home with worn-out youngsters. I thought it a shame the club could’ve shown how we welcome acts as good as Blondie & Ska, but the thought abruptly ceased as the evening took hold and sweltering members graced that dance floor.

I offered a rock steady break for the band, but dancers yearned for some Northern Soul, so that’s what I did. Then Blondie & Ska continued and took us to into to the close. If you need more of these guys, or if you missed this thoroughly enjoyable show, I strongly advise you check out future gigs on their website. Closest to us, is The Wroughton Club on August 11th, The Royal Oak Corsham the day after, and the Gladstone Road Club in Chippenham on October 27th.

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As for the Daybreakers, well they’re never to be missed. Catch them again for an afternoon in Devizes, when they’ll be at Vinyl Realm on August 4th, and check their Facebook page for an extensive gig guide.

Back to the BBQ Day though, it was in observing the quantity of people gathered, and their enjoyment of the day which gave me both enormous optimism for a very successful Scooter Rally next summer, and a pride in our small town’s Scooter Club, where everyone contributed a gallant effort to ensure a grand day out was had by all, most laboured until they dropped, notwithstanding, some money was raised for our preschool for children with disabilities and learning difficulties. So full steam ahead for the Scooter Club now, as tickets for a brilliant sounding, soultastic Motown-eske band, All That Soul, are now on sale at the Cons Club, Jeffersons and Vinyl Realm.

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The Return of the Female of the Speices

Wow, 11th September 2017 this article dates back to: “Female of the Species, boil ska, soul and blues influences to simmer Melksham for the Air Ambulance.” In Devizine terms that’s ancient and a gentle reminder we’ve nearly reached our first birthday.

 
Being one of our first pieces it has to be said, not only is it of far better quality than the type of rubbish I’m now putting out, but it had an inspiring theme! The reason I bring it up, because the local, all-girl supergroup The Female of the Species, which was its subject, are at it again, and tickets for their gig at the Melksham Assembly Rooms are now on sale.

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Tackily pasted from last year’s event, I wrote: “Nicky Davis from People Like Us and The Reason, Glastonbury’s Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Frome’s Claire Perry from Big Mamma & The Misfitz, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews from Melksham, and Julie Moreton from Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men, form the supergroup for Live on the Night, at the Melksham Assembly Rooms on Saturday 30th September.” So, other then being pushed back a day, I asked Nicky if anything else has changed?

 
“Claire (Big Mama) no longer performs with the Misfitz,” noted Nicky, “instead she’s now with ‘Big Mama’s Banned.” Jules added, “The girls are delighted to announce that joining us as part of our band line up this year, on sax, is my fellow ‘Train to Skaville’ band-mate, the awesome Miss Karen Potter.” So other than this it’s much the same and on target to rock the Melksham Assembly Rooms on Saturday the 29th September.

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Karen Potter

This year’s event is subtitled “Raising Money Through Music,” and is in aid of Young Melksham, a registered charity which “work as a community to provide all children and young people with opportunities to thrive, develop and participate.” Young Melksham really makes a huge difference to the lives of youth in our area, by hosting more events than I can list here, including The Melksham Young People’s Awards.

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Click for more info on Young Melksham

They make trips to shows locally, hold a variety of regular weeknight “youth club styled” workshops and events from their Canberra Club, from cookery to sports. They even run a shuttlebus to get kids there safely. The policy of Young Melksham is: “advancing in life and helping children and young people by developing their skills, capacities and capabilities to enable them to participate in society as independent, mature and responsible individuals; advancing education, providing recreational and leisure time activities in the interest of social welfare designed to improve their conditions of life.” They even have fully-trained counsellor and listening support workers when youth need a friendly face and a listening ear.

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Supporting the supergroup this year will be young songstress with that oh so soulful voice, Laura Jayne Burt, Melksham’s guitar/soloist Sarah Deer and batting for the boys, Bath’s acoustic duo Ben & Tim. This is one unmissable annual extravaganza which takes the best elements of all these local groups and combines them into a blend of reggae and ska, soul and Motown, blues and rock. It can only guarantee too ooze with local talent and blow the roof of the Assembly Rooms, for just a tenner a ticket, with ALL proceeds going to this fantastic charity-based community project…..and it’s full of gorgeous ladies; what’s not to like?!

 

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Thanks, You Gave the CUDS Christmas Dinner a Pudding!

I was always sceptical when my Nan would waffle off fables of the wives of the East-End of London, who without washing machines, fridges and other labour-saving devises we now take for granted, still found the time to get on their hands and knees daily, to scrub the steps of their front doors and tidy the area around their humble homes. Then I saw it depicted in the 1980s film of the Kray Twins, ergo; story checks out. Herein lies the problem when I believe some filmmaker over my Nan’s heartfelt memories!

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With our society today and our attitude towards it, no one can be blamed for assuming the idea was poppycock, if there was only one thing David Cameron ever had a point about, it was his “big society” concept. Not through want to admit he had a point, there’s a natural response we still hold to unite in the face of disaster or catastrophe which sadly wanes once the issue is sorted.

 
We now grasp to glimmers of acts of human kindness, video them to share on social media. Times have changed Cameron, wherever you are now, and you were utterly out of touch with it at base level, you didn’t even take heed of your own concept and jumped ship when the going got tough; perhaps we should’ve listened closer to Billy Ocean instead!

 
The idea though should never have had to be a soundbite from a politician, it should be, as it was back in our grandparent’s era, common bloody sense. Still, as I sit hot and bothered in my garden, contemplating closure of this piece we did back in May about a group of volunteers who call themselves the Clean Up Devizes Squad, I observe the plastic wrapper of a discarded water bottle dance across my lawn by the zephyr. I groan, I just sat down, but something sparks inside me, I get up before it’s too late and it goes deep into the bramble; it’s binned. What made me hesitate? Pure laziness? The notion it’s someone else’s job, I pay my taxes towards? I even contemplated for a brief moment if it was mine.

 
It shouldn’t matter, pick it up and bin it; simple. We have to think above this modern conditioning, but while we still don’t, thank heavens there are people like the CUDS. Back in May I expressed what a fantastic group of superheroes they were, and I stated we must get them a thank you gift. READ IT HERE.

 
Knocked head-over heels by the response, I’m delighted to say many ordinary people of Devizes donated to our JustGiving page, and we raised £300 without a clue how we should actually spend it! With 36 members of the CUDs working sporadically on and off, I was unsure how to go about gifting them; stuffing a box of chocolates in the back pocket while they weed and tidy in this heatwave probably the single most impractical one I envisioned!

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In deciding what to do I have been in touch with the unofficial chief of the Cuds, Zena Robson and together we decided we’d put the money towards their annual Christmas dinner. So, pudding is on you guys, thanks!

 
Here’s a few words of gratitude from Zena herself: “Whilst we CUDS are out and about picking up litter and scraping roads, we are always very grateful when a kind person comes along with tea (and doughnuts, once!) water and, lately, ice creams to keep us going, but to have people actually donate cash to us so we can have a reward of some sort is absolutely marvellous! Many, many thanks to all who have donated to the JustGiving page – we are very grateful for all your support. We will put the cash you have so kindly given towards our next birthday bash and will raise a glass to you all. Many thanks also go to Darren whose brainchild this was. From your trusty CUDS.”


I want to thank each and every one of you who donated, it was simply fantastic. However, I think there’s the bigger picture I’ve learned through this, maybe we could all attempt to lessen the load for people like Zena and her squad, by not dropping litter, by picking up bits when you see them and generally just thinking more about the beautiful area we live in.

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Saddleback Rock

All Photos used with kind permission of Nick Padmore Photography

 

I’m chatting with a guy from Hertfordshire as he keenly looks around. He’s considering moving to Devizes, but this Saturday thoroughly convinced him to do exactly that. Enthralled by our neighbourly ambiance, the friendliness of everyone present, I advise him it’s like this much of the time, although what he sees around him is quite unique for Devizes; sadly, we don’t get a Saddleback Music Festival every weekend!

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Possibly a relief for the organisers, who put amazing effort and months of hard work to bring us this show. After an astounding appetiser of Sweet Home Alabama, waving long mousy-blonde hair on stage, dynamic frontman of Norfolk’s Bad Touch, Stevie Westwood praises the festival, stating he cannot believe it’s only the second year. This sentiment is echoed throughout the day by all I converse with, as the Saddleback Festival was hailed a success for its professional but welcoming attitude and, well, stonker of show!

 
Despite Friday’s downpour, the sun kissed the Devizes Sports Club, occasionally taking a welcomed break behind a cloud. It made the perfect location, a large open space and its locality within town. The opportunity to camp was taken up by a few, and everyone converged beyond the rugby pitch to relish a fairly diverse range of rock, funk, and blues. While Saddleback remained faithful to last year’s blues label, perhaps the opening of other genres allowed it wider appeal; the field was teeming.

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Never a doubt local legend Jon Amor would rock the show, after a year away from Devizes. However, a highlight of this diversity for me being Innes Sibun, who’s blues band were indescribably funky, and but a dash of Latin influence could’ve rivalled Santana. Likewise, when the crowd grimaced somewhat at the cliché of John Verity wailing out an electric-guitar version of The Star-Spangled Banner, thanking Christ Trump hadn’t been passing through, he clinched the moment by sliding neatly into the perfect rendition of Purple Haze.

 
Whilst stalls for the supported charities, Julia’s House and the Wiltshire Air Ambulance positioned at the entrance, beyond two abutting main stages, in which one band tuned while the other performed, lay a passage of stalls, bar, ice cream van, and activities for children, as any good festival should. As this was advertised as a family event, and kids went free, perhaps there could’ve been a tad more to prevent little-ones from bordering boredom, but really, not many turned up with children, therefore additions were adequate.

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Herein lies an issue, to stage such an amazing event costs, we know this, still there was tension over a £25 ticket-stub. In this day and age where every penny counts I cannot help but agree, it didn’t come cheap; show me festival which doesn’t, I challenge you. Ever a risk, but in my opinion the organisers must consider price, should they wish to pull a crowd of our younger generation.

 
Pardon the pun; it’s between a rock and a hard place, deciphering how to achieve maximum effect at low cost, in an era with an abundance of small festivals. With space plentiful at the Sports Club, a popular “well-known” headline act is a valid option to attract, though would sadly not help reduce the ticket price, unless Saddleback gamble it’d generate ticket sales, or even, if they wish it to.

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I get the sense they’re content with the setup, organisers have suggested prior they wouldn’t wish to expand the festival to huge degrees. I offered my tuppence on its future; after dropping the “blues” label, perhaps drop the “music” too. For all are aware festivals are predominantly music, and word-of-mouth alone will confirm Saddleback’s dedication to quality musical acts, so how about adding other popular elements of larger festivals; a comedy tent?

 
I reached out to a couple of organisers I stopped for a brief chat with, perhaps, dare I say it, a dance tent, or reggae stage. They hum at the idea, but it seems suggestions to introduce circus and street theatre acts was the final straw! I digress, for variety of elements make the difference from a “festival,” to a “concert,” whereby people freely wander, involve themselves with a happening, or else move onto the next.

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For Saddleback, at this early stage, perhaps catered for an older crowd, content to pitch a sunblock and deck chairs, and remain situated while the music came to them. Which is dandy, and for this Saddleback gave the most excellent experience one could wish for. Part of me longed for these crowds to saunter past the beer tent, and rather than just headlong for the loos, observe Saddleback had a smaller acoustic stage where the upcoming local talents ruled the day.

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Shamefully I felt more could’ve been done to enhance this, the “stage,” little more than a gazebo and the PA insubstantial, there was an air that this was merely a bolt-on. The location of this segment was justified by organiser Mirko, who explained the tuning of the main stages would’ve drowned the sound from this acoustic area should it have been situated closer. I nodded; fair point. I consoled with the notion it was near the bar, and many did attend when thirsty, particularly when Phil Cooper unexpectedly arrived to accompany Jamie Hawkins on a cajón, which produced an excellent and most welcomed set. Again, gathered around the acoustic area Mike Barham I thought really gave it his all too, with his usual thoroughly entertaining and amusing elegance.

 
Coupled with two reasonable food stalls, it was great to see local ale brewer, Glen Upward’s Devitera stand, of which I attempted to drink dry. By mid-afternoon this whole area transformed into a haven for the lesser wishers of sitting idle at the main stage, and it bustled with Devizes-fashioned merry laughter and revelry.

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Maybe to squeeze everything in the timeframe, which again justifies the price-tag, I’m darned if those Saddlebackers were overly keen to kick it off early. A mere few hours late I missed a few acts I’d considered worthy of headliners. I’d been eager to catch Mollie, the daughter of Small Faces and Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott, and was surprised they’d put her on so early.

 
I was also stumped why the brilliant George Wilding opened the event before I could even taste the toothpaste, and I’d like to have caught Strange Tales’ Sally Dobson too; but I cannot blame Saddleback for my own indolence!

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For despite aforementioned inconsequential and debatable glitches, I loved it all, I loved the non-existence of a DJ, a format with a constant flow of live music. I loved the sociability, I loved the way the performer’s hair got longer with every act introduced!

 

Saddleback gave it their all, was superb in every detail and this can only raise all eyebrows as to how they will attempt to top it next year. For this alone, they should be celebrated and thanked, as it undoubtedly will go down in Devizes history as our town’s proudest of musical moments.

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Pleased to Eat You…

No one goes hungry in Seend as the First of the annual Seend breakfasts has taken place, and as ever the brekker has lived up to expectations. It’s a great way to start the day; a sociable gathering with locally sourced fodder at very reasonable prices. They’ve thought of everything…you can even grab your newspaper there and nothing is too much trouble for the group of village volunteers running the event.

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You really should pop by and try a Seend breakfast special for yourselves. Each Saturday at 8:00-10:00, from now into September. The village breakfasts have been running for a number of years, originally started by the WI. The breakfasts are open for ANYONE to attend not just villagers. Bring along your guests, invite people from neighbouring villages, boaters take a stroll up from the canal, flag down passing holiday makers, stop the early morning milkmen & postmen…Let’s just be clear EVERYONE is welcome.

More info: Click here

 

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Mac’s Theatre School Announce New Performances

Mac’s Theatre School continue to go from strength to strength, proving that with the right support and guidance there are no limits to what young people can achieve.

The Devizes-based theatre company are off to perform on one of the main stages at Disneyland Paris in April 2019, after passing a rigorous audition process with flying colours. Disney described Mac’s Theatre School as “a very good all-round school who are producing very talented young performers who are clearly passionate and feeling about the arts.”

The Theatre company are currently rehearsing for their up and coming drama productions “DNA” and “Blood Brothers” which will be performed at Devizes school on the 27th to the 28th of July (DNA) and the 3rd and 4th of August  (Blood Brothers). Tickets are available from ticket source via the website http://www.macstheatreschool.co.uk or from Devizes books.

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If you are passionate about acting, dancing, singing then Mac’s Theatre School are always keen to welcome new members. The company are open from 5-21 year olds and starting in September will be launching a weekly work shop for 11-21 year olds on a Wednesday evening as well as their already flourishing Mini Mac’s Workshops from 5-10 year olds who have classes on a Saturday morning at Devizes School from 1130-12.30 and 13.00-14.00. Both groups will get the chance to perform in the February Musical “The Addams Family.”

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If you would like to find out more please don’t hesitate in contacting them via the website www.macstheatreschool.co.uk or follow them on Facebook (Mac’s Theatre School), Twitter (@macs_theatre) or Instagram ( macstheatre )

Mac’s Theatre School

macstheatreschool.co.uk

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PSG Choir’s County Tour for Plastic Oceans Foundation this Saturday

Established in 2014, the PSG choir organisation helps people to build confidence in their vocal ability, perform with a live band and enjoy bonding with their friends and community.

With 75 members of PSG choir based in Wiltshire, founder Will Blake and his choir will be taking pop, soul and gospel to the masses this Saturday (14th July) and raising funds for Plastic Oceans, by doing a musical tour around our county.

Plastic Oceans Foundation engages people of all ages, in all social situations, to understand the danger of continuing to perceive plastic to be disposable; a vital subject obviously, in which the choir asks for a small donation to the cause.

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Plastic Oceans explains, “The problem of plastic pollution is growing exponentially every year; we are producing more than 300 million tons of plastic, half of this is designed for single use, and each year around 8 million tons of it ends up in our oceans. We can solve this problem and we can do it by educating and engaging everyone in a conversation to rethink plastic. Plastic Oceans is working to change the way we deal with plastic waste by challenging society’s perception that this indestructible substance can be treated as ‘disposable’.”

“Once people become aware of the ultimate threat to human health, it will become a personal choice to prevent plastic waste from entering the environment. We plan to tackle this issue, through an awareness campaign using film and media – our documentary feature film, A Plastic Ocean. We will continue to spread the message of the film activating students through education, engaging with industries through entrepreneurship and partnering with global organizations actively changing their communities.”

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If you’d like to see PSG Choir perform on the tour, they’ll be at The Brittox, Devizes at 10:30am, the Borough Parade Shopping centre, Chippenham at 12:30pm, Derry Hill and Studley Village Fete at 3:20pm, and finishing at The Bear in Melksham at 4:30pm.

“It’s time we did something about the horrendous effect single use plastics are having on the planet,” says PSG, “and the amazing creatures that live on it.”

Please Donate

https://www.facebook.com/donate/286590988568451/1745948552157605/

www.psgchoirs.co.uk

https://plasticoceans.org/

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Mozart’s The Magic Flute comes to White Horse Opera

White Horse Opera announce their next main production will be “The Magic Flute,” opening in October at Lavington School.

Child prodigy Mozart wrote the singspiel (part-song-part-dialogue) Die Zauberflöte, or The Magic Flute to you and I! Launched in September 1791 at Schikaneder’s theatre in Vienna, he conducted the premiere despite feeling unwell, an illness which would take his life by the December.

Mozart’s great romantic opera drew from the magical spectacle of earthy comedy, popular in Vienna’s theatres. White Horse Opera assure it “will take you on an adventure.”

 
With comedic elements, the mien of The Magic Flute is Mozart’s philosophical divine principles. There’s a exploration of wisdom and virtue as the mainstay of this captivating anecdote.

 

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Image by Gail Foster

Promising the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from the enchanter Sarastro, the intrepid but naïve Prince Tamino initiates a quest, as, basically, he’s “got the hots for her!” Accompanied by a bird-catcher called Papageno, who the Prince believes would be happy with any pretty girl, not all will be as it at first seems.

 
The Prince and the bird-catcher have to deal with the majestic but unapproachable Queen of the Night, the mysterious Sarastro and his reclusive and dedicated followers, not to mention a lecherous henchman, three seductive ladies and three other-worldly boys. But are any of the characters they encounter really what they seem? Find out when White Horse Opera unlocks the bewildering world of this always fascinating fable.
It’s fully staged, sung in English with a full orchestra.

 
Performances 10th, 12th & 13th October at 7.30pm at Lavington School SN10 4EB

 
Tickets £15 for padded seats and £10 for unpadded available from Devizes Books 01380-725944 or http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whitehorseopera

 

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My Top 30 Dance Albums of the Nineties: Part 2

Click here to read Part 1.

Initiation into the rave scene of the nineties was similar to pyramid selling. We’d be hanging around the local watering hole, prepping for the off, when some nerd we hadn’t seen since school would apprehensively saunter in, blissfully unware of what was about to hit them.

 
They’d be looking for something, they wouldn’t know what, but we did. Something ardent; association, something to cling onto through the stresses of delinquency, an escapism from teenage tension. “Hey, how’s it going mate, coming to the party?”

 
Before they knew what was what they’d be standing clueless in a field, apprehensively witnessing absolute mayhem unfold; their conceived ideas of what a party should be abruptly annihilated by a thousand over-kindly nutcases, squeezed together and suctioned to a bass-bin, pulling inexplicable faces, sharing bottled water and poppers.

 

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The following weekend we’d spot them in the crowd and we’d sprint for a hug; “mate, is that you?” In the space of a week they’d transformed into a “Cheesy Quaver.” Attired in a diamond-cut square trilby, puffa, round pink shades and unsteadily supporting an enhanced jawbone, they’d be nattering to anyone and everyone, in what appeared to be a trade deal.

 
In turn they’d initiated a whole gang of others, and so the perpetual cycle continued, until the entire country of ravers gathered on one small common in Herefordshire in 1992, and something in my mind told me then, the authorities wasn’t going to stand idly by and watch.

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Perhaps our outgoing ethos and promotional qualities was sadly our downfall. But what was once a bit of fun turned into a political and social struggle, a rebellion of dance. The free party scene lay wounded but a phoenix would arise from it’s ashes; the passage would headlong into the mainstream, the music would grace the stages of Glastonbury, find its way into adverts and children’s TV shows, and the fashions and lingo would filter to customary by the end of the decade. This reflected in the development of a variety of musical genres, as the crowds were now too large to party in one marque. It also created diverse recordings, expanding the perimeters of the genre; the albums of which we now continue to count down from the previous part of the article, from 19 – 10.

 

 

19 – Nightmares on Wax – Smokers Delight (Warp 1995)

 

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One of those genres was trip-hop, never liked the name truth be told, neither did this album’s creator George Evelyn. For Nightmares on Wax was more sophisticated than “stoner” music, and the current US hip hop too. This was the UK adding a benchmark to hip hop, it was ambience, it was melted chocolate oozing through your speaker, and it made the perfect sound for your after-party chill-out session, easing the trickle back to reality, like vodka.

 

18 – Orbital- 2 (the Brown Album) – (FFRR 1993)

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Mentioned this before, the first half of the nineties, we didn’t buy albums, but rave tapes (live recordings from raves.) They were cheaper and of a shareware culture. It’d be considered risky in 1993 to release an album of dark, underground techno, but that is where Orbital secretly reigned over the others, and pioneered the dance concept album. We envied their torch-specs, as they operated machinery to refine experimental sounds, for which they should be considered the Kraftwerk of the nineties, and this second album typifies their dedication to the scene. There’s no stand-alone tracks, nothing except a few samples of Star Trek and Withnail and I to amuse, as it drifts through harmoniously and you renter Earth’s atmosphere thinking what just happened there then?

 

17 – Portishead – Dummy – (Go-Beat 1994)

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“She dumped him?”
“Yeah.”
“That’s sad.”
“Yeah, he’s locked himself in his room.”
“That’s quite serious.”
“He’s listening to Portishead.”
“Call the police!”

 
Portishead, until 1994 was a little port-town on the Seven, therein after it was a trip hop trio reverberating the next step for the downtempo fashion of the Bristol scene, with the gloomiest electro blues album you’ve ever heard. It was chill out music, chilled to tender bone, spectacularly musique noir. Winner of the Mercury Music prize 1995, it was pioneering in as much as people now understood how flexible contemporary electronic music could be, for although it’s defined as dance music, you could only sway to this in a sombre mood of melancholic dejection; Morrisey had nowhere to go. Still, it was hauntingly sublime.

 
I recall feeling very sorry for myself, physically worn out, emotionally drained and wet through to the skin, the second year of the mudfest which was the late nineties Glastonbury. I huffed, alone in my tent; this wasn’t a festival, it was survival. I’d attempted to get on with it but by Sunday night it’d beaten me.

 
The rain reduced to fine dribble, the sort which soaks you without you realising. It’d created a gloomy low level mist, I couldn’t think of any kind of weather more suitable when a friend unzipped my tent and insisted I get off my lethargic arse and go watch Portishead with him.

 
The VIP area was so sodden with mud, the band’s bus couldn’t get through. After hours of waiting in the drizzle the atmosphere was one of misery; with purple to blue lighting effects and the disillusionment of fading chemical stimuli, I rocked gently to-and-fro with the crowd, like a thousand tigers in captivity. Until a man got on stage, declared Portishead had arrived but explained they couldn’t get through via the back stage. He invigorated a mass movement, a parting of the crowd like Moses at the water’s edge. And the band made it to the stage; “She’d better sing her fucking arse off!” I demanded to the acquaintance who’d unwillingly dragged me along and broken my moment of solitude. And boy, she did, she gave it her all, and the atmosphere, the mood could’ve have been more apt.

 
Portishead, face it, would never have been the next big thing, as despite their excellence, it just didn’t suit the merry mood of pop, it didn’t fit on the chart formula, it would never wash with teeny-boppers. Their second album equally a melancholic classic, but too similar in style to bring it to reverb the notion.

 

16 – Dreadzone – Second Light (Virgin 1995)

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You have to wonder what Carl Orff would’ve thought of Little Britain, but not at the time. At the time you just waited for the break; “Go!” For those who figured the UK rave scene was an extension of Chicago’s acid house, when groups like Dreadzone commercialised the breakbeat in a fashion acquired from reggae, it was clear the originality was homegrown.

 
The US never gave it a reggae spin, for it wouldn’t have been a popular move. But it’s fair to say, via the Windrush generation reggae always had a wider influence on the UK. A stage further from Two-Tone now, ravers embraced reggae and Dreadzone fused it in such a way, sprayed it with movie and reggae classic samples, made themed songs, and offered a creative style with narrative and meaning.

 
For Dreadzone, still active today, Second Light was their commercial peak, its fusion of techno with dub reggae, and its sprinkling of influences made it unique and timeless.

 

15 – Zion train – Homegrown Fantasy (China – 1995)

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Some may argue against putting this so high in my chart, especially above Dreadzone; I’ll explain why. Where Dreazone fused reggae with techno, it wasn’t wholly reggae, purely borrowing. Zion Train though remained much more faithful to the dub scene, occasionally meandering into crusty techno; it was mostly dub, and taking the popular Jah Shaka UK style to new audiences.

 
While Zion Train may not have been as successful as Dreadzone, for me they’re the better outfit. We shared a page in a FIN once, (Google “Free Information Network;” a photocopied pre-internet) and I wrote to them after buying the first single from this album “Get Ready.” They showered me with vinyl and this CD to review in my own comic/zine I was intending to create, without regard to its distribution and print quantities; in short, they kindly supported creative projects in the underground, they actively helped and campaigned, they never attained to chart a single.

 

 
They were the secret angle of dub, the innovative stance in an oppressive world and, not for their personal links to me, but for the pure uplifting excellence this album thunders with, I love the Zion Train sound system. It’s earthy and righteous, with a horn section.
If acts like the Prodigy could take slices of reggae for samples, why couldn’t it work in reverse? That’s where Dreadzone stood, somewhere in the middle of, but Zion Train inverted the process; reggae with occasional nods to rave, for me was more experimental than the others the ravers harked on about, for me it was progression to a wider spectrum for dance music, if not for its commercial success.

 

14 – Coldcut – Journeys by DJ (Music Unites 1995)

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We discussed, though not at length, the greater attraction of “rave tapes,” above the album in those heady nineties. Fully mixed, often with MC’s toasting the crowd, they emulated the experience of being at a rave so much more, a small mercy for the raver who hadn’t made it to a rave at that particular moment; rather sitting depressed on a bus going to college or work. Also fair to note, the tape could be a recording of an event you attended, making it more personal than listening to the solo output of an album, should by some miracle you recalled it!

 
The downside to the rave tape was quality. Upon given a tape one had to ponder how many times this had been copied prior to yours; the sound quality deteriorated with every exchange. I’d buy several rave tapes under the conviction it’d be a fair recording, then loan them in return for others. I collected enough of them to listen to from then to now, but nowadays, with crisp recording quality being norm, you wouldn’t even go there.

 
Loitering in Homeboyz Records in Swindon in 1992 I noticed it on a shelf; a CD of DJ Sasha. No, the reply to my question, it wasn’t a studio album, it was a….a…rave CD! I snapped it up; now in possession of something for prosperity whence the rave tapes would one day be dumped in a skip (in 2000 and something, I tipped 99.9% of them in a skip, there was a few I couldn’t part with sentimentally.)

 
All this two years before “official” rave tapes were produced and CDs followed shortly. But at that time, CD was supposed to be the irreplaceable, unbreakable format and usually reserved for something worthy for opulence and archiving; yeah right!

 
Once the memento of mix CD’s took hold there was no stopping it, but this here is supposed to be a list of albums, I’ve stayed clear of DJ mixes. The first in a series of Journey By DJ though, has a place here, if not later mix CDs like The Chemical Brothers Live at the Social in 96, The Freestylers FSUK Vol2 in 98 and, most defiantly, Liam Howlet’s 1999 Dirtchamber Sessions.

 
Coldcut, aka Matt Black and Jonathan More, pioneered sampling in the 1980s as well as being the first in the UK to produce hip hop. In the pop charts since the dawn of the scene, and introducing the world to Yazz and Lisa Stansfield, they were renowned for experimentation, for pushing the boundaries. Yet this mix took their ethos to the next stage.

 
In reflection of Grandmaster Flash’s “Adventures of the Wheels of Steel,” and the original ethos of hip hop, Coldcut made a full-length mix which fused just about every electronic genre in existence at the time, added humor, movie samples, sixties beat, even the Dr Who theme. Basically, if Matt and Jonathan had a recording of it, considering adding it to this was earnest.

 
This opened the gate for Norman Cook and the plethora of others who’d create timeless songs through freestyle mixing, and for which, it surely deserves to be viewed as an album rather than a “rave tape.”

13 – LFO – Frequencies (Warp 1991)

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Aptly named after the rhythmic pulse or sweep produced by low-frequency oscillation, an electronic signal typically below 20Hz, the LFO harks back to pre-breakbeat days, when there was house music aimed at charts and then there was “bleep” music, as we deemed it, the thriving Detroit acid house scene bonded with German Techno.

 
With 808 State’s Excel, Frequencies were perhaps the only albums heralding this kind of sound in 1991, and it was as revolutionary as Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock in 1982, and just as underground. It did change the shape of music, it did offer something you only heard while wearing a bandanna at a disused warehouse somewhere on the orbital.

 

12 – Chemical Brothers – Exit Planet Dust (Junior Boys Own 1995)

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I’ve no idea what bought us there; slumped on the edge of the dancefloor of Turnmills in Islington, we were country crusty ravers truly out of our depth, as London’s “beautiful people” shimmered around us carrying ice buckets of champagne. The sort of place where a giant of man could hang out (literally) in just a leather crotch patch and biker’s boots, and the girls looked like something from a catwalk. I tried to overt prying the eye-candy, as my girlfriend was the sort who’d lump one of them. She though was too concerned with the two DJs at the desk. I’d heard of them from Mixmag, they were the Dust Brothers I informed her.

 
“Why do they call them brothers, when one is a girl?” she inquired.

 
“No, they’re both guys, one has long hair!” I explained, but she refused to accept this.

 
In order to solve the argument I took her hand and encouraged over to the DJ box, where we clambered up and peered over to take a closer inspection. Still she was unconvinced and, while the Dust Brothers were trying to concentrate on their mix, she’d point at Tom Rowlands shouting “It’s a girl!”

 
“No!” I snapped back, also pointing at him, “he’s a guy, look at him, he’s clearly a guy you stupid cow!”

 
You could tell they were getting annoyed, and after a minute of this I’d have expected one to punch me. I dragged her away, as she’d launch back, and geographically I was lost in Islington should we get terminated from Turnmills. But miraculously, we didn’t; professional to the core, the needle didn’t jump from the record.

 
I tended to ignore her for the remaining evening, and enjoy the music as it was something altogether different, the emerging big beat scene having not quite made it to the countryside. Shortly after the Dust Brothers changed their name to the Chemical Brothers for reasons unknown, and made it big; definitely as guys and not girls.

11 – Roni Size/Reprazent – New Forms (1997 Talkin’ Loud)

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Giles Peterson is still a jazzy dude, even when he departed from Acid Jazz Records, his new label Talkin’ Loud, as heard on the James Brown/Bobby Byrd tune, would always have been devoted to jazz. Here then is Drum n Bass finding its path to acceptability in the mainstream, winning the Mercury Music Award and all, but we the ravers knew long before New Forms.

 
I heard rumour Roni spent the winnings on funding a youth community project in Bristol called Fused, which would be give urban kids opportunities like music technology and graffiti art. Reflecting back online, I cannot find any truth in this, but I’m sure it was as I say.

 
Must have been around this time I attended a “Squatters Party” in Brixton where there was several rooms of music, each one hardcore but progressively getting faster, until I poked my head into the room defined as “gabba techno,” and shied away; “you can’t dance to that shit!” I guess this is where Drum n Bass really took over for me. New Forms presented just that, tolerable and matured.

 

 

10 – William Orbit – Strange Cargo 3 (1993 Virgin)

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Through the mid-nineties I’d always imagined the look on William Orbit’s face when he received a call requesting he produced Madonna’s next album. I assumed he was only accredited as a solo producer, through the awesomeness of Strange Cargo, number 3 being his magnum opus. Powers of an internet we didn’t have at the time, I only now realise the wealth of work this man produced prior to Ray of Light.

 
From the synth group Torch Song in the earliest of the 80s, to Betty Boo and Portishead’s Beth Orton, William Orbit was the chilled out electronica god. Blur, the All-Saints, Robbie Williams, Pink, Britney Spears all queued up to work with him after Ray of Light bought knew acceptability to Madge’s waning reputation. For Orbit had something unique, whatever artist he worked with, each tune has a definitive style, a signature imprint.

 
You might consider Pete Tong’s Heritage Orchestra brings dance music to classical ears these days, but back in the nineties William Orbit surely pioneered techniques in music tech which heralded electronica AS classical music, and straddled a boundary between them which no one prior even was aware existed. If you fancy any of those chart hits from the aforementioned popstars with Orbit’s stamp on them, you simply have to dive into the utter mega-ecstasy bliss of Strange Cargo 3, and regard this ground-breaker was constructed way back in 1993; truly timeless.

 

 

That ends us off for now, join me for the third and final section of this historic exploration of dance music, as I count down from nine to one; hands in the air!

 

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There’s People Like Us in The Park

Feature Photo used with kind permission of Nick Padmore Photography

 

If it’s not good enough for our humble little town to have Fantasy Radio on air twenty-four seven, there were the team again, out in the sweltering Hillworth Park for another Sunday session. The second of this year’s Month of Sunday’s live music events gave us Devizes-own four-piece band People Like Us, who always have a unique spin on popular covers.

 
Sitting on the crisp, sun scorched lawn I ponder why they remind me of Scooby-Doo’s gang, minus the Great Dane. They’ve a blue van but without psychedelic swirls painted on it, it’s not that. Andy has a shaggy look, Claire has glasses, but visually they’re not about to audition for a live action movie remake anytime soon!

 
I reckon it’s their mellowing sound, an inimitable combination of equal male-to-female vocal harmony ratio, and Andy’s accomplished use of the cajón, an unusual percussion instrument for pop. Used mainly in música negra and Latin American jazz styles like rumba, the cajón blesses their covers with distinctiveness, evoking this sixties West Coast, Californian panache, which, as an influence is sadly missing from modern music. I’m thinking The Mamas & the Papas, The Lovin’ Spoonful or even, dare I contemplate another cartoon, The Archies, only with far less bubble-gum, naturally!

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People Like Us are good fun, never booming furiously at you, they drift through Coldplay’s “Yellow” as an introduction, nail Oasis with their version of “She’s Electric,” and breezed through Crowded House’s “Weather With You,” the only breeze to be had this sunny Sunday in the park.

 
Perhaps the most individually composed was “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” whereas their awesome rendition of “Mr Blue Sky,” aptly soothes. Erasure’s “Respect,” ups the tempo and polishes off a fine set.

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While prolific keyboardist Nicky Davis plays “mom,” in appearing to hold the band together, and Claire Gilchrist on kick drums maintains the rhythm, and predominately takes lead vocals, there is no standout band member; they perform harmoniously and diplomatically. While the aforementioned use of the cajón box-instrument by Andy Phillips gifts the biggest contribution to the exclusivity of People Like Us, Dean Ellicock’s accomplished both bass and acoustic guitar riffs gives it the customary angle it needs to balance the sound in line with contemporary trends. In short, it’s an amicable and great combination!

 
People Like Us have a Thursday residency at Pewsey’s Waterfront Bar & Bistro, and you can catch them frequently performing locally. At the Three Crowns in Devizes on 22nd July, at The Woodbridge Inn, Pewsey on August 4th and I’m sure they’ll be a welcomed addition by the Dabchicks when they play at Aldbourne’s carnival on September 1st.

 
You should also look out for crazy-busy Nicky Davis as part of Southampton based pop-rock covers band The Reason, who formed ten years before PLUS, who’ve only been around for a couple of years, and, her contribution to the annual, all-female, all local, charity-fundraising supergroup “The Female of the Species;” something I need to run a feature on for this year, as they play their monumental one night only gig at Melksham’s Assembly Hall on 29th September. Do you ever get a day off Nicky?!

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“Expect the unexpected,” People Like Us state on their Facebook page, and if you go in expecting a run-of-the-mill covers band I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 

 

Next Sunday at Hillworth Park is not to be missed; Trowbridge’s amazing singer/songwriter Phil Cooper.

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Rowde to Party in Barn for a new Leisure Facility

So, big amicable guy, John Dally of JD Taxis knocks at my door, he’s the kind of chap one from the east of our island might deem, “salt of the Earth.” I’m expecting him, he told me prior he wants a poster for a party in a barn he’s holding in the village. “What do you want to call it?” I ask with pen and paper to hand.

 
“Party in Barn,” he replies; this is Rowde. We don’t need fancy names, it does what it says on the tin. I favour this approach, despite not being native to this village. Thing is, it’s walking distance to Devizes, if you’re feeling like an energetic mountaineer, therefore it’s facilities are often overlooked when compared to villages slighter further out.

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He reminisces with my better half, who was born here, how back then they could go over to the playing fields. Today though, the darkened hidden corner of Rowde in which it’s situated is not suitable to send kids alone, it’s completely veiled save a few allotments, and the old hut and rusty 1977 Jubilee gate is long in need of repair. I assume this is why he is putting on the event, to raise renovation money, turns out I’m wrong; someone’s moved the metatheoretical goalposts and the project has altered to one on a much grander scale.

 
With Rowde School stuck out on limb at the closer end to Devizes, it was inevitable since it’s building ten years ago, construction projects would arise the other side of it. Now it’s to be so, John, in control of sports and recreation at the Parish Council, informs me they want to sell off the old unequipped sports field, and construct a new one, with a pavilion. The facility will be surrounded by new houses, and not only fulfil the need for its villagers, but may attractive to clubs and societies in Devizes too.

 

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It’s an ambitious project, but will bring Rowde in line with villages like Seend and Bromham, who’s community halls, complete with sports and social club houses are the hubs of their villages. So in order to kick this exciting scheme into gear, The Party in Barn will take place from 7PM to midnight on 18th August and with the kind permission of Jim Butler, will be held at Manor Farm on Close Lane in Rowde.

 
Local group Eazilyled, who I recall rocking last year’s Devizes Scooter Club’s family fun day, will headline, alongside resident DJ Eddie, but we’re not ruling out adding another act or two, so if anyone here wants to play a charity gig and help Rowde bag themselves a shiny new venue, please let me know.

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There will be a barbeque and jerk chicken also on the menu. John assures they’ll have some activities for the children too.

 
As it’s a proper village job, there will be no bar; bring your own booze, oh and one for me too if your budget stretches, ta. This makes for a cheaper night than propping up an overpriced bar, although they will have some soft drinks available.

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Under 16s are free, tickets are a snip at £7:50 and can be obtained by emailing John at jdtaxisdevizes@gmail.com or calling him on 0759 2063 789. Failing this you go to this link here on Devizine, pay via Paypal, making sure you’ve stated in the notes it’s for the party in barn, and told me your address and I’ll find a way to pop them round, be it by hand, by taxi or maybe milkfloat! Let us for now assume though there will be tickets on the door, or gate, being it’s a barn and all.

 
So, please do come one and all, and support Rowde’s efforts to obtain a community hall and sports pavilion, we did give Devizes a lovely ice cream parlour after all!

 

 

Facebook Event Page here.

Like Eazilyled here.

 

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Colour in Billy the Burger and Sid Sausage and WIN a Burger or Hotdog!

Billy the Burger and Sid Sausage are raring to get to the Devizes Scooter Club’s Charity BBQ Day at the Conservative Club on July 21st, but they’re looking paler then Scooter Club’s organiser Adam Ford after a few blackcurrant Fruit Shoots. Can you help by colouring them in?

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Ask Mum or Dad to stop watching the football for just a few minutes and print out either picture, or both, below. Give it your best colouring-in job, bring it along with you to the family fun day and hand it to the DJ, who I think will be me. I’m a very tough judge, so make sure it is your best work!

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The winners of each age group will get a free snack of their choice, be it a hotdog or a burger. Age groups will be 2-5, 6-10, 10-100; See you there!

 
If you can’t print this out, don’t worry; I will try to get the Club to photocopy some too, and we’ll bring them and some colouring pencils with us; give your Dad something to do won’t it?!

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Meanwhile grownups will be treated to the excellent DayBreakers, who I’m delighted to announce will be playing live. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the day; let’s raise some funds for the Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, a preschool for children with disabilities and learning difficulties.

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The Day has FREE entry from midday, with music, fun & games , soft play and bouncy castle, a BBQ and other food and drink including cakes, teas and coffees, a Mega-Raffle plus side stalls, lots of scooters naturally, and trophies for the best scooters.

Click here for more info!

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Lightly Toasted at Hillworth Park with Fantasy Radio

Images used with permission of Ruth Wordly of MoongypZy Music Photography

 

Turn me over, I’m lightly toasted on this side by the mid-afternoon sun in Hillworth Park. A young Evie Smith steps up to the navy blue marquee and though nervous, for despite being active on our local theatre scene with MACs, I’m sure this is her first solo singing performances on air, she rings out an acoustic version of the Alan Walker electronica tune “Faded” with conviction and passion. In good hands though, as proficient Devizes singer/songwriter Vince Bell comfortably accompanies her on guitar.

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There’s a scattering of attendees across the vast lawn, picnicking, sunbathing, watching, or all three. There’s children and a few dogs playing too; a peaceful ambience and a typical Sunday scene in Hillworth Park, Devizes, where it’s nice on an average day, let alone when our own Fantasy Radio has set up to record a live mini-concert. The first of July marks the first in a series of their live music events at the park, subsequently followed by one each Sunday for the duration of the month.

 
Since 2pm Fantasy have switched over live to the event, and between playing their emblematic songs and usual gentle banter, they’ve introduced the first act, Tamsin Quin, who needs no introduction really. For this is archetypal Devizes, Tamsin illustrating my point by arriving on her bicycle. Our cosy town’s acoustic scene bursts through its seams with talent. You know Tamsin is the shining example; keen, entertaining, heck I’ve told you this enough times on Devizine already; summed it up just the other day by creating a hashtag: #tamsinquinfanclub!

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So allow me to mention her comrade here today, the accomplished acoustic performer Vince Bell. Taking it in turns, both Tamsin and Vince played two songs each until the five o’clock target. Modest about his ability, Vince is a true hero of our acoustic scene and through word-of-mouth recommendations, one I’ve been meaning to catch the opportunity to see live. He did not disappoint, rather expert guitar-strumming fingers fused with emotionally delivered covers and inspiring originals, proved that Vince is the genuine article.

 
He kicked off with “We Come in Again,” a track taken from his forthcoming album, owned a version of Damien Rice’s “Cannonball,” and paid homage to his love with the beautifully executed “You Still Look Amazing.” But the most poignant was his chef-d’oeuvre, “Ship of Fools,” articulating a sublimely written song in an expressive, archaic fashion and lounging under sunhat afterwards to allow Tamsin to take over with one of her early outsets “Silver Smile.”

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I was surprised upon catching up with Phil Dawson, Fantasy’s big chief, to hear they’ve been hosting the Month of Sundays at Hillworth for six years, and felt slightly ashamed not to have heard about it. Good reason to have started Devizine, it’s a learning curve for me too! So, with full intentions of making up for lost time, I intend to shake any Sunday blues away and drag myself down to Hillworth Park for each Sunday I can.

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I can’t give you the line-up for each week as I really haven’t been told. I’m unsure if it’s all a secret, although I’m told it’s not, I’m still none the wiser! Perhaps though, the details for later weekends have yet to be ironed, but this coming Sunday, the 8th July, is the turn of our wonderfully original cover band People Like Us, who just have that knack of self-styling classic and contemporary songs which charm, and Trowbridge legend Mr Phil Cooper, the porkpie hat perfectionist we’ve mentioned plentifully here on Devizine.

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This one will be interesting to see if Phil decides to duplicate the formula of a couple of songs each, as while Tamsin’s and Vince’s music amalgamates, Phil and PLUS may not so. But whatsoever the outcome, these mini-concerts are a blessing to this sun kissed month in Devizes, a great way to spend your Sunday afternoon. Sun hats off to the Fantasy Radio team, for showcasing local talent, and generally being around, as a small town like the Vizes should be proud to have this esteemed media outlet.

 
It’s not like you’ll even miss it if you cannot make it down the park, just tune in to 97FM or listen online, but to witness first-hand Vince’s finale of the David Gray classic “Babylon,” was bountiful good reason alone; here’s to the Month of Sundays.

 

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