No Surprises Locked Down in Devizes: Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part rant; just in case you didn’t have enough yesterday. The first part can be read here.

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So, the campaign group “Devizes for EU,” emailed “avert another crisis,” lobbying to extend the Brexit transition so the country “can concentrate on recovering from the effects of Covid19.” I appreciate the angle, yet cannot help but feel they’re pulling a plaster off an arm slowly. Brexit is no bonza idea in my book, but this isn’t the injudiciousness of a persuaded nation, at least the nation four years ago.

It begs the question, how swiftly does “Devizes for the EU” suppose we will recover? I’d wager, and in some small way hope, the Brexit Bunch will be pushing up daises by then. It has to be all or nothing and it’s too late to tuck our tail between our legs and hold out in the EU for support (insert sneering French snort here.) Farage and his cronies ensured this when a sombre moment in history was displayed by childish sneering and flag-waving; an indicator we’re led by donkeys.

Donkeys with an escape plan; pin the tail on Covid19 when the economy takes another nosedive due to failing Brexit strategies. Or is that, tragedies? For it is tragic, or a “fuckduggery shitshow” for want of a more offensive term. If the Farage brigade did tuck their tail between their legs, they’d do it in juvenile mirth; “look mummy, I’ve got a willy!” In similar fashion they themselves acknowledged we’d be looking at forty plus years of glorious blue passports and straight bananas before we regained economic incline after deserting the EU. For their next trick, they cut off their noses to spite their face. No! Don’t touch the face!

Ah well, Dalek climbing off a dustbin; they’ll do what they want anyway, crafty buggers. Cummings; prime example.

If you recoiled at my Cummings comparison to the bald chap in Benny Hill and like to think he’s more like Michael Knight; a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent in an EU of criminals who operate above the law, can we not make a compromise? Retain the Benny Hill scenario but in a parody of Knight Rider? Replacing Devon with Bojo Hill; easy. Vivid images of him slapping Cummings’ bald crown as auxiliary Hoff, while Liz Truss as Bonnie Barstow flashes her undies from beneath a mac at Donald Trump. A slap-and-tickle trade deal, but hold the punchline Benny, she’s missing a tooth. Strike a light; Daily Mail page 3 girl.

Who in the Tory Party forgot to pay the Mail their monthly backhander anyway? Certainly not the Knight Industries Two Thousand. Maybe his car turbo-boosted itself to Barnard Castle?

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Seriousness aside for a historical tangent; believe, Cummings should have a flashing red light on his car, a warning to us all; don’t mistake Durham for Lourdes. You don’t gotta tell Waltheof, a bad-boy Earl of Northumbria who supervised the building of said castle. Geezer had a bit of beef with ol’ Willy the Conqueror, and joined an earl’s revolt against him. The nutter later repented and confessed his guilt to the king, thinking he’d sympathise and support him. But Willy jailed him for a year, then cut the twat’s head off…. just saying.

Ah, the Norman equivalent of posting a nasty meme on Twitter. You don’t earn the hashtag #bastard for being a light touch. “no 1 told me,” Waltheof replied, “LOL.” Whoa, arrow in the eye sorted him out, Bayeux Tapestry reported, probably hacked his papyrus. Applying social media into historical conflicts one has to wonder if they’d have happened at all, if they could screech their opinions on Facebook. Social media is akin to road rage, shielded by a screen, gossip about and slate who you like, then be nice to the same person if you pass them on the street; I do!

Appreciate we live in a time of peace, relatively. How bizarrely wonderful it has been to extend a Sunday afternoon ambience with a two-month Groundhog Day. It would be a crying shame, but perhaps inevitable, if post-lockdown our bitterness returns to real life levels. I admit, Wiltshire is great at this. Here you go, the Gazette reported, “only one person in the county was handed a coronavirus fine during the scorching bank holiday weekend.”

We’ve a great track record in abiding to social distancing, and as a consequence Wiltshire is doing well by comparison to other counties, or, say the blazingly ignorant example set by our leaders (more on this later.) Local rag continued, “But while the majority of people were abiding by the rules some were stretching the boundaries, chief constable Kier Pritchard said.” Because as we progress the rules get consistently vaguer. Waffled by an incompetent Prime Minster, it’s hardly surprising. “Stay alert” is the UK’s new motto, I gather that means If you see Covid19 heading your way, duck.

Could be worse, we could be in the USA, where I believe the President should freely practice what he preaches and inject himself with disinfectant. Do not delay, Trump, inject yourself with as much as you possibly can.

Or is it that we can hide flaunts of the rules in a largely rural environment? Ghostly figures of high-risk pensioners nipping out for exercise in the middle of the night; Covid19 takes a nap. I see you, Wee Willy Wrinkle. I’ve been in the supermarket queue too; oddballs shuffling closer. Unmoved by a virus, me, as a keyworker, probably got it anyway by now, more so, they smell. Question them and they apologetically claim they forgot. The streets are void of life, warning signs everywhere, spots on the floor, every media source bleating about it, people sauntering past wearing facemasks, how the fuck can you possibly forget?!

Ewe ‘avin’ a laff, shagger? Devizes; stuck in its ways, questionable or not. Opinions rarely change here. Example: I’m queuing for Lidl, somewhere near Etchilhampton. On the wall they listed all first names of their workers, thanking them for their risky labour. The disgruntled bigot baby-boomer behind me, who previously snarled aloud at the irony of a driver lowering her facemask to light fag, scanned the names and muttered to his wife, “humph, loads of foreign names.” Hello you, realise Lidl is German and operates internationally, do you expect someone in the Balkan states to be called Dave Smith?

Idle mutterings maybe, but it’s the same mindset which sees an Afro-American killed by police over the pond. And Trump’s reaction? Threaten to open fire on objectors. You’d think a congress would oversee what he tweets, but I’m glad they don’t; it shows an exaggerated interpretation of the real feelings of the far-right philosophy. Highlights my notion social media is akin to road rage. Trump is to Twitter what Reagan was to “the big red button,” hovering over it, dying to unleash his façade of showmanship. You have to understand the difference between idle mutterings and publishing something on social media, at least better than the melted figurine of He-Man.

Pandora’s box cracked open now, me boy. Let’s clear it up. Ideally, I believe a Facebook group should adhere to the objective it sets. It’s no use disguising a desire to cast political bias onto your Facebook page if it was supposed to be about local issues, and uncompromisingly delete every comment deflecting. This is bound to cause upset. Users of local groups are getting an inkling where I’m driving this. Watch out, I’m a cheeky monkey, flinging the poo back at you.

It is, however, as it is. Admins of Facebook groups are NOT expected to hand over their efforts into the hands of keyboard warriors with absolutely no respect for others. No matter how much upset this petty discourtesy causes you, the need to chastise admin with threats or obscene insults is beyond justified. For crying out loud, how sad have we become? I like the guy, often differ in opinion, but he is not Pol Pot.

I rest my case, but it is important, doubly so while we cannot go down the boozer. I’ve forgotten where the Southgate is; eh? Oh yeah, head south, towards the gate. Social media is a necessary evil now, addictive too. I’m a Facebook junkie, my dreams come over as a Facebook feed. Where I swoon though is when Police posted a photo of teens suspected of breaking into Devizes School and numpties tag their mates. What happened to honour among thieves?

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Yes, you can

I tell you, shall I? I know you want me to. It’s all about setting a good example for youth. If you’ve read this far, I salute you. We like our news like the Spanish like food. Tapas, small, bitesize. But stay, just a smidgen longer. Oh yeah, you. Whisper; did you really expect Danny Kruger to risk his job to call out Cummings? That’d be letting him know he’s in charge of a haven of village idiots; nightmare on Sidmouth Street. But perhaps we could carve his name on the Market Place Cross next to ol’ Ruth, when you consider how much rural support he’s bleated about, how he’s donned green wellies and spoke with our blue flag-waving Tory farmers. Then note, while we swam in Cummings gags, he voted to lower our food standards during the Covid19 pandemic and endanger the livelihood of the farms, and in turn our entire infrastructure.

What do they take us for? Giving it, “we will sell our beef to America.” Baloney, they don’t call themselves cowboys because they’re partial to wearing bells around their necks; they’ve got their own beef, quite a lot of it too. Furthermore, I listened in geography class, you can fit the UK into Texas 2.8 times, and that’s just one of fifty states. Why would they want our family pack of Tesco burgers?

I don’t want a fucking bucket of Kentucky chlorinated Chicken, thank you. So, waddle off to Devizes Parkway, clap all the way for a health service your mates are supposed be funding from OUR tax, rather than expecting the poorest to fundraiser for, wait for the imaginary train to stop, pop that in your pipe and smoke it all the way to Westminster, Mr Kruger.

No Surprises Locked Down in Devizes: Part 1

All hail the one-off, two-part return of No Surprises Living in Devizes, my excuse to rant freely. It’s been a while, I guess you could say I’ve a fair bit of ammo. Do not read if you’re easily offended, do not message me if you are offended after I warned you, twat…..

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It may surprise many to note, this is the first time, I believe, I’ve typed the word “comrade,” and I’ve only done it to mock myself before you do; that’s me though, proactive. That’s them though, the baby boomer who call me, and anyone with a differing opinion, “comrade;” referencing a forty-year-old situation comedy; traditionalist to the end, even Dave doesn’t rerun Citizen Smith, leading me to ponder if their sense of humour hasn’t changed since 1980, neither has their ideology.

I’m indifferent, might even pop an aging comedy reference your way, though mine will be apt. My theory; laughter is the best medicine, and I’ll try find the humorous side to everything, even the handling of a global pandemic. Which is, if you don’t cry, laughable. Pity me though, subject matter such as this, an era like this, being funny is implausible with sanity, so if I do, consider I’m senseless, but if you laugh, so are you.

Twenty years ago, a bad year for British comedy, we lost both Frankie Howerd and Benny Hill. Yet in this patriotic flag-waving era, does anyone else feel we’ve not lost Benny’s spirit; Ernie’s ghostly gold-tops? That we are, in many ways, perpetually living an episode of his show? We have a rotund, bumbling idiot, aching to speed up the finale of lockdown, for economic sake alone. The only thing missing is the yakety sax, otherwise it’s plausible to imagine Boris in a mac, waddling around an English suburban park, chased by a raging mob of socially distancing scantily-clad women; best guess, ex-Spectator journalists. You can slap the head of that disobedient bald man as many times as you like, but you know he’ll be back next week for more frolicking fun.

For many, the Cummings scandal is the tipping point; a blatant show of negligence exposing the charade to all. It is fact, he did break his own rules and potentially endanger others with the spread of the virus. To defend him is to defend the indefensible, still they try; not buying it Danny. Our MP said without Cummings they wouldn’t have won the election; I wager it was big fat fibs which won you the election, buddy.

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Aside the uncanny resemblance to blind cartoon character, Mr Magoo, it’s not Cumming’s eyes which need testing, it’s his obligation and sense of superiority. If you disagree, say, “like any father, he did what he did for little Timmy,” consider an administration which makes allowances for refugee families and children ripped apart by famine or conflict in a manner we couldn’t contemplate on our plush green lawns, then look at our government’s zealous drive to close our borders and divert immigration.

Daggers momentarily fly at the PM’s chief advisor, shadowing a former week where Home Secretary Priti Patel had the guns aimed at her; all she did was motion migrant frontline NHS workers should pay extra for their own treatment, and when they do snuff it of Covid19, it’s time for their families to be deported. Kind of like additional charges when Sajid Javid uses paperclips in his office, then extraditing him if he takes a smoke break. Another sick career-bitch so blind not to look beyond towing the line and into a mirror; she wouldn’t be here by her own unstable immigration values. If there’s logic there tell me, I’m not Mr Spock.

But news flies so fast we’re onto another separate incident in a blink. We don’t get time to rewind and calculate these outrages, for U-turns doesn’t make it alright when malevolent concepts remain in a seat of power. For the sum of them all equals an underlying conclusion something is very wrong in our government.

Disagree? That is your right, stupid, in my opinion, but that’s my right. Consider, we have the highest death rate in Europe. Forage me a substitute reason, worthy plaintiff scavenger; bound to have been something a political party who never came to power did, eh? Or bias media reporting their findings? Or the fact some teenagers were playing on the Green last weekend? Dog them in Facebook police, but leave Cummings be? Riddle me that.

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To argue another party would do things no different is hearsay, we will never be fully sure. Lockdown was too late; simples as a meerkat on watch. The Liverpool-Atletico match, the Cheltenham Racing Festival, why? Why were people coming and going from the UK freely? They knew the virus was hanging out, loitering at our gates chewing gum and high-fiving everyone; the science ignored, crucial meetings unattended. Big Ben bonging for Brexit was the bulletin, bullshit.

If you, sir, have the preconception the self-proclaimed leftie snowflake is akin to Channel 4’s wonky depiction of Corbyn as a Russian socialist, or Wolfie, you’ve officially been brainwashed. Nought defecting about them, if they aren’t dedicated to what’s best for Britain, they wouldn’t be moaning. They are not traitors; they are very British. Hey you, funny cos, like, I thought we were supposed to be uniting for the common good, clapping together, why won’t you then allow them independent thought? Why will you continually witch-hunt anyone who dare criticise, when undoubtedly there’s something amiss?

Want unification? Compromise. United in one thing, at least, their dedication to the country, the reason they’re upset. Clap the NHS, but as staff tell you, it’s not putting food on their tables. You’re not a hypocrite for clapping and voting right-wing with a decade of negligence towards NHS funding, that’s reformist misinformation gone too far; you’re just thoroughly misguided. No one will hold you accountable, it is okay to admit you made a mistake. The average leftie doesn’t want Britain to be an episode of Citizen Smith, but you seem to crave Love Thy Neighbour, or The Benny Hill Show. You see, Benny had a bad side, behind the scenes of the titillating comedy there was an underlying perversity, skeletons locked in cupboards. My metaphor takes shape now.

If there’s a reason Boris Johnson defends Cummings and allows his popularity to faulter, it is not because of some intricate totalitarianism agenda, but because of the foolhardiness of saucy playground behaviour inherent of prep-school pomposity. The only good to come of this lockdown is the sense of celebrity reality; look at our luminaries on a live Facebook stream, desperate for attention but attired in sweatshirt and joggers. They leave themselves exposed, they’re just like us. Now you see contemporary politics crystal, it’s a teenage school disco rather than a fascist regime. The very idea Boris compares to Hitler is laughable, I’m not Winston Smith, I agree with you, when a leftie compares our era with that of the war, they lose the argument. In return then, neither should you assume Boris is Churchill, here to save the day.

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Hold me up as a leftie if you like, but I’m not. I’m my own person, scrabbling in the dark like you, trying to make sense of it, but if we differ it’s not my political standpoint at fault, it’s your barriers; “Labour MPs broke lockdown rules too,” oh yeah, I agree, stab them with the same sword. Something about politics makes the most motivated corrupt, but I’m not one to be satisfied conforming to the status-quo, if there’s an alternative I’m considering it, if there’s a lesser of two evils, I believe that’s the path to take. I’m so sorry to quiver at your support of a government denying all, failing to produce PPE and testing for frontline workers, the buck stops with them, blood pours from their hands and onto the useless phone app they spent the funds on.

I know you’ll chastise me for it anyway. Shut it and pick fruit, dissident. Complain Devizine is supposed to be about local issues and not cast national opinion. Shush rebel, Devizine is about whatever the hell I want to be about! Did you complain when The Gazette run an article speculating the name of Boris and Carrie’s baby? Hardly local affair, after all. Take my unending waffling as reason for this piece to be so negligent of that factor, for it is only part one in a two-part series, the local issue precedes, after the break.

You see, it’s an advantage living where we do, an affluent Tory freehold, a heaven for traditionalists and conservative ethos. I believe there’s nothing wrong in holding these values dear, but cannot help feeling that political current trends break the code, the Cummings scandal black and white. By comparison folk here have been outstanding, not perfect, but brilliant nonetheless, and we should all be proud of that. Part two then, I will explain why I think this. Meanwhile chew on this; Benny Hill really was a milkman. That’s more honesty than you’ll get from Boris.

 

Read part TWO here!

Win a £1000 and help Carmela

Who watched our Carmela and family on the telebox on Wednesday? Surely the most heart-breaking section of a documentary about life in lockdown and those taking the highest risks or making the worst sacrifices.

As her Dad, Darren said while driving his van around, delivery samples to hospitals, and unable to hug his daughter, the funding for muscular dystrophy research has dried up. But here’s a way you can help from home, and even win yourself a grand. The blind card advert can be found on Carmela’s Facebook page. You can help fill this lottery up. Pick a number from 1-150, pay £10 per number, so can have more than one if you so wish. Pay via PayPal.me/carmelasfund

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Once all the numbers are taken the winning number will be revealed and the winner receives £1000, Carmela gets £500 towards a safe garden access area to play. Yep, it is play, Carmela’s family say, but only in a form of. It is, in fact, crucial exercise for her at a time when swimming, and other activities have been restricted. It helps build her muscles, and rather than most of us, being for a healthier life and perhaps some abs for the opposite sex to swoon at, muscle building is essential for someone with a muscle-wasting disease. The lockdown is already taking its tow on Carmela’s health and wellbeing.

So, please, if you can, support this sweepstake and be in with a chance of winning. Thank you. x

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South American Ska

Discovering a thriving ska scene in South America is like England in 1979……

Studio 1’s architect, composer and guitarist, Ernest Ranglin proclaimed while the US R&B’s shuffle offbeat being replicated by Jamaicans in their early recording studios went “chink-ka,” their own crafted pop, ska, went “ka-chink.” Theorised this simple flip of shuffle took place during Duke Reid’s Prince Buster recording session mid-1959, added with Buster’s desire to include traditional Jamaican drumming, created the defining ska sound.

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Prince Buster’s block party on Orange Street

Coinciding with the island’s celebration of independence in 1962, the explosion of ska was eminent and two years later the sound found its way out of Jamaica, when Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, Prince Buster, Eric “Monty” Morris, and Jimmy Cliff played the New York World’s Fair. But if Jamaica’s government revelled in the glory of the creation of a homegrown pop, behind the scenes, Kingston’s downtown was using it as signature to a culture of hooliganism, known as The Rude Boys, and thwarted it. Through curfew and a particularly sweltering summer of 67, horns were lessened, tempo was mellowed and reggae’s blueprint, rock steady, had formed.

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World’s Fair, New York 1964

Forward wind fifty-five years and Jamaican ska pioneer, Stranger Cole launched album “More Life,” yet it’s released by Liquidator Music, a label dedicated to the classic Jamaican rhythms, but based in Madrid. Perhaps in similar light to Buster’s innovation, Jamaica doesn’t revel in retrospection and strives to progress; the last place in the world you’re likely to hear ska these days, is in Jamaica itself. Modern dancehall trends can be attributed closer to the folk music of mento.

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But the design was set, and to satisfy the musical taste of Windrush immigrants in England, Bluebeat, and later, Trojan Records set to cheaply import the sounds of home. It was a combination of their offspring taking their records to parties, and the affordable price tag which appealed to the white kids in Britain. Thus, the second wave of ska spawned in the UK. By the late seventies the formation of Two-Tone records in Coventry saw English youths mimicking the sound.

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Similarly, though, this has become today somewhat of a cult. Given the task of producing a radio show last year, for ska-based internet station, Boot Boy Radio, while aware of American dominated “third gen ska,” that there were few contemporary bands here, such as the Dualers, and Madness and The Specials still appeased the diehard fans, I never fathomed the spread of ska worldwide. The fact Liquidator Music is Spanish, it is clear, ska has a profound effect internationally, and in no place more than Latin America. Yet while England’s second wave is largely attributed to the worldwide distribution of ska, and waves the Union Jack patriotically at it, the sound of ska music spread to Jamaica’s neighbours significantly prior.

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Caribbean islands created their own pop music. Barbados had spouge, cited as “Bajan ska,” despite a completely different rhythm section more attributed to calypso. Columbia likewise saw a surge in cumbia during the early sixties, a genre derived from cumbé; “a dance of African origin.”

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In South America though, ska was fused with their own sounds of samba, and particularly upcoming rock ‘n’ roll inspired genres such as “iê-iê-iê,” via Brazilian musical television show, Jovem Guarda. Os Aaalucinantes’ 1964 album Festa Do Bolinha predates England’s embrace of ska, the same year, in fact, as Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, et all playing the New York World’s Fair. At this point in time, through Bluebeat, English youth were only just discovering a love for Jamaican music, and Lee Gopthal wouldn’t found Trojan Records for another four years. This mesh of fusions gave birth to a creative period in Brazil, vocal harmony groups like Renato E Seus Blue Caps, and The Fevers followed suit, blending US bubble-gum pop with jazzy offbeat rhythms. It did not borrow from England’s mods; it followed a similar pattern.

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Las Cuatro Monedas

Similarly, in Venezuela, Las Cuatro Monedas introduced ska and reggae as early as 1963, with their debut album, “Las Cuatro Monedas a Go Go.” Through maestro arranger and composer, Hugo Blanco they won the 1969 Song Festival in Barcelona, and continued until 1981, when over here The Specials were only just releasing “Ghost Town.” Desorden Público is Venezuela’s most renowned ska band, formed in the eighties. When frontman Horacio Blanco was still at school, he wrote “Paralytic Politicians,” an angry, anti-Hugo Chavez anthem which his fans still yell for. Although Chavez died in 2013, his protégé Nicolas Maduro has descended the country into political and economic crisis; one example where South American ska is equally, if not more, dogmatically defending justice as Two-Tone here in the UK.

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Desorden Público

Chile trended towards cumbia through tropical orchestra Sonora Palacios in the sixties, therefore ska didn’t fully surface until the third-gen bands of the nineties. Even today though, Latin enthused bands such as Cholomandinga and reggae is favoured through bands like Gondwana. The modern melting pot is universal and extensive though, I’ve got a lovely cover of Ghost Town by Argentine cumbia band Fantasma, who cite themselves as being the first to develop a cumbia rap. And when upcoming, all-female Mexican ska band, Girls Go Ska sent me some tunes to play, a cover of the Jam’s David Watts was one of them.

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Girls Go Ska

All’s fair in love and war; undoubtedly the Two-Tone era of England has had a profound effect on the worldwide contemporary ska scene, so did their revolutionary principles. Peru commonly cites its scene commenced in the mid-eighties, when punk and second-gen underground rock bands emerged in Lima. Edwin Zcuela’s band, Zcuela Crrada differed by having a saxophonist, and adopted a sound which bordered ska. Azincope and Refugio were quick to follow, not to the taste of the rock-based crowd who classed it commercialised pop. Psicosis came about in 88, the band to initiate the term “ska band” in Peru, taking steps to eradicate the preconception. They won a recording contract through a radio contest, the jury expressed concern; the band were radicals within a pseudo-movement with libertarian ideas, and so the band refused to record.

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Zcuela Crrada

With influences from the Basque ska-punk band, Kortatu, Breakfast continued the rebellious nature with ska in Peru, but discarded their discography. It will take us into the nineties to start to find orchestral flairs, when Carnaval Patetico and Barrio Pamara emerged, bringing with them the country’s belated by comparison, second wave. Odd to see how punk gave ska a leg-up in this legacy, but the melting pot is bottomless.

Where some bands, such as Swiss Sir Jay & The Skatanauts, favour pouring jazz into their style, akin to how the Skatalites formed the backbone of Studio 1 through attending Kingston’s Alpha Cottage School, others, such as the States bands like The Dance Hall Crashers prefer to fuse punk influences, Big Reel Fish takes Americana to ska, and one has to agree the tension of teenage anguish felt by eighties skinheads equalled that of latter punk-rock.

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The Dance Hall Crashers

The rulebook is borderless and limitless, to the point there is no longer a rulebook, through an online generation one can teeter on the edge of this rabbit hole, or go diving deeper. If I said previously, Two-Tone is a cult in England, in South America ska is thriving. Some subgenres bear little relevance to the sounds and ethos of original Jamaican ska. Other than the usage of horns to sperate them from punk or rockabilly, off-shoots of skacore and skabilly tangent along their own path. Oi bands prime example, where a largely neo-Nazi tenet cannot possibly relate to an afro-Caribbean origin.

Again, the folk of a nation mergers with the sound, and there can create an interesting blend, such as the Balkan states, where the Antwerp Gipsy Ska Orchestra and Dubioza Kolekiv carve their own influences into ska. Which, in turn, has spurred a folk-ska scene in Bristol and the Southwest, bands like The Carny Villains, Mr Tea & The Minions and Mad Apple Circus, who add swing to the combination, and folk-rock bands such as The Boot Hill Allstars, confident to meld ska into the dynamic festival circuit. South America typifies this too.

Mr Tea & The Minions

Modern murga, a widespread musical theatre performed in Montevideo, Uruguay and Argentina hugs ska through carnival. Argentina’s scene is as widespread and varied as the UK or USA, in fact it was former Boot Boy presenter, Mariano Goldenstein, frontman of The Sombrero Club who led me to the rabbit hole. If the name of this Argentinean band signifies Mexican, one should note, The Sombrero Club was a Jamaican nightclub on the famous ‘Four Roads’ intersection of Molynes and Waltham Park Roads in St. Andrew.

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Byron Lee @ The Sombrero Club

Journalist Mel Cooke recalls in a 2005 article for the Jamaica Gleaner, “although it carried a Mexican name, the senors and senoritas who stepped inside the Sombrero nightclub did it in true Jamaican style. It was an audience that demanded a certain quality of entertainment and, in the height of the band era the cream of the cream played there. “It was one of the premier dance halls for bands, live music,” says Jasper Adams, a regular at The Sombrero. “If you capture the image of the dance hall in London at the time, you get an idea of what it was like.”

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Note the Wailers, bottom of the billing!

After the demise of the Bournmouthe in East Kingston, in a bygone era, The Sombrero was the place to catch ska legends, Toots and the Maytals, Tommy McCook and the Supersonics and Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. There could be no name more apt for Argentina’s Sombrero Club, for within a thriving scene which mimics England in the grip of Two-Tone, their proficient and authentic sound is akin to our Specials or Madness.

The Sombrero Club

It is, however, through Marcos Mossi of the Buena Onda Reggae Club from Sao Paulo, perhaps a lesser known band outside Brazil, who have really spurred my interest in South American ska, through their sublime blend of mellowed jazz-ska and reggae, and through it I realise I’m still teetering on the edge of the rabbit hole. Aside the aforementioned bands, I’m only just discovering Brazil’s Firebug, Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Los Calzones Rotos, Los Auténticos Decadentes, Karamelo Santo, Cienfuegos, Satellite Kingston, Dancing Mood, Staya Staya, Los Intocables, and Ska Beat City, Cultura Profética from Puerto Rico and Peru’s Vieja Skina. Pondering if the list will ever end.

Bunena Onda Reggae Club

One thing this highlights, while ska is international now, with vibrant scenes from Montreal to Melbourne, Latin America holds the key to a spirit akin to how it was when I opened my Christmas present in 1980 to find Madness long player, Absolutely.

 


Tune into my show on http://www.bootboyradio.co.uk – Friday nights from 10pm till Midnight GMT, where we play an international selection of ska, reggae, rock steady, soul and funk, RnB, shuffle and jazz, anything related which takes my fancy, actually!


© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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Mr B & The Wolf come out of The Mist

On our promise, via The Indie Network Facebook group, and generally a growing cognisant inside me, for Devizine to musically venture outside our local area, geographically, here we go with a starter for ten. Though it’s no new thing, in the past we’ve mentioned many, from Cosmic Rays in Shropshire, to Mayyadda from Minnesota; I invite this pandemic to officially crash our borders….

One request recently came from one Vince Henry, who’s digitally-adapted Facebook profile pic makes Doug Bradley in his Pinhead guise from the Hellraiser films look like a bedtime Care Bear, and led me to assume the band he manages, Mr B & The Wolf was about to unleash some thrash death metal or psychobilly peculiarity unwillingly into my aging eardrums. I prepped myself accordingly, one ear in the headphone, paracetamol within reach, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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As a function band based in my motherland, Essex, Mr B, and his wolf too, are lively, true, but present a flowing range from blues-based rock and Americana to “throwback” pop and soul, and do it with the finesse of a contemporary Fleetwood Mac. It’s a zephyr blowing your locks, the single I’ve been sent, Out of the Mist archetypal of the band’s bravura. I liked it and now have the album, LazyDay to give a fuller appraisal.

With echoes of driving rock Mr B and the Wolf keep a balance, there’s no tearing off metal as I preconceived, no angry underscores, rather a commercially viable equilibrium of uplifting rock radio stations cannot excuse for not spinning. Second tune, Rise Up, a great example of this breezy and enriching chic. Yet in the acceptance lies an aching sensation eighties power ballad bands, like Huey Lewis and the News should’ve been striving for a sound more like Mr B & The Wolf.

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Three tunes in then, and Crazy Town strips the style back to a deeper blues riff, vocally gritty, vocalist Dean Baker handles it very well indeed. Out of the Mist combines the two and stands out, for both catchiness and composition. Chestnut subject matter, yeah, but it doesn’t sway me when it’s performed so well.

What we find here is a bonded, proficient band with stains of all rock has produced before but boy, do they know how to wear it well. They being, Ben Pellicci on lead and backing vocals, Jason Bird on bass and backing vocals, George Wallis on rhythm, and Jason Chown on Drums; unconfirmed which one is the wolf!

Phoenix ballads us to the finale, harmoniously and mellowly. I couldn’t go as far to compare it with the way Morrison would direct the Doors through an audience-mesmerising voyage, but it does equate the great soft metal bands of yore’s more magically rousing moments. I nod to Heart and of course, Bon Jovi, but they’d be knocking on the doors of Floyd or Cream, see if they’re coming out to play.

The finale though, belts back the blues riff and takes us full circle. In conclusion then, Mr B & The Wolf certainly don’t drift from blues-rock formulae, though it’s a damn fine established blueprint anyway, and this Chelmsford band do it with style. LazyDay would refrain you from road rage in traffic and compel you to turn it up when you hit the open road, Mr B & The Wolf would be a gig you’d return from with fond memories.


Mr B & The Wolf Website

BandCamp for the album (£3.50)

Find Mr B & The Wolf on Spotify

Facebook Page


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WIN Joe Edwards’ Keep on Running album, on Vinyl

To celebrate the launch this week of Joe Edwards’ wonderful album, “Keep on Running,” which we handsomely but rightfully reviewed here, we’re delighted to give away this shiny vinyl copy to one lucky, like, very lucky entrant. Face it, you’ve a good chance of winning, being no one actually reads Devizine other than you! So, to make it slightly competitive, and fun too, I’ve created some quiz questions to test your knowledge of our local music scene; check it out, brains-of-Britain!

Question 1:

Question 2:

Question 3:

Question 4:

Question 5:

Get your answers in by, I dunno, erm, I’m making it up as I go along anyway, let’s say Monday 1st June, that gives you a week to search the site for reference and get me some much-needed hits. No, wait, no cheating! Anyone found cheating will have their name carved onto the Market Cross, alongside Ruth Pierce. No entry to anyone too far for me to drive to deliver it, no entry to anyone with the surname Sausage, no entry to me, everyone else get submitting your answers and I’ll write your name on a slip of paper, chuck them in the bin and keep it for myself. No, I won’t, really; we’ll pull one lucky bugger’s name out the hat, if I can find a hat, a bowl or something if not on Tuesday 2nd June 2020. Best of luck!

I apologise for my total incompetence; dammit Jim, I’m a milkman not a game show host. As it turns out, I cannot access the names of the entries so….


Please enter by messaging our Facebook page with your answers; sorry about that! What a sham!


And please like the Facebook page of  Joe Edwards too, and shared our post, it’s the little things in life…

I will be checking!

Don’t, Ryan!

Okay I confess, in my last article I did, didn’t I, state there was a trend of indie music taming to mass appeal? And yeah, I suggested this is no bad thing. There will, however be exceptions to the rule, and rock will, and should always retain its hard edge; we have room for all here. Swindon’s Ryan Webb, for instance, who’s just dropped a new single, “Don’t,” takes no prisoners.

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This is militantly metal, with spikes. It rocks with edge, it doesn’t hang around with an ambient intro, stop for a melodic break, the bridge is reached in seconds, the rolling guitar riff perpetually quivering your bones. A one-man red-hot chilli pepper, Ryan wrote, produced, sang, wailed his guitar, recorded and mixed the track in his studio. The only collaborator being Dave Collins, the mastering engineer for Metallica’s last album, who mastered this too.

It must be said, this not the template of Ryan Webb, who quotes influences ranging from Pink Floyd, Joe Satriani, and Zeppellin, to Coldplay, Muse, and Kings of Leon. He has the range encompassing any rock avenue, and projects all with comfort and competence.

“Don’t” though, whoa there Ryan, I’m inclined to put my frayed denim jacket over my AC-DC t-shirt and head-bang my way to the highway from hell, and I’m not usually one for all that; haven’t even got an army surplus bag with badly grafted pictures of Eddie the Head and Megadeath logos!

So yeah, if I like it, you iron maidens will love it! What is more, the track is “a plea to anyone contemplating suicide to take a step back and see that they have a lot going on for them in the world. Even when times are really bad, it’s important to talk to those around you.”

Ryan has chosen All Call Signs as the beneficiary for any sales from the single. All Call Signs is a UK organisation set up by two veteran soldiers, Dan Arnold and SJ James, in order to help other vets/serving military personnel who may be finding life difficult. They have also created an app which helps locate those reported missing and in need of urgent support.


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Indie Networking and Long Coats

If social media is the rearguard in music’s battle against the Coronavirus lockdown, there’s plenty of battalions networking at this last stand, and physical location is no issue. A virtual realm is borderless, and for this reason, while Devizine is concentrated on content local to Wiltshire, there are many avenues worthy to waiver the rule for. So, expect us to cover some bands and artists without borders, ones I’ll connect with through social media, such as the Facebook group I’m here to mention, as is the group’s tenet.

That said, Ollie Sharp is a young performer from within our geographical catchment, Bath, who recently set up said Facebook group for indie music, called, aptly, The Indie Network. Its welcoming and dynamic attitude is gaining attention. I joined, they cast a thread of introductions; made me feel old! Funny cos it’s true, pipsqueaks by comparison. Young enough to have to Google my antiquated phraseology, like cassette tapes and Danny Kendal. Some poor guy confessed he was older, at 43, at which he faced compassionate reassurances such as, “it’s only a number.” I knew then to keep my gob shtum, so I stated I was “old enough to know better, too old to care.” Least it’d do no good for our Kieran from Sheer Music, who also joined, to grass me up as an old skool raver, historical to those barely an itch!

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Though we’ve jested before about the era of yore where never the twain would indie kids and ravers mingle, Mr Moore and I, and come to the conclusion I’m exempt on account of my eclectic taste. Let it be known now, I like the sound of Ollie’s recently formed band The Longcoats, and it’s just the sort of thing which allows Kieran to win the genre argument! It’s breezy, placid indie, acceptable on a larger scale than predecessors, much least my aging preconceptions, bit like what our Daydream Runaways and Talk in Code are putting out; and I like them. I even refer to them as “our,” see, like a northern working-class family. Shoot, pass my Smiths tee Mr Moore, I’m an indie kid! (kid used here in its most unlikely definition.)

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Anyway, I digress. We’ve reached the part of the show where the artist mumbles “is this codger going to actually review my single?” Apologies for my Uncle Albert moment, ha, there was me thinking Boris had made arbitrary tangents trendy. There’s no telling some, he’s a bastard. However, we’ll never get going if I branch into politics.

“Used to Being Used” is the single I was sent, the earlier one of two on their Bandcamp page. It follows a blueprint of indie-pop, there’s a trudging guitar riff, a theme of dejected ardour, yet it’s done with skill, catchiness and promising aptitude. The latter single, Drag, which came out in March takes a similar tempo, and cool attitude; there is no need to be angry in an era which accepts the genre, so ever with edge but only enough, The Longcoats create a beguiling and entertaining sound to appeal wide.

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Last year guitarist Arthur Foulstone and drummer Kane Pollastrone added to frontman Sharp’s lone act, which bridged the gap between band and solo artist. The final piece of the puzzle came upon recruiting permanent bassist Norton Robey. With the assistance of producer Jack Daffin, The Longcoats have created a defining sound which is appealing and instantly recognisable.

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There is nothing about this Bath four-piece indie-pop-rock band here, I’ll be honest, which will act as their magnum opus, but an auspicious start dripping with potential. Here’s one to watch, with their debut EP ‘October’ in the pipeline, here’s hoping it’ll reach us before the month of its namesake.

But it’s not so much about the individual band here which maketh this article, rather the conscious efforts to unite and network, thus creating a scene. Even through this era of wishing for a live gig, the networks thrive, perhaps even more so. Ollie also created Wise Monkey Music, a multi-media music and events promotion company based in the Southwest, of which we look forward to hearing more of; attention, the like Facebook group The Indie Network is likely to bring. They even let this aging raver in, dammit; though my white gloves and whistle must be in a box in the loft somewhere, it’s a deceased stereotype, of which I’m glad.

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I do find though, as someone who glued and photocopied zine after zine, aside the mass media driven pop tripe, the underground thrives as it ever did, the internet only creates an easy route in. Just like the bands of the now, such as The Longcoats and others rapidly joining the group, what’s not to like about it?

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The Onus of Swindon’s Filmmakers

I’ve been invited to watch some horror! After the success of their debut film, Follow the Crows, Swindon filmmakers Alex Secker and Marc Starr have been busy with Onus; I know now what’s behind my sofa…..

Finding it hard to accept it’s been the best part of four years since I received my first “real” journalistic assignment for local news site Index:Wiltshire.

The editor, Craig couldn’t make the press screening for Swindon-made film, Follow the Crows, so with no experience I bumbled my way in with little expectations to find a birthday party-fashioned welcoming to view a compelling dystopian thriller.

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Comparing the team’s new film, Onus, with the latter is inevitable, though through Follow The Crows’ simplicity, this is visually better and more engaging. I’m glad to have been invited to review it and I’m free to assume this time, not just it’s quality, but eerie and divergent conception.

Writer and director, Alex Secker doesn’t settle with convention. For this it receives full marks. Where it differs is in setting and angle. If Follow the Crows goes for a survivalist circumstance within an imaginary post-apocalyptic realm, Onus follows the template of traditional Hammer House horrors of yore, in a sense. If you crave modern Hollywood’s hurtling imagery and non-stop action, this is not for you. Onus creeps up on you, increasingly setting a troubling notion in your psyche. It’s suspense reason for me not to reveal spoilers.

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It certainly achieves what I believe it set out to do; my fingernails are somewhat shorter. This is an unnerving masterpiece which abounds by twisting the cliché of classic horror. Starter for ten, the music, by Graeme Osbourne, assures you an uneasy sitting; I’m shivering before any visual. Yet when it does, despite unsettling sensations, we’re shown a female couple on a car journey through our acceptable local landscape. The driver, haughty Izzy (Erin Leighton) poses somewhat relaxed, taking her subordinate and shy dungaree-wearing girlfriend, Anna, (Daniella Faircloth) to meet her upper-class family. You may know yourself, meeting a lover’s parents can be unnerving at the best of times, with a class difference, doubly so. Izzy asserts her superiority, bantering the nervous Anna by joking her family are “not vampires;” a notion she drives a little too much.

“Onus creeps up on you, increasingly setting a troubling notion in your psyche.”

In true horror fashion the setting is solely the house, the protagonist’s suspicion they’re being deceived builds, and for such, Onus borrows extensively from the chestnut. Secker though is keen to raise social indifferences between classes, the notion of wealth meaning superiority; this only increases the gut-wrenching feeling Anna is out of her depth.

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Suspense drives you to want something to unveil, but it plods on its tension-building ambience for over the hour. Anna’s snowballing anxiety is portrayed perfectly by Daniella with some haunting expressions of despair. You? You’re looking for an escape clause, a knight in shining armour. But if the plot has strands of Little Red Riding Hood, there appears no character who will be Anna’s woodcutter. Izzy’s obnoxiously snobby brother (Alex Pitcher) is clearly in on it, pompously he sniggers at her misfortune; both sibling rivalry and homophonic attitudes abound in his arrogance. The Victorian mother (Karen Payne) is as stiff and a brush, and the ill father (Tony Manders) is shadily the reasoning for her presence at the house. This only leaves the clue-providing maid, (Shaniece Williams) who, treated as a slave of yore, is doubtfully going to heroically strive in. Here within lies the twist, dispelling the cliché horror ending.

So, what begins as a classic horror, ends unexpectedly; like a short story it provides the viewer scope to continue the tale using their own imagination, and for that, Onus rocks.

“Like a short story it provides the viewer scope to continue the tale using their own imagination, and for that, Onus rocks.”

Again, the production of Marcus Starr, the writing, directing and editing of Alex Secker and the acting is sublime. The temperament is undeniably spooky, the setting is dripping with realism, especially being based in the South West. The characters are vivid, Anna is somewhat free-willed rather than helpless, just trapped. The family are genuinely as snooty as you’d expect, and unnervingly mysterious; I feel driven to Facebook message my worries to Daniella, pleading she takes more time in choosing a partner next time, that’s how realistic it is!

And what is more, I think it’s easy to pass my review as flattery, that no locally-based film crew could hope to attain that of the mainstream movie industry, but Follow the Crows is award-winning, Onus deserves to follow suit. I don’t usually do star ratings, as I feel it’s restrictive, but if I did it’d get a four out five at least! You. Need. To. See. It.

The movie has a distributor, High Octane Pictures from LA. “We’re finalising the paperwork,” producer Marc informs me, “they’ll distribute direct in the US and Canada, then sell to the rest of the world.” So, it should be on DVD and blue ray in a couple of months. I’ll keep you in the loop.

“You. Need. To. See. It.”

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© 2017-2020 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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VE Day Celebrations in Rowde!

While I’m sure sporadic and social distanced celebrations, picnics and perhaps the odd full-scale rave occurred everywhere on Friday in celebration of VE Day, lockdown isn’t it? I was confined to wandering my village and assigned to take a few photos for the village magazine. I bow my head, they weren’t to know, photography isn’t my forte, but with television shows now being created via wobbly phone camera, I figure what the heck, I’ll publish them here!

The highlight was meeting local legend Wayne Cherry, the gent who stood at the top of the Brittox for 100 hours during last Remembrance, has raised £1,272 standing outside his home for NHS charities. Well done, Wayne. You can donate here.

An Interval for Erin Bardwell

The nineties, the Skanxters set the bar high for ska bands in Swindon. In a similar fashion their keyboardist Erin Bardwell, and those who’ve worked with him, have carved a unique watermark for the multiple branches of the reggae genre and given the town a certain original sound. Nestled somewhere between his ska band epoch, his rocksteady revival crew the Erin Bardwell Collective and Subject A, his dub project with Dean Sartain, comes a new solo release, Interval.

If Erin states this is a “side-step” and a “pause from the usual,” this lockdown-driven release least retains that trademark style in all manner and sense. But it is unusual, in a good way. If this lacks the vocals of Sandra Bell, and other layers which make the current sound of the Collective, it makes up for it in alternative ways; I’m going to attempt to sum them up and do it some justice.

Firstly, Erin’s voice defines the aforementioned watermark of Swindon’s reggae scene, and, secondly, the subject matter of Interval is dripping with reminisces of its previous incarnations. Now, when I say reggae it’s an all-encompassing term taking in ska, rocksteady, boss, roots and dub reggae in one swoop, makes it easier that way. And one thing which unites all these offshoots is the orchestral configuration, the importance of binding all the instruments, where the keyboard is vital. In this, Interval is concentrated on piano, as it’s Erin baby, and there’s some impressively crafted segments of ivories, more Chopin than Jackie Mittoo.

From the starting block, it is apparent reggae is not the only influence intertwined in this great album. The opening track, “Four Walls Surround” bursts out with an upbeat Two-Tone riff but is rinsed with something Paul Weller about it too. The subject seems to relate to the lockdown, but could also connote the isolation of teenage anguish felt by the youth of the Two-Tone era. From here I think it’s fair to assume Erin is contemplating his younger years whilst staring at those walls, and trying to convince himself it’s no bad thing.

The cover appears as if it’s a classic soul album of yore, and we’re already setting the concept. There is a running nostalgic theme here, but the album is diverse in its approach; the second is a ballad. “When you Smile,” fashions akin to the melodic plod of the pedigrees of dub. But if that nods to King Tubby, “Bridge of Tunes” does equally for boss reggae’s chugging beat and wouldn’t look out of place on a Trojan’s sixties Tighten Up compilation.

Time for the summit of Interval, “(Like the Reflection on) The Liffey” is a wistful masterpiece of haunting sentiment, a resonant dub with delicate with horns, thoughtful prose and dreamy composition; Pink Floyd does dub. To follow, we’re chugging back with something retrospectively reflective reggae, as Erin comments on the Windrush scandal, as it is, after all, the motive the UK embraces reggae. As evocative as The Liffey though, it finishes with a chilling spoken quotation.

“Name on a Page,” uses the melodic dubplate of previous track “When you Smile,” and the album plays out on a similar key, “That London Winter” enforces the notion Erin is writing memoirs, and “Injured Arm,” casts back further with an expert of a what sounds like a children’s show.

In conclusion this is a skeleton in the closet project, shady and thought-provoking. Coupled with that unique trademark sound makes it stimulating, different and totally original. While most contemporary reggae is either instrumental dub, songs of conscious Rasta judgements, or plain dancehall rap with over-inflated egos, Interval exerts Erin’s refreshing exclusivity to the maximum and will appease not only die-hard skins and punks, but those seeking something alternative.

Find Interval on Bandcamp here.


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Keep on Running with Joe Edwards

Joe Edwards has his debut solo album, Keep on Running released this week, here’s my tuppence on it…..

Under the “write what you know,” philosophy, if I’ve been critical in the past regarding local Country-fashioned artists using cultural references alien to their natural environment, i.e. a band from Wotton Bassett crooning about boxcars and wranglers, I have to waive the argument in the case of Keep on Running, the debut solo album by Joe Edwards, of Devizes. Not because Joe is well-travelled to apt locations and it was recorded and produced at Henhouse Studios in Nashville, though he is and it was, or it’s so authentic it’s more authentic than the authentic stuff, but because, in a word, it’s so absolutely gorgeous.

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I’m going to be hard-pressed to find a different album of the year, as if this was a new Bob Dylan release the headline would be “Dylan Back on Form.” But it isn’t, and if one can rebuke Dylan as eaten by wealth and the machine he once repelled against, here, with freshness, is Highway 61 really revisited. The characters here can be akin to Dylan’s, questioning romance, bittersweet with humanity’s cruelty. Keep on Running never faulters nor diverts from its mellow method, if the tempo raises it’s only slight, and if it slips a toe under the door of rock, shards of both folk and blues roots are methodically preserved with finesse.

“…if this was a new Bob Dylan release the headline would be “Dylan Back on Form.”

When preacher Casey picks up hitchhiking Tom Joad, recently paroled from the McAlester pen in the Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck paints a picture with his words so immaculately precise you’re in that pickup with them, sensing the raw sting of the dustbowl and the smell of the dying cornfields of Oklahoma. With every banjo riff, or twangy guitar, Joe paints a similarly genuine image of the Southern American states.

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The writing is sublime, acute blues. Characters are often despondent, impecunious and dejected. Yet this is not Springsteen’s Nebraska, somewhere they’re thrown a curveball and the air of melancholy is introverted, altered to positivity in the face of all things terrible. You may be riding their train of pessimism, yet it’s not discouraging on the ear, rather selfless muse executed with such passion there’s an air uplifting, best compared with Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.”

You sense a running theme; yes, life is shit but I’m dammed if I’m going to let it piss on my chips. A feeling Joe nurtures as the album continues, reaching an apex with a track called “Don’t Let the Bastards Get you Down,” and continuing to the title track. Hereafter you understand the metaphor to “Keep on Running.” If not, the cover is a meek lino-cut akin to labelling of a Jack Daniels bottle, with a road heading off to the mountains, just to make sure.

“Yet this is not Springsteen’s Nebraska, somewhere they’re thrown a curveball and the air of melancholy is introverted, altered to positivity in the face of all things terrible.”

After the title track, there’s a road ballad in true Americana style, the venerable symbolism for changing your life, which is never a negative notion. If the finale then spells the most adroit blues tune, “Mine oh Mine,” the beginnings, “Beth’s Song” and “Cross the Line” herald the better country-inspired ones, but between them, an insolvent blues tune, “Capital Blues,” as a beguiling teaser for what’s to come. In contrast the achingly poignant, “Gambler” is perhaps the most accomplished bluegrass, filled by a tormented soul pouring his heart out for want of an extra six dollars.

It flows so incredibly well, George Harrison well, though, like a concept album of the 1970s it’s a single unit to be heard complete. This doesn’t prove a problem; you’re engaged throughout and wouldn’t dare press pause.

Nothing is tentative about Keep on Running; you get the sense Joe is deliberate in where he wants to take you. Despite remaining faithful to the formulae set by Guthrie and continued by Dylan, Segar and Lynyrd Skynyrd, where nothing is experimental, nothing is cliché either. One listen and you’ve entered a grimy western saloon, biker citizens pause shooting pool to glare, and a cowgirl in daisy dukes and a red chequered shirt tied at the waist welcomes you, piercingly.

“It flows so incredibly well, George Harrison well.”

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There is no in-your-face blast of sound, it traipses mellowly, and Joe executes his vocals with a whisper, as though he’s pouring a heartfelt secret to you alone, and for that you’re honoured; you should be. This is sweltering Sunday morning music, preferably slouching in a rocking chair on the veranda of a log cabin, sipping whiskey and rye, plucking a banjo. Though the least I can do right now is watch Oh Brother Where Art Thou!

Keep on Running is available now, here, and on Joe’s Bandcamp page, here.


© 2017-2020 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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Bryony Cox Art on Sale and NHS Donated

Wondering where the time goes, it’s been near on a couple of years since we featured Devizes artist Bryony Cox, when she exhibited her paintings in Upstairs at Jacks. At the time Bryony had not long graduated from Falmouth Uni. Since completing her studies, she has travelled extensively throughout Asia.

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“I’m now doing an MA in actor musicianship at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama,” she informed me to minor surprise, aware Bryony has performed and sung in local dramatics such as the White Horse Opera and Devizes Musical Theatre in the past. “But I’ve kept my studio in Trowbridge and still produce artwork alongside. Sometimes I have been able to use my visual skills exploring theatre making and performance.”

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Personally, I’ve always been taken by her dramatic landscapes and fascination with mountains, yet I’ve always been a fan of Turner, and there’s something equally as expressive and unified in Bryony’s. There is, however, a variety in her enlarged portfolio since we last spoke, some figure and settings work inspired from her travels, sketched miniatures, and she has been using mixed-media, charcoal and pastel for example, and experimentation with college, even animation. And there’s no better time to browse Bryony’s website, as she offers 20% off and 50% on some of her older works, with 20% donated to the NHS. See for yourself on her website, here.

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These connections between art and performing arts captivates me, aside the name arts, and primary school drama class where I had to pretend to be a tree! So, I asked Bryony if she thinks there are similar work practices in theatre to art, and in what ways.

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“I’m quite interested in the crossover between theatre and performance art,” she explained. “I have started bringing film back into my work and my research on my MA has been about performing alongside film projections of drawings, animations and audio overlays. But I have always kept drawing and painting Wiltshire alongside because of the beautiful countryside and still keep drawing portraits from any travels that I have been on as I love to document different people and cultures.”

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We are lucky to live in an area where artists feel their home is an equally inspiring subject as their travels. In this much I see a likeness to Clifton Powell’s work, another well-travelled local artist who documents his journeys through his art, yet returning to Wiltshire often produces some equally outstanding pieces.

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It’s worthwhile bookmarking Bryony’s site as she frequently updates it with new work. “More recently I have been to Vietnam and Indonesia,” she told me, “so some of my more recent portraits that I am going to put up today are from that trip.” We look forward to seeing them!

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© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow) Images Copyright of Bryony Cox.
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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Rowde Artist Alan Watter’s NHS Portraits

Rowde artist Alan Watters has finished a portrait in the ‘Free Portraits for NHS Heroes’ initiative as featured on BBC news recently. The subject is Christina Whicker, an IAC nurse at Boston Pilgrim Hospital. Alan says he’s about to start another, “as I find it difficult to say no!”

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Alan is also a part time support worker confined to 12 weeks self-isolation and wishing to still do something to help the fight against the Coronavirus. “I thought I could produce limited edition pencil signed and numbered prints from some of my recently created original artworks and sell them at a modest price but with 100% of the profit going to causes fighting the virus, the major benefactor being ‘NHS Charities Together.”

So, he’s knocked up a website where you can view the prints, here. “I have a little way to go to reach my target of £1000,” Alan explained, “so please have a look and help if you can.” There’s a wide-range of fine art on show here, some life sketches, celebrity portraits, cute animals and also some thought-provoking imagery. Most prints are £25, for a limited period it’ll also include a pencil signed greetings card featuring the image of your choice.


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Talking Gravity, and other things, with Daydream Runaways

With some images used by Nick Padmore

How professional of me to create a to-do-list of outstanding subjects for articles, but then spoil said professionalism by dithering to the Daydream Runaways boys about the nineties rave-indie divide and becoming a grandad. The sensible members of the band promptly left the group chat, save guitarist Cameron Bianchi who stayed to endure my inane waffling up as far as the Madchester scene.

Prior to this though we had a great heart-to-heart early in the week, but if the title of this article is misleading, I should add the subject of Sir Isaac Newton never came up, rather Gravity is their latest single, hot off the streaming sites yesterday. It’s quality, as expected, going on their three previous releases, blinding reviews and an appearance on BBC Wiltshire.

It does indeed, as the press release states, “deliver on their brand of retro-modern indie rock,” but while maintaining an emerging signature panache, it pushes firmer towards a heavy rock division. A hasty grinding atmospheric intro with a pause, then the spiralling sonic guitar takes no prisoners. If the last tune, Closing the Line bore topical sentiment with a theme of the town’s Honda Plant closing, Gravity is perhaps more general, but even more powerful. This imminent Swindon-Devizes four-piece really have dug into an emotional slant with Gravity.

The combination of Ben Heathcote’s idiosyncratic vocals, said sonic guitars and class production value, this belts across as a rock anthem to not only scare The Darkness but fight a Foo. They say it comes from “a time of turbulence and explores the burden of life’s toughest decisions.” If I predicted the air of gloom surrounding the era would produce some intensely expressive songs, here is the all the proof you need, if indeed it’s a product of the pandemic. I’m going to find out.

So, I’m wondering, if the recording was done at a distance, or prior to the lockdown. Drummer, Brad Kinsey informed, “it was done in February, in Swindon, with an engineer from Westbury.”

I explained my reasoning, “it sounds heavy, rather darker than usual. So, I wondered if it was a result of the lockdown. Is there a drive to take it that route, I mean slightly darker and heavier, or is just the mood of this particular track?”

Cameron replied “I think it was just the mood of the track. Everything kind of centres around the experience Ben’s lyrics are speaking about. In fact, Ben’s probably the best person to about the story behind the song. But we definitely made a conscious effort to push ourselves on this on to do the song justice.”

It certainly does. “It doesn’t hang around,” I pointed out, “and the vocals are more powerful than before. Seems like a natural progression, a maturity. Not that I’m calling you immature, you understand?!”

Bradley responded, “nah, I get that. I think we gained confidence and are more unified about this sound.”

Cameron interjected, “I think it’s important to all of us to keep pushing ourselves with each release and not churn out the same number. I’m not saying we’re the Beatles or anything, but you know give it some time. We’re still young!”

Bradley bantered, “are you, Cam?!”

Cameron added, “well, some of us are still young…” Laughing emojis are added, but I’m getting paranoid.

“Okay,” I opposed, “spring chickens; don’t rub it in!” But even with any such change, such as the edgier component of Gravity, there’s a distinct signature maintained in all their tunes and this, I feel, sets them apart from many a local band. I could have guessed it was them before knowing it. “Is that important,” I questioned, “to be instantly recognisable?”

Cameron said, “I think it helps that Ben has got a very distinctive and powerful voice. I suppose we’re starting to find our sound as well. Ben & Nath wanted to go a bit heavier with this track but I’m not a massive fan of heavy guitar. So, I opted for a more chimney yet overdriven guitar style that suits me, but also packs a punch. Plus, I got to flex my inner Graham Coxon/Jonny Greenwood with the effects heavy solo part!”

Brad covered this shot too, “I would say so, yeah. It’s good to build a sonic trademark, all the greats have that! It’s a good thing when people can still recognise you, even when you change things. Shows that you’re using that style but without losing the integrity of what you are.”

At this early stage, Daydream Runaways call a good compromise between them, witnessed when they tuned for our Waiblingen Way Fire fundraiser. “There’s always going to be differing opinions,” I pondered, “Bit like marriage!”

Cameron replied, “no relationship comes without some disagreements, a band included. But we’re all good at finding a compromise, which is good!”
Throughout the interview I’m concerned if I should bring the idea of a possible album up, as when we did the fundraiser I asked, and it met with varying opinions between them. However, with the topic running on compromise, it’s now or never! “I wasn’t sure, though wanting to ask, if I should bring it up again!”

Cameron delegated, “Bradley…over to you on the album talk!”

I interjected with the proposal before he did, “I think you should, but accept I’m not thinking about current climate in the music industry, rather an old fashioned ideal.”

Bradley answered, “there was a plan. However, the coronavirus has impacted that. Not going to say it’s completely gone but we’ll wait and see what happens. You can’t really make any plans at the moment.”

Cameron expressed, “it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when is probably all we’ll say for now!”

Brad added, “I’d say doing an album is all dependent on what genre you’re doing. Rock music fans are still very defiant and keeping the album alive. So maybe with this Gravity sound we’ll go down that route.”

It did bring us onto these strange times, and my deliberations on what’s the best approach for artists on how to continue, continues. “What’s best for musicians,” I asked them for their tuppence, “the live stream is simply not the same as a gig, and while charging for it is a bit cheeky, it’s difficult to know where to go to get some revenue for the work you put it. In short, must be a bitch. Let’s not say the word again!”

I couldn’t argue with Brad’s comment, “some bands I follow have rejected the idea and directed people to supporting more pressing causes.”

Meanwhile, Cam elucidated his feelings about the lockdown. “Whilst you really miss that immediate response from a crowd, and the fact you’re in a room where you can play loud and really get into it, they’re still fun to do! We were lucky enough to do one right before the lockdown was enforced. Probably one of the first bands to do it, then Chris Martin came along after with his solidarity sessions. We still haven’t forgiven him for that!”

“Springsteen did one! But not before you!” I supplemented.
Bradley was proud to say, “we were the first UK band to do a self-isolation livestream. There, I said it; Let the feud with Chris Martin begin!”

The topic continued for a while, this dilemma between fan etiquette and revenue for artists. But I wanted to notify how much I enjoyed theirs, “yeah, good it was too. Saw that! Right now, I guess, it’s all we have. That’s the point I cleared with Kieran at Sheer. It’s never going to be the best plan. I think it’s time to get down and write some killer songs, agree?”

Cameron agreed with a feel-good quote, “definitely, but now is also the time to look out for each other, even though we’re all apart. If we can reach out to people with our music or it helps them get through their day, then that’s amazing.”

Bradley approved too, “yeah, and there’s never been a better time to write. Technology’s made it so accessible now to bounce ideas. Who knows, we could even release a song in lockdown without even meeting up.”

It always amazed a younger me, that Paul Simon could collaborate with the South African musicians on Graceland, back in the late eighties, and it sounded like they were playing in harmony in the same studio. It is possible to edit parts and stitch together. Must bugger up the flow of it though, make it sound mechanical or manufactured.”

Bradley replied, “well, if the band records the parts individually themselves and lays off the editing it’s possible to get that organic feel. I wouldn’t be surprise if we start seeing artists jump on this idea and release original tracks.”

It was at this point Ben Heathcote joined us. “It seems like the boys have covered the questions quite well! As Cam said, Gravity comes from a place of uncertainty and pain from circumstances and the decisions triggered from them. A crossroad of the mind. And yeah, lockdown wise we’re hoping it makes people see the value in their freedom before and hopefully will bring out further support when pubs, clubs and entertainment reopen.”

I see Ben’s clarification reflected in the cover art too. With a kind of “stairway to heaven concept,” an impressionist character is looking lost, pondering which road to take. It’s apt for the song.”

Ben welcomed this, “you got it. And again, the artwork is something were really proud of. Provided by ezra.mae.art. We also enjoyed working with Reloopaudio on the production, a friend who we will be working with again. We love this song and we’ve loved the whole creation, writing and everything about it. It’s nice to have developed it from the live sound too.”
For Ben’s benefit, we found ourselves back on the subject of Gravity’s edgier side, “I think it will please the hardcore indie fans, and those which come from a heavy rock side, which is good, there’s a majority of them locally.”

Ben replied, “as you mentioned earlier, with the style sounding fresh, but still us. This is something I’ve always been hot on since the band formed. I’ve never wanted us to be doing the same thing every time. The aim was, and continues to be; to write and produce fresh sounds with hints of varying styles that is still recognisable as us, allowing it to not be boring or repetitive; kind of inspired by many of our favourite artists who keep developing their sound.”

I take off my hat to this, “I might come across pop or soul-ish but I had my day, and do still listen to bands like Zeppelin and Floyd etc. I think Gravity will be boss with that crowd.” With which I asked for their influences, and if they mutual.

Ben reacted, “I’d say our choices are not miles apart, but to pin a group favourite would be impossible as we all have our firm favourite influences.”

Cam agreed, “yeah, I don’t think there was a particular band or artist that inspired the track as such but we all agreed what the sound was we were aiming for. Making sure that each of us brought our own thing to it.”

Laughing emojis made a reappearance, when I teased, “Ed Sheeran it is then!”

Keen to take it back, Brad nods at my sixties psychedelic citations, “Floyd and Zeppelin are timeless though. Prefect example of bands that pushed themselves overtime.” And the Daydream Runaways can relate to that with this progressive new release.

Ben said, “I think before we produced the track, we all knew in our head how it should sound.” It’s definitely a belter. I thank them for their time, with one last question before we headed into our tangent about the rave-indie divide of the nineties! Where do the Daydreamers see themselves in five years?

Ben suggested in five years’ time he would like them to have a steady schedule, “playing to crowds who know our words, filling sold out venues as well as intimate gigs, which we can always remember.”

Cameron felt they’d have “an album or two under our belt, playing to crowds in our favourite venues. Having a slot on The John Peel Stage at Glastonbury is a bit of a dream of mine!” Ah, there’s the source of my waffling, started with seeing Oasis at Glasto but, unbeknown to me at the time, I paid them little attention.

Daydream Runaways though, worthy of your attention, here’s the Spotify link to Gravity, like them up on the book of face, and cross your fingers and toes we’ll be seeing them live soon, if not the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury!


© 2017-2020 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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Falling with Tone and Cutsmith

Since the jazz era, musical genres start covert and underground, and with popularity they’re refined to mainstream acceptability, packaged into a new pop wave, and eventually fall into a retrospective or cult hall of fame. I first stood aghast at the selling-off of our adolescent anthems when I heard Leftfield’s Release the Pressure in an advert for Cheese Strings. When this happens to you, you’re officially past your sell by date!

When my daughter is in the car it’s paramount, she controls the stereo, at least it is to her. I’m indifferent, the bulk of contemporary pop irritates my senior ears, but occasionally there’s a something interesting hidden. There was one, once, don’t expect me to root through her playlist to tell you what one, pop, but with the backbeat undeniably inspired from drum n bass.

My attention was drawn to a tune this week, Falling, from Devizes’ drum n bass outfit SubRat Records via Gail Foster, who shot the video for it. Listening took me to the aforementioned moment; how drum n bass was now part of the “norm” rather than primarily an underground genre. If it has come of age and entered the realm of acceptable pop, though, there’s still room for experimentation and the fusing of styles, which is no bad thing, and precisely what Falling is. Chris, hereafter known as Tone, has set up SubRat, and Pewsey’s Cutsmith is the vocalist on this particular track.

Cutsmith is current, using hip hop to inspire his acoustic compositions, so it melds effectively. In the way David Grey produced Babylon, Suzanne Vega did with Tom’s Diner or the entire catalogue of Portishead, fusing up-to-date dance styles with acoustically driven tunes is a winner, if done correctly. If not, it’s a howler, but I’m glad to say, this one really works wonders. Falling has a sublime ambient texture and glides causally through a mass-acceptable drum n bass riff. Cutsmith’s smooth vocals complements it perfectly, breathes mood into it and gifts it with meaning; the combination, a match made in heaven.

Though this may not be an entirely ground-breaking formula, I’d like to train spotter a nod towards a lesser-known tune on A Guy Called Gerald’s revolutionary album Black Secret Technology, where through splinters of drum n bass, an unknown Finely Quaye covers Marley’s Sun is Shining. But if you’d rather me example recognised tunes of singers who launched a career from featuring on a dance tune, from Seal to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and renowned artists who regenerated theirs, like the day William Orbit got a call from the queen of pop, here’s two local artists collaborating for each other’s good, rather than one tossed a rope to the other.

I wanted to probe the mind of producer Tone, about this concept, as what he’s got here is something very marketable, as opposed to something which would only appease the drum n bass fans. I asked him if this was the intention with this tune, yet I didn’t want him getting the wrong idea; I meant this in the best possible way. Even if, Bohemian Rhapsody, for example, is timeworn and cliché, it’s popular because it’s a bloody amazing song. Pop doesn’t necessarily have to be a sell-out, cast yourself away from Stock, Aitken Waterman.

“You’re definitely right about this particular track sounding more marketable and commercial than your everyday underground D&B piece,” he expressed. “I had no intention of making it sound acceptable to the masses but I’m glad it is like that. I think more people should be able to enjoy drum and bass for all different backgrounds. I’m not really trying to make what everyone wants; I just make what I like the sound of, and quite often or not it’s easy on the ear for everyone.”

I wanted gage the story behind this belter. “When we worked on this piece,” Tone replied, “I started out making the entire track without having any intention of putting vocals on to it. I sent it over to Josh (Cutsmith) and he said he’d love to do something over it, which is when we started recording. It turned out really well even though throughout the production I didn’t think I’d be making anything that sounds like this. My roots are actually firmly with the rave scene and I absolutely love sub-heavy underground vibes.”

Is this a debut single from Sub Rat, I asked him. “This is the first free release off of our label, SubRat Records, by myself, Tone. In a hope to bring people in and start a fan-base.” So, does Tone consider himself a DJ and producer? “I’m based in Devizes and solely a producer right now. I haven’t DJ’d for a long while. I produce a lot of drum and bass, but often step into other genres like Hip-hop, dubstep, grime, modern rap and more commercial stuff etc.”

If our local music scene is blossoming, it can be limiting regarding genres, so I welcome this with open arms. To assume such genres are generally confined to a municipal environment you’d be mistaken. Prior to our chat delving into rave memories, as the typecast urban raver always excluded the rural counterparts since day dot, I tried to keep current and ask Tone if future releases will follow a similar pattern, and where he saw SubRat heading.

“Aside from my solo journey I take pride being in the background for vocalists/rappers and providing the music/instrumentals for them,” he explained, “I want to see people succeed off of my tunes!” I hope so, this is promising and like to see other local singers benefit from an electronic dance music makeover, and if so, judging by this excellent tune, through SubRat, drum n bass is the key component.


© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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Two Fundraising Heroes, Slightly Younger Than Captain Tom!

As the nation embraces the 100th birthday of Captain Thomas Moore, who famously raised over £30 million of NHS Charities Together, I too tip my hat to this war hero, but I also wanted to highlight and thank two very much younger local heroes this week.

Firstly, a huge congratulations goes to 13-year-old Will Foulstone. Yes, the pianist prodigy from Bishops Cannings/Chirton who kindly played the first slot at our Waiblingen Way Fire Fundraiser at the Cellar Bar, and set that bar high for our following acts, Daydream Runaways, Chloe Jordan, The Celtic Roots Collective and Ben Borrill. Oh yeah, and who played with the Script and London’s O2 arena too, mind!

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Will

Father, Stuart, live streamed this grand effort last Monday, which, as part of a Facebook virtual festival, the International online music festival for PPE fundraiser, managed to raise over £1,500 for this worthy cause. Well done Will, a brilliant job!

Our second local hero slightly younger than Captain Tom is our wonderful, six-year-old heroine Carmela Chillery-Watson, who, since her dad Darren couldn’t run the London marathon this year, replaced the 26.2 miles of a marathon with 26 laps of her therapy assault course. This gruelling challenge was also streamed live on 26th April, where Carmela was in high spirits and played to camera while completing this mini marathon. Carmela raised a staggering £1953.00 for Muscular Dystrophy UK. You can still donate to Carmela here for her amazing achievement if you missed it.

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Carmela

“Carmela is sore and tired as expected,” Carmela’s mum said, “and will probably be wiped out tomorrow too, but she certainly did us proud and more today.”

Well done to both our heroes this week, if you know of anyone else we should add please let us know!


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