Night for the Waiblingen Way Fire Fund

Featured image by Gail Foster.

All Images by Nick Padmore, unless otherwise stated.

Reviewing my own organised event being a slightly naughty and obviously bias idea, I’d still like to notify you how it went. View this then as a journal entry of my weekend as opposed to a review, per se, and the opportunity to thank everyone who kindly offered their time to help…. 

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Chloe Jordan

Returned now from a frosty Sunday morning in Potterne; my son had a taster piano lesson at CJ School of Music. Andrew Hurst presented a one-on-one introduction to music in such a friendly and humble manner he was immediately absorbed, and playing a simple tune in under half-hour. It’s something I cannot help him with; not a musical note in me, but I have a fascination and respect for those who can; you knew that much.

Coincidently his lesson should be the morning after the originator of this wonderful and newly opened music school, soprano singer Chloe Jordan, held a surprised Cellar Bar spellbound. Not before thirteen-year-old piano prodigy Will Foulstone, a pupil of CJ’s music school did likewise. Will featured on Devizine back in April 2018, when a video of him playing attracted the interest of Danny O’Donoghue, frontman and pianist of The Script and coach on the Voice UK. A surprise meeting with Danny saw Will jamming with The Script at the O2 arena.

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The Amazing Will Foulstone. My dodgy photography!

Well, our Cellar Bar may not be the O2 arena, but Will was welcomed, and his piano interpretations of era-spanning pop was the perfect opening for our fundraiser. For though it maybe a January night where the temperature nose-dived, a fair crowd turned out, in what I wanted to be a celebration of how our town can bond and support in crisis, rather than a sombre occasion. Yet with the collaboration of an assorted bunch of local acts, it reflected both moods equally, I feel. For Liz Denbury has already done a sterling job, raising £4,000 for those affected by December’s fire in the flats of Waiblingen Way. If this could top it up it would’ve been nice, but I was determined not to pressure for any contribution, as so many have already chipped in. Delighted to report then, the evening raised a further £292 for the cause.

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While the Cellar Bar hosts the brilliant Open Mic nights, every last Thursday of the month, I’d wager such diversity to appease my eclectic taste buds and especially, a soprano singer casting so wonderfully into the air the sound of opera, has not been seen in the venue for many-a-year. Though accompanist Susan Braunton and Chloe best played to the crowd, and wowed them with popular offerings, such as the Frozen theme, a Greatest Show song, and an own-penned amusing children’s song, as well as opera. Best heard in a church or concert hall, Chloe won the hearts of an alternative crowd, if leaving us with a dilemma of how to follow such a class appearance.

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Liz Denbury who set up the Waiblingen Way Fire Fund. You can still donate here.

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Mirko & Bran; The Celtic Roots Collective

Contrast, the order of the day. A switch to folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective. A duo who simply improve with every gig, in confidence and technique. Their brand of an Irish folk style throws known foot-tappers and rock songs into the melting pot. Through Whisky in a Jar, Dirty Old Town they rode, to traditional songs and the Irish Rover; with their help, things were beginning to return to the Cellar Bar’s usual ethos.

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Unscheduled but always welcomed at our gigs, poet Gail Foster arrived with two poignant sonnets, relating to the cause and delivered with personal emotion, “You didn’t see me, right?” and “Come, Friendly Bulldozers to Wobbly Way.” Thank you, Gail, spot on as usual; I’m so glad you made it.

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Gail Foster

Time for acoustic singer-songwriter, Ben Borrill and guitar to step up to the cobblestone stage, and he did with gusto, humour and his untroubled attitude to performance. This cool and modesty grounds underestimation of Ben in some, I feel, who launched into covers with ease, causally making them his own, and it exhibited in eminence, skill and entertainment value, which was also touching, considering why we were there.

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It’s no wonder our headline act looks to Ben as their choicest support act. After a few words of thanks from Liz Denbury, it was time for the band who’d been hanging around all afternoon setting up gear, to finally conclude the night. Doubtless was I, that Daydream Runaways would capture the audience with a lively finale, but with augmented professionalism since I last saw them live, they exceeded my expectation.

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Daydream Runaways. Image by Gail Foster

I was honoured, as prior to the opening, I was treated to a taster while they tuned, and retained the secret they’d cover Blur’s Song Two, for instance. It was there we spoke of future plans. Being we’ve fondly reviewed their singles, I asked whether an album was in the pipeline. It’s never a simple question in this era of changing formats, I know some hold favouritism of EPs, whereby others strive for an album. This caused a differing opinion between drummer Brad Kinsey and guitarist Cameron Bianchi, but without tension they debated the idea. Diplomacy between gentle banter displays strong unity in this Swindon-Devizes amalgamation, both on and offstage. Despite powerfully-themed tunes such as Closing the Line, with despairing narrative of the closure of the Honda Plant in Swindon, I sense unison, but figure they’ve not reached their magnum opus yet. Hold tight for that moment.

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With youth on their side, Daydream Runaways need not daydream at all, and it seems plans are little more than to continue on the current path. Thoroughly relishing every moment projects to the audience for The Daydreamers, they lap it up. Frontman, for want of a better term as they’re glue, Ben Heathcote oozes enthusiasm and unveils this joyful aura over the crowd, with the talent to back it up. Meanwhile bassist, Nath Heathcote seems quietly confident of their astounding impact.

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Fused with a selection of classic indie favourites, they slide in their own compositions unabridged and without complaint, as if these are equal in importance to the crowd, as they obviously are to the band. After just over a year, I honestly think they’re fast becoming so. This comes from hard work and dedication, and it really shows in this lively indie-pop four-piece. I may have high hopes for these guys, but after tonight the crowd at the Cellar Bar have joined those at Vinyl Realm’s stage at the Street Festival, and the Southgate in understanding why I crowned them best newcomer this year.

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Phew, what a blinding finale to an awesome night, I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for their absolutely brilliant and individual performances. I also thank the staff at the Cellar Bar, to Liz, and obviously all who braved the winter chill to join us. It’s heart-warming and makes Devizine feel actual to me to stage such events. A big thank you also goes to Mike Barham, for despite having to venture off with his band Nerve Endings and not getting to fulfil the bill this time, rolled in earlier than I to setup and do the tech stuff. With quality such as this, I’d welcome the idea of future fundraising gigs which celebrate all that’s amazing on our local scene; cheers to all, see you at the next one!

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