DevMas Coming to Devizes!

As festive season reaches fever pitch on Saturday 22nd December, The Cellar Bar @ The Bear Hotel in Devizes will host a Christmas bash like no other. Four bands, terrible compulsory jumpers, and more festivity than you can shake an elf at.

 
the quadruple of bands, The Compact Pussycat, Nerve Endings, Sunset Service and The Real Cheesemakers will entertain you from 7pm, and donations will be taken for Julia’s House Hospice as an Xmas gift from Wiltshire’s music scene.

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Cellar Bar, with added fairy-lights!

DevMas (a brand-new term combined from the ancient Wiltshire slang “Devvie Town” and…. well, Christmas, of course…) will take-over The Cellar Bar beneath Devizes’ iconic Bear Hotel on the final Saturday before Christmas, giving weary shoppers and the hardcore party seekers that final chance to get themselves their exciting musical fix before being buried in wrapping paper and left-over vegetables!

 
Co-organiser, who we know very well, Mr Mike Barham, vocalist and guitarist in Devizes rock group Nerve Endings, explained the inception of the one-off event as “initially just a group of friends wanting to put on a Christmas show, but it became much more than that! Our group had their debut at The Southgate during October and weren’t planning on doing any more shows this year, rather focus on recording and writing to get things rolling properly.”

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Nerve Endings at the Southgate

“Then we decided it was so close to Christmas, and Wiltshire has such a ridiculous variety and scope to its music scene, that we wanted to celebrate that and the people who make it possible with their support and generosity. So, the best way we could think of to say thank you was with a free entry show on the last Saturday before the big festive day!”

 
“It’s an opportunity for everyone that supports those first musical steps, share our stories and passion with others, to be in one place and share the festive spirit whilst being bombarded by new material from four bands who all bring their own unique flavour to the Christmas table!”

 
“Also, it’s a chance to celebrate The Cellar Bar, which has long stood as one of our stand-out venues in Devizes. So many incredible acts have graced this venue, and it remains almost like a bastion of musical endeavour. It’s charming, intimate and a great spot to grow talent in this little town, so to me it was the ideal place to have this event.”

 
“AND it means we can give back to the community by raising money for Julia’s House, who do incredible work at their new Devizes hospice site. Aside from the religious connections, Christmas should be about embracing those around you, whether that’s in the community or those in need, so we are trying to do both. It may just be a gesture, but if we can raise a smile on kids face at Julia’s House over Christmas, it’s worth all the battering of ear drums and tired limbs of our acts!”

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Luke Bartels

Luke Bartels, who operates the Cellar Bar on behalf of Wadworth Brewery, said: “Using the Cellar Bar to its full potential is a dream of mine. When my family was asked to take on the Bear Hotel, we came to look at the space and immediately I knew it had potential.”

 
“It’s like The Cavern or some of the other iconic small venues round the country, and having a showcase of the local talent on show here for Christmas is the best way to give back and let everyone know the space is here to be used and harbour all the developing talent in the area. It’s a cradle of life for music!”

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Julia’s House is an award-winning children’s hospice in Dorset and Wiltshire, dedicated to bringing comfort and care to families across the two counties. Each family they support is unique and so is the care they provide. When a family finds out that their child has a very serious medical condition, which is life-limiting or life-threatening, their world falls apart. Julia’s House exists to help these children and their families, with practical and emotional support, tailoring their care to the needs of each individual child and their family.

 
The new respite centre in Devizes has been warmly received by the local community, and DevMas hopes to add to that local support from the musical community that is so prevalent in the small Wiltshire town.

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Alex Gowans of The Compact Pussycat

So, the bands: The Compact Pussycat, who have taken the Wiltshire scene by storm since their debut earlier in 2018, and expanded like a funky, fuzzy rash across the South West within a few months. Now rocking as a tight, dancy three piece these dashing young men will be firing out brand new tracks guaranteed to have you tapping your feet (other involuntary body motions are available) throughout the evening.

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Jack Moore of The Compact Pussycat, at Vinyl Realm

The Real Cheesemakers almost need no introduction in certain circles, their hilarious yet pulsating tunes have seen them team up with legendary Chap-Hop star Professor Elemental and build an avid local following of cheesy fans. The self-proclaimed, “purveyors of the finest nonsense and Wallop of Cods in a musical format,” these fine fellows will deliver tales of epic squid vs whale battles, plastic free living and the odd reference to dairy products that rhyme with “tea”. These chaps bring the mirth factor to DevMas Day.

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The Real Cheesemakers

Sunset Service are a cut above your average alt-country rock band, in fact they are one of the finest groups in their field. The five-piece from across the south west have been churning out their charming yet chunky sound across the area and are now coming home for Christmas (take that Chris Rea!) Amidst the other chaotic and comedic elements of the other groups on the bill, Sunset Service may actually be the most mature and refined act of the night!

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Sunset Service

Nerve Endings are a three-piece rock outfit from Devizes, newly formed and hurled into the crucible of live performance in early October to thunderous reception. Drawing influences from Biffy Clyro, Rage Against the Machine, Father John Misty and many other diverse sources, these three-combine swaying, anthemic sections with all out aural warfare to hammer home their sound.

 
Yet if you’ve been reading Devizine biblically, which I know you do, you’d have heard of all these great acts already and have to agree prior to basting the turkey, it’s something pretty cool to be doing during yule. You don’t even have to write it on your list to Santa, because entry to this gig is FREE!

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Adding some Colour in The Sky to an otherwise bleak day, with Jon Amor…

I’ll come clean, resisting the urge to write a piece for Devizine for the past few days, being toothache is depressing me and fear if I do start writing I’m going to take my stress out on the subject. Had some awesome new music to review recently from our local heroes, been so positive, because it’s been thoroughly deserved. Much as I’d like to break that chain, yearn to be overly critical and lambast some poor soul for little reason, I unwittingly refrained. If you’ve nothing nice to say Worrow; no sorry, doesn’t wash with me.

 
Then, Devizes numero uno and worldwide blues legend, Jon Amor, only goes and pings over the highly anticipated album, Colour in the Sky. Released digitally tomorrow (28th Nov) on his website, and he hopes on iTunes, Jon signs off his message: “good luck at the dentist!” Grrr, I’m gonna listen to this right now! Oh…. why can’t teeth be more like Mr Amor; there’s zilch to be critical about here, and certainly no pain inflicted?

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From blast off, Colour in the Sky confirms what all local musicians state; he’s Captain Numero Uno alright. Though opening tune, Faith Reborn is a rocket, it’s quite what I expected, definitive frenetic electric blues. However, the missile proceeds into something else, something which scales Mount Marvellous and shoots high into the orangey glow of tremendous troposphere, and the pain killers haven’t even kicked in yet.

 
Diversity ensues, while Elephant slides equably into the room, up-tempo Illuminous Girl reminds me of the catchy, amusing teaser we had of this album last month, with Elvis-Costello-fashioned, Red Telephone, which, chronologically, you’ll wait until closer to the end for, but this is funkier, even more potent.

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The rocket blasts over Andalusia, with a flamenco, Latino track, reminiscent of Santana at his coolest, across the Southern States with rolling rhythm and blues, to New Orleans, with a smooth, big band jazz number to make Nina Simone blush, and crash-lands up my path, banging on my front door. I’m left gobsmacked by track seven, only halfway through this twelve-track musical marathon, darn it’s uplifting; toothache, what toothache?

 
When The Weather Turns Cold, (as it has) has a stirring country riff, February Tree mellows agreeably, aforementioned Red Telephone is quirky pop-rock, Scandinavia stalwarts fans, and the finale Sentiels is lovably sentimental, concluding my pondering; even the toughest-to-please Jon Amor fan will be blown off their feet with Colour in the Sky.

So, short of time, as it’s released tomorrow, I’ve taken a long scan over this album, and it’s expectedly a keeper. Some months ago I was standing outside the Devizes Sports Club my first unofficial meeting with Jon, when he supported Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse, he promised me a preview of this and I’ve admit I’ve hyped it up in my mind since; it does not disappoint.

 
I just hope the dentist tomorrow is equally professional, but I doubt it.

 

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The Sound Affects of Escapism, Everyday

No online Dropbox with Sound Affects, aptly titled Everyday Escapism was manually dropped through my letterbox last week and I’ve listened to it daily since.

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The musky aroma of a wood burner. It’s aimlessly staring through the window of a gypsy caravan on a drizzling spring morning music, clasping a warm cup of tea in a chipped mug. Could be your mind is slightly hazed from a blinding night down the boozer, as you ponder raindrops trickling down the pane. Maybe the lively Day Breakers played, brazenly blasting their celebrated covers; you were in the midst of it all, dancing, but now, well, it’s taken its toll. Who’d thought you’d still be listening to two members of the band, Iggy Gould and Catherine York, on this fragile morning after?

 
It’s a glass of red wine on an oak coffee table music; an evening with a newfound love, cuddling closely. For while you take caution choosing acoustic music for such a date, being there’s often a negative atmosphere about such tunes, and the last thing you want to project is the singer’s depressive besought about being dumped, or how terrible the world may seem to them. Allow me to suggest a CD from Sound Affects to suit the mood; Everyday Escapism.

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No online Dropbox here, aptly titled Everyday Escapism was manually dropped through my letterbox last week and I’ve listened to it daily since; it’s trundling along in a milk-float music, in the wee hours of a cool November morning too, it seems.

 
Nick Drake could do this, no, not deliver milk, create positive acoustic sounds I mean, Cat Stevens and George Harrison in lighter temperaments too. And if neck hairs stand on end when Elbow throw those curtains wide, the sensation rises in Everyday Escapism, not in one gloriously memorable chorus, but as a consistent flow throughout the entire eleven original tunes.

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Iggy brings Guitar and banjo to the show, Cath predominantly violin and viola, with flute and ukulele also, together breathing authenticity into these Irish folk influenced tunes of mellowness; soothing but not lax, nor mushy. The writing is above adequate, nothing here to riddle a fragile mind, yet sublime enough to inspire and move you. It’s clear Iggy and Cath have poured heart and soul into this, and it shows. It’s the duo’s second album, Retrospective arriving in 2017, and Everyday Escapism is this year’s offering. There’s links to download from iTunes on the site, hard copies can be obtained at their live performances.

 
Iggy and Cath show their flexibility here, while able to entertain an energetic crowd, here’s something personnel and reassuringly tranquil. A wonderful, ain’t-no-mountain-high-enough track, Million Miles kicks off the set, an ambient acoustic melody with the added emotion of Cath’s violin and occasion distant vocals blesses your ears and lets you know how the album is going to go down.

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Yet there’s no single tune I could pick out as a favourite, as it flows so nicely, it doesn’t distract from the ethos, doesn’t attempt to cram diverse styles, chuck experimental effects or borrow a repetitive sample, yet it never bores, rather leaves you yearning for more. Even tunes which may seem bleak by their very title, like Say Goodbye or Nothing Left to Lose, have uplifting perspectives to them, and nothing here is going to dampen your spirits, and I like that in an acoustic album.

 
Of course, Nick Drake might’ve made a good milkman, who’s to say.

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Penny Lane, Wootton Bassett

Did you know Wiltshire boasts the UK’s only female Beatles tribute? Couldn’t let this be, so had a chat with manager Roger, so far failed to hold the ladies’ hands though!

 

Royal Wootton Bassett musician, Roger Mepstead promotes tribute acts. In the past we’ve mentioned Olya & The Bond Girls, and we love Sophia Bovell as Sugar Motown, also on the books are the Abbaholics, Dire Straits tribute The Sultans of Swing and a Carpenters one too. But I’m here to mention to The Beatelles, an all-female Beatles tribute act, because it certainly defines Roger’s ethos of creating tributes with a difference and here’s a quirky group of ladies having a whole lot of fun.

 
“They love every minute of it,” Roger confirmed, “strange thing is that they sing them all in the original key of each song.”

 
“Surely that’s not “strange;” that’s a good thing?!” I responded.

 
Roger chuckled, “I meant the Beatles sang rather high!”

The Facebook page for Beatelles boasts they’re the only female Beatles tribute in the UK; story checks out with some Google action, despite others elsewhere. “there’s one in Belgium and one in New York,” Roger clarified, though they hardly look old enough to have witness Beatlemania first hand. I wonder if the Beatelles did, but I’m too much of a gent to ask a lady’s age!

 
Jane, Carolyn, Trudie, Linda and Sara cover the Beatles catalogue over the era’s changes with sass, comical charm, but talented precision too. “Between two sets,” Roger explained, “we’ve split the songs between performance songs, first half, and studio songs second half. If you remember, they stopped performing because they couldn’t hear themselves play; screaming girls, etc.” Blinking cheek I reckon, sorry but I don’t remember, but my mum would; she was one of the screaming girls!

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As our debate for the worth of the tribute act continues, I reckon adding twists (and shouts…sorry!) like this are idiosyncratic, and fun; I love, love them do! You can catch the girls at the Phoenix Bar in Wotton Bassett on the 30th November.

 

The Beatelles website

 

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Soul Sucker

I am a bit, yeah, but I’m talking more about the debut EP from George’s band, Wilding…

 

Images by Nick Padmore

 

It was all going swimmingly in the wee hours of this morning, until I backed the milk float into a ditch. Wedged firmly in the bracken which now resembled a milk bottle tree, wheel-spinning, I sat slanted at the helm like a scene from the sixties Batman series with my head in my hands, soul in the dark; what a sucker.

 
Prior I was bobbing along, minding my own and all was fine and dandy. To add to my general satisfaction I’d Soul Sucker, the debut EP from George Wilding’s band Wilding ringing proficient vibes through my headphones and blessing my ears with its unique and curious composition.

 
Out today, I confirm it’s a foursome of awesome you’d expect from Mr Wilding, yet perhaps too fresh in my mind to make an exhaustive analysis; but here’s my best attempt; better, one hopes, then my reversing skills today.

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Everything about it detonates with George Wilding; his exclusive angle and unusual enchanting bearing, yet rings competent backing and expertise meticulousness the like we’ve been building to with Lunatic and Being Ragdolian. With a rearward melody at the introduction, Mouth Wide Open instigated pondering of post-punk, Siouxsie and the Banshees, but with a smoothed contemporary Velvet Underground developing and moving into a riff distinctly Stereophonics in fashion, with its everyday references to smoking at the bus stop, yet always, unquestionably, George Wilding.

 
The Other Side of Fence, dramatically and wittily lounges through like that Lazy, Lazy River with drunken swagger. Like Jim Morrison sliding over to the next Whiskey Bar, or finger-snappy, easy listening curve of Paul’s When I’m Sixty-Four while surrounded in Sgt Pepper’s psychedelic twirls and soundscapes, it’s equally refreshing and boldly different; blinkin’ marvellous.

 

Though maybe less experimental and free flowing then it’s previous neighbouring tracks, Slip Away is archetypical Wilding on form, current but nodding at nostalgia with the potential to plod into becoming a sozzled man-bonding, swaying-in-the-pub type anthem.

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A delicate acoustic guitar riff, under ambient soundscape introduces the mellowed finale, Dirty Dream Balloon polishes this EP with a dreamy porcelain-doll-ballad, and, as is the rest, an experience beyond confines of “local music,” and into its own autonomous realm; in a word; it’s gorgeous.

 
It’s if Lou Reed could hold a note, its if psychedelia met Britpop, it’s a crumbly Flake chocolate bar spreading across your beatnik mum’s Meerabai sofa throw, no matter how much you try brush it off with unsteady hand, you cannot escape that its visible; this timeless EP will stain your music collection forevermore with a benchmark of creative genius.

 

Out today across all platforms: Bandcamp —– Spofity —– Amazon

 

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It’s 1AM, and what are Larkin going to do?

Release a new EP called Live by Night, that’s what; and I’ve had an exclusive listen, so there!

 

Images by Nick Padmore and Matthew Hennessy

 

Upgraded from Dad’s cast-off mono record player, in the early eighties our Amstrad Hi-Fi was the stuff of Star Trek, with a record deck drawer openable by the press of a hoary button, when compact disc was an itch in its Daddy’s pants. Ten-out-ten for innovative design Amstrad, zero for effectiveness; unfortunately, by 1984 a notch developed in the runner, causing the needle to bounce off during the interminable process of retraction, triggering permanent damage to any vinyl that dared enter; still want my money back Alan Sugar, sir!

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Can’t believe I found a photo of it online; look at that beauty!

I recollect praying it wouldn’t occur to Howard Jones’ 12″ Album; loved that disc with its shiny red cover, ruler and a 12″ Howard Jones looking up. Yet, twas a silly name, being all albums measured twelve inches. I could’ve risked leaving the drawer open as the record spun, the danger being if someone ran into the room smashing into it; doomed if I did, likewise if I didn’t.

 
Unsure why this memory shoved its way to my anterior cortex while listening to Live by Night, the title track of Larkin’s new EP, which is ready for pre-order and to be released December. Only after listening to the first tune 1AM, still chatting online with singer Sam Bishop, I despatched my approval; 1AM is highly addictive, very catchy. Sam replied, Live by Night was his personal favourite, which I found interesting, to my ear it’s the most eighties influenced of this trio-track beauty.

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On retrospect, Howard Jones may seem too commercial a comparison, yet, who knows, youth may find it necessary to Google this lost-in-time pop star. I guess, there’s a portion of new wave synth-pop stimulus, particularly in this one tune; picked apart though, there’s numerous influences I could cite. Teenage son sauntered into kitchen while listening, to drop off a collection of plates littering his room; he considered it was more “indie” than previous Larkin tracks. I see where that comes from, and agree, but don’t get me started again on indie; as Larkin is independently produced by Martin Spencer at Potterne’s Badger Set recording studio, therefore according to my antiquated usage of the term, it’ll always be indie.

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In a past review of the debut album, Set You Free, I likened Sam & Finely to Simon & Garfunkel, which aside their drive for perfect harmony, I withdraw this comparison for Live by Night. Whatever influences I could allude, all are subtle, which I think why Howard Jones cropped up, he developed a certain style from synth-pop, commercial though it maybe it was instantly recognisable, and I believe Larkin do similar. Like a signature Set You Free was merely developing, Live by Night stamps a definitive unique and wholly original method to the future sound of Larkin, and it’s amazingly exclusive.

 
Amazing enough for me to steer away from associating this to other local-sourced music, as I did with the debut album, and more towards what the contemporary big boys of the music industry are producing. I accept, I may be past it, but my daughter teases my ears with her Now albums on car journeys, so fully aware what pops, and I categorically believe Larkin need a fat contract and to be racing up the national download chart with this.

 
From the three tunes then, Falling is one, which, released as a single, I reviewed in the summer. I said of it: “Sam’s droning vocals perfectly echo the adolescent despair, the surging heartache of the theme, over an atmospheric soundscape and sublime but subtle drumbeats.” I think this quote is suitable for the other tracks also, a running theme of youthful quixotic confusion of relationships; despair, heartbreak and misperceptions meddled into the acute song writing.

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After an alarm sound, which might annoy if it wasn’t for the simple fact 1AM is a brilliant song and possibly my favourite of the three, lyrics echo through, “it’s one AM, it’s one AM, now what are we gonna do?” Contemplating a trivial argument which blossoms out of control in the wee hours sustaining apprehension, my middle-age mind might suggest, “go to bed, sleep on it; all seem better in the morning.” But this resonance worry, tribulation, returns me to a juvenile condition, a time when romantic uncertainty and anxiety preoccupy the conscience; hope ex-girlfriends aren’t reading this, sniggering “you twat!”

 
So, despite struggling to find an angle we’ve not previously covered for Larkin, I’ve managed to chew your ears off long enough about how fantastic this is, a natural and positive progression from their debut album, concentrated into three solid and marketable tunes that Sam and Finely should be very proud of. You can pre-order on iTunes (here), or wait until its release day for the CD, but take heed, this is not something you want to miss; feels like the making of something special.

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Something special you can help the boys celebrate between Christmas and New Year, similarly as they did last year with the album launch, the EP launch will be the Devizes Conservative Club on Saturday 29th December. For just a fiver, Larkin will be backed by a seven-piece band, and it promises surprises such as support from the boy’s close friend and musician, Julien Biddulph. CD versions of the new EP will be on sale, but any ticket bought will include a free copy; yay, beats a cold turkey sandwich any day.

 
Reserve your tickets now, by select “going” on the Facebook event and comment how many tickets you need. Alternatively, email: larkinbanduk@gmail.com

 

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Sheer History

With Sheer Music returning to Devizes on 8th December at the Cellar Bar with Sam Russo and support by Jamie R Hawkins, I hassle creator Kieran J Moore for a quick chat about Sheer Music’s history.

 

A lone drunken straggler wandered into our ring of barely free-standing friends amidst the temporary city of tents which was a Glastonbury of yore. We welcomed him, he stayed chatting garbage for the remainder of the night until the point he passed his contempt for “ravers.” My friend Steve leaned into him and informed, “but mate, we are ravers.”

 
Oblivious to our attire, that which could’ve been described as “crusty raver,” the rave music playing on an old beatbox, and our constant consumption of “rave accessories,” he looked somewhat perplexed, “are you?!” We confirmed verbally, being visual aids escaped him and he nodded, bided us a good morning and got a shift on. This vague occurrence always tickles me, that, post Madchester and prior to the re-crossover bands, there was a youth culture clash between “rave” and “indie.”

 
Never violent like mods and rockers, just separate scenes where never the twain would meet; ravers too consumed in their own gathering to even recognise indie as a “thing.” Indie kids had a blossoming following with discontent to faceless electronic bleeps, which, looking back I can appreciate.

 
It’s a running joke I share with Kieran J Moore, the creator of Sheer Music, as I label his nights, “indie,” because, well, because I’m old, I guess, and I’m using the term in an archaic fashion, unsure if it’s obsolete. For what begun as a term for songs from independent record labels, transformed into a genre, a precursor to Britpop, in which the music industry were only to keen to commercialise, as they did with ever other youth culture. But, would Kieran describe his events as indie?

 
“Indie as independent,” he confirms, “but not just Oasis-style bands. We were never really that. Locally we were driven by the local support bands, and nationally, by what we were offered.” And long had it thrived at the Fold in the Lamb, now reaching beyond Devizes and into Trowbridge and Swindon, where Kieran has been concentrating his efforts recently.

 

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Image by Gail Foster

Okay; let’s get my facts straight, I asked him if,  “Sheer started off at gigs in the Fold and how long ago that was.”

 
“Sheer started at the Devizes football club in 2004,” Kieran corrects me, “we hired the room, and paid a damage deposit, which we lost, after the then Chairman’s son broke the mirror in the gents. However, 300 people turned up, and I knew I was on to something.”

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Image: Nick Padmore

Can he remember who played? Of course, “The Septiks, Minion Race and Quarterblind. We then moved to The Cavalier, followed by Bell by The Green, where we did a majority of our shows in town. When Paul left The Bell, we moved to the Lamb, under previous owner, Ailsa. Then Sally came along and gave the venue a face-lift and I gave it a permanent PA.”

 
Thus, the Fold was born, “it was what the Lamb needed,” I note, my favourite watering-hole, “I recollect a few bands in the bar before that, but not often.” In between times, Kieran hosted Battle of the bands for Devizes Arts Festival, and joined their committee in 2006. But around that time, he began promoting further afield, at Moles and in Swindon, with the occasional foray in Salisbury.

 

Today Sheer Music and it’s self-titled community of local musicians, the GigFam,   promotes prolifically across the county; Swindon’s Victoria and Level III, Trowbridge’s Town Hall Arts and Village Pump, Komedia in Bath proving popular venues. “We’ve done nigh on 400 gigs in Wiltshire in 15 years,” Kieran proudly tells me.

“Biggest names” I inquire, “in a nutshell?!”

 
“Frank Turner, Vaccines and The Foals,” he replied.

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Sam Russo

So, is Sheer striding back into Devizes like a hungry cowboy runaway, I jest to him! “Well, I never went away… I just had my gigs cancelled. So wasn’t through a lack of trying.” Water under the bridge, it’s great to hear about the return of Sheer Music, “has been a while?”

 
“August, wasn’t it?” Kieran replied. I don’t know, what do I look like, a what’s-on website?! Nevertheless, for a fiver it’s a Christmas warm-up party, set for The Cellar Bar on Saturday December the 8th, when renowned Haverhill singer-songwriter and novelist, Sam Russo appears with an acoustic set.

 
“Sam Russo will be known to many Frank Turner fans, from his support slots over the years,” Kieran explains, “or his critically acclaimed album Storm, released on Specialist Subject Records. Sheer teamer, Dan Buckingham put me on to him awhile back, with the awesome song, Crayfish Tails and I was hooked.”

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Jamie R Hawkins. Image by Nick Padmore

Support for the show comes from Devizes hero, Jamie R Hawkins; nuff said.

 

http://www.sheermusic.co.uk/
Facebook Event Info.

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It’s Complicated and Kirsty Clinch bid to improve Village Hall with Christmas Party

Easter in Christmasterton…. No, hold on, I meant Christmas in Easterton; it’s not complicated, yet, in a way, it is. Have I lost you with the first sentence? It’s okay, I’ll be brief and let you get on with your tea.

 
The sleepy village of Easterton, squashed between Lavington and Urchfont are to get an awakening when accomplished Devizes four-piece band, It’s Complicated arrive on December 8th for a night of festive fun, in aid of making vital improvements to the Village Hall, at the erm, well, the Village Hall itself!

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On departing popular function band, Friday Feeling, drummer and vocalist Tim Watts, vocalist and keyboardist Jacqueline Sherlock, and guitarist Tom Evans, formed It’s Complicated in 2017 in a bid to experiment with a more unique approach to classic pop songs. With a diverse repertoire ranging from Led Zeppelin to Michael Jackson, and bass player, Stephen Barron added to the trio, they’ve come along way in a just a couple of short years and have now begun writing their own original material, which has been well received live and on radio plays. Backing Tamsin Quin on her album launch at the Cellar Bar, appearing at Farringdon’s FollyFest, as well as gigs at the Southgate and The Royal Oak in Easterton, it’s hardly complicated at all; they’re one to watch.

Tickets are £15, includes a tasty supper, and can be purchased in advance by calling Moira on 01380 818094 or David on 01380 812527, who promise to “mingle &jingle in style!”

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But whoa, hold on to your tinsel, if you wanted a little extra in the stocking, expect tiny package of wonderful, Kirsty Clinch to also perform. Princess of YouTube, Kirsty picked up a guitar aged seven and begged her mum for singing lessons. Now a twenty-something with an inimitable angle on country rock, acoustic and pop, her natural ability to entertain will beam a glittery sprinkle to this already exciting function; that I guarantee!

Facebook Event Page

 

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Why I Don’t Write “No Surprises Living in Devizes” Anymore

Gil Scott-Heron chanted “the revolution will not be televised,” bloody right too, it’ll all be on Facebook no doubt. Videos captioned “what the BBC aren’t showing us,” go viral, even if it’s a link to a BBC video. I should stick to posting my all-time favourite album covers and annoying others by nominating them to do likewise. C’mon it’ll be fun, oh yeah, and China are committing mass genocide BTW, or is that just Western propaganda? No one knows for sure, The Beano being the only trustworthy journal. Still, I like “Dare” by the Human League, how about you? Yesh, u too? First world problem vacuumed.

 
If you get a friend request from me, don’t accept; no scam, I’m just unfriendly, apparently. Selfish, some say; just doing my job, lady. It’s a sign of the times.

 
Is there an app to tell us we live in a false economy of unachievable dreams and aspirations? Or should it be just common bleeding sense? They never even put a warning label on the country, something to consider at least? Warning: Ticking Timebomb, do not touch.

 
While our leaders guide us down this ever-decreasing circle of doom, we seem to either accept it blindly like it was a Facebook friend request from a Natalie Portman look-alike after no strings fun, as we joyfully click on her outside link, or else we shake our snowflake heads and share an opposing thread; look at the glorious JC’S charity shop sandals; sure someone will assume he’s being antipatriotic wearing those, while okaying Theresa, as she shows off the diamonds on the souls of her shoes, got a poppy on though. To organise a protest is to promote it on Facebook anyway, hmm; click “interested” to show you’re against the regime, but to start painting a placard is a step too far.

 
Soz, didn’t respond to your revolt event Watt Tyler, I dunno why, but my phone was on airplane mode; the chance of me being able to afford the petrol to make it to a fucking airport is slim, let alone go anywhere on one. Universal Credit, what’s universal about it other than we all go hungry?

 
We’ve succumbed if we wanted to or not, sterling crashing on the stock market and prices for basics going through the roof doesn’t seem to put people off the idea of barricading ourselves in, provided we get our country back so Tommy Robinson and his mates can spurt racist bullshit without fear of persecution, so we can take our borders back, and other bookshops too, and we will build Auschwitz on England’s green and pleasant land. Oh, quit nit-picking, you silly re-moaner; don’t you care about Britain? No, course not, that’s why we moan, dipshit.

 

 

Brexit had a point worthy of discussing in my opinion, but caging ourselves in with ferocious, selfish beasts wasn’t part of it, do I look like Steve Irwin? The NHS will be a fleeting illusion by the time they’ve savaged us and we need more than a plaster. Young conservatives got pissed at your expense last month and scrawled their intentions for our health service on their shirts, and we ignored it, else think oh, that’s disgraceful, but only get as far as sharing on our fucking Facebook page; come the revolution and I might add it to Instagram too, amidst pouting teenage girl selfies with nothing better to do, cos there is nothing better to do.

 

 

No point hiding the fact May was laughing in our reedy, sore faces; she’s fucking dancing the dancing queen; young and sweet, I ask you? That’s wasn’t a dance, it was a gloat; one step away from opening the palm of her hand revealing grain for us to squabble over the spoils, while she jangles her jewellery like Jimmy Saville entering Broadmoor; he was a Tory, wasn’t he? She’s no Beyoncé, it’s going to bite her in her shakin’ booty very soon, her screw-loose cabinet looking more like MFI than Harrods, may as well stuff our opinions on Brexit, throw away this divide and rule trap, unite and get these bastards off their seats.

 
How far can the pompous English be pushed? If this was another country, another era, there’d be a civil uprising.

 
Every move she attempts to bust I shudder another foreign nurse or doctor is packing up and heading for the Chunnel; can you blame them? The only Doctor left will be our liberal incarnation of Dr Who, and come March 2019 and she’ll probably be cited as an ex-Russian spy who mysteriously kicked the bucket from a bottle of Odour le Novichok. BBC act all leftie for entertainment but it’s an Orwellian future with Newsnight; England will prevail.

 
Got to get a Russian nerve agent in your town just to be able to park for free.
Ha, and if you thought I’d stopped the No Surprises column, there’s a surprise for you; it’s been stuck at the traffic lights in Tory heaven. Maybe this column has nicotine in it, I’m trying to give it up, but on a bad day, just gotta write a whinge for you to laugh at; go on, giggle at my anger, sadists. Chuckle at my anguish, titter at my troubles, nobody gives a toss anymore; back to square one. I’ll be honest, it’s the closure of this column, as it’s supposed to be satire and nothing is fucking funny anymore.

 
Life is getting so hard even stinging nettles deliberately grow where there’s no doc leaves.

 
We don’t need another rant, another sarcastic bastard. We made more of a fuss because roadworks made us ten minutes late then we did when Wiltshire Council threatened to close our education facilities. I observed the posts, shouting, swearing and blaming Amanda Attwood, as if she’s the high priest of all matters Devizes infrastructure. She kicked you off, nobody’s fault but yours, toys too pricey to throw out of prams these days.
So, you take to the multitude of other local Facebook groups to shout and curse her name, as if your world has crumbled around you. As if you’ve some God given right to hurl abuse at people in the group she created, as if as creator of a group of over 1000 she has now ceased all prerogatives over it. Else you start a new local group, call it “the issues with the issues with the issues of the Devizes Issue;” you could do that waiting in the traffic.

 
Ah yes, you can see it now, unfolding before you, billions will request to join a place where you can type “big jobs,” and not be punished. Though they don’t join, cos they’ve joined thirty similar others already, and the group fades into obscurity unless you can find the next viral meme of Boris Johnson popping a letter into the eyelet of a burka before Teeder does.

 
Whitehead smirks; “Attwood takes the shit for me ha-ha.” It’s the new blame culture trickling down from Whitehall to Devizes Tory Hub.

 
Some donkey actually commented on one of the killion posts about road works in Devizes that Claire Perry should step in; They. Actually. Said. That. She doesn’t care if her actions cause earthquakes, you think she gives a sausage sandwich if you are half hour late for work?

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Thing is, I reckon we enjoy other’s pain and tribulations, makes us feel better about ourselves. We long for our therapist to stop beating about the bush when we unload our deepest psychological worries, we yearn for them to reply, “no, sorry, nothing I can do for you pal, you’re fucking mental.” My mum pays for someone to tell her off if she eats too much, yeah, “fat club” she calls it, Slimming World to you and me. “Can’t eat that cake,” she gives it, “they’ll tell me off.” She pays for that shit. I laugh at her misfortune, under my breath. Then I help her out, as any good son would; I take the cake, ha-ha.

 
I’m so evil now too, the wind of change drifting me with it; Brexit/remain do what the fuck you like, you will anyway; that’s democracy not powerful media persuasion, subtly painted on the side of a big red bus. I just lounge and watch Spongebob Squarescrotum, trying not to contemplate our fate. Couldn’t care less anymore, I’m numb, about anything. Used to put milk in after brewing my tea, now I just chuck it in before the hot water. You can quote me on Facebook saying how I like my tea, the rest, I’ll sue your ass.

 
Meanwhile another overpriced pub shuts, the social hub now virtual; “Joe Blogs likes this;” he doesn’t have to put his hand in his pocket for the next round. Teenagers ask “okay Siri, what is meant by the term ‘round’ in a social environment?”

 
Nobody got the spare cash for a plastic lollipop, let alone a round of drinks. You’ve uncultured yourself, well done you, abandoned uniqueness, succumbed to Spoons and now you can drink twelve pints for the cost of ten in pub with character; ten pints hardly touches the sides, is there a Europe tribute down the bin? Yeah, the Final Countdown, da-da-da-da-da.

 
Oh, the irony, we’re heading somewhere but it ain’t Venus, it’s a penis, with the face of Jacob Reese-Mog, the Andrew Ridgley of xenophobic politicians, with a protective army of brainwashed twats who thought Romper Stomper was about a soft play centre. The Willy of the people, heart on your sleeve? He’s one big wizard’s sleeve.

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And while we’re on sleeves, why not get a tattoo? The whole fucking sleeve and try not to think how others are sleeping rough. Daddy will buy you that Fiat Punto, you’ve got to stick a shitley rendered eyeball motif on your bicep. Flex it whenever you see a foreigner applying for a job you wouldn’t stand to do anyway. Bloody homeless camping in a graveyard, do they know no shame? Might have done prior to clearing them out of the woods so we can all hang dog poo bags from trees there.

 
And breathe, thank the heavens for small mercies, that that brazen wanker has written his final shite No Surprises column, cos it’s not funny anymore, any subject he could cover is so damn dark and disturbing it satirises itself; The president of America, look at him. I rest my case.

 

Devizine Awards 2018

Shamelessly stealing an idea from posh-rural-girls-with-nothing-better-to-spend-their-corporate-MD-husband’s-salary-on website, Shitty Stilettoes, or whatchamacallit, has to be the lowest of lows for Devizine.

No, put those pecans down, we’re not going into the overpriced cupcake business, but hey, they have awards, awards people, awards! What a fun idea it’d be to have awards too; of the understanding we have no shame at Devizine Towers and it’s something we pride ourselves on.

So, allow me to present the nominating period of the Devizine Awards 2018, whereby winners receive absolutely bugger all other than the fame, (soz, typo; I meant shame) prestige (soz again; pretzel) and perhaps a sheet of sneezed on toilet tissue, should I manage to muster some up; give me a minute…. Achooooo!

There you go. Now who wouldn’t want to win one of these splendid trophies which exists purely as an image online, in only 72 dpi?

Categories then, that’s what I need. How about best place to barf up kebab on a Friday night? Most idyllic location to jettison your unnecessary McDonald’s waste packaging from the window of your dropped down Fiat Punto? Admit it, you’ve got the t-shirt on this one.

Best place to lose your shit? Being a good lad, I don’t even know what losing one’s shit actually means, but lots of cool kids say it. Best place to get stuck in traffic so you’ve an excuse for being late for work? This one speaks for itself.

Oo, now, this’ll be fun; most annoying Wiltshire Councillor? I’m not talking about the councillor who simply has the most condescending laugh, or likes to use business jargon such as “moving forward then,” to mean “I know I’m guilty but I really think we should change the subject,” I mean the most stuck-up, obnoxious arsehole who couldn’t give a finger of fudge about the issues in debate, like closing education facilities, introducing extortionate parking charges or the general dilapidation of our roads.

Biggest waste of space in Wiltshire; open to interpretation this one, could be a heritage site, a recreational area, or perhaps your flatmate Kevin who still hasn’t picked up his plate off the carpet from last night and now it’s crawling with ants.

There’s so many we could do, the gym with the stinkiest trainers? Biggest parking Muppet; not looking for the occasional Gonzo parked on a bus lane to get chips, but the real Big Bird of parking Muppetery. We need photos people, photos I say. Worst local website for news and what’s on…. hold on, no scrub that one, in fact, yeah, bad idea all round really.

Tell you what, let’s do this thang, now I’m running low on gags, and do it properly, with some standardised categories but applied to the local scene. You should know our area by now, from Swindon, Marlborough to Bath, incorporating Chips and Ham, Trow-Vegas, the Sham, and naturally, Divided. l throw open the voting process, seriously, please cast ONE vote per category.

Please add your own answer, if they’re not here; it’s Sunday, my brain smells of wee, and I’ve doubtlessly missed loads. Oh and deadline is next Sunday 25th November, so get voting!

Okay, done deciding? Let’s round this up next Sunday, or whenever I get round to it! Talk to you then, when I’ll announce the winners and runners-up in an online black tie-dye ceremony! Hey, now that’s a good idea, a Facebook ceremony; what’d you think?

 

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Service at Sunset

Bugs me having to take a poster off Devizine. No, I’m not Mary Whitehouse, thank you, just cos I got the same hairdo. Not for censorship purposes, just the cancelation of next Friday’s Sunset Service gig down the Lamb, Devizes. Not wishing to go into reasons, I do wish both parties effected a silver lining on their clouds. Anyhoo, I’ve only gone and blagged the Sunset Service’s spanking new EP download, “Roads Vol1” to account what we’d be missing, cos I’m nice like that; you don’t have to thank me.

 
Sunset Service, five guys, namely: Phil Eaton on lead vocals, harmonica and guitar, Ash Hulbert, lead guitar, James Lloyd on guitar and keys, Andrew James on bass and drummer Olly Bray, have produced a debut worthy of our attention. Four original tracks are on offer here, though the band describe themselves as “alt-country rock,” tracks are diverse.

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While it opens with “Wasted Time,” an up-tempo blast of rock which borders the genre alt-country, and the second track “Take it Easy,” slows the pace with some emotional harmonica and unquestionably respires a country-inspired sagacity, the third tune “One Fine Day” wastes no time in projecting a vibrant blues riff. “Rescue Me” polishes the EP off with the defining blend of previous tunes.

 
There’s fair writing skill, but mostly just an enjoyable listen, which despite its given label, doesn’t lend to the archetypal phoney “country” template. I guess what I’m attempting to explain is that Sunset Service do not ramble off cultural references like they leapt straight out of a freight train heading for Tennessee, save one where Phil refers to “good ol’ boys,” but there’s no indication they’re drinking whisky and rye. Yep, there’s something acutely British about the writing and the vocals which retains its feet firmly on the floor. “Keeping it real,” they call it in hip hop, ironically though sometimes, and being the guys are from Swindon, with a couple originally from Devizes, it does just that.

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Think, if The Flying Burrito Brothers met The Strokes; for while a twang of guitar strings fits snug, there’s a slant of britpop, of Keane, or The Killers. Not overlooking we’ve this retrospective blues edge harking back to Cream or Hendrix. This is quality stuff which we’re clearly missing out on. This side of Christmas the band want to find a replacement booking in Devizes, so promoters get rallying, and everyone else, check out the EP here:

 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4wdIG3KnaEvVfawC8ALzDS
Apple:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/id1441028038
Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Roads-Vol-1-Sunset-Service/dp/B07K4GL5HF/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SunsetServiceUK/

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Where was that Big Mike? He’s Got a Nerve…Ending.

Yeah so, I’ve blown my own horn, reviewed my own night, but it doesn’t happen every day! And what of the big man, Mike Barham, I hear you cry; could’ve asked him to play. I did, alright, and he’d loved to have come down and blasted his splendid noise, but that Deborah of the Southgate nabbed him first; typical.

As if the Southgate ain’t putting on some blinding music every Saturday night, often Fridays too, and even on a Wednesday night when they all sit around “acoustic jamming,” they call it, getting bladdered I calls it, on a Wednesday, do they have no shame? Honestly, they’ve a gig list booked into next year which reads like a local musician hall of fame, and Mike would’ve struggled to get his gert big size twenty in the door again for a while.

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So, no hard feelings I say, I don’t do hard feelings, especially when the secret headliner announced was to be Nerve Endings. Yeah, I know right, who them then? I’ll tell you who shall I, only Mike Barham and buddies, that’s who; Mike Barham supports Mike Barham, what a nerve. I popped over a question to him; “oi Barham, what’s what then, with them then?”

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“Hey buddy,” he gives it, “Mike here! Yeah totally new venture, new tracks, so would love to have a chat about it.” They’ve got Melksham’s Rob McKelvey on bass and vocal, and the awesome drummer Luke Bartels who, if you recall, we’ve mentioned on the exceptionally loud and proud Cellar Bar gig by his Welsh band Holoson in June. Now in my book that sounds like a dream team, and feedback has been very positive; here’s a Facebook video link to show off, and it sounds as we’d expect, flipping awesome.

 
Are they to gig again before Santa does his rounds, they’ve surely made his good list? I’m officially sworn to secrecy at the moment, a few days should tell but word on the grapevine is that their debut gig at the Southgate might not be the first and only show of 2018. Thank cripes for that, thought I’d missed out just because I was at some fancy-pansy online magazine’s birthday bash.

Yep, funny cos it’s true; Devizine wishes Mike, Luke and Rob all the best with this new project.

https://www.facebook.com/Nerve-Endings-295159981332912/

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Lions in Clown’s Clothing….

Devizes Lions: BBC CHILDREN IN NEED STREET COLLECTION

The Devizes Lions, no, not the lions who escaped the circus to invade the School canteen in 1980 or whenever, (showing your age now,) but the Lions Club, who organise and participate in many brilliant community activities, and with the support of the local community have raised many thousands of pounds to help support local people and various charities, yes, those Lions!

Now, where was I? Oh yes, The Devizes Lions will be out in the Brittox with their buckets and dressed as clowns on Thursday 15th November to encourage people to donate to the BBC Children in Need appeal. Please show them your support!

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Birthday Bash Bashed; how our night went down on the, ermm, night….

Photos by Matthew Hennessy @ Hennessyimages

And Nick Padmore  @ NickPadmore Photography

 

Mark Hamill couldn’t identify with the change in Luke Skywalker that the writers of The Last Jedi made. I diverge; alone in isolation Luke’s character would’ve altered. Although I’m no Jedi Master, and don’t habitually drink green alien milk, not directly from the teat anyways, visions of me scrambling in dirt, spitting, “this is not going to go the way you planned,” did come to my paranoid mind Saturday afternoon.

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Nevertheless, I stepped up to the stage at the Cons Club in Devizes to kick proceedings off. Tad nervous, behind a mic not my comfort zone, but from the first note of Lottie J’s keys, and as her sublime voice rang through the hall, I was more like Hannibal of the A-Team, rubbing his hands; I love it when a plan comes together. At just 15 Lottie J has the matured soulful voice of a professional singer twice her age, with a talent for song writing to boot. It was around about a year ago I saw her play at Times Square in Devizes, and it made one of our early articles on Devizine. She wowed then, she’s improved tenfold.

 

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That’s the key to all which went down at the Cons Club last night, our humble birthday bash, for all the acts which played have been featured, least mentioned fondly here, at the very beginnings. It was this which I think made the night special, personally, but for others, and to my surprise, it was the collaborations and team work which banded this event in glory. Not that I should write a review for my own event really, bit cheeky, just consider this a method of letting you know how it went, my thoughts on the night, and an opportunity for highlighting the amazing line-up for those who couldn’t attend, and of course, thanking them.

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Because I’m truly grateful and totally overwhelmed by everyone who played Saturday night, I’m honoured that they gathered, performed amazingly, and stayed to support the cause, join in other’s sets, and generally get pissed with me! Take drunkenness as red, the surprise collaborations took my breath away, Lottie arranging to sing “Day Dream Believer,” with the following act, Sam Bishop and Finely Trusler, aka; Larkin. Despite the duo never meeting Lottie before, it was touching and functioned. But it was the method which would continue, as Jamie R Hawkins took to the stage early to add some Cajon drum to their set, which would’ve been amazing without it. Such then was the ethos of the evening, musicians, yeah, I know, you can see free on the local pub circuit, but amalgamated to complement each other’s acts is a rarity they enjoy as much as we enjoy to see, thus creating a real “scene.”

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Our brilliant poet, Gail Foster, read a couple of sonnets while Phil Cooper and Jamie set up. I’d imagined Gail having more time in the spotlight, her verses worked through chatter and gave us the desired belly-laughs, but with McLaren F1 styled changeover times, Jamie was blasting with passion my favourite original, “As Big a Man as Me,” with Phil now on Cajon. Sharing the set with Phil, solo, then duetting, and then jumping on the Cajon while Phil shook it up, with stylishness, and shakers.

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There was a feeling in the air it couldn’t get any better, but surprise number two arrived when Cath and Gouldy requested to play a few numbers as their original songs’ duo, Sound Affects. We were treated to an unscheduled set; how could I refuse? They hooked up here at while I was home selecting my least smeggy shirt, at five, to supply the PA, despite not planned to play as the Day Breakers until the finale, but also worked tirelessly with the other acts, their respective mountain of equipment, and my complete idiocy when it came to anything technical; I’m glad I didn’t refuse. I owe them so many thanks it’s hard to calculate, Gouldy even dropping my drunken ass off home on his way out of the Vizes.

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If we were as tight as Roy Chubby Brown in skinny jeans for time, sliding in an additional act was a done deal, Tamsin not feeling so good agreed to cut her stint short. But our Tammy was up next, showing no signs of ailment when it came to performing, she did what she always does; it was absolutely terrific, as ever, and I wish her well.

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Before I knew what was what, I insisted Gail read another couple of verses, the latter poignant remembrance themed which stunned the audience to silence. If you could momentarily hear a pin drop, imagine what happened when the incredible George Wilding did his thing? “It’s on the setlist,” he pointed his finger at his scraggily scrap of paper when I recounted his cover of “Be my Baby” at Bromfest in the summer. I insisted they play what they will, unlike some pub gigs, their original songs were encouraged at my show, but when George does a cover, he makes it his own with a natural flare he keeps on his hip.

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The night went from strength to strength, George’s set closing with a gorgeous slow number duet with Bryony Cox, one surprise I was aware of. I’m so sorry to the pair, pressed for time and shown so much dedication and patience, the Day Breakers edged on their chairs.

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I leaned into violinist Catherine York, whispered “I want you to blow the roof off,” and like greyhounds out the starting trap, they sprung on stage to do just that; dancers flooded the floor amidst a bombardment of hugs and celebrations from all.

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I’m still at ten thousand feet at just how great our acts were, but also the contributions behind the scenes from so many, I hereby attempt to mention now. For if Devizine is rather like Luke Skywalker, lonely, just me sat at a computer typing this crap, this night was Rey arriving on the island, ding-dong, lightsabre in hand, it made everything I do, and my contributors do too, a solid, a reality, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

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I’d like to thank Dean Czerwionka of Dead Kool Country Promotions for organising this shebang, Cath and Gouldy for not only the use of the PA and sound arrangements throughout the night, but for playing as Sound Affects and to the remaining Day Breakers.

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I’d like to thank Tamsin Quin, her family, but in particular, Erin for collecting extra money in a bucket; you were brill! To Lottie J, and Dad Russell, I’d like to thank for kicking off our show, Sam and Finely of Larkin, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins, George Wilding and Bryony Cox, for making the night with awesome sets. To Gail Foster for her poetry interludes, thank you. To Matthew Hennessy and Nick Padmore for photography seen here. To Joy Padmore, truly a joy to have on the door. To Carol and all the staff of The Conservative Club; thanks for having us!

 

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To Beverley and The Harcourt Hammies for the cake, my patient and understanding wife Sharon for taking the entire day making a great buffet. To Sue Davis of BBC Wiltshire, the Devizes CUDS, to everyone who came along, and to Resul of the Turkish Barbers in Snuff Street who gave me an emergency trim!

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Feedback has been awesome, seems everyone enjoyed the show. I’ve seen some comments proclaiming how much talent we have here in Devizes on account of the great acts who came to play. I’d like to point out, they were hand-selected for their excellence and surely are a shining representation of the musical talent we have in this area, but are by no means the be-all-and-end-all of the scene I’ve discovered through Devizine, this ongoing exploration of all things local and lively.

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I raised a glass to the ones we let down, couldn’t squeeze in, ones pre-booked elsewhere, to the upcoming names, and the greats, to all the brilliant venues and event organisations we have here from the Scooter Club, Long St Blues, to the Owl, from the Southgate and Crown to the Cellar Bar, from the Saddleback to the Wharf, and from the Arts Festival to DOCA, and more, Devizes really is a little haven for quality entertainment, and while I appreciate Ian Diddam’s hashtag #nothingeverhappensindevizes is nothing more than unsubtle irony, Devizine continues to highlight the nonsense in anyone who dare take it seriously.

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So, we strive on, with no real desire to coordinate events, still Saturday was a lesson learned, and I now feel the pain of the event organisers I chat with, but still feeling I’d like to do it all again nonetheless. Still at ten thousand feet and a tad scraggly around the edges from this amazing birthday bash, I can tell you we raised on the door, approximately £366 for Cancer Research, but we still have to add online ticket sales so a grand total will be with us shortly.

 

Thank you all, I blinking love you x

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Elles Bailey: Girl Who Owned the Blues

Mirko posted about his forthcoming gig at the Sport Club on Facebook, other dates at Coulsdon and Conford have sold out, and commented “I’d really like to get a sold out in Devizes too!” Thing is, if you’d all been listening to the album I’ve been listening to for the past fortnight, it would sell out in five minutes. If local hero Jon Amor’s infectious influence on a vibrant blues scene for our market town is anything to go by, Elles Bailey will astound.

 
Remember when “soft metal” was all the rage, and you heard the intro to Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive? There was something ye olde Americana about it, something authentic; you could hear the wind whistling through a tumbleweed, but as the song progressed it tended to lose its way. Something about the intro to Wildfire reminded me of it, yet that authenticity never, for a second, wanes here, and Elles Bailey is actually, from Bristol.

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In the nineties Bristol contributed to the electronic scene with a particularly unique blues element, I mention Massive Attack and Portishead to Elles, but she doesn’t cite an influence from them. “I didn’t listen at all as I was growing up,” she informs, but I suspected as much, “I love Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker and The Band though!”

 
“Ha-ha,” I jest, “not about to do a “Cher” corny dance number then? To which I rightfully receive no reply! For “Wildfire” is gorgeously mature, if I sum it up as; it blends blues and country, people might respond, “yeah right; that’s been done 60 years ago, it’s called rock n roll!” I’d favour it bridges a gap between the two; weaving blues roots, electric blues and country, with contemporary superiority and originality, but authenticity too, rather than simply, a “blend.” Generally, though, it’s blues, other times it nods to country, but only teeters on the edge of rock n roll. I asked Elles if this was fair portrayal, she replied, “Yeah I’d say that’s a pretty good comparison! I like to dance on the edge of blues, roots, soul and country – add a smidge of rock and that’s what gives you Elles Bailey.”

 
Still, there’s a wonderful smoky style to Elles voice, Bonnie Tyler too easy-a-comparison, because when its country, the acute composition and ingenious writing style is akin to Dolly, while her blues components are as blistering as the idols it pays tribute to; Howlin’ Wolf in particular.

It’s often questioned how a singer obtains their raspy or smoky vocals, and if its dangerous on the vocal chords. Some joke they record as soon as they wake up, others suggest smoking a packet of Camel cigarettes, but Elles’ website reveals a story behind hers of being in hospital as a kid. The blues then took Elles at an early age, and it shows, for this is truly polished and earnest music. This is one fiery blues chick with edge, but with sublime professionalism.

 
This is no quick sample of her music, I count eighteen tracks on the deluxe edition of her debut album Wildfire (Sept 1st 2017) she snapped over to me, which after a listen you feel emotionally exhausted but beholden, like you’ve just returned from a trip to Texas. Like a classic Springsteen album, subsequently you feel like you know the boss personally, as if he’s poured every last detail of his life, his transitory thoughts and sincere sentiment into it.

 
Wildfire received rave reviews, achieved no.2 in the iTunes blues Charts. Subject matter is often the rises and pitfalls of romance, or related, although not cliché, the standard template of cowboy references, boxcars and highway shoot-outs are rare, but Elles regularly travels to Nashville, the album tracked in Blackbird studios Tennessee. Produced by Brad Nowell, ‘Wildfire’ assembled a host of Nashville’s finest, including Grammy Award winning guitarist Brent Mason and three-time ‘Musician Hall of Famer’ Bobby Wood. Blended together back in the UK with the likes of Jonny Henderson (Robyn Ford, Matt Schofield) on Hammond organ and Joe Wilkins on blistering guitar, the result is a unique trans-Atlantic coming together of styles.

 
There’re no standalone tracks here; all are breath-taking and powerful, even acoustic ones. “Same Flame” packs said punch, and is particularly catchy, downtempo “Leiper’s Fork” is staunchly inspiring as Tammy Wynette, and “Time’s a Healer” drifts like Pink Floyd. I hear The Doors, Taylor Swift, but predominantly I hear that dependable old blues of Muddy Waters and the aforementioned Howlin’ Wolf, who’s self-titled tribute song Elles knocks out of the park. I tell her a story I’d once read about him in a recording studio in London, when he gave a quick word to a bunch of young hopefuls recording in the next studio. After said advice the group came out with the style which defined them, and thus the Rolling Stones ensued. Elles loved the story, how we’d both loved to have been a fly on that wall!

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So, Elles is to present a stripped-down version of the songs on offer with Wildfire, “and some new songs and old songs, so a kinda different show,” she explains, on a hefty “Stripped back trio” tour she’s appearing at The Devizes Sports Club on Friday November 30th – you’d be a hound dog to miss out on this one.

 

Tickets available now at Devizes Books, Avon Trophies, Devizes Sports Club or of course, MPL Guitars UK. You can reserve your tickets via txt to be picked up on the door on 07760482453.

Facebook Event Page Here 

Elles Bailey Website

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Hymns for Robots in a Shoebox

Hymns for Robots by Noctium Theatre is defined as devised/ expressionist theatre, and it’s at The Shoebox Theatre in Swindon this weekend.

 
In a small attic, packed in hundreds of cereal boxes, lies the life’s work of Delia Derbyshire – the unsung genius behind the Doctor Who theme tune and trailblazer of electronic music. Join Noctium as they explore this fascinating tale of the mother of modern music. Using strange sounds and weird wobbulations, Noctium brings you a sonic experience your ears won’t believe.

 
Hymns for Robots mixes Noctium’s unique heightened performance style with analogue and digital music to bring you an extraordinary life that was almost forgotten.

 
Suitable for ages 14+. Contains strong language and references to sex.

 

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***** “Constantly engaging and charming. Hymns for Robots is something that shouldn’t be missed.” – Broadway Baby**** “Quirky, offbeat and stylish” – Fringe Guru

 

 

Friday 9th – Saturday 10th November, 7.30pm. Cost: £10

Book Here

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Birthday Bash, Birthday Bash….

Alrighty then, not to blow my own trumpet, it’s time to mention our Birthday Bash again; case you forgot! Concern that it’ll be just me, crying into a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch, and Dean trying to pinch one is waning, as attention for our little party grows evermore, like a zit.

 
While I’ve asked nicely if The Gazette & Herald would be so kind as to give it mention, being it’s for charity, and I’d thought that’d bury a hatchet, it seems I’m talking to a brick wall, so I’m relying on word of mouth, and Facebook of course; you know what to do, sharing is caring!

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Oh, in addition, Sue Davis is going to ring me without inkling how grumpy I can be Saturday mornings, to allow my Dorset tones to ring over BBC Wiltshire radio-waves; I shall be live at 9:45ish. And of course, a special thanks goes to DJ Emma D, on the ones and twos at Fantasy Radio, who’s already given the bash a plug. While I’m unsure if she’d appreciate the tag DJ Emma D, I think it suits; make it a “thing!”

 
The best thing about it, this birthday bash I mean, other than we’re raising some Wonga for Cancer Research, is that all the acts playing were featured, or least fondly mentioned, back in the early days of Devizine, that long, long year ago.

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There was one which hasn’t been mentioned, the wildcard, Dirt Road Diary, but unfortunately, they had to cancel. Suggested by Dean, as we’re in conjunction with Dead Kool Country Promotions, which basically equates to Dean doing all the hard bits while I sprout gobbledygook and take control of insuring the drinks behind the bar are suitable for you; I’m nice like that.

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I’ll be honest with you, (as you know I always am!) I had deliberations about a country band playing our gig, as it’s not to everyone’s tastes, until I downloaded their EP, “Our Country,” released Spring 2018. You can download it here from their website, free; it has that tender slice of rock, like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, particularly tracks like “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.”

 
While I’ve no plans to don a ten-gallon hat and rustle in cattle with a lasso, I love it, there’s a great many references to Americana, box-cars, highways, etc, which may seem cliched given Dirt Road Diary are from Calne, but its authenticity overrides this notion and it drives a convincing country vibe. “The EP’s been receiving great reviews,” lead guitarist Mark Allen tells me, “culminating with us being nominated for the BCMAs people’s choice award to be announced during the awards ceremony on the 24th November.” I don’t do hard feelings, and I wish Dirt Road Diary all the best with this and future ventures.

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Our Country certainly convinced me to change my mind about Dirt Road playing, plus it would’ve given certainty to the times here that I’ve mentioned the ethos the Devizes Country Music Club, recently renamed Devizes Ameripolitan Music Club, likely for the very reason that it is not as one might at first suppose; line dancing is just a slither of the scope on offer, and the club plays host to some experimental and interesting bands. Dean Czerwionka has also recently launched The Devizes Family Club, also operating out of the Cons Club, so as one busy guy, I’m extremely grateful for his time on our birthday bash project.

 
So, are we one act missing I hear you screech, am I down to ten men? Not likely pal, is the answer, as the wonderful Jamie R Hawkins has been on the warmup bench for the whole season, unsure if trips to Switzerland for his recording his new EP might disable his availability to join us, but I’m delighted to announce, he can do it! Adding Jamie to our bustling line-up of local talent really is the icing on the birthday cake.

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Have no concerns, we do have cake, a black forest gateau should arrive, made by the Harcourt Hamsters of Chirton, and kindly donated by Beverly Borrill; I kid you not, check out our hammie feature story from earlier this year!

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Not forgetting Matthew Hennessy of Hennessyimages, who is our official photographer; as official photographer for DOCA and The Wharf Theatre too, provided he doesn’t upskirt me on the dancefloor, we’re delighted to have him.

 
With Dean, Matthew and Bev done, there’s so many others to thank, Carol and the Cons Club staff, of course, but especially Pete of our brilliant record shop and musical hub, Vinyl Realm, who’ve stepped in last minute to provide the PA, and hopefully operate too, as it’s way over my head.

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Most of all though, let’s thank the stars of the show, as no matter if I get my haircut for the special occasion or not, it’s not about me, it’s about the wealth of talented musicians who have kindly agreed to play for nothing but the love of their craft. Lottie J from Swindon you may well know; only fifteen with such a mature, soulful voice and keen writing ability. She’s one to watch, so get there at 6:30pm as she’s opening our show.

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Our Devizes lads, Sam and Finley, aka Larkin are next up, you got to love ‘em; we’ve been following their progress through the brilliant Set You Free debut album to their new EP. After this then, I treat you to the masterful song-writing of that porkpie-hat-wearing Trowbridge living legend Phil Cooper, who sent me his album “Thoughts and Observations of…” to review many moons ago. Phil’s been working closely with our recent addition Mr Jamie R Hawkins, they bounce off each other nicely and so, I think we should extend Phil’s slot, slide said Jamie in and let them play in whatever formation they wish to; it’s a win-win.

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Tamsin follows Phil and Jamie, Devizine’s middle name is Tamsin-Quin-Fan-Club, our first ever article was about her crowdfunding project for an album, which came to fruition as Gypsy Blood, so it wouldn’t be the same without her here.

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I’m also so delighted George agreed to come too, when I first met photographer Nick Padmore, he tipped me off about George Wilding, even prepared I was in awe of his natural ability, and I’d sing his praises to the moon and back, but they’ve probably heard of him there already. I have asked the amazing young painter, Miss Bryony Cox, who is also known for her love of singing, if she would like to join George for a song or two, appearing together in the past has proved to be a wonderful combination; not sure how far we got with this idea but I guess it’ll turn out whichever way on the night.

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And what an awesome night it’s due to be, with Swindon’s The Day Breakers as a finale; Cath and Gouldy, who now also gig as duo Sound Affects, I first discovered through the Devizes Scooter Club as the then Killertones, with their awesome brand of classic covers we can all have a dance at the end; honestly, I insist. Dean has even offered, unofficially, to show us how to dance the floss – another good reason not to miss it.

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Of course, I might be persuaded to say a few words of gratitude, alcohol levels permitting, but you know I’m not best in the spotlight; has to be a very dull spotlight, 20watt or less. We do, however have the brilliant Devizes poet Gail Foster, to entertain us with some witty verses during any tuning and downtime from the acts, so a massive thank you also, to our Gail.

 
A few have asked if they can bring children, whilst I confess, I’ve not arranged provisions or entertainment specifically for the kids, of course they are welcome, and free for under 16s. Who am I to deny kid’s entrance, after all I’m a big kid anyway?! There will be balloons, provided by Cancer Research, and maybe, if I get the time, or someone else could bring some pens and paper, I’d be more than happy to spend as much time as I can on the night, doing some doodles with them.

 
Any other questions or queries you may have, do send them as I’m not an event organiser and probably have overlooked a number of things.

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All I need now is you, oh and a buffet, which I’m working on, but no guarantees; if anyone would like to take this on, with the promise of free advertising on Devizine, I’d be enterally grateful if you get in touch asap. So please make sure you’ve had your dinner early, as it kicks off at 6:30pm, on Saturday, 10th November, and please come and enjoy yourself!

 
Tickets are £10, all proceeds, save a beer each for our acts, will go to the Devizes branch of Cancer Research. Get ticket at the club, at Vinyl Realm, online here, or message me if you’d like to reserve some, but there will be some on the door. Anyone on the guest list are welcome to donate to the charity if they so wish to do so, at the door.

Tickets Online Here

Let me know your coming on Facebook!

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There’s a Kidnap… In Pantoland!

No, not some kid’s pap in Poundland, there’s been a kidnap in Pantoland, or at least there will be if the Wharf Theatre have anything to do with it. Me, I’m trying to imagine: “he’s behind you!…..Oh, he was behind you, now he’s bartering for your ransom demand.”

Still,  The Wharf Theatre Group ask, “what better way to start the Christmas Season and get into the festive spirit than by taking the family to the Wharf Theatre to discover all the songs, jokes and slapstick fun you would expect from the magical world of panto?”

“Come and cheer, boo and generally join in as you help discover ‘who-done-it’ in this pantomime adventure featuring all of your favourite fairy-tale characters,” my money is on Buttons, never trusted that guy, always the quiet ones.

“Together you can catch the culprit and rescue Snow White, Sleeping Beauty & Cinderella who have all been taken hostage by someone in Pantoland. Help Detectives Maverick and Chirpy investigate the case with a little help from the goodies, including wacky washer woman Widow Twanky and silly servant Buttons. And remember to keep a look out for the baddies – Captain Hook, the Evil Queen, the Wicked Stepmother & the Wicked Fairy are hiding out at their club house, working on their alibis!”

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I confess, I’ve a little crush on the Wharf Theatre since the fantastic Little Shop of Horrors performance and it sounds to me like The Wharf’s spin on pantomime will be highly entertaining family fun! Tickets £12/under 16s £10, can be purchased from Ticketsource at:

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-wharf-theatre/events

or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a new Autumn/Winter brochure which is now available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.

Wharf Theatre, Wharfside, Devizes, SN10 1EB

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The Return of the local Rave

Remember, Remember the fifth of November; or do you, I mean really? Or do you just watch the pretty colours of fireworks in the air? Throw away bygone connotations of restoring a Catholic monarch to the throne, I always consider the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 principally as a plan to blow up the House of Parliament, that’s enough for me to ponder if its failure is something, I should celebrate at all.

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So, The Gazette reports “an illegal rave which saw hundreds of people descend on a village near Devizes caused traffic chaos and left a huge clean up job of debris including needles, cannisters and balloons used for taking nitrous oxide,” on Thursday, when it estimated 500 revellers turned up at Pear Tree Hill, near Great Cheverell, Saturday night.

 
I always read such news articles with one eye squinting, knowing full well my youth, filled with personal involvement in such matters, recognised similar bulletins as complete hearsay and gossip-spreading scare stories, far beyond the realities of the actual events. The early nineties, the era of countless raves and mass illegal gatherings in the UK came to its apex when 40,000 ravers descended on Castlemorton Common near Malvern, in the May of 1992. So, let’s get the scale of Saturday night in perspective shall we, with its estimated 500 bods? That would’ve been deemed a “garden party” to ravers in the nineties.

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“Two men were arrested on drug and theft charge,” the Gazette continues, failing to compare this with an evening in a city, where I’d wager police would consider it a quiet night.

 
On with the next line, “A farmer who rents the land from the MOD said: There were cars all over the place blocking the lane. At one point an ambulance tried to go up but couldn’t get through. The mess that has been left is dreadful. There are needles and cannisters obviously used for taking drugs.” Let me just read a smidgen between these lines, it’s a farmer, the poor bloke has just had 500 kids arrive in his field to party, and you expect him to report an unbiased opinion, you expect him not to embroider to get his point across and release his frustration?

 
I fully sympathise with this farmer, and anyone this gathering may have affected, as I would’ve done back in the days when I was a teenage dirtbag on the hunt for escapism and adventure. I’d also like to state that a massive quantity of respect was then given, back in days of yore, for the land we partied on, and the even the neighbours. Contrary to popular belief, we would tidy up party sites, we would take care not to offend residents, and we would least attempt to communicate with police and allow access to emergency services. We were not savage; just bored kids celebrating our youth.

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We weren’t even politically motivated, until the government endeavoured to stamp it out. But what they tried to stop only spread the fashion further afield, across Europe. Now, though, has it returned to bite them in the arse; very few in the age group defined in the Gazette’s report would’ve been raving in 1991?

 
I quiver pondering how true this report is, but if it is and if a mess is being left, abandoned rubbish and general acts of social vandalism are being carried out under this banner of “rave”, I ask the hedonists in attendance, if we are to see a return to the nineties rave scene, please read up on it, see how it was done back then; yeah, it was anarchistic but we respected the land and others, our only mission was to party, not wreak havoc.

 
Organisers, take bin bags, encourage people to be considerate, don’t play the disorder card as it’ll only enrage them and they’ll try halting the party, then it turns nasty, which I know is far from your original intention, and a horrifying situation for partygoers to be in.

 
Sgt Pete Foster said: “We were initially alerted to this incident by officers patrolling the area, as opposed to a call from members of the public. By this time, in excess of 100 vehicles and 400 people were at the scene for what was clearly a pre-planned event, therefore it would have required significant police resources to disperse the crowd, diverting those officers away from a number of serious incidents across the county.”

 
“A risk assessment was carried out which determined there was a low immediate impact on the local community and a decision was therefore taken not to move the crowd on and instead, monitor the situation throughout the night. Two people were subsequently arrested.”

 
“We understand the inconvenience and negative impact this incident has had on those living nearby and we would encourage landowners to ensure their land is secure to help prevent incidents of this nature taking place in future.” This was precisely the attitude of police prior to the Criminal Justice Act, which allowed us a chance to go raving. For some I understand it may not be the correct approach, that acts such as these should be curbed, and if it grows then I’m certain it will, just as before. I’d like to congratulate the police for the right attitude. For if you resist, the matter will blossom out of control.

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Yet, who is to be surprised when, just as before, the government are financially crippling young people, tyrannising the poorest and slashing resources with economic depression, like cuts to services, raising stealth taxes and budgets targeting the underprivileged? Is it any wonder popular revolt and acts of anarchy will rise under times of such pressures? Find me a historical example when rebellion didn’t occur under similar circumstances, I dare you.

 
If the Government wants to control this before it gets out of hand, I’d suggest it ceases its oppressive insolence, reasons we rejected society was because we felt we were ignored, this should be measured. Build a positive reputation, a bond between officials and the youth, and for crying out loud, listen to them, it is their future. Remember, Remember the fifth of November.

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Malone Sibun Band @ Long Street Blues Club

Once again the club was absolutely packed out with punters come to see some of the best entertainment on offer in D-Town. It’s so good to see the club back on a roll.

Tonight’s support act was Thompson Smurthwaite – what a great name! – who had absolutely no trouble whatever in capturing the audience’s attention. Looking a little like Seasick Steve to the casual observer, the guy rolled out some wonderful harmonica blues. On his Facebook page he writes “I was found by the blues in my teens, sang them in my 20’s, met them in my 30’s, wrote them ever since. Harmonica was my first instrument and still in love” and this perfectly sums the guy up. Fully deserved the roaring applause.

Then onto the main act, which was served up in two separate large portions. The first helping had the protagonists – Devizes own supreme axeman Innes Sibun and Detroit-born Marcus Malone and the other musicians – all seated at the front of the stage, playing some beautiful laid-back stuff, thoughtful, melodic but definitely bluesy. This was music to draw you right in and make you feel good.

After the break the second helping was probably more what people might have been expecting, with a full-rip set of high-energy, explosive numbers. It was loud and proud, and the crowd lapped it up. This was a blues/ rock collaboration working in top gear.

So – yet another great night at Long Street Blues Club. Next up on 17th November is Lightning Willie and His All-Star US Band – another cracker by the looks of it!

 

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