Nipped into the Turkish Barbers on Snuff Street

Hello there, a quick one from me today; I know you like a quick one. It is Friday and not a moment to spare. Just here to say I nipped into that Turkish Barbers on Snuff Street today and came out transformed into a movie star… well, kind of.

 
Not one for beauty and all that malarkey, and noting there’s little they could do with this old worn face, (face it,) they still made an amazing effort with the Barnet Fair. I began to worry about the traffic warden as that barber took his time to ensure I was pampered like Pamela Anderson prior to the set of Baywatch. Just when I thought he’d finished, I was content, he’d reach for another implement and trim a tad more until perfected. He even took a tiny flamethrower to my greying sideburns and scorched those final touches, much to the interest of some children observing.

 
“Whoa!” one yelped, “he’s going to set that man on fire!”

 
I tried to remain calm, attempted a brave, yeah, it’s all cool, expression, but inside I was like, “I know right; somebuddy call Fireman Sam, or Desmond Dekker, or someone; me ears are alight!”

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I wondered if I could dazzle any passing traffic warden that may have been perusing my motor with my awesome shiny hairdo? Unlikely, but it was a grand effort. Upon getting up, looking like I was ready for the TV interview of my life, I pondered that maybe he’d mistaken me for Robbie Williams or something, and that he’d want paying in gold bullion, perhaps he’d misunderstood that I came in for a trim, not the full works; but na, £9.50; cheers mate, keep the change…anyone who can make this codger look good needs a fine recommendation on  Devizine!

 
I kid you not, know the difference from an advertorial and a recommendation, this is a recommendation, great hairdo, great price, top service, and not a traffic warden in sight; get away from my car you scruffy-haired do-gooder!

 

Turkish Barber Facebook Page, give it a like.

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Another Seend Breakfast!

By Zoe McMillan

 

Another Seend breakfast …well, that’s music to our ears indeed!!!

Don’t miss our finale…this coming Saturday (1st Sept) sees the last Seend breakfast of the season and you’d be crazy to miss out.

You don’t just get service with a smile, you get entertainment too as the volunteers pull together to put on another feast for the senses with their delightful reparté and impeccable service.

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The real stars of the show, however, is the locally sourced produce that makes our plates sing and our eyes bigger than our bellies. So, if music really is the food of love and you fancy a feast for your soul on Saturday breakfasts are served between 8.30 and 10.30am…be there, with bells on. I know I will be!

 

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Big Inflatable Stage!

Images used with permission of Gail Foster

And an assortment of others, thank you to all!

 

Did you see that, a big inflatable stage, wasn’t it something else?

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No, it was a big inflatable stage, pretty cool though; much like the rest of the Bank Holiday Monday, when the belated sun finally put its hat on and people gathered in the market place of Devizes for the all-round most awesome show you’ll catch this year in our humbling abode; DOCA’s Street Festival, or as others have nicknamed it to the point of selling T-shirts embodied with the slogan, “Black Rat Monday.”

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Call it what you will, as it was a street festival of divine magnitude, and yeah, those British Lion mob did sell copious amounts of Black Rat cider, while at the other end of the monument, The Stealth Brewery rushed around to supply their own brews of ale; everybody was happy. That then is it, in a word; happy.

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As a smokescreen to pry us away from the idea Wiltshire Council are out to fleece us for parking charges, their suggestion the Market Place could be a daily bustling hub of festivities and lively market was met with much scepticism this year. We’re not the country bumpkins they take us for, we know it wouldn’t be like that in reality; this isn’t Camden, Brighton or Las bleedin’ Vegas, not even Trow; this is Devizes after all.

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For one summer weekend though, let us have such an occasion, and when we do, make it something special. DOCA, the volunteers, the side stalls, the acts and everyone working behind the scenes to put this event on must be praised to the highest heights. However, it’s not just all these hard-working crew, but also hats off to you, and your mate, and his mate’s mate. For what makes the Street Festival the Street Festival is the crowd, and everyone came out to ring the bells.

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It truly was magical, to the point you have to take a second every now and then to check your surroundings, confirm in your mind that you’re still in Devizes. “Yeah, there’s the bus stop where I’m normally standing waiting for the 49 in the rain,” or “there’s the empty bay where I usually park, to nip out for a Greggs sausage and bean melt and hide back in my car to stuff it down my fat gullet.”

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Here is something they can never take away, never quash with overpriced parking fees; blinking futile money-grabbers. Raising the daily tariffs is one thing, but to tax our fun, I shudder to think of the audacity.

 

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It will never work, let’s not make it work; no bank holiday parking charges; by Christmas Light Switch on, it could be reality. If we protest, if we come up with a solution like throwing the traffic warden in a bath of cold baked beans, or even start a charity fund to ensure those who need to park can afford to; because what DOCA put on yesterday means more than just a bit of fun, it means we are capable of binding, and overcoming, and celebrating all that is good about Devizes…..yeah, okay sorry, still a tad wobbly, yeah. Huh? I dunno, only about four Black Rats and three off Stealth!

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So, where was I? Big inflatable stage, surrounded by stuff, stuff going on everywhere, like a mini corner of Glasto. I can’t be going through it all, I’d imagine most of you went, don’t make me type every last detail of it; I’ve nicked a montage of photos, as everyone who I usually nick photos off were there, and everyone else filmed it on phones.

 
From miming Pinto Y outside the Town Hall, Jack Mac’s Funk Pack kicking off the main stage and the dancing frenzy of Ramshakalicious, to Swindon’s Sweet Stall, the Wiltshire Museum stand, the Scrapstore table, and the chance for kids to present a show on BBC Wiltshire Radio, there was so much going on you barely had time to stop for a crocodile burger.

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And didn’t the Didds do well, standing proud up there, he introduced three of the finest acts to complete the extravaganza? Firstly the 12-piece Bristol band Matuki, with a funky Afrobeat fused with urban jazz with wobbly psychedelic edges, were fantastic. Seems DOCA are dedicated to bring us our own little Womad of world music and fusions we don’t normally get here. The best thing about which is, the crowd loved it.

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All set then for the Carny Villains to follow, also Bristol-based and on the circuit for over ten years, these guys where bonkers. Bonkers in a good way, in ska-in-the air way. Flabbergasted I was impelled to gate-crash the Town Hall VIP zone, to snatch a quick word with them. “What do you even call that?” I pondered aloud, “gypsy -ska?”

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“Yeah,” one supposed, although seemingly not content to confine their sound to any label, “with a bit of swing thrown in.” As the double bass guy swanned in I noted, was he trying to mount that thing? The others laughed. What an awesome blinding show, lively, the icing on the cake for me.

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Upon their departure even more brass came on stage. “Brass is class,” I told my son and my lift home! Poor kid, stayed sober and tended to shrug my comment off. True as I sit here typing crap though, brass is class; if Don Drummond and others proved that, the Carny Villains keep the faith and the following act, The Destroyers, well they threw the kitchen sink at it too.

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Dammit though if a hurdy-gurdy, and tubas weren’t arriving on stage. A nod to quality, I dunno, like Balkan, even Greek folk, lively, a tad brash, crazy, what they deem Mega-Folk! I thought they were going to start spinning plates on spikes. Just as dancey as the previous, these Birmingham rogues and misfits surfed a tidal wave of horns, fiddles and guitars to produce a totally inimitable sound.

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What a fine finale, three ensembles of variance, what a grand and glorious day.

THANK YOU DOCA!

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All That Soul; Nothing Else Needed

Saturday night dilemma; keen to catch Calne’s The Compact Pussycat at the Southgate, but as eclectic as my musical tastes may be, primarily I’m a soul man, and couldn’t resist The Devizes Scooter Club’s highly anticipated All That Soul night.

So, coming to them, on a dusty road, a good idea sparked… because I’ve a truckload (!); on the premise All That Soul are merely a covers band bookable for weddings and such functions, I imagined they’d only be yay-good, so I’d skip between the two…simples. My apologies to Jordan, Jack and the other compact pussy-cats, but from the moment Bedfordshire band All That Soul stepped onto the stage at the Cons Club the music changed, the plan was rearranged, and I didn’t dance somewhere else.

I kid you not, they were the soul cover band equivalent of Star Trek’s Borg, in matching frocks; resistance was futile. They assimilated me, half the population of Devizes, and reassigned our honky booties from the bar to the dance floor. With irresistible charisma and panache from the off, they filled the Cons Club with a plethora of chic Motown and Atlantic soul classics.

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Start of the show, a sixties Motown tribute

The backing band played tight, never missing a beat, as three sublime divas harmonised vocals to mimic any or all of the powerful soul singers of yore. From Dancing in the Street to Jimmy Mack, personal fav For Once in My Life, and an unrehearsed adaption of Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday to appease a birthday guest, they owned them all, most aptly singing a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s Say a Little Prayer; no simple feat.

It was now clear any deliberations they are a run-of-the-mill wedding band was very much mistaken, and images from Adam Sandler’s comedy were cast aside. You’ll always remember your wedding function but if you invited All That Soul, no guest would ever forget it either.

They knocked it out of the park, returning for a second half now attired in beautiful disco garb, they continued with 70s funk and soul anthems to flood the dance floor again. Anyone who can replicate Lady Marmalade with such precision and soul will take your breath away. Go on, you try it, preferably in your car with the windows wound up; I know you have!

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One costume change later and it’s all that funky disco

Quashing my thoughts of disappearing to the Southgate, safe in the knowledge the band there will return to town soon, I was unable to pull myself away from their superb show. Despite their professionalism, it never once felt like the band were going through the motions mundanely, it never felt engineered, but produced an electric atmosphere of joyful dedication to their labour, genuinely lapping up every nonstop second.

The surging crowd of all ages adored this attitude, welcomed them with open arms as they dazzled us with a simply fantastic show. Nothing else was needed tonight, as the customary raffle sat unmanned till the end. It proves the Devizes Scooter Club is far from a bunch of middle-aged devotees standing around discussing Lambretta parts, but a serious contender for promoting musical extravaganzas with a taste for the alternative to the norm here.

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Colonel of the Scooter Club Adam Ford gets a hug, while Lauren sorts out the delayed raffle. (He’s in doghouse now!)

As you’re most probably aware I delight in designing the posters for the club. For this one a low-res logo was sent to me which by using would’ve pixelated the image when reproduced. I took a while to replicate it then, tricky to get a gold effect on my program. I’m glad I persevered as it was symbolic, All That Soul’s performance was nothing less than pure gold.

 

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Circus Noir, With Popcorn

What’s going on in that big black tent on the Green in Devizes? The circus is in town, circus noir – if there was never such a genre, there is now.

There’s popcorn scattered over the black stage along with broken manakin limbs. A gaunt Italian chap in briefs is awkwardly navigating a double-headed unicycle contraption, of sorts, while an acrobat tinkles on a piano with a sewing machine on top; not your standard performance in Devizes by any stretch of the imagination.

If it’s DOCA’s aim to present us with the bizarre for the fortnight of festivities, it’s scored high with My Lakita’s Popcorn Machine.

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There is a popcorn machine popping while the clown-like guy plays dead next to it and the acrobats examine him with discontent. The relevance of the popcorn machine ends there, but the relevance of any element in this show to another is vague and in question. If there is theatrical narrative it’s little more than the three girls tussling over the affections of the clown-like guy, or else scrapping him.

Acutely executed acrobatics are choreographed as mock fighting sequences, the single most marvellous hair-pulling you’re ever likely to see. At one point it results in one girl balancing the other upside down on her head…while taking a slap in the face from the girl atop, naturally.

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If Marcel Duchamp did circus, it may have looked a little like this; it’s black Eurotrash comedy, Cabaret Voltaire, avant-garde acrobatics and quirky surreal clowning, but with precision timing it’s hilarious.

Closest definition is circus but with all cliché abandoned along with smiles, jollity and neon. This is dark, often violent slapstick like a Tex Avery cartoon of yore. The performers look blankly at you, then whirl amazing ragdoll acrobatics. The man is the only to break the fourth wall, with a childlike innocence and spoof operatic; an electric guitar thrown in for good measure.

In short, this show is uniquely tremendous and unlike anything you’ll see, especially here in Devizes. If you relish nonsensical, Pythonesque humour, crave alternative acrobatics you have to go see it. If not, and you’re only heading inside the tent because of the rain, you’ll be in for a shock. I was left aghast, pondering did I enjoy that, I think I did…or did I? Yeah, no, defo, I did!

Running until Monday 27th August only, tickets are £12, £10 concessions, for a 7:30 start: Book here.

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Falling: Larkin’s Brand-New Single

Purple Ronnie said Pisceans only sleep with people they love, but fall in love too easily; he’s the only astrologer I have a smidgen of faith in; I can identify with that. Spent much of my youth obsessing despite knowing it wasn’t mutual.

I checked both Sam and Finlay’s Facebook profile to see if they’re Pisces too, but not so; never thought I’d say it but, Purple Ronnie you failed me; where’s Russell Grant in my hour of need?

Intrigued, as falling for someone when they’re not taking it as seriously is the subject of “Falling,” the boy’s new single as Larkin. Released tomorrow (Saturday 25th Aug) I’ve had the pleasure of letting it grow on me for the last few days, and glad to report it has, lots.

Sam’s droning vocals perfectly echo the adolescent despair, the surging heartache of the theme, over an atmospheric soundscape and sublime but subtle drumbeats.

While there’s something very Coldplay’s “Viva La Visa” about it, Larkin have quickly established a definitive and unique sound, and this is a natural progression from last year’s album Set You Free, challenging even the better tracks on it.

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They may have youth on their side but this has appeal for all ages, a mature pop sound of now; Larkin have accomplished a worthy single headed for greatness. But as good as it is I still don’t think they’ve reached their magnum opus and that Falling is only the beginning of something far greater to come, I really do.

Is Simon and Garfunkel a clichéd comparison I ponder? Their sound maybe slightly lost in time but Larkin’s vocal harmonies match, and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before they draft a song with the power of The Boxer. Then boom, a contemporary Paul and Art.

For now, Falling is an excellent track in line with anything record companies are aiming to chart with; powerful, evocative and catchy.

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Talking of catchy, you can catchy them at The Owl in Bromham on Saturday; see what I did there? I know right. At the Barge in Bradford on Avon on Sunday, and at the Moonrakers in Devizes on October 20th. Oh and hey, I’m delighted to say the Larkin boys will be playing our little birthday bash on November the 10th, nearly forgot to plug my own do then!

Pre-order the single Falling on iTunes here, or else check in with the boys on Facebook!

Oh yep, watch this space; I’ll edit this post with the video to the single as soon as it comes in!

 

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Wiltshire Boy Takes Protest to Mass

 

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Took the protest to another town today for Devizes traffic, gave a speech in a cathedral to the people about traffic lights, then rested like a boss….

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Like the Wiltshire Boy Facebook Page Now(ish.)

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Welcome The Adventures of The Wiltshire Boy

Okay, I’ve enlisted very serious reporter, The Wiltshire Boy, to Devizine; hopefully for a column as regular as dog poo bags tied to trees on the Green. He’s out there in the field (in more way than one) tackling, literally, the real issues affecting Devizes. So please give a right good proper job welcome to him, and please spare a “like” for his Facebook page (here.)

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So I decide to take action about the traffic lights in Devizes by holding a one man peaceful protest stood in a drain with a Bollard on my head all night, only to find out the traffic lights have gone, damn it.

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The Taste of Wiltshire

 

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Take my word for it when I say I know a tasty lookin’ burger when I see one, and this is a tasty looking burger. The photo has been sent to me by the Farm Cookery School in Bromham; just the photo mind, right before lunchtime too; what are they trying to do me?!

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Trying to nudge me to plug their food and drink festival, TASTE WILTSHIRE 2018 no doubt; does look good though and free too! On Sunday 9th September, from 10am – 4pm, The Farm Cookery School, Bromham, will be joined by a wide variety of fabulous Wiltshire food and drink producers, showcasing their finest wares.

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You could be looking forward to an array of food to see and taste as well as a selection of wine, beer and spirits. Also, cookery demonstrations from local chefs and caterers, including one from well-known food writer and chef, Lisa Markwell, Food Editor of the Sunday Times (see, that’s the kind of job I need Lisa!)

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For children there’ll be an interactive learning room, to challenge their imaginations whilst experiencing and tasting new things. You’ll never need to ram fishfingers and smiley faces in the oven again after that.

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Taste Wiltshire sounds great, a stunning location just outside Devizes with lots of easy parking, and it’s totally FREE; yay! They firmly state not to bring a picnic, “No need, as there will be food GALORE!” Darren Likes This!

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For more details, Taste Wiltshire Website

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1st Birthday Bash for Devizine; got a few mates coming over if you’re up for it?

I sat with my kindle, reading back my half-finished book about this time last year. A finale to my sci-fi comedy White Space Van Man. I shook my head, being I’d been preoccupied and sporadically writing it with gaps of a week or so at a time, the continuity was wonky and the personalities of its characters had altered. I knew it needed an overhaul but to be honest my heart wasn’t in it.

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Got to get a plug in wherever I can these days!

I was spending a lot of time at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney, or driving to-and-fro to work early next morning. My Dad was there, after stem cell treatment for myeloma he’d suffered a serious stroke, leaving him completely paralysed and unable to talk. Feeding a yoghurt like a baby to your once very logical and loving father kind of puts your mind off writing comedy.

My column, No Surprises Living in Devizes was equally coming undone. There’s only so much negative satirical shit one can write about Devizes; the conclusion is it’s actually a wonderful place.

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It had labelled me as a whinger, “Mr No Fun,” a young lady named me when commenting on a post. Many failed to see I was playing a character, a kind of reverse Alf Garnett, that is what satire and supposed to be taken with a pinch of salt. I’m a nice guy really, no, really.

The direction of it had changed too, when I went at it hammer and tongs, hits went through the roof, but in polling the direction people wanted it to go, most replied “why can’t you be nice for a change?” Course, they were right. I’d learned now that life is too short to be moaning.

So, despite positive thinking not being the ethos of the column, I found myself reviewing local musicians, authors and theatrical productions, stuff like that. Darren likes this, even if you didn’t!

At the time I noticed posts on one of the zillions of local Facebook groups complaining there was no central online resource for what’s on in Devizes. Now not being one to sit watching tele, and unable to concentrate on writing a book, I figured I’d do just that. And here we are with Devizine – ta-rah!

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Start as you mean to go on; for the original header I nicked a photo off of Gail Foster!

It’s grown into so much more than I originally intended, and now, just a year on…. Well, it’s alright innit? Worthy of a little birthday bash don’t you think?

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In order to do this, I’ve enlisted Dean Czerwionka of Dead Kool Promotions and The Devizes Family Club. He’s done all the hard bits and I’ve watched him; fair though eh? So please join us, and a few of my friends who might just be persuaded to give us a song or two; George Wilding, Phil Cooper, Tamsin Quin, the Larkin boys Sam and Finlay, Lottie Jenkins, Dirt Road Diary, and the Day Breakers.

 

I know right, mega-fantastic line-up!

To be honest, I asked so many others, and due to timing, sadly I had to let them down, I have to thank everyone who offered to play, it literally became a festival line-up. I cannot run before I can walk, and should this be successful then I’m up for doing it all again, with cake.

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Now I know tickets for a birthday party is asking a bit much, but at just a tenner a piece you’ll get only the very best of our live local music scene, some of the wonderful people I’ve been bashing on about on Devizine. So, I look forward to meeting you all on November 10th, and please note we’re not taking your cash, stuffing it in our ears and singing na-na na-na-na; all proceeds, including artists fees are being donated to Devizes Cancer Research. In the light of how this story started, and in memory of my dear ol’ pops, I think you’ll agree it’s apt.

Thank you all for your continued support with Devizine, it really has been a blast; a blast which has until now mostly been myself practising my one finger typing; now though, it’s gonna be a fantablous evening which wouldn’t be the same if you weren’t there!

Tickets Here

Facebook Event Page Here

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Roller-Disco at Melksham Brings Back Memories for Me; Not Such Fond Ones!

I’ll confess, a shiver ran through my spine when I saw a tweet from the Melksham Assembly Hall in association with Melksham Town FC. Like a jagged splinter from deep within my memories rising to pierce my brain…… but I’d wager for others the return of roller disco would appeal!

 
On Friday 31st August the Assembly Hall will transform into a roller disco; three sessions, 2:30 – 4:30PM and 5 -7PM are open to everyone, but 7:30-9:30PM is adults only (18+.) £4 entry if you’ve got your own wheels, but skates can be provided for a £6:50 all-in.

 
Not for yours truly, I like to keep my feet on the ground thank you. It was considered a “treat,” a “treat” they had the audacity to call it; the last PE lesson before Christmas holidays at my school was the welcomed roller disco…welcomed by my peers; I feared it like a nightshift in Hades, or Haydens, whichever is worst.

 
Pretend for a moment kids didn’t have wheelies, you know the ones in their soles which you have no idea are there, until they majestically glide across the function room to grab the last chicken nugget before you can lay your greedy mits on it?

 
Back in the 1980s us kids had nought like that, closest invention; roller boots. As the name suggests, they were boots with roller wheels and stoppers; ALL the cool kids had them, and wore them with pride at the PE roller disco. Not being one for this activity it was just for my parents not to invest in such new-fangled accessories, but to hand me 1970s death-traps on wheels; solid, weighty metal slabs with squeaky unaligned wheels soldered on, and leather straps you could tie precariously over your school shoes; stoppers were for losers in 1978.

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Super-Cool

You have to understand, it wasn’t about roller-skating, it was a fashion parade, a contest of coolness, and with these items strapped to my shoes I was about as cool as Satan’s vindaloo served in a Venus hot tub. I was the catwalk equivalent of Susan Boyle in a shell suit.

 
Like shopping trolley wheels strapped onto a hippopotamus I hugged the wall, wobbling and praying to Simon Le Bon it’d end soon, as the beautiful ones spun and pirouette their cares away to the sound of the Village People.

 
At the edges of the dance few drips and fatties like me sporadically clung to the wall, or dangerously protruding gym equipment. The further you went into the spiralling interweave of dancing kids the faster it got, until you hit the epicentre; a benchmark of all that was cool, the ultimate level of cool you could obtain. For me, on the outside looking in it was impenetrable, a blurred place I’d never go, held no desire to go, thus, alas, would never attain that level of cool.

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Definitely Not Me

Until a girl with pigtails, dippy-boppers and legwarmers thick enough to wrap an elephant’s thigh snug, zipped up to me and took my hand. I pleaded for her to stop, her experience on wheels knew no bounds, but in a Hunchback/Esmerelda scenario, I believe she had a tinsy crush on me, and was determined to indoctrinate me to the central zone’s cool gang, regardless of my total petrified state, and the skating ability of a Dodo sitting it’s Harvard entry exam.

 
But momentarily my fear ceased, with her delicate hand in my sausage fingers it seemed anything was possible, as she guided my unstable frame closer. We picked up speed at an alarming rate, but as I felt the warmth of her hand, and noted the strips of varnish crossing her half-chewed fingernails, an overwhelming sensation of control balanced my karma. She smiled at me, everything around us paled by comparison; it was just her and I, sashaying through dreamland in rapture, and as the disco ball above reflected in the metal strap of her dental brace, she sparkled, then let go of my hand.

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Now central in the sports hall and unaided, travelling at speeds inadvisable for a chubby preteen on metal slabs with shopping trolley wheels, I failed to negotiate, even attempt to negotiate the bend in which everyone else glided through with ease. Fear returned and direction was left to fate.

 
Fate saw it that I should stay in a straight line, knocking smaller children aside and flattening the smallest of them. That is, until something solid would break the momentum. It was the wall of the sports hall which broke the accelerated display, my nose and my pride. It was also the last time I got to hold my sweetheart’s hand; probably for the best, she was preggers by 15.

 
So, yeah not for me I’m afraid, but the return of roller discos are a thing now; don’t mind me, you go on and have fun!

Melksham Assembly Hall

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The Fortnight of Festivities in Devizes, and other things…..

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about staging events since starting Devizine it’s that there’s more arranging than meets the eye. A lot of people wishing to put on small gigs and parties fall into this trap, you need to fill out a book the size of Lord of the Rings just to allow three mice to sing in a shoebox. It’s around this time of year we should bear this in mind, and tip our hats to all the organisers of DOCA, who labour endlessly to present us with an awesome fortnight of festival fun, most of it for free.

 
So, here’s what we know at Devizine Towers, some stuff we don’t, and some stuff completely unrelated. Firstly, there’s a printed full programme of events available for a mere two quid, find one and buy it. There’s so much I could say, but I’ve been asked to direct you to the programme, which is a fair shout as the money goes to supporting DOCA, and thankfully saves me some typing too! I type a lot these days, mostly with one finger.

 
DOCA kicks off on Sunday with Party in the Park, as usual in Hillworth Park. From midday until 5:30 there will be Real Ales at the CAMRA bar, bouncy slides and entertainment, and free craft workshops. This year DOCA invite all ages to join in working towards World War I installations, making paper cranes and poppies. The craft tent also will be making bees and butterflies, to bring with you to the carnival procession. All materials are provided, and completely free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

 
Live music comes from King Sized Slim, who replaces Ben & Sy in the printed programme. Fat roots boogie, and heavyweight acoustics, Toby Barelli has a reputation as a powerful performer. His punchy phrasing a rhythmical delivery, convert his vocals into an additional percussion instrument. There are elements of reggae, rap, American Indian and African beats and soul.

 
Acoustic duo Kelly Pullen and Alana Turnbull, known as KO, produce top quality hypnotic folk pop with masterful harmonies. It is said that each performance is full of smiles, stories and great songs, their soaring harmonies will make your hairs stand up, and their melodies will bring a lump to your throat.

 
Double nominees in the British Blues Awards, close-harmony, semi-acoustic piano-led wonder, Mumbo-Jumbo; three top Midlands singer/songwriters who produce an ‘Eclectic Acoustic’ sound that is all their own.

 
And lastly, but by no means leastly, Bristol’s brilliantly named Peanut Shuffle Club, eccentric sweet early jazz, designed for dancing. Led by the female vocals of Elly Hopkins and spirited gypsy guitar of Jay Singh, Peanut Shuffle Club breathe their own exuberant energy into hits from the 30s and 40s.

 
The park hosts a cafe serving snacks and hot drinks and has fully accessible toilet facilities, so bring a picnic, relax with great music, chilled-out family entertainment and welcome the start of the festival fortnight in style.

 
Here, read our preview article from back way back in April, it’ll inform you and lighten my load: but needless to say, you can rest Monday, but Tuesday it’s the ticket-only event, PanGottic presents ‘Long Shot,’ at the Corn Exchange.

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Wednesday (22nd) is the Skittles Night at the Wyvern Club, and the Quiz Night at Southbroom School. Friday on the Green, a raw, anarchic and highly skilled My!Laika bring Popcorn Machine, and it’ll be showing through the festival, up until 27th August.

 
The blurb goes something along these lines; “In a post-apocalyptic universe, My!Laika unites four international artists who share an absurd and often Dadaistic sense of humour. The winners of the JTCE prize 2010 leave the realm of pure circus and venture into performance and music, creating a turbulent collage that has little in common with the current cliché which is circus. Their skills create bizarre theatrical situations and provoke a chaos of feelings; making audiences laugh when they should really cry and cry when they expect to laugh.”

 
The tag’s £12 for this, but have no fear, I know it all sounds a tad bizarre, but yours truly will be at the opening night, probably have to rub shoulders with real journalists, which isn’t as much fun as you may think, and I’ll have a full report on it for you to deicide first thing Saturday morning…ish…ly… or, at some point, promise. Friday though, if you’re not attending this; Wilton Sleeper are live at The Southgate Inn, free, and the Three Crowns has a Beer & Cider Festival.

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DOCA rest Saturday 25th, but that’s no excuse for you: the afternoon sees Drew Bryant live in Vinyl Realm, and the evening grab a ticket fast for the Devizes Scooter Club have All That Soul at the Cons Club. If that’s not your thing, escape the town and get down to Larkin at The Owl, Bromham.

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Now, let’s move onto Sunday the 26th, bank holiday, you know the score, you’ve done it before…. I’ll bet; it’s the Street Festival, on the Green and it continues at The Market Place on the Monday; consult the programme please, don’t let me get in trouble for telling you anymore! I will say I’m looking forward to some Balkan ska, or have I said too much already?

 
Don’t forget to look out for Dik and Adam, the Clowns of Coulrophobia, who have their own 75-minute show on the Tuesday at the Wharf, with slapstick, mime, puppetry, a LOT of cardboard and “disappointing” nudity.

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We should also make you aware, there’s many a side stall and things occurring around the town, as well as the Market Place, I understand a cosier, local acoustic gathering will be happening at Vinyl Ream. That the Stealth Brew stand will be in full operation, and that’s about all I’ve got on this front to date, but DOCA do have a ticketed after party for the street festival, details on the site.

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Other things are plentiful in town during the week, on Wednesday 29th the ongoing Summer Holiday Activities at Wiltshire Museum, where the theme is Pirates and the Sea. The Vaults has a Tapas Night, and never forget every Wednesday is Acoustic Jam Night at The Southgate, Devizes. Though, it is Confetti Battle and Colour Rush, if you like that sort of thing!

 
Also, completely unassociated with DOCA, Thursday 30th is the Mayor’s a Baby Show…… sorry, typo; The Mayor’s Baby Show (let’s see how many are still reading this!) Town Hall, 10am – 12:30. And it’s Open Mic down the Cellar Bar.

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Friday (30th,) as if you’ve not had enough already, there’s Music on the Canal down at the Wharf, a DOCA event in association with the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust; from 6:30- 10 there’s live music and a bar, stalls and food.

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That’s it, end of August! 1st September is a Saturday, and it’s Carnival! Which you could polish off with RedRoss At the Southgate Inn, or celebrate the opening of the Devizes Family Club at our Conservative Club with The George Formby Experience and Jayne Darling. Will it ever end you cry? Are you sorry you commented on social media or moaned to the man at the till in Icelands that “nothing ever happens in Devizes?”

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Sunday 2nd September and DOCA’s fine fortnight of shows may come to an end; but the Devizes Town Band will play the Children’s Proms the Park at Hillworth!

 
For a small town like Devizes, I think this proves we are well and truly, still alive and kicking!

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Feed me Seymour! Quick Peek at The Wharf Theatre’s Forthcoming Performances.

A cross between Day of the Triffids and The Sound of Music, if that’s conceivable, the musical of the 1960 black comedy movie, Little Shop of Horrors twisted my aversion of musicals in 1986, when I saw the Frank Oz’s film adaption with Rick Moranis as Seymour, and Steve Martin as the psychotic dentist Orin; there’s always an exception to the rule. With doo-wop rock ‘n’ roll panache, and surreal comedy, it was my epiphany that musicals didn’t have to be all My Fair Lady and Oklahoma!

 

Glad to see it front page of Devizes treasure, The Wharf Theatre’s programme of events for the Autumn and Winter; so let’s preview it and see what other interesting performances they’ve got in store for us shall we? Why? Because if it’s good enough for Biggins, it’s good enough for me!

 

The Little Shop of Horrors has been through Broadway and West End since 1982 and won several awards. When a mild-mannered florist stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey,” after his fantasy relationship with a co-worker, the Venus flytrap fashioned flower tempts the florist into bringing him human blood and grows to colossal proportions with world domination in mind. It’s fantastical fairy-tale fun with a dash of Monty Python humour and brilliant retrospective soul and rock n roll songs. Directed by Emily Holmes with musical direction from Naomi Ibbetson, it runs at the Wharf from Friday 26th October until Saturday 3rd November, tickets £12, £10 for concessions, and has to be something more than worthwhile while the autumn evenings draw in.

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Musically there’s three other treats on offer at The Wharf, 7th September sees The Johnny Cash Story following a successful run at The Edinburgh Fringe. Those who’ve seen “Walk the Line,” or is a fan of Cash will know his biography is astounding, and it’d great to see acclaimed performer Jamie Rodden’s rendition of him and his songs.

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Similarly, Canadian folk-pop innovator Joni Mitchel gets a Story, showing on 6th October, it’s another Edinburgh Fringe sell-out. Why even bother going all the way to Scotland if the Wharf is going to bring us their hit shows?! I’d be going in blind here though, for as much as I love her timeless songs, I know nothing about her life, only that she stayed on the edge of the sixties beatnik scene, despite writing the eras anthems, Big Yellow Taxi and Both Sides Now.

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With eccentric humour, crazy costumes and high-energy world roots music, The London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra takes the matinee of 16th November and proves to be a riot of clownery and wacky Kenny Everett styled madness.

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Plays this season are Alan Ayckbourn’s eerie thriller, Snake in the Grass; a twisting tale of murder, and blackmail, with a healthy dose of Ayckbourn’s black comedy. It runs from 24th-29th September. And Neil Simon’s anti rom-com Chapter Two, running from 29th January to 2nd Feb 2019. Directed by Lewis Cowan it promises to be of “sparkling dialogue softening the edge of what it is at heart, a serious examination of what it means to lose ones partner through either death or divorce.”

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More customary, Shakespeare Live appears at the Wharf on October 4th, with This Rough Magic. Director Gill Morrell and cast take Prospero through a selection of Shakespeare plays and poems.

Hold on though, I know what you’re thinking; you’ve missed a month, the big C! How about Kidnap in Pantoland as an alternative to a standard pantomime this year, sounds intriguing? Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Running the 7th to 15th December, this is a who-done-it pantomime as detectives are called in to investigate the mysterious case of the kidnap of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and no pantomime or fairy-tale character is exempt from suspicion.

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All-in-all a grand program of events to see us into 2019 by my reckoning, but, but “Feed me Seymour!” –say no more, it’s not a movie I’ve seen for many moons, but just the thought of that scene of the bad-boy, Elvis styled dentist bursting into his waiting room with a rancorous rock n roll number, and viscously twisting the head off a dolly held by a scared little girl just tickles my funny-bone  every time; is this normal? Little Shop of Horrors is a must!

 

More details and to grab your tickets: Click Here!

 

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Say the Magic Word, to Raj Bhanot

So, I’m at Café Nero in the Brittox of Devizes when the young lad I’m sitting with presses my shoulder as if there was a button on it, and two red balls dispense from my upper arm; this isn’t going to be an ordinary afternoon tea.

 
I’m chatting to Raj Bhanot, aka the Magic Word Magician. The best part of writing Devizine is encountering local talented people, usually they’re musicians, so for a change I was keen to meet this aspiring street magician.

 

We spoke of TV magicians from my youth, the obvious Paul Daniels, of whom Raj acclaimed as “absolute legend.” Comparing Paul to the American showman David Copperfield, the variance being while Daniels had the gab, the witticisms and charisma, you never joked with Copperfield; it was serious magic, if not a little outdated nowadays.

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“Dynamo must be an easy comparison to make with you,” I asked Raj, “where do you differ?” Maybe all those Paul Daniels magic tricks you could buy in the eighties did paid off, I guessed his answer, or perhaps it’s simple to see the difference between them upon watching his promotional videos.

 
While Dynamo adopts David Blaine’s style of extending Copperfield’s sombre and mysterious bravura, Raj is keen to add humour and charisma to street magic, more akin to Daniels. This makes this captivating young magician far more bookable for corporate events, weddings and other functions, which is where Raj obtains most of his work. “I wouldn’t book Dynamo,” I told him, for whether it’s clever editing, or just his persona, it’s kind of weird how he just wanders away like that, whereas you’d immediately welcome Raj at your function.

 
Blogging on his website, Raj makes convincing argument why a “close-up magician,” makes a great addition for a corporate event; “team retreats are all about building trust. That conviction takes work to build up, but once it’s in place it becomes an invaluable asset to your company. Bringing in a skilled close-up magician for corporate retreats reinforces that trust exercise. When faced with some dizzying sleight of hand, every non-magician is on equal footing—unlike the boardroom where the boss is the boss. In other words, having the opportunity to watch your manager get bamboozled outside a business setting is perfect for breaking down status barriers.”

I think weddings speak for themselves, my hour spent with Raj was absolutely entertaining, his magic sublimely executed with gusto and fun.

 

The couple of foam balls are now on the table, he instructs me to pick one and squeeze it my hand. He copies me with the other ball, but upon opening his hand the ball has disappeared and when I open mine, I’ve both the balls; then we have a little joke about checking my balls, cheeky so-and-so, I know I’m getting no younger!

 
“Is it all sleight of hand?” I ask him, and he explains it is mostly; there’s a finite amount of systems which can be applied to many tricks, but that’s all his revealing.

 

“Does it get annoying when people ask the cliché question?” I inquire. He nodded, “if people ask me how it’s done, I tell them ‘easily!” He enlightened how he will repeat the trick and slow it down, but still confuse the person.

Enthusiastic about street magic, Raj would consider, and has done shows, often using a large screen to show the close-up nature of his tricks. He proudly told me of his first experiences of performing, at the talent show at Devizes School, and we moved onto how his father and grandad would play-off card tricks with each other, and a fascinated young Raj picked up the knack and wished to make a professional career from it.

 
Indeed, it has, at a young age he’s being booked through several agents and the website is gaining attention from London to Bristol, even trekking North to cities like Hull. “I don’t get so much work locally though,” he stated, perhaps Devizes could wake up to the talented youngsters we have here, and we passed mention of mutual friend, the juggling unicyclist Arthur Plumb, as a for instance.

 
In fact, the punters of Café Nero were surprised when the approachable magician sauntered up to them with a pack of cards in hand. The whole coffee shop applauded this random performance, the like normally refined to city pubs, and a young lad bravely approached our table to ask if he could see a trick, Raj only too happy to oblige.

 

After the interview I popped to Icelands to pick up some tucker for tonight, where the lady in front of me groaned, “nothing ever happens in Devizes,” and the man on the till agreed. Hold on a cotton-picking minute I thought, I’ve just be bedazzled by some quality magic a few doors down; we really need to show youths like Raj, Arthur and all the brilliant musicians I meet our esteem and acknowledgment.

 
For at just a year ago, Raj passed the ultimate magician’s exam, and performing before the crème-de-la-crème of illusionists, he’s now proudly a member of the Magic Circle. So, although Raj couldn’t magic a chocolate brownie from the counter to our table, I was mightily impressed and honoured to meet him!

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Click like magic for Raj’s Website!

 

Please, check out the dodgy videos we made, or better try the more professional shoot I’ve posted, like his Facebook page, check out his website and, well, you’d be crazy not to book him for your event or function.

 

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To The Bitter End and beyond, with Jamie R Hawkins

Images used with permission of Nick Padmore Photography

A local singer/songwriter posts a video laying on his bed with his knees up, cradling his baby daughter as he sings a ditty, “welcome to the family.” It’s an abundance of heart-warming sentiments alone, a blissful moment of parental pride enough, as she watches him and listens intently, without the ending, where she holds out her arm to mimic her Dad strumming on the ukulele.

 
The singer is Jamie R Hawkins, whose song “as Big as You,” touched me personally. Yanking on my heartstrings it recalls a memory which covets the childhood desire to be as momentous and “big” as one’s father, and ponders if the steps needed by adulthood to attain that goal are reachable. It bought a tear to my eye, having lost my Dad last October, I had to stop to collect myself.

 

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Because while his customary acoustic folk-rock is filled with kitchen-sink and commonplace themes, through observations and ruminations of personal experience, Jamie’s adroit writing hoists him above his peers and has the ability to drive emotional responses of the everyman’s problems.

 
There’s nothing so complicated to riddle the mind, there is no political standpoint, but a flow of ingenious social commentary and unambiguous authenticities. Particularly when “Capacity to Change” opens with “Denial,” which rinses the fluffy sentiments and inane metaphors of your average love song, and moves swiftly on to the title track, which coveys a bit like counselling, but brut honesty reproaches with the brilliant Come Undone. It’s here where you really begin to pick at the lyrics, cleverly intertwined observations, palling Robbie Williams’ Angels by comparison.

 

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The two EPs he sent me to review are so overdue, it’s gotten a bit embarrassing. Sorry mate, I’ve only poor excuses, save I’d been meaning to, but every time I listen I find something new in them; that’s Jamie’s music, it grows on you.

 
Prolifically gigging, it’s easy to see Jamie playing in a pub somewhere locally, but in that environment it’s even easier, I feel, to chat, mosey around and not take in the absolute brilliance of his lyrics. This is why I strongly advise, if you buy just one CD of a singer doing the rounds locally, make it a Jamie Hawkins one.

 
So, the aforementioned Capacity to Change was released in 2016, and there’s a latter, “The Bitter End,” recorded the subsequent year. Jamie is very much a DIY man, both recordings are raw and as homemade as your nan’s apple pies, and you recollect how good they tasted? I wanted to ask him if he had a formula for writing, so at Saddleback he explained it’s not as ordered as that, it just flows; the sign of a great writer, not that I would know!

 

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There’s a thing, I’m finding it difficult to govern the words necessary here, to do Jamie’s song writing justice, you just have to listen! The stirring craving of tobacco addiction is defined significantly in “Nicotine,” the unpretentious, darker side resolves of performing artists behind the curtains bolts the door of honesty wide in “The Show of Me,” and “The Bitter End,” conjures the ideal speech for a step-child you know you’d never articulate under the pressure of the moment, but is a glorious sentiment nonetheless.

 
The deeper you dig with both these EPs, but particularly the matured and definite Bitter End, undoubtedly the better of the two, and proof Jamie continues to progress, the more you uncover about the man, about the human condition, and perhaps, yourself.

 

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So while he may knock out a blinding cover in the pub where you see him, take the time to heed the astounding wordsmanship of Jamie R Hawkins, and with the combination of skilled guitar and gruff vocals, know he’s capable of doing what the most accomplished and renowned musicians, from Guthire to Springsteen did, as Paul Simon can, and many other greats that have trod in those shoes, they evoke emotion on a personal level, identify the mood and moment locally, and bring to it a story that fits.

 
I kid you not, Jamie has that skill level, pushing new benchmarks and pride in our local music scene, nip down to Vinyl Realm, or buy these EPs online here.

 

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Beaux Gris Gris in Devizes

Punchy Louisiana blues folk-soul will ensure Devizes doesn’t forget the Saddleback now their awesome festival for 2018 is the stuff of  legend.

 

Presenting what will hopefully be a series of cosier autumn and winter events at the Sports Club, Saddleback Music Presents begins on 15th September by bringing us New Orleans inspired the Beaux Gris Gris (pronounced \ˈbō\ \ˈgrē-(ˌ)grē\  – no, I’m still none the wiser either) & The Apocalypse.

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Newly formed in 2017 by Louisiana-born-and-raised musician, Greta Valenti  of Well Hung Heart, and UK British Blues Hall of Fame inductee, local Robin Davey of The Hoax, DVL, as well as Well Hung Heart, it’s seems it’s an UK-USA extension of this group by adding the Hoax’s drummer Mark Barrett, keyboardist of King King and for Joanne Shaw Taylor, Bob Fridzema, and blended with Irish-American singer-songwriter, Ali Coyle on Bass.

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Beaux Gris Gris and The Apocalypse released a four-track EP, The Appetizer in 2017 and since March there’s a breezy, dirty-swamp blues track, the like of Garbage or Beth Hart, ingeniously titled, “Don’t Let the Bastards Drag you Down,” – man, I’ve been there.

 

So, yeah, Sunday isn’t it, take a Sunday-kinda listen, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s grand of them to add Devizes onto their UK Tour, despite they should’ve known better, having performed down the Cellar Bar last year, and sold out, and for a tenner a ticket, can’t go wrong. Tickets out now from the Sports Club.

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Jack Moore and more, at Vinyl Realm

Nip out to Icelands for some chips, love? Don’t mind if I do, perchance to go via Vinyl Realm and catch an hour and half of Calne’s Compact Pussycat drummer Jack Moore, who acoustically performs in his own right, blinking brilliantly I might add.

 

Now the Lamb’s Fold venue has been highjacked by Pete and Jacki of Devizes’ proud record shop, there was some deliberation if these cosy afternoon sessions in the shop will continue. My tuppence is if they can they should, as if you’re having a quiet Saturday evening in, you can still catch some tunes. Yeah, it’s an age thing.

 

So drizzly rain splattered the window as a handful of punters gathered to witness an unplugged Moore causally strum, chat, knock out some great covers and some of his own compositions.

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A slice of Frank Turner, David Gray’s Sail Away, Pulp’s Disco 2000 and a perfect adaption of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, Jack has a charm and charismatic talent to guarantee entertainment. Best cover I reckon though, Buzzcocks Ever Fallen in Love, memorable for me as opposed to Jack’s Queens of The Stone Age finale of which I had to inquire of, much to Jack’s surprise; I didn’t touch the sides of rock in the 90s mate, the decade was one almighty rave! Young-uns eh?

 

Still, it’s in Jack’s own songs where he really comes alive; a jazzy ballad inspired by the cartoon Finding Nemo, or what could’ve been a novelty tune when Jack explained it was influenced by a trip to Sammy’s Kebabs in Calne, but turned out to be love song; I’m informed they’re good kebabs. But out of his own songs one from his digital album, Inside the Machine, which really shone. Download the album here for just £3.

 

Jack is keen and a talent to watch, be it as a quart of The Compact Pussycat or solo. He’s at ease with his guitar, taps and strums intently, and similar to flamenco, it ends with a jiggle and foot-stamp.

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As to Vinyl Realm, well long may it live to celebrate our local live scene as well as a haven for all things musical. It’s with coincidence that their first night down next door’s Lamb, on 21st September will be supported by The Compact Pussycat, and the wonderful Sally Dobson, aka the Salamander, who I’ve more news to bring you of very soon. The headline to this evening is the experimental ambient rock four-piece band from Devizes, Cracked Machine, who have a digital Ozrics feel about them and their album I, Cosmonaut can be checked out on Bandcamp here. Tickets for this gig are, of course, at Vinyl Realm but at the snip of a fiver are selling like a Pink Floyd reunion.

 
I’ve clicked on this link to hear a quick listen so I can define their style, but the while writing I note I’m still listening to it. Cracked Machine really draws you in, convincing me this’ll be an outstanding night!

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Pete and Jacki are back at the Lamb with subsequent gigs throughout the remaining year, on the 19th October with Steve Cox, Dace Beach and Dan O’Farrell, on 23rd November with Illustrations, Christopher Wynn and Sunset Service, both priced at a fiver too. The 14th with Sound Affects, Will Lawton & Weasel Howelett and Common Confusion maybe raised to a mere £7, but with added mulled wine and minced pies! Get away, I don’t wanna even be thinking about the giant C word yet!

 

Now, I really must get off to buy those chips, curly fries or wedges, what’d you reckon?

 

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Kirsty and The Moonrakers

It’s been quieter than Bjork in a tyre shop on Devizine this week. Apologises, I’ve had the rarity of relatives visiting. To show them how we do it Devizes style, I placed the Moonrakers Bar & Grill on a pedestal and booked a family meal. Two reasons; one, I believe it’s a cut above at a fair price, and two, I’ve been keen to catch a certain young lady sing.

An estimated year or so has passed since we’ve eaten at the aesthetically-pleasing Wadworth flagship, I recall delightful fish platters on boards, and quality stacked burgers worthy of the fair steal. The menu now seemed more standardised though, geared to emblematic “pub grub.” Still the prices reflected this, I’ve no gripe.

We were shown a table, least pointed out a table; it was averagely busy but hardly bursting from the rafters. Still, just a hassle to staff we seemed to be, while we slogged the lengthy wait for tucker without compliant. I’m content with a wait, but young offspring tired and tummies rumbled.

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Great Food, Click to book!

A game of “tag” had to suffice, on a lawn large enough for a swing, climbing frame or something, anything, to keep little ones amused. If you welcome families, a super kid’s menu is only part; a facility to prevent boredom is but a small bonus to ask. Failing this, an activity pack wouldn’t go amiss; you know, a booklet of colouring-in, word search and accompanying set of pencils, something to amuse little minds…like mine!

Staff eventually made it to the table to regretfully inform us of a lack of burgers, some twenty minutes after ordering. Compromised with chicken and bacon burgers, only for it then to become apparent there was no bacon either. So, a promised bacon burger turned into a dry chicken breast in an untoasted bun.

I pondered if there’s ever a need to be burger-less with a couple of butchers in town; any gripes I hold with the alternative through previous employment aside, I know for a fact one phone call would’ve rectified it and the finest burgers this side of Barnard Star would’ve been dispatched in minutes, had they have checked stock.

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Moonraker; if it’s good enough for Roger Moore it’s good enough for me.

Didn’t bother me, I ordered scampi, which although wasn’t filling for me, Gluttonous Maximus, would’ve been apt for people not crowned Roman Emperor of overeating. The macaroni cheese dish was also welcomed. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, nothing really dazzled though, which is what I wished for as I explained the amusing fable of the pub’s folklore namesake to my sister-in-law. I wanted Devizes to wow so I picked the Moonrakers, but it was only just teetering above adequate, tasty, but visually standard and wobbled the pedestal slightly. The chef was welcoming and apologetic for the wait, but overall, for the remaining staff it felt as if the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing at times.

My daughter, conditioned by Harvester, suggested a free salad bowl to pass her time! There’s me pondering it’d be a challenge for this place should a chain like this move in. But things turned around afterwards; salad bah, one thing you’ll never get in a Harvester is the mahoosive consolidation of fine local music, this time around in a tiny dose; the gorgeous Kirsty Clinch.

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Kirsty breezed through covers and own compositions with the professionalism of a musician four times her senior, with the only help from a desk fan, which she used to cool herself and play a game of “everybody, check my striking red tresses blustering in the tender zephyr,” while I was preoccupied with the superlative course of the meal, pudding.

Oh Kirsty, she oozes with confidence, loves her performances, but it’s okay, because we love them too. It was a pleasure to clasp a quick tête-à-tête with her afterwards, about a forthcoming DIY album we really need to keep both eyes on. Adding live local music to your meal is the icing on this delicious cake; Kirsty steadied the pedestal, confirmation the Moonrakers is fantastic, and should these trivial nigglies be ironed, I’m positive The Moonrakers could be the super-amazingly fantastic I sooo wanted it to be.

This Saturday it’s the turn of the Hybrid Hero; a one-man acoustic army of popular rock and pop covers from across the eras, who may resemble Mike Barham, or may not, depending on what angle you view him from, I suspect mostly a worm’s-eye view. I’d eat my chips before he arrives.

 

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Take Me Away From Country Roads: Dead Kool Seeks New, Family Ground

You have to tip your Stetson to Dean Czerwionka of Dead Kool Promotions, which usually concentrates on promoting county music, for the launch of a sister event organisation he’s named “Devizes Family Club.” It does what it says on the tin.

 
Whist in the past Dean sought variety within the Country Music genre, the new year will see a surfeit of tribute acts from many pop genres and eras. To be hosted at the Conservative Club, tickets are being sold a year in advance; “people are going crazy for the new family club,” Dean delightfully exclaimed.

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My suspicions arose when Dean introduced a Sixties Tribute show to the Cons Club a few months ago, then he was banging on about a George Formby one too, justifying it to me as a “homecoming.” Layering me with fascinating trivia, the like of at seven years old Formby came to Bishops Cannings, as a stable boy and apprentice jockey. There you go, bet you didn’t know that? Mind, he probably didn’t stay long I jested; not much eye-candy to be spotted through cleaning windows in Bishops Cannings!

 

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It was next year’s booking of Pink tribute Zoe Alexander which shocked me to hassle him. “You diversifying?” I probed.

 
“I am diversifying Darren,” Dean explained, “but Country is my roots. I want to bring more genres for the families at affordable prices.” Tickets for the majority of events will be capped at a fiver for adults, with bigger bands between £10-12, but under 16’s  will always be free, which is indeed value, being a handful are aimed to appeal to youngsters, such as Little Mix and Katy Perry tributes as well as the aforementioned Pink. He added, “my daughters wanted PINK!”

 
Really though, there’s no need for Dean to roll excuses at me, it’s a great idea to have a wider range of events at the club and introduce it to the next generation. Then I spoiled it all by kidding, “your daughters will sell more tickets than you!” He didn’t respond to that one.

 
So, with Formby launching off the series of events on the first of September, The Spirit of Cher ends that month. Dean couldn’t resist though, a quick snatch back to country with a Garth Brooks tribute on 9th December.

 

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Then it’s full steam ahead for the next year with Meatloaf, Carpenters, Elvis tributes, and even a Rocky Horror act, to name but a few.

 
Recently added to the list has to be my Thin-Lizzy-obsessed supervisors doing; Black Rose are due to appear on 6th September 2019. Now, if there’s anything worth knowing about Thin Lizzy, and a zillion things you didn’t need to know about Thin Lizzy, my supervisor will tell you, if you wanted to know them or not! Even if you start a conversation contemplating, “he could never find a link to waffle on about Phil Lynott with this subject,” he will, in seconds, find an avenue.

 

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With that in mind, if anyone knows the best tribute act to Thin Lizzy, he will. This reassures me this flood of tribute acts will be of sound quality; touchy subject with tributes, and Dean is supplying something for everyone.

 
Grand of Dean also, to take on other’s suggestions; let’s see if he succumbs to my Five Star pitch! Not that I know of any Five Star tribute acts, must be one…. surely? Tell me there is?! (Younger people please take caution if Googling Five Star and wear appropriate ear defenders.)

 
Seriously though, Devizine wishes all the best of luck to Devizes Family Club, not forgetting The Dead Kool Promotions will continue to bring country music to Devizes and Calne too. Dean assures me, it’ll be, “like the good old days, I had growing up going to the working men’s clubs with my parents.” Though cannot confirm if that’s a real memory or one infused from Peter Kay.

 

 

For event details and more info, Here.

For Devizes Family Club Facebook page, Here.

 

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Devizes Needs a Good Laugh: Welcomed Return of Moonrakers Comedy Club

True though innit, we might welcome that bloke down the pub who’s always got an amusing story to tell, but when it comes to comedy with a more professional angle, and no doubt equally as smutty, please welcome the return of the Moonrakers Comedy Club down at the Cellar Bar of The Bear Hotel; Thursday the 6th September just got a whole lot funnier.

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Ed Pownal is the MC, and presents a brilliant night of comedy. The opener is St Thomas, an actor, presenter, stand-up comedian, writer, filmmaker (well, low-budget online videos), occasional TV audience warm-up, and deceptively competent table-tennis player.

 
Although I’m not sure how much table tennis you’ll get for your dollar, Sy’s wide-ranging acting skills have featured in a wealth of roles on television and online; including CBBC’s 13-part sci-fi sitcom ‘The Revolting World of Stanley Brown’; BBC1’s ‘Richard Hammond’s Secret Service’: Channel 4’s ‘8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown’; and online in ‘Summer Hoff Love’ alongside David Hasselhoff. Jump in our car Sy.

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Sy Thomas

Sy warmed-up studio audiences for two series of ‘Dara O’Briain’s Go 8 Bit’ for Dave, as well as having done similar for Blue Peter, Disney, and Cartoon Network. If he wears his Blue Peter badge is unconfirmed.

 
Next on the cobblestone stage is Richard Lindesay with a quirky mix of sharp one-liners, visual gags, and facial dexterity. Richard has entertained comedy clubs throughout Australia and UK, and more recently in his home country of New Zealand.

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Richard Lindesay

He’s ranked well in comedy competitions including getting to the finals of “Quest for the Best” in Sydney, and “Leicester Square New Comedian” in the UK. Richard performed his show “Nerds, Words, and a Clipboard” at the Sydney Fringe Festival 2013, and was part of Clean as Possible Comedy in Edinburgh Fringe 2014.

 
And announcing the headliner as Scottish Comedian of the Year, Leo Kearse. Leo is part of the new wave of raw, bold, American-inspired comedians taking the big UK clubs by storm; doing weekends for The Comedy Store, Just The Tonic, Bound and Gagged, Top Secret, Backyard Club – and abroad, with 2018 taking in Adelaide, Melbourne, Ibiza, Turkey, Holland, Cyprus, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Belarus and Denmark, and now…. Yeah, Devizes! He’s written for BBC comedy including the Breaking The News and Sam Delaney’s News Thing.

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Leo Kearse

“He churns out the gags, provoking a steady stream of laughs in his tight set, which strides purposefully between topics with muscular, efficient lines on each. Kearse was both an audience and judges’ favourite, and the deserved winner” – Steve Bennett, Chortle.

 
Snatch tickets for a tenner each, from: The Bear Hotel, Devizes Books, The British Lion, The Southgate Inn, The Vaults. and on-line at “We Got Tickets.” Also limited availability on the door on the night, if you want to take that chance then, well, you might be having to have your own laugh. Info on Facebook HERE

 

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