Devizes Arts Festival’s FREE Fringe Events

A man of my word, ambiguity remains more in the “when.” Yes, I suggested last week we regroup “tomorrow” for a closer focus on the Devizes Arts Festival’s free fringe events; I can only apologise, it’s been nine days. Whatcha gonna do? It’s not until June anyway, relax!

Proudly managing the fringe events, Phillipa noted, to my surprise, “for some reason they don’t seem to attract that many people, compared with ticketed recent events.” Theorising a stigma, I commit to prove wrong could itself be wrong. Sunday being the prevalent day for these to spring up, perhaps the day of rest, of sofa slouching and dozing in the wake of Monday morning distracts. I really don’t know, all I do know is there’s some handsome events lined up here, and they’re all free; enough to motivate me from any tacky Hollywood rehash Sky care to throw at me.

Guy Halls
Guy Halls

Guy Halls

In fact, the only fringe event not on a Sunday is the first one, on Saturday 8th June at 1pm. An afternoon in Pizza Express apt for this self-taught but proficient guitarist, Guy Halls. Salisbury-based, but raised in Zimbabwe, Guy picked up a guitar aged six, now with thirty professional years under his belt, his repertoire fuses Latin-jazz styles rumba and bossa-nova with gypsy and nuevo flamenco.

You’ll need to reserve a table in advance with Pizza Express, assuming then a miniscule catch is you need to order lunch, twist my arm! I for one couldn’t sit in there, with its aroma of olive oil and basil without munching on a pizza, or two. Proof is always in a YouTube link, which I’ve running while I write this, perfectly setting an ambience; anyone got a glass of red wine and some churros?

She, Robot

Now if this is all too traditional for you, you only need to head for the British Lion the following afternoon (1pm Sunday 9th June.) A choicest local for a pint on any Sunday without multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and beatboxer, She, Robot’s looping performance.

The Arts Festival site describe it as “Woman meets machine in a musical maelstrom that will make your head spin, your spirit lift and your feet move,” while Janice Long professed “very clever. A fine piece of loop pop.” Boss Looping UK Champion 2011, Suzy Condrad, a veteran underground performer, has self-released three albums, the latest EP, 7 Bells is produced by legendary Mike Bennett, who’s worked with The Fall, Toyah Wilcox and Ian Brown.

The Hot Club

The Hot Club of Wiltshire

The event given me the trickiest task of researching is named The Hot Club on the Arts Festival site, which bought up all manner of web search results I’d rather not go into! It took to emailing one of this quartet, Lewis Dickenson, who explained “we play quite a lot together. Normally it’s under the name of Hot Club of Wiltshire.” One omission solved, I continue; They’re at the Three Crowns on Sunday 16th June, evoking the sound of 1930s Paris, and rooted in the style of Django Reinhardt.

Spawned from a jam session at the Pound Arts in Corsham, Guitarists Alex Bishop and aforementioned Lewis, together with Steve Laming on clarinet and Ian Jackson on the double bass, offer us some foot-tapping gypsy jazz from the golden era of swing.



Drawing comparisons to Radiohead, Yes or XTC in its numerous glowing reviews, the eponymous debut album of prog-rock mavens Circu5 is a concept album of five years’ worth of dedicated sixties vocal harmonies and driving rock.

It’s the solo project of British multi-instrumentalist, Steve Tilling, guitarist and vocalist for TC&I (the new band of Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers from XTC.) Steve however, calls upon guitarist Matt Backer, bassist Mark Kilminster (ex-Tin Spirits) and drummer Greg Pringle (Roger Daltrey Band) for live performances, of which you can witness on Sunday 16th June, down the Bear’s Cellar Bar from 8pm.


Josephine Corcoran – Open-Mic Poetry Session

So, that’s about it for the music-related fringe events, but for poets and writers, there’s more. A reading by prizewinning, Wiltshire-based poet Josephine Corcoran on Sunday 16th June, 5pm at The Vaults is followed by an invitation from Josephine to share a poem or two of your own at the open-mic session, if so inclined.

I love the interactive nature of poetry nights, I know some who’ll be there with bells on, sure you do too if you read much of Devizine, and if they’re in attendance you’ll be in for a great night, as far as poetry night go. Josephine herself has published two poetry collections, What Are You After? and The Misplaced House. Her work as a playwright has been performed on stage in London and broadcast on BBC R4. She is a Poetry Society Stanza Rep in Trowbridge and works as a writer in schools and community settings.


Alison Knight – Creative Writing Workshop

The first Sunday of the Arts Festival, Sunday 9th June, though, writers of a younger age are invited to the Wiltshire Museum at 2pm where writer of contemporary fiction and time-travel adventures, Alison Knight, leads a workshop exploring the ‘who, what, when and where’ of story-telling.
Aimed at 14-21-year-olds, they’re encouraged to bring a notepad and pen – there will be some writing exercises from this teacher of creative and life-writing at Wiltshire College, who also works as a freelance editor and proof-reader (I need one of those in my life!)

Now, let’s not distract you from the essential ticketed events, as there’s some great nights of quality entertainment ahead, and note, becoming “a friend” of the Arts Festival for £15 annually will get you priority booking and discounts. But I think you’ll agree, the fringe events deserve your attention, and you know me by now; there’s nothing like a freebie! For more info, and to book see here.


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