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.


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.”

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.

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.”

Jamie R Hawkins. Image by Nick Padmore

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