Looking for somewhere to take your love on Valentine’s Day? Devizes Town Council Roadshow!

With restaurants being booked up faster than Take That reunion tickets, nice walks in the countryside threatened by snowstorms, just what can you do on Valentine’s Day, you know, to make it that bit extra special? Devizes Town Council may/may not have the answer.

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B*Witched may/may not be performing live

They’ve a Timmy Mallet styled Roadshow at the Ceres Hall of the Corn Exchange on the 14th February. Tiny Irish pop has-beens B*witched may/may not be performing, alongside BBC Radio’s Simon Mayo in eighties tight sporty shots and mullet. All we know at this early stage is, it’s going to be loud and crazy, with beachballs and inflatable bananas bouncing through the crowd.

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Timmy Mallett of Devizes

Yes, do pop along, bring the love of your life for a Valentine’s Day they’ll never forget. Support and meet our town councillors, who may/may not have not intentionally arranged this during normal working hours of 10am to 1pm to avoid confrontation from anyone under the age of 70.

 
Also, people have expressed concerns on social media, that they may/may not have deliberately arranged it on a Thursday, when the Market Place will be occupied by the weekly bustling market, making it a tad difficult to find a place in which to park. I find this very hard to believe, the Council have made it clear they care about parking in Devizes, and I am certain it will not be the focal point of the roadshow, not once the Rick Astley tribute act takes the main stage anyway.

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Popular local Rick Astley tribute act is sure to make a great impact 

Stay up and party into the early afternoon, when Devizes Guardians will be performing their breakdance routine, something requested by the people of Devizes, which proves they really do listen to popular local opinion, and Conservative Councillors will be offering Valentine snogs for 25p at the kissing table, with all proceeds going to the Foodbank that their political party have wonderfully increased the popularity of. The Town Council have assured me that girls in bikinis will get queue priority, and possibly a free goodie bag.

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Devizes Town Council Roadshow may/may not look a little something like this….

So, join in the fun and make Devizes a happy and pedestrianised place to live, or else they’ll hand control back to Wiltshire Council, who couldn’t even give a finger of fudge to our county’s disabled, let alone respite care allowances. Personally, I can’t wait for B*Witched to perform “c’est la vie.”

 

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Kent Duchaine – Sunday 27th January @ The Southgate Inn

By Andy Fawthrop

“Great Lazy Sunday Entertainment!”

Dave & Debbie have done a really great job in putting The Southgate back on the Devizes musical map since they took over the pub last year, booking a wide range of great acts from Friday nights through to Sunday afternoons. These gigs are all free entry and, with a comfortable & welcoming environment and all beers at only £3 a pint, it’s a no-brainer to get one’s arse up there to enjoy the musical fare on offer. Sunday afternoons in particular have become one of my favourites – a view obviously shared by the local cognoscenti – for the place was again packed with happy customers.

This Sunday last we were treated to a fabulous session from Kent Duchaine, a man described by Mike Harding as “a legend in his own lunchtime and a REAL bluesman”. I use the word “treat” advisedly, as the man turned out to be one helluva all-round entertainer. Not only did he play some wonderful stripped-back delta blues on his 1934 National Steel guitar Leadbessie, he also connected absolutely with his audience. Every break between songs, every intro, every outro, the man was talking, talking, talking about his life, his travels, his experiences, his deep love of the blues, the music he loved, the blues players he had met an known. And not without a good dose of self-deprecating humour. It was an education just listening to the man. Fascinating. And what a voice! The guy obviously gargles with lumps of granite in his throat! Whether talking or singing, to hear him, (and to look at him) I guess you’d say he’s “well lived-in”, and a well-travelled troubadour.

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Lots of Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, and all the rest of the great bluesmen, just flowed out of him all afternoon. Kent spoke and sang; Leadbessie drawled and crooned. The punters lapped it up.

Absolutely perfect laid-back blues for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Perfect entertainment.

If you’ve not been up The Southgate lately, time you checked it out!

Next gigs coming up @ The Southgate:

• Saturday 2nd February Drew Bryant
• Friday 8th February Clock Radio + The Jelas Live
• Saturday 9th February Tim Manning
• Friday 15th February Fake Walnut Dash
• Saturday 16th February Guilty Pleasure

 

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Rick Estrin & The Wildcats – Saturday 26th January @ Long Street Blues Club, Conservative Club, Devizes

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Back to the top of the hill to The Conservative Club aka Long Street Blues Club to catch the last date of the UK tour by Californian band Rick Estrin & The Wildcats.

The advance billing was impressive, and the short UK tour had had several sold-out dates. Not sure this gig was technically sold out, but it was certainly pretty rammed in there.

Ian Hopkins had written: “Overflowing with talent and bursting with bravado, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats have created one of the blues’ most instantly recognizable sounds and no-holds-barred styles. With the world-class talents of harmonica master, songwriter and vocalist Rick Estrin, guitar wunderkind Chris “Kid” Andersen, keyboard wizard Lorenzo Farrell and dynamic drummer Alex Pettersen, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats serve up sharp and incisive original blues and gritty roadhouse rock ‘n’ roll.”

So there was much to look forward to, and a lot to live up to. The room was packed and buzzing with anticipation. The crowd were royally entertained by local singer/ songwriter Joe Hicks (always good value for money), and suitably warmed up. Finally, after what seemed a longer gap than usual, the band took to the stage and belted out the first number.

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Estrin himself cut an impressive figure at the front – smartly dressed and coiffed, leaning into the mike, and delivering a high-energy performance. Within minutes there was the trademark howling harmonica, backed by driving keyboards and rhythm section. The band were always tight and well-drilled when the songs needed it, but not afraid to cut loose in the breaks either. Think growling, witty, street-smart vocals – often reduced to almost a gravelly whisper, occasionally a haunting drawl – then lashing back out into a full-force vocal delivery. The band itself dropped the sound back at times allowing Estrin to strut his stuff and to paint his pictures, but then returned in full force, producing a wonderful dirty, muddy noise of driving California blues. Yet this was far from being a one-dimensional blues band – we had some great jazzy/ improve passages, and a longish monologue from Estrin himself at one point. Technically impressive, laid-back, grooving and absolutely whip-smart stuff.

And the crowd – not surprisingly – absolutely loved it. As did I – another great night at Long Street Blues. If I had one minor criticism it was that the set was (compared to many bands I’ve seen at the venue) relatively short – just over the hour. I think we could all have done with a bit more!

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The band’s latest album is Groovin’ In Greaseland, which I think I’ll be checking out shortly. https://rickestrin.com/

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Will Lawton & Weasel Howlett – 8th February @ The Cause, Chippenham

Not actually in D-Town, but we think this one is really worth schlepping up the road to Chippers for. A Concert For Ed – Preview

 

By Andy Fawthrop

On 20th October last year, Ed Bowen was walking home in Bristol with his girlfriend, Nic, when a car reversed at speed towards them and swerved off the road. Ed leapt into the path of the car to push Nic out of the way. Whilst she escaped with only minor injuries, the back of the car pinned Ed to a wall, crushing his left leg and pelvis. The 33-year-old suffered such terrible injuries that he medically died in the ambulance rushing him to hospital and had to be resuscitated by paramedics. He underwent 11 hours of surgery, and spent two weeks in intensive care at Southmead Hospital. Surgeons were unable to save his left leg, and had to amputate it just below the hip. He now faces months of recovery in hospital and years of rehabilitation. This concert is all about raising money to help with Ed’s long journey to recovery.

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Ed’s brother, Will (aka. Buddy) will be performing live at the concert alongside band mates Will Lawton and Weasel Howlett (see review below). Appearing also will be many more superb, local musical acts to suit all ages and tastes including Redland School Choir, Ami Kaelyn, Katie Whiting and Ben Lawton, Anna Roberts, Burbank, Pete Williams and Maiden Voyage.

There will be a licensed bar, and all profits will be going to support Ed’s fund.

Tickets are available online at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/concert-for-ed-tickets-54219019547

Not only is this a very worthy cause in itself, it’s also a great chance to catch some of our very best local musicians, who are all giving up their time for free.

And to put this into some musical perspective, here’s a review of Will Lawton & Weasel Howlett from a couple of weeks back:

11th January 2019 @ Village Pump, Trowvegas – Review

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Another jog out of town – this time leaving the safety of The Vize to visit the Badlands of Trowvegas, and the beautifully-formed Village Pump. Whilst this venue often plays host to some of the UK’s top folk acts on a Friday night, it’s also hired out on other nights to independent promoters, and to bands, as practice/ rehearsal/ recording space. It’s a lovely old room (a converted horse stable), now fitted with all mod cons such as underfloor heating, an excellent PA system and sound control room.

The night I went, we were definitely not talking “folk”. In fact it was fairly pointless to talk about specific music categories at all. Will & Weasel are almost impossible to pigeon-hole. Think mesmerising rhythms (Weazel on percussion), impressive piano arrangements (Will), supported by some fine bass (Buddy), accompanying some damned good songs. There were also instrumental pieces, improvisations and a few “works in progress”, one of which the performers described as “a bit of a beast” that just wouldn’t lie down. All of this was played with breath-taking ease and technical brilliance. There were clear influences from jazz, through soul, to folk to classical – and the result was impressive. Picture soundscapes if you will.

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Will Lawton (once of local band The Home Fires) has very much branched out on his own to put this trio together in order to pursue his musical direction. The band’s recent album “Fossils Of The Mind” is well worth a listen, capturing their joint musical development at a particular point in time. From this live performance it was obvious that some of the pieces on that album have already evolved somewhat and have moved on – and in a good way!

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Support on the night came from Jiggidy – a Bath-based duo of John Sandford (keyboard and vocals) and Rachel Barrett (fiddle and vocals), playing a mix of original compositions and traditional folk music. They also played at the Bradford Roots Festival the following weekend, so I got to listen to them twice. Overall – still a little rough round the edges, and a little nervous. Competent, but unlikely to set the world on fire.

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Future gigs at the Village Pump are:
• 1st February – Feral Beryl + Bryony McGinty
• 15th February – Open Mic
• 1st March – Sally Ironmonger + The Ship’s Cat
• 15th March – Open mic

www.villagepump.org.uk/

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No Clowning with Six O’clock Circus at The Southgate

So, yeah, broke my 2019 hibernation and ventured out last night. I know right, but Calne-based, Six O’clock Circus blasted an otherwise mild night at the Southgate with some passionately executed mod, punk and indie covers; right up my street and kicking down my door.

 
Loud and proud, regardless of the five-piece squashed into Devizes’ answer to the O2 arena, singing toward the wall, plus having gigged the afternoon in Boughton Gifford, and Friday evening with Devizes-based, Burbank, for a Big Yellow Bus fundraiser at the Bug & Spider, they never waned, pulling a fine ensemble of indie covers out of their bag, for the first half, but not before an introduction of the Kinks and Who.

 
Six O’clock Circus, started at nine o’clock, but despite poor punctuality of their namesake, and lack of clowns, I loved the starter, then it went a bit Britpop; Travis, Stereophonics, James and Shed Seven representations. Yet I nodded through with appreciation, their precision awarded even my non-favs with worthy magnitude. Though I personally like my indie served, as they did towards latter section of the first half, with Primal Scream and the Coral, and overall would favour more mod, of the Jam, which ended the first half, Six O’clock Circus delivered them all feverously, and favourably, with ardent appreciation of their influences.

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A quieter night at this haven for live music allowed me to notice the cloudy cider tariff on the wooden beam, where at least one hairy hippy usually leans, obscuring the menu. So a double-whammy for me, securing a love for the Southgate I’d joyfully shout to the hills and back.

 
Undoubtedly, said cider played it’s part but I supposed the band tightened with every tune. A swap of instruments, promising a “seventies love-song,” they completed by knocking out a genuine “Pretty Vacant” before the break. It was clear Six 0’Clock Circus had no intentions of delivering us a ballad at all, neither attempt something experimental, as the second section banged in with The Buzzcocks’ classic, Ever Fallen in Love, and slipping nicely into London’s Burning by the Clash.

 
So, the evening’s entertainment leaves me now stamping a thoroughly deserved recommendation on Six O’clock Circus, perfect for the thirty-forty-fifty somethings function or pub circuit, and with that said, I’m off to make a bacon butty.

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Six O’clock Circus on Facebook, give em a like!

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Rick Wakeman’s KGB – 19th January 2019 @ Corn Exchange Devizes – Review

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Well, yet again, we managed to put the lie to the ridiculous claim that “nothing ever happens in Devizes”. Last Saturday in the Corn Exchange, something very definitely happened. And there was a packed, sell-out crowd to witness it.

Rick Wakeman’s impromptu, and occasional, band KGB (standing for “Keyboards, Guitar & Bass” we were informed) hit the stage, and what a great show it was. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to get, but I wasn’t going to miss this chance to see a veritable rock legend playing live in our town. In the event there was no vast array of keyboards and electronica, no space-age stage clothes, no dry-ice machines, no flashy stage set. Instead the show was stripped down to its simple basics: stage left was Rick and his beautiful Bechstein piano, and stage right were Dave Colquhoun (guitar) and Matt Pegg (bass). Just a clear and uncluttered stage, with three musicians right at the top of their game.

Backstory (in case you don’t know): classically trained pianist Rick dropped out from the Royal College of Music to forge a career in music. Not only did he play on ‘Space Oddity’ with David Bowie at the start of his career as a session musician, not only was he an early member of The Strawbs, he later left to join rock supergroup Yes in 1971, recording many hit albums with them. This is an association he has maintained irregularly over subsequent years. Later he also recorded a number of highly successful solo albums: The Six Wives of Henry VIII, King Arthur & The Knights of The Round Table, and Journey to The Centre of the Earth.

Passages from these latter were liberally sprinkled through the two sets, and were met with ecstatic applause. But this was no mere romp through his back catalogue. The guys had worked on several newer pieces to particularly suit this line-up, featuring some interesting improvisations, and some wonderful re-working of such songbook classics as “Sweet Georgia Brown”.

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In more recent years Rick has forged an additional side career as a professional raconteur, most recently as MC for Jongleurs comedy club, and has appeared on several series of the hit TV series “Grumpy Old Men”. These skills were much to the fore on Saturday, as Rick effortlessly engaged the audience with several hilarious anecdotes, some great jokes, and a wonderful continuing riff on the fact that the band’s vehicles had been ticketed outside the Corn Exchange during the day.

If anyone had been in any doubt, Rick immediately dispelled the notion that he might be slowing down or losing any of his skills. Not only does this man know his way around a keyboard – his playing was simply stunning – but he absolutely commanded the musical respect of his band, and he completely had the audience in the palm of his hand. From the first number, right through to the three pieces in the encore, the audience was spellbound. Everybody I talked to was saying the same words – “brilliant”, “superb”, “stunning” – and I’m not going to argue with that assessment.

Well done to Paul Chandler and Longcroft Productions for persuading Rick to come and play in D-Town, and congratulations for pulling off the staging of the show at the Corn Exchange on the night.

 

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It’s all about Picture-Drome

I’m leaning on the counter by the popcorn stand, not at The Palace to watch something on the big screen, rather the little screen of a phone. The clip shows how Picturedrome have transformed a previous cinema, and I’ve returned home to tell you, it’s impressive.

 
Some years ago, back writing the No Surprises Living in Devizes column for Index:Wiltshire, I used an episode to highlight the traditional side of Devizes, noting milk-floats and brewery drays, but focussing on the rarity of a town our size having a cinema, a lost-in-time cinema, reflecting a time of yore when attending a movie was an exciting treat akin to a theatre trip.

 
The response to the article was unexpected, my fuddy-duddy mind imagined everyone would agree and appreciate the Palace for its archaic character. Yet while the older of our population did, negative comments flowed, generally from younger ones. The seats were uncomfortable, there was a dank chill, the sound and screen outdated, and then there was always the chewing-gum covered seventies carpet.

 
I cannot blame anyone younger than I, who doesn’t get gooey-eyed over nostalgia, many admitted they’d rather travel and pay extra for a modern cinematic experience. Found this a hard pill to swallow at first, money is everything this day and age, multiplexes are over-priced, uninviting airport-styled zones for auditoriums, grey boxes for screens, absent of design, with extortionate merchandising thrust into your face on entry, and the overall sensation you’re being taken for a mug.

 
The more I contemplate it though, I’ve tendered a side to the notion; yeah, overlook my antiquated wistfulness, the Palace does need a lick of paint. Still, it’d be a horrific sight to behold if a makeover churned up a half-hearted attempt to replicate a city multiplex in our beautiful little town. At the breaking of the news that a new company was taking over the Palace, it’s only fair to worry it might go this way.

 
Step in Picturedrome, and after this brief encounter, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about the change. For starters, the young owners are keen and enthusiastic, they sing the praises of Picturedrome, a fair company it seems, who entrust the branches with the freedom to explore possibilities, and after all, have a wealth of experience in turning a cinema around.

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PictureDrome’s Bognor Regis Cinema

Hum, did I say that, turning a cinema around is tricky, bit heavy?! Yet, all other Picturedrome’s branches are situated in similarly small towns, and were renovation projects. Newly appointed Devizes manager, Spencer, told of a success story in a Welsh town, where it’s elevated a community, bringing outlets such as Costa Coffee, with jobs and prosperity.

 
So, keen to hear what changes they planned, I fired only a few questions, I was content at what I’d already witnessed. There’s tins of paint and dust sheets in the bingo hall, the wall by the staircase is knocked through. “This only happened yesterday,” they laughed. The plan is in action and they’re hopeful it’ll be as early as March, but spring for sure. The first job is to update the main screen, whilst business continues.

 
Here’s the greatest thing though, combine my dilemma of traditional versus modernisation, seems Picturedrome will more than satisfy both sides of the argument. The new screen is to be moved forward, for effect, the sound will be equivalent of the large multiplexes, all the mod-cons will be installed, but in such a manner the building, and interior retains character.

 
Spencer, and Dorchester manager Karla, here to oversee the project, explained Picturedrome are keen to create a traditional cinema experience, to return it to that aforementioned time of yore, and they love curtains! The lighting and decor on the video of a probable scenario, creates an astatically pleasing experience, while the technology provides everything that you’d hope for in a modern cinema trip.

 
Keen too they were, to engage with the local community, and adhere to suggestions, in fact it was the first point they conveyed to me; intending to accommodate the long-standing Devizes Film Club, and even, when suggested, support local filmmakers. I mentioned my overlooked request to screen Swindon-made film, Follow the Crows, they gave an anecdote about a filmmaker who once manned the popcorn stand at the Palace, I was convinced they’d honour local projects.

 
Perhaps the development will make this easier, alas no bingo hall, but plentiful room left over for a fully-proposed second screen, perhaps, they added, a third. With this to their advantage, a greater variety will become available, and the chance to run film clubs and special events without interrupting major movie runs.

 
Does it sound all too good to be true? I know what you’re gonna ask. Shut it Jessie J, it is all about the price-tag, these days; another grand point to erm, point out. They intend to keep it affordable, cheaper than the big boys.

 
It’s ambitious, but the team are determined, and with such plans to impress either end of the tradition/modern debate, I’m certain the change is a positive move for Devizes, and a calling card to neighbouring towns and villages who’d previously drive to larger town’s multiplexes.

 
We await the opening, but until such time, the cinema continues to run, so support them and go see a film. I’ve updated the icon for the flicks on our homepage to send you to Picturedrome’s website, where you can book tickets online. Here’s the link anyhoo.

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In Review: The Bradford Roots Music Festival 2019

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Bit out of D-Town I know, but it doesn’t take long to just tootle over to Bradford, and the really splendid Wiltshire Music Centre. I mean – it’s not as far as Tibet is it?

Now in its seventh year, Bradford Roots Music Festival, now extended to three days, is all about two things – showcasing the vast array of musical talent that has any connection with Bradford, and raising (lots of) money for good causes. This year’s beneficiaries were Dorothy House Hospice, Zone Club (creative club for disabled young adults) and Wiltshire Music Centre. All the artists play for nothing and the event is administered and operated wholly by volunteers. That way all the funds raised go to the good causes.

So it’s a local (indoor) festival for local people. But this is not Royston Vasey, it’s Bradford.

And what a lot you get for your investment in a weekend ticket! I counted over fifty performances and workshops you could have attended if you’d really put your mind to it. I had to skip Saturday evening’s offerings (due to the small matter of Mr Wakeman’s KGB putting on a little show back in The Vize), but I still managed to sample more than 30 acts for myself. Once the WMC have given over the building to the Festival organisers for the weekend, the place is utterly transformed. Apart from four different performing stages (including the massive and superb main auditorium), there are several spaces given over to craft workshops, merchandising, tarot readings, a gin and prosecco bar, a main bar and an artisan fair. Just outside there’s a huge marquee hosting Hartley Farm Shop & Kitchen, which runs all weekend serving hot drinks and great array of home-cooked food.

But the music is the main thing. So many acts to choose from, and so difficult to highlight only a few from such a talented array of performers. But here goes: the stand-out acts for me (in no particular order) were:
• A Night In The Blind House – a rock and indie covers band
• Georgia Lewis – a stunning singer, multi-instrumentalist and folk artist
• The Hazir Ensemble – playing some stunning music from the Middle East & Turkey
• Lightgarden – original material from the UK, Russia and beyond, including Mongolian Overtone chanting (don’t ask – you have to hear it & you’ll be amazed)
• Rockpipes – a Bristol-based Celtic rock band featuring bagpipes (honestly!) as their lead instruments. Sounds mad, but it worked!
• The Bumnotes – an 8-piece acapella close-harmony group singing Barbershop

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Over three days I think I heard music from Africa, the USA, Crete, Turkey, Mongolia, the UK and – yes I know I said it wasn’t that far – even Tibet!! There was rock, blues, folk, country, bluegrass, barbershop, choral, jazz, singer/ songwriter, world – you name it!

The Festival is now over for another year but will be happening again next January. I can’t recommend this event highly enough – there genuinely is something for everyone to enjoy, with great food, great beer and a great atmosphere. It’s superb value for money and there’s plenty to do and see for children and for adults. If you’ve never been, I urge you to check it out for next year.

The Wiltshire Music Centre is also a superb venue in its own right, hosting a year-round programme of top UK and international artists from all genres – classical, folk, blues etc. Worth checking out if you are after top-class entertainment.

 

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Enjoy Your New Community Space, Once You’ve Found a Parking Spot!

I’m rapping with Devizes Town Clerk Simon Fisher about the transfer deal from Wiltshire Council to Devizes Town Council, and the future usage of the Market Place; throw me a paddle, why do I get myself into these things? 

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Not one to usually report news items, leave that to the trustworthy local journal, I felt this current local issue doing the rounds on social media does concern Devizine, being we’re an event and entertainment website. The Wiltshire Council’s transfer package to Devizes Council, is close to becoming Devizes’ own Brexit. I’m not taking sides, no sir-ey, not me, not getting involved.

 
Talk of converting the Market Place into a pedestrianised, “vibrant” community and social area is of interest to us, because I feel we need more areas like this, and kind of warm to the idea; in an ideal world.

 
The sad reality is though, while I appreciate any effort to improve sites for entertainment purposes, and this would be also be environmentally sounder than its current usage as a carpark, Devizes simply doesn’t have the capacity, infrastructure and population to support such a proposal. The idea of having a mini-Glastonbury in Devizes town centre all cool and groovy, but really, for much of the time would it really be so? Could we actually do this, or, as the other angle of the debate sharply points out, is dramatically reducing free parking in town going to have a detrimental effect of the businesses there?

 
It’s a melon-twister for sure, I wouldn’t want local businesses of suffer anymore than I’d want the space to become a barren desert left to a posse of drinkers sitting on a bench with a few tinnies. Yet the space, when needed, such as DOCA events, has been used effectively, just as they propose, with great effect, then it returns to a carpark.

 
Rather similar to Glastonbury, which is a vibrant festival of performing arts, a virtual city of revellers, for a week, but returns to be Worthy, a working farm the rest of the year. No one is suggesting you can’t park that cow in that field, as we want it to be Glastonbury Festival every day. As soon as I heard news of this, I despatched a few questions in an email to Town Clerk, Simon Fisher.

 
But opinions fly and fury rages on social media far quicker than media like your truly can relate, obtain a response and publish an article. I awaited a reply before joining any online witch-hunt. Simon did respond with an apology, just as I was wondering if the email to DC had accidently been sent to comic publishers instead, stating he was busy and would answer my questions soon.

 
With itchy fingers, I thought I’d kill some time while I waited for Simon Fisher to respond, by writing a short story. So, you lucky people, I’ve two articles out today; either scroll down for a response to my questions about the transfer from the Town Clerk, or click here to read my short story, which, I must point out, bears no resemblance to this, or any other local issues currently doing the rounds. Best option is to do both.

 
I greeted Simon, hoping he was in a fine fettle and wished him a bleated happy new year, cos I’m nice like that, what more evidence do you need? Well, for starters, I congratulated Devizes Council on this news, as in theory it sounds good. I’m all for keeping local issues between locals.

 
“On the WC article,” I asked Simon, “you’re quoted, ‘a programme that will support local communities to have greater control over services that help shape their towns.’ Yet one complaint on a Facebook group asks, ‘Bringing control of services to the locals?! I don’t think so! Is this really what local people wanted? No!’ So, what is the best procedure, for people who’d like to make suggestions and put their point across to DC?”

 
This didn’t get an answer, so I’ve no idea, email them through their website I guess, maybe I was being bleeding obvious! But along similar lines I asked, “How is DC communicating with the public to obtain the most popular and favourable decisions?”

 
This did receive a reply, bit indirect, but a reply nonetheless, “What is meant by this is that it is the Councillor who have been elected by local residents, who will be making decisions and those Councillors will be better in places to understand local concerns.”

 
Okay-dokey, that’s not incorrect by any means but…… moving swiftly on, “The main concern is the plans for the Market Place,” I probed, “and the ending of car parking. Why is this being done?”

 
“We consulted with the stakeholders,” Mr Fisher explained, “including FSB and the C of C, over changes to parking in the Market Place and they concluded that of the limited options available from Wiltshire Council, the option to have a community space with some exempt chargeable parking was the best option and that is what has been included within the transfer package. During the parking review we conducted a survey (537 people responded) and the option to turn the car park into a pay and display, was the least popular option which was the only way the who are could be retained it as a carpark.”

 
“Aside for environmental reasons,” I asked next, “the space is made available for “community use” when the opportunities to fill it are apparent, DOCA events, May Fair, etc. The remaining time it is perhaps better filled for parking, to make the shops accessible. Such a large community space is great for large events, and of course, Devizine thoroughly supports and encourages this, but a Tuesday morning in February, for example, the area will be barren, surely?”

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“We accept that we will need to put resources into the town centre to ensure the place does not look barren space and that there is plenty going on,” Simon explained, to my satisfaction.

 
“I ask DC, how can a town of Devizes size, make full use of this sizable area, on a daily basis? And what plans do you have in place to insure it’s not just a wasted space?”
“As part of the parking discussion with Wiltshire Council,” Simon continued, “we made that exact point and they have compromised, in that half of the space can be used for non- chargeable parking in the Market Place, which is defined as blue badge holder, motorcycles, taxis, etc. This would allow the moving of the taxi rank, some disabled parking bays and the coach drop off point to create parking spaces in these locations.”

 
I wanted to point my ambiguity on forming an opinion on this, “Don’t get me wrong Simon, in an ideal world this sounds fantastic, I’d like to see a vibrant market area akin to Camden, but the reality is, we are not in a city, and we do not have the population, or infrastructure to support this every day, surely it’d be best to use some of the space, at least, to ease street parking?”

 
“What you are suggesting is what we have now,” Simon responded, well, yeah, if it ain’t broke. But Simon thinks otherwise, “and even with free parking in the town centre, retailing is struggling. We have on average under 70% parking occupancy in the town and free parking is not sufficient to bring people from outside Devizes to do their general shopping and therefore in the most part, there has to be another reason. What we do know is that the busiest visitor day in Devizes is Thursday, when there is no parking in the Market Place. Those market town up and down the country, which are striving attracted visitors are focusing on making their towns interesting and vibrant places to visit and I fear if we don’t try, then we will continue on a downward spiral.”

 
Now, while the latter half of this reply is spot on, try telling me the average is under 70% parking occupancy in the town, when I’ve driven around the centre three times looking for a spot, I double-dare you! I’d wager paid parking has been factored into this statistic, surely? That’s the point of the fury, if people have to pay, they’ll go elsewhere.

 

 

“Furthermore,” I put, “this idea was put by Wiltshire Council as a kind of rose-tinted threat during their process of hiking up parking charges, and extending them to Sundays and all night, for the sole reason to make them extra pocket money; rather than celebrate social events they wanted to burden them by making everyone pay to park during them, true?”

 
“You would need to ask Wiltshire Council that question.”
No way Jose, you can, if you want!

 
“How ironic then,” I battled on, “that they’d suggest such a community-spirited opportunity, and now, it seems, they cannot handle public outcry, they’ve handed the bag to you. Who will be in control of paid carparks, and who gets the revenue under this new plan?”

 
“Wiltshire Council.”

 
I rest my case. “Do you appreciate this sounds like a smokescreen, only to encourage the usage of paid carparks rather than actually bringing the town the opportunity to host community events?” I asked.

 
“Wiltshire Council were clear about this when the put together their parking strategy,” Simon furthered, “in that they wanted a further £95k from parking in Devizes.”
Greedy buggers, maybe reduce traffic wardens, save some pennies that way.

 
“I hope I am wrong on that last point,” I suggested, “but it will be the question burning lips! To me, it sounds like a plan, having more faith in DC than WC to deliver the right choices, and I’d like to wish you every success with it. Anything we can do at Devizine to promote and suggest ideas for this “community space,” just ask. In the meantime, I could add a poll, what people might like to see the space used for; I’m sure there will be some shocking yet atypical Devizes-humour responses!”

 
This time Simon no way Jose’d me, “we are appointing a Town Centre Manager whose job will be to increase the variety of markets and events in the town, working with groups to ensure that there is a lot going on, not only for Devizes residents but also making it an attractive destination of choice for those living in neighbouring towns who are looking for something to do.”

 
Failure to inform us of the proper and effective method to communicate with The Devizes Council, and put our concerns to them, at the beginning of this response, now revealed reasoning; he hit the nail on the head with this last comment; short answer, they don’t seem to want to hear your opinion, they’re appointing a manger to sort it all out for us; sit back and enjoy your new community space people, everything is done for you. You’ll only need to check your parking ticket’s not overdue, and stuff another tenner in the machine to enjoy said space.

 
Very conservative approach, wouldn’t you say what-what?

 

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The GuardFather

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Simone Pescatore quivered in the arch-back seat as Ricardo “Roulette” Cleweraro poured a second bourbon into a diamond-cut highball and casually pushed the decanter across the oak desk. “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse,” Ricardo sneered, “You see, Simone, we feel that entertainment is going to be a big factor in drawing shoppers into the market towns, honest we do. We’re hoping that you’ll sign a contract agreeing you control the Market Place, Devizes, but we can’t have the public parking freely when we’ve gone to the effort of providing high-cost, paid parking, now can we? Perhaps convince some of your friends in the Guardians to take the blame, eh?”

 
The Guardians reigned over Devizes, that much was true, but to the Consiglio di Wiltshire, they were nothing. Simone only too aware, it was complying or face the consequences. Ricardo sensed his anxiety, “we’re counting on you, Simone.”

 
Anger boiled in Simone, standing, he enraged, with only card left to play. “Now you listen to me, you smooth-talking son-of-a-bitch,” he yelled, “let me lay it on the line for yer and your boss, whoever he is! Consiglio di Wiltshire will never get that deal! I don’t care how many Trow-Vegas guinea chav-greaseball goombahs come out of da woodwork!”

 
Cleweraro smirked, curved his arms over his shoulders and placed his hands behind his head, brewing in confidence, “I’m from Salisbury.”

 
Simone Pescatore, “well, let me tell you something, my Sarum-mick friend, people won’t pay to park, they can’t afford to, not with all da other cuts to public services you’ve made! I’m gonna make so much trouble for you, you won’t know what hit you!”

 
“There are negotiations being made that are going to answer all of your questions and solve all of your problems,” Ricardo continued unperturbed, “That’s all I can tell you right now. If want control you take it, but if you don’t hike up parking charges, the Market Place will be converted into a community space; fiestas, contadino’s mercato, and the odd tumbleweed passing by on a Tuesday afternoon. That’s the deal Consiglio di Wiltshire are willing to make, I suggest you take it.”

 
“Over my dead body!” Pescatore mumbled, hesitantly. He thought of the good people of Devizes, he didn’t care for a turf war, they’d flock to Trow-Vegas to shop, if they cannot park in their own town. A county-town where Consiglio di Wiltshire had conveniently made parking free, in plush multi-stories with minimal empty drug paraphernalia littering, stench of piss, and dank sleeping bags of rough sleepers; victims of the cuts. Bypass such matters with nose in the air, and they had class, superior shops, functioning infrastructure, and a Wagamamas.

 
Devizes cannot compare, with its minor boutiques, charity shops and Chick-O-Land. Yet, if he didn’t agree, Consiglio di Wiltshire would continue controlling this expanse, probably threaten to close more education facilities, devise more ineffective alterations to road layouts with their disorganised Muppets erecting perpetual roadworks, and snatch candy from babies, dancing the floss in gloat.

 
He gulped, pushed into a corner, “okay,” he trembled, “done.”

 
“I am sorry,” Ricardo “Roulette” Cleweraro confessed slyly, “What happened to your council was business. I have much respect for your so-called Devizes Guardians. But your Guardians, their thinking is old-fashioned. You must understand why I had to do that, the Consiglio di Wiltshire family need feeding, second homes, and a yacht or three moored in the Caribbean. Now let’s work through where we go from here.”

 
Simone Pescatore smiled his first smile, awkwardly. “Yeah, let’s talk business, Ricardo. First of all, we’re all done. The Guardians don’t even have that kind of muscle anymore, some fly-kid in the teddy bear racket, local businessman trying muscle in. He’s been gone snitched to the local sausage wrapper, da Gazelle n Herod, blubbing all this, ‘following their parking review last year it was clear that this was never going to be an allowable option’ malarkey.”

 
Ricardo leaned forward in his chair with his hands held out, he was getting somewhere with this two-bit, small-town councillor, minimal threats, if it wasn’t for some shylockbusiness rat. “Yeah, tell me more, don?”

 
Simone stumbles, “Yeah, gives it, ‘the parking review set out two clear choices for the Market Place: it either became a pay and display car park with a premium charge, allowing parking for up to two hours or all parking was to be removed.’ He’s accusing us of betrayal, us, da Guardians, in da rag!”

 
“Sheez, your problemo!” Ricardo waived off the delinquent, “deal with him, stuff his bears with crank n call the cops, or take him out, but make it look like an incidente, capeesh? Perhaps he could try turning right out of Dunkirk Hill or sumthuin’.”

 
“Is no problemo,” Simone assured, “he tows the party line, just worried, as they all will be, about their two-bit businesses; the Godmother’s sick, right? Sick from too much Brexit. The Vizes is a Tory town through and through, they’ll whinge outside Lidl, and post complaints on The Devizes Issue, but they’ll never chase us out of town. We will stop the free parking in the Market Place, spin ‘em a false promise about locating another, fictional place to park free; and you’ll get your readies, but Devizes is ours.”

 
With grave sincerity Ricardo nodded, “don’t fuck me, Simone. Don’t you ever try to fuck me; I’m frigid.”

 
Simone of the Guardians knew a good deal when he saw one, and this wasn’t it, but he’d return to Devizes with some pathetic excuse or other, and the people will buy it. He stood up, kissed Ricardo’s ring, bearing the insignia of the Consiglio di Wiltshire. “I never fucked anybody over in my life that didn’t have it coming to ’em,” he told him, “You got that? All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break ’em for no one. You understand? That piece of shit up there, Yan Wallo, I never liked him, I never trusted him. For all I know he had me set up and had my friend, the Basil Brush collection tin outside the Brittox News, killed. But that’s history. I’m here, he’s not. You wanna go on with me, you say it. You don’t, then you make a move.”

 

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Claire Perry’s “weekly-round-up” email; with translations (in brackets)

Local MP Claire Perry’s weekly newsletter appeared in my inbox today, I thought I’d decode the complicated jargon of it by inserting basic translations in brackets, so there is no need to worry, our government, apparently, is in full control of the situation.

Welcome! (Tory supporters. Others, just signed up for my newsletter for satirical purposes can kiss my rosy red….)

It was a busy start to the New Year, (although we had a fortnight break, while you all slaved through the festive season, filling shop shelves and delivering goods in your pathetic, minimum waged jobs; insert Nelson Muntz style “ha-ha” here) with Brexit continuing to dominate Parliament and the news (other critical national issues rightfully on hold). (Help! We haven’t got a clue what we’re doing, and Nigel Farage put a slug in my knickers.)

I was of course disappointed by the result on Tuesday evening (someone told me the majority of the population have been disappointed since the day this government got into power, which I find very hard to believe.) Whilst I recognise the concerns of my colleagues (did I say colleagues? I meant backstabbing backbenchers and filthy snowflaking Leftie extremists I’d like to brutally murder) around the complex issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland (whatever that is, I live in Wiltshire don’t you know?) I still believe that leaving with a deal provides the best way (despite originally campaigning to remain) forward to fulfil our duty to deliver the Referendum result whilst also protecting jobs and the economy, (believe it, or I’ll diss you on Twitter) and I will continue supporting the Prime Minister in securing a deal that we can all coalesce around (because through my rose-tinted specs, it’s united the country.)

(You may be surprised to hear that) I voted with the Prime Minister this week, (for the sole reason to protect my job) and will continue to back the Government, because I believe that this is the best way forward to ensure we leave in an orderly way (an orderly way and Brexit goes hand-in-hand doesn’t it?) with a good deal, (despite half the population wanting to crash out and the other not wanting to leave at all) and ensure that the UK has the decent, moderate government it needs to build a country that works for everyone (and I’ve not suffered brown tongue symptoms for no reason.)

We now have a responsibility to work together (to divide and rule) to identify (see if we can’t come up with another desperate Baldrick-style cunning plan) a way forward that can secure the backing of MPs across the House of Commons (so we can have another holiday, I fancy the Seychelles this year, how about you, Butlins again? You’ll be lucky.) In the coming days, there will be meetings taking place between senior representatives (do I have to go?) including the Prime Minister, (she’s so sexy she can turn a girl’s head, and I’m not that way inclined, in fact as a Tory I hate homosexuality, one rule for you, one for me) and groups of MPs who represent the widest possible range of views (honestly, they do) from across Parliament, to reach a consensus and get on with delivering a Brexit that works for everyone (for our personal outside business dealings; bollocks to the rest of you.)

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Help Ease Traffic in Calne

Getting stuck in traffic can be frustrating enough, getting stuck in traffic in Calne is another thing all together! Sorry, sorry people of Calne, it’s cheeky Tuesday, always a tad mischievous on Tuesdays. I didn’t mean it really, I don’t go for town school rivalry, you know all that, “Devizes School, Calne School, fight, fight, fight,” nonsense; just isn’t me.

 

Did that happen here? It did where I came from, we used to sporadically fight with the other secondary school in our town, and annually organise one with the neighbouring town of Braintree. Being there’s only one school in Braintree, and Keith Flint of the Prodigy lived there, I’ve been known to spin a yarn about me fighting him. A bit of research though, revealed Flint didn’t move there until after leaving school; thanks Wikipedia, you’ve ruined my only claim to fame.

 
Anyway, I digress; congestion in our market towns is a twisted firestarter, fact. Calne Labour are campaigning, calling on Wiltshire Council and Calne Town Council to urgently secure funding for an independent traffic study to investigate practical options to address the bottle-neck in Calne and improve traffic flow and air quality in the town centre.

 
In a petition gathering more pace then the flow of traffic down Curzon Street, they state, “A large part of Calne, covering most of the town centre, has been designated an Air Quality Management Area due to pollution levels well in excess of Government limits for Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulates (small particles in the air). Both these pollutants emanate from road traffic and can be very damaging to human health. It has been estimated that this level of pollution contributes to the premature death of nine people in Calne every year.”

 
“Air pollution is exacerbated by traffic congestion, which is a particularly significant issue at the give-and-take system between Oxford Road and Curzon Street. This bottle-neck effectively cuts the town in half during peak periods, with significant delays to journey times.”

 
“Curzon Street’s bottle-neck is bonkers,” I expressed to Tom Morris of Calne Labour, in a manner only I would.

 
Tom agreed, but added, “for pollution it’s worse in New Road, due to HGVs on the A4.”

 
Often infrastructure issues in our market towns can seem impossible to solve, in Devizes we slapped a plaster on a served limb. Please sign this petition and hope some professional advisors can solve the riddle, because getting stuck in traffic is annoying, but considering the environmental and health implications of doing nothing is another.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 

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The Dub of Subject A; Writer’s Eyes

On dub experimentation, with Erin Bardwell and Dean Sartain, we review the new Subject A album.

 

Post-it Notes, penicillin, microwave ovens, Coca Cola and dub; all invented by accident. Kingston, Jamaica, 1968, Ruddy Redwood popped into Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle studio to cut a version of The Paragons’ rock steady tune, “On the Beach.” The engineer, Byron Smith accidently omitted the vocals.

 
Principal producer, Bunny Lee noted the enthusiasm of the crowd, as DJ Wassy toasted over the instrumental at Ruddy’s sound system dance. To get the upper-hand over rival Coxsone Dodd, the following day, Bunny instructed his sound engineer, Osbourne Ruddock to record instrumental “versions.”

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In 1989, returning home from the studio, Ruddock was murdered. The assassin made off with his gun and gold chain. The music industry robbed of one of the most pioneering, creative minds ever, known to the world as King Tubby. For his creation, dub, was more than reggae instrumentals. First to vision the mixing desk as an instrument, his techniques such as “rolling the stone,” predate drum & bass by thirty years, his self-built studio with a high-pass filter he termed “the big knob,” produced narrowing sweeps of signals, twenty-five years prior to acid house, and his popularity saw a rise in sound system culture, which DJ Kool Herc would export to New York’s funk audience, creating hip hop.

 
By the eighties dub was both a subgenre of reggae and a remix term across the board of electronic music. Either way it’s wildly experimental, yet I feel while the style of dubstep endures techniques of delays, echoes and reverbs, it’s lost its way somewhat when it comes creativity. Perhaps it’s just me, that I’ve not heard enough. I put it to Erin Bardwell, who agreed, he hasn’t heard enough dubstep to pass judgement.

 
Yet his dub project, Subject A, with ex-skanxter bassist, Dean Sartain, has just released a second album, “Writer’s Eyes.” It’s passionately experimental and uniquely distinctive. My initial reaction was, “it’s like they gave King Tubby a musical to produce!” In citing dub innovators, like Tubby and Perry, who pushed the boundaries, I told Erin, “that’s where this goes; nice one.”

 

“Hey,” he responded, “you get what we were trying to do!”

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Omitting lyrics isn’t apparent on “Writer’s Eyes,” it’s opening track “It’s True,” echoes Sgt Pepper, with haunting female vocals, hardly replicating a skanking dub at all, rather drifting ambient house of The Orb. From the off you know you’re in for a musical journey, and the finale, wittily titled “Penhill Sunrise,” also gives me shivers of Sgt Pepper.

 
The following title tune, responds with the sort of mellowed reggae vibe akin to Swindon’s Great Western Reggae scene, which Erin Bardwell’s Collective revels, in a rock steady/boss style of yore. The vocals and atmosphere of the third tune, “Get Yourself into Light” though is where things take a jazz direction. “Miles Davis?” I put to Erin, if this hasn’t a hint of the evocative vocal of Johnny Cash too.

 
“We have jazz musicians involved for their skills,” Erin stated, “we were trying to create music which is unpredictable, which is what I thought jazz was, originally? With our natural reggae influences in there too.” Which Erin confessed, his hands can’t escape when a keyboard is put in front of him! I like it, as far as other influences are thrown into the melting pot, this doesn’t fundamentally lose reggae. Track four, “Hide Your Face,” upholds this, strictly dub-reggae akin to Augustus Pablo, so too with “Rising Tide.”

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Yet “Road Trip,” is where my comparison to a musical choir stem from, under Nyabinghi drums. Horns then come in for “Nite Life,” replicating the duo’s 2-Tone origins acutely.

 
Bending those horns back to jazz in “Vega’s Strings,” with the deep trip-hop vibe of the Bristol scene; think Massive Attack. “I have lots of influences from soul too,” Erin continued, “and Dean from the Bristol sound. Of course, we always thought 2-Tone was about fusion, so we hope elements of that take on things has creeped into some of the songs.”

 
To magic this, the duo called upon a vast team, including Selecter guitarist, Neol Davies, drummer Matty Bane, Larry Larkin, flutist Heather O’Neill, violinist Rachael Birkin, trumpeter Colin Berry, Rowena Cameron, Harki Popli, Sarah Loveday-Drury on Trombone, Pete OD, Sonya Beale, Martin Bush. Plus, it features voices of Richie Vincent, Katie Cormier and Ray James.

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Towards the end of this epic journey, “The Earth Still Turns while you Sleep,” also mellows with ambient dub/trip-hop, it’s a flavour I noted in “Sleepwalkers,” Project A’s first album. So, how, I pondered does Writer’s Eyes differ from Sleepwalkers?

 
“I think in general Sleepwalkers was more dub-ish, reggae skanked,” Erin considered, “where as this one is a bit more varied. But yeah, what you said too – that’s kind of nailed it.”

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“I’m not sure how it’s different from first album,” Dean expressed, “think it’s the same project.” Some of the songs here, on what they deem parts 3&4, are linked to first album, parts 1&2. “A thread winds through,” Dean continued, “… a continuation.”

 
Hey, I’m no musician, all I know is, if you’re looking for something different, Writer’s Eyes will astound. It’s dreamy, sublime, but with the mixture of aforementioned influences, it’s a melting pot of variety, whist maintaining a one love to reggae.

 

Writer’s Eyes is on Digital Download for £5, CD for £8.

Pop-A-Top Records Website

 

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Resolved to Talk in Code

We take a listen to Swindon’s indie four-piece, Talk in Code’s December album, Resolve, and I question modernism, Uncle Albert style…..

 

Laugh it up daughter of mine; she pops into the kitchen to find me listening to Years and Years. I’m pondering contemporary pop with an eighties style about it, and quiver if it’s left up to them! It seems to be a trend, yet I can’t find much comparable to the album I have to review from Swindon band, Talk in Code. Trying to avoid an Uncle Albert moment, which is too often these days, when I begin to mumble along the lines of “back in the nineteen-eighties……” and my daughter immediately switches off. She doesn’t seem to care that we only had three TV channels.

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Despite my dubiousness surrounding bands self-labelled “indie,” and debates with Sheer Music’s Kieran on what defines the term, there’s something immediately likeable about Talk in Code’s new second album, Resolve; apologises to everyone, I’m impelled to make comparisons to eighties music, it’s an age thing.

 
Because instantly I’m reminded of the great pop-rock outfits of that period, of U2 and particularly, Simple Minds. The opening tune, “Play with Fire” does this, surprising me at how “pop-lite” it is, given my expectations of “indie” is that of the nineties pre-Britpop era with shards of goth and punk. Buoyant and up-tempo, it’s agreeable and pleasant, nothing of the rage or fury of my preconceived ideal.

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Nailing it down to the synths as the root cause for my Uncle Albert moment, the second tune “Keep Safe,” pings Prefab Sprout at me; a cringeworthily comparison, as all the tracks here are acutely written, without nonsensical hotdogs and jumping frogs. Shall we say Alphaville or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and be done with it? That said, there’s also subtle echoes of all which indie shifted into through the nineties and naughties, from caressing the clubbing scene, Madchester and Ninja Tune, to groups like The Smashing Pumpkins or a non-psychedelic Spaceman 3.

 
Putting the Rubix cube back in my C5, I’d also make contrasts with what Devizes duo, Larkin are putting out. I like it, for it’s sophisticated pop, it’s modern sparkle, and highly catchy. Perhaps no tune on this album more so than “Oxygen,” which, after a couple of listens sent me to YouTube, wondering if it was a forgotten cover, as it was stuck in my head like classic pop should. Like an intoxicated first snog, felt like Oxygen and I had known each other forever, but we’ve only just met!

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Steady as she goes, Resolve never deviates nor experiments, rather sticks to its working formula; synths and vocals on the following track “So It Goes,” keep the faith in a Simple Minds inspiration, the catchiness not waning, yet the album flows through five more tracks, taking you with it. Quoting influences from Coldplay and The Killers, to Daft Punk and archetypic Britpop groups, this four-piece have fashioned a polished and high quality, anthemic sound.

 
Since 2014, when the self-titled debut album produced by Geoff Swan, (known for his work with Haim, Ed Sheeran and Prides,) captured the attention of the industry; regional BBC Introducing and Q Music, Talk in Code have built a fanbase and are intensely motivated; with this new album, released in December, the professionalism clearly shows.

The good news for Devizes is, vocalist and guitarist; Chris Stevens, bass/synth and programmer; Mark “Titch” Turner, guitar, synth and programmer; Al “Sneds” Sneddon, and drummer and backing vox; Jamie O’Sullivan, will be Talking in Code down the Cellar Bar, as the first in a series of gigs titled Subterranean; Sheer Music’s determination to bring the town some full electric shows, not before Vince Bell supports the incredible Gaz Brookfield on 22nd February.

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Said series of gigs at the Cellar Bar kicks off on March 1st then, with Chippenham indie three-piece, Socket supporting Talk in Code. Tickets are a fiver. If you can’t wait that long to see if I’m truthful about the potential of this proficient beguiling synth-pop indie outfit, and unless you want to travel to the Facebar in Reading, on 14th Feb, you really need to download Resolve.

 
All said and done though, some indolent research reveals Talk in Code do not cite any aforementioned eighties bands as influences, so it must just be me….and maybe Zammo and Danny Kendall. Bet you’re gonna ask Siri who they are aren’t you? Mr Bronson will have you, bloody whippersnappers!

 

Talk in Code website

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Handing over the Cheque….

Not usually one to publish pictures of myself on Devizine, and for the good reason I’m not the most photogenic subject unless it’s a John Carpenter flick, here I am this afternoon handing a cheque for £480 to Chairman, Sue Tovey and Treasurer, Frank Marshall of The Devizes Area Committee for Cancer Research. The money was raised at our birthday bash in November.

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Devizine stands to notify, promote and encourage events in entertainment and the arts within the area of Devizes, it’s surrounding towns and villages, we’re not about hosting them. But last November I decided to hold a little birthday bash for the website, and it grew into the awesome concert of local talent you’ve probably all forgotten about by now!

 
Me though, I’ll never forget, the bits I remember of it, and I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped stage it, from The Devizes Conservative Club, Dean Czerwionka of Dead Kool Promotions to all behind the scenes, and a special thanks to Erin (you know who you are!)

 

Images from Matthew Hennessy and Nick Padmore

 
Thanks to all our fantastic acts too, of course; George Wilding, Jamie R Hawkins, Phil Cooper, Tamsin Quin, Sam Bishop and Finely Trusler of Larkin, Lottie Jenkins Bryony Cox and Gail Foster. Particularly Iggy, Chris and Catherine as the Daybreakers, who not only supplied the PA, but coordinated the technical parts and got everyone dancing by the end of the evening. Heck, if you missed out, here’s our summery of the night.

 
So, I confess, I’m chuffed today as I met the committee members and handed them the cheque. Formed in 2007, to date The Devizes Area Committee for Cancer Research has raised over £267,000 for Cancer Research UK. With a variety of events and sponsors, from simple collections to concerts, tapas evenings and the Autumn fair, to the main events, the annual Stert Country House Collectibles and Car Boot Sale in May and Pink Week in Devizes during October, the committee continues to raise funds, and awareness. I pondered to Frank, if he felt it was ever possible to find a total cure for this terrible disease, and I was surprised by his positive reaction that it would, one day, be found.

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Until that day, we struggle on, almost everyone’s lives have been affected by the diagnosis of a friend or family member, myself personally, the very reason for choosing this worthy charity for our wonderful little party.

 
Next birthday bash though, I’m thinking………

Looking Ahead with Devizes Scooter Club

While it’s that quiet month of January, when all that remains of a festive season are a couple of abandoned coconut creams in an otherwise empty Quality Street tin, a lone Christmas cracker novelty moustache sluggishly gliding under the fridge and a tree dumped in the street with a single streamer dangling, it’s a good opportunity to highlight forthcoming stuff to do, and look forward to summer festivals and extravaganzas.

 
If you’ve not yet discovered the news that Devizes has its very own scooter rally this summer, prearranged by The Devizes Scooter Club, then you’ve been living either on the moon, or Pewsey. But you might be forgiven to assume that an event of this magnitude will render the Scooter Club void of its usual crazy, crazy nights at the Conservative Club; you’d be very much mistaken.

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Not content to sit on their laurels and await the rally in July, they’ve been busy revving engines, and perhaps safe-bet gigs with two nights of returning favourites and also, a new-comer to Devizes. So, it begins; on Saturday February 23rd, tickets for this a mere snip of a fiver in advance, for possibly the most renowned northern soul DJ in the UK, Mr Terry Hendrick, precisely one day under a year from the last time he graced us with his presence, rather splendid two-tone suit and braces.

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Devizine reported a blinding night as thus; “Northern Soul aficionados from far and wide mingled with Devizes natives for an evening of cheongsam dresses, two-tone suits and quality northern soul on the talcum powdered dancefloor of the overflowing Conservative Club last night,” as it was indeed a cracking night, nearly cracked the old knees! Terry Hendrick does not disappoint, with a blend of rare groove and classics for all fans of soul. I suspect it’ll be a heady night with bar staff rushed off their feet!

 
The end of April, Saturday the 27th, also sees a soulful return of a favoured night last year. Bedfordshire’s finest, All That Soul’s reappearance also marks an anniversary of their original visit to our town. At the time I intended to flick between the club and a band at the Southgate, but once I heard these divas sing, I stayed for the duration, wedged in the groove!

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Of all the fantastic nights the Scooter Club have owned, I’m reckoning All That Soul was perhaps the best, of which I described at the time as thus; “I kid you not, they were the soul cover band equivalent of Star Trek’s Borg, in matching frocks; resistance was futile. They assimilated me, half the population of Devizes, and reassigned our honky booties from the bar to the dance floor. With irresistible charisma and panache from the off, they filled the Cons Club with a plethora of chic Motown and Atlantic soul classics.”

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The two most celebrated acts we’ve seen at the Scooter Club are separated by a newcomer to Devizes in March, Saturday March 30th to be precise. The Decatonics change the genre, a nine-piece ska band based in Bournemouth. Formed in 2012, they’re female fronted, loud and proud. See, you can apply as much soul as you like guys, but when it comes an evening to whine up mi waist like I was young again, it’s good to hear a bit of ska has also been included. Look forward to this night; tickets are a tenner.

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I think, after April the Club understandably ween off the Cons Club nights, to work on this forthcoming rally. July really will test them to the limits, with eights acts plus DJs, it’ll be a heady weekend for scooter enthusiasts, but more importantly I feel, an awesome opportunity for locals with a passing interest in the scene to sample the diverse range of music on offer. It’ll all be covered there, from mod, to rock steady and ska to northern soul.

 

Not to mention it’s in Rowde, and you know what we’re like! So, yeah, like groovy, while tickets are available at the Cons Club, Vinyl Realm and Jeffersons for Terry’s night in Feb, wristbands have also gone on sale for the Rally; now that should cheer your otherwise gloomy January night up a bit…. better than a squashed coconut cream.

 

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Chapter Two kicks off this year’s productions at The Wharf

After the sell-out Kidnap in Pantoland, The Wharf Theatre, Devizes are preparing for their first production of the year, Neil Simon’s Chapter Two. Directed by Lewis Cowen it runs from Monday 28th January to Saturday 2nd February, doors at 7.30pm.

 
Novelist George Schneider is still grieving over the death of his wife, Barbara, when his brother Leo sets him up on a date with actress Jennie Malone. Jennie has gone through years of counselling and a messy divorce and neither of them consider themselves ready for a new relationship. However, when the efforts of Leo and Jennie’s best friend Faye, whose marriages are also in trouble, proves unexpectedly successful chaos ensues.

 
This is Neil Simon at his hilarious best, his sparkling dialogue softening the edge of what is, at heart, a serious examination of what it means to lose one’s partner. His semi-autobiographical Chapter Two examines what it truly means to love someone and whether it is possible to find a soulmate more than once in a lifetime.

 
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. For further information contact Karen Ellis http://www.publicity@wharftheatre.co.uk

 

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Larkin about at The Cons Club

Photos Used By Kind Permission of Nick Padmore,

(and I didn’t even let him sit on my knee this time)

 

Oh, hello, s’ me, in 2019, not really gotten over 1989 yet, but here nonetheless, reporting on things which happened last year, still. Just a quick one then, we’ve already reviewed the “Live by Night” EP, and we wouldn’t want the boy’s heads to swell excessively, now would we? Needless to say, though, Sam Bishop and Finley Trusler, aka Larkin, did put on a grand show between Christmas and New Year at the Devizes Conservative Club for the launch gig of the aforementioned EP.

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It was an intimate yet ample crowd of family, friends and fans, united in celebration for all these guys have achieved. After an acoustic support, Sam and Finley, accompanied by a fine selection of acquainted musicians, showed professionalism, magnetism and aptitude as they ran through some tunes from their previous album, some covers from the likes of Mumford & Sons and REM, but most importantly, and poignantly, replicating their new tracks from the EP impeccably.

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I said of the EP, when I reviewed it in November, “a natural and positive progression from their debut album, concentrated into three solid and marketable tunes that Sam and Finley should be very proud of.” And deservedly proud they were, as I’d argue it’s their originals which dominated the evening, not the chosen covers, which is how it should be for a duo who strive to improve. 1AM particularly polished, and the encore of Solace in the Dark, debatably the anthem of the previous album, Set You Free, finalising the evening with panache and style.

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It was that good, I suspect most had forgotten their free CD lodged in their pocket until they returned home. I discovered it in the morning, a refreshing present aside the thermal socks and Lynx deodorant sets, of which although I’m grateful for, they can’t hold a note like these guys!

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Well done lads, and all the team involved; I wish you all the best for 2019, when I’m certain Larkin will push new boundaries and entertain crowds even further afield. As it stands though, this gig insured, Devizes loves yer!

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Devizine Awards Results; about blinkin’ time too!

Some might say happy new year, what lovely fireworks.

 
Others might say it’s a farcical pageant for a generation of infantile gurning, self-indulging dunces to rejoice the impending most ambiguous year in our nation’s history by throwing billions of needed money up in smoke. Dreary bloody grouches.

 
So, with sore heads we plunge into 2019, bequeathed by our leadership with nonchalant promises; they know what they’re doing, and an idle request to be united when the shameful reality is, we’ve never been so divided; politically, financially and in opinion of this dodgy fiasco we call Brexit. The only thing which seems to unite us is the notion we cannot accept this pledge from the one person who pledged it, that and, of course, the very fact no unnecessary finances will be thrown at some lavish ceremony for the 2018 Devizine awards; that’s a sure thing!

 
Honestly, not trying to twist your frazzled mind this morning, it is all about as much bull as us leaving the EU, for the whole idea of having a Devizine award ceremony was based purely on a joke, a satirical stab at another local website’s frivolous awards. Then though, right, I find that I can add poll questions to an article, so I did, just for the hell of it, cos I could. Sorry, it won’t happen again.

 

So, thought I’d better post the results, without too much waffling; drum roll, or least foot-tap, please…..

 

Firstly, we asked you to vote for the Best Local Venue/Event Organiser:

The runners up: with 14% of the vote, The Southgate Devizes, and Sheer Music with 22%.

The Winner, with 32% of votes goes to The Devizes Scooter Club.

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Yay, applause! All the best for 2019 to you all.

 

Our Best Local Female Solo Artist:

Runners up, with 6%, Lottie J, and with 24%, Kirsty Clinch.

And congratulations to winner, Tamsin Quin, who stole the show with a staggering 59%!

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Congratulations girls, and wishing you all the best for 2019.

 

Now, the boys; Best Local Male Solo Artist:

Equally pipped, the runners-up both got 15% of the vote, and they’re none other than: Vince Bell and George Wilding.

The winner, with 38%, is Jamie R Hawkins.

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Well done guys, congrats and all that, best wishes for 2019!

 

 

And the results for Best Local Band/Duo of 2018:

Runners-up, The Day Breakers, with 11% and The Reason, with 15%.

But the winner, with 40% of the vote, is: da-da-da-da-da….

People Like Us!

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Well done to all, here’s wishing you a great new year too!

 
Finally, based purely on releases I’ve personally reviewed this year and not on votes, I’d like to announce two more awards, for best local album and EP of 2018. It wasn’t an easy decision, but:

THE BEST LOCAL ALBUM of 2018 can only be, in my opinion: Colour in the Sky by Jon Amor. Reviewed here.

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THE BEST LOCAL EP of 2018, also in my humble opinion, has to be, unquestionably: Soul Sucker by The George Wilding Band. Reviewed here.

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Right that’s that that’s all that then, you don’t want to be reading too much today, well done to all; I’m off to the visit the toaster, see if my stomach can accept solids again. Have a great new year’s day everyblobby, I lurve n wanna snog you all, no, really, I do, tongues an all; pass on my man-flu.

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