They always remind me of an occasion, at a festival in Andalusia. I watched this great French reggae band. The slighty rotound frontman looked rather like the late, great Jacob Miller. After the performance I noted he was standing close to me, watching the following act. I went over in hope of telling him how much I enjoyed their music, praying they spoke English.
I momentarily regretted my school French lessons, which I spent making homemade comics out of text books, as he replied with an adamant no upon asking if he spoke English.
All the vocabulary my intoxicated mind could conjour was “tres bien,” so I repeated it perpetually in true Del-Boy fashion!
Otherwise the meeting was the awkward silence of communication breakdown, in which I suspected they thought I was completely nuts. Not so far from the truth.
So, I namedropped Jacob Miller and suddenly we had understanding and mutual respect for the man. My point is, sometimes the Emertarians sing in Spanish and sometimes English, often the Spanish ones more emotive, but reggae has no language barriers, because it’s spiritual meaning and uplifting ambiance is universal. As with the French Jacob Miller-alike, we were on the same song sheet….
Naturally at that conjunction, I rolled a joint.
And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….
Wonderful Trowbridge-based music charity, Wiltshire Rural Music revealed an online programme project, Live at Town Hall, today.
In collaboration with Trowbridge Town Hall, they plan to stream full concerts of our outstanding local musicians, starting in February. I hope to have more information for you, when dates and acts are announced.
Wiltshire Rural Music do an outstanding job supporting and enabling local communities and individuals to realise their musical potentials and fullfilling their ambitions. They provide room hire, give bursaries and work closely with Alzheimer’s Support, taking music into care homes and schools across the county.
More info on the work they do here. Follow them on Facebook for details of the streamed gigs.
You can give it to me straight and agree, I’m old. Though as much as I hold dear the hours browsing record shops for a seven-inch slither of vinyl, the stream’s advantage is manyfold. Perhaps none more than the increased availability and distribution of home-made wares.
Vinyl junkies were restricted to what the music industry decided. While DIY music was around then, it was a needle in an underground haystack, obscured by a lack of prior knowledge of counter culture distribution, and even if you were aware, still they cost post and packaging.
Send a SAE in good faith, and when the musician finally finished his last bong, made it off his scabby sofa to the post office, you’d receive your cassette, only to find out it wasn’t as good as you’d been convinced it was by the crazy fractal advert in a punk-paste zine. We’ve come a long way, folks.
Local independent, country, singer songwriter, Kirsty Clinch posts on Facebook, one of the many social media platforms she tweaks to promote her music. Her latest single, Around and Around has reached a staggering 2K Spotify streams in just five days, managing to peak at number four in the iTunes country chart. It’s an achievement made mostly on her own, but does it prove the value of DIY rather than aiming to be signed by a label, can anyone with social media savvy achieve it, or is simply that it’s a great song from an exceptionally talented musician?
It’s certainly that much. Dreamy and evoking, Around and Around sees the ever-enlightening Kirsty at the ultimate perch in her career, in line for the forthcoming album, it leaves you dripping in anticipation for more. “Around & Around is all about catching your dreams,” she explained, “taking chances and not getting stuck in ruts; that’s just what I’m doing right now.”
A smidgen punchier than her previous release, Fit the Shoe, and perhaps even more beguiling than that beauty. To hear it is to engrossed in its pensive narrative, as all classic country should. But its Americana influences are subtle, it never references peripheral subject, as much UK country artists feel impelled to mention boxcars, dustbowls, and things you wouldn’t expect to find in their English suburban hometowns. No, Around and Around, like, Fit the Shoe is romantically topsy-turvy themed, flexible for a wider, international audience and contemporary sounding.
That said, Kirsty is no stranger to authenticity, travelling and performing in Nashville at venues such as the Blue Bird. Aside the clear influence of country’s leading ladies, the likes of Parton and Wynette and modern folk-rock artists, KT Tunstall and KD Lang spring to mind, Around and Around evoked memories of Kate Bush more than any other tune I’ve heard of Kirsty’s, in its haunting atmosphere rather than vocal arrangement. I put this to her.
“I don’t get the Kate Bush thing; my voice is not as squeaky!” she laughed, “I’m not a big fan of hers, which is weird as you’re not the first person to say it either. She’s huge though and loved for what’s she does, so I won’t complain!” I had to explain I meant more the whole ambience of the sound rather than squeakiness of her voice, but we needed to move onto the immediate success of this particular tune, and where she hope it will lead.
“It won’t go higher,” Kirsty predicts, and I hope she’s wrong. “Only slowly hides away after that, the famous people take over sooner or later! But songs can always come back, so [I’ve] just got to keep hustling.”
I took Kirsty back a couple of years, sitting chatting on the lawn at BromFest, we discussed the hopes of an album then; best things come to those who wait. Aside her nonchalant social media persona, I perceive Kirsty to be a perfectionist on the quiet, certainly shows with these two singles. “Yes, I have one more coming out hopefully before May, and then I’ll drop the 14-track album,” she announced, “That’s why it’s taken so long, it’s a big one, but for a first timer in online sales, I had to do it to catch up!”
I’m aware Peter Lamb had a hand in this remarkable achievement, so I name-dropped the local legend, “all produced by Pete?”
“I did the whole thing in my bedroom studio by myself,” Kirsty replied, adding an angel emoji. “Pete added the bass, and then corrected my mixing and mastering mistakes at the end, as I got frustrated on the last bit! So, I’m pretty proud of it for that reason.”
It must be a relief to get an album complete, but the hard work is only halfway there, getting out and promoting it follows. Which part does Kirsty favour, despite psychically getting out and launching is impossible at the moment?
“I like all of the process,” she chuckled. “Gigs will come back, I’m just making the most of the situation and working with what I’ve got for now, there is always a way around things when you’re creative.”
Returning to my opening notion, due to developments in tech and a motivation for independence, a professional sound can be achieved at home. Kirsty furthered that she did the artwork and music video for this track all by herself too, due to lockdown.
“The album launch is not so essential,” she pondered, “when I can promote it just as good online anyway now.” As I said, Kirsty has a sturdy online presence, accomplished at building a YouTube audience, but is that more important to her than an album?
“It’s equal. All my fans are excited for the album! But the social media side of things mean they get to know you more, which is essential for selling music in the first place. Loads of people sell music, the marketing is the part that makes them what to listen to yours.”
And her secret?
“Get to know your story etc,” Kirsty elucidated, “and connect with the music; if you just say ‘buy my single’ and that’s all your social media is about, you won’t get many results.”
For the end of our chat, we dithered and pondered if the angle of this piece should focus on the song or herself. I’m of the opinion, when the creative open themselves up to releasing art, a part of creator is revealed through it, so practically, they’re similar. You are the song; the song is you; be one with the song! It’s why naïve teenage fans really believe they know a popstar enough to fall in love with them, and perhaps is augmented with homemade product. There’s a huge connection between the singer and the song, though, I put to Kirsty.
“Yah, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and they would have all the details anyway!” I suggest you do, as the interconnection is all-encompassing, the song is awesome, and likewise, so is Kirsty Clinch.
A huge congratulations to Carmela and the Chillery-Watson family of Lavington, who knew nothing about the Points of Light awards until Carmela was rewarded with one this week. “We are absolutely bowled over with pure happiness at this surprise award,” mum Lucy said.
First established in the USA by President George Bush in 1990, UK Points of Light was developed in partnership with the US programme and launched at Downing Street in 2014. Since then, hundreds have been named Points of Light by the Prime Minister, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain.
Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers; people making a change in their community, and after her 300km challenge last year, we couldn’t think of anyone more suitable and deserving than our lovable Carmela.
Diagnosed at the age of three with L-CMD, a progressive muscle-wasting disease which weakens every muscle over time, Carmela is now six and has come a colossal way in raising awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy, and continues to be an inspiration to us all.
“Thank you, Boris,” Carmela said, “this is awesome news, I can’t believe it, it’s so amazing. Thank you so much.” Although the prime minister is just another celebrity notched on Carmela’s campaign trail, meeting with the likes of Beverly Knight, Frank Bruno, Jimmy Carr, and even Harry Duke of Sussex. Oh, and not forgetting last September when Wonder Woman actress, Gal Gadot, donated over £3K to Carmela’s fund. Face it, between Boris and Gal, I know which one I’d rather meet!
It’s a wonder, excuse the pun, if Carmela remembers the morning when she helped me on my milk round at all. I hope so, as it was a pleasure to meet her, Lucy and dad, Darren, and an occasion, I’ll always hold dear; even if I was a little tired and smelly!
CEO of Muscular Dystrophy UK Catherine Woodhead congratulated Carmela, and added, “everyone at MDUK is thrilled that Carmela’s outstanding fundraising efforts for the charity have been recognised by the Prime Minister. To date, Carmela and her family have raised nearly £50,000 for MDUK.” Which is simply, amazing. Well done Carmela.
Is it campaign point-scoring, as the authorities seem to presume, or concern for health which encouraged Wiltshire PCC candidate, Mike Rees to volunteer to administer lateral flow tests? Whatever, the bottom line is discouraging anyone from attempting to help out during this crisis is bureaucratic nonsense.
And besides, just a brief chat with Mike recently, throughly convinced me his motives are genuine. He’s an open minded, authentic and down-to-earth guy, with experience in the field and a passion for the role.
Mike explains: “It’s with great surprise and disappointment that I have to let you know that I have been stopped, and apparently barred, from becoming a volunteer in the police effort to combat Covid19.
As a retired police officer I put my name forward for volunteer duties last year when the pandemic struck.
This month I answered another call to volunteer to administer lateral flow tests to police officers and staff. I had a training session earlier this week and completed the online NHS assessment and passed to certificate my competency for the task.
Today I was expecting to attend a ‘dry run’ session however I’ve now been told I cannot attend as they have to investigate the ‘rules’ as allowing me to volunteer may suggest bias on their part because I’m a candidate for the role of Wiltshire Police Crime Commissioner.
I’m disappointed and dismayed to be denied the opportunity to volunteer to support the police, a force I worked in for 30 years.
I’ve asked for the ‘rules’ to be clarified as I see no possible concerns.
For your information, I do not agree with this decision to bar me from volunteering.
I’m standing as an independent candidate, not aligned to any political party and volunteering was a personal decision.”
Mike is fast becoming the outside chance of becoming our PCC, and we’re backing him fully here on Devizine after his Malmesbury boxing club recently helped out the homeless, appealing for donations of sleeping bags , food and clothes from locals and delivering them to the OpenDoors support agency in Devizes.
Plus, this is, by far, not the first charitable thing Mike has engaged in.
Great things about ska are many fold, but a topper most one has to be collaboration. Rather than set groups, as with most mainstream music, musicians uniting for projects is common and has always been the ethos of ska and reggae since day dot. Perhaps being the very reason it’s so lively and communal.
Another great thing about our song of the day, where Islington’s ska legend Nick Welsh, aka King Hammond, teams up with that crazy Essex duo Death of Guitar Pop, is the ska style displayed, near enough mimics the jump blues “shuffle” on which ska is originally based.
But history aside, let’s just enjoy this new track for all it’s worth. DoGP are fast rising in rank on the UK ska scene, with a carefree “Nutty Boys” fashion, it’s easy to see why.
And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….
Congratulations go to folk duo Antonie & Owena for winning the G.S.M.C award for Best Album this year. Yet it’s not their first award, winning best duo at last year’s GSMC, and others. Here’s Something Out of Nothing, which I think explains all you need to know about how and why they won it!
And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….
Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for…. or maybe not. This isn’t the Greatest Showman, this is the greatest SNOWman!Yes, we held a little snowman competition, and here’s how it went…..
Two things didn’t occur to me upon posting a picture of our snowman on our Facebook page, offering others to do likewise in a competition fashion. Firstly, the colossal response, but I guess Sunday’s snowfall was a golden opportunity to get out of houses and have a little social distanced fun. Alas, now the power of the sun and rain has reduced the white blanket to the odd splatter here and there. We will always have photographic memories of our once proud sculptures, and a carrot on the front lawn. Here comes some now……
Secondly, how to actually go about judging a snowman competition, never having judged anything of the sort before. I gathered some thoughts to criteria, I Googled and found some rather serious rules from other such competitions.
Certain I wasn’t intending to make it half as serious as these, their judgements were much as I anticipated. There are factors to consider. Creativity for starters. Originality, tradition, competence, and dedication are equally important. Size is good, but it’s, as you know, not everything, when building a snowman that is.
Many were divided into age groups, which I figured awkward. Building a snowman is usually a group activity, it’s about families, all ages contribute. Kids run around trying to construct the starting ball, dads get the backbreaking task of rolling it up and taking half the grass and autumn leaves with it, while mums usually stay in the warm sourcing carrots and hats; it’s a communal experience for sure! Okay, I’m generalising for artistic license and know it’s not really like that, trying to be funny, when really, judging a snowman competition is snow joke (see what I did there?) But making a snowman has no boundaries or conditions, any age, and race and gender, everyone together, getting creative….
He made snow chicks, cats and dogs….
But part of the beauty of creating a snowman is the feeling of togetherness. Here is an art where anyone can be the artist, provided they’re willing to get wet gloves. And in that notion, where some strive to be original, often the traditional method is tried and tested. A good snowman doesn’t need to be carved by Henry Moore with flawless features; he needs a carrot for a nose, he needs two pebbles for eyes, twigs for arms and an old hat and scarf. We live in a traditional county, after all.
Then again, there’s something striking when creative genius gets to work and original ideas bend the theme. Some can be topical, facemasks a common theme this year, or culture based, whereas some can be funny, others damn-right rude….
Rudeness I can take, live by it; but at least drag yourself away from Babestation for a few minutes to get out and actually build a snowman, rather than, as some did, Google “rude snowman” and share the first image which pops up. Sad, but true, spoils it for the kids, of all ages.
Can I pick a winner?
Drum roll…… Tricky. I’ve narrowed it down to my ten favourites, and here they are. I apologise, I tried to source a snowman type of prize, but they’re a tad out of season and this was a spontaneous idea. I think a bit of future planning, for next year’s snow storm, being the idea was so popular, and we could have prizes. For now, winners can print off my certificate here, and a colour-me-in sheet, if they like that sort of thing! Thank you all so much for letting me see your brilliant snowmen, I loved looking at them all, having a penchant for snowmen, I admit unashamedly!
Oh, and if you do colour them, I’d love to see your fine colouring skills!
Even portions of expressive contemporary pop, the ambience of post-goth and downtempo electric blues of trip hop makes this Staffordshire singer, Darla Jade really someone to watch. With a haunting uniqueness about her voice and style, there’s shards of Evanescence fused with Beth Orton. It’s somehow individually chartable but would also appease alternative rock or goth aficionados alike.
Subscribe to her YouTube channel, hear her own stamp on Radiohead’s Creep, and realise, her talent is so very special.
And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….
No video to this one. Do we need visuals? Not when it’s this good; my favourite track of Brighton-based contemporary ska heads, Dakka Skanks.
They’re lively, diverse, lots of fun, and I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the near future.
If the Duallers have reached a pivotal point akin to the Specials, and Death of Guitar Pop are providing the tongue-in-cheek Madness equivalent, I believe these guys could be The Beat of this era, as there was a band unafraid to experiment.
Dakka Skanks are majorly ska, but throw a lovable but carefree punk attitude, and a wide range of other influences, such as soul, into the melting pot, and concoct something uniquely entertaining.
If I’d one criticism of Britpop, during its heyday, least that which the pop charts threw at us, was, in an era of progressing technological electronica, embedded deep in my psyche, Britpop, to me felt regressive. I argued at the time, if The Beatles were still together, in their prime, they’d be producing techno or drum n bass, for they were trailblazing, innovative and progressive. Whereas, picking on Oasis, particularly, being they seemed to strive to be a Beatles tribute as far as I could see, were relapsing to a previous generation.
Then the crossover crossed back over. If waning was a heady dawn of the nineties where rock fused electronica on the Madchester scene, towards the end of the decade The Prodigy were advancing with an almost punk slant, and Noel Gallagher was lending his vocals to the Chemical Brothers. To pick the era apart now is futile, no one remembers what the fuck was going on most of the time!
Let’s agree to disagree, put it in the past and note today, retrospection is big business, and there’s nothing wrong with songs which hark back to the sixties, for it was pioneering but more importantly, divine and inspiring. Particularly when, rather than regenerating cover songs, but acting as a base of inspiration. We see a lot of this; from the sixty’s British blues scene to bubble-gum pop, but perhaps not produced with as much passion as Skates & Wagons.
They sent me a link to their album, Path of Condieon Boxing Day, so apologies it was put on the backburner but I had Scrabble tiles to lay and Quality Street to puke. The EP I reviewed previously appears to be taken down, and I’m unsure why. The album, is akin to all I mentioned about the EP, only more so. If regenerating Britpop is tiresome and monotonous to you, you need to check this Oxford duo, because they manage it with the precision, innovation and splendour of classic pop-rock and blues of that sixties period, with bells on.
I mean sure, it opens with an interesting approach, Chevron Waltz proves this is going to be no everyday indie-Britpop ride, it is indeed as the name suggests, a waltz. If we’re going to revel in compassions, I’ll cite The Kinks or Small Faces, The Spencer Davis Group, The Troggs, but predominantly the Beatles, more than Oasis. Plus, we’d need to break it down with the fab-four’s individual preferences. Opening then is experimental, merging traditional styles of music is certainly McCartney, yet the majority, like Indian Summer rolls smooth, like the later Beatles, Sane Again is anthemically mellowed; very George Harrison.
But this is an album which builds progressively, just like the sixties did. The earlier tunes, initiate sixties pop, and sit at radio-friendly three-to-four-minute timings. Mr Wake Up, for example, explains how it’s going to roll for the time being, beat-based shards of classic pop-rock. But things liven up at Conversation with God, the walt reprise towards the end nuances the album is progressing the entire decade and we’re midway. Waste of the Sky is subtly psychedelia, like the opening to the beatnik period.
It’s this equidistant section where Skates and Wagons really shine, it’s as if we didn’t need the 1980s, we were fine where we were. Catchy tracks like The Man Who Never Sleeps and All the Love mirror the advancing changes of the middle of the decade, and bring us in line with classic seventies rock bands like Genesis and ELO.
It leaves you dripping for the concentrated, lengthier compositions the trend which followed via Floyd and Hendrix et all, and Skates and Wagons deliver. As Path of Condie develops it builds to more ending with a beautiful eight-minute composition, Yesterday’s Love. It’s beguiling and timeless splendour, catchy as pop, definitive as classic rock.
If we’ve seen a relived trend with scooterists and mod culture recently, these guys are a hot contender to front such a movement, as opposed to a Britpop throwback band going through archaic motions. Though there’s often a dispelling, or more, overlooked aspect with the current trend, in the interesting and natural progress to the late-sixties beatnik and flower-power movements; scooterists don’t go for that, and while there’s nothing so “way-out” as Zappa on offer through Skates & Wagons, it does reflect those initial, optimistic changes of the mid-sixties. And in this notion, is what divides the duo from the bulk standard; yeah, fab, love it!
Join the GSMC on Friday 22nd January at 8pm for a celebration of grassroots music as they present this year’s GSMC Music Awards Live Online on YouTube, where they will announce the Winners of all 12 categories and will include live and pre recorded music from some of the nominees as well as a look back at the year and celebrate all those people that helped keep the grassroots music scene alive in 2020.
GSMC Music Awards Night will be streamed live from YouTube on Friday 22nd January at 8pm, the link for this is below:
Funkin’ for Devizes. This lockdown project from Tom Harris, Dan and Ross Allen and Rich, Summit 9 Studios has just been given a funky lift with this blinder, Change Change Change, bang on cue for me hunting for a song of the day.
Facebook memories posts a year ago this week we rocked up in the Celler Bar raising money for the Waiblingen Way Fire fund, and makes me stops and think about the years I’ve been smashing out articles on Devizine. So many artists and bands we’ve mentioned, I rarely forget about them, this one I admit I nearly did. Most likely because I didn’t get the opportunity to attend Stoke-on-Trent’s teenage country sensation Emily Lockett’s gig at Dean’s Country Club, then operating at Devizes Cons Club, later at the Cavalier.
So, nice as it is to discover new talent, equally important is to recap. Emily must be nearing her twenties now, and as a musical prodigy from aged 5, her expertise shines through in a matured sense now. This track, Front Porch says it all.
The deeper I delve into Afrobeat the more gorgeous it gets, and I’m discovering bands closer to home. Nubiyan Twist, for example, who are from Oxford rather than the Sudan as it might sound. I’m loving this sound, and got to get a review down of their forthcoming album.
Today though, check Leeds ten-piece behemoth, bone-shaking afrobeat collective, Mansion of Snakes. These devil-funk and cosmic jazz serpents give it their all, and there’s stuff, cool stuff to download as name your price on their Bandcamp page. Say no more.
Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….
Sunday off, broke my promise to post a song of the day, everyday. Allow me to make up for it. Bristol’s Mr Tea & the Minions with a lockdown themed song. See how sublimely they fire a frenzy of folk and Balkan styled ska-punk into festival proportions. I think they’re the hottest bands around these parts, and fondly reviewed the album, Mutiny a while ago. Just a reminder today then, these kids have it.
I made enquiries, wanting to bring them to Devizes. It’s no cheap option and obviously currently off the cards.
The reservation is that just because I’m loving this style, it might too radical for a Devizes audience. So, I’d appreciate some feedback; would you have paid a purple one to see them play in our town?
Fingers crossed, we live for a better day. But I believe lobbying a large Devizes venue to bring contemporary music direct to us, just occasionally, is crucial to the culture diversity we should be delving into.
Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….
Busy day, chatting to Wiltshire Police Crime Commissioner candidates and The Wilts Hunt Sabs; something is conflicting…
In 2012 five members of the Avon Vale Hunt, including the master huntsman and Wiltshire councillor, Jonathon Seed appeared in court charged with breaching the Hunting Act 2004. Though they all denied the breach before magistrates in Chippenham, Seed made a statement released to the Wiltshire Times,“This is a private prosecution by the RSPCA and I believe that it has been commenced for political reasons, as their stance against hunting is well known and it is of great significance that Wiltshire Police, after advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, declined to take this case forward. These proceedings are an abuse of the private prosecution system, which needs to be addressed in due course.”
And how best to address said abuse? Elect to become Police Crime Commissioner, that’s how. Perhaps it’s an episode the councillor wishes would disappear, going on the rather defensive attitude he put up when I chatted with him about his campaign this morning. And for what’s it’s worth, he provided some great ideas and valid points on subjects he attempted to divert me onto, but I was wondering where he actually stood on hunting, being, you know, it’s illegal, and he’s wants to be Police Crime Commissioner, just felt, well, a tad conflicting.
“Okay, so, not about the campaign then,” he started.
But I think it’s relevant. “Hunting is illegal,” I pointed to the seemingly obvious, “surely we would want a PCC who upholds the law?”
“Are you suggesting that I wouldn’t want the law upheld?” came Jonathon’s reply. Had to say, far from suggesting anything, the question was built behind the datum the huntsmaster for the Avon Vale hunt appeared in court with allegations he broke the law. And upon experts in the field, Wiltshire Hunt Sabs, who seemed convinced laws had been broken that day. “The badger sett incident,” they confirmed, “it’s clear evidence they were illegally hunting. It’s illegal to use terriers underground (the exemption is in relation to birds, which isn’t relevant on a hunt.) There can only be one reason for sending terriers to ground and that is to flush a fox.”
“You were,” I checked, “huntsmaster for the Avon Vale hunt at the time?”
“You will already know that I was,” Johnathon stated, “the allegation against me that was unfounded was dropped and is covered in the blog.”
Wiltshire Hunt Sabs claimed, “it wasn’t unfounded at all, the current Huntmaster (Stuart Radborne) was found guilty of interfering with the sett. The fact they couldn’t prove hunting act charges is yet more evidence that the law around hunting needs tightening.”
“Do you have anything to ask about the campaign,” Johnathon inquired, “or are you just interested in the Avon Vale Hunt?”
Yes, I do. So, I asked him, “if successful in the post, would you therefore discourage police to act against hunting offences? I mean, I understand, because they’d be personal friends engaged in something you firmly believe in. Also, would you support a turnaround of the law to allow hunting?”
And thus, came the jaw-dropper.
“I have spoken to thousands of people about policing over the last four years,” he said, “residents, officers, volunteers, victims of crime and nobody has wanted to talk about hunting other than trolls online.” Rather than be labelled a “troll,” by Tory boss-cop I allowed myself to be side-tracked. Jonathon was keen to lobby government for further funding, “Wiltshire is the third poorest funded force per head of population in the country, it needs overhauling and I will work with government to achieve this.”
“I have spoken to thousands of people about policing over the last four years,” he said, “residents, officers, volunteers, victims of crime and nobody has wanted to talk about hunting other than trolls online.”
Funds would put more officers in our communities, and offer better support for training and officers and staff’s mental health, and I cannot argue with this, though I pondered why it should be; are we all so better behaved in rural Wiltshire, so we don’t need as much policing as an urban area? I know I am!
“Historic underfunding of the force will continue to be an issue due to the way the funding formula is weighted towards some areas,” Johnathon explained, “The current PCC has done nothing to improve the situation and I believe the public deserve a PCC who will lobby the heart of government for better funding.”
I overlooked the oxymoron; “heart of government.”
In true Conservative fashion he blamed Labour, because fourteen years isn’t enough to up a budget. “The formula was created under Blair so naturally favoured labour voting areas,” he reckoned. “Getting the central government funding addressed has to be a priority. Just because we are a rural county doesn’t mean we don’t have sophisticated criminals operating in our towns and villages; domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, modern day slavery, county drugs lines all affect our communities….”
“And fox hunters?” I added!
“It’s a shame that without knowing me or talking to me you would assume I would actively seek to have the law overlooked,” Johnathon asserted. “I do not and would not want our police to do this for any crime. The Chief Constable has my full backing to ensure that the law is upheld. There is no picking and choosing who the police ‘police.’ Operational policing isn’t the responsibility of the PCC.”
On the front seems Johnathon has good policies, but they’re undoubtably all politically motivated. Do we need a local councillor in the role, or someone who has been actively in the field, policing? I also spoke to independent candidate Mike Rees, passionate about delivering a quality police service for the people. And have to admit, it was akin to chatting to eager musicians when interviewing them. In fact, if there’s irony in voting for a police candidate suspected of breaking the law, the only similarity is that Mike is in a heavy rock band called “the Lawless!”
He told me of annual fundraising gigs at Level III with a plethora of other bands, which has raised £13K for his own charity “Fatboy’s Cancer Charity,” which aims to bring a smile to children who are suffering from cancer or have other life-threatening illnesses. He was also adamant he loved animals, and aside his respect for traditional aspects of rural life, more needed to be done to enforce the Hunting Act. Mike went as far as telling me he’d like to set up a hedgehog rescue centre in his retirement.
“I know there’s a difference between what the boss says and what the police see,I’d like to see a happy workforce, not demoralised.” He expressed a want to improve the service, the relationship between officers and the bosses, and the public, as he’s been on the beat in Swindon, working up through surveillance and CID to counter-terrorism, called in to help during the London bombing. “No wool pulled over my eyes,” Mike added.
“We’ve seen year on year increases to the policing precept, yet no tangible changes or improvements to the service the public of Wiltshire receive,” Mike stated, “seems evident to me and the many people who I speak with, that the Police sometimes do not have the resources to deal with many of the basic responsibilities that we expect; and all too often we see the cracks of struggling service delivery being papered over with a slick marketing campaign, or dare I say it, a social media post!”
“I know that savings can be made, and I also know how tax-payers money is sometimes squandered by Police managers,” he continued. “A politician who doesn’t understand policing can be told that something is required or best value, and will just accept what they are told. I know whether it is actually nice to have or need to have. Spending needs to be scrutinised very closely and I would look to do that to ensure money is diverted to the right resources and needs.”
Though Mike said Jonathon Seed was “very critical of Independent Candidates on his Facebook page recently. To my knowledge, I am the only independent candidate for Wiltshire so his comments are clearly directed to me!” But “the last thing I want to do is get involved in a continual slanging match with any of the other candidates.” Which is just as well for them, as an amateur boxer, I wouldn’t argue!
Jonathon Seed was “very critical of Independent Candidates on his Facebook page recently.”
He compared his own campaign budget to Johnathon’s on the precept he doesn’t mind if he doesn’t get the job, estimating Seed has “about £50k to spend on campaigning, I’ve got about £50, and I begrudge paying that! Money is squandered when it should be to improve services.”
The hunting issue will always be a touchy subject in any rural settings with opinions so divided. But the law is the law, and if anyone upholds it, it should be Police Crime Commissioner. Though while Mr Seed’s blogposts call for his innocence, they also state: “Millions of people in this country engage in perfectly legal fishing, hunting and shooting pastimes and should not be demonised and bullied by a small but vocal minority who do not approve of these pastimes,” and “It is utterly irrelevant to the vast majority of the electorate whether or not a political candidate had a lawful interest in country sports along with millions of other law-abiding people.” Left me wondering how defending wild animals under lawful methods, could possibly deemed demonising and bullying.
“If you wanted to ask me something sensible about fox hunting,” Johnathon said, “rather than the usual stuff that has been well rehearsed and I know doesn’t resonate with rural voters, ask me my views on the change to trespass and who it will apply to.”
But I didn’t like to ask, changing rules to trespass blatantly is there to halt operations from protesters. The Wiltshire Hunt Sabs said, “we’d love to know if he still hunts, we haven’t seen him out with the AVH, but there was a rumour he may go out with the Tedworth. I suspect he has paused for the election. It’s interesting he calls concerned members of the public “trolls”. How arrogant do you have to be to think that regular members of the public aren’t interested in his background as a fox hunter!”
I’ll let the hits on this article decide, and leave it there. I’m all for deciding the next Police Crime Commissioner based purely on a doughnut eating contest, might be easier, might even win myself! Then you’d all be buggered!
It’s getting late now and I’ve only just got around to posting our song of the day. Had a piece to write and the obligatory family Scrabble game. Nearly missed the deadline, meaning my promise to post a song each day didn’t quite last a week, but alas, I’m here last minute to seal the deal.
What better then, than the pride of Devon, The Simmertones. They’ve fast made it to a lead name in the UK ska scene, and with their lively shows and crazy ska cover of the Dr Who theme, a personal favourite, it’s easy to see why. A tad more tender, here they are…..
Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….
I know what you’re thinking, I’m a naughty boy; why hasn’t Devizine shared news of the survey about the Devizes Park/Gate/Safe-Way railway station proposal yet, the one on the “official” Devizes website? Well, I’ve been deliberating. But before you judge me, I ask you hear me out.
When I took a bus from the Leigh end of Southend-on-Sea to Shoeburyness, at the other end, which I’d estimate being the equivalent of Devizes to Melksham, it cost one pound. The bus was bustling with a wide demographic, it cost the same across the entire city.
Live in a village just two miles out of Devizes and it’s £2.50 for a single on the bus. Given Devizes Parkway would be a similar distance out on the other side of town, I’d wager it’d be much the same price. Let’s take a family of four from their village for a nice day out to London; a tenner to get town, a purple one just to get to this imaginary station for an overpriced train ticket; not including inflation.
Okay, I’m playing devil’s advocate. Everyone wants a station, including me. Back, long before Devizine, and Danny Kruger could pinpoint Devizes on a map, I put a poll on Facebook for my satirical rant column on Index:Wiltshire, asking what, if you could have anything which was once in Devizes but no longer, would you like to see returned. The top answer was unanimously, a railway station. And I agree. I agree with you all, from young and old, fat and thin, from Tory to leftie and beyond, everyone would like to catch a train from Devizes, even if only to escape!
The argument of education, getting students to colleges, and employment, getting them to work, rather than relying on a rural bus service and of course lessening the environmental impact of commuting are, of course, valid and ample justification. The idea it will attract visitors, helping our local businesses and economy is slightly more dubious, an untested valuation. Simply because they can get here doesn’t mean they will, especially if there’s nothing here to entice them. A view of Monument Hill and the Clock Inn Park are nice, but are hardly an exciting hive of activity.
I cannot help but feel, just as Brexit, and these grand and glorious schemes, a futurism-fashioned Festival of Britain, money saved from being in the EU to help the NHS, vaccinations for everyone by March, a high-speed train to gain three and a half minutes off the journey time from London to Birmingham, or a tunnel under Stonehenge to prevent erosion and people from seeing it without paying, the right-wing majority are suffering delusions of grandeur in a country potentially at it’s knees by the time these under-budgeted dreams will become anywhere near reality. I’m sorry to have to see it this way, but the system is crumbling under our feet because our leaders are only in it for themselves.
Oh, need a relevant example? Boris Johnson only proposed this £500m fund to reopen some of the passenger rail services axed in the Beeching review to win seats from Labour prior to the 2019 general election.
To bring it back to local affairs, feels to me like the potential railway station is only on the cards because Danny Kruger wants to get to Westminster quicker, and Hornby enthusiasts are rallying to kiss his ring. And yeah, as I said, it’s a great idea, for all the reasons stated. But given there’s surely far more important things we could spend the money on in this dilapidating town to improve it for everyone, you know what I’d like to see first and foremost? If we have spare cash to build a Lego station, I’d like to see our poorest, our youngest, eldest and people in care being supported.
I don’t want to see homeless being cleared out from camping in the woods so dog walkers can be free to roam and tie poo-bags to trees. I want to see projects being put into reality which would cost far less than a station, give them a hostel. I’d like to see our playparks and green spaces maintained better, youth clubs and facilities reopened, providing activities which kids actually want to go to.
At the beginning of year, when Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes said yeah, we could that too, but, as I forecast at the time, it was brushed aside. I’d like to drive on flat local roads, rather than negotiating potholes like it’s a lunar landscape. I’d like better road planning, infrastructure and affordable public transport, to avoid congestion. I want to park somewhere without taking out a bank loan. I want to see markets and The Shambles bustling with life, smells of street food and music. I want a free-thinking, flatpack and proactive council, funding sporting events and arts, and not idly watching as so-called charities throw folk with learning disabilities out of their homes.
And once we have achieved these, yes, I’d like a railway station, ta muchly. Not asking for much is it? Tee-hee, yeah, I’m hearing you, life isn’t so simple, this is Devizes, not Shangri-La. That said, I’m uncertain if Shangri-La has a railway station, still, it manages, as we have done since Beeching waved his wand, to get by without one. My family of four, twenty quid down just getting to the station, now they’re looking at train ticket prices. Have you seen train ticket prices recently? Remain calm, but they do often come in triple figure sums. I’ve seen aeroplane tickets to Barcelona cheaper than a return to Paddington.
The big question is, then, how much will it all cost and who is footing the bill? Did we get this grant, and what was that for? I asked Tamara of Devizes Gateway Railway Station steering group.
“The Restoring Your Railway grant from the DfT is for the cost of the Strategic Outline Business Case only and is being supplemented by Wiltshire Council,” she informed me. So already we’ve all put some cost into it through our council tax. “Thereafter, funding would need to be secured for the rest of the Business Case process (Outline Business Case and Full Business Case) and then for the capital costs to build the station.” Tamara added, “we are at the beginning of the process, but the fact that we have secure the grant monies from the DfT puts us in a good place. We now need to prove the business case.”
From there I was directed to a presentation made to the Devizes Area Board in November, which doesn’t explain where the dosh is coming from. I’m only opting for a station if they promise I can drive the train! Just once. But more importantly, I honestly look forward to a time, if I make it to 2025 without Thomas the Tank Engine shooting me, when we could smash my piggy bank for a train ticket, I really do, but the bottom line is, it has to be affordable, for all, especially if the public is footing the bill to build the thing.
Answer the survey, with your thoughts, if you wish. But the jury is still out with me. It’s on the site where a certain member, who shall remain nameless, accused me of spamming when I first launched Devizine, and mysteriously moments later I was in Facebook jail. Of which, such general pettiness is neither here nor there, but I feel worthy of mentioning. I know what you’re thinking, I’m still such a naughty boy!
Okay, so I’ll be brief; we’ve mentioned Gecko quite a lot recently and I wouldn’t want him to get big-headed! Can you imagine? That was a joke by the way, because in some light one could describe what Gecko does as rap, and could you imagine, in your wildest dreams Gecko being conceited? He’s got to be the most unpretentious rapper ever, though that’s not saying much; narcissistic is the occupational hazard of the average rap star.
If you ain’t got something nice to say, rapper…… Ah, that’s why Gecko is a breath of fresh air. if you need any more proof of how good he is, here’s yesterday’s released video of the title track of his album. Over and out. Have a good rest of the day. Carry on….
Concern mounts after a petition was launched claiming vital flood equipment and training is being planned to be moved from fire stations from Chippenham and Trowbridge to Dorset, and Stratton in Swindon. You know me, usually I jumped at the chance to expose a transgression by authority, but on this occasion, as a response from Assistant Chief Fire Officer James Mahoney suggests the service is merely aligning the way in which all stations operate interchangeably, the jury is out on this one. I know right, impartiality; is this the new me?!
Not really. It gets rather technical, and I don’t do technical. The last thing I will do is belittle the fire service for the grand job they do. So, as I’ve been asked to share news of the petition, like a real reporter, I’ll give you the low down from both sides of the argument, and it’s up to if you choose to sign it; righty then?
Becky Montague, who started the petition argues, “members of the public will have to wait an hour to be rescued safely, instead of eight minutes in the River Avon area, because Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell has decided to remove vital equipment from Chippenham and Trowbridge stationsto Dorset, and Stratton in Swindon. This will put the lives at risk of people caught in flooding in an area Mr Ansell knows to be of high risk.”
“Removing equipment and training from the firefighters means that they will respond but be unable to rescue people quickly and with the right tools. Rather than watch people die, they will be forced to carry out dangerous rescues without the vital safety equipment they need.”
“There is no flood risk in Swindon like there is in the Chippenham, Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge areas. Mr Ansell will put residents of Wiltshire at risk and put firefighters in danger.”
This sounds like cause for alarm, and I’m grateful for our reader bringing to my attention. They’re concerned and angered, “We don’t distribute emergency equipment based on geography we do it based on risk otherwise we would have a fire station in the middle of Salisbury plain, we don’t do that because there’s no risk there,” they informed, “The flooding risk is in the river Avon area not in Stratton in Swindon. They’re going to put the council tax precept up again this year, what are Wiltshire residents going to get for that, other than the grateful thanks of Dorset residents for part-funding the service that they provide from the fire service?”
However, Assistant Chief Fire Officer James Mahoney had this response; “A strategic review of the technical rescue provision of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has been carried out. This considered risk and demand across the whole Service area; evidence from historical incident data; geographical station locations; and neighbouring Service capability. A decision on the placement of these facilities is now being considered internally.”
“Technical rescue includes technical search, rescue from swift water, rescue from height, bariatric rescue, confined space rescue and large animal rescue capability. There are currently six stations providing differing aspects of technical rescue across the two counties of Dorset and Wiltshire. In addition to these technical rescue stations, all fire stations have initial water safety equipment and training, and a large number of our stations also have wading team capability. The provisions at these six stations are not consistent, and most stations do not provide all of the capabilities listed above. As a combined Service, this is neither effective, efficient or resilient.”
“Whilst technical rescue is not a funded statutory duty for the Fire and Rescue Service, we recognise the importance of having this capability commensurate with the risks faced within our communities across the whole of Dorset and Wiltshire. We are looking to enhance, not diminish, our capability, allowing us a more strategic approach to the positioning of the key elements of technical rescue – which will also add greater resilience by aligning the way in which all stations operate interchangeably.
“Staff and representative bodies have been briefed, and given the opportunity to contribute their views throughout and engage in this process, and we will be carrying out public consultation on our draft Community Safety Plan for 2021-25 from 17 February to 13 May 2021.”
If I remember rightly, when our estate flooded some years ago, a fire service came from Yeovil to help, stating Wiltshire forces were preoccupied elsewhere. Understandably, this took some time for them arrive, but had it not been for the fire services to be integrated, it may not have happened at all. On the other hand, the dubious line from the Assistant Chief Fire Officer’s statement, “technical rescue is not a funded statutory duty for the Fire and Rescue Service,” concerns me. What constitutes a technical rescue? And if it’s not a statutory duty, why call yourself Fire and Rescue Service?
And, as the Gazette reports, “Summerham and Seend Wiltshire councillor Jonathon Seed, who is also running for the Police and Crime Commissioner post, has pledged to take the case up with MPs saying the decision is outrageous,” well, something is iffy with it; deffo.
Being a man of the people, who I’d like to hear the views of is an actual local firefighter. Your anonymity will be respected if you contact us; but we need the opinion of the men on the ground. In general, I’m at my tether’s end with bureaucratic nonsense from pen-pushers, and I urge any firefighter concerned to please do let us know.
Hi, yeah s’me, keeping up the Song of the Day feature like dedication was as word I know the definition of!
No excuses not to, I mean I am of the generation when Roy Castle clasped his trumpet weekly, ready for the signing off of “Record Breakers.” No, it’s not a euthanasim, Google it whippersnappers.
Might also explain my fondness for brass. Brass is class, and a vital element of ska. Yep, four tunes in and I couldn’t resist sharing some ska with you.
It’s a commonly misguided notion that ska is a retrospective cult here in England. It tends to convey a bygone era of Two-Tone records, boots and braces.
Yet today, while said stereotype has a grounding, ska is an international phenomenon, particularly in South America. I did write a piece about this region’s love for ska, and how it’s roots out of Jamaica bare a different tale from our own.
To show you how fresh it can be elsewhere in the world, and it’s not a reminiscence for a load of overweight balding pensioners as perceived in the UK, here’s all-female bar one Mexican band, Girls Go Ska, who I’m secretly in love with, (so secret they don’t even know themselves….until they use Google translate!) doing an instrumental jam.
Girls and ska; what’s not to like? Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….
Well, the 2022 Devizes Arts Festival has now drawn to its successful close. Thanks to a very determined and hard-working committee, this jewel in the D-Town crown was finally shining again. Along with DOCA-led events like the International Street Festival, Carnival, Colour Rush, Lantern Parade etc, The Food & Drink Festival, the two Beer Festivals, and The Fulltone Music Festival, we are truly spoiled for the cultural life in our town. We certainly punch way above our weight.….
This year the DAF ran from 9th to 25th June, a fortnight full of great entertainment – I counted 23 events at ten venues across town, showcasing a wide variety of the arts – jazz, classical, rock and country music, comedy, talks, walks. Most, if not quite all, were well supported and I know that the organisers were pleased overall with ticket sales. Bearing in mind that this Festival was effectively originally planned in 2019 and meant for delivery in 2020, it finally emerged blinking into the light of a post-Covid world in 2022. A great job was done in rolling forward as many planned acts as possible, but there were inevitable casualties – some artists previously booked had understandably moved on and taken other bookings in the meantime. So, for the DAF Committee, it must have seemed a little bit like Groundhog Day in getting this thing finally done.
So what was so good about it? Obviously tastes and opinions are going to differ, but attendances and ticket sales have to be a good indicator. We saw some nationally-known stars – Lesley Garrett, Simon Calder, Adam Frost, Tankus The Henge, and Darius Brubeck making their way down to this part of rural Wiltshire. For me, the personal highlights were The Scummy Mummies and Alfie Moore on the comedy side, and Tankus and Darius Brubeck on the musical front. The spread and variety of events was impressive, the venues were well set up and organised, and the advertising was spot-on.
The things that might need a little further thought about were that some events/ venues weren’t sold out, that there were not more “affordable” events in the mix, and that there were only two Free Fringe events (although both were excellent and very well attended). Perhaps these factors, and the lack of very much aimed specifically at a much younger audience, did lead to a preponderance of an (ahem) “older demographic” at quite a few events. Clearly there were a couple of exceptions (Tankus and The Scummies spring to mind), but certainly something I couldn’t help but notice.
But, to be honest, a lot of this is minor quibbling. The Festival overall was clearly an artistic success, and the DAF committee and volunteers deserve a hell of a lot of praise for getting off their arses and delivering a very high quality event in our town. Hats off to the lot of them!
So what of the future? What should we expect? Already, as the dust settles on this year’s event and all the analysis starts, change is afoot. The DAF organising committee itself is changing and evolving, as the Chair (Margaret Bryant) and Vice-chair (Vivienne Cuckow) step down from their roles. Discussion and planning for 2023 and beyond will start shortly, with Vince McNamara and Jean Edwards stepping up to jointly fill the role of Chair.
The broad thinking at the moment is that, now that the “old” Festival has been (finally) delivered, 2023 can start with an almost completely blank sheet of paper. The decks have been cleared, and the DAF committee are back in the saddle, raring to go. Is that too many metaphors? – probably, but you get the drift.
There are (hopefully) new venues to think of – the Palace cinema, St. Mary’s, the Vaults and other pubs. There is the possible prospect of conversations and more co-operation with other music venues in the town, and other Festival organisers – hopefully to mutual benefit. There might well be more Free Fringe, especially on days/ times that don’t conflict with or overlap the more marquee main events. Perhaps some choirs or singing events? Perhaps more to appeal to a younger audience? (But probably not children’s events – these have been tried several times in the past, but have not succeeded). Because, whilst it’s important to have an open mind, it would clearly be foolish to completely ignore the hard lessons that have been learned in the past. Experience has to be blended with innovative thinking. It has to be a sensible and commercial balance between the completely experimental – bringing in the exotic, the different, unexpected – and the tried-and-trusted popular bankers.
Equally, whilst it’s always good to support artists from our local cultural scene, there needs to be a heavy sprinkling of national/ international stars that audiences in D-Town would never normally get to see at affordable prices. Frankly, it’s the latter that sells most of the tickets, and the acts that look good on the posters and the advertising!
So it’s going to be a real tightrope walk for the new committee to get this just right. I don’t envy them, but I do sincerely wish them the very best of luck!
Does this make you feel that you’d like to contribute your ideas and/ or your energy? If so, I’m pretty sure DAF would like to hear from you – there’s plenty of work to be done to develop and shape a successful festival. And/ or you can become a Friend of the Festival, volunteer, and – most importantly of all – buy those tickets! For more information see the Devizes Arts Festival website at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk/
Editor’s note: well, that kept our roving reporter Andy out of trouble for a fortnight! A massive thanks to you, Mr F, you’ve done an astounding job covering the Devizes Arts Festival. As opposed to me who danced my socks off at the fantastic Baila La Cumbia night. Here’s to 2023!
Salisbury may be a grey area for us, we don’t get to hear a great deal about the music scene there. I guess they have their own media, magazines and blogs covering it, but it is something I realise I must work on. For all I know, Timid Deer could be huge there, but they should be widely known, everywhere, in my honest opinion. So even if this is erroneous, I stand my ground when I’ve said in the past, they’re one of the most underrated bands around these parts, and this follow-up EP to vol one of Melodies for the Nocturnal proves their worth…….
If, like me, you find it hard to come to terms with the notion the melodic Bristol-led trip hop scene for the matured raver is a generation past, and cannot get over how luscious Portishead, Massive Attack and, particularly, Morcheeba were, or if your indie side still relishes in the mellowed ambient soundscapes of Celtic goth, of Clannad, or All About Eve, this sits comfortably, somewhere in the middle, yet, for all the random comparisons I’m flinging, it’s unique for not applying the electronica “dope beats” of trip hop or the often gloomy outlook of goth. It is, in essence, uplifting indie.
Uplifting because Timid Deer captures your mood and whisks it away on a smooth airborne expedition across a fantasy realm, akin to Enya or Evanescence, or which seems to be trending recently, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.
Unsure quite why every kid is listening and every mainstream radio station is playing Running up that Hill at the moment, but I’m happy it has, going on the grounds it makes those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up, Timid Deer has the same effect.
I’ve fondly reviewed the first two tracks, Crossed Wires andRun upon their single release in March and December last year, respectively, but the EP contains two more beautiful songs, Wrapped Around Your Heart, and Promises. I said of Run, at the time; “a grand piano opening, their evocative part-indie-part-trip hop ambience is accomplished to a new standard here, with Naomi Henstridge’s both soothing yet haunting vocals embracing howling strings and, wow, this rolling piano. It’s reflective of nineties nu-cool, the brilliance of Morcheeba or Portishead, yet without so much inspired of acid jazz or trip hop to make it cliché, rather it’s owning this refreshing edge to appeal to the more guitar-laced indie fans, too.”
And I described Crossed Wires as, “An uplifting piano three-minute masterwork, engulfing your soul and building layers with smooth electronic beats. Evocative as Enya without the orchestrated strings, as expressive as Clannad without the folk roots, and closer to Yazoo via electronica, rather than the aforementioned influences of Portishead and Morcheeba. Ticks all my boxes.”
These two new tunes follow suit. The rolling piano, is blissful and lyrics beguiling, Wrapped Around your Heart is another winner, perhaps a smidgen more marketable than the previous two. The four-track EP ends with the ballad Promises, exemplifying everything that’s gorgeous about the sound they’ve captured, the strings and piano work in harmony, entreat the euphoric mellifluousness. It’s the standing motionless mouth aghast kind of music which reaches the soul.
I discovered Timid Deer supporting the Lost Trades’ launch night at Trowbridge’s Pump, a gig I unfortunately had to miss but despatched a roving reporter to in my absence, and upon checking out their slight recorded output I was shocked as to why Timid Deer doesn’t have greater recognition. Perhaps a clue in the band name, they play Swindon Shuffle but rarely we see them gig otherwise; it’s a sound to relish, a sound for home comforts, for “chilling in your crib,” and Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt. 2, showcases that brilliance. Absolutely enrapturing…..
Full throttle into July, then; here’s what the weekend looks like around these parts. These parts of cultural void, so it’s claimed, we say otherwise…. You want proof?
As usual no links here, the only link you need is here, our event calendar. Have a great weekend whatever you do!
Ongoing from Wednesday until Sunday the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon has got Shrek the Musical. Thursday and Friday, Devizes Musical Theatre presents their Summer Concert, Miss Fortunes at The Wharf Theatre, see the poster, always see the posters!
I’m delighted to hear Devizes LGBTQ+ group’s first big event, Drag Bingo at the Exchange has sold out on Thursday 30th; well done to them and here’s hoping for some similar events in Devizes in the future.
One of folk music’s greatest innovators, Martin Carthy is at Trowbridge Town Hall Thursday, Paul Jones Live in Concert at Christ Church, Swindon while Swindon Arts Centre has a play called Blithe Spirit, running until Sunday.
Friday is pinch punch. Chippenham Comedy Festival at The Old Road Tavern, starts, running all weekend. Limited Weekend Tickets £60, individual shows are all £7 each. Friday 1st July: 7pm Sam Michael & John Matthews: Cister Act, 8.30pm Juliette Meyers: Passport Face,10pm James Dowdeswell: Beers of a Clown. Saturday 2nd July: 5pm Jo Caulfield: Here Comes Trouble, 6.30pm Sooz Kempner: Playstation, 7.45pm Katie Mitchell: She Festers, 9pm Andrew O’Neill: We Are Not In The Least Afraid Of Ruins; We Carry A New World In Our Hearts, 10.15pm Wil Hodgson: Barbicidal Tendencies. Sunday 3rd July: 5.30pm Jessie Nixon, Dannie Johns & Millie Haswell: Dumb Belles,7pm Joe Wells: I am Autistic, 8.30pm Beth Black.
Devizes School Summer School Concert in the main hall. Minety Festival kicks off for the weekend. Melksham’s One Love reggae night has been moved from the Assembly Hall to Spencer’s Club on Beanacre Road, I just haven’t changed the poster, so forget all I said about paying attention to the posters!!
The Ukey Dukes play The New Inn, Winterbourne Monkton. Ska punkers head to The Barge at Honeystreet, for Slageri J headline there, and surfers should wipe-out at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, where they’ll find the highly recommended Palooka 5. Rorke’s Drift play The Vic, Swindon, and fresh(ish) from Glasto, Jo Whiley plays 90s Anthems at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Saturday 2nd, Longleat continues showing off; those who don’t mind standing for hours, with a bottomless wallet and advance planning can see Tears for Fears, the rest of us are not left without options…. like Salisbury Pride at Queen Elizabeth Gardens.
Arts Together fundraise with a day painting at Bowood, see the poster for real this time!
Six O’clock Circus headline The Vale of the White Horse Scooter Rally at The Cooper’s Arms, Pewsey. While there’s a reggae day at The Wheatsheaf, Calne; the Bee Skas play at 3pm!
The Seven Stars in Bottlesford has a Burger BBQ for twenty quid, but you do get The Reason playing.
The amazing Jack Grace is at Southgate, and popular covers band Paradox are down the Cellar Bar in Devizes; yes, I did say The Cellar Bar, glad to see this venue back on our listings.
Band X at the Three Horseshoes Bradford-on-Avon, Siren at the 12 Bells, Trowbridge, with Hatepenny rocking the Town Hall. @Fest mini-festival at the White Hart in Attsworth. Down & Dirty at The Vic, Swindon.
Swindon’s Midlife Krisis sound system was due to setup at The Barge at HoneyStreet, however, due to issues with their secondary camping field it is unfortunately cancelled. We wish the Barge all the best with this issue, and hope it can be resolved as soon as possible.
Sunday 3rd July is DOCA’s Picnic at Hillworth Park. British Blues with Trevor Babajack Steger from 12pm, from 1pm, find some jazz-tinged klezmer and old-world Yiddish folk, from Mozzle Brocha, branch of the collective, Chai for All, who we tried to get to play a Ukraine fundraiser at St Mary’s, but it unfortunately fell through. It will be good to meet you, guys.
Eastern European folk traditions follow that with East of Eden at 2:40, South African at 4pm with Otto & The Mutapa Calling, finishing off your Sunday entertainment. Also look out for Rose Popay, the “Art Tart,” sounds hilarious, and various carnival workshops, suitable for all ages; see the DOCA website.
Elsewhere, People Like Us headline free live music for Inspire Warminster, preview here. The Cosmic Sausages play The Bell, Bath, The Lost Hills play The Tap & Barrel, Swindon. Blues legend Andy Fairweather Low plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome, with Ruzz Guitar in support, and oh, it’s Aldbourne Doggy Day!
That’s your weekend wrapped up, unless I missed anything? Did you let us know? It’s not too late, I can edit our event calendar, if you’re nice and send cake!
Through the week you can catch a Live Art Demonstration by the wonderful Caroline le Bourgeois at Devizes Conservative Club on Monday 4th, meanwhile David Olusoga presents A House Through Time at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Tuesday sees carparks in Devizes closed for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay; for a whole half-hour! Heaven help us! Keyboard warriors, I’d advise you walk or bus it into town to get your garibaldi biscuits!
The New Forest Folk Festival starts Wednesday, while there’s a bit of Shakey at Bath’s Rondo Theatre, Macbeth; all proceeds go to Marie Curie. Best of luck to the two Devizes actors appearing in this, Lucy Upward and Ian Diddams; break a leg!
Next weekend you need tickets for a fundraising concert for Devizes GAC’s chosen charity, Julia’s House Children’s Hospice, at Devizes School Hall, on Friday July 8th at 7.30pm. Special guests at the concert will be the Pewsey Belles Ladies Choir. Tickets are priced £8 and available from 01761 472468.
Both Readipop Festival and Cornbury Festival, next weekend, and of course, Devizes Carnival and Trowbridge’s ParkFest, both on the Saturday 9th. I believe I’ll be painting the whole village purple at Bishop’s Cannings mini festival at The Crown; please come and support this too. And on Sunday, give our Essex country-rocker favourites, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective a warm Devizes welcome at the Southgate.
And if you’ve read this far I salute you; people like you who pay attention really need to grab up tickets to the Full-Tone Festival August Bank Holiday, AND Devizes Scooter Rally, AND Devizes Beer Festival too!
Is it really (not that) long? Debs suddenly realised over the weekend that this was the 300th gig that she and Dave had put on in The Southgate since taking over in 2018. That’s only four years, and we had a pandemic in the middle when all the pubs were necessarily closed anyway, so that’s a pretty remarkable record! No-one has done more to support live music in D-Town that Debs and Dave, with virtually every weekend supporting at least one gig, sometimes two or three. I do remember one night when there were (for complicated reasons that need not detain us now) two gigs on at exactly the same time – one inside the pub, and one in the skittle alley!
There have been acts from all over the country, and indeed from several other countries. There has been just about every style of music you can think of – rock, prog, psychedelia, blues, funk, soul, folk and every combination thereof that you can think of. Most of it worked too!
So it was really good, albeit perhaps just a lucky coincidence, that gig number 300 should be one of those relaxed Sunday afternoon sessions featuring a couple of the best of our very local singer/ songwriters – Tamsin Quin and Vince Bell. The atmosphere was, as usual, warm and supportive right from the start.
Tamsin was up first, shorn of her Lost Trades buddies, for an occasional solo performance. I’ve known Tamsin since some of her early gigs back in the mists of time at the now-defunct Seend Acoustic. Back then she was chatty, nervous, a little scatty, but clearly a great songwriter and performer. Since then, and I’ve seen her perform many times, she has clearly developed. She’s stronger and more assured in front of a microphone, her singing style is more gentle, and her song-writing has developed in leaps and bounds – intimate, sincere and with a new depth and maturity.
Vince followed her onto the singing stool and showed us, yet again, what a great singer/ songwriter he is. And it was one of those gigs where, instead of being reduced to the “folkie in the corner” everybody (including the dogs) was properly listening. Again we had strong, deep songs, with some occasional Spiderman-pyjama whimsy thrown in, and a captivating performance.
Unfortunately, I had to skip the very last bit where they got to sing some songs together (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was calling and I didn’t want to get put “on hold”), so as they used to say in The News Of The World “I made my apologies and left”, which was a damned pity because it was such a lovely, homely gig.
There were lots of friends in the audience, and a lot of love in the room. I’m pretty sure I’m right in thinking that both performers enjoyed it as much as we audience did in listening. Wonderful.
So, as I said, a great gig to celebrate 300 and counting. Let’s hope for many more great gigs, and let’s hope that the good folk of D-Town keep on supporting quality live music.
Future gigs at The Southgate:
Saturday 2nd July Jack Grace Band Sunday 3rd July Jon Amor + Friends
There’s no respite if you’re into your culture in D-Town these days. Fresh off the back of the wonderful Devizes Arts Festival, I headed on a beautiful sunny Sunday evening to a sold-out Town Hall to hear The Fulltone Orchestra in full musical flight. This was FTO’s “taster” event, and an advert for the big event over the August Bank Holiday weekend (Fulltone Music Festival) to be held on The Green on 27th and 28th August….
Anthony Brown (“Our Tone”) had gathered an almost 40-strong string orchestra, with only a very short time for rehearsals, and moulded them together to provide us with a short, but very satisfying musical repast. To start with, our amuse-bouche if you like, was the short but sweet Adagio in G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni. This 18th Century composer, who was quite famous in his day, and a contemporary of Vivaldi, is less well-known these days. The piece was light and airy, and played with some panache by a clearly enthusiastic orchestra, a perfect Baroque accompaniment to the sunshine flooding in through the open windows, and a piece absolutely suited to the surroundings of the splendid room in which were sitting.
Next up, the real starter, was Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Fantasia on A Theme By Thomas Tallis. Still light but a little more substantial, this was one English composer’s interpretation of an earlier English composer’s work, and is perhaps more recognisable, having been recorded and performed many times over the last century.
And finally, after a short interval, we were onto the main course and, I suspect, the key reason for this concert’s obvious popularity – Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, his violin concerto written roughly 300 years ago in the period 1718-20. For this piece, conductor Anthony willingly ceded the leadership of the strings to guest Russian concert violinist, Elizaveta Tyun. Elizaveta has performed all over the world, and her appearance in Devizes was a real coup for the FTO.
The Four Seasons (“Le quattro stagioni” in Italian) is, by far and away, the best-known of Vivaldi’s works, and is a group of four linked violin concertos, each of which gives musical expression to a season of the year. At the time when they were first performed, they were a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds, a shepherd and his barking dog, buzzing flies, storms, drunken dancers, hunting parties from both the hunters’ and the prey’s point of view, frozen landscapes, and warm winter fires. Also unusual for the period, Vivaldi published the concerti with accompanying sonnets (possibly written by the composer himself) that elucidated what it was in the spirit of each season that his music was intended to evoke. The concerti therefore stand as one of the earliest and most detailed examples of what would come to be called “program music” — or in other words, music with a narrative element. Vivaldi divided each concerto into three movements (fast–slow–fast), and, likewise, each linked sonnet into three sections. I’m not going to pretend that I knew all of that, but I Googled it and I thought you ought to know! I did it before I listened, and it certainly helped me to understand much better what I was listening to!
What can I say? It was absolutely wonderful, thrilling, inspiring, and emotional stuff. It was live orchestral music at its very best. Elizaveta played with enormous passion and enthusiasm, attacking the faster, trickier passages with great energy. And the strings of the FTO, probably inspired by such skill in their midst, followed her lead and supported her to great effect. It’s an absolutely fabulous piece of music. No matter how many times I’ve heard it played, it never ceases to amaze me. Despite being used in (literally) hundreds of film soundtracks, adverts, and the inevitable telephone on-hold theme, it always comes through as fresh and original. And it was so good to listen to it properly, all the way through, played by a set of musicians who clearly wanted to play it. Hats off to the lot of them – it was absolutely superb!
Well done to Jemma and Anthony Brown for pulling this concert together, well done to Elizaveta for a stirring rendition of the lead violin role, and well done to the scratch group of musicians who came together to deliver an excellent performance. Oh, and well done to the crowd who came out on a Sunday night to support such great live music and gave the performance exactly what it deserved – a long standing ovation and rapturous applause. Absolutely brilliant!
So – don’t forget to buy your tickets for The Fulltone Music Festival on Saturday and Sunday 27th & 28th August on The Green – available from Devizes Books, and online from www. www.ticketsource.co.uk/fulltone
Ah yeah, Paul McCartney whisked Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl out of his hat at Glasto, and no one can top that, no one dare try, but on the other side of the west country The Fab Four were rejuvenated on stage, and miraculously commanded the weather!
Okay, allow some exaggeration for artistic licence, but being the only sour point about MantonFest last year was spates of torrential downpour, and the forecast foreboding a repeat, note it tried its uppermost to drizzle, but on the one occasion the crowds thought, “this is it,” Nottingham’s fantastic Beatles tribute, The Fab Four broke into George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun and lo-and-behold, the sunshine returned, to a rapturous applause.
Coincidence, or should these guys try a Paul Daniels tribute next, is besides the point; there were numerous memorable happenings at MantonFest this year, the Beatles tribute controlled clement weather was just the tip of the iceberg.
For eleven years strong MantonFest has been Marlborough’s little gem, punching well above its weight. It’s both communal and friendly, but professionally executed too. If Glastonbury is a city of tents, this day festival is a village of gazebos. Picnicking families return year-after-year, and MantonFest prides itself on a loyal fanbase.
Nit-picking, the focus is entirely on the music, but kids seem unperturbed by any lack of facilities aimed at them. They naturally make their own entertainment, organise a game of football in the ample surrounding fields, more so join the already extensive age demographic and genuinely enjoy the music. Perhaps why The Fab Four were so apt, the Beatles’ early music is the eve of bubble-gum, beguilingly simple for the masses, which makes it timeless.
Talking to them backstage they delighted in the notion they’re a platform introducing Beatles music to a new generation, and in that, plus the fact they are an archetypical four-piece rock band setup without strings and effects, they blasted out the earlier, simpler 45s such as Love me Do and Hold my Hand as a baseplate. And they did it fantastically, with a nod to later Beatles creations such as Yellow Submarine and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but perhaps most absolute to exposing their skills in ballads, such as Something the aforementioned, Here Comes the Sun, and a grand finale of Hey Jude, this was a very entertaining package.
Take a Beatles tribute as red, my mum, caught up in Beatlemania, thrust it willingly down my throat, so I’m bound to enjoy, but the real surprise of MantonFest 2022 was the second tribute, Jean Genie. As it suggests, accomplished musician and writer in his own right, John Mainwaring becomes David Bowie, more so in sound than appearance.
You can rough me up for this, but note while I fully recognise and accept Bowie’s importance in the progression of pop, and understand why he is idolised, I’m a smidgen too young to have been caught up in the fanaticism surrounding him. But this guy wowed, as simple as; assessment is this is way up on my best tributes leader-board, forcing me to view Bowie in a new light. I mean, the guy toured with Bowie’s own band The Spiders from Mars in the nineties, explaining to me backstage the gradual progression to this career point was, as he sounded so much like his influence, through his own original music, he was persuaded first to attribute the fictional persona Ziggy Stardust, “as Bowie killed him off anyway.”
This performance was truer to the definition “tribute” than the standard tribute act, it was part John Mainwaring, being himself hugely inspired by Bowie, but it was also part Bowie, sublimely, his voice and showmanship as close as you could possibly get, and as Starman echoed out, it was a totally mesmerising performance, my highlight of the day.
Unfortunately, while professional and accomplished, I have to say, I don’t think the headliners The Animals topped this. Maybe it was just me, feeling the strain of not drinking myself stupid, of which, looking back on, I’m proud, but at the time at tad niggly! I’d say the line between a real act and a tribute act are blurred, when a man like Mainwaring, with such experience and close relationship with the act he’s attributing is a tribute, but a band with only one original band member is considered the genuine article. I mean, yeah, it’s labelled as The Animals and Friends, but grammar comes into play somewhat. It’s not plural; The Animal and Friends. A rather plodding show, a bit meh in comparison with what went beforehand.
Between the two tributes stood the testament to MantonFest, Marlborough’s pride, Barrelhouse. With bassist Stuart Whant as artistic director, MantonFest is the Barrelhouse fan club’s annual beano, but they’ve the knack to make their show something watchable on repeat. If you ever figured the timeworn blues of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley,or even when they slip into bluegrass, couldn’t enthuse teenagers today, you need to bear witness to the enduring methods of Barrelhouse, with the growling mysterious frontman Martin Hands, his proficient band, and the reaction of their loyal fans at the one place they’ll guarantee to rule the stage, Manton Grange.
But if Barrelhouse are guaranteed goodness, The Fab Four were what they said on the tin, fab, and Jean Genie was a sublime homage, there was an equally talented act upon my arrival. Rocking up a bit late to catch previous performances, Southend-on-Sea’s Rosalie Cunningham was all I needed as confirmation this was going to be a great day for live music. Program a hundred personas of legendary rock heroines into a computer, from Patti Smith to Suzi Quatro and Debbie Harry to Alanis Morissette, and ask it to compute something analogous, it’d likely create Rosalie Cunningham. She looked the part, she sounded like the part, and in all essence, she was the part.
At first it came across prog-rock, all King Crimson type, but there were riffs to punk, nods to rock n roll, and the band explained they liked it like this, prevented it getting tedious for them. For an audience it was astutely performed, original rock, steady, flowing; the like you’d think you knew already.
All-in-all, Mantonfest is a credit to Wiltshire, but as I said last year, absent are the faces of our own live music aficionados, just a stone-throw away. Marlborough is not the Upside Down from Stranger Things, Devizions, yet those rolling downs seem to divide us into little circuits.
In fact, the only connection to my hometown I made was thinking about my stomach! Yes, amico, that trusty airstream caravan, The Italian Job, usually parked upon the Green in Devizes, was pitched at MantonFest, the wonderful aromas of basil and garlic were as alluring as the seating inside, and for want of a cup of Rosey-Lee, I came bundling out with gorgeous homemade lasagne, garlic bread and rocket, and slouched in a chair below the beautiful slopes of Treacle Brolly; now that’s festivaling Marlboro’ country, something you’re really missing. I’d highly recommend you etch MantonFest 2023 into your must-do-list.
Ah – you never know what life is going to throw up at you till it smacks you right in the face. Coming off the back of two weeks’ worth of fare from Devizes Arts Festival, I poked my head in to The Corn Exchange to catch their very last act – Absolute with their Celtic Party Night. I managed to stay for the first half (and very it good it was too as the crowd began to thaw and fill the dance-floor), but to be honest, there’s only so much diddley-diddley music that one man can take.…..
And so it was, as a late call, I decided to head up the hill to The Southgate to check out the Sarah C. Ryan Band. And boy am I glad I did. These guys were a new band to me, despite being quite local (they even rehearse in Devizes), and I couldn’t believe that I’d never run into them before.
In short they were beltingly good – several notches above most pub bands. But that judgement is kinda unfair – they were much more than a mere “pub band”. They played mostly self-penned numbers, with just the occasional leavening of covers. Being a five-piece, and including three guitars, drums, keyboards and the occasional woodwind, gave them a depth and a richness in their sound. The songs were clean, sharp, unfussy. Sarah’s singing in particular lifted the performance with her sweet, clear voice, but the whole thing was a complete pleasure to listen to. Number after number rolled off their set-list, each one bringing huge applause from a very enthusiastic audience. Their versions of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and the Cranberries’ “Zombie” were absolutely spot-on, working with the crowd and feeding off their energy.
Really good band – best I’ve seen in ages. And really nice folks to talk to as well. They told me that they don’t actually gig very much, but I really can’t understand why – they’ve got the right package – good songs, good playing, good sound and an ability to connect with their audience. Let’s hope we see much more of them in the future!
Well done to Debs for another great booking, and a good night at The Gate.
Editor’s Top-Secret Information! I’m sorry to have missed this gig at our trusty Southgate, for although I’ve not had the chance to catch The Sarah C Ryan Band live, yet, I can leak some top-secret information, or, at least, procrastination being the reason I’ve not mentioned it sooner: I’m fully aware how absolutely awesome The Sarah C Ryan Band are, as they’ve kindly donated a tune called A Woman in White, to the forthcoming second volume of our Julia’s House compilation. And you HAVE to hear it!
Skewered, the adverse replies to my Facebook post a month ago, asking for suggestions on how to kill a few hours in Warminster; it was as if I’d wandered into the outback! Skewered by banter, neighbouring rivalry, perhaps, but I also have to take into account the town’s proximity to funky freewheeling Frome, and the fact any town name with the word “war” in hardly connotes an approachable kind of place..…but, is it?
But what’s in a name, military links aside? I set about a little research project to suggest Warminster is not a cultural void, and any accusation it is, is obscured by ignorance, surely? They probably say the same about us; all’s fair in love and war, minster….see what I did there? A little Sunday pun to break the ice! Okay, I’ll get my coat.
Already aware both the Rose & Crown and Prestbury Sports Bar host a regular live music programme, supporting local live music, I also came across a group aptly titled Inspire Warminster. Coincidently, they’ve a free community festival happening Sunday 3rd July from 1-7pm in the town park. I suggest if you suffer from Warminster-phobia you check it out, overcome your negative presumptions!
The brainchild of Pete Bartley and Doug Halls, Inspire Warminster started out in 2013, when their Town Council approached them with their idea to put on an annual live music event in the park to showcase local talent, and more specifically to encourage young people to take up a musical instrument. Doug and Pete wanted to put on a daytime family event where parents could bring their children and enjoy a family day out listening to the music, which is precisely what they did!
I spoke to Tom of the group, whose job it is to organise the bands. “We’ve nine very diverse bands booked for this year,” he tells me, “All of whom local to Warminster, so it really will be a wonderful showcase of the talents in the town.” This is exactly what I was after, evidence!
Coyote Country starts the music at 1pm, followed by Wade Merritt, Junkyard Dogs, Grumpy Dog, and Brakelight. Then the Warminster Community Choir are on at 4:20, followed by Dr Alibi, The Frontman and our good friends, People Like Us headline at 6. “With the amount of talent on during the course of this event,” Last playing Inspire in 2017, People Like Us announced, “we are stunned, thrilled and humbled to be headlining this brilliant community event.”
“PLUS were instrumental in reuniting our community,”Inspire explains, “as we emerged from lockdown, reigniting our spirits and reminding us that good times could exist again. All that remains is to let them do their thing, so come, dance and sing!”