Half a Review from The Southgate: Soapbox and Patrick Goodenough

Yeah, I know…..

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What’s Devizine coming to when I back out of a full night of live music? But with jam-packed weekends ahead, general fatigue and, like Suggs, sometimes I like to stay in and watch TV now and then, please allow my lethargy some slack, people. Britain’s Got Talent’s non-offensive new look of letting every idiot through was wearing thin by the second act, and I ventured off for a pint. Wasn’t a great deal to wet this lightweight’s appetite anyways, save George Wilding down the Owl, and of course, if you’re ever stuck for a weekend evening’s entertainment, the Southgate is the guaranteed safe bet in the Vizes.

Yet it’s walking up that Dunkirk Hill which drains enthusiasm, so steep Churchill pulled the troops out. Fine, it is, to roll back down at the end with a bellyful of cider navigating me off-route down Browfort, as it did last weekend, and perhaps it was this occurrence which avowed the need to drive.

I knew Nerve Endings were booked; knew they had a support, and still I epically failed, but was impressed with what I did perchance to witness, and thus prepared to draft a little something about that. Yep, the Southgate rocked again, and I know, you know, Mike, Luke and Rob will make a grand, and loud job of it. On bass and vocals, Rob McKelvey and brilliant drummer from the valley, Luke Bartels really add the extra dimension to Mike Barham, if he ever needed one; shame I shirked it.

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But Patrick Goodenough, who kicked off the proceedings with a solo debut of stripped back songs from his band, The Compact Pussycat, was indeed more than good enough, as his name suggests. There was emotion and sentiment in his performance, and popping his solo act virginity, with added banter of band-member Jack Moore floating around, he should be highly commended.

Following this, Salisbury three-piece, Soapbox came to kick-ass. Proclaiming it was their heaviest song to date, they blasted out an introduction called “Problems,” and thus was the general theme of these lively and edgy, punk-inspired, rock n roll originals.

Acutely written shards of anarchy and virtue, they packed attitude and were delivered ferociously yet responsively, a tune called Rollercoaster, for example, cliché life metaphor perhaps, but delivered with passion and enthusiasm. There was an acceptable Iggy Pop in them, The Rabbit Ear perhaps the most poignant, and the final lambast, Shut the Fuck Up, the most direct.

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I nodded approval as the bass player packed away, telling me though they’d sporadically been together as a band in the past, this incarnation has only been on the circuit a year. With this in mind, excusing myself doing the need-a-wee dance, Soapbox is defo one to watch out for. Good choice Mr B, apologies for my slackness!

 

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Jemma’s Thoughts (well, some of them) on Things I Know to be True @ The Wharf Theatre

As big chief of the Invitation Theatre Company and partner of Anthony, conductor of The Full Tone Orchestra, you cannot deny, Jemma Brown knows a thing or two about performing arts, so I’ve pinched her words of praise after watching Things I Know to be True at the Wharf Theatre…….

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I don’t think I have ever heard so many people, prior to me going to see something, telling me how incredible it is. So, it was with a gently raised eyebrow, that I went to see Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know to be True – directed by a friend, with good friends in it, on a stage that has an awful lot of personal connection, I girded my loins. Now before I launch into what I thought of it all, one must know that I am horribly critical, an awful theatre goer, and the fact that I know the performers and director, my thoughts must not be deemed as bias. Because I would tell you how it is.

It was totally and utterly beautiful. Beautiful.

It made me think about every single possible aspect of life. The love, the pain, the happiness, the sadness, the euphoria, the devastation. And, what’s important.

The set – simple, sensual, unfussy – was the perfect setting for what lay ahead. Six breathtakingly superb performers, performing a piece that is so brilliantly written meant I was hooked from the second it started. The lighting, and the setting was sublime. I loved the fact simple accents were used, because it meant each cast member could grasp the text and tell the story and it made them all the more relatable.

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The use of film, laying out a relationship of a family, was an inspired and delicate way to set everything out. We knew from it, that we were going to be meeting a family who loved each other. It drew me in, and it made me gently weep. And how it made me feel at the end…. not everything you see is how it is. The things you know, they change, and they grow.

Interspersed throughout was the most wonderful physical theatre, to the most brilliantly chosen music that enveloped you. The dance elements fell into place like a comfortable shoe, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. And they made me brim with tears. The interconnections between the family was brought to life by this touch and made all the more powerful by the tenderness as it was steered by the cast. A glass of wine that passed from one to another at one point, like it floated. The brother and sister connection that playfully danced.

The coming together of all of them to support and move and just be there, in gentle, significant movements was just stunning. The scene at the end was quite simply one of the most powerful and beautifully executed pieces of theatre I have ever seen. I couldn’t get out of the theatre quick enough at the end so I could get to my car and howl. And I sobbed. I sobbed because of the story, but I sobbed because those six people, the director and the technical team had created something so beautiful, it was all I could do. When I got home, I couldn’t explain what I had just seen, I sobbed and I jumbled a sobbing garble to my husband about what I had just seen. I held my daughter so tight and just could not tell her deeply enough how much I loved her. The effect the whole production had on me was profound. And I really am not the only one. This play has deeply touched everyone who has seen it.

The four children were played by four exceptional actors, each of whom played their roles with such excellence, I found myself wondering why they aren’t all on the professional stage. I forgot I was at The Wharf and that they all have normal lives. They handled their characters with such care and maturity – real kudos to Freddie Underwood and her exemplary direction. I just knew that rehearsal process had been special, that what they had undertaken was a passion for the text and for their director. Because it showed.

Jessica Whiley as Rosie was enchanting. Her storytelling and perfect diction had me feeling and believing and imagining every single thing she was telling us. I felt the love she felt, I felt the passion she had had and I wanted to go home and share a bowl of cereal with the love of MY life. She captured the sense of travelling but wanting to be at home just perfectly. Her performance throughout was captivating. She broke my heart at the end of the play, her gentle voice and the beautiful but devastating words that came tumbling out of her mouth made me want to bawl. Her performance was outstanding.

Lou Cox, a stalwart of theatre, surpassed my expectations as Pip. Her characterisation of the role drew you in and you felt every feeling that she had. Her brilliant usage of inflections and the light and shade of her expertly executed use of the stage and the script meant that you knew who she was, her relationship with her mother and her siblings. Her relationship with every other character on stage was real and unmistakable. Lou’s handling of the character meant you knew exactly who Pip was, it was a striking and beautiful performance. I felt the pull she felt and that earth-shattering realisation that you need to follow your heart.

Fraser Normington as Ben – I loved him. His flexibility within the character was excellent. He caught the busyness of his life perfectly. He looked good, he sounded good and when he royally messed up, his manic panic was caught so brilliantly, I thought I was going to have a panic attack.

Karl Montgomery-Williams played the role of Mark magnificently. We knew something was wrong, he brought something to the stage when we first met him that we could just feel there wasn’t something right. As it unfolded, his storytelling was exquisite. His sensitivity to the subject, his relationship with Rosie and the response to his parents, was heartbreakingly brilliant. Again, you just felt every emotion, every word. His performance was remarkable.

Debby Wilkinson and Paul Butler as Fran and Bob. Well what can I say. I have seen these two perform and have been lucky enough to be on stage with both of them. They blew me away. Paul was bimbling and kind, and his parenting was just what every child needs; calm, gentle, principled. You yet again, felt who he was and felt every inch of his loyalty to his wife and the life they had made together and that he had always done what he thought was right. His aversion to swearing and how he reacted to it made you never want to swear again – yet his ‘F*CK YOU’ was one of the highlights for me. Because it came from Paul as Bob in such a way at the direction towards his son, the disappointment and pure and innate despair, was palpable. It hung in the air, it bounced around the theatre, we felt it. But his relationship with his wife was beautiful was what I loved the most – he broke my heart, his performance when he broke was simply heartbreakingly beautiful – his collapsing on his beloved roses made me want to howl, holding that in was near on impossible, but he captured absolute, all-encompassing pain, gut wrenchingly perfectly.

In response to his portrayal of Bob, Debby played the part of Fran with extraordinary professionalism and realism. She was quite truly excellent. Her connections with the words, the emotion, her relationship with each of her children was breathtakingly intense. She made me feel like I didn’t know who she was – I thought I had her, then she changed. A friend of mine hated her character, describing her as a bitch – I didn’t see her as a bitch, I just saw her and felt her as someone who just didn’t quite know how to ‘be’, her children were all different and the one who was the most like her was the one who she loathed.

So, was she self-loathing? Was that what the problem was? I just did not know, and that was down to how to she was directed, but also how she interpreted such a great and complex piece of writing that captured so many issues and feeling and life experiences. Her handling of the character, the script, the stunning, stunning movement that was incorporated and then her explosion at one of her sons that simply took my breath away, made me weep – her brilliance made me weep.

The production was better than clever. There is just so much in it to talk about. The characterisations of each character left me totally unable to explain what I had just seen. The lighting and music made me want to tap on the lighting box door and tell them how excellently they had handled it all (a real rarity), but the whole vision from the director that had spilled out onto the stage and in her performers, was exemplary. The pure emotion that had been poured into every single aspect was truly on a professional level. It did, quite frankly, blow me away. Even when I sensed there might have been a few line struggles, it just didn’t matter. It was slick, it was calm, and you felt them all working together to make the whole thing ‘happen’.

One thing I know to be true, was that it was, quite frankly, one of the best pieces of live theatre I have ever seen.
And not just because it is an incredible script, but because of who directed it, her tech team and who she had cast to be in it.

 

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Two Stories of Vinyl, Realm

Last week when I spoke to Pete Bennett, he had his sleeves rolled up and was preparing to finish painting the basement of Devizes’ only record shop, Vinyl Realm, and it looks like the work is complete.

Pete says he’s “proud to announce the second floor at Vinyl Realm is now open to the public, tomorrow, 27th April. We’ve so much more, good, clean second-hand vinyl, LP’s, EP’s & 7″ singles on offer. Albums and singles start at £1. We have increased our offering of titles on new 180g vinyl to 70+, prices start at £14.95, albums including Rock, Alternative, Reggae and Blues. Also coming is more home audio HiFi, Specialist Cables, PA and more bits & bobs.”

It was never going to be an easy task maintaining a traditional record shop in a town like Devizes, some even put a date on Vinyl Realm, but since I parked my milk float in the snow the day before its opening to take a peek at their progress, I’ve been continuous impressed by the store, the staff and of course, its contents.

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It has provided an intimate setting for local bands and singers to perform to passing public in the day, staged several gigs in the Lamb’s Fold, and now strives to provide a younger generation a place to gather with dance music nights at the Fold.

Pete continued by thanking his staff, helpers and the builder for making this happen. Long live Vinyl Realm!

 

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What a May Day! Things to do Next Month; Part 1

Now your Easter eggs are nothing but screwed up tin foil it’s time to look towards May, and what’s in store for us during this early summer month. Part one, let’s get the first fortnight over and done with.

 

Week 1: Wednesday 1st May – Sunday 5th

 

First day of the month is a Wednesday, so it’s the regular acoustic jam down the Southgate, Devizes, an open Mic at The New Inn, Semington or a live stream of the The Royal Opera: Faust at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.

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Thursday 2nd jabs at your funny bone, when the Moonrakers Comedy Night sets into the Cellar Bar, Devizes. Ed Pownall presents headliner Sol Bernstein, returning after twenty-five years of semi-retirement, only playing nursing homes. He’s performed all over the world at venues including The London Palladium, New York’s Carnegie Hall, The Paris Olympia, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, and Scunthorpe Baths, but it’s at night clubs where Sol really comes to life. With opener, Craig Deeley, a finalist in Jongleurs Last Laugh competition, and an additional special guest, tickets are £10, available form: The Bear Hotel, Devizes Books, The British Lion, The Southgate Inn, The Vaults, and on-line at “We Got Tickets.”

Along with a Charity Quiz Night for the British Heart Foundation at The Owl, Bromham, Swindon’s masters of downbeat, slack indie and wobbly pop, the Flour Babies bring an acoustic set to The Tuppenny with support by Callum McLean. Meanwhile, Chapel Arts in Bath has Will Lawton & Weasel Howlett (feat Buddy Fonzarelli) with support by our favourite, Tamsin Quin; Devizine is the #officialtamsinquinfanclub

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The second ale, cider and sausage festival, Hopdog, at the Woodbridge, Pewsey, kicks off Friday 3rd. Three days of family mayhem for a £10 advanced ticket, £3 for 12+ and children under 12 free. You can camp, for £7, space is limited so please book early via email: woodbridgeinnpewsey@gmail.com Friday sees Grizzly & The Grasshoppers. Saturday: Bob Bowles, Brian Stone, Jazz Wrann & The Ruby Welts and Sunday, firm Devizine favourites, the Larkin boys will be with Fly Yeti Fly and Kit Trigg.

Another festival in Blandford starts, the Teddy Rocks, in aid of Children’s Cancer, with a tribute-based line-up: details here: https://teddyrocks.co.uk/

Over in Devizes, the family club has Hariana, the UK’s number 1 tribute to Ariana Grande, and rumour has it, Vinyl Realm will host another fantastic Drum n Bass night at the Lamb, unconfirmed as of yet. Melksham Assembly Hall boasts Jethro’s The Count of Cornwall tour, while the Neeld have Queen II, and Bradford’s Wiltshire Music Centre hosts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. But if you like it raw, the Back-Wood Redeemers are at The Royal Oak, Bath.

Star Wars Day, oh yeah, bank hols too, Saturday 4th May, it’s over to Urchfont, for the Scarecrow Festival; always a lovely family day, starts at 9:30 through to Monday.

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Saturday night in Devizes is about rum and reggae at the Wyvern Club, where Michelle and Stuart Field’s Muck and Dunder rum bar hosts Swindon’s finest SN Dubstation while you dip into forty types of rum, ah-ha me hearties, tenner a ticket from https://www.muckanddunder.co.uk/ or failing that, dependable The Southgate has the great Sunset Service, free as always.

Out and about, you only need to get as far as Seend for beer, yep, it’s that time again for the Seend Beer Fest, their 19th, they know what they’re doing; gawd blimey, Train to Skaville will be there; love them. Certainly, reggae filled weekend though, with The Bob Marley Revival headlining Melksham Townfest at the football club, with Falling Fish, The Decibelles and whaaaa???? Train to Skaville will be there too??; must be an express train. The Ultimate Stone Roses are at the Assembly Hall, over in Bradford on Avon the NYJO Ambassadors and Mark Armstrong are at the Wiltshire Music Centre.

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Swindon has “kids for a quid” at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, PinkMac at The Waiting Room and some groovy Disco Voodoo, with DJ Ashley Beedle at Baila Coffee & Vinyl.

Spring in the Park is a family fun-day in Warminster on Sunday 5th, or round up the weekend at The Southgate, with a band I’ve heard only good things about, The Astral Ponies. Swindon has the cool indie-sixties mod band, Six O’clock Circus at The Woodlands Edge, and Bath has Pigstock at The Pig and Fiddle; two stages, with Falling Fish, Pompadour, Cut Throat Francis, The White Lakes, Luna Lake, Jamie Watson, Eilis Tucker, and our own favourite, Mr George Wilding.


Week 2: Monday 6th May – Sunday 12th

 

Bank holiday innt? Those Devizes Lions have the May Day Fair in the Market Place, and Corn Exchange from 9am- 4pm. On similar lines as previous years, but in addition to trades and charities, a new class of stall is being introduced, for artisans who produce goods for direct sale to the public.

Sound Knowledge Marlborough are celebrating the holiday with a bang, with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes from midday in Club Thirty8, for a wristbands-only short set, after which they’ll be in the shop signing copies of new album ‘End of Suffering’.

Wednesday is acoustic jam at the Southgate. Thursday is regular Kinks tribute, Kast off Kinks  at the Assembly Hall, Melksham, but if you think there’s too many broken hearts in the world, head for the Cheese & Grain, yeah, yeah, I know; Jason Donovan.

Friday 10th sees Tom C Walker at the Long Street Blues Club, Teddy White Band returning to The Southgate, and legendary punk poet, Dr John Cooper Clarke at The Corn Exchange. English comedian and writer, Mark Steel gives contemporary rants with his Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright show at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Sam Sweeney’s The Unfinished Violin at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon and Sharron Shannon Band & Seckou Keita at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

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Saturday 11th start the day browsing the Stert Car Boot Sale, it’s Devizes Cancer Research’s grandest event, supported by Grist, please come and help make a difference to this invaluable charity.

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In all actual fact, it’s a very charitable day in Devizes; yep, we’ve our first Devizine Presents gig at the Cellar Bar. If you like Larkin, then it’s a double-whammy, because while Fin and Sam will be there, it’ll be possibly the only place to see them both, separately, Sam with a newly formed band and Fin with cousin Harvey as the Truzzy Boys. If that’s not enough for you, The Hound on the Mountain, the incredible Jordan Whatley will also be showing off his new songs and Gail Foster I will be in charge of intervals with her spellbinding and, possibly, rude poems. It’s a fiver or whatever you can donate, in aid of Devizes Opendoor; so please come down.

Opps, UPDATE ALERT! Please see the poster above for a change in schedule, unfortunately Sam had to pull out, but every clown has a silver lifeboat, hurrah for sixties mod-rock covers band, The Roughcut Rebels, who’ve stepped in to save the day and will be sure to add an extra dimension to the festivities.

If my thing ain’t your thing, I might just forgive you, especially if you try the Devizes Town Band’s concert, “Greatest Love Themes,” which will be raising funds for Alzheimer’s Support at 7:30pm, The Corn Exchange. In a change from the traditional black, band members will be wearing some other colours to make the concert more dementia friendly. I can identify with this; my nan suffered this terrible ailment.

Some people living with dementia see a black mat or flooring as a bottomless black hole, which is understandably very scary. They can also see people wearing black as floating heads, because they cannot identify black clothes.

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Babs Harris, CEO of Alzheimer’s Support said: “People’s perceptions can change when they have dementia and it is fascinating to hear from some of them how they now see colours. It is so heartening that Devizes Town Band have taken this on board for their concert and taken this extra step to make their performance truly inclusive and dementia-friendly. It promises to be a wonderful evening of music and the bright colours will only add to the celebratory atmosphere.” Tickets are £7.50 and you can get them from Devizes Books, or online via www.devizestownband.com

 
Alternatively, Hip Route are live at The Southgate, and the brilliant Indecision at The Owl, Bromham.

 
In Marlborough The Skandals are at The Lamb and Room 101 are at The Bear. The Blue Rose Band at The Pilot, Melksham. London Mozart Players at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, Operation 77 at The Woodlands Edge, Swindon. Martin Kemp’s Back to the 80’s at Cheese & Grain, Frome; take your own Rubix Cube.

 
For want a peaceful Sunday on the 12th the Marlborough and District Lions Club welcomes you to drive through the glorious bluebells at Westwoods, enjoy the Bluebells and help support your local Lions Club. This repeats again next Sunday.
Time travelling magicians Morgan & West present a jaw dropping, heart stopping, brain busting, opinion adjusting, death defying, mind frying, spirit lifting, paradigm shifting, outlook changing, furniture rearranging magic extravaganza at the Neeld in Chippenham Sunday afternoon, promising to be fun for ages 5 to 105.

 
That’s about it for the first two weeks of May, if you think it’s jam-packed you need to see the finale part of May’s what’s on article, which I’m working on now, okay – cut me some slack! But before I go, remember to check devizine.com regularly, as it’s updated, like, nearly every day, and you might well miss something.

 
Also, please shed my workload by letting me know about your event, or news stories; there’s only so much scrolling and clicking I can do. You can email your info to devizine@hotmail.com Tweet, message the Facebook page, or I now have a Facebook group called The Devizine Communications Group, to make it super easy to make me aware of your events and gigs and news and stuff, so use it, don’t abuse it, love it and get some free publicity for your efforts.

 
Most of all though, don’t whinge at me for omitting something if you haven’t actually told me about it, sounds bleeding obvious I know but you’d be surprised by that amount of people who do!

 

Hey, hey, hey; I have actually followed this article up, click the image to go to the rest of the month’s preview!

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Wish You Were Here: All Floyd at The Bell By The Green

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Been a while since there’d been much live music on at the Bell, and the last tribute band they had last year had been pretty poor, so I hesitated before unlocking the wallet and extracting a fiver to get in. But we were back in business.

The place was packed and the band were in full flow.

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All Floyd are an 8-piece hailing from Salisbury and, as the name might possibly suggest, a Pink Floyd tribute band. Whilst I don’t go a bundle on tribute bands in general (a little voice inside me insists on wanting to yell “write your own bloody material” – but that’s another matter) I do have a bit of a rule on judging the quality of such acts. If you’re going to pay “tribute” to your heroes, you need to do one of two things – either re-produce their music extremely accurately, or else re-interpret their material in such a way that it really adds something new and interesting. However, the idea that you need, in any way, to look like your heroes, has little to recommend it. It’s music, not pantomime.

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Anyway, All Floyd went down the first path and made a bloody good job of it. Number after number turned out immaculately, note perfect, complete with backing singers and that wonderful, rich throbbing sound that Floyd fans will be familiar with. Messers Mason, Gilmour, Waters, Wright & Barrett would have been proud to hear their music so faithfully rendered. Close your eyes and they could have been in the room. They weren’t, but they could have been. In their place All Floyd are a bunch of very talented musicians and singers.

 

All the “hits” were there, including plenty of material from Dark Side Of The Moon, The Wall, Wish You Were Here, The Division Bell and many others. Not too much chat from the band between numbers, letting the quality of the music speak for itself. And there were some great moments too. Whilst you’d probably expect folks to sing along to “Another Brick In The Wall”, watching a whole roomful of people belting out “Comfortably Numb” was something quite emotional and remarkable to witness. Absolutely terrific. And after this I might even change my mind about tribute bands.

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Unfortunately the logistics of the Bell’s performance space didn’t allow for the full light show, but TBH I didn’t really miss it – the music alone was plenty good enough. However if you’d like to catch the band in full flow, they’re doing an all-seated version of the gig at Warminster Athenaeum on Saturday 4th May – might be worth a run out. Highly recommended.

 

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Junglist Lamb!

The Lamb in Devizes was shaken up last night, as Vinyl Realm staged its second drum n bass gathering, and I felt impelled to go rollin’…

 

So, I’m at the Lamb, where through all trends of our thriving pub culture, these old walls have stood the test of time and multiple fond memories remain. I only prayed the walls would now withstand an invasion of bass.

I took the opportunity to have a quick word with Pewsey drum n bass DJ, Harry B, as we’ve been chatting online, when a guy young enough to be my son commended my senior efforts on the dance floor. Hush up child, I told Pete of Vinyl Realm I was only popping up to take a photo for a review!

For advertised as being something for the younger generation to enjoy, Vinyl Realm staged its second drum n bass night at the Lamb, and this could’ve, potentially, gone wrong for me. I could’ve been subjected to a barrage of ageist insults, having stressed in jest in the preview, “oi, what about us old skool ravers?!”

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Yet never was I made to feel unwelcome, never once did I detect a snigger, “look at that old fart giving it some!” And for that, dolloped on top of the preponderance of awesome jungle vibes, the night gave me happy sensations reflecting that a time of yore never faded; the rave era cherished the no borders or stereotyping ethos, everyone was welcome to dance alongside each other in “sweet harmony.”

Certain I did reply, “showing you young-uns how it’s done!” I tried to keep Uncle Albert moments at bay, and if some slipped out in banter, the receivers of my mumbling actually seemed attentive; crazy fools! Yet really, I’m here to celebrate what I feel is a perfect filling of a gap in the market of events in Devizes, and at last, someone catering for the twenty-somethings.

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Sure, maybe a niche, my one question to Harry and original “needs more attention” angle of my piece ruined, as time passed and the once rather void Fold started to fill rather rapidly. For accomplished DJ, Harry, is not averse to playing a large crowd in venues like Bournemouth clubs for example, I wondered how he felt when only four people stood on the other side of the decks.

A lap of Spoons, promoting the event word-of-mouth seemed to do the trick, there must be a quantity there itching for something to drag them kicking and screaming from the cheap drinks of this McDonalds of pubs. That then is precisely my point, hats off to the organisers for providing this target audience a place to gather and dance in a safe environment.

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Harry B, of Gyro Records was joined by James Threfall of Mini Rig and Rappo B2B Retrospect, but which way round they appeared I’m unsure, what impressed me was diversity, while Harry’s fresh hi-hat to rollers style gave way to the second DJ, who opened with bhangra-inspired beats, to the delight of the crowd.

 

Aware what I deem drum n bass of the nineties has meandered to multiple offshoots, I worried beforehand I might be subject to dubstep or another fashioned genre. Yet I felt the drum n bass had advanced only enough to sustain my curiosity, but not distract my association with it, and though the crowd were younger, to my surprise their outgoing and pleasant banter remained firmly in the spirit of the genre.

 
Plus, added bonus, I got to shake my funky booty to something other than the contemporary norm in the Vizes without pretence or negativity; blinding effort!
Here’s to many more, in fact it continues tonight, albeit a more house vibe, with Shaun Ashley of Rapture Records, Morgosis and Rappo again, at the controls. Lob them a fiver at the door and you’re in.

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Full Tone Festival

The Full-Tone Orchestra sing “Let’s do this, Devizes!” as they plan a Full Tone Festival in July. But they need your help….

 

The Full Tone Orchestra are putting on a festival of orchestral music in the Devizes Market Place on 20th July 2019, but need your help. Here they are, in their own words:

“Four concerts in one day, with acoustic support acts performing in between, and it’s going to be epic! We want to bring exciting orchestral music to the town in an easy and accessible way. We will have a massive stage, with a superb light show and there will be stalls to give the Market Place a real festival feel.

Wiltshire Council have already very kindly agreed to sponsor us half of the money, we now need to match this from other sponsors/donations.

We start with a family themed concert, The Fulltone Music School Choir will open it, then you’ll hear 50 strong orchestra play themes from Last Night of the Proms. Big, beautiful music in the centre of our town. Albert Hall, eat your heart out!

Our second concert is ‘Iconic Themes’ – epic music from films, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Star Trek’, ‘James Bond’ etc. For those of you who came to our very first concert, you’ll remember it was mind blowing!

‘Classical Rock’ is up next with our friends from The Invitation Theatre Company (TITCO) joining us for a big ‘Queen’ set again – YES! Get in!

As the sun sets, we end with ‘Electronic Themes’, starting in the 1970s with ‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘Tubular Bells’ moving right through the 1980s, ‘Popcorn’ might make an appearance, then into the 1990s where we turn up the volume and end in Ibiza! It will be utterly AWESOME!

All the musicians are donating their time we need to raise funds to pay for the staging, lights, sound and all the other bits you need to transform a town square into Wembley!

So this is where you come in – this is a free to attend event. But for it to happen we have to raise another £5000. We need to MATCH what we have already! So, whatever you can give, help us make this happen. Think of it, perhaps, as purchasing a ticket for the event. £5, £10, £20 – whatever you can afford or think your ‘ticket’ would be worth, please help.

Businesses, if you sponsor over £100, you’ll get your name on the poster! And we’ll thank you 100 times in all our press!

Punters, if you sponsor £20 or over, you’ll get a free festival T-shirt! What’s not to like?!

IT’S SO EXCITING! The town centre has never seen anything like this before! Help us make it happen!

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Introducing Devizine Presents; me getting out there and actually doing something!

Hi all, just a quick one from me today. I say that and then I waffle on; ah, you know me too well.

 
Learning lessons about event coordination this week I find it’s not as simple as it sounds. In all actual fact, it can be a bit of a headache. All those I chat with, wanting me to plug this, and that, well done you guys, I’ve experienced it from your side now! There was a point when I was like, yay; reggae in the Cellar Bar, then in one phone call it comes crashing down, and you’re left feeling now I got nought.

 
But spirits rising again, as from the failure comes two events, of which I’d like to run as a series; I dunno, bi-monthly or something. But I do want to blag what I can from our many venues and event coordinators, work with them to host some charity fundraising events, if they’ll have me and my shambolic procedures. But first, I need to thank everyone who’s overwhelmed me with positive responses to playing one of these, completely unplanned, disorganised chaos of events!

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Sam Bishop at our last outing in November. Photo by the wonderful Nick Padmore

So firstly, we kick off with an indie/acoustic type thing, down the Cellar Bar on 11th May. There, for a fiver, or, look, whatever you can chip in pal, you’ll find an abnormal assortment. Not that the acts are abnormal, but the line-up, for though you’ll know Sam Bishop and Finely Trusler as those indie lads from Devizes, Larkin, we’re hosting both of them, without any fights, hopefully, as Fin heads the Truzzy Boys with his cousin Harvey Trusler, and Sam, he’ll be with a promised new band.

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Truzzy Boys will be there, will you?

If that isn’t enough surprises, Melksham’s incredible, raw and energetic performer, the kind I’ve compared to a dreadlocked Jim Morrison in the past, will be there too. Jordan Whatley, aka The Hound on the Mountain, once member of the Compact Pussycat, returns as a solo artist with some new songs for us.

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The Hound of the Mountain promises to fuzz us all up!

And we’re doing this for Devizes Opendoor, a registered homeless charity who’ve I’ve been to see first-hand the great work they do, providing a breakfast to kick off the day, lunch takeaways, clothes and books, but also advice, support and sociability for anyone sleeping rough or in sheltered accommodation. It’s a situation which never goes away, in fact increases, yet, with stereotyping and crass negative opinions, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to. Let’s not get all political, you know how I feel. Just know that this, and our second event will both donate all proceeds to Opendoor.

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Click to read more about Devizes Opendoor

Wha? Second? Yeah, listen up, the reggae night, boomshaka-la, I did say, was merely postponed, and we should bash this one out too, the following week, same place, same time, on Saturday 18th May. Few bits to iron out at present, (and as you could imagine, I’ve an allergic reaction to ironing) but the man Knati P, and Raz-ah will be shaking the foundations of Devizes’ most prominent landmark, The Bear Hotel.

Look, don’t let me get carried away here, but we’ve a lot more on this to come, and I’ll let you know when it does. I’ve lots of acts wishing to contribute, from the incredible local acoustic Vince Bell, wonderful Sally Dobson, to some off the planet ska-punk, and much more. We’ve also a range of worthy charities to donate to, The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre are on my hitlist, along with the wonderful Arts Together.

 
Watch this space….no, bollocks to that, get yourself down the Cellar Bar on the 11th May, for what will be, I’m certain of it, a historic moment when Devizine ceases to become that crap you read online, and becomes actual, actually a darn good series of nights. Boom, that enough? Can I go now?!

 
Opps, nearly forgot; she’ll kill me, odds on bet. We will not, hopefully, leave you dangling in boring conversation about the weather during the band changeovers, no sir-y Bob. Our town’s wonderful, amazing, brilliant, Gail Foster will be drafted in to provide us with some mind-blowing, possibly a bit rude, poetry interludes. That is, if I’ve not annoyed her too much, see what I mean, it’s not easy being an event promoter; mine’s a Stowford Press by the way.

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Here’s the Facebook event page, let me know you’re coming, because you need to come, tell me you will, but no fibs, do come! See, told you waffling, it’s not pretty.

 

 

 

 

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A Local Look at Knife Crime

Navigating my footing becoming trickier as guy-ropes criss-crossed my path midst the shadowy maze of tents, still I chased. For reasoning I need not go into, the pursued managed to grab two twenty-pound notes from my wallet, one of which I snatched back, the other he made off with. The fleeting moment had gone from bad to worse, at this huge, anarchic festival. Now I was alone, chasing this kid. He had encouraged me not to follow, threatened to “carve me up.” I doubted his word; “carve me up,” over a score?

The notion arrived at my frontal lobe when he abandoned escape, turned to flash a blade at me. It only registered once I was an inch away, and he took a swing with the knife, then, thankfully, I took heed of common sense; wasn’t worth twenty quid. I backed off; he ran. He got a note off me; sucks, but I kept my life.

Reminiscing this feels like a movie, you know, where the hero escapes with seconds to spare; utterly thoughtless to have taken it that far, there’s no reruns in real life, no alternative ending. I find myself contemplating the what ifs, in this era where knife crime is rife, so the media informs us. I stagger at the whole stupidity of it, worry for youth, in times of desperation, economic slump, taking to the streets armed is a sad reality.

To those who adopt this philosophy, look at my pitiful example of yore; you’re not a “playa,” not doing anything fresh, nothing gallant or outrageous, zilch “gangsta” pal, just foolhardiness you cannot, and will not see as such until you get wise, or on a hospital bed.

Least, I speculate, should think ourselves lucky in Wiltshire, where by comparison I believe the chances of being a victim of knife crime is way less. But how much less, and is it on the increase? What would happen to me if I was caught with a knife in Wiltshire? I thought I’d hassle Wiltshire Police’s PC Paul Woodbridge for answers. If you do take a knife out to play, maybe you couldn’t care less what the police have to say. Yeah, alright, you’re free to skip the interview part, but I beg you scroll to the conclusion under the line.

Now, the Salisbury Journal reported in January that Wiltshire is bucking the trend of increasing knife crime, and ours has gone down recently, The Swindon Advertiser ran a similar article, but back in April last year it reported precisely the opposite: “Stats show Wiltshire knife crime up 214 per cent in five years.” So, after an increase, it seems the rate is dropping locally. I asked Paul how this reflects on the knowledges of the police on the streets?

“I’m not sure where your stats come from but you may be referring to some PA figures released recently which show a hike between 2013 and 2018,” he explained. “If that’s the case then the explanation is that our recording of knife crimes has improved in that time along with more people coming forward to report such crimes, thanks to the increased publicity around this issue. Overall, our knife crime figures show Wiltshire is a safe place to live; the statistics show knife crime has dropped by 18% across the county in the past year (Sept ’17 to Sept ’18) but we won’t ever rest on our laurels, and will firmly deal with anyone who we find carrying a knife.”

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The assumption is violent crime, particularly knife-crime is predominantly a city problem, how much better does our market towns like Devizes, Marlborough and Melksham compare to our larger towns and cities, like Salisbury and Swindon? “By the nature of population sizes,” PC Woodbridge clarified, “and generally speaking, smaller towns do not experience the same extent of crimes as larger towns and cities.”

Yet though I’ve been planning this article for a while now, only this morning a post on a Devizes Facebook group claimed their son was attacked by youth with a knife, and was cut across the face.

What would PC Woodbridge advise if you’re threatened with a knife? Or is this a no-brainer; I mean, I’d run, right? But what if you’re cornered? Does he think self-defence classes are a good thing? “As you said, the best advice is always to run and get help.” He continued, “get somewhere public where lots of people are, if possible, and call the police on 999. Self-defence classes are down to personal preference, but I would always look to put as much distance between me and the knife as I could.”

I wanted to gage PC Woodbridge on the wonky ethos of carrying a knife for protection, what would he say to those who do? “Statistics show that that those who carry knives are much more likely to be injured than those who don’t. Carrying a knife does not make someone safer and you will be arrested if caught with an illegal knife and not a good reason to be carrying it. You could then face time in prison.”

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What about armistice in a town like Devizes? What would happen to you, what would be the process if you walked into the police station and handed over a knife? PC Woodbridge explained, “if you were to hand in a knife then we would take your details and provided there had been no offences committed, then it would be disposed of. Don’t forget in September last year we had a countywide knife amnesty as part of Wiltshire Police’s knife crime campaign, Op Sceptre, where up to 500 knives were handed in to police stations across the county and disposed of safely. We will plan other amnesties in the future.”

I asked him, what else can we do to raise awareness and promote knife crime safety? “Information and education are paramount. Our recent Op Sceptre campaign has been very successful. During a week earlier in March, we spoke to people and gave out leaflets to underline the message: ‘No knife, safer life.’ We also do a large social media and media campaign. Search for ‘Op Sceptre’ to see what was covered.”

“Op Sceptre may be over for now,” PC Woodbridge continued, “but our work doesn’t stop, we’re never complacent about knife crime and I want to remind everyone that we will respond to any intelligence and information given to us by the public; knife crime can affect anyone. We also continue working with schools and colleges to keep the safety and educational messages in the public domain.”

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Wiltshire Police Website

 

So, that’s what the police said, but with all due respect to PC Woodbridge, and though I’m grateful for his time, I’d wager the ones we really need to reach out to have skipped past this, don’t care for the what the police have to say. So, I reply, okay, fair enough, for now, to hell with the police, it’s just me and you here talking, right? I don’t write like the standard press, out to make money. Readers expect an honest review, so I write from the heart. Take the start of this piece for example, journalists never open on a real personal incident, okay?

I know, understand and appreciate the world may’ve dealt you a shit card. Maybe your folks did a shit job at being parents, maybe you reckon this government are selfish, backstabbing bastards, and I’d say, yeah, you’re right, mate. Must be loads guilty for how crap your life is; but the thing is, it doesn’t matter who you’d like to point the finger to, when you choose to go out and take a knife, no one is to blame in that instance, but YOU.

It is your decision. If a government doesn’t want anarchy through poverty, why would it apply pressure through consistent service and educational cuts, when the magic money tree exists? I don’t know; maybe because it’s hidden in a walled garden. They pick it for funding war, bailing themselves out by buying votes, and lavish luncheons. I swear, it’s what they want you to do, takes the pressure off them. Channel your anger at them, see? By taking a knife to some kid who maybe dissed you out of tenner, may be shagging your girlfriend, or not paid you for that eighth, taking your frustration out on any Joe Bloggs, you’re playing into their hand. I’d even go as far as saying, alright, we live in the real world; bods mug each other off, and if so, if has to come to it, take it out with fisticuffs.

The vicious cycle is that you take out a knife, and they need to take out a knife, and she needs to take out a knife and everyone’s taking out a fucking knife. Break that cycle, or, simply, someone is going to get killed, if not you, them, but shit, you’re still gonna do time for it. That is pointless and damn right stupid.

Thank you to PC Woodbridge for his valuable time, I’m not one to say if this will make everyone stop and think about it, but if just one does, that’s one life saved.

 

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Rocking At The Rachel: Henry Priestman & Loved-Up Les Glover @ Rachel Fowler Centre, Melksham

by Andy Fawthrop

 

A Saturday night jaunt out of The Vize and into The Sham in search of musical entertainment. First port of call, after the rigours of the X72’s journey through the deep space and timeless beauty of Sells Green and Bowerhill, was for much-needed refreshments. Honours suitably done at The Hiding Place (the new kid on the block from the makers of The Vaults in D-Town) with a range of craft beers, and one of Ian Timbers’ marvellous pop-up pizzas, we schlepped over to the wonderfully-ornate Rachel Fowler Centre. And there we found ensconced a large crowd who’d come to see a couple of great entertainers.

Hull-born Henry Priestman, songwriter for both Yachts and The Christians in the 70s and 80s, has over more recent years struck out on his own. Teaming up about five years ago with scouser “Loved-Up” Les Glover, Henry has developed a great double act, which has now visited Wiltshire a number of times, and steadily built up a loyal fan base in these here parts. Playing just about anywhere there will have them, these two jokers have entertained crowds in pubs, theatres, narrowboats, festivals and in peoples’ own homes in a popular series of house-concerts. Les recently played the Devizes Winter Ales Festival to great acclaim. They’ve worked on and produced each other’s albums, and they’ve also made an album together – “Six Of One, And Half A Dozen Of The Other”.

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Pretending to eschew such professional affectations as “practice” or “rehearsals”, Hen and Les produced a wonderful blend of songs and comedy. Last night we heard many of their best-known numbers covering a range of topics – love, loss, aging, political comment – interspersed with a plethora of stories, comic anecdotes and improvised double-talk. They describe their act, in their own words, as “the same old shite, but at least it’s quality shite”. But, of course, it was a long way from that. It was quality.

Joining them on stage for a few numbers were Malcolm Shipp (he of The Vaults and The Hiding Place, and the promoter of this gig) on harmonica and vocals, and Jennie Hale (of The Ukey Dukes). Audience participation in the banter, the choruses and (occasionally) the actions is a regular feature of their gigs, and last night was no exception. We were only missing the lighters held aloft by the swaying crowd, but you know what modern Health & Safety’s like!

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However, whilst it all appeared and sounded fairly knockabout and cobbled-together, underneath these guys are serious musicians and great song-writers. They have the skills, the materials, the songs and the professionalism to create a great show. The comedy is just the icing on the cake.

Last night there were a few “newbies” in the audience, and they were completely won over. Two hours of great entertainment, followed by a 15-minute multi-dimensional encore, and a busy night on the merch desk, were proof that these guys are terrific value for money. I’m sure we’ll be seeing them back in Wiltshire again in the next few months.

 

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Made in Dagenham, Showy at Dauntsey’s

Under the circumstances perhaps the most thought-provoking character in the musical Made in Dagenham is wife of Ford Dagenham’s boss, Lisa Hopkins; through her own reservations about her plush lifestyle, the career-aspiring housewife convinces the female factory worker’s spokesperson, Rita O’Grady, that the campaign is one of sexual equality rather than a class struggle. When while the real Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 did indeed trigger the passing of the Equal Pay act, the issue is quite clearly rooted in worker’s liberty too.

 
So, I bite the bullet and go against my principals, arriving at the prestigious independent school, Dauntsey’s, to watch The Devizes Musical Theatre’s production of Made in Dagenham on their opening night, yesterday. A private school who brazenly parades its charity status, aids a local primary school, does a few sports coaching sessions at others and then sails around the world on its private yacht. Yet the irony of a play with the theme of working-class struggle staged in this tax-avoiding loophole abiding school, which Theresa May pledged against in her 2017 Conservative manifesto, but soon after quietly dropped, seemed to soar clear over the heads of the audience.

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And hey, who’d flunked it, the theatre there is rather luxurious in comparison to a comprehensive school hall. It served its purpose for this, rather splendidly arranged musical, which though received critical response, ending its run at the West End promptly, I enjoyed. Intrigue drew me to the performance, how one can produce a musical from this principled, true story based social-message film of the same name. That and the fact my upbringing lies in Essex, with roots from the East End, to the point of jaded memories of an aunt chasing me with a spoon of wobbling jellied eels.

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Yet it seems any movie is game for a musical adaption these days and for all that’s worth Made in Dagenham stages some apt, witty and intelligently written songs for the pivotal cast. The musical introduced some characters not in the film, of which the audacious bigot, cowboy Ford director was the most excruciatingly farcical, waving an electric guitar around like Peter Capaldi’s Dr Who car crash moment.

 
Though the script’s characters and content felt patchy at times, I loved the comical depiction of Harold Wilson, played brilliantly by Matthew Dauncey. It was almost pantomime-esque against the stern portrayal of Barbara Castle, acted equally radiantly by Laura Deacon. Yet the fourth wall remained bricked at all times. The moral as serious as the trade union’s dissolvement.

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Giving credit for its humorous components, my favourite by far was Rachel Ibbetson’s representation of factory worker clown, Claire; I guess it had to devote somewhat to the Essex girl stereotype. But mostly it remains ethically witty, rather than lambast a weak county pigeonhole. Though I felt the acting ability was varied, the aforementioned, plus lead roles of Lucy Burgess, Chrissie Higgs as Connie and Jon Paget were all fantastic in their acting and singing solos. A further credit must go to the children, Ivan Barter and Emily Noad, for their thoroughly convincing despair when the chips were down.

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I did enter with intensions to jokily knock attempts at the Essex accent, and indeed many actors did purvey more West London pronunciation, yet trivial elements aside, I came out satisfied at a job well done. Particularly poignant was the orchestra, who played marvellously, if not overpowering on-stage dialogue at times. To nit-pick further, the production could have been tighter. The lighting felt limited, microphone moments of lapse, and severe feedback at times, we must overlook; this was presented as amateur dramatics at its best, and the motivation and love of the arts clearly shone through, to demonstrate a dedicated and worthy production. Yeah, box ticked my love, I’m off shopping in Chigwell, rightly portrayed as the San Francisco of Essex!

 
Made in Dagenham only runs at until Saturday, so I’d advise you drop into Devizes Books and hope they’ve still got tickets. Shows start at 7:30 with a 2:30pm Saturday matinee.

 

Devizes Musical Theatre

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Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: The Full-Tone Orchestra get Big, Bold & Russian

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Well – you can never say with any credibility that “nothing ever happens in Devizes”. Spurning the opportunity to listen to the Buddy Holly tribute in the Corn Exchange (even if just to watch Darren become young again), [I do read these Andy, just sayin’!- ED] The Duskers at The Southgate, and The Billy Walton Band at Long Street Blues Club, for reasons that may need to go forever unexplained, last night I found myself sitting in a church (yes – I know) and listening to a 48-piece orchestra. As you do. Something had happened to my musical sensibilities and I’d come over all classical.

The Fulltone Orchestra were in town, conducted by the wonderful Anthony Brown. The theme of the concert was “Big, Bold & Russian” and that was pretty well what we got. Culminating with Tchaikovsky’s splendid “1812 Overture” (complete with the sound of cannons firing – although no actual canons were harmed during the performance – and the crashing of cymbals), we were treated to several Russian pieces. Earlier we’d heard “A Night On The Bare Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky, “In The Steppes Of Central Asia” a symphonic poem by Alexander Borodin, “Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, and “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Quite a lot to get through, but the performance was excellent.

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The acoustics in the church, with its huge roof-space, meant that the walls of the building fairly vibrated with the brass section in full flow, and the sound of the strings sailed up into the rafters. The noisier sections (famously referred to by Kenny Everett in his heyday as “the bash-y bits”) really took off in these surroundings. The quieter solo sections, however, suffered a little and tended to get a slightly lost at times. However, Dominic Irving’s pieces on piano really shone.

However, bearing in mind that that this is effectively a “scratch” orchestra, only brought together for this one night’s performance and after only about six rehearsals, and that this was the first time that all 48 musicians had been on the same stage at the same time, this was an incredible achievement. Our Tone had worked very hard to bring all this together in just a few weeks and, by and large, pulled it off with aplomb.

Two minor criticisms – it would have been nice to have a programme (so that we knew what we were listening to), and it would have been a good idea to give Our Tone a microphone – some of his introductions were lost to those of us at the back. But these little caveats aside, this was a great performance, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. It did exactly what it said on the tin – it was definitely Big, it was definitely Bold, and it was without doubt Russian!

We’re very lucky to have such an orchestra based in our town, and we really should get behind them and support them. Next up for The Fulltone is the Fulltone Festival in Devizes Market Place on Saturday 20th July, from 2pm to 10pm, where they’ll be giving four (yes – four!) concerts in one day!

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If Singing’s Your Thing… PSG (Pop, Soul, Gospel) at the Neeld Community Arts Centre

By Andy Fawthrop

 

“Come and watch PSG!” she said. Being a big footie fan I thought “Great! Paris St. German are one of the great European sides at the moment. Who wouldn’t want to watch them play on a Spring afternoon?” Which just goes to show that you really do need to pay attention when someone is actually talking to you.

Before I knew it, I was in a car heading for that bastion of corporate loveliness known as Chippers. Sitting in a seat in the wonderfully-restored Neeld Community Arts Centre. Where was the big screen for the football, I began to wonder? I was shortly disabused of my fond notion when about 50 people, each bearing a PSG t-shirt wandered out on stage. It was at this point that the penny finally dropped – PSG stands for Pop – Soul – Gospel and…er…that’s exactly what they do. Very loudly.

This fund-raising concert was in aid of Andy Phillips’, the Lord Mayor of Chippenham’s, charity Alzheimer Support, an independent charity supporting people to live well with dementia in Wiltshire. The show featured a wide range of pop, soul and gospel tunes from across the decades (just what it said on the tin!)

PSG Choirs was founded in 2014 by Will Blake in the village of Derry Hill. He set up the choir with the intention of using it to bring his local community together, and now runs choirs in Devizes, Melksham, Calne and Pewsham (and shortly to be in Trowbridge also). Together, the choir(s) have performed at Longleat House Festival of Light, Calne Arts and Music Festival, and Bowood House, as well as their previous fundraising show at the Neeld in 2018.

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This concert was a bit of an eye-opener for me. Not being exactly a fan of choirs, or choral music in general – probably because I can’t sing for toffee. In fact if you gave me a large bucket, I couldn’t carry a tune. Unfortunately most of the (admittedly very occasional) soloists here couldn’t do that either. Their interjections were the only slight blot on an otherwise thoroughly entertaining and uplifting performance. With Will on keyboards at the front, once the whole choir took off, the noise was absolutely incredible. In full sail, with some gentle choreography, the choir delivered an impressive array of upbeat numbers, covering a wide range of styles. And the large audience, which didn’t quite fill the venue, loved it. Lots of clapping and singing along. You get the picture.

If singing’s your thing and you’d like to join one of Will’s PSG choirs, see their website – www.psgchoirs.co.uk

Future PSG Events:

April 23rd 8pm PSG Masters Acoustic Performance (Pewsham Community Centre)
April 27th 10am to 3.30pm Calne Spring Sing (Calne Library)
May 22nd 5.30pm PSG Trowbridge – Launch Night (Paxcroft Mead Community Centre)

 

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Buddy Holly Lived, Last Night at the Corn Exchange

I love the way BBC Radio Merseyside presenter, Asa Murphy says “Devizes,” in his Facebook video-diaries. The rich scouse accent feels almost alien against the usual Wiltshire enunciation. In fact, there was a scouse tinge amidst the customary folk chatter in the Corn Exchange last night, as it prepared for the hit show, Buddy Holly Lives.

Asa had messaged me early in the week, asking to give the event a push; he still had sixty tickets left. We did what we could, but I had to forewarn him Devizine’s demographic doesn’t trend to an older age group, generally. Also, it was perhaps the wrong weekend to stage anything rock n roll in town, both the Long Street Blues Club and the Melksham Rock n Roll Club had events, popularly enticing loyal target audiences the show would surely attract too.

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Yet my only inane grumble about last night was that we crammed into the Corn Exchange like sardines, the seats adjoined with paper-depth separation, left barely the leg-room of an Easy-Jet flight, as this massive hall was brimming to bursting point; seems virtually every remining ticket at the beginning of the week had been snapped up. While a younger crowd could cope with this, the nature of the show bound to attract an older crowd, who surely need just a little space to move, particularly being the show was absolutely spellbinding and enticingly danceable. You could feel the audience, of an average middle-age, being there were a few younger, itching to jump off their seat but fearful in their morals that they’d be shoving elderly neighbours to the floor.

Although the last thing I wanted to do was injure a kindly old lady with my frenzied twist, when Asa finally suggested we get up and dance, by pronouncing “we are still teenagers!” the crowd needed no more encouragement, and the finale saw old and young throwing away cares, qualms and perhaps, any medical advice against excursion, to dance wildly in the aisles and manage best they could in their space.

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If Asa also suggesting continuing the party into the Exchange’s basement nightclub in jest, had become reality, I’d wager this generation would show the younger a move or two! For rock n roll, agree or deny, doesn’t care, it doesn’t care if you reject its influence on every brand of pop which followed, and even if after this aged generation the songs of Buddy Holly was to fade away, his and his peer’s daring experimentation, hedonism and desire to fuse cultures will be the blueprint for everything which ever follows.

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, for Buddy Holly Lives is not a ground-breaking turning point for rock n roll, rather a homage to those that was, and for which was sublimely performed and thoroughly entertaining. Its narrative separated the show into four sections, recreating historic moments in Buddy’s career; his beginnings at KDAV radio which demanded he abstained current trends in rock n roll gave us a country intro, with a need to break the rules. Again, the resistance against shying away from playing the majority Afro-American Harlem Apollo and in doing so, giving Caucasians acceptance here, made an explosive second section leading to the interval.

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An inspiring third section a recreation of Buddy in the studio, enlightened his desire to experiment with strings and orchestral accompaniment, whereas the final section, though rather predictable, took the audience to the Winter Dance tour which saw the tragic end to this young prodigy’s life. Combined, Asa, backing group and associates acting the parts, gave us a comprehensive catalogue of Buddy’s songs and covers which Buddy would’ve approved, with panache and precision.

Rarely done with a “tribute act,” Asa tugged off trademark glasses and leapt out of character, to explain his reasoning for creating the show, the importance of bringing it to Devizes, and in doing so, not only introduced his charming charisma which has labelled him the “king of swing,” but paid a moving ode to Bruce Hopkins. It indicted the originality in this show, for though it had enough narrative to combine the songs, unlike a theatrical production, there was not enough to distract from the music, but more-so, this was not a tribute act, but a homage to Asa’s influence. It also stated the charitable donation the show made.

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In conclusion then, the combination of the show’s charitable cause, the reasoning for producing it, the subtle but significant narrative, the band and Asa’s realistic, vivid and skilful recreation of the legend of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, made this show absolutely brilliant.

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The Cellar Bar goes Subterranean with Falling Fish, Larkin and Clock Radio

Andy Fawthrop  is Getting Down & Dirty with Sheer Music’s Second Subterranean gig down the Cellar Bar last night……

 

These sessions are named “subterranean” because the venue is underground, and Sheer (yea, for it is they) have always represented and supported roots, underground music (geddit??). Anyhow, having missed Subterranean #1, we were damned determined not to miss this one. Good decision – we were well rewarded with three great offerings.

Falling Fish were first up – a young band from Bath. Once I’d got over the shock of realising that none of them looked old enough to get served at the bar, I came to the conclusion it didn’t make a blind bit of difference, as this four-piece proceeded to knock of our some driving, dirty indie rock. Whilst admiring their chutzpah in turning the amps up to 11 (stadium level), I thought it might have been useful to dial the sound down a bit more to Cellar Bar levels. Still, once they’d finished blistering the paint from the walls, we got an extremely competent and tight set. Loud, proud, good stuff.

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Local favourites Larkin were next up. Last time I saw Sam and Finley they were surrounded by other musicians at the launch event for their EP at the Con Club, so it was great to see & hear them deliver a more stripped-back set. This allowed the quality of their songs to shine through, and their playing to come more to the fore. They looked and sounded so much more confident. It’s great that they can play in both formats, but I think I slightly prefer them as a simple duo. They’ve got some good songs under their belt now, and it’s great to see them working on more new material.

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And finally to the Grand Old Men of the evening – Clock Radio. And they didn’t let us down. A great, full sound, very much driven by the intense drumming of Gary Martin. Some fast and intense material, with a good, tight delivery. Last time I heard them was a couple of months ago at The Southgate, but the Cellar Bar as a venue seemed to suit their sound a lot better. They looked as though they were letting themselves go, and really enjoying the experience.

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Went home one happy bunny – but it was a great disappointment that more people didn’t turn out for the gig. Such a shame that the promoter goes to such efforts to assemble such fantastic line-up, and finds three bands prepared to deliver some great performances, only for the Cellar Bar to be half-empty. If you weren’t there, you missed a great gig. Please support future gigs and live music! Come on Devizes – you can do better than this!

And just a word to the management of the Bear/ Cellar Bar – it’s bad enough only having Waddies excuse-for-beer without serving the stuff in flimsy plastic glasses. Not a life-enhancing experience!

 

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Stunning Guitar Work from Sunjay @ Acoustic Oak, Corsham

By Andy Fawthrop

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Continuing to pursue my recent policy of getting out of The Vize, especially in the earlier parts of the week (when there’s not so much going on musically in town), and to explore the outer regions of the known Wiltshire Universe, it was time to bite the bullet and rock up in ye olde market towne of Corsham, specifically at The Royal Oak in The High Street, for Acoustic Oak. This is a club that operates every Thursday night at 8pm, mostly running open mic nights for anyone who feels like turning up. The clue is in the title –pretty well anything acoustic goes. This means folk, blues, singer/ songwriter, poetry, whatever. The first Thursday in the month is usually a “plugged-in” night, where it’s OK to turn up with a personal amp if you think you need one.

This Thursday, however, was a bit different. It was guest night, and we went to check out the hugely talented Sunjay. This 25-year-old already has a wealth of experience under his belt, having picked up his first guitar at age 4, and never having seriously put it down since. He’s been playing gigs, festivals and tours for the past few years. In 2017 he played Chippenham Folk Festival, and in 2018 at the Devizes Festival of Winter Ales. Perhaps more significantly he spent the first three months of 2017 playing the lead role in a national tour of Buddy Holly & The Crickets. In his own words he got the part “not because I could sing a bit and play a bit, but because I was tall & skinny and wore glasses”. Nothing could be further from the truth – he got the part because he’s bloody good! And he can still knock out just about any Buddy Holly number you care to mention at the drop of a hat. “Rave On” was tonight’s audience choice. To seal those Buddy performances he released an album entitled “Sunjay Sings Buddy” in late 2017.

Having played Acoustic Oak last year, this was a welcome return visit. And he was rewarded with a packed house, who absolutely loved what they saw and heard. To put it in a nutshell, Sunjay is a really good singer – but he’s also a phenomenally good guitar player. I saw two or three guitarists I knew in the audience, each of whom is pretty good in their own right, and these guys were watching Sunjay’s fingers with their mouths dropping open. Using no PA, just the power of his voice, his playing style, and a two-foot square of MDF for percussion, Sunjay took acoustic presentation to a new level. This guy is nothing if not versatile. Mixing tradition-steeped blues numbers, with modern pop and his own self-penned ballads, he kept the audience enthralled through two good hour-long sets. Veering from quiet, gentle blues and love songs, through to loud and fast, this guy really knows how to mix it up and how to truly entertain. Loads of textures and styles. And the whole was stitched together with audience participation, great personal stories, self-deprecating wit and a good line in jokes. A huge and well-deserved encore was a foregone conclusion, and I’m sure there would have been calls for yet more if we hadn’t been in danger of being kicked out of the pub. Great night and superb entertainment.

Sunjay’s tour continues through to the end of June, but unfortunately nowhere else nearby to D-Town. I’m sure he’ll be back though – he’s just too good not to. Or catch his great album “Black and Blues” from 2015 – you won’t be disappointed.

https://www.sunjay.tv/

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Melksham Assemble!

I’m standing on the stage of the Melksham Assembly Hall…. have no fear people of the Sham, I’m not about to burst in song, leave that to the professionals. On Friday, direct from London’s West End the UK’s biggest George Michael tribute, Fast Love, will take my place. Right now, a Tuesday afternoon, the hall is being used as exercise for stroke patients, an indication to the diversity of events at this Council facility, a range Deputy Facilities Manager, Bruce Burry is proud to express; that’s why I’m here.

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Bruce worries about space, the tribute act requesting four dressing rooms when they’ve only two, and a video wall which may not fit, yet the hall is grand on scale for a market town with a capacity of 450, and I cannot help but feel, unlike some prestigious venues, it’s being used to it’s full potential, thanks to the team behind the scenes. And while it’s contemporary design may not aesthetically topple a Bath theatre, with a central location, free car parking and excellent disabled access, it is functional and practical.

 
Yet surely, it’s the quality of event which maketh the night, and while I note there’s a preponderance of tribute acts, they’re all eminent, first-rate, tried and tested. Bruce informed me the Fast Love tour is taking around the original George Michael saxophone player; always a good emblem to take a former original in a tribute act.

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“Tim will vet them,” Bruce explained, “and possibly go see them. We try to get original bands too,” he stated, “we’ve had loads here.”

 
“You recently had the Searchers?” I rudely interrupted.

 
“Yes, I think they come once a year,” Bruce continued, and was keen to point towards comedy too. “I mean, we’ve had Des O’Connor, Lee Evans, and Rich Hall, most recently.” Bruce provides an anecdote on Rich Hall, wandering through the town, getting a feel for the place; inspirational for local observational comedy methinks. The current pamphlet displays Cornish favourite, Jethro on the cover, who is here Friday May 3rd.

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As well as Fast Love, in just the forthcoming months, There’s tributes like Bon Jovi Forever on 13th April, The Ultimate Stone Roses on the 4th May and Kast Off Kinks on the 9th May. Yet I must remind myself, I’ve been here on a handful of occasions, recently for the Legend, Bob Marley tribute, which was dazzling, it flipped any qualms of tribute acts I had clean on their head.

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Bruce was keen to point out the full kitchen, “we do dinner clubs and Sunday lunches when there’s nothing on, or on really big events it’s a bottle bar, taking the strain off the main bar.” The hall is often converted into a cinema, a roller disco, and is home to regular events like the Melksham Rock n Roll Club, West Wilts Model Car Club, The Arts Society, Historical Association, and 55+ senior forums. The annual charity fundraising Female of the Species gig is another memorable gig I attended here, and it’s one of many fundraising events held here. With all this variety and the future development of the old Football club as recreation grounds, it’s simple to see how the Assembly Hall is a community hub we should envy here in Devizes.

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I remind Bruce about the Melksham Comic Con, hitting a high point when although another comic con is doubtful in the near future, he expresses a love of sci-fi and ponders the chance of such a convention. Newly appointed events apprentice, Alex excuses herself while the subject digresses to Daleks temporarily, then we’re onto scanning posters of former events.

 
My tour finishes with a cup of tea in the lounge, and this aforementioned mountain of posters of previous shows which adorn a table; there’s great variety, from male strippers to big bands, and pudding clubs, Only Fools and Horses styled meal where the character lookalikes serve you, to beer festivals and significant and impressive acts of past, which shows no sign of declining.

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The Assembly Hall goes beyond the reach of its town, and deserves to attract from Trowbridge, Chippenham, Devizes and beyond. But while experienced Tim Cross is head Facilities Manager here, Bruce also coordinates The Melksham Party in Park and has been doing so for ten years, before joining the team. The event spans two days, July 19th and 20th. Saturday being the Party in the Park, a pop-orientated family festival at King George Park, which alongside Take That tribute, Take @ That, Kirsty Clinch, and Six O’clock Circus are confirmed this year. I ask of the importance of booking local acts. “I try to keep it local actually,” Bruce nodded, “until about half-past ten when we have a main act.”

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ParkFest is the Friday evening, which started as a warm-up, but has equalled in importance now, “if not taken over it,” Bruce expressed. AND, with live PA tribute FunBoy 2, brilliant local ska band, Train to Skaville, and The Neville Staple Band headlining, it’s easy to see how this event is the more mature option, and is tickling my taste buds!

 
While I’ve been kept busy exploring the delights Devizes has to offer, entertainment wise, it’s great to hear how well our nearest neighbour does too. Only a stone-throw away, The Melksham Assembly Hall is worthy of a visit, providing great variety. Devizine will continue to add their events to our calendar and notify you of them, but you can check the website here, Facebook here.

 


And as for the Party in the Park and Parkfest, more info here.

 

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April Showers with Stuff to Do….

Birds singing, the blossom on the trees, and that first cut of the lawn (groan!) Spring is here and it’s time to venture out and about, without snood and snowshoes. This summer sees some great events and gigs, but what’s on offer this early? Let’s take a look at what’s to be doing this April.

It’s always worthwhile heading to the Southgate in Devizes on a Wednesday if you like acoustic music, you’ll discover regular acoustic jam sessions, where any of our great local musicians may just turn up and improv.

But this Wednesday 3rd, there’s also open mic at New Inn Semington, or the Lamb in Devizes hold their fourth vinyl listening night with Pete from Vinyl Realm. From 7:30-9:30pm you can join this social gathering with a log fire and nibbles. Take your favourite album along to play and natter about all-things music with other vinyl lovers. It’s free, nibbles too, and they’ve a raffle.

If you take your kids anywhere this weekend, Horrible Histories is touring and at The Wyvern from Wednesday to Sunday 7th, with Terrible Tudors / Awful Egyptians.

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For a fiver a pop, the weekend kicks off on Friday with Sheer Music back down the Cellar Bar for the second in a series dubbed Subterranean. Young indie band Falling Fish and Devizine favourites Larkin support Clock Radio. Meanwhile there’s raw roots blues with the king of cigar box guitar, Howlin Matt down the Southgate. But if you want to get dancing, it’s good to hear house music returns to town, it’s Funky Sensation’s launch at the Exchange with DJ’s George G-Force, Nina LoVe and Stach; preview here.

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It’s also good to see People Like Us returning to their former place of residency, The Waterfront in Pewsey, while George Michael fans need to head for the Assembly Rooms in Melksham for Fast Love and lovers of a golden era of music from the 1920s and 1930s need check out the Pasadena Roof Orchestra at the Neeld, Chippenham.

But most eyes focus on Swindon, ska fans in particular, with The Erin Bradwell Collective at the Castle and Ska-Bucks at the Vic, but also, their Fringe Festival begins. Running from Friday 5th to Sunday 14th, there’s a truckload of variety across Swindon’s finest venues, from the Groovy Pig Festival, and our friends at The Ocelot with their regularly hosted comedy nights at The Vic, to bizarre theatrical performances at the Artsite, The Olive Tree Café, and nerdy night of action figure archive show, After Dusk: An Improvised Twilight Zone at The Incredible Comic Shop. Check out the website, too much to list here!

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Saturday night is owned by Devizes, with the Billy Walton Band at the ever-popular Long Street Blues Club, The Duskers live at The Southgate and of course, The Full Tone Orchestra are at St Johns being Big, Bold & Russian. That said, I’m cannot wait for I’ll be at Asa Murphy’s Buddy Holly Lives show at the Corn Exchange, in honour of Bruce Hopkins, oh boy, this’ll be a knockout; preview. (Apologies, terrible pun, could’ve at least pre-warned you!)

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But rock n rollers are spoiled for choice Saturday as Melksham Rock n Roll Club brings us The Hurricanes at the Spencer Sports & Social Club from 7pm. while Local Heroes Inc at The Jenny Wren in Calne, and Port Erin at The Lamb, Marlborough also come recommended, rum n reggae fans need to head for Wotton Bassett, where Razah-I-Fi and Knati P are blasting some sound system culture at the Cross Keys.

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Sunday is Devizes Half Marathon and Fun Run, I’m certain “fun-run” is an oxymoron, but c’est la vie! Be Well, a Holistic Wellbeing & Spiritual Event is at Corn Exchange, but I’d consider PSG Choirs for Alzheimer’s Support @ The Neeld, Chippenham.


 

April’s Second week sees the highly-anticipated production of Made in Dagenham by The Devizes Musical Theatre at Daunstey’s. Running from Wednesday 10th to 13th, this uplifting British musical comedy about friendship, love and the importance of fighting for what is right is inspired by a true story and based on the hit movie, Made in Dagenham. Book a Ticket here.

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Friday 12th is all about Sheer Music’s favourite American, Olivia Awbrey down the Cellar Bar of the Bear, Devizes. To be honest, Saturday looks rather quiet, so far, Fret ‘n’ Keyz are at The Southgate while country fans will enjoy Zenne and Shooting the Crow at the Cavalier.

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Meanwhile Marlborough’s Sound Knowledge celebrates Record Store Day. This year’s list is available online: https://recordstoreday.co.uk/releases/rsd-2019/ They’ll be open from 8am with hundreds of titles from the list. Get in touch with Sound Knowledge and let them know what you’ll be hoping to pick up on the day, they cannot reserve anything, but it insures correct ordering. The fun continues on Sunday, with an amazing live music roster from midday, including The Leisure Society, LION, Tom Speight, Little Geneva, and Wilding. It’s free entry, and has a Bar and barbeque.

Melksham’s newest pub, The Hiding Place hosts song-writing and touring legend, Henry Priestman, a founder member of punk band Yachts in the 70s, and The Christians in the 80s. This is at The Rachel Fowler Centre in Melksham, the venue is so beautiful and yet few people even know it’s there. £10 per ticket, can be bought at the bar in The Hiding Place or over the phone. Eighties soft metal fans meanwhile could take in Bon Jovi Forever at the Assembly Hall.

Swindon also has a metal tribute on Saturday, with Whole Lotta DC at The Vic. But if you’re over that way, I cannot recommend the Boot Hill All Stars enough, they’ll be with Monkey Bizzle at The Rolleston Arms. But if you want to take your kids raving, you know, show them how you did it, Raver Tots return to Meca with Nicky Blackmarket.

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If you’d rather not thrust your bad habits at your children, grab a £10 ticket to the Neeld in Chippenham on Sunday, when it’s Pongo’s birthday party! A colourful farmyard is the setting for these loveable puppet characters; Pongo’s Party is a family show particularly suitable for 2 – 7-year olds, and includes a special guest appearance by the Easter Bunny!

If that all seems a tad too much, adults could try cross-border folk multi-instrumentalists and festival favourites, The Shee at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. An exceptional all-female band boasting powerful and emotional vocal performances and instrumental prowess.


The third week of April sees another Devizes Books Presents event on Wednesday 17th. The theme is Shopping! Women are supposed to love it, men to hate it. Both have written about it. Hear India Knight on its joys, G.K Chesterton on how much he hates grocers, and Sophie Hannah on what she got up to in bookshops. Much more, including Dalgit Nagra, Bill Bryson, Fanny Burney, Evelyn Waugh, Radcliffe Hall plus a guest appearance by a local poet, (that our man, Andy?) 7 for 7.30 Tickets £6 to include a drink and nibbles. Over in Swindon, the Wyvern have a Celebration of eighties soul idol, Luther Vandross.

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Thursday 18th rock fans could try The Sultans of Swingers @ The Bear Hotel, Chippenham, while space rock fans head to The Bell by The Green, Devizes for Pink Floyd Tribute, All Floyd; it’s a fiver on the door. BUT -If you missed Little Geneva’s album launch at the Cellar Bar in March, or you’re just in Marlborough and thinking, I want some raw, passionate blues, Little Geneva are at Club Thirty8, tickets are a fiver too, and you get the incredible George Wilding supporting.

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Ska fans point your boots and braces in the direction of Swindon, where the Erin Bardwell Collective play to their home fans at Beehive before heading for the London Ska Festival. That or, Vic Fest 2019 at, The Vic, where else?! Mod and scooterist fun continues on Friday when the Exit 17 Scooter Club do an Easter egg run, with local sixties garage band, Absolute Beginners at the Consti Club afterwards.

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In Devizes town Honeytrap return To the Southgate, and Vinyl Realm Presents their second drum & bass come house bash at The Fold in the Lamb, with Harry B (Gyro Records) James Threlfall (Mini Rig) and Rappo (b2b/Retrospect.) These nights are quite exclusive, with 50 fiver tickets for each event, 30 spaces on door, but fear not, for Saturday they’re doing it again with a house/trance night with DJ’s Rappo, Morgosis and Shaun Ashley of Rapture recordings.

You haven’t got to go raving though, people of Devizes; Sam and Finley are back together as Larkin Live at the Southgate, or Katy Ellis is at the Devizes Family Club in the Cavalier donning two tributes, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

Easter Sunday book your kid into the Hillworth Park Easter Egg Hunt quick, as it’s limited, and at £3 at pop, going to be popular. Adults hide away in the Three Crowns with People Like Us. If contemporary reggae is your thing, try Reggae Wiltshire’s Easter Sunday Reggae night at The Skybar Melksham Football Club; Reggae, RNB, Soul & Ragga mixed by Reggae Wiltshire’s exclusive DJ Mister M.

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Of course, Easter will flow over to Monday, and where better than the Southgate, Devizes where Nuages Gypsy Jazz play some, well, gypsy jazz I’m guessing! It is also the opening night of Andrew Bovell and Freddie Underwood’s Things I Know to be True at The Wharf Theatre, running until Saturday 27th April.


All is rather quiet while we digest our chocolate eggs or else spew them up on mum’s fluffy white stair-carpet. Friday 26th April then, Devizes has King Louie at The Southgate, while The Cavalier have Abba tribute, Abba’s Angels, and its Open Night at the Pump in Trowbridge.

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Renowned Sculptor Fernando P Saenz exhibits at Wine St. Gallery, Devizes from Saturday, and the quiet period crashes down. George Wilding down The Owl in Bromham, the incredible Nerve Endings blast out down The Southgate, and All That Soul returns to the Devizes Scooter Club, after a sell-out show this time last year.
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Out of town, The Delray Rockets are at the Melksham Rock n Roll Club, it’s Buckfest at The Roebuck, Marlborough, the Chippenham CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival at The Olympiad Leisure Centre and the Long Arms Music, Cider & Beer Festival near Steeple Ashton. Dylan & Igor @ Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon and Swindon has Shepard’s Pie at The Vic and Complete Madness at Level III.

There’s a tribute to Alfie Boe and The Musicals at Devizes Family Club in the Cavalier on Sunday 28th, and wind down the month at The Vaults with a Tapas Night on Monday, or April Lightgarden at Bradford Folk Club on Tuesday 30th.

Before you’ll know what’s what it’ll be May, with the Devizes Lion’s May Fair, Hopdog Fest at the Woodbridge, Urchfont Scarecrow Festival, Born to Rum at the Wyvern Club Devizes, The Seend Beer Festival with Train to Skaville, Melksham TownFest, All Roads Lead to Frome at Cheese & Grain, Chippenham Soap Box Derby, Shindig Festival, Chippenham Folk Festival, Lechlade Festival, OwlFest, and loads more from the Coopers Hill Cheese Roll to Jason Donovan, yes, Jason Donovan at the Cheese & Grain, and when you’re done with that, it’s Devizes Arts Festival. Keep one step ahead with Devizine, continue to scroll the home page where events are added, like, nearly all the time!

 

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Devizes Market Place to get New Statue of Claire Perry

Devizes Town Council proudly announced today that a fourteen-foot partially bronze statue of local member of parliament, Claire Perry, will be erected in her honour as a centrepiece for the development of the Market Place in Devizes.

The town council has listened to the people of Devizes, who opted to erect the statue as part of a steering group, suggesting ideas for what to put in the Market Place after the take-over of assets and services from Wiltshire Council, today.

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There are ambitious plans to make Devizes Market Place a focal point for visitors, and a community area for endless events and celebrations. “Watch out Boomtown Festival, Devizes is coming!” said town clerk Simon Fisher. “It’ll be like one massive party, 24-7, provided you pay to park, if you can find a spot, which you will, honest. And who better to look down us all than our heroine, Claire Perry MP? Who is more worthy for a statue than the saviour of our Food Bank? We think it’s a great choice; it may mean a slight raise in council tax to cover the cost, but I’m certain, as we are in touch with the people of the town, they’ll welcome the idea.”

The statue will cost slightly over £22,000 and will be sculpted by French artist Pierre Dubois. Dubois has sculpted statues for many prestigious clients, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Charlene, Princess of Monaco, and television presenter Dale Winton.

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French Artist Pierre Dubois

“Ms Perry represents the demographic of Devizes,” a spokesperson for the market place steering group explained, “she’s worked tirelessly to make this constituency a great place to live, striving to keep Wiltshire fracking-free, disposing the task successfully onto the northern working-class scum of Lancashire. After all, they’re far hardier than us; they can take an earthquake, or twenty.”

“It’s a top choice,” said a member of the Devizes Conservatives, “a true honour to our long-standing member of parliament who has done a sterling job of keeping riff-raff in line. Look how she voted for reducing housing benefit for scroungers in the bedroom tax debate. I was only saying to the wife the other day in the conservatory of our second holiday home in the Algarve, what do those peasants need with an extra bedroom, just an excuse to pop out another bambino for me to pay for? Nothing but filth those lot, Claire was right to vote against handouts for those so-called too ill or disabled to work, to halt rewarding young dole-cheat’s with jobs, and well, when she voted to stop all those stupid student grants; get out there and sweep my chimney, boy, and I’ll give you a farthing for an honest day’s work. She’s a lovely lady, lovely, nice legs too.”

Claire Perry was unavailable for comment, but her office claimed she is over the moon with the news, fully intends to visit the statue, and encourages local primary schools to organise children to circle the moment, chanting her name.

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Artist’s Impression of how the statue will look 

Allister Whitewash of the Wiltshire Council welcomed the idea too, “we may have to close off all road routes through Devizes for a few weeks, to get the bronze delivered and statue erected,” he informed, “but it will cause minimum congestion in the town, now my traffic lights on London Road are in action, reducing traffic jams by a statistic so staggering I’ve clean forgotten what it was.”

“I am so glad The Devizes Town Council are making full usage of the space,” he continued, “as long as we get our money from parking fees, put a statue of Jimmy Saville up for all I care.”

Devizes Town Council take over control of agreed assets from Wiltshire Council today, April Fools Day; coincidence? I think not. If you would like to air your views on the idea, do email the Devizes Town Council, they will listen.

 

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