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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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