Back by Popular Demand, The Wiltshire Boy Continues Solo Campaign

“By popular demand I was asked to switch on the London road traffic lights,” announced our intrepid hero, The Wiltshire Boy. Part in the huge response to his one-man campaign against the roadwork lights there, seems dredging up old news and opening  healing wounds will not stop him on his earnest crusade, neither will the minor oversight that the traffic lights are not due to be switched on yet.

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“I must be in the wrong month, I reckon, as no one showed up; but it was still a special occasion!” he gladfully explained, “I will try again next month!”

“What about the traffic lights to the roadworks, were they on?” I felt it vital to ask, as some lights, any lights there would least gain this video some clout, and they certainly seem to grab social media attention; can’t begin to imagine why.

“I didn’t really look mate, the new ones were all covered up,” The Wiltshire Boy responded, “I just tried to find traffic lights I could look sexy next to….”

Though it may/may not have worked, and sound effects may/may not have been added, The Wiltshire Boy nearly lost the faith of his work companions, and their friendship hangs in the balance over an idol promise of cake.

Poldark

Oi, you going to “like” the Wiltshire Boy Facebook page, or what? Poldark does.

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Welsh Soul Band gave Scooter Club some Lovin’

A risky situation arose as James took to the stage at the Devizes Conservative Club last night, one slight jump from Welsh soul band, Gimme Some Lovin’s huge lead singer and he would’ve smashed his head on the ceiling. You couldn’t have slipped a sheet of paper between them. “We can’t wait to blow the roof off Devizes Scooter Club!” they wrote on their Facebook page prior to the gig, might’ve been for the best if they took it literally!

 
Pleased to say such incident didn’t occur, and the band’s presence was felt, large as their frontman, they blasted an excellent evening of classic soul covers at us, and metaphorically yeah, the roof blew off.

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Another quality and successful night for the Devizes Scooter Club then. Their singers swapping lead gave the show great range. James has the robust soulful vocals to carry off an awesome rendition of Little Help from my Friends, Joe Cocker style, and even make a grand job of Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness, a challenge for the most accomplished vocalist. Two female singers, Jo StClaire and Eve Taylor, gave Gimme Some Lovin’ another couple of perfect dimensions, chatting outside to a friendly Jo, she informed me she’d only been with the band a month; a most welcomed addition with an awesome voice.

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The group were just as enthusiastic to be in our town as we were for them to be here, and they channelled that fervour into their show. Highlights for me had to be the introduction to the second half when the brass section and bass player impressively carried off Peter Gunn, and the remaining band returned to slide into Knock on Wood, and Mustang Sally followed this. I do not recall, however, hearing Gimme Some Lovin’ by the Spencer Davis group, after our preview spurted on about their namesake tune; not to worry, I was probably busy….at the bar.

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I have to say, unsure what the warm-up DJ was thinking, treating the place like a children’s birthday party in 1987, sure he played a sprinkling of archetypical but standard two-tone hits such as Bad Manners, but bouncing behind the decks waving his hands in the air like he was Fatboy Slim on a bank holiday Brighton beach whilst Tiffany and a plethora of corny eighties pop trash spun from his speakers, I had to shiver; was this a Halloween joke? Certainly, quite horrific, I sucked my lip and prayed for a good main act, and Gimme Some Lovin’ certainly provided that, a massive well done and thanks to them.

 
Trilbies off one again to The Devizes Scooter Club for a lively, welcoming and brilliant night of live soul music, something which despite its popularity here at the club, Devizes seems to lack elsewhere.

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Little Shopping at the Wharf Theatre

All images used with kind permission of Matthew Hennessy

 

Back to the Future has to be on my top ten list of greatest films of all time, and I bet you’re all dying for me to explain my reasoning, aren’t cha? No, what’d you mean, no? Going to tell you anyway….

In an era when sci-fi meant spaceships flying around shooting at each other, Marty and the Doc came along in a multi-genre blockbuster; it was cool action/adventure, coming of age rom-com, even spaghetti western in further episodes. But quintessentially, it was sci-fi, sci-fi you could watch with your parents without them questioning “are we still on the same planet as before?” or “why is that brown hairy beast piloting a spaceship when it can’t even talk?” and so such dribble.

Ever since Elliot befriended a long-necked rubber alien with a light-pen finger, breaking the boundaries of sci-fi was common in the eighties, plots as wide as two nerds generating the perfect female from a dolly and government computer system, to a group of university dropouts who create parapsychological equipment to trap ghosts. But there was one movie you rarely see on reruns, again sci-fi with a difference; having universal appeal, perhaps crossing genre with musicals was the reason for it not being quite so memorable.

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Despite critical acclaim on release, The Little Shop of Horrors tends to be rather lost in time, captivating a cult following. Seems the appearances of either Rick Moranis or Steve Martin couldn’t maintain mainstream attention as decades passed. But I loved it for its surreal horror-com come doo-wop musical mesh; it’s kind of Day of the Triffids meets West Side Story, with laughs, unbelievably. In fact, while its roots are from Roger Corman’s low-budget 1960 film, this movie is based on its off-Broadway musical adaption by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman.

But it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, I nudged myself whilst sitting in awe at Devizes’ wonderful Wharf Theatre on its opening night yesterday, I’d forgotten quite how it ends. It does conclude, for the record, in a fashion akin to its bizarre entirety, rejecting the confounds of stereotypical musicals with slushy happy endings, (unlike the film which, last minute, abandoned the musical’s ending for a gladder one) and perhaps with a moral that accidental fame can expose your darkest secrets, or maybe not, but I’ll say no more spoilers; You. Must. See. This.

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One of the longest running productions at the Wharf, you’ve got until next Saturday, 3rd November before it is history you’ll regret not bearing witness to. The Little Shop of Horrors is everything you dreamed it would be, and more. Aside the astute acting, fitting choreography and sublime musical accompaniment, which you should take as red from the quality benchmark of the Wharf’s previous productions, one thing which bugged me prior was how they’d recreate the more complex elements of the movie, being it’s an ever-growing, soul singing, jive talking Venus Flytrap from outer space, is all.

I’ll let you in now, it does not disappoint, it amazes. Hereward Newton-Edward’s masterful puppetry breathes life into Audrey 2, Samuel Phillis providing its bellowing soul voice, and with it a tidal wave of belly-laughs. Not that the only giggles to be had here are from the plant itself, the comical brilliance of side-characters such as the wino, played by Phil Greenaway, and the rounded main characters make for some highly amusing moments. Convincingly portrayed and so superbly acted, particularly Emma Holmes as Aubrey and Matt Dauncey as Jewish florist, Mr Mushnik; if I’d met these performers back stage I’d have expected them to be just as their characters, even consider showing Johnathon West an issue with a chipped tooth of mine (he plays Orin Scrivello, the tormenter dentist boyfriend of Audrey, you see?!)

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A flashback to Ghostbusters, where the bemused ‘key-master’ stumbles across ‘gatekeeper’ Sigourney Weaver, reminds me there could be only one Rick Moranis, a relatively unsung hero of eighties US comedy, perfectly cast as the scrawny geek protagonist here, possibly inimitable. It’s a role Chris Underwood, after twenty previous performances at The Wharf, slips under his belt with an astounding performance.

This dazzling show is sewn together with the chorus trio of Lou Cox, Laura Deacon and Georgia Elson, playing snidely, fifties bubble-gum-blowing schoolgirls who just seem to be hanging around the Little Shop to narrate a doo-wop song out of any situation arising, and masterfully too.

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The director Emily Holmes, production team, band, and its cast, this united performance, and the Wharf Theatre in general is an asset to our little town, already bustling with a variety of quality entertainment, and overflowing with talent. Why bother forking out a king’s ransom for a West-End show when this is on your doorstep? Even the drinks here are cheaper than in pubs!

Prior to the play starting my attention was drawn to a small cat who’d wandered into the contemporarily decorated foyer, indisputably without ticket, and the longboats moored outside; thespian pomposity has no home here; the Wharf Theatre is genuine, welcoming and has been sourcing actors and production teams locally since 1947. So, if like me, you’ve been missing out on our theatrical gem, this performance is the ideal time to check it out. Already popular and selling out fast, there’s no reason to flatter this show, I’m only, like a Catchphrase contestant, saying what I saw.

 

Book Here!

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Reaction to Wiltshire Traction

Waiting in the bushes by the railings of the train station my adolescent friends and I would crouch. Timed to perfection, upon seeing the train coming under the bridge, we’d start running.

Our eighties equivalent of electronic ticket gates was a lengthy leg, wrapped in dark grey trousers. Said leg was attached to a stout, greying moustached Scotsman, who, from his ticket office would suspend it to reach the wooden planked wall at the other end of the corridor leading to the platforms, infectively creating an impenetrable barrier.

If judged just right, we could enter the station at speed, skid on our knees under the protruding leg, pretend we didn’t hear his aggressive howl nor see his waving fist, pray he didn’t take up chase, scamper down those cast iron stairs onto the platform, and board the train to Chelmsford seconds before the whistle was blown!

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There it is, the train station at Witham; very little has changed save the digital clocks, you can even see the road bridge in the background we used to hide by!

Looking back the risk was hardly worth the reward; Chelmsford hardly a utopian paradise, yet it was our nearest larger town and had amenities above our own; namely a cinema and Wimpy bar.

We lived around trains, marvelled at their abilities and played by the line; the highly dangerous “chicken,” or at less extreme times laying slow worms on the track and betting sweets on which one would make it off before the train crossed; it was our sadistic version of pooh-sticks. But our obsession with trains was entirely practical, unlike my elder brother, who for a short chapter in his life paid pennies, actually paid, not for a ticket to travel rather for a “platform” ticket in which he and his nerdy, anorak-clad mates would stand writing train numbers in a book; God, how I laughed then, still do today.

Trainspotting was real, unsure if it still is, until Stroud’s Amberley Publishing kindly sent me a book to review titled Wiltshire Traction by Mark Jamieson. To buy a copy would confirm.

I confess I was intrigued by the prospect of reading a history of Wiltshire’s railways, being while home of the GWR plant in Swindon, anyone from our area under the age of Dr Richard Beeching’s act of axing several main lines in the sixties, doesn’t share similar fond but mischievous railway memories as mine above.

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Trains; choo-choo!

So, there’s me expecting an informative history of the railways here, from days of steam to date; my ignorance at the term “Traction” in its title. For what it’s worth it begins as such, a brief explanation of Wiltshire’s landscape, agricultural and industrial trades in an extract taken from Bradshaw’s 1861 Handbook of Great Britain and Ireland. The introduction then mentions the existing main lines, and GWR works, but only breezes over past lines before rambling headlong into some serious train-spotter jargon about major freight operators and where they operate.

This is the fashion this photo-book continues on, ergo I’d wager the series, which are all ingeniously titled “[enter county name] Traction,” are much the same. With no text hereafter the two-page introduction, save a complex blurb detailing traction models, serial numbers and which line it ran on, to which a train obsessed fruit bat might view the series as a biblical, the rest of us would remain baffled and mind-numbingly bored with at the passing of the second or third photo.

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More trains!

If you’ve only a passing interest in trains, as I, or you’re thinking “hey, maybe trainspotting might be a worthy hobby perusing,” I guarantee this book will put you off. You’d surely have to be a dedicated enthusiast to be entertained by this, but if you are, well then, buy Wiltshire Traction.

Perhaps I’m over-reacting but I’d like to have seen some narrative, what the trains meant to Wiltshire folk, how the Beeching Act affected their lives, what it’d have been like working at the GWR; all queries which could be answered with a visit to Steam in Swindon I suppose, yet this is a local book about trains I’d be hoping for, not an endless stream of similar photos of dirty trodden engines scooting through our green and pleasant land.

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And yeah, you guessed it. I don’t know what else I expected from a book about trains.

All said and done, needles are in the haystacks (an endless stream of traction engines running on lines images) as in between the barrage of train-spotter’s wet dreams, there are a few photos which caught my attention; one of the Intercity 125 in it’s glorious retro colours, the D818 Glory being scrapped at Swindon’s works, a class 08 overhaul also at the factory, and the new Hitachi-built class 800 units at Swindon station, but that about wraps it up for fear of donning an anorak; you, though, might like it.

Wiltshire Traction by Mark Jamieson

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Ryan McGarvey @ Long Street Blues Club; Review

Andy Fawthrop

 

Once more to the Conservative Club in Long Street for another offering from Long Street Blues Club. On Saturday night it was Ryan McGarvey.

 
Support act Phil Cooper was first up. This local singer/ songwriter gave us a number of self-penned songs, very much based on his own experience and feelings. Phil writes some good songs, is a fine guitarist and a strong vocalist. But his inter-song banter is what probably lets him down a little – he comes across as a little desperate and needy at times. I mean it’s okay to mention the fact that you have CDs for sale perhaps once, towards the end of your set, but not between every song! Still, the crowd seemed to appreciate what he did. And, musically, the guy done well!

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Then on to the main man, Ryan McGarvey, described in the media as “a star on the rise”. Ryan is said to tour constantly, and it was obvious from the very start that his power trio were a well-drilled, well-practised unit. His dynamic guitar playing style, screaming and wailing at times, lyrical and crooning at others, was a joy to listen to. With drummer and bass laying down some supportive bluesy, occasionally heavy, grooves the band built up the numbers in layers of sound.

 
But Ryan was not afraid to take the stage alone either. Whilst his two mates sloped off for a quick cuppa, Ryan provided some laid-back, haunting stuff that captivated the audience. This simpler, more stripped-back material demonstrated that Ryan is not just a one-trick pony, and these were a few of my favourite moments of the evening.

 

But then we were back to the power trio for the run in to the end of the set and the encore. Bits of virtuoso playing, bits of self-indulgence, together with some old-fashioned show-boating with the guitar seemingly playing itself on the floor. And it all went down a storm with the packed audience.

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Another great night at Long Street Blues Club. Next up on 3rd November is the Malone Sibun Band – another one not to miss!

 

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Review: Sultans of Swingers @ The Bell By The Green

Andy Fawthrop

 

Thursday night is not a traditionally busy night on the musical calendar in Devizes, so it was a rare treat to have somewhere different to fall into this week. I’m not normally a great fan of tribute bands to be honest, but Dire Straits are a particular favourite of mine, so I thought I’d give it a go – a sort of Private Investigation if you like.

 
Just as a generalisation (and bear with me on this one) – my belief is that a tribute band needs to look like their heroes (preferred, but not absolutely necessary) and to sound like them (absolutely vital). Otherwise, what’s the point? Sultans of Swingers didn’t really do either in my opinion. To misquote Eric Morecambe – they played all the right notes, in the right order. But beyond that, the magic wasn’t really there. So much of Dire Straits’ original distinctive sound depended on Knopfler’s vocals and on the lead guitar riffs, but these guys just didn’t cut it on that basis. “Money For Nothing” was a shadow of its glorious self, and played at a tempo way too slow. “Twisting By The Pool”, as another example, instead of being upbeat and exciting, with a sense of fun, was a bit low on revs. And “Heavy Fuel” was heavy work. You’ll have gathered by now that I didn’t really enjoy this performance. Just far too plodding and pedestrian for my taste. And I wasn’t alone – several people that I spoke to at the bar agreed with me.

 
Having said that, there was a good crowd, a good atmosphere and a lot of love in the room. So plenty of other people were clearly enjoying it. But not my cup of tea, I’m afraid.

 
I could have concluded that it was “Money For Nothing” but that would be a bit unfair, as the gig was actually free entry. And thumbs up to The Bell By The Green for getting that big back room open, and filled with live music. Another good Devizes venue. Let’s hope that there’s plenty more to come where that came from.

 

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Poldark Not Worthy Meeting the Wiltshire Boy

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See, I got to chase up that Wiltshire Boy for an article these days, now he’s hob-knobbing with celebrities and superstars like Poldark, and erm, Poldark. Those hedges won’t cut themselves yer know Wiltshire Boy…… blardy get arn wif it yer ganderflanker ewe.

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Busy hedge cutting at home and along comes Ross Poldark and says “I love your beard! Are you #thewiltshireboy? I follow your Facebook page ‘The Wiltshire Boy’ !!!! Any chance of a selfie with you????”

I said “I am a little busy pal but you seem like a nice guy so why not, the hedge-cutting can wait!!

So, now his moment in the spotlight is done and dusted, when can we expect more, I mean where is The Wiltshire Boy now? Hard at it?

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I’m starting a JustGiving page to ‘clear my 6-month bar tab, please give to this fantastic charity, this is so close to my heart, and means so much to me, THANKYOU !! and please give generously, big love.

So go on, give The Wiltshire Boy a “like” on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ollycoles78/ – after all, it’s hardly likely to make him more big headed than is he right now. I dunno, Poldark, whoever next, Peter bleedin’ Dinklage? A few more pints and there’ll be game in the throne.

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Devizine’s Handy guide to Halloween Happenings…..

The end of harvest means we’re moving into the murkier season; Halloween, the over-commercialised American-Gaelic festival of Samhain, a liminal crossover to the Otherworld, and its Christianised appropriation, where evil Aos Sí spirits, the souls of the dead and fairies pass to our realm in the dead of night, to bob for apples and bang on doors yelling “trick or treat,” slapped in cheap face-paint from Wilkos.

 
Appease the Aos Sí, miscellanies of pagan gods, nature spirits, and snotty-nosed brats to safeguard your livestock during winter, by handing them all of your space-dust covered Freddos, while cursing Spielberg for making ET and reviving our forefather’s sacred but mysterious festival, submerged in Yankee hogwash.

 
Complain endlessly, “we never had all this hallo-bloody-ween when we were kids,” suffering repetitive strain injury from mistakenly carving pumpkin; evil spirits will not infiltrate your premises if you place a pumpkin at your door, they’re all about turnips I’m afraid. All you will get is the snotty-nosed kid variety, which by the end you’d have favoured the evil spirits.

 
Note how the youngest thank you, while their experienced elders only thrust out their sausage-fingers in expectance and increase their productivity with haste and the manners of piglets. Ask a kid these days if they’d like to bob for apples and they’ll be expecting an iPhone.

 
Attempt a trick rather than a treat and receive a confused expression. But beware the cold and exhausted, politically correct father hiding in the bushes, or grinning with insane parental pride from the bottom of your path; yes, the trick part went out with flared trousers, just hand over the fucking Haribo, snowflake.

 
It doesn’t matter if the imp is inappropriately dressed in a non-horrific character onesie, never criticise or a Millennial parent will video you on his Android and seethe through finely-trimmed beard, “hey, don’t burden my son with your gender stereotypes, he idolises Upsy Daisy; you got issues mate!”

 
Stay in and watch the Michael Jackson Thriller Video on YouTube at your peril, for the rest of you sensible somebodies, here’s a guide to spooky-type happenings, and what’s to be doing for Halloween in the shire. But don’t be a zombie about it, check through now as tickets to some events are being booked swiftly.

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Thursday 18th October

The Halloween Ice Rink @ Whitehall Garden Centre, Lacock

Unsure what connection ice-skating has to Halloween, the ghost of Jackson Haines? But Whitehall has their ice rink set to go from Thursday and it runs up to Halloween night on the 31st. Sessions run on the hour every hour, each session runs for 45 minutes. £5.99, tickets include skate hire. All children must be accompanied and supervised by an adult at all times. Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your skate session starting.
Book here: https://www.whitehallgardencentre.co.uk/shop/customer-events/groupid/2874/day/18/month/10/year/2018.html

Wednesday 24th October

Longleat House Ghost Tours

This a spine-chilling tour of Longleat House starts here and continues every day until 4th November. A ghoulish guide will take you through unseen cellars, eerie attics and dark corridors, all whilst sharing haunting tales of Longleat’s legendary past. It’s long been rumoured that the Grey Lady, Lady Louisa Carteret – wife of the 2nd Viscount, still wonders the House in search for her murdered lover.

 
You’ll hear all about Longleat’s ghostly residents but be careful not to disturb the dead… Who knows what might happen if you do – this tour isn’t for the faint hearted, join them if you dare!
https://www.longleat.co.uk/whats-on/longleat-house-ghost-tours?utm_source=FB_Gum&utm_campaign=ghost_tours

Friday 26th October

Little Shop of Horrors at Wharf Theatre, Devizes

Running until 3rd November this beauty has a tenacious link to Halloween far more than ice skating. Expect a review from me shortly after the opening night, as despite not being a lover of musicals in general, I adore this one! It’s a deviously delicious sci-fi smash, and one of the longest running off-Broadway shows. Little Shop of Horrors’ charmingly tongue in cheek comedy has devoured the hearts of theatre goers for over 30 years.

 

The meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of plant he names ‘Audrey II’ after his co-worker crush. This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn, as long as he keeps feeding it, blood.

 

Buy tickets from the Devizes Community Hub and Library, Sheep Street, Devizes | Box Office Telephone 0333 666 3366 or online from: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-wharf-theatre

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Halloween Party @ The White Hart Atworth

Formed from the band El-Nino, the brilliant four-piece, Plan of Action will be playing a mix of alternative, rock and indie music. Fancy dress is encouraged!

Halloween Ghost Train @ Swindon & Cricklade Railway

Continues on Saturday, same times, 6:00pm – 8:45pm Take a ghoulish train ride, now that does sound like spooky fun! Here: http://www.swindon-cricklade-railway.org/events.php#top

Saturday 27th October

The Very Scary Worton Monster Trail at Worton Village Hall

It’s a family friendly monster-themed scarecrow trail, running Sunday too. Come and wander around the village to find the monsters malingering in the gardens and try to guess who they are. Prizes will be given for the most correct guesses drawn at random. It’s £2 per person entry fee, and the trail starts from the Village Hall, running from 11am – 4pm.

 
I do hope they take the monsters down prior to my milk round in the wee hours, last year I got a nasty shock when I bumped into Mike Wazowski hiding around a corner in Mill Head!

 

Incredible Comic Shop’s Halloween Comic-Fest

Lots of spooky comics will be available for free at The Incredible Comic Shop, Brunel Shopping Arcade, Swindon on this day, and they will be holding a Halloween costume competition.

Kids Halloween Disco at the Wyvern Club, Devizes

With DJ Holz Stone, there will be games; hook a skull, tombola, fancy dress competition, and hotdogs and burgers on sale. £1 entry; all welcome 3:30-5:30pm.

 

Halloween Karaoke @ The Pelican, Devizes

Right up Krazee Devil’s street is Halloween; all in the name. From 8pm-1am, optional fancy dress Halloween party and karaoke, promises to be one hell of a night’s entertainment.

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Family Halloween Party @ The Owl, Bromham

5-8pm. Fun & Games, Spooky Bingo, fancy dress competition, free tickets for pumpkin raffle and hotdogs for a quid – all free too. If you pick up a ticket from the Sports & Social Club beforehand, it’ll guarantee a child goody bag.

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Dracula- the Panto! @ The Neeld, Chippenham

There’s a vampire behind you! Gothic meets slapstick in this fun-packed show which promises to have the whole family screaming with laughter. It’s become a true family favourite all over the country; full of irresistibly scary fun in true panto style, telling the tale of the infamous vampire as you have never seen it before. Only the Dame and a song sheet stand between the naughty Count and world domination…..

 
Two actors will take you on a hilarious journey, performing a bewildering series of costume changes to bring you countless characters including the frolicsome Dame and the naughty Count himself plus great songs to boot including the fiendish favourites ‘Bat out of Hell’ ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘In the Midnight Hour’. One night only, standard tickets are £10 from here: http://www.neeld.co.uk/whats-on/dracula-the-panto/

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Halloween Gig with Dusk Til’ Dawn @ London Road Inn, Calne

Halloween fancy dress gig. Fancy dress recommend but not required.

 

Family Halloween Party @ Forest Community Centre, Melksham

Halloween disco. Free entry, fancy dress is optional.

 

Swindon Halloween Urban Party @ H2O, Fleet Street Swindon

DJ Bamzy, Dj Nemz and DJ Santo$, brings you “the best urban party of the year.” 10pm-3am, entry £5 all night, ladies free b4 midnight.

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Disco Undead III: The Final Chapter @ Basement 45, Bristol

Jim’ll Paint It hosts conclusion to a gruesome Disco Undead saga. Featuring two rooms of monstrous party music from disco, bassline and breaks to jungle, DnB and beyond. Bust out your best Halloween fancy dress for maximum respect and cheaper entry. The best dressed ghoul will bag themselves a prize bundle. Featuring VHS Hea, Kanji Kinetic, City Guys, Matt Ma G, Hurtdeer, Dr Muck, Edd Harris, Si Lindley, Rastey, Ray Von, Crazy Eyez, and Burns Unit. £6 advanced (includes fee) / £7 on the door / £6 in fancy dress. Tickets available from Skiddle: https://goo.gl/9eDr9w

Sunday 28th October

Halloween Spooktacular Fun Mile, by Brighter Futures GWH, Swindon @ Coate Water

Trick or treat yourselves to a Fun Mile for Brighter Futures at Coate Water. Whether you run, jog or walk, (I know what’d I’d choose) this event is open to all ages. Show your scarily good costumes, frightfully delightful pumpkin carvings and ghoulish guesses in the challenges in store for you. You will be rewarded with a medal at the finishing line followed by themed refreshments.

By taking part in our Spooktacular event, you can support any ward or department within Great Western Hospital that is special to you. You will be helping the doctors and nurses to fund new equipment and training, right through to ensuring that the environment is welcoming and comfortable for patients and loved ones.

Halloween Spooktacular is a great, fun-filled morning for you, your family and friends and the chance to join other people who care about their local NHS hospital. All we ask of you is that you aim high and raise as much as you can for this most worthy cause.
Entry: Adults – £7. Children 16 and under – £5. Under 5’s – free. All children must be accompanied by a paying adult to take part. To sign up: www.entrycentral.com/spooktacular

Monday 29th October

Pumpkin Carving @ Hillworth Park

Sessions beginning at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm, book early for this by calling 01380 721288. It’s £2.50 per child and they get a drink and spooky biscuit included. Not sure how a biscuit can be spooky, unless it’s six years out of date like the ones I often find lurking at the bottom of my biscuit barrel, but there you go!

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Tuesday 30th October

Halloween Holiday Activities @ Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

Continues into Wednesday, with two sessions per day, at 11am-12:30pm and 1:30-3pm the museum will be looking at Spiders, Witches & Potions! Book early. Suitable for age 11 and under, but ages 8 and must be accompanied. And it’s only £5 per child. Book here:

http://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/?fbclid=IwAR1-r81BuNOHWlokUpDPva1ARlTRxft95fNxpYAnWQdZ4jSRO6fW7QBlegw&event-category=childrens-and-holiday-activities

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Halloween Feast @ The Methuen Arms, Corsham

Allow local magician Chris Hiscock to dazzle you with his amazing “TRICKS” while you dine; the taster menu is £25 per person, set to be full of surprises! Booking is essential; contact for availability: 01249 717060 methuen@butcombepubs.com

Wednesday 31st October: Halloween Night

Halloween at the Park @ Hillworth Park, Devizes

5:30-7:30, I know this event is Free, but what happens there is a mystery, which is no bad thing this time of year. It does come with a warning, whatever does happen will not be for the faint-hearted!

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The Crown at Bishops Cannings Halloween Treat, Tarot & Psychic Supper

Taking the tarot readings will be Mystic Ruth, who has been a Psychic for over 30 years, is well-known and respected and has appeared on TV and Radio, http://www.mysticruth.co.uk. Mystic Ruth will be joined by a guest Medium, Amanda Scrannage, www.facebook.com/spirtualmedium for those who would like a mediumship reading. The cost is £25.00 per person, which includes a 15-minute reading either Tarot or Mediumship and a 2-course meal. To book a reading please call 01380-860218 or email Thecrowninnbishopscannings@gmail.com

 

Halloween Spooktacular! @ The Water Meadow, Melksham

4-5:30pm, tickets £3 per child. Games, buffet, fancy dress competition and creepy cocktails on arrival.

Devilish Dine & Disco, The Crossing @ The Brunel, Swindon

4 – 6pm; a fang-tastic family disco, fiendish food offers to enjoy at our spooky dining area, face-painting, a fancy-dress competition and giveaways. Tickets £3 per child and can be purchased their offices, located next door to Something Different on the upper level of The Plaza or via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheBrunelSwindon

Friday 2nd November

Halloween Quiz & Quesadilla Night @ Times Square, Devizes

Tickets £5, does what it says on the tin; a spooky quiz night with deliciously filled quesadilla. Starts at 8pm.

 

BOO!

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Cracked Machine at the Southgate – Review

Andy Fawthrop

 

Yet another night of musical offerings in Devizes on Saturday. The venue of choice this time was The Southgate to catch up with the band Cracked Machine – a new one on me.

 
I knew we were in for a loud night when I realised I could actually hear them as I walked up Long Street. Inside the pub itself was a wall of sound, and I wondered if this had been such a good idea after all. There was a small, but obviously appreciative audience gathered, and I decided to persist. I was glad I did because after sipping a couple of pints and listening through a few numbers, I began to tune into their sound. They were billed as electro/ psychedelic and that turned out to be pretty accurate.

 

Loud – yes, but not without some structure and melody. Vocals were in pretty short supply, but the band began to put together some interesting musical structures. Apart from the standard set-up of lead, bass and drums, there was some great use of keyboards and loop tapes featuring spoken word. We were off on a journey somewhere, travelling sometimes at speed, sometimes floating. Tracks built up with more and more layers of sound, using different patterns and textures. And then there’d be a cut to some driving rock rhythms, before settling back to some space-age sounds. All a bit retro, but enjoyable all the same.

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Hang on! I thought – I’ve been here somewhere, sometime before. This stuff sounds both new, and kinda familiar. I couldn’t quite figure it out. I was still wondering as I reached home. Heading for the shelves of CDs, my hand was inevitably drawn to that long-neglected Hawkwind album. Ah! – mystery solved!

 
If you’ve not been keeping up to speed lately, you need to know that in the last six months since Dave and Deborah took over The Southgate, music has been put very much to the fore. Apart from regular music jam nights on Wednesdays, there’s usually free music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Head over to their Facebook page to see what’s on. With Hop Back cask ales (and occasional guests) on tap at only £3/ pint, it’s rapidly becoming a regular and worthwhile musical haunt.

 

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Can You Help with Christmas Shoeboxes for our Troops?

Get this, right, I’ve never, ever, in all my years, which aren’t as many as you may think, worked on Christmas Day. I despise the idea of working right up to the day, or even in the in-betweeny bit, and if I was to have to, the only thing I’d want is to do is get back home to my family, or prior to having a family, the pub!

 
For tis the season to be jolly, to be with the ones you love, Noddy said so, and to all who do go out to work on that special day, for reasons of goodwill and to help others have a great Christmas, takes a lot of doing that we should be grateful for; there I’ve said my piece. Try to imagine though, if after working that day you couldn’t even get home, double-trouble; can’t imagine what that’s like.

 
Now, where was I? Ah yes, the point. The Smiles Club, Wiltshire’s Operation shoebox is a Devizes-based arm of a group who send much needed Morale boxes out to our military deployed on active duties. They are in desperate need of items to go in the Christmas Shoeboxes for our troops. If you are able to donate anything Christmas related, from decorations, Christmas cake, puddings, mince pies, Christmas presents, sweets, chocolates, wrapping paper and, of course shoeboxes it would be greatly appreciated. You can even send a Christmas card.

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Recently the group’s organiser Amanda Wood-Woolley received a direct request from a Major, deployed in Estonia, one of the biggest locations the group send boxes to, with 800 troops, humbly requesting that no boxes are posted after 23rd November as mail is not getting through as quickly as they would like.

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So, the group, who operate all year long and have featured on local BBC for the Royal Wedding, aim to compete their mission by November, the final sending date is between 20th-23th at the latest. Anyone interested and with items to go into Christmas boxes, please them know when you would like them collecting, there’s a Facebook group to join with stacks of information how to help, ideas on what to get and even some heartfelt thank-you-notes from the troops. Amanda invites you to send her a personal message on Facebook, should you not wish to join the group, or you are not on Facebook, her email is: awoolley532@gmail.com

 

Smiles Club
https://m.facebook.com/groups/751490818369849

 

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Scooter Rally moved to Rowde

With wristband tickets planning to be on sale by the end of October, there’s no stopping for the Devizes Scooter Club in arranging the first (I believe it’s the first unless anyone can correct me) Devizes Scooter Rally, in July 2019. Although there is one major change, it’s location.

Club organiser, Adam Ford announced the new yesterday that the prestigious and highly anticipated event is to be moved to Sands Lane playing fields in Rowde. At present every other detail remains the same, the bands, prices and camping options, the whole shebang.

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“Main reason for change is the area,” Adam informed me, “it was looking a bit tight for space over at Coate, and we’ve a lot of people enquiring about space for Camper vans, etc.” It is hoped that with the greater area to work with, families wishing to attend will not be crammed in with other punters and further camping possibilities will become available.

 
“We’re really excited now,” Adam said, “and it’s full steam ahead.” Added addition to the new space will be options for a bar hoping to challenge pub prices, making it cheaper for the attendees, The Scooter Club are dedicated to making this as affordable as they can, without compromising on the quality of acts and happenings; the free camping option with a full wristband also being an acme to this ethos.

 
With continuing events at the Conservative Club, next up being Welsh soul band Gimmie Some Lovin’ on 27th October, the Scooter Club continue to adjust minor rudiments to improve and expand this forthcoming extravaganza; but this one in particular I thought would be of interest. For more details of the bands, etc, we’ve dedicated a whole page to the event, which can be seen here. Yeah okay, clever clogs, I’ve not changed the venue info on there yet, gimmie a chance will yer? Only got one pair of hands!

 

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Maggiora Plays The Bear – And Wins!

Following on from our preview (see here,) Andy reviews last night at the Cellar Bar.

Andy Fawthrop

 

There’s a very talented musician, singer and song-writer walking round Devizes this morning who ought to be feeling pretty damned pleased with himself after performing such a great show in the Cellar Bear last night, and making a lot of new friends in the process.

 
That guy is Steve Maggiora, and last night he played his only UK gig whilst travelling through the country back to his home in the USA. He was aided and abetted by local favourites Jon Amor on guitar, and Mark Barrett on drums. Together these guys formed an impromptu “Steve Maggiora Trio” for one night only, and yet it was like listening to a well-oiled, well-drilled band that had been together for years.

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Steve, rightly, commanded centre stage, playing some great riffs on keyboard, and filling out every song with powerful, soulful vocals. The energy he generated was exciting and stimulating, his voice hitting both light and shade perfectly. To his left Mark Barrett, as ever, provided supportive no-nonsense simple but driving rhythms on drums. His style is restrained and sympathetic in a way that he manages to make look effortless. And over to Steve’s right Jon Amor, local hero of this parish, poured out some of his very best guitar work. At times he was on fire, laying down some really hot bluesy licks. Each musician was on top form, a master of his craft, and commanded huge respect from the others, but together the combination was irresistible, and they delivered some really stunning numbers. It was a warm, rich, complex sound that drew you in and gave you a big wet sloppy kiss. And it was so obvious that these three guys loved playing together and were enjoying every minute of it. Their enthusiasm was infectious and the packed crowd absolutely lapped it up.

 
Playing a mix of his own songs and covers of some great classics, Steve had the crowd eating out of his hand right from the start. After absolutely nailing “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”, the guys later came round to absolutely kick the living daylights out of “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”. The crowd loved it and sang along, creating an absolutely superb and enthusiastic atmosphere.

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Probably one of the best local gigs I’ve ever been to. I’d love to see the guy again, and hopefully we’ll manage to get him back in Devizes one of these days. High-calibre entertainment indeed.

 
The Cellar Bar at The Bear Hotel is a great venue for music at the best of times, but last night it was hard to imagine anywhere better to serve up such sumptuous musical fare. If you’ve not been before, get yourself along one of these Friday nights!

 

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DOCA Change Carnival Date

DOCA (Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts) closed its AGM with some exciting news.

Loz Samuels Artistic Director said, “after much consideration our Board of Trustees have decided to move some of the dates of our annual program. They are small changes but we believe it will enable many more people to become involved in our events. The times of all events will remain the same, just the dates will change with the exception of Picnic in the Park (18th Aug) and the International Street Festival (25th/26th Aug).

We will move Carnival to earlier in the year, the current date means that Schools are on holiday so miss out on the opportunity of working on their entries during term time. The new date for 2019 will be the weekend of the 13th of July 2019, we are yet to decide on a Saturday or Sunday and are now consulting with other event organisers in the area to avoid clashes. We have chosen this date after some consultation with teaching staff and believe it doesn’t clash with other major local events and isn’t too close to the end of term. We hope to create a program of support helping schools who want to be involved but need advice or help with making costumes and floats in the future. We hope to see school entries increase and the enthusiasm for Carnival start to grow enabling it to grow in size and spectacle.

Carnival has traditionally been our final event during the Festival Fortnight but this change will mean we now have the final Saturday free. We have decided to move the Colour Rush and Confetti Battle to 31st August 2019 making it our finale event. Changing this unique event to a Saturday should mean that more people can experience it as they will not working, we hope to get more runners signing up for our Colourful 5k run in 2019 than ever before.

Loz Samuels Said “I believe the Confetti Battle should have National significance, it’s an amazing event and is growing each year, the introduction of the Colour Rush has made the atmosphere even better and we want it to continue to grow and become more spectacular, I hope our audiences and participants will get behind these changes and take the opportunity to get involved. We are very keen to hear from any groups or individuals that may want to become more actively involved in Carnival to discuss how we can work with them.”

See the DOCA website for details:

http://www.docadevizes.org.uk

or call 07500786541 for more information.

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Teenage Country Sensation Emily Lockett coming to Devizes

 

Arriving at seventeen is a crossroads between childhood and adulthood where most of us dangle in limbo, at a loss to where the path will lead.

At the same age I didn’t know what was what, Stoke-on-Trent’s singer/songwriter Emily Lockett is busy working on her second EP, to feature three tracks already recorded; “Nice Eyes,” “Feel Love” and “Where We Left Off.” These two releases follow her 2016 album “Reflections of Me.”

With a stunningly graceful voice and the poignant song writing ability of a musician twice her age, seems this country-pop-folk artist, recently awarded British Country Airplay “Artiste of the Year 2018” in the people’s vote, has a flying start to a career in music. “I started learning to play the guitar at the age of about 5 and started writing songs when I was 12,” she explains on her website.

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So, if you thought the recently renamed Devizes Amerpolitain Club was a handful of line-dancing fogies, perhaps it’s time to rethink your preconception, as Dean Czerwionka constantly pushes the boundaries of the genre and brings a wealth of youthful talent to our town, Emily is playing at the Conservative Club this Sunday; it’s her first headline gig and blatantly, she’s one to watch.

“If you like Taylor Swift’s early work with an Avril Lavigne vibe then I’ll be right up your street,” she tells. But don’t let comparisons judge, check out the videos added here and see what I mean yourself.

Currently studying an Artist Development BTEC Level 4 at Access to Music in Manchester, Emily began on the talent show circuit at her tender age, her song “Reflection of Me” was highly commended in 2017 in the national Song Academy Young Songwriter competition, a fashion repeated this following year. It was performed live on BBC Radio Stoke, and a mountain of other local radio shows; deserves a warm, Devizes welcome, wouldn’t you say?

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https://www.emilylockett.co.uk

https://m.soundcloud.com/emilylockettmusic

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5jTBTukmcJaAfea5tj1I8x…

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A Night At The Opera!

 

The White Horse Opera’s Magic Flute, Reviewed by Andy Fawthrop

 

No – not a night with the Marx Brothers or a Queen concert, but an actual night at the opera! And in Devizes too – well it was Lavington School actually (no passport required) – to see the wonderful White Horse Opera’s 2018 production of Mozart’s most-loved opera The Magic Flute.

 
This two-act opera is a classic tale of good and evil, of love and loss, serpents, fairies, magical queens, spirits, sorcerers, castles, magic flutes and….well, you get the picture. Just the normal, classic stuff of your average opera.

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And this production was bang on. Well sung, well acted and well (musically) played by a dedicated (and very talented) company of amateurs, this was an extremely enjoyable night. By singing in English, using modern dress and a minimalist set, the team made the story accessible and easy to follow for a non-opera buff like myself. Mozart’s music, as ever, is light and lyrical. The libretto is straight-forward, eschewing the usual long miserable and repetitive arias so favoured by some composers, so things move along quite briskly.

 
Particular shout-outs last night:

 
• to Matthew Bawden who, playing the lead role of Tamino, had only taken up and rehearsed the role within the last ten days or so when his predecessor had to drop out due to unforeseen circumstances. He sang and acted well, betraying no sign whatsoever of being short of practice;

 
• to Barbara Gompels, playing the Queen of the Night, (not for the first time in her career) for her pitch-perfect delivery of some of Mozart’s most demanding soprano parts;
• to Chrissie Higgs for not only shuffling around the stage playing a shambling old lady in one of the chorus parts (frighteningly convincing!) but for the fact that she directed the whole production;

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But, to be honest, I didn’t spot any weak links at all – either in the cast or in the orchestra. A fine all-round production.

 
White Horse Opera is based in Devizes and was founded back in 1990. It produces both static and touring versions of many classic operas. It’s supported through sponsorship, fund-raising events and by ‘Friends’ of the Company. It’s all done on a voluntary, amateur basis – which makes it worthy of everyone’s support. It’s yet another jewel in Devizes’ crown.

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This production has its last two performances tomorrow (Friday) and on Saturday, for which there are still just a few tickets left. So, if you haven’t already done so, make plans to get yourself out to Lavington and have yourself a great night out! And – reviewer’s tip here – get yourself one of the padded seats!

 

White Horse Opera Website

 

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A Chat with Steve Maggiora

You know what I reckon? Devizes is in for a treat next Friday 12th, courtesy of the Cellar Bar, when Orange County multi-talented musician Steve Maggiora visits for an exclusive trio gig with Jon Amor and Mark Barrett. I reckon, no, I now know this because I’m listening, as I write, to his emotional rock ballads I’ve found online, and it’s good ol’ high quality easy-on-the-ear US rock, akin to Springsteen or Tom Petty.

As I wrote, the third track of his album, “When I get you Alone,” marched on with a funky intro; oh, there’s a clear soul and jazzy, Herbie Hancock fashioned influence thrown in too, methinks.

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Darn, I’ve got to alter my notes; it’s feel-good pop rock, but as Springsteen did with his early Asbury Park circuit work, there’s a clear funky soul spur thrown in, perhaps more than that, a larger sprinkling of a sound reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield seems to intensify as it progresses. With the only cover track on the album being a funky upbeat Don’t Know Why, Nora Jones rendition, Steve graces this contemporary pop sound and mate, I kid you not, it’s groovetastic with a blues nod.

Leaves me pondering who’d he’d cite as his influences. I’d have to badger the man himself as he wakes up in Dublin this morning! Phew, “I love your comparisons!” Steve told me, “Some of my major influences lately are Tom Petty, Marc Broussard, Allen Stone, Robert Jon & The Wreck.”

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Passionately, despite about to head out from an airport to his air B&B, Steve continues, “As far as this new record, Hearts & Scars goes, my producer, Jon O’Brien, and I were referencing Fleetwood Mac, Dawes, and Tom Petty for the overall sound of the record.” But, no mimicking, it’s a uniquely creative sound; what was his thought process during its creation?

“The intention of this record was to get myself back to song writing that is honest, and maybe not the easiest to put into words. Songs of love, loss, loneliness – which is can be a beautiful and/or tragic thing depending on what your perspective is. My 2016 record, which we will also be performing cuts off of – I’ll have both records for sale at the show – touched on that a bit with songs like ‘Middle Of Night’ and ‘Only’, however was focused more towards the funky/sexy/sexually driven tunes such as ‘When I Get You Alone’, ‘Freak In The Sheets’, and ‘You Know You Want It (Cause It’s Big)’, which have all been great crowd pleasers over the last few years. For “Hearts & Scars” though, I really wanted to embrace the harder things to say, in a still groovy way that I hope will resonate with people.”

I hope so too, on one listen I’m harking back to Marvin Gaye, mixed with aforementioned rock icons, Fleetwood Mac and Petty. I’m glad to get this opportunity to chat with him, as Steve is a workhorse, prolifically recording and endlessly touring, but we seem to have the only gig listed on his website, in England. “Is that right,” I asked him, “has Devizes got an exclusive show, and if so, how did this come about?” Over a gig in London or Bristol or wherever, where, judging by the highly polished and universally appealing quality of his sound, he’d go down a storm.

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“Yes, the Devizes gig will be a one-off,” Steve explains, “which I’m very much looking forward to! I was on tour earlier in September with Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse, [who appeared at the Sports Club, if you cast your mind back to our review] which is where I first met and got to play with Jon Amor and Mark Barrett. After meeting Mirko through them during the time we were in Devizes, he offered a night for us to do a trio. The reason for only the one show is that I’m currently in between tours – having started with Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse from September, I continued with one of my main bands, Robert Jon & The Wreck from 18 Oct-19 Nov across mainland Europe, followed by a private event in the Philippines, and then two shows in Tokyo at the end of November before heading back to the US.” You see where I was going when I said “workhorse” now, eh?

“I had originally planned to do a solo tour across UK and EU in between tours,” he continued, “however that did not pan out as it would have been too expensive to fly out band members from the US and hard to book a solo act for a first run; hence why I’m so excited for 12 Oct!”

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I’m digging it man, totals. It’s tagged at just £8 on the door; jot in your diary, for Steve considers this his “first true non-work vacation I’ve taken as an adult,” so it should be the informal relaxed gig we’ve come to expect from The Cellar Bar and Mirko.

“It’s really nice to unplug for a bit and jet set,” Steve finished on, “Music is a truly wonderful thing, an international language,” he expresses, “and truly brings people together. Having met Jon for the first time here in the UK just a few weeks ago, Mark a few weeks before that in the US, it’s been incredible getting to share the stage with them on this last tour, and I’m very much looking forward to sharing the stage with them again!”

Steve’s Website

 

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Groundhogs & Del Bromham Review

by Andy Fawthrop

The local joke runs that “nothineverhappensinDevizes” but recently it’s become increasingly difficult to decide where one should spend one’s time and hard-earned pennies in this town on a Saturday night. There’s usually music of one sort or another in several venues around the town.

Last night was a bit easier – simply because of the quality bill on display at Long Street Blues Club. Wandering into the Conservative Club we knew we’d made the right choice. The place was pretty packed, with all the seats and tables near the front completely full well before the show started. So we had a great atmosphere going in the room before the bands even started.

First up were Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs. Originally formed way, way back in 1963 in the middle of Britain’s first music explosion, the band has morphed its way through many line-up changes during several decades before fetching up here in our lil’ old town. Ken himself, originally the drummer from the classic early line-up, now fronts the band and has surrounded himself with some great young musicians. Although only a relatively new line-up, you’d never know – the band was tight, forceful, driving dynamic. From the very first number, we knew we were in for a great set. Superb guitar licks, a thumping rhythm section and sparse vocals, interspersed with some wonderful improvisation sections – what more could you want? This was blues/ rock at its very best, and the crowd absolutely loved it.

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After the break, came Del Bromham’s Blue Devils and the quality, unbelievably, went up yet one more notch. Del was a founder member of 70s legends Stray, and there’s a lot of the back catalogue still in the set. Like the Groundhogs, Del’s band has been through many changes over the years, and again the lead man has pulled together a superb younger line-up around him. The drive and the energy of every number were plain to see. Catchy guitar riffs, supported by tight drumming and bass lines and we were off on another blues and rock odyssey. Two things gave this band the slight edge for us – the inclusion of some hot keyboard work, which just added an extra dimension to the sound, and secondly the infectious bantering style of Del himself. Once again the crowd was engaged and in full support. We did not see one single person leaving early!

Both bands played a superb set, and were terrific value for money. Didn’t catch the engineer’s name but have to say that the sound quality throughout the gig was spot on.

We’ve been to several sessions of the Long Street Blues Club now and not been to a bad one yet. The quality of the acts booked by Ian Hopkins and his crew is top-notch, and we’re very lucky to have a team so dedicated to bringing bands of such high calibre to our little town. Last year the Club was quite near the edge financially, but thankfully ticket sales have picked up again this year. Really glad to hear it!

You can get tickets for these gigs from various outlets in town or, if not sold out, on the door. The club also does a discount deal in the form of season tickets for 5 or 6 gigs. The best thing you can do to support live music in our town is to get along to one or more of these gigs and see what we’re talking about – you won’t be disappointed. Have a look on Facebook for upcoming gigs through to December.

If you’ve yet to venture up to the far end of Long Street then don’t worry – you won’t get a nose bleed! The Con Club is accessible and open to members and non-members alike. They’re very friendly and they don’t bite!

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Gimme me Some Tickets!

“We’ve got a two-hour set and every single song is one which everyone knows. You can’t beat the classics,” James, Frontman of Gimme Some Lovin’ reassures me, ahead of their appearance at Devizes Scooter Club.

The 1970s and 80s were not kind to Carmarthenshire’s largest town, Llanelli. Dependant on the coal mines for tin production, it felt the fate of their closure and fell into economic decline.

If Wales isn’t a breeding ground for raw musical talent enough, when hard times befall an area it’s affiliated with a rousing in the creative. I wondered if this was a driving force behind the Llanelli-based soul covers band, Gimme Some Lovin’ so I figured I’d catch a few words with frontman James, prior to their gig at The Devizes Scooter Club on Saturday October 27th.

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But as it turned out, Llanelli is just a base. “If I’m honest,” he replied, “we’re from all over the place. I’m from Cardiff, the guitarist is from the vale, and the brass guys are from Swansea. It’s a big demographic too; from late 20’s to those with bus passes.” While I’m not quite eligible for a bus pass, yet, that’s brilliant news for the Scooter Club, who are quickly building a reputation in Devizes for putting on high quality events, which despite its retrospective ethos, surprisingly attracts a wide age group too.

Gratitude to the Scooter Club, for sourcing recent acts such as the dazzling All That Soul; it reassures when a billing arrives in our town which we may not have heard of. This said, Gimme Some Lovin’ can sell out a show in Wales, as they have next weekend in Cardiff, and as James proudly states, “We had a near-capacity crowd for the Monmouth Festival (5000+.) We sell out the Neon in Newport every year with our Christmas show too.”

So, with status assured, what’s in a name? I denoted the Spencer Davis Group’s classic single in our chat, a song which they wrote and arranged in just half-hour, and recorded the following day, under pressure from Blackwell for a hit. Its attraction, though, is in its simplicity, surely? “Is it a silly question to ask,” I asked James regardless, “if you’re going to play The Spencer Davis Group?!”

“How could we not?!” he replied, yet it was only an inbetweener question to probe James about what we can expect on the 27th. “It’s very much a classic soul set,” he continued, “I’d say that we’re very much like the Commitments; classic soul with a modern edge. I think our front-line vocalists take us a little further away from the originals too, as they’ve all got massive, unique voices that seem to elevate the tracks, especially live!”

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The more the enthusiastic frontman eludes the details the more eager I am to catch this band at the Cons Club. James, a songwriter himself gasps at the idea the Spencer Davis Group could knock out their namesake single in such a short time, “sometimes the best ones just fall out. I can’t say I’ve ever managed anything in half an hour though!” But it’s unlikely we’ll hear any original material, “We tend to stick to covers,” James expressed, “We’ve been considering getting some original tracks in there but, with so many great songs to pick from, it’s impossible to decide what to drop!”

While the trend for original compositions on the local live music scene is a constant deliberation between artist and promoter, the Scooter Club know their crowd, and this closing statement from James: “We’ve got a two-hour set and every single song is one which everyone knows. You can’t beat the classics,” is so pertinent it’s easy to visualise this night being a soul stonker for Devizes.

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I’m smitten; the Club will be so glad if you made it too! Tenner tickets to Gimme Some Lovin’ are at usual outlets, The Cons Club and Vinyl Realm, and even Jeffersons where you can fill your soul with the best breakfast in town (the things I say for an extra sausage know no bounds) While there’s a price given on the door at £13, seizing an advance ticket is advisable, even if your name is Spencer or Davis.

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Joe Hicks at The Three Crowns

By Andy Fawthrop

Sunday afternoons in Devizes can often be a bit of a dead slot as far as musical entertainment is concerned, so hats off to The Three Crowns in Maryport Street for introducing some great laid-back live music sessions. Following several successful sessions in their very pleasant courtyard over the Summer, the music has now moved inside to the bar as the temperatures start to drop.

But there was no lack of warmth yesterday when Joe Hicks took to the mike. We dropped in for a couple of pints to catch his sets and were not disappointed. Delivering a seamless mixture of self-penned songs with a wide range of covers, Joe has a winning personal style. His infectious engagement with a supportive and vocal audience made for a great afternoon’s entertainment. Having only briefly caught part of his sets previously, it was great to just relax with a drink and give the guy a proper listen. Accompanied by some laid-back and sympathetic drumming, Joe’s guitar work was first class. He’s got a great voice too, which he used to great effect.

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We loved his ability to vary his approach, texturing his vocals to suit the song. Whilst some singer/ songwriters come across as a little single-dimensional after a few songs, this was not a trap Mr. Hicks fell into.
Great atmosphere – really enjoyed the gig and made us want to go see him again.

If you’ve not been to The Three Crowns, and you’ve not heard Joe Hicks before, then both come highly recommended.

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