2018: Year of Devizine!

Blinkin’ buggery, it’s near the end of the first full year on Devizine. I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have creating it. We’ve certainly grown, like a wart on the butt of Wiltshire. Originally some wanted to pop it, comments like “who wrote this crap?” came thick and fast, replaced now by a constant stream of praise and respect; 2018, has the county gone bananas?!


I’ll never forget the sensation of seeing kids reading my first comic strip, published in my school magazine in 1985, it’s a joy which though you grow immune to, the thrill never completely wanes. I still get a buzz when people come tell me they love reading Devizine, all two of them. So, let’s have a butcher’s hook at what the year bought us.

The first article of the year was a preview of Oscar Wilde’s Ideal Husband at the Wharf Theatre. It opened with: “What makes the ideal husband you might ask; what’s that honey, you woke me up? One made of chocolate and praline perhaps, one who can fix the broken drain in just cut-off jeans and still smells like rosewood and patchouli, one who folds his socks in pairs might be adequate; I don’t know, maybe Oscar Wilde has a better answer than me.” Poor Karen Ellis, in charge of promotion at the Wharf, must’ve wondered the heck she’d led herself in to; it was a relationship we’d work on! We continued to preview performances at the Wharf, from Goodnight Mr Tom, to Kidnap in Pantoland, and by autumn they bit the bullet and invited down to review the fantastic Little Shop of Horrors.


Two days later I previewed Bad Manners tribute act Special Brew at the Devizes Scooter Club, due to happen in April; happy days, the band were tight, the frontman mimicked Buster Bloodvessel with all the outrage and hilarity of the real McCoy, and we reviewed it too. It’s been a great year for the scooter club, Terry Hendrick arriving for super-cool night in Feb, All That Soul and Gimmie Some Lovin’ soul bands to name but a few, but announcing an ambitious Devizes Scooter Rally was the icing, which I dedicated a whole page on Devizine for, and also suggested local acts, The Tribe and Erin Bardwell Collective.


January, I was still publishing No Surprises Living in Devizes column, despite the joke wearing thin. In “Christmas has Bin and Gone,” I passed comment on the environmentally unfriendly post-Chrimbo tradition of disposing of all the unnecessary packaging, composing my rant from the depths of my wheelie bin which I climbed in to crush said rubbish down, ranting about the Flat Earth Society as I went, for some tenacious link or other. The following No Surprises Living in Devizes, “Aesthetic or Artistic; similar thing isn’t it?” spotlighted the red tape surrounding a Conservation Management Plan for an arts space at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in New Park Street. I questioned the need for arts spaces and we looked at a similar pursuit for an Arts Centre in Calne, under discussion with town councillor Terry Couchman. In Feb the column for once in its pathetic life did actually bring a news item, the plans for Devizes Parkway Station; believe it when you see it!


We mentioned Pagan High Priest, Arthur Uther Pendragon’s campaign against English Heritage when they announced entry price to Stonehenge is set to rise in April, and mentioned it again at Solstice. We looked into a growing trend of events where ex-ravers-turned-parents took their offspring to a family friendly rave. We previewed February’s Festival of Winter Ales, a fundraising event for DOCA. This annual event returns on Feb 15th and 16th 2019.


I visited the home of local artist Clifton Powell ahead of his exhibit at Wine Street Gallery. I was mightily impressed with Clifton’s range of paintings, and was glad to meet him after some years away from the reggae parties he used to host. By December, in a bid to bring Devizes more reggae, I put Clifton, aka Knati P, in touch with Deborah at the Southgate, for a reggae xmas bash I couldn’t actually attend!


I previewed the Horrible Histories Tour which came to Chippenham’s Neeld. Then, my car broke down on the way to the premiere of Swindon-made film, Follow the Crows. Luckily, I had already seen it at an intimate press screening, so shared Mark O’Donnell’s online review. Later, we reported on its success at the Global Film Award.


For comic artists I recommended Comics Uncovered in Birmingham, reported on Devizes Town Council taking on the lease for Belvedere Woods, Bentleys Gym attempting to row 1’000’000 metres in under 24hrs for Julia’s House and the Royal Marines charity, previewed a village Abba Tributes trend, and attempted to list good places to visit on valentine’s day, yet hardly any pubs and restaurants bothered to get in touch and let me know what they had planned, like some big secret, or least they didn’t trust old Devizine not to invade their romantic setup!


After a split for Swindon based ska band The Killertones, we introduced you to the newly formed Day Breakers, and I broke the back off slotting myself into Devizes music scene, at the Saddleback’s Battle of the Bands contest. Meeting Jack Moore, George Wilding, Jamie Hawkins, Sally Dobson and Jordan Whatley, all for the first time. With Mike Barham, Tamsin Quin and Alex Cash this was quite something special, but greater things were afoot for the Saddleback. I previewed the festival, meeting with Mirko and John at the Lion, to discuss the improvements they planned.


It was also around this time I received the album Thoughts and Observations from Phil Cooper for a brilliant review, and announced the opening of a record shop in town. A historic moment for Devizes High Street shopping and music scene alike, as Vinyl Realm was born. By a snow-filled March, I parked my milk-float outside and sneaked a peek. Talking milk-floats, we ploughed through the snow; who recalls our fun snow maze? And who recalls our spoof secret agent, Shagger Bond, in our photo story, Dr No Free Parking Here? Might’ve had a bee in my bonnet about the Council’s parking fees threat, anyone else?


Meanwhile I previewed the Devizes Food Festival, the Return of the Moonrakers Comedy Club, with Steve Day, The Beer Festival, “TITCO Does Queen,” and Macs Theatre School gave us a brilliant show, Our House, of which I returned the favour with a well-deserved great review. We featured new albums by guitar soloist Mitch Underwood, Bristol’s Ya Freshness and the Big Boss Band, and checked out Swindon’s Bond girl tribute, Olya & The Bond Girls. There was the time Elvis tribute Paul Larcombe was announced at the Market Laving Music & Comedy Club, and looked at the diverse acts being booked there.
I previewed the Outlaws Orchestras at Devizes CMC, which was unfortunately cancelled. People Like Us performed at the refurbished Bell on the Green, we covered the DOCA campaign to raise funds for fireworks at the confetti battle, the Urban Lions gig to save the Barge, but the most popular article was the rebranding of Francos by Massimo Pipitone, and the amazing food he’s serving there.


For me the highlight of March though, was venturing out of town to check out Swindon’s Skanxters reunion gig at the Victoria.


In No Surprises Living in Devizes I visited Joy and Ian’s hedgehog rescue centre in Devizes, to talk about how to spot hedgehogs in need of help. Then I ranted about our inability to drive sensibly. I suggested reducing the speed limit on our dual carriageways; that went down like a bacon sarnie at Ramadan. Straight onto ranting about the deforestation by the Canal & River Trust, which was followed by the release of the second collected volume of the column in eBook format. If you fancied a rant outside the column, I tried to be nice when previewing the Devizes Arts Festival, but with Anne Widdecombe booked, I couldn’t resist being a tad critical.


I announced a tribute act to the Bootleg Beatles, “the Bootlegged Bootleg Beatles,” playing “a mock version of the Exchange nightclub made out of old shoe boxes and blu-tac in the shed of Liam James, nightclub promoter Ian James’ lesser known looky-likey!” Yep, it was 1st April, and people still bought it! The month was kicked off with some great reviews, Phil Brady’s Save the Barge gig with the Urban Lions, who, in April we’d review their singles, Forward and See Me Rise, Sound Affects who played at my old watering hole, the Lamb in Marlborough, the first night of music at Upstairs at Jacks, where Hayley, Jack Moore and Bryony Cox, appeared, with a finale from George Wilding.
One particularly awesome moment came when local eleven-year old Will Foulstone played piano with The Script.


I wrote a piece on the importance of Bob Marley being signed for Island Records, but that it was not the be-all-and-end-all of reggae, ahead of Legend, a tribute to Bob Marley & The Wailers playing the Melksham Assembly Hall and Wyvern Theatre. The Legend crew liked the article so much they invited the wife and I along, and wow, any reservations I may have had about tribute acts melted right there, it was a fantastic show.


Previews in April were The DOCA Street Festival, focussing on the new Colour Rush, James Hurn’s tribute to Hancock’s Half Hour at the Wharf, Avebury Rocks, All That Soul at the Devizes Scooter Club, who were so simply brilliant they’re coming back to Devizes for more this April. We mentioned friendly weekly art group, the Devizes Art Space, featured pop surrealist Si Griffiths.

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I worried about the outbreak of war in No Surprises, what with the incidents in Salisbury, but in the same piece worried for the Council’s open threats to close of Breaside and Oxenwood, amidst a barrage of other rants. However, when I was caught short at the Old Potato Yard and was ripped into with a barrage of obscenities and idle threats, just for using their public loo, I had to lambast the situation. To update, I never did receive an apology, so, effectively, the protest is still active despite laying dormant. More importantly though, it caused me to tire of the whole idea of writing the column, feeling that there was simply enough negative bullshit about, and it wasn’t funny anymore. It was the end to an era. Well, kind of, I did knock up a Royal Wedding special, and a reasoning piece about why I dropped it, naturally, but other than that……


If signs of spring didn’t brighten me up, Gypsy Blood did. Tamsin Quin’s album release really made a massive impact on our local music scene, and though I missed the launch gig, an intimate afternoon session at Vinyl Realm made a great condolence. Reviews also took the shape of a CD of poetry by Gail Foster.


May previewed Devizes Well-Being Day, Swindon Shuffle, The Calne Music, Arts and Crafts Extravaganza in a bid by Terry Couchman for an arts space in the town. A Play in a Day, at the Wharf, where children were asked to devise and perform their own play, and Broken Wing, the Searchers at Melksham Assembly Hall, The Civ-Pop Festival at Lynham with Peter Andre, summer events at the Wiltshire Museum, and acting courses at The Shoebox.

We also featured the new menu at The Cross Keys, Rowde, Kennet & Avon Brewery’s corporate rebranding to Stealth, as part of the Devizes Food Festival, which I absolutely loved. But if one article made us chuckle, it was the Borrill family of Chirton’s Harcourt hamsters, which has to be seen to be believed. The highlight for me though, was at the end of May I claimed how proud and grateful we should be to the Devizes Clean-Up Squad, and suggested we clubbed in and got them a thank you present. In July we ended the campaign, offering the CUDs £300 we raised, which they’ll spend the lot of on pudding at their Christmas party!


The downside to the month was the moment I tried to big-up the new owners of the Southgate, the point being they were dedicated to bringing live music weekly to Devizes, but due to misinformation, the subject was obscured by one sentence concerning the previous owners. Yeah, that sure backfired, and while the people affected were content with a sincere apology, others thought it’d be amusing to put me on a witch-hunt. A lesson learned, yet you have to admit, the original intention of the article was correct, The Southgate fast becoming a legendary venue for our town.

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The end of May n summer was peeking, and I was thrown some tokens and a glass at OwlFest in Bromham, where I proceeded to try all ciders on show, and try again. This was a great warm up to summer, with Mike Barham, Tamsin Quin, George Wilding, and I was introduced to the hilarious Corky.


June, I mentioned the opportunity for performance artists at Fest West 2019, Marlborough’s Open Studios, The Loganberry Trust and Wiltshire Freemasons raising awareness of prostate health with checks in Devizes, the modernisation of football pitches at Green Lane, with Bishops Cannings Youth FC, and I had a great day discovering the art of brewing at Rowde’s microbrewery, Devitera.


Reviews of Welsh alt-rock band Holoson, which opened a new chapter for the Cellar Bar, a new EP from country-rock band The Stories, and The Bluestone Gallery. I did two parts of a three-part series about my favourite dance albums of the nineties; just an excuse to relive my misspent youth. Unfortunately, the computer broke down, leaving the final part lost. We may/may not have made up a story that a graphic artist was employed by Wiltshire Council to depict the future Devizes Market Place.


July saw Sunday afternoon’s at Hillworth Park with Fantasy Radio, Vince Bell performed with daughter Evie Smith, and Tamsin Quin, followed the next week by People Like Us.
I reviewed Secret Swindon, a marvellous history book by Angela Atkinson, chatted to artist Bryony Cox at her exhibit Upstairs at Jacks, looked at Dean Czerwionka’s Dead Kool Promotions, which expanded to start a “Devizes Family Club,” Jack Moore popping into Vinyl Realm, and a meal at the Moonrakers, with added Kirsty Clinch; cor!


Previewed school holiday activities at the Wiltshire Museum, Rowde’s “Party in Barn” for a new leisure facility, White Horse Opera’s Magic Flute, which was reviewed by Andy, (more of his valid contributions further on,) PSG Choir’s county tour for Plastic Oceans Foundation, MAC’s future performances of DNA and Blood Brothers, Emily Lockett coming to Devizes CMC, Seend’s Big Breakfast, Moonrakers Comedy Club, and the return of the annual Female of the Species gig in September, which I attended in Melksham and reported about this awesome show, in aid of Young Melksham.


Highlights of July, undoubtably, The Saddleback Festival, where, not without a few lessons to be learned, the event was total magic, and will hopefully build on the rep to an even better show next year. The following week was the turn of The Devizes Scooter Club, who held a grand barbeque party, with The Day Breakers, Blondie & Ska, and a lesser known DJ! It was fantastic, raising £1333 for the Opportunity Centre; ah, summer days seem so long ago now.


August, and I started to plan our Birthday Bash, previewed the Taste of Wiltshire at the Farm Cookery School in Bromham, the autumn line-up at the Wharf Theatre, the DOCA street festival and carnival celebrations, which was topped off with an invite to the surreal circus show My Lakita’s Popcorn Machine. But they were topped by Saddleback’s Beaux Gris Gris gig, which was awesome, and I went all squidgy interviewing Californian rock chick Greta!


August, as well as The Turkish Barbers, I also finally got around to reviewing two EP’s from our own Jamie R Hawkins, and the Larkin single, “Falling.” We were introduced to The Wiltshire Boy, I reminisced about the horror of the school roller-disco, as Melksham Assembly Hall was turned into one. Something a bit different though, was my meeting with local street magician, Raj Bhanot, when he performed a few tricks on unsuspecting punters of Café Nero.

The Street Festival was something special indeed, particularly enjoyed The Carny Villains’ blend of gypsy, Balkan folk and ska, on the big inflatable stage. This was followed by easy-to-make articles of stealing photos of the Devizes and Pewsey carnivals; always a popular post when I don’t write much; must be trying to tell me something!


September, we previewed the Brick Show at Steam, where I stole to opportunity to recollect my love of Lego, The Day Breakers at Devizes Scooter Club, The McMillian Coffee Mornings in our area, Seend’s Oktoberfest, Trowbridge’s Town Hall Arts celebration of Black History Month and The Smiles Club, Wiltshire’s Operation shoebox, a Devizes-based arm of a group who send much needed Morale boxes out to our military deployed on active duties.

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Reviewed Strange Tales album, “Unknown to Science,” Cracked Machine’s “I, Cosmonaut,” of whom Andy reviewed their night at the Southgate, Nightlights’ “Different Pathway,” and managed to catch part of Vinyl Realm’s Fold takeover, with The Compact Pussycat, their final gig with Jordan Whatley.


I tried out an e-bike, chatted about environmental issues and Green Drinks events with Sustainable Devizes chairman, John Schofield. October, and I was joined by brilliant writer Andy Fawthrop, who reviewed Joe Hicks at the Three Crowns, and continued to review Malone Sibun Band, Ryan McGarvey and Groundhogs & Del Bromham, all at The Long Street Blues Club, the Sultans of Swingers at The Bell by The Green, and despite I had a chat with Steve Maggiora, Andy reviewed his night at the Cellar Bar too. I’m so grateful for Andy’s great contributions; can’t be in two places at once!


In November I got all trainspotter with a review of a book called Traction, and pondered the return of the illegal rave, or not. The carnival date was moved, the location of the Scooter Rally changed to Rowde, I amalgamated all Halloween events, for young and old, Poldark met the Wiltshire Boy, or visa-versa. We previewed Hymns for Robots at the Shoebox, Devizes Lions Children in Need collections, Elles Bailey due to appear at the Cellar Bar, and my own birthday bash, which was for me the greatest high-point of the year. We squeezed in suburb performances from Lottie J, Larkin, Phil Cooper, Jamie Hawkins, Tamsin Quin, George Wilding, Sound Affects and the Day Breakers into one boomtastic night, raising over £480 for Cancer Research.


I previewed It’s Complicated and Kirsty Clinch’s Christmas party to improve Easterton Village Hall, and finally caught up with It’s Complicated at an unforgettable Southgate Sunday session, with Vince Bell and Tamsin Quin. Hopping onto these Sunday sessions, I also made it down for Sound Affects the following weekend.


All went rather quiet after the birthday bash, I covered Mike Barham’s new band Nerve Endings, who debuted at the Southgate on our night, so I missed it, also his DevMas night for Julia’s House, and took Kieran Moore for a trip down memory lane highlighting the history of Sheer Music. We even mentioned an all-female Beatles tribute act, The Beatelles.


As well as Gail Foster’s new book, “Mischievous Spring,” to review, I was overcome with new musical releases, to keep me busy; starting with “Roads Vol 1” by Sunset Service, George Wilding’s “Soul Sucker” EP, Sound Affect’s “Everyday Escapism,” Jon Amor’s brand-new album, “Colour in the Sky,” Phil Cooper and Jamie Hawkins live download album, and, not forgetting Larkin’s EP Live By Night, of which I made to the fantastic launch gig just last night at the Cons Club.


I focussed on the spirit of Christmas, mentioning both Jeannette Von Berg, Pam Sloane, the team at Sheep Street Baptist Church, with their Christmas dinner for people alone, and Devizes Opendoor’s fantastic efforts to ensure our homeless and vulnerable get a meal too.

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Meanwhile I deliberated there’s not enough reggae in Wiltshire, ahead of Asa Murphy’s highly anticipated show, “Buddy Holly Lives,” coming to Devizes, I contemplated the fateful day Don McLean claimed “when music died,” and asked, “can music really die?” I even published spoof articles, “Say no to Maria Carey this Christmas; and other festive songs which need to be banned!” and, creating some Devizine Awards, then, realising I could create polls on the site, I made a real voting awards system, the results coming next folks!


All in all, it’s been a fantastic year for Devizine, I think you’ll agree, we packed as much as we could in. I have to thank everyone who has been involved, our contributors, everyone who I’ve stolen photos from, the musicians and organisers of the birthday bash, and also, to you, for reading it, sharing the articles and spreading the word: Happy New Year, here’s to 2019!




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A Christmas Pressie From Phil Cooper

What’s the betting Phil Cooper gives darn good Christmas presents? He’s just that kind of great guy, isn’t he? Who, when you open it you gasp and proclaim, “omg, I’ve spent my life trekking to the four corners of the world for one of them; where did you get it?” Whereas, undoubtedly, I’ll scoot down the Spar shop three minutes before closing on Xmas Eve praying to the archangel Gabriel that Dereck still has those twelve-pack of Wagon Wheels on offer; jammie ones, mind, nothing but the best.

Here’s a fantastic gift from Trowbridge’s premier singer-songwriter; a live album download, on that wonderful Bandcamp site. Recorded at Exeter Phoenix just last month, Phil is accompanied by Devizes own Jamie R Hawkins, and this download has a “name your price,” tag, potentially it’s free unless you’d like to give the team a thoroughly deserved Christmas tip.


This live album features some tunes from this year’s studio album, Thoughts & Observations, (which I reviewed earlier this year, here) such as Road Songs, and Everywhere I Go, and contains other material, some from the 2016 album Things I’ll Never Say, and ones, I dunno, I’ve not heard before!

With a second tour of Canada, appearing on the main stage at Trowbridge Festival, he’s also supported Badly Drawn Boy, Mark Chadwick and The Blockheads, the latter being the night before he shook up our birthday bash, I think it’s been one fantastic year for Phil. “This year has been a big one for me,” Phil states, “releasing Thoughts & Observations, and getting an independent distribution deal for the album. Distro deals are excellent for independent artists as they allow you creative control, but also give a wider reach.”

Phil somehow managed to find the time to engage an exciting folktronica side project track, Lullaby by BCC; a different side to Phil, yet this Live album works as a great sample of what to expect attending one of his gigs; it’s moreish. Certainly kept me sane through the driving wind and torrential downpour at work this morning.


Another highlight he cites is an increased amount of shows with Jamie, “This man is my musical soulmate and getting to play more and more shows with him is magical, hopefully we’ll do even more next year!” is a sentiment I know is mutual as I chatted to Jamie Sunday at the Southgate, while making peek-a-boo faces at his baby daughter, who was too busy time-keeping for Sound Affects with a tambourine to be concerned about my silly faces!


While I’m on the Southgate, don’t forget the pair will be rocking New Year’s Eve down there, and I’m sure there will be a few surprise guests too. Until then, or the next show you can make it to, this Live at Exeter Phoenix download makes the perfect fill in, and taster of these guy’s fantastic teamwork.


Download it here:


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Gail’s Mischievous Spring

Blinkin’ awesome what you can find on YouTube innit? Section of a long-lost cassette beleaguered my mind, though I can’t find a clip the whole album is there, the part I wanted to draw attention to is approximately twenty-six minutes in. It’s a live recording of punk band, The Newtown Neurotics, where breaks are filled with poetry. This one in particular was an awakening in my affections for poetry, a far cry from the stigma enforced by school-teachers slamming a copy of Ted Hughes on your desk. It enlightened an adolescent me, poems can be current and topical, yet still stimulating, shocking, and poignant.

I wanted to mimic this purely punk-paste inclination at our birthday bash, when local poet Gail Foster offered to read some verses, for akin to this recording, Gail sparks a passion for wordsmanship within me, and casts away age-old stigmas. I’m glad to say it went down a treat. Besides, it’s good to befriend a local poet on social media, as insights of their inspiration; on Facebook one day she posted a rant about a stray Amazon package, and I thought, “there’ll be a verse about that by morning.” And there was!



Gail performs her poetry at open mic, on Fantasy Radio, and reading ‘Years of Hurt’ at a service in Salisbury Cathedral an acme. She also self-publishes; that is why we’re here today folks, cross-examining her shiny new anthology; Mischievous Spring. While it seems the traditional method of a book can be outdone by the speed and efficiency of posting on Facebook, I wanted to gauge her thoughts about social media as a platform, and ask her what method she favours.

“Facebook and performance,” she states, on one hand, “but not everyone does Facebook, post a poem and it is gone, put it in a book and it’s there for ever; I like books.”

“But I’m not up for sitting on my work and waiting months for someone else to publish it. Fuck that. Doing books is also a good way of cataloguing my work.”


Gail admits to a short attention span, “I write spontaneously, and then when I have written a lot, I put the good bits in a book. I like to write quickly to make room for the next inspiration.” Yet she concludes they’re equal pegging, “you’re asking me for one method of delivery I prefer to all others; there isn’t one.”


Rather similar is the content, Gail’s subjects and styles are varied, with the serious sides you expect of poetry; of autumn, of spiritual or natural elements, like snow, hedges, and of Orion, and dejected love. There are emotional annotations, “Years of Hurt,” as a great example, where a football fan takes anguish out on wife after a loss for his team. “Shall I Vote,” contemplates the sacrifice of suffrage against our taken-for-granted rights, and there’s a few astounding muses of war.

Breaching seriousness, looser, comical elements are plentiful too; humorous subjects as why Gail likes watching rugby, jarred prepubescent moods, haunting activities, like the 100-metre race at school. Snap, I’m earnestly relating. Arbitrary witticisms also stab your funny bone, of pot noodles, or pickled onion Monster Munch.

Politically standing left, the media assault on Corbyn is critiqued, a ridicule of fracking distressed, yet hilarious satirical attacks on Rees-Mogg, Tommy Robinson, and of course Trump, together with a perfect summary to the mess of Brexit, also make up the topical element. Yet no celebrity is taken prisoner; Garth Southgate, and oh, how unfortunate for Elton John. Peter Stringfellow though, meeting St Peter at the Pearly Gates is comic gold.

Gail serves her poetry with edge, and honesty; Steven Hawking not safe, adult-themes on why we drink too much, and she opens a world where Mrs Claus retorts to Santa that’s he’s a “bell end.” She flirts with her words, spares nothing to filth, rather playground amusement in articulate muse, revealing a fascination of going commando, as a running theme. “I’m not out to be controversial, or to upset people with the swearing,” Gail notes, “it just comes out like that sometimes. Plus, the more words the better for poetry. And a lot of things rhyme with ‘shit!’”


Yet while she swiftly moves through a huge range of genres and subjects, this book flows whereas her previous seem more randomly collected. There’re superstitions around number seven, which flows into a clock poem, and into one called “Moment.” Similarly, her affections for druid connections and Gorsedd drift to odes to poet bards, through winter solstice to spring. I pondered if the poems are chronologically placed, as each thought progresses to the next, or just carefully planned.

“That was the hardest part, the grouping,” Gail confessed. “Some clearly belonged together, others clearly didn’t belong together. The Gorsedd is chronological. A couple of chapters are alphabetical. There is a seasonal thing going on with the first chapter; that’s a bit vague, isn’t it?!”

Perhaps, but it’s a hefty volume, with variants; another reason for its value, there’s something for every mood on offer.

“’Ceres’ and ‘The Old Man and The Hill’ are very much beginning and end,” she continued, “seasonal verse are grouped together within chapters, Christmas, winter – Birds of a feather, loosely flocked together! The most difficult thing for me about this book was the combination of serious and spiritual rhymes with sweary, scatological rhymes. That’s part of the reason for the grouping and chapters.”

Gail is also a keen and creative photographer

“One of my friends told me that the night her partner died she was reading him my poetry. Really lovely touching things like that happen sometimes.” Again, with all Gail’s work, binding the range is the underlying local theme, the feeling you’re never a million miles away from Gail, as she dedicates odes to friends well-known in the area, The Arts Festival, and Wiltshire Air Ambulance; the cherry on the cake to a wonderful collection of poetry. “You should be well-chuffed,” I add.

“I’m chuffed about the book, yes,” she replied, “but this time I have no illusions. It might do well, it might not. It is unlikely to make me rich, but then I don’t want to be rich. I’m very grateful to the people who take an interest in my work.” That is the usual labour of love, the bleeding heart of the artist which forces them to continue, and Gail has the bug.

This is a wonderful addition to Gail’s portfolio, progressive and entertaining. She finishes by contemplating, “I wish I had done this years ago. But I didn’t, and that is that.”

No matter, you’re here now, and Gail’s Mischievous Spring can be found at Devizes Books, and on Amazon.


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Sound Affect Sunday at The Southgate

Another excellent Sunday afternoon session at the Southgate breezed through with the remarkable resonances of Cath and Gouldy, aka Sound Affects; I can see a Sunday pint down the little yellow painted house of music becoming a thing for me.

For if you haven’t motivated yourself out of the home for a Friday or Saturday evening, note The Southgate will still entertain you on the weekend’s finale. Not a great deal to say of this gig though, we’ve given a lot of coverage of Sound Affects and their group, The Day Breakers, yet it’s all fully deserved.


Always able to rouse a crowd of any proportion with just guitar, fiddle and charm, they rambled through their repertoire of classic uplifting, toe-tapping numbers; of retro pop, Irish folk and a small selection of their brilliant original tunes. They’ll try sell you a CD without any pressure, of which I’ve reviewed here, but if you’ve no, nay, never taken heed of previous recommendations about Sound Affects on Devizine, do look out for them in future.


Always a pleasure to hear you guys, and keep up the good work Deborah and Dave, guarding Southgate from a possible invasion of boring Sundays!


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Homeless but not Alone; Christmas at Devizes Opendoors

Ha, and there’s me whinging I’m working right up to Christmas eve; I’d just like to say, Santa hats off to Deputy Coordinator Angie Carpenter and the volunteers at Devizes Opendoors, who will be holding their annual three-course Christmas feast at lunchtime on Christmas Eve at the St Johns Parish Rooms. They will however, also be open on Christmas morning, serving breakfast.


Anyone who is vulnerable or homeless are very welcome to attend. I’ve seen the great work this team do, when I last visited for an article. I saw the delight on a young lady’s face when she chose a new hat from the selection of donated clothes, I witnessed only gratitude and appreciation from the attendees of the centre, and felt a satisfied community spirit. There was surplus food to take and what didn’t get used was given to the Food Bank. There were showers, clothes and even advise and assistance on hand for those who needed it.

It’s an essential time of year when our homeless and people in sheltered accommodation need all the help they can get. It’s cold and miserable out there, guys and gals; stick your head out your window and have a look, imagine sleeping rough in that, and then I hope you’ll join me in wishing Devizes Opendoors a very merry Christmas and wish them well for the New Year, for all the amazing work they do.


Angie would also like to thank the local branches of Morrisons, M&S, and Lidl for their continued food donations. While we were chatting, I pitched the possibility of Devizine staging an event to raise some money for Opendoors, so watch this space.

Until I get around to sorting something out like this, don’t forget tonight The Invitation Theatre Company have their Christmas Concert at St Johns Church, at 7pm. It’s just £6 a ticket and all proceeds go to Opendoors.

And if you cannot make this, how about the “Christmas whodunnit,” Murder on The Polar Express, written and read by the ever-amusing Mr Ian Diddams at The Vaults Micropub, Devizes on Tuesday (18th) at 7pm. It’s free but donations are encouraged on the night, which will go towards Opendoors, so here’s your chance to give a small gift to this great charity. Not forgetting our regular contributor Andy Fawthrop, and local poet Gail Foster, who appeared at our birthday bash, will also be offering some “seasonally inappropriate poetry.”


To find out more about Devizes Opendoors click here!

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There Never Was a Day When Music Died, Buddy

Ahead of Asa Murphy’s highly anticipated show, “Buddy Holly Lives,” coming to Devizes, I contemplate the fateful day Don McLean claimed “when music died,” and ask, can music really die?

Asa Murphy as Buddy

Huddled under blankets with Dion, on their way to Mason City Municipal Airport, a twenty-two-year-old Charles Holley gazed through the bus window at the sub-zero February night, he was frustrated. He’d only agreed to do this “Winter Dance” tour because, bitter with his resignation, his ex-manager Norman Petty was withholding royalties; he was broke, and had a baby due.

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The tour had been a disaster from the off, the heater on the tour bus kaput, leaving the musicians freezing. The drummer Carl Bunch already hospitalised from frostbite, Jiles Perry Jr, aka The Big Bopper had influenza which was spreading around the group, and Charles, who was known to the world as Buddy, was also concerned, due to an unofficial date at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, that he had no clean suit for the next performance.

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Surf Ballroom owner Carroll Anderson didn’t care, unwillingly agreeing to charter them a plane to avoid the 365-mile journey through towns they’d already played in, he did so, as cheaply as he could. It is said the young pilot Roger Peterson was both unlicensed to fly at night and unaware of the impending snowstorm.

Things must have been looking up for the three assigned seats on the plane; Buddy Holly, Richardson and Ritchie Valens, who’d won his seat with the flip of a coin. There was banter at the airport, Buddy kidding “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!” was retorted with “well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes,” from bass player Waylon Jennings; a jest which would haunt him for the rest of his life.

The rest is history, Don McLean labelled it “the day that music died.” Yet rock n roll’s future was uncertain in any case. As well as this fatal accident, Elvis had joined the army, Jerry Lee Lewis was disgraced on a UK tour when his wife’s passport revealed her to be aged thirteen, likewise Chuck Berry was serving five years for sex with a fourteen-year-old Apache girl, and, irritated with the industry, Little Richard returned to recording gospel. Although the turn of the decade saw Eddie Cochran’s taxi crash near Chippenham, it proved music certainly hadn’t died; extraordinarily prolific, Buddy Holly left a huge back catalogue which would be post-humorously pressed, inspiring a new generation, especially in the UK.

Buddy Holly, pictured in Salisbury

Buddy Holly and his original band, The Crickets had toured the UK the previous year, 1958; closet gigs to us were the Gaumont Theatre in Salisbury, now the Oden Cinema, and the Colston Hall Bristol. These performances were surprisingly unfilled, rock n roll still in its infancy in Britain. It would be bands enthused by rock n roll who’d take it to new levels. Skiffle group, The Quarrymen made amateur recordings of “That’ll be the Day,” later changing their name to the Beatles, inspired by Buddy’s insect band name.

Arguably no Buddy, no Beatles, but here’s a tenacious link; no Buddy, no Devizine! My Mum, caught up in Beatlemania, looked to who they cited as their influence, and became a fan of Buddy three years after his death. She met my Dad at an evening class, jokingly recalling, “I only talked to him because he had Buddy-Holly glasses!”

I guess my parent’s love of rock n roll rubbed off on me; this maudlin tale, the circumstance Britain saw a gap in the market, repackaged the genre and sold it back to the USA fascinates me! Yet sixties music had to appear in an advert for jeans to be trendy in the eighties, so I did get laughed at for my T-shirt of the Buddy Holly Story Musical in 1989, but I didn’t care. It was the first time I’d been to a West End show, only enhancing my interest in my parent’s music, despite adopting the contemporary youth cultures and music.

Now though, we’ve come full circle; imagine my interest when I heard a popular Buddy Holly tribute show is coming to Devizes in April, with its own sad story behind it. Popular Liverpudlian swing singer Asa Murphy stars as Buddy in “Buddy Holly Lives,” a stage show which sold out the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool. Its very name suggests what I express here, the legend may have, but the music didn’t die.

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Asa at Bootle Town Hall

I’d like to think there never was a day when music died; perhaps a few mortally wounded it, such as the day in January 1984 when Pete Waterman asked Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, to work with him at his production company. But music is surely immortal, you can’t kill music, not even if you chuck Britney Spears at it!

Anyway…. I digress; spoke to Asa about the forthcoming show, “is it a play about Buddy, or a concert of his music?” I asked.

“It’s a mixture of both, eighteen songs with actors as narrators telling the story of Buddy’s Career,” Asa explained, “and a live Band. It’s an interactive show with the audience dancing at the end!”

“Naturally,” I responded, “I’d expect nothing less!” But, has he played as Buddy Holly before?

“No,” he informed, “first time.” Of which I replied with “oh boy,” then apologised for my pitiable pun. Asa certainly looks and sounds the part, the show receiving astounding reviews in Liverpool.

Musician, producer and engineer at The Music Workshop, Peter Lamb has organised this exciting event, in celebration and memory of Bruce Hopkins, who sadly passed in November. Asa worked with Bruce back in June, when despite Bruce fighting an aggressive form of prostate cancer, they staged fundraising concerts at the Bear Hotel, for Prostate Cancer UK.

Previously the keen musician, retired businessman, founder of Devizes Fine Kitchens and former chairman of Devizes Football Club staged the Patney Picnic summer event in his family’s garden, and over the years raised about £30,000 for charity. Asa explained the importance of this event, “the show is touring the UK in 2019, I promised Bruce we would bring it to Devizes.”


Buddy Holly Lives will be at The Corn Exchange on Saturday April 6th, tickets are £20 and will be available from Devizes Books next week. “It’s in celebration of Bruce’s life and charity work,” Asa continued, “plus we will be making a donation to a charity of his family’s choice.” Which sentimentally strengthens our theory that, despite the sorrow of loss, there was never a day when “music died.”


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Don’t be alone in Devizes this Christmas

Hey you, just a quick one from me today; busy as a busy thing being busy. In some way or another I’ve reported on this piece of Christmas magic last year, more elaborately, but it’s worth mentioning again, each time Christmas comes around. For yet another year there is no need to be alone on Christmas Day in Devizes, thanks to Jeannette Von Berg, Pam Sloane, the team at Sheep Street Baptist Church and, not forgetting, the kindness of all who commented on Jeannette’s post on The Devizes Issue, offering donations and assistance.

It really is touching and in the spirit of the season that they provide a free three-course Christmas dinner from 1pm Christmas Day, where children are welcome and transport can be provided if required.

Maybe, being our little site is all about events, music and so forth, that this message will not reach many of those who need to read it, but nevertheless I’m putting this up so it reaches ones who may know of someone left alone. Please, if you do, pass it on, and let’s have a great Christmas for all. If you, or someone you know would like to go, or if you can offer your time to help in any way, telephone Pam Sloane on (01380) 720186 or 07941 161070.





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Nothing Complicated at the Southgate

Two birds, one Sunday afternoon stone. Motivate myself out of hibernation, pre-dinner time, to step over the threshold of The Southgate Inn, something long overdue. Also, the perfect opportunity to catch It’s Complicated, who, after a fundraiser in Easterton Saturday night came to the longboat of love to show us how they do it. And now, after mentioning and mentioning this Devizes based band, I finally confirm, they do it very well indeed.

Self-described as “not your standard covers band,” (otherwise they would’ve named themselves “It’s Easy,”) is nothing but exact, as vocalist and keyboardist Jacqueline Sherlock rings out an inimitable cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean while I’m propping up the bar. I take a sip, this is what they promise, it’s what they delivered, with baubles on.

It’s Complicated with Dereck Head on sax

This place is not Devizes’ answer to an O2 arena, functionally it’s awkward, spacious it’s not, but working with what they’ve got, The Southgate is immediately hospitable, snug and convivial; I’d have expected nothing less. Reason why musicians and bands are queuing up to July to cram themselves in here falls upon Deborah and Dave’s nonchalant and welcoming attitude. If they’ve created a monster with The Southgate, it’s a knobbly-knees and turned-out toes type monster akin to The Gruffalo, rather than anything Dr Frankenstein may’ve stuck electrodes on.

It’s Sunday afternoon and it’s bustling, what they’ve spared not following the grain and converting the Southgate into the standard ostentatious vulgarity of contemporary neon public houses they’ve savoured on atmosphere and a non-stop musical line-up which celebrates everything positive about the local live music scene I’m so often bashing on about. Where other pubs sporadically host live music, you can guarantee Saturday night at the Southgate, Fridays and Sundays following a close second place. Darn it, if even Wednesday night isn’t a family-like acoustic jam down here.

Tamsin joins in, with seasonal hats

So, this Sunday it’s the turn of It’s Complicated, a band formed a couple of years ago, detached from function band, Friday Feeling. Like a cat at the front door of your new home upon your arrival, they’ve been rehearsing in the Southgate’s skittle alley prior to the new landlords, where they’ve created a unique approach to an assemblage of fantastic cover songs. With flexibly of styles, and wealth of experience, the experimentation has paid off.

Jacqueline sublimely singing Etta James, the band taking a reggae twist to the stark modern Gotye anthem, “Someone that I used to Know,” ongoing ambient rock instrumentals akin to Dire Straits, accompanying Dereck Head through jazzy saxophone splendour, and returning after a break to acutely perform a country tune, I think proves this diversity tenfold.


But as well as stamping their mark on the covers, drummer and vocalist Tim Watts, vocalist and keyboardist Jacqueline Sherlock, guitarist Tom Evans and bass player Stephen Barron work on their own original material. Acknowledging the homegrown nature of the gig, they played Imber, the tribute to Imber Blacksmith Albie Nash, who doctors diagnosed “a broken heart,” when he passed away, chained to his anvil after the army forced the residents to leave the village.

Vince Bell with It’s Complicated

And locally rousing this gig was. In the spirit of the scene, the return from a break guested pre-familiarised Vince Bell, who acoustically sang his chef-d’oeuvre, Ship of Fools, and followed it by a humorous attack on the allure of Devizes, with Tim on Cajon. A few more songs from It’s Complicated and another guest, our heroine Tamsin Quin, joined them for a few of her own tunes from Gypsy Blood, an album of which its launch party called in the help of It’s Complicated to replicate the session band from the studio. Not forgetting her sing-along Jungle Book favourite and seasonal Santa Baby.

Being traditionally bands are often of a similar age, a quick chat with Tim I felt it necessary to inquire if guitarist Tom, was any of the band’s progenies, being an age difference between him and the others. “No,” Tim confirmed there was no family connections, “That’s why we’re complicated.” Had to shrug this off, as it never matters, passion for music doesn’t barrier by age, all that counts are the harmonies and there’s nothing complicated there, it worked, and worked fantastic; what an enjoyable afternoon!

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Putting Some Jeggae into Wiltshire Reggae!

“If reggae was the universe, I swear we’d be living in the CMB Cold Spot, a Great Void between filaments.”


For a town of its size, Devizes has a vibrant music scene; you know this, I’ve bashed on about it enough already, and with Devizine we’ve explored the venues and promoters attempting to bring that scene diversity.

Mentioning no names, a Facebook post spurred a debate I followed with interest. A few months ago, a west country reggae singer argued reggae has no home in Wiltshire, he just never got bookings here. A promoter promptly replied, not for the want of trying, but in their experience, reggae simply doesn’t sell in Wiltshire.

Reggae Sunsplash; definitely not Devizes!

Really? I played devil’s advocate, agreeably there’s a point; Wiltshire, largely rural and white middle-class doesn’t offer many reggae events at first glance. But whoa there, whoa; Wiltshire is home to Womad, a festival of world music; starter for ten. We also have, few though it seems, but we do have a scene with acts worth mentioning. I think, if you love a genre and dig deep enough, you’ll be able to find what you seek. I know many people in Wiltshire adore reggae, from dancehall to reggae predecessors, ska and rock steady, myself included. So why does it feel excluded, especially in our market towns?

I have no convincing argument for my attraction in Caribbean music, by crude urban definition, I’m not a “whigger,” no ambition to be one, not Rasta, and never been to Jamaica, much as I’d like to. What appeals to me is simply the off-beat, Fats Domino’s missing fourth beat which gives reggae that beguiling jump. Reggae is a musical Borg, resistance to skank is futile!

Fairly well-known reggae artist Wiltshire folk may know; yet he’s not from Devizes!

Growing up during the Two-Tone period obviously had a big effect, and reggae’s influence felt in other pop genres of my youth, through groups like the Police and Blondie. The Windrush generation blessed our shores with their homegrown music, and even though attractive it was to ongoing youth cultures, mods, punks and skinheads, it was still viewed as a novelty to English kids. It was the signing of Bob Marley and the Wailers by Chris Blackwell of Island Records which exported reggae outwards of Jamaica and spread it across the world.

England may’ve had the head start, but this happening woke America. Today reggae has reached every corner of the globe. If UNESCO’s announcement “the reggae music of Jamaica,” has been added to its list of cultural products considered worthy of recognition, just last month doesn’t convince you, there’s a remote part of The Grand Canyon where a Native American tribe called Havasupai believe Bob Marley to be the fulfilment of a prophecy, a deity and reincarnation of the resistance fighter Crazy Horse. They practically live according to his words, yet here in Devizes, England, its virtually impossible to find a venue with a reggae band booked, stretching to hear UB40 on a flipping jukebox!

Fully aware of the slim demographic in Devizes, couldn’t expect to replicate a Dub Club as Swindon does at the Afro-Caribbean Centre or Bath’s at St James Vaults, neither would I attempt a conversation about sleng-teng riddim, or define one drops into rockers and steppers; nothing technical here, just wish there could be a bit more reggae. I’m on a mission! And by the term “reggae” I cover all of its branches from ska and rock steady, through to roots and dub, and contemporary dancehall. A common misconception is to presume reggae as exclusively the roots style of latter-day Bob Marely, when it branches to as many, if not more, subgenres as rock.

So, where to start? Gutted to have missed the “scaled down” SN Dubstation at the Southgate last week, I’ve made a small dent in my mission by introducing Deborah, who is keen to host reggae and ska within her blossoming array of regular live music nights, to the one Knati P. We’ve featured Knati on Devizine before, as the fine artist Clifton Powell, so I’m glad to announce he’ll be at the Southgate on Christmas Eve for a sound system reggae party. It’ll hark back to the days when Knati held various reggae nights in venues from Pewsey to Calne, and at The Bell on the Green in Devizes… bomboclat, I’m back on fond memory lane again; it’s an age thing.


I also fully support the new owners of the Cavalier for having Swindon’s ska-punk band Operation 77 on their reopening night. Here’s to more of that, Those Roughcut Rebels will be down there on 21st December, which although play prodigious retro mod rock such as The Kinks and Who, it’s a step in the right direction. We’ve a bundle of great bands who’ll cover this, such as Cover-Up, and The Day Breakers, which appeases me, still need a little reggae though!

The Day Breakers

The Devizes Scooter Club successfully combines the scooter cultures of mod and skinhead, bringing us the variety of genres under this banner; retro mod rock, soul, and, of course, boss reggae and ska. They’ve given us some great nights, now parted local ska band The Killertones and Bad Manners tribute, Special Brew, being the highlight within my “reggae” banner, while other successful nights have been soul-based.


There is ska-aplenty at next July’s Scooter Rally, particularly looking forward to Essex band The Start and South Coast’s Orange Street. It is with great pride Devizes Scooter Club took heed of my suggestions and have booked Swindon bands, The Tribe, with their own unique spin, but especially the traditional rock steady outfit, The Erin Bardwell Collective.

Here we go then, I could produce a list of great local bands within our blanket, well worthy of booking, so promoters of market towns, book them and let’s spread our larger town’s and city’s diversity to rural Wiltshire, especially old Devizes, pleeeaaassee; don’t make me beg, it’s not pretty.

Erin Bardwell Collective

Aforementioned Erin Bardwell Collective, with Sandra Glindon’s smooth rock steady vocals and former Skanxters keyboardist Erin goes as red, for they’re, along with the brilliant SN Dubstation, the backbone of our nearest large town Swindon’s Great Western Reggae. If the Skanxters pushed Swindon’s two-tone scene way into the nineties, and occasionally reunite, covers band, The Skandals are also well worthy of a mention, being they boast Skanxter’s frontman Carl Humphreys and saxophonist Nina Gale. Erin also takes on ambient dub under the duo Subject A, with another Ex-Skanxter, Dean Sartain.


Still, even in Swindon, their Reggae Garden Festival at Old Gardens was cancelled this year without good reason.


Continuing on the ska tip though, we will always have Trowbridge and Melksham’s finest Train to Skaville, who since 2011 have built a tasty reputation, cramming pubs throughout the West Country. Along with vocalist Jules Morton’s contribution to charity fundraising, all-girl supergroup The Female of the Species, these guys need a gig in Devizes, and I’ll eat my trilby if it ain’t so.


All hail the Urban Lions, whose Facebook profile reveal “We are outernational,” they still provide the social network with a page called Wiltshire Music Network, so no use trying to hide it, this great, traditionally roots, dub reggae outfit could well be from our county. perhaps it’s our lack of reggae-cred which leads them to this secrecy? They may well hunt me down for revealing this, but if they come yielding their sublime reggae vibes I’m not about to worry!

Those crazy kids, Brother From Another define themselves as funk and soul function band, based in Wiltshire, available for parties, weddings & private events. Yet they’re not adverse to practise some reggae, and when they craftily and harmlessly “ignored do not enter signs and climbed on top of Silbury Hill to play…” the Gazette and Herald gladly defined them as “reggae.” For fuddy-duddies who’ll view this as promotional stunt as unacceptable, it’s another nail in the coffin for reggae’s acceptability around these parts; well done to the Tory rag for this. Yet Brother From Another makes a great booking, akin to Devizes All Funked Up, expect funky soul over reggae; great, yeah, love a bit of that in my eclectic tastes, still not reggae though, dread.


Naturally, those prepared to travel over the borderline, Bristol will provide you with reggae in abundance, from the Strictly Rockers retro fashion of Ya Freshness and the Big Boss Band to The Bristol Reggae Orchestra, a collective of 25 local musicians, drawing musical influences from reggae, ska, jazz and classical music. Those liberal Fromans also have it good, The Cheese & Grain hosting many a varied night, bought us Toots & The Maytals about as close to Wiltshire as you’re going to get. The other direction sees Oxfordshire’s 2Tone All Ska’s doing the two-tone cover scene. Still, as good as these elements are, reggae’s ley-lines across Wiltshire are still, more than a tad, void.

There is, surprisingly, a Facebook group called Reggae Wiltshire, albeit it only has 192 members. Perhaps, if you love reggae you can join this group, and liven’ up itself. It offers some great links to reggae tunes and facts, but lacks, unsurprisingly, in event details. Admin, Maurice Menghini does DJ current RnB with the reggae twist, and has hosted nights at The Exchange, but through no fault of its own, it defines my argument that Wiltshire doesn’t have enough reggae, and no, I’m not moving to Kingston before you reply with your sarcastic comment; I love Devizes for its aforementioned vibrant music scene, just wish someone would take heed of this article and show some One Love sunshine music to our dreary downs!


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Say no to Maria Carey this Christmas; and other festive songs which need to be banned!


Now science has proved every man is a rapist, and that any man so much as accidentally sneezing on a woman constitutes sexual harassment, I’m glad to read delicate philanthropists have found time between solving all the disturbing issues in the world to call for a ban on the Christmas song “It’s Cold Outside.”


We’ve all known the concept of the song advocates rape for some time, as, if the female character really wanted to be in the man’s apartment and sex was consented, she’d be enraged and screaming, “get off of me, you crazy bastard,” or words to that effect. Being no such words of distress or fear are uttered by the female character in the song is neither here nor there; liberal extremists, who taint everyday liberal’s name, have seen this as thoughtcrime and a thoughtcrime it clearly is.

Jesus; “be more sensitive to the increasingly diverse population at schools.”

The assumption she is somewhat nervous, has slim doubts about her 1940’s reputation, (something lost in today’s world) and the man is attempting to comfort her with terribly unconvincing excuses is pathetic and far from intended humorous prose. The implication he has topped her drink with a tipple of extra whiskey, as in a rather outdated joke, is plainly false. He has, in fact, slipped some Rohypnol into her glass and is about to brutally assault her, once the drug kicks in; that much is obvious.



So, in the manner of this shocking enlightenment, I thought I’d dive deeper into some other classic Christmas songs to see if there’s anything swaying far from political correctness in those too, and I think you’ll be surprised by the result. There is a world of filth, crime and insurgency projected in these songs and I, for one, will not stand idly by waiting for something appalling to occur as a result.

Not as pure as the driven snow; this snowman received 12 hail Marys for confessing to the filth in his mind after meeting the Cheeky Girls

While some damaging associations are obvious; the Pouges and Kirsty McCoy’s Fairy-tale of New York referencing anal sex taken as red, (“Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last,”) some are harder to spot but read between the lines and you will be shocked by the real meanings lurking behind a charade of Christmas cheer, perpetrated by disgusting, heathen musicians.

“Christmas time, Mistletoe and wine, Children singing Christian rhyme.” What does this suggest, for example? Mistletoe traditionally used for obtaining a kiss, a kiss being a precursor to sex, and Cliff starts bashing on about children. This has obvious connotations of child sexual abuse and needs to be banned straight away.

Take Mariah Carey singing “all I want for Christmas is you.” No matter how often she pesters me, I’m not going to cave into her demands and I don’t think you should either. People are not possessions, you can ask Santa for a Scalextric, a new bike, or even a Tamagotchi, but you shouldn’t ask for a person. What kind of message does this teach our children? It’s simple, Mariah is condoning human trafficking and therefore this song should also be banned.

In a world where children are inspired by all of the reindeers in Father Christmas’s fleet, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is not projecting a constructive sentiment, in fact it’s pure prejudice. Laughing and name-calling at others misfortunes is not how we’d favour to raise our children, so why accept this song?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, deliberately labels children and sections them off unfairly. Not forgoing rural kids who don’t live in towns being exempt from Santa’s visit, it proceeds to suggest Santa has a list of who has been “naughty or nice.” How anyone could presume the role of judge and jury, without taking on board the child’s social and economic background, the influence of their peers and issues arising from the autistic spectrum is quite honestly beyond me. This song is simply derogatory and borderline fatal to a child’s welfare.

Dreams are based on events in real life, a confused amalgamation of thoughts and happenings throughout your day. Being there’s no one alive who recalls it ever snowing on Christmas day, Bing Crosby must’ve been referencing some other meaning of a White Christmas and it’s highly likely, given the notorious celebrity misuse of drugs that ol’ Bing was advocating the use of cocaine in his timeless Christmas classic.

Seems innocent Aled Jones isn’t so innocent either. Who has ever heard anyone else claim they’re “walking in the air,” who blatantly hasn’t been sniffing some illegal substance? Seems Aled’s been at Bing’s nosebag.

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Make the Yuletide gay…..” you see, here is everything wrong about Christmas songs, and quite often it’s these peculiar, liberal sexual practises which offends my delicate right-wing agenda. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is a well-known ethanium for a sadomasochist fetishism, obviously. The Ronnette’s Sleigh Ride is blatantly a lesbian sexual position, and Noddy Holder thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to yell “it’s Christmas,” when antisocial behaviour such as shouting is unquestionably negative.


So come all ye faithful, placing a ban on these songs is overdue and needs to be addressed by our government straight away, in my opinion. Many other Christmas hits should’ve been analysed closer at the time, as nearly all have these derogatory or damaging connotations and require immediate sanctioning, except Shakin’ Stevens’ “Merry Christmas Everyone,” of which in its content I can find nothing of an offensive nature, yet still feel it should be banned anyway, because it’s shite.

Christmas stocking of shite; shake off elsewhere, bloody weirdo 

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SANTA’S SLEIGH ROUTES: Here is the latest, updated list of dates and routes of LIONS CLUB OF DEVIZES – SANTA ON TOUR 2018; Look out for him around your way!

Saturday 1st December Salisbury St (Avon Road end), Mayenne Place, Dundas Close, Caen Hill Gardens, Avon Road, Park View.

Monday 3rd December Bellevue Road, Waiblingen Way, Avon Terrace, Rotherstone Commercial Road, Victoria Road.

Tuesday 4th December Marlborough Close, Wellington Drive, Ernle Drive, Gandy Way, Nash Meadow, Corn Croft Lane, Leigh Wood Lane and cul-de-sacs off, Ferozeshah Road and cul-de-sacs off.

Wednesday 5th December Horton Av, Davies Drive & all cul de sacs, Anzio Road and all cul de sacs, Naughton Av, Marina Close, Wyvern Cl, Hopgood Cl, Waterside Park, Canal Way, Cygnet Close, Kingfisher Drive, Hillier Road cul-de-sacs.

Thursday 6th December Quakers Road, Keepers Road, Palmer Road, Coopers Road, Golden Road, Roundway Park, Parkfield, Flaxmill Park, Moonrakers.

Friday 7th December Coombe Walk, White Horse Way, Harebell Way & cul-de-sacs off, Torino Close, Proudman Road, Matilda Way, Maud Close & Charter Close.

Saturday 8th December Stockwell Road, Brickham Road, Spitalcroft Road, Meadow Drive, Dowse Road, Wadworth Road.

Monday 10th December Kemp Close, Elizabeth Drive and cul-de-sacs, Oamaru Way and all roads off, The Patchway and cul-de-sacs off.

Tuesday 11thth December Wick Lane, Wickfield, Orchard Close, Tintern Road, Downlands Road, Woodland Way, Fruitfields Close.

Wednesday 12th December Longcroft Avenue, Brickley Lane (Meadow Drive to Eastleigh Road), Eastleigh Road , Pines Road, Forty Acres Road, Kingsley Road & Gardens, Roseland Avenue, Longcroft Road, Bricksteed Avenue.

Thursday 13th December Hillworth Road, West View Cres, John Rennie Close, Adlam Close, Pinetum Close, The Moorlands, Cornwall Cresc, Hartmoor Road to Queens Road, Queens Road.

Friday 14th December Pans Lane, Sarum Drive, Festival Close, Walden Lodge Close, Green Lane, Greenfield Road, Lawrence Close, Addington Close, Mill Close and Kempsfield.

Saturday 15th December Lidl supermarket.

Monday 17th December Marshall Road, Reeves Road, Ferguson Road, Byron Road and cul de sacs off, Thomas Wyatt Road & cul de sacs, Awdrey Road, Eyles Road, Newman Road.

Tuesday 18th December Chivers Road and all roads off, Alan Cobham Road and all roads off, Teasel Close.

Wednesday 19th December Brickley Lane from Eastleigh Road, Cromwell Road, Waylands, Shackleton Road, Elm Tree Close, Elm Tree Gardens, Nursteed Close, Gables Close, Caird Lawns, Nursteed Park, Eastleigh Road from Nursteed Road to Eastleigh Close.

Thursday 20th December ( Brittox during daytime) The Breach, Broadleas Crescent, Broadleas Close, Broadleas Park, Broadleas Road.

Saturday 22nd December Morrisons

Oh bugger, it’s December, again. Here’s what’s happening over the Yule…

Oh bugger, it’s December, again. Tis the season to be…. yeah, yeah, not yet eh? I’m just not feeling all tinselly at the moment, you? I’ll try, really, I will…… After Devizes had a great light switch on last night, I suppose I should get things rolling; here’s some stocking fillers for your diary, yet only a selection of what’s to be doing this month. Check Devizine regularly for updates, as and when they come in, unless you wanna be left in the dark, on your lonesome, crying into your eggnog. Oh yeah, local New Year’s Eve events are listed here, so plan your diary with us!


So, trigger-happy fingers resting on the house lights, waiting to outdo the neighbour? Ready to slain other shoppers for a Fingerlings Dino? If your feeling festive already, on Saturday 1st: It’s Melksham’s turn to switch on their lights, and after I’d recommend you go see Big Mama and her Banned at the Pilot.


It’s Free Entry for a Wiltshire Air Ambulance fundraiser at the Cross Keys, Rowde with Cover-Up, the new name for great local band, Eazilyled. Or if you fancy a reggae intro to the season, a pared down version of Swindon’s finest, SN Dubstation, Little & Large are at The Southgate, Devizes. There’s Chicken Teddys at The Crown Devizes, who’d I’d have thought could’ve changed their name to Turkey Teddys just for this month, you know, might motivate me into the spirit of things!


Lucky for Calne, they got George Wilding at the London Road Inn, or I’d admit the Aldbourne Oompah Loompahz Band at The Blue Boar sounds fun and Christmassy. Trowbridge have a great line-up at the Pump, in aid of Dorothy House with the Stonegallows, Steam Shed and Bryony McGinty.


SANTA’S SLEIGH ROUTES: Here is the latest, updated list of dates and routes of LIONS CLUB OF DEVIZES – SANTA ON TOUR 2018; Look out for him around your way!



Daytime Sunday the 2nd sees a Santa Fun Run in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance at Lydiard Park, and a Country Music Showcase at H2O Swindon, with Rick Jordan, Will Brown, Jamie R Hawkins, Josh Beddis & Mike McCoy.


Closer to home, why not pop in to the Ann Swan Studios in Rowde? The astounding botanical artist has a Christmas Shopping Day. Continuing on the art theme, the wonderful landscape artist Bryony Cox starts her exhibit at the Vaults in Devizes. It runs until 16th.

Wed 5th – 7th West Lavington Village Hall have Wreath Making workshops. The Bootleg Beatles are at Bath Forum, but if staying in Devizes it’s got to be the regular Acoustic Jam Night at The Southgate.


Thurs 6th: A real UK comedy circuit favourite for over 20 years, Pierre Hollins is headlining the Moonrakers Comedy Club at The Cellar Bar, Devizes. He’s supported the likes of Lenny Henry and Rory Bremner. Dripping with sarcasm and dry wit, Andy Gleeks from Northern Ireland by way of Buckinghamshire, supports and Ed Parnell is the master of ceremonies. Tickets £10 from: The Bear Hotel, Devizes Books, The British Lion, The Southgate Inn, The Vaults, and on-line at We Got Tickets.


Meanwhile, after 39 years and still counting, The Blues Band take the Melksham Assembly Hall.


Friday 7th: Both Southbroom St James Academy and Nursteed School have their Christmas Fayres. It’s the Wharf Theatre’s opening night of the amusing-sounding pantomime whodunnit, Kidnap in Pantoland, which runs till 15th December.



Great local band, Nightlights play the Southgate, while a Kasabian Tribute, Kazabian play the Melksham Assembly Hall. But yes, they’ve topped it at Neeld in Chippenham, where Dreadzone will be live, unless you fancy some Bad Manners, who are at Salisbury City Hall. For a cheaper night though, I’d recommend The Three Horseshoes at Bradford On Avon, who have those outrageous Boothill All-Stars.


On Saturday 8th Easterton raise funds for their Village Hall with a “Christmas Mingle & Jingle,” with It’s Complicated and Kirsty Clinch. The Worton & Marston Village Hall have a Christmas Bazaar (more info call: 726 658,) and it’s The Finlay Foundation’s Christmas Craft & Gift Fair at Corn Exchange, Devizes.


Now, musically, spoiled for choice in Vizes: The Southgate Inn have Liz ‘n’ Stix, while The Black Swan has Fraser Tilley and Vince Bell. That said, it’s Sheer Music’s Sensational return to Devizes at The Cellar Bar, with Sam Russo and Jamie R Hawkins.


If you thought he’d be busy, you’re mistaken; there will be a visit from Father Christmas at The Bear Hotel on Sunday 9th. Breakfast or afternoon tea with ol’ Santa, with festive activities, delicious food, story time and a gift, all for £17.50. Booking is essential.

It’s Complicated again, this time down The Southgate, or The Ultimate Garth Brooks Experience at Devizes Ameripolitan Music Club. Melksham Assembly Hall go “Through the Decades” with Buddy Holly & Roy Orbison. And an Open Jam Session at The Jenny Wren, Calne polishes the weekend off.


Wednesday 12th Sheer Music Presents Undead Raisins at the Vic, Swindon. But you can always rely on The Southgate if stuck in Devizes, for another acoustic jam night.

The Vaults have a Devizes Festive Food Night on Thurs 13th. £20 will get you a Christmas share platter to start; Devil on horseback, Pigs in blanket, Leek and stilton tartlet with walnuts. Roulade of Parma ham with roasted red peppers on Bruschetta, Orange and spice chicken skewers. Main meal is venison and berries, cooked with Stealth Brew Co beer, of course Malcom, of course. Served with dumplings, creamed dauphinois potatoes and winter veg. with a selection of hearty bread, vegetarian and vegan options available, price including a pint of cask beer, a small glass of wine, gin & tonic, or soft drink, and mincemeat tart served with Chantilly cream for pudding at a snippet of £2.00.


Unusually quiet on Friday’s in Devizes, yet the 14th we hear Sound Affects will be at The Lamb, and the Roughcut Rebels at the Southgate. Up the 80s Christmas Party at Melksham Assembly Hall, 2 Tone All-Ska’s at Level III and a Swindon Dub Club Christmas special at the Afro Caribbean Centre. Dreamwave @ 3 Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon, Big Mama’s Banned Live @ Hare & Hounds Corsham.

Saturday 15th, ooh, he’s making his list, checking it twice. Father Christmas will be at The Market Lavington Village Hall, as from 10:30 – 11:30 there’s a Christmas Crafts party for children. £6 per child, in aid of Muscular Dystrophy UK.


Panto alert, it’s behind you: The Shoebox Theatre, Swindon, start production of The Elves and the Shoemaker, which runs until 23rd. Meanwhile, the Invitation Theatre Company have an Annual Christmas Concert at St Johns Church, Devizes. The Downtown Daddyo’s rock the Melksham Rock ‘n’ Roll Club, Scratchy Black Cat are at The Southgate Inn.


The Blunders are 3 Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon. There’s comedy with Gary Delaney’s Gagster’s Paradise at the Neeld, Chippenham.

Sun 16th: The Day Breakers play the Southgate, Cantaloop play 3 Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon, and it’s the last ever gig, apparently, for 2 Sick Monkeys at Level III Swindon.


Tuesday 18th: be at The Vaults, Devizes, where Ian Diddams reads his Christmas whodunnit, Murder on The Polar Express. With Devizine guest writers, Andy Fawthrop and Gail Foster offering seasonally inappropriate poetry. Donations on the night which will go towards Devizes Opendoors.


Wednesday 19th: White Horse Opera’s Christmas Concert in St John’s Church, will be an evening of stunning music in a gorgeous setting, with Mulled wine, mince pies and a chance to sing along to your favourite carols. Tickets from Devizes Books or http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whitehorseopera

Christmas poster 2018.indd

Thursday 20th and Friday 21st is Melksham Assembly Hall’s Christmas Pantomime, Cinderella, by Daisy Chain Productions. 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Child £5, Adult £10, Family Ticket (Admits 4) £25. Available from Melksham Assembly Hall (01225 709887), Melksham TIC or online.


Saturday 22nd is Yule ~ Fire Dragon Ceremony around the stones of Avebury. The Long Street Blues Club, Devizes Remember Joe Cocker, the Rockin’ Bandits are at The Southgate and People Like Us are “getting ready for Xmas” at The Three Crowns. But whoa there, Mike Barham’s DEVMAS! is at The Cellar Bar, FREE Entry, featuring: The Compact Pussycat, Sunset Service, The Real Cheesmakers, and Nerve Endings. All for Julia’s House.


On Sunday 23rd there’s Devizes Family Club’s Children’s Christmas Disco at The Devizes Cons Club, in association with Vinyl Realm. 7:30-9:30, £3 in aid of the Devizes Opportunity Centre. Helena at The Southgate.


Christmas Eve is a Monday then? Who knew? Kept that one quiet, didn’t you? Typical.


Keep the kids active, there’s a football fun day for ages 5-16 years with Inclusion Coaching. 10-2pm at Green Lane Playing Fields Devizes: exclusive MATCH ATTAX Football Festival! A present for all! Nonstop football! Just £18!


If you’re exhausted just thinking about that, adults could wander down the Southgate, where rumour has it, there’ll be some reggae, compliments of mi bredrin, Knatti P.
Then, well, Santa comes, if you’ve been good; make your own entertainment, all is quiet, save for the sound of scrabble tiles and Grandad snoring on the sofa still wearing his cracker hat. Then another big riot, with Mick Jogger and the Stones Experience at Market Lavington Music & Comedy Club on Friday 28th.


Saturday 29th, when you can still taste the cold turkey sandwiches, Larkin have their EP launch party; not to be missed Larkin fans, you’ll get a copy of the EP to take home with you, all for £3. More details here, when we reviewed the EP.


I’ve also got Carpet, plus The Hound on the Mountain listed at The Southgate, Devizes; they never stop providing great music, do they?! I expect they’ve got a new year line-up too? Oh yes, indeedy.



So, we’ve finally got here: NEW YEARS EVE 2018/19!!

Yes so, they’ve a party, with Jamie Hawkins & Phil Cooper: NYE 2018 at The Southgate, while Larkin are at The Moonrakers and Sugar Motown is at The Three Crowns. There’s New Year’s Eve at Bromham Social Centre, with Forklift Truck and a disco. But, but, but, Craig Charles Funk and Soul NYE is happening again at Meca, in Swindon, get tickets like yesterday for that one. Staying in town though, the Devizes Scooter Club New Year’s Eve Party is going to be a blinder, with DJ Des, covering music from 1960’s to present Day, Tickets £12 from the Cons Club or the scooter club.


That’s that which is that then, 2018 at its very end, bring on 2019. If I missed your event out, that is, and I’ve said this before, but no one listens, you didn’t tell me about it! I will update this later in the month, so ping those events at me, it’s okay, I probably won’t come and spoil it for you, don’t worry! But if you don’t tell me, don’t moan at me that I missed it. You’d be surprised by the amount of times this actually happens; bar humbug!


Also, I can’t be adding links to all these events on one article, what do you think I ain’t got something else to be doing? You can find more info on the all, on our Calendar, so go there, with bells on.

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