The Relevance of Mike Barham

After a “knackering weekend” Devizes music scene’s gentle giant rests up, prepping for All Roads Lead to Frome on Saturday, where he’s one of twenty acts to be thrown onto the Cheese & Grain’s stage. He sends me Relevance, new single, out tomorrow (30th August) telling he’s “been sitting on it for like, two years, never got round to recording it, and over the summer hols I just thought; you really should give this a go, otherwise it’s just a stopper in the pipe.”

Have to rub some stubble, yes, literally have a number of them myself. Often apposite to stockpile ideas, but creative tend to doubt them the longer they linger. Yet every now and then, your scrapbook is worth browsing, dust off a rough and finish it.

“Exactly,” Mike agrees, “it’s one of those things I just needed to get off the mental shelving you know? Not a clear-out, because it’s no good, but more like; stop resting on my laurels and progress!”

Pardon the pun, but relevance to that conviction, doubled with the notion he confesses nerves writing, recording, mixing and releasing this solo single by himself for the first time, Relevance is not only Mike on his best behaviour, it’s a prodigious single, emotive and fuller than anything you may previous have heard from Mr Barham.

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Image by Nick Padmore

Maintaining those grating bluesy vocals, for those familiar with his fiery debut album, Altitude with Attitude, expect later, acoustic tracks Signal Fires or Short, Never Forgotten rather than the blast of Bowser’s Castle or The Cider Song. Yet, think more evocative and shadier, a ripened Mike Barham, perhaps, after all we were talking about last week down the Southgate too, Mr B!

“It’s a bit of a mellower direction,” he describes, “reflective but no less direct lyrically I feel, sort of a City and Colour/Death Cab for Cutie vibe, very simplistic with just vocal, acoustic and one electric for texture.” It works for me, I envision Phil Cooper tipping his porkpie hat to its expressive maturity, and Jamie R Hawkins nodding approval at its narrative too.

Alongside working with his band Nerve Endings on some recorded material, here’s a poignant solo single which stamps Mike firmly on scene. If it’s with Nerve Endings, or solo, Mike Barham will entertain a crowd, undoubtedly, but here’s something with more universal appeal. Least I reckon, you’ll have to hear it for yourself.


© 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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Taste of Wiltshire Food Fest is full, you can help empty it!

Taste of Wiltshire Food Fest is full, you can help empty it! Yes, applications for stalls at the Farm Cookery School at Netherstreet, Bromham is full. Sunday 8th September is the date you need to save, 10am-4pm; start fasting now! This is a FREE foodie gig, with lots going on, examples:

THE WILTSHIRE BEEKEEPER: Fred is a jolly Bee Keeper who spends his days travelling around the Wiltshire countryside looking after his bees, collecting swarms, giving talks and selling honey products.

THE LITTLE BAKEHOUSE: He’ll be bringing some of his fantastic Pork Pies as well as lots of other goodies.

GASTRO NICKS: Nick and Jane, the masterminds behind this fabulous Wiltshire Deli in Collingbourne Ducis. They are purveyors of fine foods, wines, Champagne, sparkling wines, hampers and gifts and it is all utterly delicious.

MUCK & DUNDER RUM BAR: Yes, a Bar dedicated to Rum, how exciting is that?! Shelly & Stu are the masterminds behind this fabulous business. Devizine favourites these guys, arm twisted!

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TRAYCAKE: Nicola from Traycake has just told us she is setting up a MONTHLY CAKE CLUB – what an awesome idea!! She also sources ingredients from the surrounding areas wherever possible which is what we love to hear.

BROTHERHOOD BREWERY: Friday Night is Beer ‘O’clock at TW HQ! What better way to start the weekend than with the deliciousness that is the Brotherhood Brewery Beer?

NINJO NOODLES: Ninjō Noodle Bar is a Pan-Asian, plant based mobile street food Bar and their mission is to provide freshly prepared, health conscious meals that satisfy the heart, soul and stomach. Their purpose-built prep kitchen is used to prepare their food where they carefully choose ingredients and complimentary products that are plant based, free from artificial additives and MSG.

COFFEE TO GO: You can’t have a Festival without an awesome Coffee Stall and these guys went down a storm last year.
THE OLD CHEESEHOUSE: Cheese, cheese, cheese!

FLUFFY PUFFIN: Chris Woodridge is Mr Fluffy Puffin. A Cordon Bleu Chef, he has built an impressive resume in the restaurant and catering world, including time with Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett. Luckily for us he developed a passion for Ice Cream and Sorbet and has developed the most AMAZING flavours! The luckiest people though are the ones that Chris creates a Bespoke Flavour for…… imagine that – your own Ice Cream Flavour!!

HOLLYCHOCS: Holly, Chocolatier, Chocolate Engineer and Chocolate Lover is on a journey to make delicious, ethically sourced chocolates and teach through fun science lessons and hands-on chocolate workshops. Holly has recently created her very own Chocolate Workshop in Poulshot and her chocolate concoctions are already legendary – she also just won a Great Taste Award.

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I may well have missed some, apologies if so, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!


 

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The Judge, Jules Brings Live Band to Swindon

One of the scene’s most best-known names for more than three decades, Judge Jules has never shied away from pushing the boundaries in dance music. And this year, for the first time ever, audiences will be able to experience the iconic tracks that have defined his career through a ten-piece live band with Judge Jules himself at the helm.

 
‘Judge Jules: Live’… will be coming to Swindon’s MECA venue on 25th Jan 2020.

 
Jules’s in-depth involvement in many of the recent wave of “classical” dance events, including Gatecrasher, Colours, Club Class and 2019’s Ministry of Sound tour, inspired the decision to take the impact and emotion of the classical shows, but refine the feeling with a wholly new take on live dance music.

 
With complete creative free rein, Jules curated every element of the performance. Each track has been bespoke reinvented and reworked in a style unique to this live show, featuring a full ten-piece band, with brass, percussion, drums, bass guitar, lead guitar, keyboard, singers, and of course Judge Jules himself. A 90-minute show from start to finish, the music has been selected to represent the breadth and scale of his career.

 
“There is something about music being played live that never fails to send shivers down your spine – it doesn’t matter what the genre is, hearing a track performed by live musicians on stage is something you cannot replicate in the studio, or even on the best nightclub environment. So, I decided to create my own bespoke versions of my all-time favourite records with a specially selected band. It’s taken a long time to put together, but finally we look forward to taking the “Judge Jules Live” tour on the road. This truly is a new take on the ‘live dance music’ phenomenon and the tour bus starts rolling shortly.” – Judge Jules

 
This is not a show to sit down for – combining the energy of specially-chosen outstanding musicians with his own inimitable presence behind the decks, Jules will take the audience on a tailor-made journey through dance music with vocals, hands-in-the-air moments and plenty of basslines that’ll take you right back to your very first rave.

 
With audiences demanding more from dance music and newfound focus on a visual as well as a sonic spectacle, Judge Jules Live is a chance for dance fans to lose themselves in the moment with the kind of experience that you just can’t replicate with a solitary DJ.
The Judge still won’t budge.

 

Judge Jules will play Swindon MECA – 25th January 2020

Doors 8pm – late
£17.00 early bird + BF

Tickets on sale now and available from:
https://www.mecaswindon.co.uk/events-tickets/2020/january/judge-jules-live/


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Street Festival, Yeah!

Images used with the kind permission of

Tanya Jurkiewicz Photography

and Gail Foster

 

Gigantic bouncy slide outside the trusty Pelican, where we usually wait for a bus. Beyond, a superior stage surrounded by pockets of circus acts, charity stands, clothes stalls, and street food heaven wraps the Market Place, where DOCA gave information and a Pimms bar bustled. Happenings snaked down Snuff Street, over St Johns, and across the town centre, the atmosphere buzzing. What’s not to like?

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From fudge and churros, to Tibetan cuisine and crocodile burgers, food and drink was diverse. Stealth Brewery held the most aesthetic bar and seating area, The British Lion occupied the other, functional side, frantically serving the cider which gives this event it’s local auxiliary namesake. Yes, Black Rat Monday, or as the wonderful organisers would favour you call it, The Devizes International Street Festival. Upon us, the customary bubbliest, most multicoloured and all-round brilliant community-fuelled event to bless our spirited market town.

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If many a festival constitutes packing camping gear, blagging petrol money off mates and trekking through town and country to attend, DOCA bring the spirit of festival to your doorstep, and do it with bells on. As the crowd bobbed and gyrated at the main stage, I spotted a musical statue, poised to snap a photo, or ten. Gail turned to me with a smile, “it’s my favourite day of the year,” she uttered. Whatever I write of it will be deficient and incomplete, for there’s so much going on. It’s our Mardi Gras; you wander, you catch what you can, go where you like, impossible for me to document it all, especially half-toasted as I was! Gail summed it in a sentence.

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As the sun shone, I must say yet again, this was the fantastic event it traditionally always has been, and improves annually. Impossible to stage something so vast and varied without slight hip-cups. I’m not rising to grumpy hecklers taken to Facebook to whinge their futile vendetta against DOCA, all over a carnival date change so volunteers can take a well-earned break and schools can be encouraged to participate. Drunkenly calling for the artistic director’s head on a platter, as if they were the manager of Newcastle is pathetic. Did you slip through a wormhole and appear in an alternative reality, because I thought it was awesome? Take your storm in a teacup to Rio, least upon return from Lalaland give yourself the directive to resist the urge to post when sozzled!

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Ha, an opinion piece it be, refraining from writing journalistically as I do, it’s my belief we should praise DOCA, award the highest accolade. This weekend was tremendous. Budget didn’t stretch to quite as many cosplayers, walkers and random street theatre than previous years, something funding will help towards, or hey, the attendees maketh the festival; maybe dress up yourself! No Andy; Spiderman onesie is in the wash, thank you!

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My attention was drawn to an apparent lack of activities at the Northgate end, usually the child-friendly zone. I’ll say Sunday on the Green is more geared towards our younger, still it’s fair feedback. Though, it’s all the criticism I will accept as constructive. Yes, unobtainable was sitting around The Market Cross; it was fenced off due to structural damage and danger of pieces falling; no fault of DOCA. Similarly, a band mistaking their performance time is an unavoidable calamity. This caused a rather vacant period on the main stage, which was a shame, yet well-oiled crowds laughed between themselves, and thus away with the fairies went such trivial issues.

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However, it did mean many flocked past the Town Hall, an area which usually fizzles out back to the reality of everyday Devizes. I’m so happy to say, prompting DOCA to take onboard our local music scene, I suggested something I really couldn’t commit to; had to work in the morning. But it was so, that Pete of Vinyl Realm had similar ideas, and executed a second zone of music in a manner I couldn’t have. My dream to have a little marquee with some acoustic singers was transformed into not only a trailer stage, but acoustic area and vinyl DJ, adding that extra dimension and rounding off the festival site with a definite border.

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It was here where some excellent sets played before an audience larger than we anticipated. Strange Folk were amazing, yet it was Daydream Runaways who really bought the stage to its pinnacle. Sweltering, this upcoming pop-indie amalgamation of Swindon and Devizes, who I’ve been hailing with praise since I discovered, really delivered an energetic and proficient set of favourite covers and their own accomplished originals.

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Often supporting the guys, Ben Borrill acoustically owned the area next, followed by Devizes space-rockers Cracked Machine. Having not managed to catch this headline act live up till now, I pondered if they could recreate the sublime atmospheric ambience they do on record, and I was not disappointed. This Pink Floyd of the vize volleyed it out of park. With trickles of intoxication, the sound apt under the heat of the sun, the crowd were whisked away blissfully.

 

This was, quite honestly, a highlight of the day, the whole idea to have the second stage was. So, a massive respect goes to Pete, Jacki and all at Vinyl Realm for organising and funding this, and to the Lamb who supplied the power, in more ways than one; I saw Sally wander over to band to hand them all some well-deserved hot dogs!

 

If this doesn’t convince DOCA to support our local music scene, nothing will! Pete has already suggested interest in doing it again next year. But, feeling the need to cover as much of the festival as possible, I scarpered back to witness the most gorgeous African fusion band on the main stage. Blinking heck, s’ all going on, so much so, it’s going off.

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Truly fantastic DOCA and everyone who contributed their share, worked the bars, hosted side stalls and attractions and of course, the bonded spirit of you, the revellers; dotted with the special events, leaving next weekend for Confetti Battle and Colour Rush, I call to embrace this change, as this is destined to progress annually, we should be the envy of all of other towns and be proud of what has been achieved this weekend.

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© 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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Sophia, Soul Rebels and Southgate

After popping out of the yurt on the Green, bedazzled by the curious show inside, want for some normality rushed through me, that and the simpler fact I needed a cider or three.

Where better than our dependable Southgate, where if the fun was to stop, you’d be wondering if you were in the right pub? Although the vibe inside differed to the customary acoustic, folk, rock, punk or jazz, as Sophia and her Soul Rebels delivered some fine covers of soul classics; Motown, Atlantic popularised in those swinging sixties and moving onto modern anthems of The Brand-New Heavies and others.

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Sophia not only has the palatable, soulful voice to execute some of the hardest vocals known to pop, but an obligatory diva persona blended with entertaining banter, and a proficient backing band to compliment it. She single-handedly eased through The Supremes and Vandellas, soothed the crowd with Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding songs, and controlled a series of soul masterworks.

Hosting only a minor audience than usual here at the crowded Southgate, she made it a night to remember. It may’ve been a show more suitable for a function, than our gypsy-canal type watering hole, but what a function it’d be. Again, Deborah and Dave have shown diversity in the acts they book, pushing the awesome Vince Bell gig today, for example. I declare The Southgate remains the number one most faithful and reliable venue for live music here in the Vizes, or so help me the god of hats.

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Mike Barham was there, pushing for a gossip headline I reckon, with a sweeping opinion about……. ah, I’m not a tabloid Mr B, let’s not go there…… (yet!)

We hope to see Swindon’s Sophia and her gang in our town again soon, with universal appeal they’ll convert any pub or venue into an episode of Soul Train!


© 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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Q: What’s in the Yurt, DOCA? A: Los Galindos’ Udel

Images used with kind permission of Gail Foster

 

For me it’s not enough to say something is “weird.” To start, is it a “good” weird or a “bad” weird? If the opposite of weird is normal, and normal considered boring, then weird must surely entertain. It’s subjective; depends where you sit on the border of what constitutes an acceptable limit of weirdness. When it goes beyond this level maybe it fails to entertain you, by being so weird you cannot process any logic or reason within it, ergo “bad” weird, in your opinion.

Yet illogical or plain nonsensical has always been a backbone of humour. Many strive to extend said border, for if Spike Milligan or Monty Python pushed the limits in surrealism, Miguel de Cervantes did too, 350 years beforehand. I’d suggest there’s something very Don Quixote about Los Galindos’ Udel.

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Humour at its most basic level is visual, a baby will find perpetual peek-a-boo hilarious. Similarly, visual humour relies on those classic formulas; falling over, sudden disappearance and reappearance and dumbfounded surprise. Akin to silent movies, voices are minimal and slapstick in Los Galindos is bountiful, and executed with distinction. But it is weird.

See, I like weird, strive for weirdness, savour weird things, chat to sane people hopefully making me appear weirder. Perhaps I set the barrier of what constitutes too weird high. If you agree, you will love this show. If you’ve wandered past the Green and seen a Mongolian yurt and thought, well how is a circus act supposed to be staged in there, without spoilers I’ll enlighten; that’s part of the joke.

If you’re thinking where does this article stop being a thought on the word weird, and become a review for this fantastically curious show, then you’re already putting barriers at your chosen level. For I don’t want to ruin the surprise, for the show continues through to Monday, but it left me wondering at what point the show actually started. Could be as soon as everyone was seated, even when we were kindly ushered in, perhaps just outside the door. Maybe all walking past, contemplating said notion, well how is a circus act supposed to be staged in there, have already become the audience of sorts.

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It’s a prime example of what I’m getting at, the act is the production, the production is an act, the props are parts of the stage and yurt, and the yurt, stage, and possibly the audience too are the props. The costumes and overall impression are modest, yet charming. The acrobatics are deliberately played down like Tommy Cooper’s magic, but are exceptionally skilful.

Wrapped in essence of a humbled, poor circus family, who overdramatically welcome you, their efforts to make you comfortable and enjoy their show is the clowning element, perhaps it’s only narrative. The hazard of these disguised clowns executing daredevil circus stunts within inches of your face is worrying, and part of its attraction which will leave you in awe.

If you’re the sort expecting a traditional request, “I need a volunteer from the audience,” disregard your expectations. This is a unique and original take on circus noir, it’s clowning and acrobatics combined in a manner leaving you spellbound and pondering what exactly just happened, and why.

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There was a point in the act, without giving the game away, where the doors blew open, and in viewing a glance outside there was a gentle reminder you were sitting on the Green in Devizes, and not immersed in a scene from Don Quixote staged by amateurs with a homemade theatre, in some remote mountainous village north of Barcelona.

It’s fantastically abridged circus, something radical moulded into a Mediterranean era of yore, and honestly, something you’ve not see in Devizes before, or probably ever will again, even if you consider Devizes is weird!


© 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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A Scandal with Tamsin Quin!

There are two sides to every story. We’ve heard Dolly’s angle since 1973, imagine if Jolene had her say. Traditionally, like gallant fables, songs seldom back the underdog, the aberrant. Particularly the rounded narrative of folk or country, usually tales culturally able to be retold, optimistically.

If the last local singer-songwriter you’d expect to be exploring darker tenets is Tamsin Quin, think again. Akin to Springsteen’s Nebraska, in so much it summons no such communal feeling, rather Scandal, the new single from our illustrious local songstress is secluded in a room of a distant, shady and enigmatic place.

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Image: Nick Padmore

A song of who the cap fits, of watching your own back. Tamsin advises “there’s criminals in the shadows, pull your friends a little closer.” But cross examines her own persuasions and faith in the notion, maybe, “we’re all scoundrels deep down inside.”

It’s as if the darker depths of Tamsin’s acute words in previous songs have come to detonation; executed sublimely, and produced with eminence by Phil Cooper. Scandal, out next Friday (30th August) is whole new level of excellence for this already blossoming star. I congratulated her, as vocally it sounds deeper and much more refined than anything before. Is that what she was hoping for?

“Yep,” she responds as ardently as the same ol’ Tammy, “I was totally going for the dark country vibes. Phil did such a great job producing it; I’m really pleased with the outcome. I hope its dramatic!”

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Tis indeed, like Wynette at her darkest; she builds tension around the breakfast table, the penny drops as to why Billie Joe Macalister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge and the protagonist attempts to hide her secret affair. “So,” I asked, “this is for a forthcoming album? Can we expect the others to be similar, or am I divulging too much?!”

“I’m aiming for a new album next year. The plan is for another single in October, then a single in February, and the album in April.” Tamsin expands the answer, “not all of the songs are this dark, although I am working on another haunting one at the moment, but the whole album feels a lot more mature that Gypsy Blood. I feel like I’ve grown into myself, and I’m writing what I want to write, instead of what I think the crowd will love. Writing more for myself I guess, although I really hope others really like it too.”

That personal enlightenment brews Tamsin’s poise when performing live, “writing things for yourself does tend to give you a little more confidence in delivery. Which I guess gives other people faith that its good, if you have faith in yourself and your work.”

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Image: Nick Padmore

I’m certain when reviewing Gypsy Blood, I suggested Tamsin sounded more mature, guessing both are a natural progression, though. “Guess you gotta grow up somewhen!” she laughs. I think you never stop learning and growing artistically, until, perhaps you reach a pinnacle and it doesn’t sound so progressive. Does she fear ever reaching that age where they say, “old Tamsin, just going through the motions?”

After stressing the importance to her of critical feedback, she laughed at the notion. “I guess that’s where the whole ‘writing for yourself’ thing comes in, because if you like your songs then you won’t care what people are saying.” I suspect that time is a long way off, Scandal in a nutshell is poignant, emotive and, perhaps an unanticipated gift to our music scene, and based upon it, I hold my breath for the album.

 

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Click for Tamsin’s Facebook page and like for updates and gigs!

© 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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Lottie J and You

Fifteen, about to leave school, exam pressure and that dangling feeling of future prospects; I’d give my right arm not to go through all that again! Swindon singer, Lottie J groans at the thought, confesses music is her worst subject at school. Under the elderly assumption schools have changed since my era, where to quote “popstar,” as a chosen career will see you smashed over the head with a wedge of Beethoven song-sheets and told to wake up and smell reality, seems it’s not changed as much as I thought.

“They shared my video on their website,” she explained appreciatively, but slated the philosophy of studying classical music. Yet, Lottie has been in the headlines since she was eight, encouraged by Jamie Cullum when he visited her school and donated his old piano. Music was mapped for her then, with her first song, ‘Kiss Your Old Life Away’ making the final 10 of The Song Academy’s Singer/Songwriter Competition and later, in 2016, she made the Grand Final of Future Music’s Songwriting Competition, at Dingwalls in Camden.

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From a time when I first heard Lottie, delightfully but tensely tapping her keys and singing covers at Times Square in Devizes, yet an angelic voice ringing out, to this latest video for her song “You,” shows a natural ambition to pop stardom that I personally feel is imminent. Our phone conversation today revealed a matured girl, with poise in the prospects of her vocation.

Half the clips in the video connote a narrative of a regular local girl, falling out with a boy in the woods. Yet while it’s saccharinely juvenile, the contrast of a flipside displays a confident and sassy female popstar, dancing on a Chevy in the Las Angeles desert. It licks with all the style and panache of a professional contemporary pop video, and the song rides it like a wave of self-assurance. Is that the suggestion Lottie was hoping to achieve? “Totally!” she expressed.

On note of her education, Lottie continued to express her hopes of studying music at Bath University, where the syllabus will be more to her taste. Just go in there and slap your phone on the desk and show them this video, I ill-advised, yet, it’d work if it was me. Lottie is keen to learn the business side of the industry, as well as the performance and music technology. Herein lies my ignorance at how the biz has changed, when, through the writing and production, being she has independently produced this work, I ask her what comes next.

“The key is to get the music out there,” she elucidates. YouTube and Spotify subscribers are far more important than the idea of creating a physical album, which she disregards from the mere mention of. “This will get me gigs, and support gigs.” It’s a DIY ethos which with her talent, and motivation will see her reach the goal, overlooking the concept of pitching to record companies, and especially poo-pooing the idea of a stab at a Simon Cowell TV karaoke show. “It’s a fake industry,” she sighs, “you’re already down to the fifth round before being aired on television, and I’d probably be kept out for having the wrong hair colour!”

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Standing with George Wilding on Devizine’s birthday bash in November, as Lottie got the ball rolling, the fact we were both aghast at her singing ability not only means I’m not alone in the sentiment. But it showed a skill Lottie can paste into the more pop orientated direction she craves, and with these new songs, Snapped, but more so, You, it’s the kind of song I need a second opinion from my twelve-year-old pop-inspired daughter from. She confirmed my thoughts; it’s dazzlingly good. She taps her Spotify account to subscribe to Lottie’s profile. That’s what Lottie needs, that’s the way forward for aspiring young musicians; sharing is caring, the new break is an accumulation of subscribers and followers.

So do check it out and subscribe, or let your kids show you how to do it. No shame in that, I have to!


© 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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Doing it For Dan goes Vegas Style in Blunsdon

After tragedy can come a silver lining; Doing it for Dan encourages children and young adults to engage and partake in sport and leisure activities by awarding grants to individuals and organisations in Wiltshire and the surrounding area.

The organisation was founded in memory of eleven-year-old Daniel Climance, of Bridlewood Primary in Blunsdon St Andrew, Swindon, who was tragically killed in June 2015. He collided with a road sweeper whilst out riding his bike. Something, it is suggested by a witness, caused this stable and proficient cyclist to suddenly panic, and swerve under the sweeper. Daniel died from a traumatic head injury. A police examination found no defects with the road sweeper, and the driver passed a breathalyser test. It’s one of those terrible incidents we may never have an answer to.

Their website explains this caring, considerate boy excelled at a number of sports. It was his first season with Wootton Bassett U11 football team, that he loved and he was so looking forward to the next. He had also just completed his second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, of which he was immensely proud. He had taken part in School football and cricket events and had won the overall gold medal in an interschool sports tournament between four local schools.

How more apt and heart-warming than to create this wonderful charity in his memory, helping so many children get the access to the equipment they need to follow their ambitions.

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The website highlights many great sporting achievements made through the charity’s assistance, from Wiltshire School of Gymnastics, to the 2019 Superhero Tri at Windsor, the UK’s one and only disability sports series. And from Elliot Pinson, who won both of his race heats of the Dickies British Junior Supersport series at Norfolk’s Snetterton, to Katie Ovenden who won the U16 Singles Badminton championships.

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Still, fundraising is always needed and Doing it For Dan have an over 18’s casino night on Friday 27th September at the Blunsdon House Hotel, Swindon. It promises a ‘Night in Vegas’ with fun casino tables, roulette, blackjack, dice and poker. Followed by a hot buffet, raffle and eighties and nineties disco, tickets are £35pp, and include a £5 fun money voucher.

All money raised will enable their charity to continue supporting children with sporting activities in the Swindon & Wiltshire area.


© 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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The Turn of the Screw at The Wharf

The forthcoming new season of productions at our Wharf Theatre, Devizes, kicks off with a haunting Henry James adaption they claim is not for the nervy.  The Turn of the Screw, a 1898 horror novella by Henry James, first published as a serial in Collier’s Weekly magazine, has been adapted for stage by Ken Whitmore and is directed by Lewis Cowen.

 

Running from Monday 23rd September to Saturday 28th at 7.30pm, The Turn of the Screw is set in a sprawling manor house in Bly, in the first half of the 19th Century. Henry James’ classic is one of the most famous ghost stories in the English language, and is a foundation for academics pledged to New Criticism. With contradictory understandings, critics attempt to regulate the precise nature of the evil implied. Others claim its brilliance grades its skill in creating an intimate sense of misperception and insecurity.

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By Collier’s Weekly, illustration by Eric Pape – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, Public Domain

Miss Grey is hired as governess to two orphaned siblings, Miles, 10 and 8 year old Flora. However, she soon discovers a dark secret and becomes embroiled in a supernatural struggle with the ghosts of the former valet and governess. She is forced to fight for the children despite fearing for her life and questioning her sanity.

Tickets (£12/under 16s £10) can be purchased from Ticketsource at: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-wharf-theatre/events or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a new Autumn/Winter brochure which is available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.


© 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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Empty Chairs and Devil’s Music

The warden said, “hey, buddy, don’t you be no square, if you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair.” Least Elvis tells it as thus, I wasn’t in the whole cell block at the time.

Ah, not always a wooden chair around though; availability of seating at many a gig I’ve attended slight, the act pleading to the shied audience to dance. Why I like the name of this Wiltshire, The Empty Chairs. It suggests everybody’s boogying, better than C+C and their music factory!

“We’re often asked why the band chose the empty chairs as a band name, it can sound negative, but when we’re faced with a room of empty chairs,” they explain, “it’s a positive thing because we know we’ve got the audience up and dancing.” For if you really do have to sit while listening to this rock n roll four-piece, you’re going to at least be toe-tapping.

While the Empty Chair’s provides an assortment of covers ranging from Imelda May, JD McPherson to rock n roll classics like Elvis and Chuck Berry, and lead singer Carmen also heads function band The Casual Ties with a plethora of pop hits spanning all eras, The Easy Chairs have released a debut EP of original material called “Devil’s Music,” very worthy of our attention.

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Sure, it’s rock n roll, essentially, but carries a tint of acceptable post punk pop; think Blondie particularly, given the accomplished gritty female vocals, delivered wonderfully by Carman Hyde. Yet, while the genre of yore may have lost its roots since Elvis was doing bird in the big house, the twangy pentatonic guitar licks, and archetypical composition of these original tunes are homage to the true spirit of rock n roll’s golden era, with nods to both its blues and country influences.

Throw away thoughts of seventies reconditioned rockabilly though, there’s nothing Matchbox, The Darts or gaudy suits and spongy platform shoes about this steady tempo rock n roll, for which I’d confess I troubled putting my finger on comparisons to the Empty Chairs, without cliché or discrepancies. Need to say more, it has to be heard, because while it retains these influences, it doesn’t feel retro revival in any fashion, rather strangely fresh and contemporary.

Neither, I suspect will it be the next big thing, to be brutal about it, it’s not bonkers as the title track, Devils Music, might suggest. It’s not high-energy rawness, taking you to new forms, but feels like some proficient musicians, drummer Dom, guitarists Daniel and Darren, and singer Carmen, having fun putting their four years of experience to the test, and for which, it works and is a fabulously catchy and bouncy beat, in line with their cater-for-all ethos.

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The opening tune, Preacher informs just how it’s going to go down, beguiling and rocking. The writing is virtuous, the title track which follows is a love-knows-no-rules subject, with an impenetrable rhythmic groove, which flows throughout. Southern fried it progresses through an eloquently melancholic account of a girl called Jodie, through to the feelgood Brand-New Day.

 
I know the bread-and-butter scenario for singers, a function band like The Causal  Ties requires you strum through timeworn anthems, and for which I’d suspect The Empty Chairs would produce a most memorable evening too. Yet I’d like to see these guys booked at a venue keen to promote original music, like the Vic, Southgate, or Shoes, as this showcase EP is skilful and moreish. In fact, guitarist Darren Arthurs just let it slip they’re at our trusty Southgate next year!

EP on Bandcamp here – and give them a Facebook Like here!


© 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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Teddy Bears and Market Place Parking

“I work with a lot of politicians, I talk to a lot of people on county level, at national level, and I have never come across resistance like I get from the Devizes Town Council. We go into meetings and people listen, even if they don’t agree, and we come out of it with some sort of way forward. The Town Council have simply said, ‘we’re not going to work with you,’ and completely closed the door on us. I mean, I am a pain in the backside, and a stubborn person, and that’s probably why they think I’m the devil.”

In order to play devil’s advocate to this parking in Market Place fiasco, I am having a nice cup of tea, in his shop, with a teddy bear hospital shelf, where each bear is given a bed, and a biscuit while awaiting medical attention. I ask you, what kind of demon owns such a shop?! The guy is like a big teddy himself, but local businessman, renowned for kicking up a stink, Iain Wallis, is still discontent with the way the issue is being dealt with.

As an events and entertainment guide, I favour to leave local politics to the local rag, yet the acquisition of certain town control passed from Wiltshire Council to Devizes Town Council has been delivered on an ultimatum of ending free carparking in the Market Place, now a sad reality. Proposed the area could become a lively event space, and as we stand to promote and encourage events, I confess I warmed to the idea, but not as a persuasive blanket, built on a farcical ploy. We all know, the Market Place has already been used for such, with great effect and when there is no event it functions as a carpark. The notion, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, springs to mind, as the community of Devizes rally akin to its own little Brexit.

With this in mind, I’m keen to hear how the subject is progressing, if at all and who better to chat to then Iain, who has not only been chief activist, but built an independent campaign for a seat on the council around the cause? Firstly though, after a tour of teddy heaven, I pondered the type of clientele Moonraker Bears attracts, surely, they wouldn’t mind paying 70p to park?

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“Exactly,” Iain expressed, “The problem our customers have is slightly different. It’s finding somewhere to park for long enough. Like our teddy workshops, many of them will come to sew a bear, and they need three or four hours, most parking is three hours maximum.” But he explained the issue is not directly for his customers, “for me, if people aren’t coming into town, they won’t discover we are here. So, the issue doesn’t affect my business as much as it does for others. It’s about the whole town being one entity, a community.”

So, where are we at the moment with the issue, what’s the current update?

“Difficult to answer, because they’re not really talking to us at the moment. Where we are; we have saved parking in the market place, after they were going to take it away permanently. Wiltshire Council had to change their mind, and led on that, really, despite town council taking credit. So, despite the machine not working, we saved some parking.” Indeed, it now costs 70p per hour, with a maximum stay of two, but tickets can only be gained via mobile phone, causing a stir, alongside the position of the machine by the Market Cross. I have to wonder if it’s placing is strategic; look at what happens if you don’t pay your share, you’ll end up like Ruth Pierce and the wrath of god will strike ye down!

“It’s a temporary machine,” he clarified, “it can be moved when a final design is decided. I feel that’s a little optimistic, because the information we have is even when a final design is put forward, it’s not going to happen for 12 to 18 months. What’s happened now, is the Town Council called a consultation, and take heed of each focus group. All the information has been published on the Town Council website; out of it a group of councillors came up with the two designs. We asked if we could be part of that process, but it was refused. So, we gave them time to come up with the plans.” As far as Iain is concerned, only one option is feasible, the second concerns the needed service road. “Everyone asked said, keep (the pedestrianised area) as small as possible,” as like we said, it isn’t broken.

This has happened to Melksham, the event area lays dormant, but while they have some greater amenities, and it’s only 40p to park, but face it, not as bustling or as charming as Devizes town centre. Sure, a lively space akin to Camden Market I’d welcome here, if it could be so. Yet, with this in mind, we need to be encouraging visitors, and thinking of creating more, and cheaper parking spaces, not reducing them, surely?

“Absolutely,” hail, Mr Wallis and I agree! “I think what both councils are not considering is that we have two distinct visitors using parking. Residents who live in the villages, who’s needs are to get in quick, do a few jobs and leave; they don’t want to pay, as they’re staying an hour, they live here so feel some ownership, pay their council tax to provide such services. Then you have the visitors, who, as you said, if you visit a town you don’t mind paying for convivence. What we seem to be forgetting about are the residents; we need to provide short-term parking for them, but at the same time, encouraging visitors to stay longer. This thing of having short-term carparks is crazy, we need all options.”

Iain thought signage for carparks is poor, and visitors find it difficult to find them, like Station Road. But the whole issue is beyond parking for Iain, “it’s about councils listening to the people who know what they’re talking about, those running businesses and using the town.” The origin of the word ‘text’ to connote a body of words stems from textiles. Weavers sat outside their houses because their material was too large to operate on inside, would hear the word on street and politicians would take notes from them, to incorporate into policies. They were the hairdressers and taxi drivers of their era! Yet, has this ancient tradition escaped our town council?

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“The way this all started, we all got around the table,” Iain added, “we were all saying this, and we were sort of being listened to. Then, all of a sudden, it was all closed doors, because the asset transfer had come up. They did this without any reference to anybody, and said we’ve done it for the best interest of the town. I have no doubt the vast majority who stand for the town council, do so with good intentions, they want to do the right thing for the town, but they don’t see the other option. The option is to get the town onboard with them, and if WC are causing the problem, we can help them change it.” Convinced they cannot do it alone, Iain expressed he doesn’t know why, but is certain it ends with Devizes losing out, “for not having effective representation at Wiltshire level.”

“We talked to the people of the town,” he told, “they said we need as much parking as possible. Would love it to be free, but actually, the fact it’s there is most important.” On the origins of the fiasco, to provide an event space, Iain could see no reason to remove those parking spaces. Wiltshire council were saying they wanted to charge £1,500 a day for the suspension of parking, despite it being free at the time. “But since the people stood up and said, ‘we don’t like this,’ WC came up with a better deal, Devizes Town Council will own the space, we operate the parking, but any day you want it for special events it will be free of charge. That’s fantastic, and now we have that, it supports things like the Full Tone Festival, which went brilliantly. That can now happen as much as possible, and if so, it happens more, and at the point there is something happening each weekend, that’s the point where we could say we do want to pedestrianize some of this space.”

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The only argument I’ve really seen positive light on regarding the issue is the environmental angle, but while Iain agreed, observed it’d only move the problem, and lobbying to provide the area with better equipped recharging points, and availability for next generation vehicles is better, but another issue.

Herein lies our task, and why the issue involves Devizine, as we aim to promote and encourage events in our town. So, I finish by asking Iain if he feels the issue is akin to our own little Brexit! “I feel there’s a lot of parallels there! Similar is that it’s a problem of their own devising. We don’t have to have any changes to the market place.” Personally, he is up for making the area look as nice as it can be, but expresses the costing of the changes, and concerns himself that the Town Council haven’t costed the alterations effectually.

“We never campaigned for free parking,” Iain said, “only for fair parking.” Waffling on about the cost to councils for providing free parking on business rates.” Whatever, all I know is if it’s 40p in the Sham, but 70p here, people will shop elsewhere, and how can this move possibly be in the best interest to the town?

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The fight continues, I proposed to Iain if he feels it will get to the drastic stage of organising a protest. “I prefer to be collaborative, but it’s interesting to look at the fact the change came, the council doing a U-turn, came after a lot of the public attended the meetings. So, it may have to come to that, or a vote of no-confidence in the Council. I think it’s a last resort, but are we not getting to that last resort?”

I’ll let you decide, I’ve ironically near overstayed my parking limit, but thank Iain for his lengthy opinions on this pressing issue and the tour of his wonderful teddy bear shop!

Join The Devizes Future Market Place Facebook group for updates and information


© 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 – Lark In The Park (Hillworth), Kimberley Rew @ The Southgate, Eddie Witcomb@ White Bear, Devizes

In The Wet And The Dry

Andy Fawthrop

Another busy Sunday afternoon of free music gigs around the town.

First to Hillworth Park for the much under-advertised “Lark In The Park”. I’ve heard of stealth marketing, but sometimes I think Fantasy Radio can take this too far. I saw/ heard very little about this, apart from one post on Facebook, so I wasn’t surprised to turn up an hour after the start of this event to find very few people there. Granted the weather forecast wasn’t great, but I suspect they’d get bigger audiences if they told a few more people what was going on. I managed to catch Clare doing a short set before the heavens opened in mid-afternoon then, like others, took refuge in the café for a coffee. Once it became obvious that the rain wasn’t going to stop any time soon, the few brave souls who’d turned up just melted away. I decided to join them. Bit of a wash-out.

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Fortunately the Southgate is just round the corner so I settled in there with a pint, and was soon joined by friends. The entertainment was provided by Kimberley Rew on guitar, and his wife & partner-in-crime Lee Cave-Berry on bass. Rew’s main claim to fame is having been guitarist and song-writer with Katrina & The Waves, having penned their big hit “Walking on Sunshine”, followed later in 1999 by “Love Shine A Light” when the band won the Eurovision Song Contest (remember that??). Since the band’s demise, Rew has produced a string of solo albums, and has clearly not lost the knack of writing catchy tunes.

The duo served up plenty of bop-along material, blending riffs from pop, boogie-woogie, rock and blues. There was some fine lead guitar from Rew, and solid vocals from both. If anything, it was a bit too exciting for a rainy Sunday afternoon, but absolutely nobody was complaining. It certainly blew out the cobwebs.

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By the end of their first set, the weather had started behaving itself again, and the sun made a belated appearance. So I made my way back down into town, and to the White Bear to catch Eddie Witcomb.

Eddie hails from up the road in Marlborough, and he’d pulled along his dad and a mate or two. So we had the start of a small, but beautifully-formed, audience which grew in size as the afternoon turned into early evening. Eddie did two sets, nicely blending his own very personal material with some carefully selected covers. We were treated to his versions of “Paranoid”, “Roxanne”, “Tears In Heaven” and “Stand By Me”, amongst others. His own songs were well-turned, featuring some fine playing, and delicate vocals. It was a mark of the quality of these songs, that they were as strongly received as the covers. His style was relaxed, and he was fully ready to engage in banter with the audience. He did confide that he was playing with a bit of a hangover, but if he was there was very little sign of it.

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So another great (free) Sunday of music around the town. I think we just shaded it – Weather 1, Music 2, and we all went home happy yet again.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (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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REVIEW – The Bone Chapel @ The Southgate, Devizes

No Bones About It!

Andy Fawthrop

Another little stroll up the hill on Saturday night to The Gate to see Swindon-based The Bone Chapel.

Drawn in by their billing as “cosmic Blues featuring broken guitars, shamanic percussion and whisky- soaked original songs of salvation, damnation, lost dreams, hope and love”, I had to admit I was intrigued to see if that was actually what they delivered. TBH it wasn’t. I’m not sure that any of that was ever actually on offer, just nicely-turned marketing bollocks. But on the positive side I did get to see and hear a rather excellent band.

The duo, consisting of guitar/ vocals and drums, got off to a gentle, laid-back start. It took a little while to get the crowd actually listening, rather than chatting, but once they got into their stride, things picked up quite a bit. There was nothing showy, nothing forced or strained, just some very competent blues and boogie-woogie. Folks started dancing and getting into the swing. We got some nice covers, including a great version of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, which went down a storm. And, for a mere two-piece, they laid down some great sounds, and nicely-textured toons.

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There were no broken guitars – but there was some great playing. There was no shamanic percussion – but there was good drumming. The crowd built, the crowd stayed, and the crowd liked what they heard. Can’t say fairer than that.

Another good gig – thanks Debs & Dave!

Future gigs at The Southgate (all FREE) are:

Friday 16th August: Broken Bones Matilda
Saturday 17th August: The Corsairs
Friday 23rd August: Beyond The Storm
Saturday 24th August: Sophia & The Soul Brothers
Sunday 25th August: Vince Bell
Friday 30th August: Daydream Runaways
Sunday 1st September: Gary Hall


© 2017-2019 Devizine (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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Spectacular Space-Bots at the Shoebox; Family Performance & Drama Workshop

Swindon’s Shoebox Theatre are getting excited to welcome Edalia Day to the Theatre, as part of their Artist Residency Programme, and invite children aged 7-12 to join in the fun!

Edalia will be developing a new piece of theatre called ‘Spectacular Spacebots.’ It’s a new family show about autism and space adventures. The children will be sharing a relaxed, work-in-progress performance with an after-show Q&A on Saturday the 21st of September.

Join Zee, robot adventurer, as they battle space wizards, gunslingers and a quizzical hippopotamus, asking what does it mean to be human. And how far do you have to go to be accepted as one…

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But the fun doesn’t stop there! There will also be an opportunity for to take part in a FREE pre-show workshop with Edalia.

In this physical workshop, you’ll play improvisation games and learn how Edalia makes theatre. Exploring the voice and movement of digital characters and acting alongside them, using a mixture of wordplay, puppetry, chorus and physical comedy.

Workshop: Saturday, 21st September, 11am-12.00 Midday
How much? FREE!
Suitable for ages 7-12

Work in Progress Performance and Q&A: Saturday, 21st September, 13.00pm
How much: £3

Suitable for all the family aged 5+
Approx. runtime: 45min

Book at www.shoeboxtheatre.org.uk/whatson


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Final Thought on Spider-Milk-Man Day!

There’s been a few fond memories out there on the milk run, but today was the pinnacle. I think you’ve seen the coverage, maybe you’ve heard enough about it all now, but I have to say yet again, a massive thanks to everyone who donated and supported this bizarre fundraising erm, thing.

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Image by Gail Foster, thanks Gail!

Here’s some photos and videos of the shift, which simply wouldn’t have been the same without Wonder Woman turning up in Bottlesford to help. I was a drying drowned rat by this point, and it gave me that extra boost to continue. At the last count, we raised £1,238, which is simply incredible.

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Image by Gail Foster

If you do Facebook, the video diary is up there to see, starts a bit dark, middles with despair and thoughts of if Spiderman would make it of the storm aplenty, the culmination was simply delightful, and the conclusion left me trundling off on my own again, hoping this was not the end to my friendship with the adorable Carmela, Lucy and Darren. We will continue to support and publicise all the great fundraising actions of others for this worthy cause, and I wish Carmela and her family all the very best wishes.

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Here’s the link to their website, if you’d like more information.

Enough blabbering, here’s the photos of what has been a great adventure.

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Image by Gail Foster

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REVIEW – George Wilding @ Cellar Bar, Bear Hotel, Devizes

Andy Fawthrop

Images by Gail Foster

George Goes Wild For Charity

 

We all have different approaches to raising money for charity. Some of us lie naked in a bath full of cold baked beans. Some of us shave off all our hair. And some of us choose to terrorise the local neighbourhood by driving a milk float dressed in a Spiderman onesie. [what kind of idiot would even contemplate that?! ED] Each to their own. But some people go for a more straight-forward approach and simply put on a musical benefit night (so as not to frighten the neighbours).

And so it was that Mirko Pangrazzi put on a concert to raise funds for specialist treatment for brain damage for his son Liam. And so it was that we all dutifully piled in to the Cellar Bar last night to support him. Of course The Cellar Bar as a venue would have been a pretty poor attraction in its own right, but thankfully there was the irrepressible George Wilding to light up the evening for us.

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You’ve got to admire George for his sheer versatility. Not only did he showcase some of his own (very good) material, but he belted out covers from right across the musical spectrum. I love the way he’s prepared to have a crack at almost anything, sometimes discovering half-way through a number that he can’t remember the rest of it. But it doesn’t matter. Every number is good fun anyway. I’ve recently started to think of him as a sort of human juke-box, such is his range. And he delivers it all with enormous energy and great good humour.

To be honest – he was playing to a good roomful of friends and fans, but I don’t think it would have made the slightest difference – the boy would’ve been super-good whatever the circumstances.

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But amid all the great music, the wonderful atmosphere, and the cracking-good entertainment, it would have been easy to forget why we were all there. Turns out that financially it was a great success, with over £300 raised for Liam. So the crowd were not only enthusiastic, but also very generous.

It was good to see Mirko back at the helm in the Cellar Bar again, good to see George on absolute top form, and great to see a good crowd enjoying themselves. Great night.

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© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop/Gail Foster)
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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Take the Imberbus from 17th August

This year’s main Imberbus event will be held on Saturday 17th August 2019 when we expect to use more than 25 old and new Routemaster buses to operate from Warminster to Imber and other points on Salisbury Plain. We will … Continue reading →

via Imberbus 2019 — Imberbus


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Spider-Milk-Man to the Rescue

Last workday today dressed in my civilian clothes, tomorrow I transform into Spiderman; don’t get the overexcited, it’s just a onesie! I could claim Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s 1962 magnum opus superhero was aptly selected for its pioneering adolescent protagonist role, its dealings with themes of inadequacy, and loneliness, as being milkman can be a solitary shift, and I’m quite young, honest! But no, its just that’s the onesie I got from the kids one Christmas past.

I don’t wear it, hardly, only upon my return home from a rainy day when I’m soaked. This Friday though, with an unfortunate forecast of rain, it may be the onesie that’s soaked. Still, I cannot see reason to postpone it unless all hell breaks loose weather-wise. Friday is also ideal, as you know how it is on that day, people just want to make a break for it in their car, get to work and do their time; last thing they need is Spiderman holding them up in a milk-float! Friday is the day I get the highest number of disgruntled drivers yelling abuse at me; let’s see how those Green Goblins deal with the web-slinger!

The idea to this was toyed in my mind for a while now, and when Lucy Chillery-Watson sent Devizine an event poster she needed sharing, we did, but I wanted to do more. We’ve done a few charity gigs, and summer is a full calendar, so here’s something rather different, quirky and fun. I hoped it’d capture some attention, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response.

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So, I’m delighted to announce, on my last check, together with online donations and the wonderful customers on my round,

we have raised £1,095 to date!

This is absolutely incredible, proper chuffed I am with this, which has more than doubled any fundraiser we’ve had on Devizine. It really proves to me that this is more than an event guide, shaping the way I envisioned, it really can be a community media product and do some good work.

You can still donate here!

Yet, as well as our exceptionally kind and generous customers at Planks Dairies, and everyone who has donated online too, I have to thank other media resources who have gathered around this to help. Joanne of the Gazette & Herald, Emma and George at Fantasy Radio, and I believe I still need to call back Richard at BBC Wiltshire Sound too. Even Claire Perry, despite often being the butt of the joke here on Devizine, has shown she’s a sport and retweeted our campaign!

I’m sure we’ll have some photos, and I will try to make a video stream onto our Facebook page at intervals throughout the morning. Please come out and laugh, I mean cheer. I’ll also stop outside the Bear Hotel, if I see some of you chanting! It’s impossible for me to give an exact time, but I’d estimate about 9:45-10am.

Somewhere between Woodbrough and Bottlesford I may meet my nemesis, Wonder Woman. The most heart-warming part will be Carmela and Lucy joining me for the final stage of my shift, fusing the Marvel and DC universes with undoubtably cataclysmic consequences!

Here’s a message then, from the real superhero:

My only concern is after tomorrow, life goes back to normal, but I hope I’ve made a five-year-old friend; Carmela is such a little fighter, who always has a smile. There’s far more daring, courageous and vigorous fundraising attempts happening to help, including her Dad, Darren, who’s in training for the London Marathon 2020; rather you than me, Darren! Click here for more details.

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There’s People Like Us at the Three Crowns

Images used with kind permission of Nick Padmore

Featured image by Andy Fawthrop

Yeah, proper job that; is this anyway to start a formal and highly articulated review? Do I care, you were there, wasn’t you? It’s that pub in town which yesteryear used to have nicotine stained wallpaper peeling off the wall, which you’d get a tobacco hit from just standing close to. Now the Three Crowns is chic, Wadworthshire flavoured and very much a part of contemporary Devizes pub culture. It may not be home to live music every weekend, but it has its moments, and when it does it goes down a little something like this Sunday, when our pop cover favourites, People Like Us took over and hosted an afternoon in aid of Julia’s House.

Even CD sales from the support artists went into the charity pot, and when they’re none other than the lady like Tamsin Quin, and that local master of melancholic acoustic, Mr Vince Bell, you know it’ll be a homegrown winner. I noted a Pikachu in the toy shop window with a Sherlock Holmes hat, but if my son would like it was a fleeting thought as the mellow sound of saxophone drifted from the pub and drew me in.

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Jimmy Sax was the fellow’s name, quite apt considering. After only a short period he’d mastered the sexiest brass instrument known to jazz, and presented us with some sassy sunny covers. I was reminded by our writer Andy, this was the second year of the charity event, that I was a fool to miss the last one, and my judgement on the décor of the Three Crowns went out with the Mesozoic era; what can I say, they don’t let me out much. The sun though, was scorching last year, Andy expressed, and while it stayed this way for Tamsin, who took the gazebo stage next, bin bags were sought for the speakers, in time for Vince Bell, as that tropical drizzle patted down.

Though climate could never distract, the crowd was both building and buzzing, you’d be forgiven to forgetting this was Sunday, a day usually reserved for homecooked roast dinner and perhaps strimming hedges. Yet I was informed the Sunday roast here was something rather special, and affordable at around a tenner a pop too. And those who partook stuck around to see the live show. It’s been a while since I heard Tamsin sing, although galivanting and making a name for herself, she, and Vince were at the Southgate Friday with Jamie, Phil and Pat. Still, for me, it was great to hear how much more self-assured and proficient she now comes across, but delightfully retaining her trademark air of gregarious and welcoming essence, which projects through her songs and banter. Tamsin was keen to tell me about new recordings she’d been making, and I’ll be thrilled to tell you about them when the time comes.

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Vince set up next, I never tire of Ship of Fools, his magnum opus in my opinion, and the plethora of his intelligently crafted songs. Like Dylan could do in his heyday, timeworn, he now just goes through the notions. There is never anything mundane about Vince’s mellow moods, as he delivers them with such an astonishingly acute appetite; no ego, just, captivating passion. Then he rounds up with the facetious tribute to Devizes, which would soar overhead of “outsiders,” but is welcomed here with audience participation.

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By six, People Like Us livened up to the point of a dance frenzy, for it’s what they do best, and herein lies the secret formula to a successful and enjoyable afternoon; when support artist are encouraged to do their own thing, what typifies Devizes music scene, is knowing acceptable, and for this People Like Us bought us something special, their share shines every time.

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Through Don Henley to Bruno Mars, from Maroon 5 to Evanescence, and Coldplay to Metallica, it’s an exclusive and unique take on a Now album archive, finished with a slick overcoat in something almost Californian beatnik bubble-gum, yet matured over beechwood, ever proficient and polished; it’s Devizes, and its danceable fun. They could manage this electric atmosphere in our crustier pubs, they’ll do the same in a glitzy sports bar, it just works universally, simple. Catch People Like Us at the Owl in Bromham this Saturday.

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Amalgamate this with the hospitable crowd, and it’s a pleasant, Devizes styled episode of Cheers; where everybody knows your name. Nick, you are “Norm!”


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow, Nick Padmore, 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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Photo-Bombing; what? It’s my newfound hobby to make it look like I’ve got friends

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Devizes part funded a zero-waste system at The Healthy Life

The community of Devizes has part funded a zero-waste system at The Healthy Life Devizes. They now stock 50 zero-waste refill products from foods, to toiletries and household products.

Since putting in the scheme they have saved refilled over 700 bottles and saved over 4,000 plastic bags going to Landfill.

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There will be workshops and courses teaching you how to make products from September.  Listening to our Devizes community and sell a mixture of Organic and Non-Organic products. The remainder of our products are now being transferred to either Biodegradable bags or a recycling service for our own brand.

If there are any products you would like to see them stock, Healthy Life encourage you get in touch. If you want to buy bulk with a group of friends, they can help with this too. Join the newsletter mailout for vouchers and information via the new online store: www.yourhealthylifeshop.co.uk

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Mirko, and 10p Mix Up

Monday afternoon, three days prior to DOCA broadcasting the date for next year’s carnival and I’m chilling in the beer garden of the British Lion with Mirko Pangrazzi. He needs no introduction to anyone into the local music scene, he’s the former coordinator of gigs at the Cellar Bar, a large part of the Saddleback committee, and the brav’ uomo who’ll fix your guitar proper job.

We reflected on this year’s Saddleback Festival, and the announcement for the next, but this was not why we were having a pint. Neither was the first subject on the table, this Thursday (August 8th,) when George Wilding plays the Cellar Bar.

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The door tax is just £3, and most importantly is a fundraiser for Liam. At birth he suffered Hypoglycaemia and associated brain injury. We’ve mentioned Liam previously, here, who at three days old suffered Hypoglycaemia and associated brain injury. Now six years old, Liam suffers from multi-focal epilepsy, global developmental delay and is also visually impaired as a result of this trauma. Recently his family discovered a medical doctor in Egypt who specialises in healing brain injuries by combining medical and holistic approaches, and hopes to raise some funds to get Liam to Egypt.

I checked it’s “just George,” rather than the band, Wilding, and Mirko confirmed it was. Yet I retracted my word “just,” as its hardly worthy of this imminent local legend. We are here to chat about 10p Mix Up, a band who will follow George’s lead with a gig at the Cellar Bar in support of Liam, on Thursday 12th September, but who you may not have heard of, yet. “So, yes,” Mirko unveiled, “then there is us. I suppose you could call it an Irish band, not strictly Irish, but mainly.”

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“Folk inspired?” I asked, followed by questioning if it was to be originals or covers.

“We haven’t started writing yet,” he explained, “least I mean, I started a while back, but we’ve struggled to find the time to finish stuff up. So, we’re only playing covers at the minute.”

Keen to stress they viewed it as a bit of fun, meeting up and jamming, now they feel ready to go live. Aside a private party in August, this will be the unveiling of 10p Mix Up. “So, I look forward to that,” and so do I, it will be interesting to see Mirko playing, rather than in the crowd with the dedicated support he has shown for others, and I’m confident it will be returned. Afterwards they plan to polish off the writing and bring us some originals.

“How many people in the band, Mirko?” I asked.

“Four; me, Bill Hicks, Phil Hore, and Pete. So, I play guitar and mandolin, Bill plays and accordion harmonica, Pete plays tin whistle and fiddle, and Phil sings; the only Irishman, so he sings!” Mirko disclosed the covers though would be “stuff you’d expect, The Wild Rover, The Irish Rover, Fields of Athenry, Streets of New York, standard Irish stuff, with a couple of more English things thrown in…” Again though, Mirko stressed it was just a bit of fun. Do they feel confident at this stage?

“We’re ready to go now, ready to move on and get better,” he responded, unveiling a formula of monthly gigs, allowing time for rehearsing and clamping on writing material too. I pondered song writing, as much as I’d like to, I get stuck with cliché; all ideas have been done, haven’t they? Must be especially true in Irish folk?

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“Everything has, it’s only your take on it. I’m all in favour of taking bits and bobs, when it happens, everybody does, everybody always did.” Mirko expressed his thoughts on writing for an Irish band, “something new to me. I can’t write about, you know, drugs and shit, like I used to when I was a kid in a punk band; rebellion, and all this!” Confessing he wasn’t too aware of Irish culture.

I pointed out, subject surely comes from the heart, and culture closer to home. It’s no good a country band singing of boxcars and dustbowls if they come from Trowbridge. When Vince sings “nobody gets out of here alive,” referring insular feeling of small towns, it’s Devizes. Should it be a distant style, can themes be generalised?

“You write what you write,” Mirko replied, “I find it a challenge to write about things I don’t know shit about, why not? Sometimes I find it just comes out, others it needs adjustments to fall into a signature. Other times you can build it, by learning something.” He finalised the thought with drafts of a song he was working on, editing it thoroughly to fit with a melody.

So, what’s in a name then?

“10p Mix Up,” Mirko enlightened, “is something Phil suggested; in the old days in Ireland, you could get a random bag of sweets, called a 10p mix up.” So, it relates to the variety of songs? “Yes, and also, it’s a bit of a mix up; I’m Italian, two Englishmen and an Irishman. We thought it suits the situation.”

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It was Mirko’s idea to start the band in December, recognising the gap in the market for fun, party Irish folk. I pointed out Cath and Gouldy of Sound Affects is the only thing similar here. Mirko got technical with the unruly nature of Irish folk’s composition, making the music stimulating. He also debated the tempo, wishing for frenetic when Phil desired slower. “Songs that people recognise,” Mirko expressed the importance of, “Whisky in Jar, things like that; we’re not there look pretty, we’re there have a good evening and want people to take it on.”

At open mic at the Cellar Bar the band did a set, crowds expressed their fondness, for this is something different, a tenet they want, and something we look forward to hearing.


© 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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Silverlands “Supposed” Playpark

Melksham’s £236,000 Splashpad sees its grand opening today, August 3rd, at the King George Playing Field. As well as children having a good time splashing around, with a beach-styled day of celebration including ice cream and fish n chips, it is just part of a wider program of improvements reserved for the King George Playing Field. This is simply brilliant, and should be held up as testament to what Town Councils can achieve for our young; metaphorically held up that is, take it too literally all the water would drain off it!

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Naturally, adults of Devizes rushed to their Facebook groups to bleat that’s not fair, they’ve got a splashpad, I want a splashpad, I want a splashpad now, Devizes Town Council! For what it’s worth the idea has been passed around town council meetings, but such a plan took the Sham two years to complete, so, plenty of time to brush the idea under a see-saw.

Meanwhile though, I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the village of Rowde, where the Silverlands Road playpark is in the same state of dilapidation as it has been for over three years. I’ve made my statement to the Rowde Parish Council, told them I would kick up a fuss, I know some of them know Devizine can kick up quite a fuss, and they know I know I can kick up a fuss, and so on.

But I’ve been assured they’ve taken heed, and the notion has been raised again since the meeting I attended in Spring. But it should be pointed out, the playing field is not their property, rather the final playpark outpost of Wiltshire Council; councillors love to slide! As control of such county recreation grounds have been passed to parish and town councils, we can see at Melksham the effect it has had, yet Rowde Parish Council rightly want the play equipment to be repaired before acquisition.

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So, it’s been lingering, lost in limbo for many a year; I’ve been biting my bottom lip but it’s just worn thin. The legal process, the minutes state as published in Rowde Village News, will take two years to complete. I’m unsure if they’ve come to an agreement over its repair, and whether the two years begin now, or when the said agreement is finalised. Yet, local politics isn’t my bag, I’m afraid. See, I don’t give a dingo’s kidney for this red tape battle, all I am writing this for is for you to see and assess yourself how dangerous this playpark has become and how ludicrously listless Wiltshire Council have been.

As school in Rowde is kaput for the day, the kids flock to the nearby park, why, for the past few years is quite a mystery to me; only half of the four pieces of equipment are functional, and they are primally for toddlers. Yes, give children an area and they will make do and their imaginings could conjure an adventure playground akin to Bowood, but the actual is quite another thing. The grass is irregularly cut, and when it is it’s simply strimmed over leaving thistles and stinging nettles to thrive. One of two swings was damaged, about two years ago, so it was stripped out along with the second swing for good measure, and the stand is left as a vacant testimony to some swings that once was. This is not, however, an overhead issue quite as much as the bouncy chicken who once lived in the park. He is the icing on the cake.

Ah, the bouncy chicken, alas I remember him so well. Yep, he got injured, and was taken to bouncy playpark heaven. All that remains of his existence is this cold, steel baseplate which cries out “hey kid, come trip over me!”

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I’ve snapped a photo of it for your perusal, deemed “completely safe” for a playpark by Wiltshire Council, this metal baseplate protrudes two inches above the surface, with a sharp broken edge. I’ve witnessed some kids trip on it, my concern is rather one tripping close to it and hitting their head; backed up by that safety flooring stuff worn and curled up at the edges. That’s gonna hurt, Wiltshire Council, and for why, why could you not fix it, be proactive?

Fix it, hand the darn thing over to the parish council. Children have grown up with it and the next generation are already blossoming while you’ve been quarrelling like children yourself over thepitiful red tape. Fix it and I will campaign and fund raise for improvements, my daughter suggested a death slide, perhaps OTT, yet there’s a few councillors who clearly need pushing down one! No, I mean some older activities, as the kids here have grown while waiting; a football goal, a bench to “hang out” on, simple stuff like that.

Perhaps you shrug, understandable, when you were a kid the playpark was a dangerous concrete monstrosity. Kids fell, heads were smashed open, but you were hardy, you just scooped up spilled brains with dirty, fruit salad and black jack sticky hands, popped them back in your cranium and continued to play. I really don’t need a school-of-hard-knocks debate, I don’t care if you don’t care cos your kids don’t play there, and I’m not belittling Melksham’s finest playpark hour, for I’m truly impressed by this grand opening.

I’m only here to hold this farcical display of negligence up as a demonstration to Wiltshire Council’s complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of village children. You want Wiltshire Council to fix up the roads, provide adequate street lighting, deliver a working infrastructure? They can’t even fix a blasted bouncy chicken.


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A Touching Conclusion to Clifton’s First Marlborough Open Studio

If you need a feelgood story this week, as the Marlborough Open Studios closes for another year, newcomer to the event and our friend here at Devizine, artist Clifton Powell made a big impact with a heart-warming conclusion.

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Founder member of the Marlborough Open Studios, Elizabeth Scott exhibited every year from 1985 at her studio at Minal, until she moved to Savernake Forest in 2006. There she continued to show in Newbury Open Studios.

Elizabeth starting as a photographer in Rome in the 1960s, where she chronicled Italy through the many people she met there. She settled into family life in Wiltshire in the 1980s and the inheritance of dark room equipment from her brother-in-law led her to study photography at Swindon College.

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Commissioned to produce a series of local portraits, she gained an interest in painting. This second half of her artistic career took her from Marlborough College Summer School to study at the Slade Summer School at St Ives, the Verocchio Arts Centre in Italy and more recently for the Rabley Drawing Centre. Her painting, drawing and etching from these travels, along with inspiration from the Wiltshire downs were all shown in her open studios and exhibited further afield.

All this came to an abrupt halt in 2017 when Elizabeth had a pulmonary embolism, following a number of mini strokes. Determined to keep up her art she joined a local watercolour class and then was offered a place in an Arts Together group in Pewsey. This is where she met Clifton Powell, one of a number of volunteer artists who lead the groups.

Marlborough Open Studios chose an annual charity to support, and this year it was Arts Together. If you recall, I spent a special day visiting Clifton at a group in Melksham, here is how it went, it also goes some way to explain the importance of the work Arts Together does.

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This final weekend of the Open Studios came to an emotional pinnacle for Clifton, who was displaying some of Elizabeth’s work within his own open studio exhibit in Potterne. Elizabeth made a surprise visit at the studio. She took great pleasure in seeing her work on show again. Good friend, Bev said, “The whole family came, eight of them, all the way from London, and they had a family picnic in our lounge! It was very touching.”

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Her family commented, “Arts Together has been without doubt the most human and empathetic support offered to her during difficult times.” Showing some of Elizabeth’s work at this year’s Open Studios was an opportunity to both honour her work as an artist, her founding contribution to Open Studios and the ongoing work of Arts Together.

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© 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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