Festival of Winter Ales: the line-up….

I’ll hold my hands up, somebody put half an ale in one, because my guilty confession is, I’ve not yet had the opportunity to doDOCA’s annual Festival of Winter Ales. This’ll change this year, attendees will have the added bonus of me sauntering about dribbling piffle, but if I tell you what acts are appearing, it won’t put you off too much!


If, like me, you’re an apple-a-day chap, you’ll be pleased to note as it’s held in collaboration with Stealth Brewery, they’ve ciders as well as ale. Our man Andy Fawthrop tells me there’s usually ten-twelve types of cider; just enough for me! That said, when in Rome; I maybe, just maybe, open to ale conversion for the duration only. Double-whammy, to soak it up they have to pie too. Andy can’t review it though, as he’s there in a professional calibre, and I simply won’t allow anyone to review an event they helped organise ……ehm …. (okay; in-house joke if you note our last article it might, I said might, just amuse.)

Matt Barnard pint
Matt Barnard

So, down to me then, a harsh critic softened by alcohol. But Matt Barnard I suspect will swing it. DOCA aim to make it cabaret; Matt has performed across the world as a compere, actor, musician, singer and as himself in this unique one man show he brings to the festival.

He was the resident compere of the cult Sensation Seekers Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, starred in London’s oldest variety show in the West End in and performed his unique act at the famous London Palladium. He also appeared in the Hollywood movie Mrs Henderson Presents in which he performed the famous sand-dance with Gareth Jones. Matt Barnard has won many awards for his solo show including at the Feldkircher Gaukler Theatre Festival in Austria.

Matt Bernard
Just because Matt Barnard does it, doesn’t mean you should try this at home

It should be noted the festival spans over Friday and Saturday (28th and 29th February.) Saturday is divided into two sessions. While Matt covers all, there’s a different act for each session; pleased to see they’re some of our local favs. I imagine half-cut real ale fans ushered out via a digital sign, like at the Oasis leisure centre, “yellow wristbands your time is up!” But attendees on Friday, for example, might not ever leave (another local joke); Devizes-own Vince Bell booked and all. We need not bio Vince, surely? His emotive lyrics, constructed from personal experience or annotations of the area are always delivered with passion, proper job.

vince bell
You ain’t ever leaving.  Our Vince. Image by Nick Padmore

Swindon-based folk-rock five-piece, Splat The Rat slap the Friday late slot too. Taking songs of old and giving them a modern going over, they’ve nailed many great gigs locally, none I’ve personally witnessed, but they’re high on my things-to-do list. Expect lively arrangements, singalong songs and a rousing good time. https://www.facebook.com/splattherat/

splat the rat
Splat the Rat

Things get complicated Saturday afternoon. An extensive cross-section of original songs and rearranged covers, It’s Complicated make them their own. Yet it’s not just what they do with It’s Complicated, it’s the way that they do it! Take it from me, it’s not complicated at all, in fact it’s simply enticing, marvellously professional, and when Jacqueline sings Etta James, oh my. https://www.facebook.com/Its-Complicated-364813334370698/

It’s Complicated

Worthy to note, if you do this slot, you could jog over to the Town Hall and catch them again, with Daydream Runaways. I’m planning to; you could carry me! Devizes Town Hall plays host to a black-tie Casino Royale evening for Just4Children’s ‘Carmela’s Fight to Stay Mobile.’ See here for details.


Unfortunately, the Casino Royale night at the Town Hall has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales.

Kris Dollimore
Kris Dollimore

Back at the Corn Exchange Saturday night is all about Kris Dollimore. He’s played with many international bands and artists including The Godfathers, The Damned, Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Thunders. He’s also a member of Del Amitri. As a solo artist Kris has toured the length and breadth of the UK & Europe performing at clubs, venues and festivals. He has also released four critically acclaimed solo albums. Kris’s guitar skills have always been admired in whichever genre he has played. A man, a guitar and a voice. With a largely acoustic repertoire, precision playing is expected and delivered, earning him a hard core following of loyal fans and admirers. Expect bluesy guitar playing, soulful singing, and foot stomping sounds. https://www.facebook.com/KrisDollimoreMusic/

I’m looking forward to (hic!) breaking my Winter of Festive Ales cherry, be there, tickets here, see if I can handle it!

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