Wiltshire is not Due a second Lockdown

“It’s easier to fool people than convince them that they have been fooled,” Mark Twain.

Brilliant quote, you best believe it. Here’s the ha-ha irony, I fooled you. There are no sources of information to prove where or when the well-documented author Mark Twain allegedly said this. At least, according to snopes.com. Unless they’ve fooled me of course, which is possible. Nevertheless, it’s a great saying, and as we’re locked up, we rely on the honesty of incoming information from our media.

But the mainstream media is under pressure, they are a business in an everchanging market where nothing is cut and dry. Speed and efficiency are key, it takes far longer to research, write, fact check, edit, produce, publish and distribute then it does to add a wonky opinion on social media, their ultimate competition. Because of this then, I forgive the certain local newspapers, and any other news sources who reported Wiltshire is due another lockdown, maybe they jumped the gun on this, or maybe, there’s a dying need to raise stats. We are in the same boat, please share this click-bait article!

Expressed as a percentage, yes, the R-rate in Wiltshire has risen, and caused our county to be added to a list for a potential second lockdown, but as reporter Dan O’Brien points out on Twitter, context is everything. Lab-confirmed cases went up from just one to four, a drop in the ocean compared to other listed areas. If this is bullshit, if this is a mistake or oversight, or even if it’s clickbait, it is dangerously wrong information with no consequence other than scaremongering.

Example, in the flowing social media comments in response to it I’ve already seen one suggest “it hasn’t helped with people rioting and trips to the beach.” Because, yes, one cannot deny the coastline of landlocked Wiltshire has been densely overpopulated with barmy beach nuts this drizzly week, and oh, we cannot forget the terrible race riots of Urchfont and Chirton, when the streets were amassed with rampaging village immigrants.

“For crying out loud, put the face mask over your nose and mouth, not your eyes and ears!”

Lockdown rules have become the new etiquette, and habit now. No one is suggesting we don’t need to take precautions, heed social distancing and the higher your risk the more important you continue as best you can to abide to the lockdown rules. But we need to be wary also, of new reports either rushed or bias, we need to understand if someone tells us it’s vital for our nails to be pedicured during lockdown, they’re most probably a nailologist desperate to reboot their business, and I feel for them, I really do. Yet a government with external business dealing doing likewise, feeding the masses false information to benefit their investments is unacceptable. Not only should they have a responsibility to the people they govern, the tax-payer forking out for their wages, their luncheons and newly painted aeroplanes, but they have sway over a vast amount of media. Here, we can see the media were wrong and the in my opinion, can only be scaremongering.

Wiltshire artist Si Griffiths is off out, with the right idea!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the good folk of Wiltshire, by comparison, have been nothing short of brilliant in reacting to this terrible pandemic, and we should be proud of that. You do need to talk to people from other places to see the difference it has. I have spoken to many who live in the coastal towns and they say the same complaint, “you wouldn’t believe what I’m seeing here.” Of course, reasons why we’ve done so well is a whole other debate, there’s our mostly rural population, our affluence and our good values and education, but most of all I put it down to, in most part, simply being sensible and abiding by the rules.

Yep, teenagers, they say, yep, I know right, yet aren’t we all getting tetchy to get out and restart our lives? Don’t blame the youth, I’ve seen pensioners secretly nipping out for walks at night, I’ve seen middle-aged shoppers blatantly ignoring social distancing measures, and, in turn I’ve seen younger people obeying and even volunteering to help. Idiots come in all shapes, sizes and ages; You. Know. This. Best we can do, is continue for a little longer, and not use our media to seek someone to blame.

George’s Postcard, from a Motorway

If Devizine is a voyage of discovering artists new to us, ones who pop up time and time again do so because they’re both more than worthy and have become friends. A nice Friday spent watching Phil, Tammy and Jamie live stream from a garden, as The Lost Trades debuted lockdown set in, and well, a video helps in some small way to shield the fact we miss them, miss them all.

George Wilding isn’t one for a live stream, least if he has it was a covert operation. A new single though, I’ve been meaning to mention, Postcards from a Motorway. Postcards being apt, perhaps, while most of us would send a text, George is quaintly old-fashioned. But it’s a fashion which fits, drawing out a mobile phone a decade out of date, his “that’ll do,” ethos inclusive, except with his music. For while archaic style from a bygone youth culture, his music transcends the borders, is unique and refined to exceptional standard.

Here’s the sort of poetically balanced, orchestrated masterpiece we’ve come to expect from George. It’s silky Velvet Underground, arty and nonchalant, drifting through mummers and shards of thought, and entirely, it’s beautiful. It’s as wildly romantic as Tchaikovsky On The Tambourine, sombre as My Backwards Head, as he acoustically cries of paper walls, perpetual drunkenness, pondering without motive, and rambles from winds to lines swearing about the president.

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Feels as if George has pumped as much in as he can with this, but rather than overloaded, it rolls in manner only the greats could accomplish. Example, remember first hearing Springsteen’s Philadelphia? To have seen the plan written you may’ve said whoa! But when that synth drumbeat kicks in, it only assists the ambiance. Yeah, experimental is Postcards from a Motorway, a minute and half in and there’s a clonk of drumbeat, but with married to the subtle piano, and simple acoustic guitar loop, it remains unmistakably George Wilding.

Rather late to publish some words on it, of which I apologise to George, who celebrated 12.3k Spotify streams and 12 playlist features with it this week. I’m posting it here, if you’re not one of those 12.3k, as I wasn’t, because I’m afraid of spotty-fly; old fashioned just like you George, see! Or just plain old. Though when I pointed this out, his response was, “try YouTube,” and I was like, “oh yeah, will do.” Not much of conversation, but his music speaks a novel.

Gorgeous as ever, but only enhances my want to walk through a pub door and see him perched on a stall asking the audience what they want to hear.


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From The Specials; Neville Staple Band in Lockdown

Photos by John Coles
Artwork by Sugary Staple

If last year’s fortieth anniversary of Two-Tone Records saw an upsurge of interest in this homegrown second-generation ska, it shows no sign of flawing anytime soon. Perhaps you could attribute parallels to the social and political climate of our era, or debate intransigent devotees are reliving their youth, but I’d argue it’s simply an irresistible sound.

One thing our eighties counterparts didn’t have to contend with was the Covid19 pandemic, and musicians of every genre are reflecting on it. Ska is of no exception, we’ve seen many contemporary performers releasing new material on the subject, but here we have a legend doing his thing, topically.

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The Neville Staple Band releases this timely single, Lockdown. A dynamic modern-sounding reggae track, yet encompassing all the goodness of the Two-Tone era of yore. Understandable, original rude boy Neville Staple is conversant with this, a founder member and co-frontman of The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Special Beat. Those influences shine through here. There’s something very Fun Boy Three about this tune, with a slice of poetically-driven Linton Kwesi Johnson to its feel.

As true as the song suggests, in lockdown Dr Neville Staple has teamed up with wife Sugary Staple, to pump out this relevant single, commonly reflecting on the feeling of many concerning the virus and staying safe. “Sugary came up with the idea to write a song about the lockdown,” Neville explains, “which, at first, was a very fast-stomping ska track. We then realised that it was too fun and happy a tune for the theme. Most of us have been quite down about the whole virus thing, so we decided to take it on a more sweet but moody 2Tone reggae route, in a similar vein to ‘Ghost Town’, with some music we had worked on previously with Sledge [Steve Armstrong.]”

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While I detect echoes of Ghost Town, this tune also breathes originality and present-day freshness, confirming progression of the genre rather than a frequently supposed nostalgia. Being a local site, some may recall his visit to Melksham’s ParkFest last year, where an unfortunately damp evening didn’t stop the revelling, and Neville stole the show with an assortment of Two-Tone classics. I was backstage with the wonderful support band Train to Skaville. A chance meeting with Neville, when he popped out of his tent for pizza, humourlessly failed to engage long enough to explain who I was, and ended with him pointing at his pizza-box and saying “yeah, I’m going off to eat this.” I should’ve known better than to harass a legend when their pizza is chilling in drizzle! I nodded my approval, knowing I’d have done the same thing.

Neville was awarded an honorary doctorate from Arden University last year. With a tour, and so many international shows and festivals postponed, the couple decided to do a lot of extra charity work as well as new song writing. DJ recordings for people sick in hospitals or in isolation, personally dedicated to them, was just the start. Sugary and Neville wanted to highlight the work of Zoe’s Place, a charity run for terminally ill babies and toddlers. As ambassadors for this charity, Sugary expressed, “charities like these really do suffer at a time like this, as the focus is on other things. But the work they do at Zoe’s Place is like one of a kind and so very special. They step in when families really do need the support, providing 24-hour high quality, one-to-one palliative, respite and end-of-life care for children aged 0-5 years. A heart-breaking time for anyone involved. We must not lose a charity like this – it is too important and so we will be supporting this, along with other charities we are patrons or ambassadors to, with this single.” And the duo dedicates this song to all those who have been affected by Covid-19.

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Shared to our Boot Boy Radio DJs, you can expect we will be spinning in for the foreseeable future, but you can get it here:

7″ vinyl order https://bit.ly/2NeeoUA

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/1s2wuLNQ3q4wsvq7tOUfVh

iTunes https://music.apple.com/gb/album/lockdown-single/1515072018

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Lockdown/dp/B0894K4G1Q


SPECIAL NOTICE – FROM THE SPECIALS, NEVILLE STAPLE & SUGARY:

A MESSAGE TO YOU..! The Legendary Neville Staple (Dr), Sugary Staple & the Band, need your help please.

Can you wonderful people please donate just £3 towards this project (which will also get you 2 signed exclusives pics), or any random amount, or check out the mega exclusive vinyl 45 & CD gift set offers (these are going really well, and are extremely rare limited edition items, so grab them while you can). You just click this link and choose your reward, to then register your donation.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fromthespecials/lockdown-ska-2020-from-the-specials-neville-staple-and-sugary/   


If you like a bit of ska and reggae, catch me on www.bootboyradio.co.uk Fridays from 10pm GMT till midnight!

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A Cracked Machine at the Gates of Keras

Don my headphones, chillax with a cider, and prepare my eardrums for a new album from our local purveyors of space-rock goodness; Cracked Machine is a wild ride….

There are few occasions when mellowed music truly suspends me in the moment, when it just exists in the air like oxygen and totally incarcerates and engulfs my psyche. Jah Shaka and ambient house rascals the Orb both achieved this a couple of dusks at Glastonbury, but the same with likewise happenings, I confess I was intoxicated on matter maturity caused me to long leave in my past!

The issue for any reborn psychedelic-head is pondering the notion, will it ever be the same again, will music and art tease my perception to quite the same degree. The sorry answer is no, unless your intransigent mate slips something in your drink. Yet it’s not all despair, with a sound as rich and absorbing as Cracked Machine, it’s doable without drugtaking shenanigans.

They proved this at the most fantastic day in Devizes last year, which was that bit more fantastic, when what was intended to be a bolt-on feature became the highlight of DOCA’s Street Festival. Funded and arranged by Pete and Jacki of Vinyl Realm, the second stage highlighted everything positive about local music; a historic occasion we’ll be harking on for some time yet. I nipped away briefly after Daydream Runaways stole the early part of the day. But where the lively indie-pop newcomers had roused the audience, I returned to witness a hypnotised crowd and a mesmerising ambience distilling the blistering summer air. Smalltalk was numbed, as if the area was suspended in time. A doubletake to confirm we were still perpendicular, sitting in deckchairs or slouching against a wall on the corner of Long Street and St Johns and not slipped through a time vortex to a Hawkwind set at a 1970 free-party love-in. I was beyond mesmerised, but not surprised.

For this is how it was with their impressive 2017 debut album, I, Cosmonaut, the soundscapes just drifted through me, as I causally drafted the review, reminding me of a smoky haze of yore, giggling in a mate’s bedroom, listening to Hawkwind’s Masters of Universe. Youth of my era though, were subjected to electronic transformation in music, which would soon engulf us. Rave culture cut our space-rock honeymoon short, though, Spaceman 3 were a precursor to the ambient house movement of the Orb, Aphex Twin and KLF, others changed their style, like Frome’s Ozric Tentacles merging into Eat Static, and a perpetually changing line-up for Hawkwind appeased the older rock diehards.

I love I, Cosmonaut, it manages to subtly borrow from electronica and trance, only enough to make it contemporary, but keep it from being classed as anything else other than space-rock. I felt their second album, The Call of the Void avoided this slice of Tangerine Dream, and submerged itself totally in the hard rock edge; bloody headbangers! Therefore, it’s a refreshing notion to note newly released Gates of Keras bonds the two albums and sits between them perfectly.

Again, there’s little to scrutinise as it rarely changes, it meanders, trundles me to a world beyond wordplay, as these completely instrumental tracks roll into one another, gorgeously. A Deep Purple styled heavy bass guitar may kick it off, yet the opening track Cold Iron Light takes me to the flipside of Floyd’s Meddle, with seven and half minutes of crashing drums and rolling guitar riffs. Temple of Zaum continues on theme, Ozrics-inspired funkier bassline, and we’re off on the drifting journey, splicing subtle influences. The Woods Demon, for example, stands out for particularly smooth almost Latino guitar riff, making it my personal fave. Yet Move 37 is heavier, upbeat, like the second album. Low Winter Sun is sublime blues-inspired, imagine Led Zeppelin created Satisfaction rather than the Stones, if you will.

Recorded back in November, this is eight lengthy soundscapes of pure bliss, and will guarantee you a safe trip. A signature album for a lonely lockdown of dark, yet emersed in a time of Tolkien-esque vibes and mandelbrot set fractal posters. If this was released in the mid-seventies-to early-eighties every spotty teenager would be inking their army surplus school bag with a biro-version of Cracked Machine’s logo. As it is, age taking its toll and all, I have no idea if this still happens, but doubt it. None of that matters, here is a matured era of the genre, only with a glimpse of how it once was. Nicely done.

PSG Choirs Show Their True Lockdown Colours

Five choirs strong, since their origination by Will Blake in Derry Hill six years ago, PSG Choirs run in Calne, Melksham, Devizes, Chippenham and Trowbridge and welcome all, with experience or not. All you need is a zest for singing. Function entertainment provider, Will formed PSG with a desire to unite his local community and provide a fun experience.

Known for expanding the preconceptions of a choir and taking multi-genre projects including pop, soul and gospel, today they’ve an impressive résumé spanning shows and concerts across Wiltshire and Somerset. Performances include The Festival of Light at Longleat House, a Bowood House charity concert, and a Macmillan Cancer care concert at the Neeld Hall, as well as the Calne Arts and Music Festival, oh, and there was that time they took to road, spontaneously performing through our market towns.

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The choir operates its rehearsals with a walk-in policy, and have become socially engaging. “PSG is all about hope, happiness and getting pleasure out of the music we sing,” they say, and try to produce up to ten concerts annually. Things the way they are though, regular meeting are reduced to online, but nothing can halt the desire to sing, and members joined an assembly via Zoom to show their true colours yesterday. With a wonderful sounding video, the multitudes of PSG delivered a beautiful rendition of a Cyndi Lauper classic. It makes for an enticing showcase of the work they do, and is sure to cheer your afternoon up!

Artist Melinda Copyright Scam: Do Not fall for it

Where do these bell-ends get off? I confess, this scam got me….

A lesson learned not to check emails before I head off to work in the wee hours of the morning this week, as I fell hook, line and sinker for a shrewd little scam. That time in the morning, I’m even more gullible than usual! Thought I’d mention it here, so if you blog or work in the media, you don’t get fooled if it should head your way.

After the umpteen times explaining to my mum on the phone how to be mindful and wary of emails and social media posts with links, I confess, emotion got the better of me with this one. I feel like such an idiot for falling for it. My entire day was ruined by Melinda, the illustrator, the very angry illustrator, if she exists at all, which I doubt, so I’ll call them nasty pricks; for want of a more offensive term.

Note, I endeavour to check my sources of all the images we use on Devizine, I’ve been a victim of intellectual property theft myself and it’s a horrible feeling, like you’ve been psychically burgled. I’d welcome if anyone spots an image of theirs, they get in touch immediately, and we can credit you appropriately, link it to your website, or if you prefer, remove it. Note also, we are a non-profit-making website; this is a hobby but, in turn, I take copyright issues personally and seriously. Copyright infringement is a bitch, a red tape minefield in this digital era, and the last thing I want is to upset a creator. Imagine my surprise then when a message arrives via the feedback form on the website, claiming I had used their images without permission.

The message was thus: “This is Melinda and I am a licensed illustrator. I was confused, to put it nicely, when I came across my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without my approval, you should be aware that you could be sued by the owner. It’s illegal to use stolen images and it’s so nasty! Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at devizine.com and my earlier publications to obtain evidence of my legal copyrights.”

It ends by requesting I “delete the images mentioned in the document above within the next several days, I’ll write a complaint against you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.” Then it ends abruptly with a threat, “And if it doesn’t work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.” Looking at it now I see the holes, but rather than a formal notice, it is just the sort of knee-jerk reaction you might expect from an angry artist upon finding their work stolen, and I fully sympathise with those who do.

My heart leapt into my mouth and the immediate response is to resolve the issue as fast as possible. The catch is Melinda, the imaginary illustrator, hasn’t named the images she has an issue with; you have to click on a link to see her “case file,” and reveal what images of hers you’ve blatantly nicked. I did click, it took me to a Google Drive page which didn’t load immediately, so quickly closed it down. I’d have to contact her via the email address she left or her website. The emails returned unsent; the website didn’t exist.

Yeah, I know, this should’ve been evidence enough to tell me it was a trick, but my mind was still wound up with what-ifs, and worries I’d offended someone. I had to speculate as to what images they could be, and came up with two on an article which I deleted post-haste. Then, throughout my work day I’m contemplating, what if they weren’t the right pictures, and I wracked my brain to think of others they might be.

When I got home, I tried the email again, to be sure, changing the capital letter for lower case. I messaged the person who was the subject of the article, as I lifted the suspected images from his Facebook page, though he is in Argentina, I’d have to allow for the time difference. Then I Google searched illustrators called Melinda as contacted them too, asking them if they’d messaged our website. It was only thanks to Ida of InDevizes who messaged me after seeing my Facebook post, I found out others had the same message, and it was confirmed a scam.

Virus scan today picked up no threat. No harm done, just an upsetting day, a pointless waste of my time and the notion I will be cautious of anyone calling up copyright issues in future, which in turn could affect our ability to work with creators to ensure we get it right. As if copyright isn’t complicated enough, these absolute bell-ends have to meddle with your emotions, and ruin your day. I’m just posting so you’re aware, as I’m surprised that I fell for it, is all. Onwards as ever….

Sheer Music’s MVT Open Letter to Government

Hats off to Sheer Music, who has a Music Venue Trust open letter template, calling for the government to consider grass roots music venues.

You can download the template letter from the Sheer site, link here, and are encouraged to send it to your local MPs and councillors, with a cover letter in your own words, explaining your circumstances and why you feel live music is important.

With news today pubs and restaurants will reopen on 4th July, massive restrictions are set and live music doesn’t look like it will be happening again anytime soon. With some thought applied and careful planning, I’m certain performances could potentially restart too.

This is vital to the livlihood for not only event organisers and landlords, but our musicians too. Please, if you can follow the instructions from the Sheer page, thank you.

Brownie Dad in the Ring!

Yay, happy Father’s Day, Dads, we are number one, so why try harder?!

Received a photo-card from my son of my good self proudly showing off my moobs, and my daughter got me a fit-watch thingy to measure my steps, heart rate and all of that malarkey; a smidgen suspicious they’re trying to tell me something. Yet, by way of a complete turnaround, I’ve also bagged myself a box of brownies from the Gourmet Brownie Kitchen in Poulshot and now I’m staring at my fit-watch, eagerly awaiting brownie o’clock to come….

…. hold on…. Yeah, oh, mmmm, nice, yeah baby; these are the kiddy! I rest my case. Take this as my specialised technical food review; who do I look like, Mary Berry?

Now the deed is done. Amazingly, I did twenty-six steps going to the kitchen to get the brownies! It was worth the effort though, probably worth it if my kitchen was located on top of Mount Etna. Cos, like, cakes have trends, don’t they? A year or so ago it was all cup cakes this and cup cakes that; all in the icing and fancy decoration. Don’t get me wrong, nothing against the cup cake, but brownies are the new top dog, all the fancy ornamental stuff and icing begone, simple, stodgy little blessings they are, those brownies. Though, there was a variety in the box, particularly standing out visually was the fudge one with marshmallows and covered in white chocolate. I couldn’t single any out though, for all their subtle differences, I loved them all with impartiality and equality!

I tried my hand at baking them once upon a time, bought a tray especially, but they came out like squares of chocolate sponge a six-year old might make.

What’s the secret in making those beauties stodgy and so utterly gorgeous? I don’t know, put a book on them like pressed flowers? Ah, I don’t need Google, I don’t need to know, really. Jodie Perkins knows, might well be her secret, and that’s good enough; leave the brownie-making to the experts. I’m only professional in the eating part and telling you, because I know a good brownie when I taste a good brownie, and the brownies at The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen are somewhere between a brownie paradise and brownie heaven; about halfway.

Jodie founded the business in 2013 and in June last year she opened her shop at the Poulshot Lodge, which is a double-whammy as I picked myself up some wicked ribeye steaks while I was there! Now she’s shipping these beauties out nationally. Jodie makes cakes for celebrations, she offers vegan and gluten-free options, and she has a website for orders, you don’t need to wait for the next Father’s Day; any day should be a brownie day.

International Ska! Hugo Lobo teams up with Lynval Golding and Val Douglas

If I penned an all-purpose article a week or so ago, about ska in South America being as prospering now as it once was in England, I follow it up with this grand example….

Argentina’s Dancing Mood trumpeter and producer Hugo Lobo made history this week, releasing “Fire Fire,” a skanking upbeat cover of a Wailers rarity, by calling in international troops. Throughout this prolific career, Hugo endeavours to encourage legendarily collaborations, exalting the international genre and keeping the flame of Ska and Rocksteady alive.

Dancing Mood staggeringly sold over 200,000 albums. Hugo Lobo presented his debut solo album ‘Ska is the Way’ in 2017. This renowned trumpeter not only performed and produced for many of the south American ska and reggae bands I mentioned in my previous piece, but transcends to international acclaim, working with Rico Rodriguez, Janet Kay, The Skatalites, Doreen Shaffer, and Dennis Bovell. With Jerry Dammers, Hugo paid tribute to Rico Rodriguez in 2015 at the London International Ska Festival.

In a transcendental meeting, three generations of ska artists from the corners of the planet combined to recreate this 1968 musical nugget from the Wailers’ homemade label “Wail’n Soul’m,” where Peter Tosh leads. Jamaican-born British rhythm guitarist and vocalist Lynval Golding, of the Specials and who later founded the Fun Boy Three with Terry Hall and Neville Staple, is central to the single, yet he always is central to something ska! Lynval appeared on Glasto’s Pyramid Stage with Terry Hall backing Lily Allen, and the Park Stage where Blur frontman Damon Albarn and beatboxer Shlomo knocked out Dandy Livingstone’s “Message to You Rudy,” a popular cover for the Specials.

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Lynval Golding

With a generation-spanning résumé, Lynval Golding continues with current group, Pama International, undoubtedly the UK’s most celebrated contemporary ska outfit who we were the first new band in thirty years to sign to Trojan Records. Yet through this huge portfolio, Hugo Lobo proudly announces his presentation is Lynval Golding’s first solo material.

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Lynval with Jerry Dammers and Jools Holland

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, Hugo also called upon the current bassist of The Skatalites, Val Douglas to add to the enthralling sound. Check the bass on Bob Marley’s “Wake Up and Live” if you want a shining example of Val’s talent. Though Val is a multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer and producer, working with just about any reggae legend you could name; Toots & The Maytals, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Ernest Ranglin, The Abyssinians, Delroy Wilson, Dennis Brown, Ken Boothe, Lloyd Charmers, as well as contemporary ska artists the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble.

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Val Douglas

All this considered, it could go one of two ways, overloaded with ego and fighting for centre stage as would many legends of other genres, or simply a sublime sound. Bear in mind this is SKA, collaborations are more frequent and common than rock and pop, and unlike the often-pugnacious insolence of ska bands, there’s never anything narcissistic about legendary collaborations. Glad to announce it’s the latter of the two ways, this sound leads the way. It holds all the catchiness we expect from ska, it heralds tradition but sounds fresh and innovative; the hallmark of the scene I love.


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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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Catch me Fridays at 10pm to Midnight for a west country humoured ska, reggae and anything goes show!

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Virtuous Violence of a Clock Radio

If the name Clock Radio suggests an irritating box by your bed you simply want to lunge at in the morning, the casual “Talking Heads” fashion of local purveyors of self-proclaimed “deluded jangle rock,” entice no such violent action; they’re smooth and arty. Though, ironically describe themselves as “easily triggered, dishonest, cryptic yet flirty,” and violence is likely the disingenuous subject of a new tune, virtuously. Talking Heads though, Psycho Killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?

Idiosyncratic irony and intellectual self-satire, isn’t it? Regulars at Devizes Southgate, Clock Radio threw their retrospective namesake to the wind a year ago, and joined the download generation, as far as distributing their wares. “Throw out your vinyl grandad,” they call ageistly called to order, “Clock Radio just went digital!”

Their enigmatic sound though is much the same proficient “new wave” formula you’ll hear live; if it ain’t broke. They brand themselves through posters using snippets from cringeworthy seventies catalogues or Gilliam’s Python animation-styled images; all very pop art. Their sound reflects such an epoch, so such ageist jests can be nothing more than the elemental tongue-in-cheek bravura which will aptly see them billed alongside Calne’s Real Cheesemakers.

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Out this week,“Virtuous Violence” is their fifth virtual release, following two singles and two EPs. With a spooky clocktower chime introduction, a gothic guitar riff flows through this otherwise poetic and smooth tune. It’s melodic retrospective post-punk goodness, would be avant-garde if appropriated its era. Yet if that Brian-Eno-slipping-on-The-Pixies kind of causal and breezy ambience is the fashion Clock Radio seek through their previously releases, they’ve nailed it with this one.

For while I’ll flitter with the genre, a tune has to “pop,” for me to take hold of it, and Virtuous Violence transcends the boundaries of their previous releases for catchiness and in capturing the imagination. Don’t run away with the notion they achieved this with the ease of synth-pop, for that’s an element of new wave they steer away from, keeping it traditionally analogue. No, this is just, well, nice on the ears. Another one for post-lockdown “must do” hitlist.


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Have a Sophia’s Soul Rebels after-lockdown party!

If we’re all eager to consign this lockdown to the history books, none so more, perhaps, than our pub landlords/ladies and event organisers.

I’d hope and imagine they’re considering ways to make the return to normal a real celebration. Just a suggestion then, as nothing with such universal appeal would bring the party to an apex then some live soul and Motown; yeah, I know right, comes at price though. But there is an affordable option, and they sound great.

I’d advise you check out this Sophia’s Soul Rebels video, recorded at the Bug @ Spider the week before lockdown, and tell try tell me this wouldnt liven your evening up!

https://www.facebook.com/sophiaandthesoulbrothers/

Town Council raising £750 to support the Devizes Mayor’s Charities

We were all saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected death of Cllr. Andy Johnson, the newly elected Town Mayor of Devizes, on the evening of 25th May, only ten days into his term of office.

Many people across the Town have already paid tribute to his kindness and generosity as both a neighbour and a worker for local charities.

One of the traditions of the Mayors of Devizes is to use their term of office to raise funds for charities which support the people of the Town. Andy had chosen three deserving charities to support, the Devizes Foodbank, Devizes Opportunity Centre, and the new St James Centre, but his untimely death occurred before he was able to turn that intention into reality.

Please join us in making a donation to this appeal, set up in Andy’s name, to raise much needed funds for his chosen charities in his memory. The Covid-19 crisis has affected all charities, but has been a particular blow for smaller, local, groups whose income has dropped substantially now that “lockdown” has prevented their normal fund raising activities from taking place. The need for their services remains as great, so many are in real crisis. Your contribution will not only allow you to honour the memory of a dedicated supporter of our local community, but will make a real difference to the lives of people within Devizes

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mayorandyjohnson thank you!

Father’s Day; Keeping Ideas Local

Whether he’s sofa slouching with his one hand down his pants the other clasping a beer, watching classic Euro finals and yelping like it’s happening now, or digging up weeds in the garden, proudly displaying his builder’s butt, don’t forget your Dad this Father’s Day…..

ON SUNDAY! I confess, I did one year, and live to regret it now he’s gone; insert sad emoji. Though it’s a man-thing for banter to ride over showing our emotion, if you’re not a dad yourself you’re excused for thinking it’s all a commercial con and your dad doesn’t want the attention, and all they did, after all, was the naughty bit. You are wrong though, I’m afraid. It does mean a lot to those dadas and father figures, believe me.

Remember we live to embarrass you in public, that’s why we have those sandals and oversized khaki shorts, but we do it because we care! So, you’ve a few more days to get it together, shops are reopening, I urge you keep it local, but what can you do to show him, through all his faults, you love and respect that balding misunderstood numpty?! Here’s some ideas….


Cards and Gifts!

Yep, easy one, innit? Top of the list though. Keeping it local, nip down the High Street, Devizes, and find Expressions Card Shop. They have reopened, and have all the cards, balloons and gifts you could ever want to shower your pops with.

Another cool place to check out, antiques and vintage shop Ele’s Emporium in Seend, they suggest some homemade beer coasters which would save your mum having to moan at him for beer rings on her bespoke coffee table; you know he’ll try to blame it on you otherwise!

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Or make something yourself, the Wiltshire Scrapstore & Resource Centre  have everything the creative need to construct something truly unique. The scrapstore is a wonderful, eco-friendly charity whose aim is to promote learning through creativity. And if it all fails and you’re covered head-to-toe in double-sided sticky tape, gifts can also be found in Barty’s next door at Bowden Hill, Lacock!


Buy him a Record or CD!

Nip to Vinyl Realm, even if you don’t know what music the old fellow is into; experts Pete and Jacki will be able to advise, and nab yourself a long player that’ll take your dear ol’ pops back to a far off time when he was young; just take a step back if he attempts to belt out Cracklin’ Rosie or show off his dad-dancing; it’s never a pretty sight!

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Beer and Snacks!

I admit some Batman socks once got me a tad excited, but usually socks are a cliché yawn. Beer, that’s what he wants, and snacks to go with it. The Vaults in Devizes and Piggy Bank in Calne offer Father’s Day boxes of such necessities, and they’ll deliver them on Saturday or Sunday. Order on their respective websites and you can benefit from the amusement of watching Dad get sloshed.

The Southgate is also available to get take-outs, might be a plan; check with your favourite boozer to see who’s also doing take-outs; Dads are raring to get back down the pub, so you could be onto a winner with this idea. Mathematically the equation is thus: Dad + Beer = Happy Dad.


Tea for Two!

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy with any food, and I’m a dad; must be something in that notion. The Happy Food Company of Devizes have put together a special afternoon tea for Father’s Day, fresh delivered to your door on the day.

Cake selection, Coffee and walnut cake, Guinness and chocolate cake, large pork sausage roll, scone, jam and cream, loose tea from teainc and at £20 for 2. Mum will love it too, even if it’s not her special day!


A Takeaway Roast Dinner!

Who’s got one of those Dads who is always in the kitchen? Yeah, thought not! Still, might benefit him if mum’s in a good mood; get a takeaway roast dinner from the Pelican in Devizes; wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Best way to a man’s heart. Roast pork, chicken or stuffed Portabello mushroom with blue cheese sauce and lovely home made desserts. Vouchers can be redeemed for up to one year, and they have Take Away Mid Week Specials from around the World!

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Sweeties!

While we’re on grub, Dads love ‘em, simple as. Savannah’s Sweets in Devizes have reopened, and still do takeaway orders for home delivery. It’s an idea, save him nicking your Haribo, after all.

savannah


Picnic!

Every Dad is, in some way, like Yogi Bear, and love a pic-a-nic. Over at Lower Farm, home to Rowdey Cows and Spotty Dogs, they’re having a socially distancing picnic; the shop has everything you need to make it as swanky as you like, and the café is open for teas, coffees, and of course, it goes without saying; ice cream! The Spotty Dog also has a male grooming gift sets as a secondary idea. So, if your dad has adopted the Planet of the Apes look over the lockdown, this might be the very idea.


Have a BBQ!

Dad and barbeque, like horse and carriage. Butchers HF Stiles in Bromham have a mixed grill pack especially for Father’s Day

Avebury’s Gourmet Goat Farmer have some gift bags for a delicious goat-based barbeque. Complete with a goat-themed greetings card, and goat burgers, brioche rolls, goats’ cheese, and a selection of locally sourced salad items, the first 10 orders get a FREE bottle of Ramsbury Brewery beer thrown in too!

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Crafts!

Amelia-Rose Creations in Trowbridge has lots of nice ideas, including some brilliant framed worded pieces with Lego superheroes on, get in faster than a speeding brick train though.

Sugar & Spice Bows is another great online crafter with some idea for Father’s Day, their keyrings might not get to you on time, but would be make a great belated gift!

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And never forget our Naz at Cositas Bonitas, crazy little craft shop in Sidmouth Street, Devizes. While I cannot see they’ve anything specific for Dads, they’ll guaranteed to have endless ideas in there.


Get a book from a local author!

No point in doing this article without a shameless slice of self-promotion! Buy a paperback or Kindle version of the five-star rated sci-fi comedy, White Space Van Man by yours truly; it’s right up his street, lots of rude words, and it’ll keep him quiet for weeks, save for a perpetual bout of belly-laughs!

whitespacevanman


Let him eat CAKE!

Devizes-based TrayCake will deliver a Father’s Day treat box to a five-mile radius and, mate, I’ve checked their website, only browsed the photos, but I’ll be dribbling for the foreseeable future.

Secretly though I know what I’m getting, thus is the plight of being father, the invoice was emailed to me! I wasn’t going to mention it, because within half-hour of going online they were sold out. The good news is though, The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen at Poulshot Lodge has a new batch of Father’s Day Treat boxes. OMG and other such exclamation abbreviations, had some of these at the Devizes Food Festival; see, my kids know how to push my buttons. Although I’ll probably have lock myself in the downstairs loo if I think I’ve any chance of stuffing them all!

brownie

My work here is done. For the good of all Dad’s out there, the ones who deserve more than a Lynx deodorant set, but probably need one, have a great day! See you down the pub soon, alright?!


Paul Lappin; Awake in the Dark

“Lying Awake in the Dark,” the new single from Swindon’s indie soloist Paul Lappin, drives a breezier and more melodic sound than previous singles, taking me to something Jamie R Hawkins or Phil Cooper might conjure. As his third single to discover on Bandcamp since the upbeat “Life Was Good,” near on a year ago, here’s an indie-pop rock artist I’ve just discovered, worthy of lots of attention.

Though our friend Dave Franklin, over at Dancing About Architecture got there first, describing Paul’s sound thus, “it bridges a gap between the sweeter sounds of the pre-Britpop era and today’s indie creations. This is an infusion of past and present, a blend of indie, rock and pop which is at turns melodic, euphoric and soulful but always honest, relevant, reflective and passionately in love with life.”

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There’s a positively determine, tried and tested formula at work here, which may break no new ground, yet is beguiling nonetheless, and needs no experimentation. While the first two singles prompt me to suggest, though proficient, it’s all quite contemporary indie-pop, joyous and optimistic, Lappin reflects on the more melancholic theme a lost love with “Lying Awake in the Dark,” and to be honest, it suits. Backed by partial exerts of female vocals, provided harmoniously by Emily Sykes, whispering through the melody, the composition is exquisite.

Paul spent some time in rural isolation in France, polishing his song-writing skills, along with painting and sketching. Winning a song-writing competition with his debut single, the aforementioned “Life Was Good,” the story starts here. No stranger to this self-isolation era then, Paul says, “it feels familiar, all be it under very different circumstances. But now I’m confined to my parents’ house in England, where I’ll continue to draw, paint, and write songs. Might as well make the most of it.” Paul strives towards an album release shortly; something to watch out for from him, his handful of backing performers and Swindon’s celebrated Earthworm Studios.

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There’s a kind of rueful honesty and openness about Paul’s building discography, the sort after attending just the single gig I’d imagine you retire with the content notion you know this guy,  hence my comparison to our Jamie or Phil. Tracks are downloadable for a mere quid, for example; there’s no fleecing here. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear the cover art is a self-portrait, here you get the whole package of a person. It is, though, a watermark of a great acoustic musician, and Paul fits that bill.


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Blossom with Gail (from Devizes)

Phone memory bursting with text messages from Gail Foster the day I did my fundraising milk round in my Spiderman onesie. A keen photographer as well as accomplished local poet, Gail had cycled to the summit of Monument Hill and sat awaiting to capture the moment I returned triumphant.

I confess, I underestimated my ETA massively due to the media attention, Carmela and family arriving, and passers by stopping me to donate. I was also irritable and smelly by that point, but those are occupational hazards at the best of times, doubly so in a onesie in the sweltering August climate. Gail, though, was as dedicated as paparazzi to getting the snap she wanted, got me smiling just to see her there, and it’s the same commitment she shows through her expressions in poetry. Her shiny new book, Blossom is a prime example.

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Images by Gail Foster herself!

Perhaps its very title coveys Gail’s grouping of photography and poetry, natural elements crucial to her snaps, but her books bestow only the written word. We’ve reviewed Gail’s books in the past, never an easy task. Poetry not my bag, usually, so I cannot liken to similar creative outpourings. There’s also the fear that my own penmanship doesn’t compare and will not do justice to her creative writing. Poems are hard, something about bacon. Yet it is down to befriending Gail which has re-sparked an interest in poetry in me, and deflected my juvenile fear of a Ted Hughes book facing me on a school desk. That’s how universally appealing her words are.

While subjects chronologically stream from one poem to another, expect also, sudden changes in Gail’s train of thought. Blossom kicks off with a memorial forward and dark subjects follow, of wintery funerals and melancholic seasons. One may expect this, the platitude of poems often reveals a shadowy side of the poet. But, just a few poems in and though we’re still on the seasonal theme, winter cries a warning to Gail, to keep her knickers on.

Here is precisely why Gail got me into in poetry, a feat I never cared to assume would happen. The wittiness of the absurd, surreal, Pythoneske can crop up, without warning and provide actual laugh-out-loud observations. There’s a feeling of daring in Gail’s words, while acute and proficiently executed, nothing is off limits. Gail projects drollness, jocularity and just about every other emotion of the human psyche, in manner which though reflects poets of yore, breathes a fresh and unique approach to boot.

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In this, her new book Blossom doesn’t necessarily take us anywhere new in comparison to her previous collections, there’s even a pigeon reference, a running subject in Gail’s words, yet an improvement in skill and wordplay is clearly evident. Gail strives to advance and progress in her wordsmanship, dealing words like a croupier deals cards, snappy and expertly.

The introduction enlightens us to Gail’s motivation and reason for writing, “I write poems for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes an occasion demands it, in which case I stare at a sonnet on a screen for three days; at other times a poem might tickle me in my sleep, wake me up laughing.” Blossom then conveniently divides into sections, poems covering Seasons, poetry itself, “Binky Liked to Bitch a Bit,” Politics, Characters, Sorrow, Love and Prose, even local thoughts in a section titled, “a bit of old Devizes.”

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There are verses dedicated to friends, themes of celebrities, naughty royals and both Greta and Trump, odes to patronising old men, nosey neighbours, political sway, Brexit, current affairs and Nigel Farage depicted as a meerkat. As we pass through an era Gail documents them uniquely. There are unapologetic words of the sweary kind, bitterness at times, jollity in others; bugger, it’s tricky to nail this poet down; what does she want from me, trying to review a book so vastly sweeping with subject matter and prose?! I’m giving up, you have to read it yourself. You can bless your Kindle with one, or Gail favours that you nip to Devizes Books for a paperback, and I tend to agree. Devizes Books brilliantly supports local authors.

In this time of lockdown, you might need a good read, so too does the artists need some revenue. The advantage of holding Gail’s poems in your hand is that you can freely pursue them at your own leisure. We did once review a spoken word CD which Gail recorded, I like this approach and unsure if she will do it again.

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Proof it’s in Devizes Books, here’s owner Jo holding a copy!

I could, but don’t, motivate myself to attend local poetry slams and readings, in fear those poets I know, Gail, our own writer Andy, and Ian too, might encourage me to get up. Yeah right, “here’s one I wrote called ermm, ermm, and ermm!” Yet, I do love to hear Gail actually reading her poems herself, it’s a Jackanory thing, to hear the creator express their words is far more effective for a slow reader like me. But you, clever lot, will love Blossom.


© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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