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.
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!