Mass microwaving of hundreds of thousands at Glastonbury Festival – here’s the video evidence — THE HOLISTIC WORKS

 

I wrote an article a few days ago about how we tested the EMF frequencies around the Glastonbury Festival site last weekend – before the masses arrived – in which our electromagnetic frequency meter was bleeping alarmingly and flashing red. Since then, we’ve received reports that some people are experiencing classic symptoms associated with 5G […]

via Mass microwaving of hundreds of thousands at Glastonbury Festival – here’s the video evidence — THE HOLISTIC WORKS

REVIEW –Watermelon Slim – 28th June 2019 @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes

A Fruitful Night

Andy Fawthrop

Final gig of the current season at Long Street Blues Club, and we went out with a bang with two great acts.

First up was local bluesman Andrew Bazeley. Having made this style of music his life-long hobby, I’d go so far as to say that what this guy doesn’t know about Delta Blues just ain’t worth knowing. He lives and breathes this stuff, and this is reflected in his playing – soulful, bluesy, stripped-back, atmospheric. His introductions and between-song patter are a delight for anyone who wants to know something about the songs they’re listening to – informative without being preachy. He told me before the gig that he was nervous, but it didn’t show one little bit. And afterwards said that it was probably the biggest audience he’d ever played to. No worries – the boy done good.

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Then the main act. Two sets of howling, rasping blues from the trio fronted by Watermelon Slim. We started off, very unusually, with the main man introducing his band – before a note had even been played! But after that it was down to business. Slim himself alternated between playing his guitar lap-style on a table and his trusty harmonica, but always ably supported by solid drums and bass. The vocals were howling and husky-voiced, the playing effortless. The banter was self-mocking (“almost 50 years now”), drawling and laconic, betraying the man’s Deep South origins. Frequently Slim came off stage and into the front of the crowd to let his howling harmonica do the talking. And he talked a lot, and with laid-back humour. At times the performance felt a little hammy and hackneyed, pushing all the usual I’m-a-great-bluesman buttons but – hey – he IS a great bluesman, so who’s complaining? The audience certainly weren’t, lapping up both the chat and the music.

The start of the second set was my highlight – leaving his buddies backstage for a while, his opening number featured just acapella voice and that screaming harmonica – absolutely sublime.

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It was a great finish to the current season, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. Ian Hopkins was very happy to discuss his forward booking plans and mentioned a few names, but I won’t steal his thunder until the new season is announced in full later in the year.

Great club, great venue, great artists and superb entertainment. A real advert for live music in our town.

 

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Marlborough Opens Studios in July

Imagine, if you will, don’t feel you have to on my account, but imagine an art gallery the size of a county, with forty artists exhibiting over a whole month. For some that may be overload, it’s understandable; there’s only so much trudging through an art gallery one can do without the need to scream “where’s the door, my head can only take in so much?!”

If there’s also apprehension from the artist, it’s understandable, if you even get to meet them. It’s a gallery, you’re a potential customer, they’ve got to be sober, wear plastic smile and clothes not splattered in gouache. Art galleries can often be perceived as chic, swanky places, the chinking of wine glasses and ho-ray Henries chortling, “oh, how awfully common.”

How better to visit a more relaxed artist, at their home or studio? That’s the beauty of an Open Studios event, and we have a whopper on our doorstep. Often lonesome by occupational hazard, those creative minds open up their studios in faith you’ll pay them a visit. They call it Marlborough Open Studios, but it pans across the downs from Calne and Devizes to Hungerford, and from Pewsey to Wroughton.

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Arty Pumpkin

We previewed it last year, don’t think we got much of a thanks or response from the committee, truth be told; probably favouring pressing the local rag and those ritzy websites and publications with covers of models in Harris Tweed suits and shooting rifles over their shoulders, prancing about woodland. There’s the whole systematic issue with art today, it’s considered too hoity-toity for the average, chips-from-the-chippy type person. I despise this stereotype; art appreciation should be for the masses. I like art, I don’t wear a beret, never have.

Anyway, I’m waffling. Thing is, with forty artists on show this year, I couldn’t possibly cover them all. So, I encourage you to browse their comprehensive website or pick up the guidebook distributed locally. I’m going to flick through, highlight some I like the look of, the rest is up to you.

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Normandy Barcelo-Soto

It is free to visit any artist, and they open for the first for Saturdays and Sundays of the month of July, but you need to check ahead for the particular artist as not all open every weekend. Some have special events and workshops which may incur a cost.

Again, the Open Studios committee select some exhibiting artists for a bursary award, these this year go to Japanese inspired furniture maker Josh Milton and bespoke hatmaker, Sophia Spicer.

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Mark Somerville 

I’m delighted to say The Marlborough Open Studios has chosen Arts Together to be supported charity this year. I’ve covered the charity some months ago, when I attended a workshop by artist Clifton Powell, one of a number of volunteer artists who lead the groups.

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Clifton @ Arts Together

It should be noted that Clifton Powell will also be exhibiting his fine realism paintings from his Potterne home, a variety of wildlife, locally and throughout his travelling, and the most poignant theme of unrest in the world.

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Roy Evans

Here’s my alphabetical rundown of other favourites to attend:

Anne Swan at Rowde: Botanical coloured pencil drawing.
Arty Pumpkin at Wroughton: urban mixed media printmaker with word and image combinations.
Diccon Dadey in Hungerford: amazing modern metal life sculptures.
Jenny Pape at Chirton: Oil Landscape artist.
Mark Somerville at Ogbourne St George: Lens based urban artist.
Mary Wilkinson at Mildenhall: oil and pastel landscape artist.
Normandy Barcelo-Soto in Froxfield: Mexican modern surrealist.
Roy Evans at Potterne: Coppersmith sculptures of nature.
Sarah Burton at Chirton: Expressive landscape artist.
Susan Kirkman in Ramsbury: multi-media landscape collages.
Susie Bigglestone at Calne: abstract photography.
Tania Coleridge at Wroughton: Textiles, pastel and paint imagery.

Yet, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, there is so many others to explore. Do check the website.

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Chatting Carnival with Loz

With a nail in the offside rear tyre, I’ve got a three-quarter of an hour window to nip to Mike Woods and stop for a drink at Times Square before the school run. Prioritise Worrow, prioritise; erm, just a cup of tea thanks, you get a little biscuit on the side anyway.

Loz Samuels beats me hands down when it comes to time management, it’s her second visit to coffee shop today, chatting and encouraging the progress of DOCA. Whenever I catch her, Loz laments how crazy it’s all been, yet I suspect she wouldn’t have it any other way. Appears to me she personifies the satisfaction of commitment so much it’s scary; procrastination not in her agenda, unlike me who lives by its golden rule.

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Skipping the announcement of Vinyl Realm’s second stage at the Street Festival, as despite being the reasoning for arranging the meeting, I measured both Pete and I too enthusiastic about the prospect to wait till now. Seems Loz wanted to concentrate on the subject of carnival and the nearby sub-events, opening with a partnership project with Amesbury Carnival. “We’ve created a six-feet high puppet of a mammoth,” she explained, confirming after some deliberation of the crane’s availably, it will stomp its way through our procession.

I note it’s the kind of thing you see at carnivals in South America or the Caribbean. “Yes,” she agrees, describing a second mahoosive moveable puppet of a Neolithic woman, “it’s quite colourful, because the theme is Through the Ages, so it works, it works well for them (the sponsors) because they wanted something to do with heritage.”

There was me thinking about an old British Pathe film showing a Devizes carnival of yore, but Loz explained the theme is more general, not as I thought, a historical look at Devizes Carnival. “No, just through the ages, you know, could be the future, could be aliens, but maybe someone will interpret it like that.”

So, carnival is on the 13th July this year, a change that’ll bring the walls down and make life no longer worth living, according to “traditionalists” on social media. In our last chat with Loz, we enlightened the reasoning for the change, aside the fatigue of DOCA’s volunteers with a full fortnight of events, the hesitancy of schools to contribute during summer holidays has opened up. Schools are able to work on their projects earlier in the year, and workshops have been running in seven participating schools, with others coming. The theme, Loz explains, is suitable for their curriculum too, be it Victorians, or pirates for example; one positive reason to change. Loz stressed how pleased she was with this change; carnival wouldn’t be carnival without the children.

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We move onto the notion that the subevents, the Colour Rush and the strictly Devizes “thing,” The Confetti Battle can now be on a Saturday too, rather than weekdays as previous. “So hopefully,” she nods, “there will be masses there. We had four thousand there last year, and on a Wednesday night when you’ve got to get up next day, it’s quite late….”

“It’s going to be different every year, I mean,” she continued, “how many times are you going to go to Confetti Battle when it’s the same old thing?”

I agreed, despite my kids loving it when younger, they consider they’re getting too old to bother. “But they might do this year,” Loz interrupted ardently, “because there’s gonna be massive inflatable crazy things that’ll appear in the crowd!”

Loz’s hopes for additions to this year’s Confetti Battle are from Willy Wonka’s rulebook, golden tickets to win £50 in the bags of confetti, and more side attractions will add to its appeal. “The Confetti Battle could be nationally known,” she continued, comparing its potential to the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll, “but not on a Wednesday night. People aren’t going to be travelling from, say, London on a Wednesday night.”

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Confident to grow this unique element of our carnival, Loz continued to express advantages of the battle commencing over the weekend, taking down the rigs in order for market the following morning will be a thing of the past, meaning a more elaborate setup. She had a meeting with the astatically pleasing festival, BoomTown, aiming to create a visually stunning spectacle with wider appeal.

If cynical of her ambitious outlook, Loz claimed, “the sky’s the limit, if we can raise money to put into it, then we can do it, we can do anything, so, it’s a start, I’m aware people are sceptical about changes but if we stay as we are, we’re not going to grow, we’ve no potential to make money, our arts funding will decrease.” Seems logical to me. We talked of possibilities, of Caribbean carnivals where the procession concludes into an arena for a concert afterwards. “I think it’s really exciting,” she stated, “doors are opening now.”

The crucial thing to note in this chat, is that this is only Loz’s third year at the helm, finding her feet has been uphill, with a system only documented only in her predecessor’s head. She now feels in a position to build on past experiences and deliver us the large-scale outdoor events we will be talking about through the forthcoming ages.

So, let’s get things straight right now, DOCA’s program of events is ever as lively, but with a few changes:


Saturday 6th July: Carnival Costume Making Workshop @ Wiltshire Museum:

Help prepare a large-scale costume to walk in this year’s parade. Families and children aged 8+ are invited to make some spectacular back pack style costumes. This will be a group making session working on revamping backpacks which will match with costumes made by our school groups, in either Medieval, Tudor, 18th Century, or Victorian style.

Artist and costume designer Abi Kennedy will guide you through making a colourful back pack, a fun and creative afternoon is promised. No experience is necessary.


Wednesday 10th July: Skittles Night @ The Wyvern Club

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Saturday 13th July: Devizes Carnival Through the Ages.

Entrant registration from 4pm, Procession starts at 6:15pm.

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Sunday 18th August: Picnic in the Park @ Hillworth Park


Sunday 25th August: International Street Festival @ The Green


Monday 26th August: International Street Festival @ The Market Place

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Friday 30th August: Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s Music by the Canal

6.30pm until 10pm @ Devizes Wharf.


Saturday 31st August: The Colour Rush

Starts at Green Lane Playing Fields and finishing in Market Place.


Saturday 31st August: Confetti Battle @ The Market Place

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UduL by Los Galindos @ The Green
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An award-winning Catalan circus company who inhabit a traditional Mongolian yurt which will be located on the Green for three days. Saturday 24th August: Doors 7pm Show 7.30pm, Sunday 25th August: Matinee Doors 1.45pm, show 2pm. Evening Doors 7pm Show 7.30pm, and Monday 26th of August: Doors 7pm Show 7.30pm. Minimum age recommended from 7 years. TICKETS: £5 Early bird price until 31st July, thereafter: £7 each, £5 for under 16’s.


Shop Window Competition

Shops around town have placed one item in their window, during Street Festival fortnight, that they don’t normally sell. Spot them all and be in with a chance of winning £25! Entry forms will be available online throughout the Street Festival Fortnight or from Devizes Books and the Town Hall. Completed forms can be left at the Town Hall.


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Devizes Women V Cancer’s Race & Gin Night

Cycle enthusiast, Sharon Crabbe is riding the Costa Rica Cycle Challenge in November to raise funds for Woman V Cancer, a special fundraising partnership between Breast Cancer Care, Ovarian Cancer Action and Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust.

This gruelling 360km coast-to-coast cycling challenge starts on the eastern Caribbean coast and finishes on the western Pacific coast. The challenge is not designed for Olympic athletes, rather for women who are looking for an amazing goal to train and get fit. Past rides have raised over £12 million for these three charities, and all funds raised for Women V Cancer are split equally between the three charities.

Don’t fancy it yourself?! No, me neither. I’m out of breath biking it down to the village shop and have reserved never to attempt it again, even if I am all out of Curly Wurlies. Here’s the thing though, you don’t need to don lyra to help out. Sharon needs some funding by August and therefore is hosting a Race & Gin night on July 5th at the Devizes Conservative Club.

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You could join Sharon and Ewa for a wonderfully entertaining way to help raise funds, having fun at the same time. Have a win on the horses, with a special selection of gin cocktails, bar, and a buffet platter on each table. The races have been sponsored by local businesses, Sharon has some pretty neat prizes; vouchers for golf, a free MOT, Pizza Express Vouchers, Planks Farm, Jewellery, a Handbag, and more.

Doors open at 7:30, and Tickets are £10 per person. Go to the Facebook event page for Sharon’s bank details, as tickets paid in advance would be helpful. £10 advance tickets will include the buffet, or you can buy a ticket on the door for £7, without food provided.

 

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Devizes Nights: At the Southgate, Jon Amor, One and All

Images by Nick Padmore

In that year of the breakdancing fad waning my brother went off and bought Born in the USA, and we became Boss fans overnight. So, he nipped out and bought Nebraska too, and we were like, “oh…”

It took some time for my infantile mind, accustomed to pop, to appreciate acoustic, but as I listened to those dark portrayals, I saw the worth of the simplicity of just a person, a guitar and maybe a harmonica for good measure. I understood now, if a musician can strip back his music to the bear minimum and still captivate, they were among the most highly accomplished.

As Jon strummed the most popular song on his Colour in the Sky album, Red Telephone, singing “why don’t you call me on red telephone,” then adding “it’s 01380…” it produced a belly-laugh. I doubted it would elsewhere, being the audience recognised it as their own area code. I then considered if I need review this gig at all.

For Jon Amor is to Devizes as Springsteen is to New Jersey. He was among natives last night and with stripped back versions, some amusing covers and local banter, all knew what they’d come for. Do I really need to elucidate his excellence on a website with a commonly Devizes demographic?

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Do I need to outline how great the evening was and what great company we were in, being over the last year and half, the Southgate has become widely known as Devizes haven for live music and friendly, grassroots atmosphere? It’s rough and ready, it makes do with what it has, but the Southgate is, simply, the best pub in town for music, through dependability. You can scroll through Devizine to see what’s going on locally, don’t let me put you off that, but if you’re ever stuck for something to do, you need not, just head down there, because nearly every Friday and Sunday, and defo each Saturday you’ll find a cracking band or solo artist doing their thing without regulations, without pretence.

During the week it’s either quiz night or an acoustic jam Wednesday, we know what Deborah and Dave have blessed us with, need I really go on? It is Sunday, for crying out loud! I left only a two-word note on my phone for this review, “Word Up,” a reminder that Jon did a comical cover of. The rest of the time was spent catching up with friends amassed for Mr Amor, for free, as that is the ethos of the Southgate. So, do I really need to review this evening, when everyone who is anyone in Devizes attended, even both Devizine’s roving reporters? Maybe I could delegate the task to Andy?!

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Do I even need to whip out my little… (wait for it) … camera, when our own Nick Padmore is stood at the front with his sizable lens? Ack, I suspect you’re thinking now, lazy bugger; probably hungover. But truth be told, after walking uphill to town from my village for the past few weekends, I couldn’t face it this time, so I drove. Proof with the cracking combination of Jon Amor and the Southgate, with this blagger’s addition it was free, and so many gathered to chew the ears off, I needed not to intoxicate myself to have a blinding night. Shit, does this imply I’m mature? Bugger, I need to make up for lost time and have a Sunday afternoon drinkie. That’s me out of here, and no doubt unconscious on the sofa right after dinner!

Yet one thing you can be sure of, you need not feel sorrow if you missed it, The Southgate, check it out on our event guide, will continue to bring us many a grand and memorable night with Devizes written all over it, even if the enormity of Jon Amor is rare, you’ll never not be entertained by brilliantly sourced live music. Amen.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


 

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REVIEW –Skinny Molly – 21st June 2019 @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes

Sweet Home Devizes

Andy Fawthrop

Just when you think the current season is over at Long Street Blues Club, Ian Hopkins sneakily adds a couple more gigs.

First up on tonight’s Friday gig, playing support, was local troubadour Vince Bell who delivered his usual thoughtful and well-polished set. Vince doesn’t always play the most cheerful or upbeat songs but, as he remarked later, he tends to go with the flow of whatever mood he’s in at the time. The audience didn’t give too much of a toss about that, judging by the well-deserved applause he received.

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Then Skinny Molly, a Tennessee-based four-piece, hit the stage to thunderous applause and got straight down to work. From the very first minute we were in rock territory, with heavy driving bass and drums, fronted by a pair of hot guitarists who meant business. This was loud-and-proud, take-no-prisoners rock and roll. And the guys looked the part too – plenty of black leather, hats, long hair, tattoos. Sounded like a rock band, looked like a rock band. All boxes ticked.

A couple of numbers in and the band hit Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road at full speed, an absolutely belting version of this great song, quickly followed by the band’s own If You Don’t Care, complete with squealing guitar solo. The crowd was getting warmed up now and we knew we were in for something special. The Devil In The Bottle served up all the standard licks, followed by a stunningly good version of Free’s Wishing Well.

Only after this did the band rein it in a bit to draw breath and to indulge in a little chat and audience participation. But then we got lots of good stuff about “the look” and how their wanderings around Devizes earlier in the day had gone down with some of the locals. Sainsbury and Poundland will never be the same again.

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But then we were back to the music – including Sweet Home Alabama (what else from the children of Lynyrd Skynyrd??) which turned into a bonkers dance-floor-filler. Following rapturous applause we got a double-number encore, culminating in (what else?) Freebird, which morphed into a belting long jam of a number before everyone retired to a darkened room to have a quiet lie-down.

Great band, great gig.

Tickets still available for next Friday’s gig at Long Street Blues Club – Watermelon Slim, one of the blues greats.

 


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow/Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


 

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Mod R&B Legend, Georgie Fame Coming to Devizes!

Update:

Tickets for Friday 8th November are Here!

 

I’ll probably get told off by my mum for adding this photo, but I love it. My parents and friends at a dance in Shoreditch Town Hall, 1964. Dad captioned the bands were Screaming Lord Such and The Rockin’ Berries. How cool those mods looked!

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Zip forward to 2004 and tired of taking my mum to see mod legend, Georgie Fame, my dad dropped us off in Camberley. It was an awesome night, he played a homage to Ray Charles who had passed that week, and told some great stories. One about Mitch Mitchell, the drummer in his band, the Blue Fames. After checking out an American guy in a club nearby their gig in 1966, Mitch ran back to tell the band how awesome he was, and was soon signed to The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Georgie’s son played guitar at the event, did an amazing solo of Hendrix’s Red House. And of course, Mr Fame, aged sixty-one at the time and still looked cooler than the mods in this photo, played his plethora of hits, “Yeah Yeah,” “Do the Dog,” and “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde.” Though I don’t recall my personal favourite, “Somebody Stole my Thunder,” a mod classic which still gets people up today; I know, played at the Scooter Club’s family fun day.

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With my mum, incessantly inquiring if I thought he’d remember a club in the East End he used to play at, regularly in my earlobe becoming somewhat irritating, after the gig and standing waiting for my Dad to pick us up, I noted Georgie gathered with just a handful of people by a car. “I don’t know!” I huffed, pointing the figure of this senior chap out to her, “why don’t you go ask him?!”

My mum quivered like a star-struck teenager, “oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that!”

“Ahk! He’s standing right there!!” But alas, anxiety got the better of her. It pushed into my mind, that we were all young and impressable once, we all idolised heroes. Yet, though I may shudder to recall some of my own lax, eighties idolisations, I have to admit, Georgie Fame would’ve been one cool one to follow, if I lived in that era.

But time is an illusion my friend, for just when you thought we’d seen the end of The Devizes Arts Festival for the year, they today whack us with the announcement Georgie Fame is coming to Devizes on Friday 8th November, playing a one off at the Corn Exchange. I knew this, Margaret whispered her secret some weeks ago, been aching to announce it since!

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I will let you know when tickets are out, but this fantastic news. This Lancashire lad is a legend on the rhythm and blues scene, played alongside rock n roll heroes like Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, and an idol to mod/soul aficionados as one of the first British Caucasians to be influenced by ska. Whether you lived through the sixties or not, this is an absolute teaser to forthcoming Arts Festival events, and I thought I was done praising them for the year!


 

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


 

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Two Family Friendly Festivals in Swindon

If family-friendly festivals these days are two-to-a-penny, and you pop with the kids, like you are a kid, one thing is certain, and cool, you don’t gotta trek miles to catch one. Swindon has two upcoming I’d like to mention, if I may?

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Firstly, a massive congratulations to Talk in Code, Swindon’s own indie-pop outfit rising to fame through excellence and dedication, we will be hearing a lot more from them methinks. They open the main stage at M is for Festival in Lydiard Park on 27th July. Alongside a plethora of contemporary pop acts such as Years and Years, Ella Eyre, HRVY, Becky Hill, Phats & Small, Jahmene Douglas and another BBC Music Introducing in the West upcoming band, She Makes War. Oh, not forgetting Top Loader will be dancing in the moonlight.

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Tickets start at thirty quid, under fives go free, which isn’t half bad for such a grand line up, in such a nice setting too.

But if you’re all like Phats and who now, or years and years too far back, you could rustle up some hairspray and don your old leg warmers for Red Sky Promotions may just have the family festival for you, like as early as next week; I don’t think I’ll find my diddy-boppers in time, they’re in the loft somewhere.

Eighties fans, who isn’t? Bookmark 29th June, and grab a ticket for The Back to the Eighties Festival at the Old Town Bowl, in Old Town Gardens.

Throughout the day until 6pm all kids can have festive fun with everything from hair braiding, 80’s neon face paints and glitter designs, hair sparkles and hair chalk colouring, temporary transfer and glitter tattoos to neon nails and more, free of charge. Relax, you’ll even get to create your own T-shirt memento of the day.

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There will be stalls, food, drink and a host of other activities to accompany the musical time machine that the festival promises to be.

The day offers a range of 80’s music delivered in unique ways; opening with Sonore String Quartet rendering classic songs into lush classical sounds, 80:Three deliver two sets of pop gems, Emily-Jane Sheppard will bring her solo singer-guitarist set of classic covers and the headline act is the awesome Ghetto Blasters, a lively brass ensemble popping and rocking their way through the decade. DJ’s will be spinning all the tunes you love from the era; big chart favourites to half-forgotten gems will play between the main acts.

Your ZX Spectrum may not load this page, but tickets are here; £25 for adults, £15 for the nippers, and a price range for groups of four or more. Wham!

 

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Big, Music, Family, Fun @ Wiltshire Music Centre this Saturday

Kids banging their drum set upstairs, would-be guitar hero strumming in the lounge? Want to encourage them, don’t need the headache? I might have the answer to all your problems. This Saturday (22nd June) you need to get down to the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon, as it’s a Big Family Music Day over there, and for only £6, or £3 for under 18s and students.

What promises to be “a jam-packed day of fun for all the family,” The Music Centre invites you along to experience something new. There’s music and activities for all the family, including these varied workshops and things to do:


Discover / Learn / Perform with Wiltshire Young Musicians:

Come and learn a new instrument with our friends at Wiltshire Young Musicians! Discover brass, strings, wind or percussion before learning with outstanding teachers to prepare for a big performance in the Auditorium.


Bath Youth Folk Band:

Experience toe tapping reels and exciting jigs in this open rehearsal with Bath Youth Folk Band and get involved by singing, clapping or dancing!


Jazz Factory Workshop:

Learn how to swing and play the blues with Ross Hughes of Jazz Factory.


Drum West: African Percussion:

Tap away with Victoria and Chris from Drum West and discover the exciting music of West Africa.


Uke Lift: Ukulele Workshop:

Join Danielle from Uke Lift and pluck away in a large ukulele ensemble!


Free Stage: St Laurence School & Zone Club:

Sit back and enjoy performances from young musicians based across Wiltshire, including Wiltshire Young Musicians, St Laurence School and Zone Club.


WEYO Screening: West of England Youth Orchestra

Enjoy a recording of the West of England Youth Orchestra performing a recent new commission and find out more about the flagship orchestra.


Crafts & Activities:

Get creative making instruments for the Junk Band, get your face painted and enjoy fun outdoor activities in our family zone!


Food & Drink:

Bring a packed lunch or enjoy delicious pizza from Bianco Rosso Pizza or artisan coffee from The Coffee Girl.


Buy tickets here. For any other queries about the day, please contact Adam at adam.laughton@wiltshiremusic.org.uk

 

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REVIEW –Devizes Arts Festival Fringe – Josephine Corcoran – 16th June @ The Vaults, Devizes

Penultimate Parade of Poetry

 

 Written by Andy Fawthrop

Images by Gail Foster (except the one of Gail Foster)

 

Another gig on the final day of Devizes Arts Festival, and something a bit different for the penultimate performance of the Free Fringe – a nice portion of poetry.

Down into the dungeons of The Vaults for this one – a perfect venue for a spoken-word event (The Vaults doesn’t have a music licence). After availing myself of an appropriate libation from the wide range of craft keg and cask beers/ lagers/ ciders in the upstairs bar (where the staff were still recovering from the shock of actually getting to see and serve our esteemed leader Darren the day before [They were delighted Andy, didn’t even take my cash- Ed],) I descended into the cellar to meet the very charming Josephine Corcoran. Josephine is not only a poet, but also a playwright (having had two plays performed on BBC Radio). She also runs a regular poetry group in nearby Trowbridge.

A goodly-sized audience (including a few poetry virgins) had assembled and enjoyed two sets of poetry. In each set Josephine read both from her latest publication (“What Are You After?”) as well as some newer unpublished poems, followed by half a dozen or so local contributors in an “open mic” slot. Josephine’s contributions were thoughtful, personal and close to home, as we learned from her careful introductions to each piece. The efforts from the floor varied in style and tone (including Gail Foster’s fine villanelle regarding the passage of time and of people), comic reflections on luxury toilets and on sex, together with more personal and reflective pieces on topics such as loss of loved ones, memory, separation and even anger. Standard stuff for a Sunday afternoon down the Vaults really. But, seriously, a hugely enjoyable and well-attended event. Hopefully we can do something similar next year too.

Josephine’s latest book is called “What Are You After?” (published 2018 by Nine Arches Press) and you can find out more about her, and her poetry, at www.josephinecorcoran.org

The Vaults’ Poetry Group meets monthly at 7pm on various dates TBA. Next meeting is on Wednesday 26th June. Each month a theme is set as a prompt to inspire new work. You can come with your own work, bring poetry by someone you admire, or just come for a listen. This month, a topic suggested by the latest guest at our table is “Addiction”. Who knows where that one will go? It’s sure to be deep, with a smattering of the light-hearted and supportive conversation that is the hallmark of this poetry group. Work, screens, exercise, love – the scope for addiction is as diverse as the waves on the sea, but is there a thread that links them all? Bring along your work and let’s explore together.

And well done (yet again) to Devizes Arts Festival for putting this on as a Free Fringe event.

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REVIEW –Devizes Arts Festival Fringe – The Hot Club – 16th June @ Three Crowns, Devizes

Hot Club, Cool Atmosphere!

Andy Fawthrop

 

The final day of Devizes Arts Festival, and a day that featured some of the Free Fringe Events.

Seems like a long time ago (was it only last Summer?) that I was in the rather pleasant courtyard of The Three Crowns listening to some good music on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But here I was again, and it all came flooding back in an instant.

Founded and led by guitarist Alex Bishop, The Hot Club consists of various combinations of musicians in various formats, ranging from a simple two-guitar set-up, all the way up to a full six-piece. They meet up at The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham, where Alex is usually based. Alex also has a local folk trio called Effra.

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Our roving reporter Andy caught on camera! Image by Gail Foster

Anyhow, the music for today’s occasion was provided by a trio of instrumentalists (two guitars and double bass), three very relaxed guys knocking out some classic 1930s gypsy jazz tunes in the style of Django Reinhardt. This style of music was born in the pavement cafes of Paris, so I suppose a courtyard of a pub in Devizes is a pretty close match, right? Anyhow, the atmosphere was swinging and relaxed (chilled? yes- even in the welcome sunshine!). The packed crowd loved it, and even the (well-behaved) dogs were barking in appreciation. The wind occasionally tried to lift the small marquee, but no-one was going to let the elements spoil what was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

If you want to know more about The Hot Club head over to www.hotclubjazz.co.uk . They seem to be very popular for weddings, parties and private functions!

I’m sure there’ll be more Sunday afternoon gigs in this great venue over the Summer, so watch out for announcements from The Three Crowns on Facebook.

And well done (yet again) to Devizes Arts Festival for putting this on as a Free Fringe event.

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Diversity at MF Dance’s Showcase

Diversity will be joining MF Dance for hometown show in Swindon.

 
Red Sky Promotions are proud to announce that they will be bringing the awesome street dance troupe and Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity to The Oasis, Swindon, on Sunday 1st December as the headline act at MF Dance’s hometown show.

MF Dance provide students with enhanced confidence, discipline, fitness and focus through the medium of Street Dance and for this special show case they will be delivering two shows as the main feature. These shows bring together performers of all ages from both Swindon and Oxford in a celebration of Street and Contemporary Dance.

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The event will be headlined by an exclusive, 30 minute set from Diversity. This world famous street dance outfit have completed eight sell-out UK tours so far in their career. Their latest tour, Ignite, saw them combine the world of street dance with the world of circus. The Swindon show comes hot on the heels of Born Ready – The 10 Year Anniversary Tour which marks a decade since the dance troupe won Britain’s Got Talent. Diversity continue to inspire the next generation of dancers and are about to launch their brand new online dance classes with 20DV.

Not only the best of local and regional contemporary dance but a special, one-off show from the hottest dance troupe in the country.
https://www.redskypromotions.co.uk/product/diversity-and-mf-dance-show/

 

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Grupo Lokito Brings a Cuban-Congolese Fusion to Devizes Arts Festival

Images by Gail Foster

 

Can’t come out to play today, despite the finale of Devizes Arts Festival is all totally free. Three fringe events across town; The Hot Club (opps, nearly typed hot-tub then) at the Three Crowns at 1pm, Josephine Corcoran reading her poems and an open-mike session at the Vaults at 5pm and last, but not least, they’ve Circu5 closing the festival at the Cellar Bar, Bear Hotel at 8pm.

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For me, what’s been the best Devizes Arts Festival line-up ever, came to an explosive and marvellous conclusion last night when the Corn Exchange filled with the absolutely unique and gorgeous sound of Grupo Lokito. A packed Saturday night of the widest demographic you’d expect in Devizes, proves word is out; they’ve made a fool of anyone who attains this pompous, straitlaced pigeonhole they’ve so wrongly picked up. It has been a surfeit of talented and quality entertainment, amazingly diverse, and something our town should be very proud of.

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My thanks and praises go to all the organisers, who’ve worked their socks off but retained a smile and positive attitude throughout. So as the band members of Grupo Lokito mingled in the foyer, there was an atmosphere of delight for if this sundry group blend into a city’s world music setting, they were certainly a breath of fresh air in Devizes.

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The further away our ears travel from our perceived impressions of music, taken from what we’re exposed to at home, the harder it is, I think, to pinpoint and define the variety of styles. That’s what makes world music so fascinating. But, without recognisable covers or pastiches, and such a free-flowing sound, it does make a review somewhat tricky to write. Not helped by our brilliantly informative interview with Grupo’s keyboardist and manager Sara McGuiness, who outlined the nature of the band’s style.

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It intrigued me, Sara labelling the sound of the Buena Vista Social Club nostalgic and polarized, despite its positive effect in spreading Cuban music, to just how this night was going to go down. Indeed, Salsa dance classes had congregated, with their magnificently sassy style and gracefully romantic moves, yet I questioned if the music fitted. Salsa dancing tends to make use of traditional Rhumba, this was definably not. It was contemporary dance, do-what-ever-you-like dance, so while the salsa dancers didn’t look out of place, some arbitrarily bobbed along (myself included) and others tried to mimic the frontmen’s choregraphed hip movements, like guests on the Generation Game, none of it mattered. The concentration was on pure enjoyment of this glorious and peripheral style of music and it was thus.

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Evenly paced throughout, I observed this Cuban-Congolese fusion ecstatically. Noticing African sounds, like township jive in a particular tune, only for the next to be decidedly Cuban, and what followed them, a curiously exciting blend of the two to the point it neither mattered nor favoured one over the other; it’s just marvellous music without labels.

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I tingled when popping back to the foyer to ensure Devizes Market Place still existed and I wasn’t at Womad, informing photographer Gail it felt like I was on was holiday, a holiday I couldn’t actually afford!

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And that, in a nutshell, is the indication of a quality and exotic night. A big group hug for the Devizes Arts Festival, what a super conclusion…. Can we book Ziggy Marley next year, otherwise how are you going to top that?!

 

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Just Comedy Friends; Ed to Follow

Broken Down on the M25 Wednesday, the Devizes Arts Festival comedy event, Ed Byrne and Friends unfortunately altered to just friends.

 
Then the mobile rang…. A call from Beano artist Kev F. On any other occasion this would’ve been a most welcomed call, but I was rubbing my forehead on a plush street in Bath when I was supposed to be setting up a table at the Bristol Comic Expo. My debut stand at a convention, the next evolutionary stage of comic glory, rather than the usual sauntering the site, lugging a bag chockful of my smutty outpourings, chatting and hoping to flog a comic or two.

The curse was an egg-shaped black rubber ring, which I held in greasy fingers while frowning in abundance. Like an elephant’s trunk suspended on an earring, this was, I’d just discovered, what supported the exhaust pipe of my VW Polo, which now dragged along the road beneath the car. Bit of a design fault, I was eventually informed, fortunately from a ‘mechanic’ passer-by, once the ring bent out of shape, the exhaust dropped.

He eavesdropped my apologies, as I explained the situation to Kev. We talked of my destination, and because of the interest he exhibited, I gifted him a comic, hoping he’d fix the car. I then ventured underneath it, an attempt to assign the ring back onto its bar, and hopefully attach the exhaust pipe; breakdown services for losers! Needless to say, the effort futile. I appeared from under the car to the sound of the mechanic giggling; the guy engrossed in my homemade publication! “No,” he explained the aforementioned design fault. Humm, I see that now. “Thanks for the comic,” he acknowledged, and whistled off on his way.

A wedge of abandoned broken bin held it, not quite long enough to make it to Bristol, but after a few pitstops I arrived, fashionably late. Tense, irritated and in no mood to greet people with plastic smiles and laughs, I spent the day hoofing and sulking. My point to this anecdote, other than I’ve not much of a review to write about Ed Byrne and Friends? When vehicles breakdown on an imperative assignment, nothing is more frustrating. Therefore, to the hundreds sitting uncomplainingly in the Devizes Corn Exchange Wednesday, perhaps it’s best Ed Byrne didn’t make it.

Rescheduled for September, if he had of made it, would he have been on top form, would comical genius spurt from his mouth? Yeah, he’s professional, suppose. Still, I’d favour the feverishly brilliant observational comedy routine, the like we’ve come to expect from Ed would be best served cold. An odds-on at the bookies he’ll open with the tale of his primary attempt to make it to our backwater. Not everyone could conjure an amusing story of being stuck on the M25, I bet Ed could. That’s why these people rule the comedy circuit. See above, I’m capable of writing a comic tale of woe, but I’d never acquire the valour to perform it before an audience; it takes guts and a chunk of lunacy.

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Chris Stokes Image: Gail Foster

The support acts then, did a grand job. Opening act Chris Stokes vastly different in style to David Hadingham, who followed. Akin to a lovechild of Mickey Flanigan and Bill Hicks, I’d argue David had the posture, the visual comedy, and through crazy expressions could, just, carry off a corny gag. But his style akin to a working-man’s club, was coarse, banal but often hackneyed. References to masturbation and psychedelia pigeonholed him as outrageous, though the quality of the jokes have to match that panache.

For me, David started off brilliantly but declined somewhat, while Chris, more stiff and static to begin with, especially considering he had to break the ice after the devastating blow Ed may not appear, by joking about said devasting blow, grew in wittiness. Through local observations of his bus journey from Chippenham, to a set routine about his Black Country homeland, he improved with each laugh that passed, and importantly, had  incomparable originality. Thick and tough those laughs hailed through the Corn Exchange.

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David Hadingham. Image: Gail Foster

No doubt both these guys were remarkably funny, easing the blow dramatically, yet I’d argue Chris was the better of the two, as he played to the mostly, conventional audience. Well done to both for covering the absence of Ed, an unfortunate turn of events. Least, I think, we’d be set for a better performance from him in September than one after a car breakdown.

 

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Vinyl Realm Hosts New Stage at DOCA Street Festival

Yeah, it’s a toasty secret I’ve been busting to spill the beans on for eons; and we’re gathered here today to announce the line-up!

Sometime ago I suggested a local affair for DOCA’s amazing street festival on 26th August, just a small marquee-fashioned area, I imagined, set aside to highlight our local acoustic musicians. Like most of my ideas though, I throw away all practicalities and left it up to a fellow worker to causally whisper it’s a Monday and I’d be working in the morning!

Similarly, though, Pete of Vinyl Realm wanted to do something along these lines, and I’m delighted to announce he has taken the project under his wing and only gone done it, with bells on. The idea has expanded to a full-sized stage, with a great line-up that I’m here today to tell you about.

So, well done to Pete, Loz, et all, who’ve worked tirelessly to sort this out. Next week I’ll be chatting with Loz of DOCA about carnival and the street festival in general, but for now, all eyes on this, set to be the loudest alternative corner of the street festival, ever!

At this point, times of the bands performing are unconfirmed, as it needs to coincide with acts on the main stage. While DOCA’s booking of some fantastic international acts each year, it leaves us eager to know what they’ve in store for August; it’s secret left for you to buy a programme. But do save some room in your wandering for the Vinyl Realm Presents stage at the corner St Johns and Long Street, bang outside the shop.

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Ah, the new four-piece indie-rock band I’ve been harking on about recently, Daydream Runaways will be playing. Wiltshire-based Ben Heathcote on vocals, Cam Bianchi on Guitar, Nath Heathcote on Bass and drummer, Brad Kinsey. Citing influences from the likes of The Killers, The Strokes and Sam Fender, Airborne, they also praise Fleetwood Mac, The Stones and Talking Heads. We reviewed their excellent single Light the Spark a few months ago, and have high hopes for this youthful bunch.

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Whisked away on one awesome, blissful journey through sound after just one listen of their debut album, I, Cosmonaut, Cracked Machine have been mentioned and rightfully praised on Devizine over the last year. Formed in Wiltshire also, in 2015, local space-rock hypnotists, weaving “mesmerising grooves, infectious riffs and layers of sonic texture to create compelling and original soundscapes which take fellow cosmic explorers on an exhilarating trip through the cosmos.” This is Pink Floyd likened space-rock, meeting ambient trance for a new generation, yet their second album, The Call Of The Void, reflects a harder, rock edge, we’re talking Hawkwind here, and it’s reverie style will hold you spellbound.

 

Deemed the headline act, Cracked Machine is a quartet of experienced musicians, brought together in a quest for aural mayhem; Bill Denton on guitar, Clive Noyes on keys samples and vocals, Chris Sutton on bass and Blazej Gradziel on drums. They play the Southgate today, and are a welcome blessing to our local scene.

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Vibrant retro-rock fusion with folk and neo-gothic, Somerset/Hampshire’s Strange Folk UK is one I’ve not heard of, and look forward to. The band’s roots are in folk, and distinct rock aspirations are tempered by a recognisable folk vein running through their songs to varying degrees. Dark impressive vocals ride the crest of a truly great sound that transports the listener to another time.

Quoting their influences may divulge that time; sixties psychedelic legends such as Dylan, Janis Joplin, T-Rex, The Doors, Free, Hendrix, and Jethro Tull, there’s mod influences too like The Who, and Genesis, and harder rock like Zeppelin and Judas Priest.

Between bands, we announce acoustic artists, Devizes singer-songwriters, Marland favourite Tom Littlefair and the brilliant Ben Borrill, topped off with a local funky soul DJ set from Usaf. I’m truly delighted to bring you this news, reckoning this is addition is going to really add a whole new musical dimension to this already fantastic gem on Devizes event calendar. As well as all of DOCA’s exciting circus, street theatre side stalls, rides and games, it now stands at two stages large, double the fun!

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Oh, and I do believe Devizine has the exclusive on this one; expect a plagiarising Gazelle or Herod along any moment. Please feel free to share our posts, but if republishing them observe copyright and quote Devizine as the source; basic etiquette, thanks!

 

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A Thousand Times with Sam Bishop

Who saw the Roughcut Rebels open our first Devizine Presents night at the Cellar Bar? What an awesome opening. Mind, it was supposed to be Larkin’s Sam Bishop with a new band. He had to cancel, not feeling the band was quite ready. Grateful to the Roughcuts for stepping in with such short notice, and grateful too to Sam for wishing to come.

A month or so passes and Sam pings a Facebook message, he’s got something I need to hear. Track called A Thousand Times, to be released today (Wednesday 12th June) Is this as the new band he set up, I asked him.

“The song itself will be released under my name,” he explains, “I wrote and performed all the instruments on the track, and it was produced by Martin Spencer at the Badger Set, who also co-produced all the Larkin songs. The full band isn’t something that will be up and running just yet, we are sorting out a line-up and its purpose is to bring my original songs to life so that they can be performed live.”

Is this a single from a planned album or ep? I asked Sam.

“This song is hopefully the first song of many under my own name. I already have another two completely finished, which hopefully will be released as a double over summer. There may be an EP before the end of the year, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

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And a breezy indie-pop affair it is, dour and atmospheric with that theme of heartbroken youth so apt for Sam’s hauntingly distinctive vocals. With slice of maturity, this is nice work, but akin to his work with Finley Trusler as Larkin, almost a natural progression. Is this his Carless Whisper, I worry, for Fin is certainly no Ridgley, enjoying his ride of catchy pop covers with cousin Harvey as The Truzzy Boys, is something lively and popular around these parts. Yet without contracts, there’s no need to make a clear distinction between working as a duo, or apart, for either of them. Sam is going to study song writing and music production at uni in September anyway, which he’s excited about. Is it a mutual breather for the duo?

“Larkin are still gigging throughout the summer,” Sam clarifies, “and we want to keep doing gigs for as long as we can, even if it means one a year, or 364 a year with Christmas off! I feel like my personal style has more of a pop vibe. I was influenced a lot when making this song by the likes of King No One and Tom Speight, two artists I discovered by sheer luck, but loved their laid-back sound and methods; hence the vocoder at the very beginning of the song underneath my vocal.”

Okay, so I want to fire my gold-run question at Sam, as I think it’ll be on fan’s lips: What is different in this from the style in Larkin?

“I wanted to release this song first as it means a lot to me; it was the first song I wrote purely for myself. When writing for Larkin, I had to consider how the guitar solos would fit in, or what parts needed strong backing vocals, whereas with this song I just did completely what I felt like. The song stands for standing tall in times of sadness and neglect. I wrote it at the beginning of the year, and I really love how the song is so upbeat and almost summery yet has a dark undertone through the lyrics.”

The opening piano crash rides into a riff and eighties pop beat, yeah, it’s upbeat, as described. Sam knows what he’s doing here, and said personal feelings abound reflect in the emotion of his vocals; good job Sam. Larkin fans need to check this out.

 

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Solstice, or What-Christians-Macallit?

Summer Solstice is on Friday 21st June and English Heritage provides free Managed Open Access to Stonehenge as usual, under the conditions: no amplified music, no drones, no alcohol, no drugs, no drunken or disorderly behaviour, no camping, no sleeping bags, no large bags, no chairs, fires, Chinese lanterns, fireworks, candles, tea-lights or BBQs, no glass, no sharp or pointed objects, and, of course, no climbing on the stones; something we’ll return to in a bit.

You will be searched, and anything deemed unsuitable will be confiscated, other than that, have fun.

I appreciate this reasoning, our nanny-state concludes you are not to be trusted; you should be immune to this concept by now. Have no concern, they will create common sense for you and write it on a fluorescent signpost.

With workshops and bands, there’s a four-day pay-festival; setting you back £125 to camp per person, £325 for a campervan pitch, or £490 for glamping. Yet through a pastel illustration, its rather deceiving website shows an idyllic festival with the ancient monument just a hedgerow behind. What may be the closest festival to Stonehenge for Solstice, is actually over two and a half miles away in Winterbourne Stoke. That said, I believe they bus it up to the stones in time for sunrise; road closures and traffic jams worked in, I’m hoping.

Cashing in on our desire to recapture ancient ideologies is not exclusive to this festival, English Heritage hides the hiked-up parking charges in small print, on another section of their website, away from the main Conditions of Entry page. Hardly surprising, after last year’s dispute, the opposition headed by the Loyal Arthurian Warband, and as Titular Head and Chosen Chief of what has become known as The Warrior/Political arm of the modern Druid Movement, Uther Pendragon.

Devizine spoke to Arthur last year, when the heat was the parking charges. Seems English Heritage will not compromise, while it costs tourists just a fiver anyother day, on the one day guaranteed to pull a crowd of homegrown visitors, they triple the tax. Deemed a “pay to pray” policy, Arthur persists on this mission. The most bizarre twist in this fiasco is this year’s EH website designers, who’ve decided to use a picture of St George slaying the dragon to advertise. One may appreciate the reasoning for rules, but the reasoning for using Christian symbology to advertise a pagan feast? The only possible explanation I conjure is it’s a veiled satirical stab at Arthur, who declared, he is one dragon they “will not slay.”

The notion they’re suggesting Christianity should convert solstice is so absurd I blocked it from my mind. Yet, I was shocked at what research churned up. Despite the impossibility of Mary, with child, travelling across Israel, and shepherds off -season during winter, Christian websites maintain Jesus was born at Christmas, and that the sun mimics the death and resurrection of him. If the idea the Earth’s solar orbit never occurred until after the birth of Jesus isn’t a hard-enough pill to swallow, they now continue to suggest summer solstice is actually St John the Baptist’s birthday bash.

Justified by the verse of John 3:30, declaring, “he [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease,” this reflects the sun at the summer solstice trailing its forte, while the winter sun gains, it is no new theory, however outlandish.

Is this what’s happening now, I shudder? Are English Heritage supporting the idea that summer solstice be replaced by a Christian celebration, or just condescendingly mocking Arthur? Is the winter solstice (Christmas) and the spring equinox (Easter) not enough for them? The final nail in the coffin for ancient faiths; here, have Beltane too while you’re at it. Perhaps they think, I ponder to myself, that if solstice was Christian no one would attempt to climb the stones, as you’ll never see the congregation of Salisbury Cathedral drunkenly jeering on daredevils halfway up the spire!

It’s what it all boils down to, this ill-conceived stereotype of pagans; those wild and reckless heathens. And, if I’m brutally honest, clambering up an ancient monument that you’re supposed to be worshipping, while bits of crumble beneath your muddy CATs is the only part of the ritual which bothers me. I did ask Arthur how he felt about this in our interview last year, he didn’t get back to me prior to its publication, but did afterwards, and here’s what he had to say:

(There’s) “not nearly as many ‘climbers’ as there were, and this little tale is how and why,” he said. “A few years ago, there was a ‘climber’ and the guy in front of me was yelling ‘get off the bloody stones!’

‘That’s rich coming from you’ I said, ‘you were up there last year!’

To which he spun around and very indignantly said; ‘No I wasn’t, that was the year before.’

In fact, he had been pictured atop of the stones in the Guardian, which is why I made the remark, but think about it; the first year he’s up there, the second he’s not and by the third he’s part of the ‘self-policing’. Like I say, they may come for the wrong reasons, but they return for the right ones.”

So, if the druids strive for an awakening in us, may be the Christians could accept paganism has its place in modern society. The Earth is really what we need to worship after all, in this era of looming ecological doom. Our ancestors could teach us a thing or twenty about conservation.

Radical I know, best we can hope for I guess is a peaceful solstice at our county’s most famous landmark, try our best to ignore just why EH would choose Christian symbolism to represent a pagan feast. The mind boggles; hope they don’t fall off of our flat Earth!

But, as a wiseman once said, for want of a peaceful solstice, try Avebury. The National Trust website has the details for this slighter, more tranquil solstice gathering, and takes a far less religious approach in its design too! The car park will be open from 0900 on Thursday 20 June 2019. Parking here is £7 all day (0930 to 1830 in summer) £4 after 1500. Motorbikes can park for free, but the carpark gets full very quickly. NT advise public transport, which is doable from Devizes, Marlborough and Swindon.

There is no on-road parking in Avebury itself or Beckhampton, West Kennet and Winterbourne Monkton. The villages are patrolled regularly by Traffic Enforcement Officers and if you park illegally you may be fined or even find your vehicle is removed. Silbury Hill car park will also be closed overnight during this period.

The only campsite in Avebury has only space for under 100 tents. It opens at 9am on Thursday 20th and closes and must be cleared by 2pm on Saturday. You can camp for free, but don’t forget to have a valid parking ticket, and no dogs unless they’re assistance dogs. Other official campsites nearby: Postern Hill Caravan & Camping Site, nr Savernake Forest – 0845 130 8224 or 01672 515195 http://www.forestholidays.co.uk Blackland Lakes, Calne. 01249 810 943 http://www.blacklandlakes.co.uk or Bell Caravan Park and Camping, Lydeway nr Devizes, 01380 840 230

Me? Oh, I’ll be working on solstice; I’ll stop to see the sunrise, probably between Lavington and Urchfont somewhere; despite I see it every morning and never grow tired of it. Might even take a tea-light with me, stick that in your pipe and smoke it EH!

 

REVIEW –Acoustic Strawbs – 8th June @ Assembly Hall, Melksham

Is It Really Fifty Years?

Andy Fawthrop

Having checked my passport and visa for the border crossing, and made sure that my inoculations were up to date, I ventured out of D-Town into the Badlands of Melksham. Just shows what lengths I’m prepared to go to in order to find live music!

After a superb selection of craft ales at The Hiding Place, accompanied by one of Ian Timbers’ wonderful thin-crust pizzas, we picked up our armed escort and made it through the deserted streets of M-Town to The Assembly Hall. This was not a venue I’d been to before, but was pleasantly surprised. It’s not particlularly attractive from the outside, but it opens right up into quite a large hall inside, decently fitted out with stage, lights etc and a full bar (very high prices though – boo!)

We were there to see Acoustic Strawbs on their 50th anniversary tour, although my own research suggests that they were actually formed way back in 1964 in London. That’ll be 55 then. As Dave Cousins said at the break –“this is a chance for you lot to re-charge your glasses, and for the band to re-charge their pace-makers.” Maybe it’s poor memory, maybe it’s dementia, or maybe it’s just poor maths. Who knows?

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Anyhow, we were taken through a swift and fairly air-brushed history of the band by leader Dave Cousins, each stage illustrated by lively anecdotes and one of their songs from that particular era. You may be too young (or possibly too old?) to remember, but it did bring it all flooding back to your intrepid reporter. Names were dropped with gay abandon – David Bowie, Sandy Denny, Blue Weaver, Rick Wakeman – appearances on Top Of The Pops, US & Canadian tours, multi-million-selling albums, the inevitable 20-year “fallow period”, before re-forming as one of the seminal, pioneering bands of the 60s/70s/80s. It was good remember too that they were not just a pure folk band, but had paid their fair dues to such musical movements as prog-rock, folk-rock and commercial pop. But please don’t mention “I’m A Union Man”.

Although they didn’t (thankfully) play the latter, they did remind us that they’d always had a fairly hard-left political agenda, illustrated by a number of their original “protest” songs, including a couple of numbers penned during “The Troubles” of Northern Ireland.

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Although billed as an acoustic set, there was occasional, but subtle, use of backing tracks to fill in some of the more “orchestral” passages – but this was done absolutely seamlessly, and to good effect. Otherwise it was three blokes, three voices, three guitars – and some great material.

In the end a good, solid, competent gig, but not one of the greatest (imho).

If you’d like to see and hear more of The Strawbs, head over to their website which includes every bit of history and background you could ever want, including a list of their future gigs. On 27th July they are appearing at Chapel Arts Centre in Bath.

For future gigs at: Melksham Assembly Hall,  Some immediate future gigs are:

• Saturday 15th June – ELO Beatles Beyond (tribute band)
• Sunday 16th June – Melksham Roller Disco
• Friday 5th July – The New Jersey Boys (tribute band)

 

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The Mac are Bac @ The Neeld

 

Fleetwood Bac, the world’s first and best Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band will be bringing their phenomenal tribute show to Chippenham’s The Neeld on 21st June 2019.

 
Endorsed by Mick Fleetwood himself, this is the only Mac tribute to authentically replicate the classic ‘Rumours’ line-up. Over the last few years they’ve received rave reviews from ‘The Stage’ newspaper, the U.K.s leading Fleetwood Mac fan-sites, the official Stevie Nicks website; and from ecstatic audiences wherever the band played, wowing audiences as far afield as Dubai, St. Tropez, the Cayman Islands and Monte Carlo, and recently selling out the world-famous Minack Theatre in Cornwall.

 
The sound, the look, the mystical atmosphere and on-stage chemistry are all portrayed with the passion and energy that got the seal of approval from ‘Big Daddy’ Mick Fleetwood, and built up an excellent reputation amongst Mac fans through numerous tours, festival appearances, corporate events and TV and radio slots all over the U.K. and Europe.

 
The Fleetwood Bac show focuses on the ‘Rumours’ era of the band (still the 5th biggest-selling album of all time). It also features several songs from the Peter Green days, plus some of Stevie’s biggest solo hits, in a theatrical 2-hour show, including costume-changes and an acoustic section.

 

Tickets are from £16.50 plus booking fee, available from here.

 

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She Robot Assimilates the British

Images used with kind permission of

Gail Foster.

 

Summer Sunday afternoons in the beer garden of the British; it’s a Devizes thing, a ritual stretching back long before I anchored on these shores. Yet it’s unusual for an android to be found there. In all truth, if any kind of automaton did start socialising on the pub scene, the British Lion would probably be bottom of the list. There’s nothing modern or chic about this favoured watering hole, no ultramodern silver-plated décor, just a good bunch of humans, the odd canine, a happy atmosphere and casks of affordable drinks.

The name of this Devizes Arts Festival free fringe event somewhat misleading, I expected She-Robot to be mysteriously mechanical, and gregariously unresponsive, akin to a robot, even if it was to be that she wasn’t really a robot. I suspected weirdness, machinelike repartee, as the name suggests. Instead, Suzy Condrad is most definitely human, affable, humoured and inspired, wearing her heart on her sleeve regarding her art, and modest with her talent.

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Queen of the Boss loop station, this multi-instrumentalist, one-woman band interlaces, effects and autoharp, glockenspiel, thumb piano and random objects to produce a unique sound, reflecting synth-pop and electro of yore, yet with a twist of contemporary ambient house like a strong bassline, and perhaps most poignant, her echoing voice and beatboxing.

She Robots hails from Bristol, her loose, avant-garde repertories remind me of Portishead, least the Bristol techno downtempo scene, to an extent, yet it’s more inimitable and individual. Captivating the audience to silence as she glides through her own compositions, and discretely reassigned covers like Kate Bush’s Running up that Hill, and one I virtually missed the source of through her own take, KRS-1’s Sound of the Police.

So yep, there’s something unquestionably electro-80s about Suzy, archiving influences I suspect from Depeche Mode, Joy Division and Yazoo, to perhaps the Art of Noise. Yet, here’s the thing, the style, the namesake gave me this preconception it’d be Kraftwerk-stiff and structured, Art of Nose secretive, but the sound flowed stunningly, ambiently and she spoke with poise and ease during prolonged breaks as she aligned her technology and instruments to perfection; far more down-to-earth than your typical robot.

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She jested, with accounts of previous gigs, such as excusing malfunctions in her loop-pedal as mud from a festival, or recounting an amusing episode gigging in Camden where the sound of an ambulance siren got caught in the loop-pedal. See, robots don’t do that, they cannot articulate socially, joke and frantically dance like a raver, with all the joy of presenting her music unto us, and that, was the most appealing part of She-Robot’s show.

So, I could argue her one-woman-band was not the master of a particular instrument, more so, the skill is the precise timing, using that loop-pedal like an instrument all of its own. I pondered what atrocity of unorganised clamour I’d create given half a turn on the thing! Yet to turn away, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was a full band up there.

Aptly, and prior to her encore, Suzy finished on Blue Monday, pure and effective nod to her principle influences, and doubtlessly as it’s an irresistible foot-tapper. But along with her genial charisma, and immense skill, it was the individuality which allured me, and her use of the ukulele, in particular, to bless the otherwise electro-synth pop sound with a reggae skank; trust me to pick up on that!

If I was informed in the past, the free fringe events of Devizes Arts Festival often failed to attract attention, it was not the case here. I hope I’m getting through those who may wear this out-of-date typecast of what the Arts Festival is about, because let’s not name and shame, I’ll admit I was once like you, but now I’ve seen the light.

 

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REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Moscow Drug Club – 7th June @ Exchange Night Club, Devizes

Drugs Down In The Bin!

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Well, sort of. Bear with me. In fact this was yet another Devizes Arts Festival offering that turned out to be an absolute cracker of a gig.

Descending into The Corny Bin, or The Exchange Night Club to be precise, I wondered why this particular venue had been chosen for this particular gig. But as soon as I got in there, it was flippin’ obvious. The place had been set out with plenty of tables and chairs, the lights had been set to low and sleazy, and the crowd packed into every last place had created exactly the right ambience. We were in a real nightclub – old school! As Katya, lead singer of the band, remarked immediately she came on stage: ‘wow! This place is for us! This is where we should live!’ Indeed.

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Moscow Drug Club describe themselves as “transcendent troubadours of gypsy cabaret and swing” and that’s exactly what we got. Material ranged from their own self-penned compositions, a couple from Eartha Kitt, via way of Louis Armstrong, Jacques Brel’s “The Port Of Amsterdam”, Charles Aznavour and Tom Waits. And, was that a nod towards Django Reinhard? Leonard Cohen?
Each number took us a different musical place, a different atmosphere – Berlin cabaret, Hot Club de France, old Tangiers, eastern Europe. But it was always dark, earthy, sweaty, smoky. We were in the 30s, now the 40s, now the 50s. We were listening to blues, to jazz, to gypsy swing rhythms.
It was a heady and intoxicating mixture, delivered with some style. Canadian Katya Gorrie led from the front with some cool, dark, sleazy vocals, ably assisted by her splendid 5-piece band. Stand-out performer for me was Jonny Bruce on trumpet, who belted out some astonishing solos, as well as filling in the rhythm with some spicy interjections. And I cannot remember the last time I actually heard a double bass solo (delivered with aplomb by Andy Crowdy) and where an entire room of drinkers was reduced to awe-inspired silence.

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The whole concert was fantastic, delivered with style, humour, great musicianship and plenty of warmly-felt audience engagement. For me this was a superb all-round performance – I gave it 5 out of 5, and my companion (who is notoriously difficult to please) declared it to be the best gig I’d ever taken her to! The crowd absolutely lapped it up, and the fully-deserved encore featured the song that began it all for the band:
“Moscow Drug Club – it’s a secret rendezvous!

Moscow Drug Club – where the Reds play the Blues!”

If you’d like to see and hear more of Moscow Drug Club, head over to their website at http://moscowdrugclub.com/ which includes a list of their future gigs for the rest of the year.

So – well done (yet again) to DAF for booking this wonderfully bonkers band, and bringing them to our town!

Don’t forget there’s plenty more music and other stuff before the Festival finishes on 16th June. If you haven’t done so yet, get yourself a ticket and get along to see something!

 

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Billy Green 3; Should not be Moved

On my holibobs last week, local Geordie Britpop/mod musician Bill Green of trio Billy Green 3, (not to be confused with the British-Upper Canadian scout who saw victory at the Battle of Stoney Creek, naturally) messaged a YouTube link to his debut single, “I Should be Moved.” Promised to get on it this week, finally made it; procrastination rules, but glad I did.

Impartial towards Britpop, it’s not Marmite, I take it or leave it. In my defence, during the era rave was the thing, Madchester just a slice and not a principally progressive slice when compared with breakbeat. To shock horror of Oasis fans, I sauntered past them on the NME Stage at Glasto 94; never heard of them, never cared to; I was hunting hi-tech party vibes, not a Beatles tribute.

I try to decipher if my appreciation of the genre has matured, or if it’s the forceful sixties-mod element which, while present in Britpop generally, seems particularly prominent in Billy Green 3’s style. The words and riff echo a Britpop classic for catchiness, studio noise and tambourine intro and, especially, the chorus though, rings the simplicity of sixties mod. With the modern component of a perfectly placed sample, the circle is complete, Samuel L Jackson’s one-liner as Pulp Fiction’s Jules Winnfield completes it. “Sounds great, Bill,” I replied after a tinny listen on my phone’s speaker, because it does. Grown on me more, now I’ve got it on loud.

If anything, the magnitude of this slick three-minute ride spurs me bookmark Billy Green’s next local gig, though none listed yet; watch this space. Meanwhile I wanted to gage Billy about what the recording side equates to. “I assume it’s an original song,” I asked, “written by you?” and fired several other minor questions all at once, at least England was one-nil up…. at that point.

“First recording with the new project, me and a young lad called Harvey Schorah on drums, backing Vox and all-round vibes,” Bill replied. “I wrote the words and music, played guitar, bass and sang lead and backing vocals. Martin Spencer [The Badger Set, Potterne] produced. He’s a magician, essentially, he took the song in my head and made it come out of the speakers; just love this creative process in addition to the recent live shows.”

On what this will spur, Billy explained, “second song in mixing as we speak, and then hopefully will work out how to put them out as a mini EP.” Posted on their Facebook page today, we may get a listen to it, Lose Our Way, at 7pm.

Drafting my next question, for the review lead us onto football, I mouthed my thoughts that England are sitting back on a 1-0 and then, oh dear (or words to that effect!)

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“Brilliant,” Billy added, “the review, not the football, they were poor on the first half apart from the penalty, still time though; being a Newcastle fan sometimes optimism is all you have!”

This fell appropriately onto my last question; does Bill think Newcastle had a scene during the Britpop era to rival Manchester?

“Prior to Britpop I think,” He suggested, “later 80s, there was a label called Woosh, my mate’s band, the Nivens were on there and ran on Flexi discs. There’s a retrospective out called C87 which was named after the NMEs C86, but a couple of decades later, they’re on there, so jangly guitar pop; the Nivens actually opened for the Smiths. Club nights at the Broken Doll and the Riverside, basically was my musical apprenticeship, introduced me to so many great bands. Moving into the 90s, there was more of a grunge scene with Cranes etc, now there is a resurgent drone scene with a hotel in Byker putting on Japanese noise artists, it’s a bit bonkers.”

“Bonkers could describe any current pop scene in the UK though,” I scoffed.

“Fair point,” Bill nodded, “Alan McGee doing his bit for guitar bands with the Creation23 label, and This Feeling are putting on some good nights. I work in London a bit, so have been to a few of their club nights. Met up with the now defunct the Shimmer Band from Bristol, who I thought were destined for great things. DMAs came out of that scene, from Australia, and are now heading festivals, think Shame came up through there, my mate’s band Free Money are booked in, they even did the last Lexus ad, which is a bit mad. I guess I’ll always be a fan of the get a group of mates together and play in a garage until someone notices you route.”

Well, that’s been the ethos for many a decade and never did the garage scene of the sixties any harm. Stuff the Simon Cowell karaoke TV show fiasco, Billy Green 3 is archaic in fashion, just enough to know the score, yet fledgling to fit into the burgeoning music scene here; I think “I Should be Moved,” puts a stamp on that; take a listen and decide for yourself.

 

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Legally Blonde Jnr Comes to Devizes

You got into Harvard Law?

What? Like, it’s hard?

Hey, get your flaxen Barnett around this; Legally Blonde, rom-com, chick-flick adaptation of Amanda Brown’s novel of the same name is eighteen years old. Yeah, like, I know right. Two years later they made the sequel; although a smash at the box office, it never raised a reviewer’s eyebrow, banally crashing the blonde versus brunette joke which Archie Comics carried for over seventy years.

Yet the initial movie stands the test of time, I like it and chick-flick generally isn’t my thing; lack of spaceships blowing things up, see?! The foreseeable gags enhanced by Reese Witherspoon’s amusing characteristics, at a time when The Spice Girls’ run of “girl power” was fading. Challenging the blonde stereotype with comical narrative was a peg in female equality and certainly the break for Reese; ummm, Reese Witherspoon…… where was I? Oh yes, female equality.

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Like many trailblazing films, it received a theatrical reworking by 2007. Premiered on Broadway, Legally Blonde had an efficacious three-year-run at London’s Savoy and picked up many awards. Now, directed by Oliver Phipps and Hayley Baxter with musical direction from Naomi Ibbetson, it has found its way, least a “Jnr” version, to our own Wharf Theatre.

Legally Blonde Jr. The Musical opens at the Wharf Wednesday 24th July, runs until Saturday 27th (7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee) and promises to be pink: “The Musical is a fun and sassy journey of self-empowerment and expanding horizons, with instantly recognizable songs, this show will leave cast members and audiences alike seeing pink!”

Plot being, if the film passed you by: The Delta Nu sorority president, Elle Woods, seems to have it all; good looks, a relationship with the campus catch and a great taste in clothes. However, her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her to attend Harvard Law School. Determined not to lose him Elle uses hard work and a fair degree of charm to get a place there herself so that she can prove she is serious and win him back. Whilst there she tackles stereotypes, snobbery and scandal but she also makes some great new friends along the way and gradually discovers how her new found knowledge of the law can really help others.

With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, again it’s a rousing and prevalent choice for the delightfully quaint Wharf Theatre. Tickets, £12 with under 16s £10, can be purchased from Ticketsource, at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a Spring/Summer brochure which is available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.

 

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REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – String Sisters –5th June @ St Andrew’s Church, Devizes

A Cracking Little Concert

By Andy Fawthrop

 

There’s so much to do and see in this year’s Devizes Arts Festival that it’s hard to pick out the best bits. From what I’ve already seen and heard, this year’s event is turning out to be another cracker, and there’s plenty still to go.

Today, for a bit of a change, I decided to go to church. No – I’ve not suddenly seen the light. I decided to go and see String Sisters in a lunchtime concert at St Andrew’s church in Long Street. The place wasn’t quite full. But not far off. And it turned out to be a good way to spend a lunchtime.

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Angharad and Lowri Thomas (can you tell that they are from that there Welsh Wales??) are sisters who play the violin and the viola respectively. They also play those instruments darned well. We were treated to a whole range of pieces from classical (Vivaldi, Bach) to modern (Can’t Help Falling In Love, Delilah) to tunes from the musicals (America from West Side Story, I Could Have Danced All Night from The King and I) and all beautifully wrapped up in some charming and funny anecdotes. These sisters not only knew how to play, but how to engage with the audience and therefore how to entertain.

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The concert was only an hour long (I could have listened all afternoon), but it was packed with goodies, and thoroughly entertaining – a little cracker of a concert.

Well done to DAF for finding String Sisters and bringing them to our town!

Don’t forget there’s plenty more music and other stuff before the Festival finishes on 16th June. If you haven’t done so yet, get yourself a ticket and get along to see something!

 

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Our Cheque to OpenDoors

Hey there, just a quick one from me today, mind, I say that then I start waffling, you know how it is!

 
Delighted to announce that I handed a cheque for the total sum of £225 to Devizes Opendoors today, from our fundraising events at the Bear Hotel’s Cellar Bar in Devizes last month.

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It was good to see the homeless charity still thriving, offering takeaway food after their cooked breakfast. Books and clothes are also available to takers; people in sheltered accommodation or sleeping rough in our neighbourhood. It has been over a year since I paid them a visit to highlight the good work they do, see the article here. It was great to know the followers of Devizine has contributed, even just this small amount to this often-overlooked charity.

 
With Devizes Opendoors saddened by the recent passing of one of their regular guests, Richard Manning early in May, the organisation could do some better news. They’ve raised funds from their recent Quiz Night, and The Sing Alive Choir’s event on the 11th May. You can find out from their exhibit at Devizes Health and Wellbeing event, and from the website, here.

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It was even better to acknowledge that we had fun doing it! Reminders of our two events can be read here, and here. Again, a massive thanks for all who attended, to Luke and the Cellar Bar staff for putting up with us. To Harvey and Finely Trusler of the lively Truzzy Boys, Jordan Whatley aka The Hound on the Mountain for that fantastic and expressive set, Gail Foster for brill photographs which just seem to get better with every snap, and her witty and poignant poetry interludes, and the gents of those brilliant Roughcut Rebels; Jamie Elly, Doug Wilcox, Mark Slade, and John Burns.

 
Of course, that was just the first night, an assortment of live music. For our second, all-reggae night the following Saturday we have Nick Newman, aka Razah, and Knati P, aka Clifton Powell to massively thank. Alongside their dedicated team who carried the equipment down those wonky steps to build the loudest sound system the Cellar Bar has ever witnessed, and stayed to party with us! Particularly Sam Chaloner for assisting the door and encouraging punters to come party.

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What comes next? Thanks for asking, but I’ve no idea. I’d like to get summer over and done with, so full of great events already. Then I’d like to do some more Devizine Presents gigs, using our many venues in town and highlighting the best of our local talent. There are many other charities I’d like to include and so, watch this space until the leaves fall from the trees (let’s not think about that yet though, eh?!)

 

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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera sing Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado” – Saturday 15th June @ St Mary’s Church, Devizes

A Bit of Nanki-Poo in The Vize

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Do you like opera? What about “light” opera? With rather a lot of comedy thrown in? Good – because you’re really going to love this!

Last night I was privileged to attend the full dress rehearsal for “The Mikado” by the splendid White Horse Opera company. I was expecting something perhaps still a little rough round the edges, maybe the odd fluffed line, the occasional note or cue to be missed, but there was really none of that. The company had been rehearsing for months, had chosen their principals carefully, and were absolutely up for it.

Yet again – another gem in the entertainment crown of Devizes – we are so lucky to have these people doing this stuff!

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This particular bit of nonsense, a “comic opera” in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and words by W.S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaboration, opened in March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second-longest run for any work of musical theatre, and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Since then it’s been translated into numerous languages, and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. The setting is Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, which allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. And the company has done an excellent job of the now-traditional exercise in updating the lyrics of some songs to reflect politics Britain in 2019. Particularly pointed was Ko-Ko’s (The Lord High Executioner’s) song about who he’d like to execute (“I’ve got a little list, and they’ll none of them be missed”).

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It’s always difficult, and sometimes a little invidious, to pick out individual performances but I think it’s worth mentioning particularly Graham Billing, who delivered a hilariously nervous and dithering Ko-Ko, Charles Leeming as a wonderfully pompous and self-important Pooh-Bar (Lord High Everything Else), Lisa House as Yum-Yum, and the resilient Ian Diddams, playing The Mikado splendidly as a power-crazed modern dictator. But there were strong performances all round, from every member of the cast. It was so obvious that they were thoroughly enjoying what they do, delivering a top-notch production.

I’m not going to give the plot away, nor would I even attempt to summarise the complicated ins and outs leading to the hilarious denouement – suffice to say that the story is stuffed with disguises, mistaken identities, the fickleness of emotions, and the usual human drivers of fear and greed. The main characters ham it up splendidly, and deliver the songs with confidence and panache, squeezing every last drop of comedy out of the script.

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Given that it’s performed in modern dress, sung in English, and is a laugh-a-minute, it’s completely accessible and enjoyable. So, even if you thought that you didn’t like “opera”, I can assure you that you are going to love this. Thoroughly entertaining stuff!

It’s going to be performed on Saturday 15th June at St Mary’s church at 7.30pm. Tickets are an absolute bargain at only a tenner, and are available via Ticketsource or the company’s website at
https://whitehorseopera.co.uk/

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Future productions by WHO include:

• Wednesday 30th Oct to Saturday 2nd November @ Lavington School – Bizet’s “Carmen”
• Tuesday 17th December – venue TBA – Christmas Concert
• Friday 20th March 2020 – venue TBA – Spring Concert

And if you’re interested in getting involved yourself, whether singing, playing or behind the scenes, just head over to their website. You can also support them by becoming a “Friend” of the company for £20 p.a. Remember – they are an amateur company, supported by volunteer efforts and by voluntary contributions from their supporters.

 

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Reggae, Reggae, Reggae, in…. Devizes Arts Festival?! Barbdwire Bring a Taste of Coventry to Town

All Photos used with kind permission of Gail Foster

 

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From a talk by CBE award-winning English foreign correspondent and BBC News world affairs editor, John Simpson, to the Sub-Organist at Durham Cathedral, Francesca Massey, the Devizes Arts Festival has kicked off this week, better than Tottenham. Their showcase, more varied than ever before, truly caters for all; you just need to either research, or hear me bashing on to find something suitable for you.

Personally, my time came Saturday, when the Corn Exchange was blessed with sweet, sweet reggae music! You know I love thee, local music scene, but my ongoing quest to encourage more reggae in these backwaters came to an apex last night.

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Perhaps a hard sell in Devizes, yet a genre I’ll push until the wheels fall off. Yep, said wheels won’t last to shove Devizes into the streets of downtown Kingston Jamaica, but our great hall was lively and the modest audience appreciative of what Coventry based Barbdwire delivered.

Without doubt Barbdwire could produce a “beginners guide to reggae,” without watering down or succumbing to commercialisation. For all sub-genres were presented to us last night, with tremendous panache and sublime competence.

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I often wonder how irritated Ziggy Marley gets when interviews adopt the cliché angle of his father, recollecting him once stating, “reggae is not a one-man-music, it’s a people music.” An apt quote for Barbdwire, the band a varied bunch. While originator and drummer, Trevor Evans, the former Specials roadie-once drummer, characteristically oozes a reggae archetypal, bassist Chelly’s persona rings out dub and the proficient trombonist has Two-Tone band written all over him, trumpeter John Pudge, clearly the youngest, doesn’t appear represent any reggae stereotype.

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I snatched a quick tête-à-tête with John, attired in a T-shirt embossed with “Roots, Rock, Reggae,” I was keen on querying his t-shirt gainsays against his instrument choice, brass sections being generally considered ska-related. We discussed how Barbdwire play to the audience; their ability to pull any of reggae’s subgenres out of their hat makes the band flexible, supporting The Specials, as their next gig, or Holli Cook, as they did last week.

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But centre of attention last night in Devizes, this band were an epiphany for some residents and a universal accreditation for those reggae lovers. In our preview I said, “(Two-Tone) may have challenged punk with chicness akin to mod, but today, these subcultures are inconsequential, we can bundle it all into one retrospective burlesque, select whatever element of any we care to, and fuse them without pretence or offense; one reason why a group like Barb’d Wire is fresh and electrifying.”

 

Well, while reproducing their album Time Has Come’s originals did just that, their choice of covers was equally extensive. From ska favourites like Baba Brook’s version of Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man and the Wailer’s debut hit Simmer Down, they also exposed the audience to roots, with Max Romeo’s Chase the Devil, Horace Andy’s Skylarking, renowned for his later work with Massive Attack, and even dub, akin to its master King Tubby.

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There were versions of reggae classics, like Uptown Top Ranking, and all harmonised by the beautifully melodic and confident vocals of Cherelle Harding, a singer who could roll on a lovers tune with the finesse of Phillis Dillon to convert without haste to toast a stepper’s riddim, at one point verging on dancehall with a wonderfully luminous interpretation of Sister Nancy’s Bam-Bam.

Make no mistake, this diversity was not delivered reggae-lite, rather an expertise and rounded acknowledgement to the many faces of Jamaica’s music export, and delivered to us adhering to all the positivity and joyfulness the genre celebrates. As an apt example, they gathered outside to meet and greet, where they were applauded with respect vowed to add our town to their tour map; something I’ll hold against them, as this was an outstanding performance!

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Long live the Devizes Arts Festival then, hopeful they’ll consider the evening a success and plan in, as they are already planning 2020, something else reggae-related. Following on, this week sees Strange Face at The Bear today (Sunday) where the Adventures with a Lost Nick Drake Recording takes place.

Monday and Christian Garrick & John Etheridge presents Strings on Fire at The Exchange. Tuesday is The Shakespeare Smackdown, and Wednesday String Sisters are at St Andrews Church.

An Audience with Bob Flowerdew at the Town Hall, also Wednesday, and Thursday, Atila Sings the Nat King Cole Story at the Town Hall. Oh, and next Saturday has a whole host of FREE fringe events across town. Check the website for booking details, but hurry, Friday’s Moscow Drug Club event is sold out. If cancelations occur find posts on the Arts Festival Facebook page, and I’ll promise to share them as soon as I spot them; have a great festival!

You Can Help Liam?

Liam is the most caring and loving boy that unfortunately cannot live a life of his dreams.

 
He nearly lost his life three days after his birth when he suffered Hypoglycaemia and associated brain injury. Liam was treated for severe sepsis and as a result of this trauma he now suffers from multi-focal epilepsy, global developmental delay and is also visually impaired. He has difficulty communicating and moving about safely, therefore he has special educational needs.

 
Now 6 years old, none of the medications he’s prescribed for his epilepsy have helped him in any way, they make him feel nauseous, restless and agitated. Even with four years of continual medical review and dosage titration there has been no improvement in Liam’s health.

 
Recently his family discovered there may be another hope for Liam. they found a medical doctor in Egypt that specializes in healing brain injuries by combining medical and holistic approaches. She’s had many successes in the past 35 years helping children with epilepsy and other neurological conditions, who similarly, had no other options left.

 
Liam’s family would like to raise money to take Liam to Egypt to undergo this treatment. The treatment involves daily visits to surgery, injecting supplements, adjusting diet and lifestyle advice that will attempt to regenerate Liam’s brain and hopefully help him to live a more fulfilling life.

 
Liam’s mum from Devizes, Martina Pangrazzi is a single mother with two other children, the cost of the treatment and taking time away from work while having the means to care for her other two children while she is away is overwhelming.

 
Can we get their campaign to required £7,000? Can you help Liam? Give what you can here.

 
Martina would greatly appreciate any help; it will make a huge difference to Liam’s life. In her work, Martina helps people overcome their anxieties, depression and stress, but unfortunately, she cannot help her son, and needs your help. “This seems to be the only option we have,” she said.

 

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