Song of the Day 15: The Emertarians

Anytime is a good time for some roots reggae, Sunday morning, doublely so.

Enter one of my favourite current reggae bands, from Madrid, the Emertarians.

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….


Wiltshire Rural Music to Stream Gigs from Trowbridge Town Hall

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.


Around and Around, and Hitting a High; Kirsty Clinch on Top Form

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.


Carmela Wins Points of Light Prime Minister Award

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.


Trending……


Candidate for Wiltshire Police & Crime Commissioner barred from Volunteering to Administer Lateral Flow Covid Tests

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.

Mike Rees

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.


Song of the Day 14: King Hammond Meets Death of Guitar Pop

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….


Join me every Friday night at 10pm on www.bootboyradio.net

Song of the Day 13: Antoine & Owena

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….


Rise of the Snowmen!

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.

Jonesy McSnow and Lucy (age 10)

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.

Towering over the playpark on Devizes Green, Bally Bongo’s Bob stands at over 6ft 2. By
Archie(8) Blu (4) and a little help by the parents!
This snow Kong at the Henly’s has sacred everyone back inside!
The Russell Family’s got an outie belly button bigger than the average snowman!
The Waterman’s daughter’s first snowman is huge!
Stay back, he’s got a taste for meat, or is that a twig?!
From the tall to the small, it doesn’t matter, he looks happy!
Don’t, don’t, don’t you, forget about me!

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….

Amazing!
Best buddies!
Hide your carrots, there’s a snow bunny about! Pictured with it’s creator; grand job, Faith!
The apple of Pingu’s eye! Well done Willow & Jonah!
Very retro, Kiana!
Shiver me timbers!
Mange tout, Hoffman, you plonker!

He made snow chicks, cats and dogs….

Arrow through the head??!
Great rocket ship, Isacc…. oh, you’ve sledged away!
Shark invasion in Sam’s garden!
And a hoodie in Kev’s yard!
Buddha in Urchfont!
And some lounging about!

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.

Tracey and Sara Whatley did the hard work, the horses reaped the benefits!

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….

The Barter family make use of their brussels sprouts after Christmas!
Zeb’s snowman has a snow booty!
Ol’ broccoli eyes is back; Guardian of the wheelie bins!
Either they tried to put wellies on this snowman, or it ate a small child!
Facemasks on, here comes the foreman tree inspector!
Dog photobomb at the Diskett’s!
Somebody call the snow doctor!
Anyone seen the funnel bit to mum’s vacuum cleaner?!
Take two bottles into the shower? No, I just wash n snow!
Anymore snow coming, I need a friend? Not for you, sprout-face!
Got to look your best when doing a spot of gardening…
Hit and run snowman attack!
Skateboarding on ice is dangerous, but when else can a snowman hit the half-pipe?
I’m all for gender neutral snow people, but this one has lady’s assets and a six-pack!
You’re only ever one jacket away from being a goth!
I thought about making this the winner; they’ve got to win something after all!
Office party, you know how it goes…..
Jimmy Saville goes skiing?

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.

Rule Britannia, we shall, we shall never stuff a whole loaf in our mouths at once?
Heavy night, anyone got a paracetamol?
I’ve had enough of this, I’m off to live with the wolves…..
Will you be my friend?
I am robo-snowman!

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!

Never over-complicate the objective. Matrim Vaux, age 6 knows less is more with Bill the snow owl.
Leo, age 5, and Hallie, age 2 looking a tad cold, but like they’re having so much fun!
Topical from the Collins family, but he looks awesome!
I just love this picture, Casey, age 6 looks so proud as she strikes a pose, but Archie, age 3, seems distracted by something else happening elsewhere; it’s a guy thing Casey!
By Justina Hams and her seven year-old. Because he’s so smooth and grand looking!
Rob Jobson understated his snowman, saying “it’s the taking part that matters!” No mate, he’s superb in his simplicity!
A team effort from the Lake family, and a grand job made of it!
Marc Spartacus Fleming and Leia (2!) This is Steve the snowman, and he just works!
Are you in competition with your snowman for the best hat, Ava-Mae?! A grand effort, you look proud and so you should be!
Just to put a hat on her snowman wasn’t enough, Alison Sinclair (45!) carved it, and all other features so brilliantly!

Song of the Day 12: Darla Jade

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….


Song of the Day 11: Dakka Skanks

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.

Very good. Carry on….


Skates and Wagons: Path of Condie

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.

Skates & Wagons

They sent me a link to their album, Path of Condie on 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!


Trending…..

Graham Steel Music Awards Online Tomorrow

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:


Song the Day 10: Summit 9 Studios

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.

Saucy effort guys, love it!

Very good. Carry on….


Song the Day 9: Emily Lockett

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.

And that’s my song of the day for today.

Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 8: Mansion of Snakes

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….


Song of the Day 7: Mr Tea & the Minions

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….


“Nobody has Wanted to Talk about Hunting, Other than Trolls!” Says PCC Candidate Jonathon Seed

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!


Song of the Day 6: The Simmertones

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….


Choo-Choo; Dreams of Devizes Railway Station

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!


Trending….

Song of the Day 5: Gecko

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….

Trending Now…


Are the Fire & Rescue Service Cutting Vital Flood Equipment?

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 stations to 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.

Here’s the petition, should you decide to sign it: https://www.change.org/p/dorset-wiltshire-fire-authority-stop-the-removal-of-vital-rescue-equipment-from-wiltshire-fire-stations


Song of the Day 4: Girls Go Ska

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….


  • Survival of the Friendliest with Beans on Toast

    Another year, another birthday for Jay McAllister, aptly codenamed Beans on Toast. Staying true to his birthday tradition, he’s opened a new tin, and this one has little sausages of optimism in it.…..

    Aptly named, because I like Beans on Toast, as much as I like beans on toast, and I really like beans on toast, for the tastiness in its simplicity. There’s a poignant message here, without overthinking. Nothing on Survival of the Friendliest, his new album released this Wednesday via Bot Music, is indulged with riddles and cryptic clues, the motives are clear and precise.

    Just as the title of last year’s album, Knee Deep in Nostalgia, summed up the running theme of parenthood and reminiscing on your own youth, so does this abridge. Survival of the Friendliest is Three Little Birds, or Don’t Worry, Be Happy throughout; in the face of depressing times, the simple but effective prose is not to let problems get you down. The result is indie-folk goodness, with sunny side of the street vibes. Beans on Toast presents a charming premise, and executes it perfectly, leaving you uplifted and smiling no matter what the weather might throw at you.

    Beans on Toast

    The boundless negativity of social media, political grandstanding, scandal and undesirable news are mentioned, but tossed aside in favour of eternal hope and optimism, peace and possibilities. It’s filled with environmental references, trees, stones on a beach, endangered species, yet advocates the notion the planet is naturally rejuvenating, and man’s effect can be reversed by the will of human kindness.

    Taking its title from Humankind by modern thinker, Rutger Bregman, the book’s positive philosophies play a pivotal influence in shaping the course of the record. If this Always Look on the Bright Side of Life thought might be this long-established protest singer changing his tune, it suits. The Commons the only exception to the rule, even this track has cheery and carefree undercurrents, through the banjo riff. Written earlier in the year, with old friends Blaine Harrison and Jack Flanagan of the Mystery Jets, Survival of the Friendliest is the wonderful and entertaining ride I’d expect from Beans.

    Delightfully carefree, the opening song, A Beautiful Place sums the premise as well as the album title, Stones is simply stunning, and the conservation theme runs until Tree of the Year. Not Everyone Thinks We’re Doomed projects the aforementioned faithful sanguinity, so, so cleverly it’ll give you goosebumps.

    Even the album’s love song advocates the allure of marriage, as he charmingly chaunts “Let’s Get Married Again.” Garnished in sentiment perhaps, but there’s reality driven into his words, “It’s something we’re now going to do” Jay grinned. This is honest song writing, delivered with cheeriness, buoyancy and effervescence, but more importantly it rubs off, leaving you in high spirits; musical Prozac!

    Get the album HERE


  • Webb Dreams of a White Christmas

    If we had a lot to say about Webbs’ head-turning metal EP Disenchanted, back in August, there’s a version of Irving Berlin’s classic, White Christmas out tomorrow, Friday 3rd December, here. Yeah, it’s a sluggish haul building into Webb’s emblematic hard rock style, and the sonic fuzz-box crooning will shake the baubles off your tree!

    As for what’s next, after two very successful gigs in Birmingham and Glastonbury in 2021, I’m told we can expect to hear more new music from WEBB shortly into the new year. Which we look forward to.

    From Bing to Buble, and from Bob Marley to Meghan Trainor, it’s a popular but odd murmuring song to cover, I think, while Nat King Cole’s Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire hardly ever gets a remake, and I personally think it’s the best Christmas crooning song, like, ever, but let’s not get into an argument over such froths during the season of goodwill, you cheap lousy maggot! I know you favour Shakey’s, and that’s your prerogative!

    Maybe the Darkness tried to bring heavy rock back into Christmas songs, but it was never the same since the glam days of Slade and Wizard, those are the ones which ring in my ears with memories as far back as I can reach, real toddler Christmas days of yore. White Christmas though, yeah, Webb makes a great, alternative job of it.


  • Wiltshire to Freeze in Ice Age Temperatures, Especially Devizes!

    We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire Live to bring you this clickbait and vastly overemphasised weather warning exclusive.….

    The MET Office (MET stands for my exaggerated template) forecasts plummeting temperatures are to hit Wiltshire this week, as if it was December or something.

    Being our friends at Wiltshire Live detest murder capital of the world, Devizes, so much, I’ve agreed to announce, in our own little fantasy, Devizes will be hit the most of all by the worst snowstorm since the Late Paleozoic ice age, 360 million years ago; so take a scarf if you’re going out.

    Iain Wallis’s internet connection froze

    Traffic will be severely disrupted, but do not worry, the Wiltshire Live editor and I will be pointlessly live at the scenes of any congestion, adding to the congestion, and proudly wearing the thermal long-johns we bought with the advertising revenue from our last weather warning scare story.

    The canal and Crammer will freeze over, taps will cease up, and town councillors are advising not to wee outside like they do, or at least, take the piss.

    Ruth and Doug on Monday Market Street, this morning.

    The good news is, Greggs say their sausage rolls will be no colder than they usually are. Remember, buy Greggs sausage rolls, because they’re really great and no local small patisery businesses exist, so don’t bother looking for them. This has nothing to do with any sponsorship deal I have with them, and you are liable for suggesting it is, so, see you in court if you think you is a playa and wanna play me, brah.

    Rising levels of oxygen during this cold spell, similar to the late Paleozoic icehouse, are due to have major effects on the evolution of plants and animals. Higher oxygen concentration and accompanying higher atmospheric pressure, will enable energetic metabolic processes which will encourage evolution of large land-dwelling and flight vertebrates. This is true, right, and not something I copied and pasted off Wikipedia.

    You can expect your pet dogs to super-evolve into woolly mammoths and your cats into saber-toothed tigers by Friday. Teenage door-kicking Tik-Tokkers be warned.

    Average Devizes teenage Tik-Tokker meets their match at Hillworth Park ealier this morning

    You can expect to see aerial predators evolve in places such as Sidmouth Street, dragonfly-like Meganeura, with a wingspan of 60 to 75 cm, and fangs as sharp as the Wiltshire Live Editor’s wit. These carnivores will eat anything to survive, so keep your eye on your Chick-o-Land kebab at all times if eating outside.

    Remember to stay safe by clicking on every article of ours you see shared on Facebook, and don’t forget to comment on our phishing posts, such as find out your eskimo name by adding your first pet’s name with the last 3 digits on the back of your credit card, and your date of birth.

    We will be back with another update by this afternoon, whether or not any changes occur, because we have to appease our advertisers.

  • Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club Brings Blues Royalty to Devizes

    If local media are reporting tomorrow’s arrival of the Duchess of Cornwall to Devizes, here to browse Wiltshire Museum’s Ravilious Downland Man exhibition, and erm, wave and stuff, here at Devizine we’d rather do cartwheels over the breaking news of Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club’s spring time ball, which promises to bring local blues royalty to the Corn Exchange.

    The celebrated monthly Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club jams at Lacock’s Owl Lodge remains unticked on my to-do-list, work restricting Sunday evening outings, but I’ve heard only good things. Stepping up their game, yesterday the club announced a rather spectacular one-off event at Devizes Corn Exchange, set for Saturday 12th March 2022.

    A band Devizine will never cease praising, the incredible Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue headline the evening, and if that’s not enough to break your purse out, our homegrown Innes Sibun Blues Explosion also get top billing. International award-winning one man band, Eddie Martin also plays, and Bromham’s honky-tonk 12-bar guy, Will Blake, brings his fantastic band too, part of which includes special guest, Bristol’s finest singer, saxophonist and flautist, Rosa Gray.

    Such a fabulous line-up, it’s a win-win. Every booking is an act we’ve highly recommended in the past, and it’s my birthday too; glad rags on I say; mine’s a cider, cheers.

    Though as the name suggests, the Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club is indeed a club, and members get first dibs when tickets go on sale Friday, exclusively to them. If and when tickets go on general release, I will let you know, but Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club appear a tad unresponsive to social media messages, so to publish this inviting preview here’s hoping they’ll give us the lowdown closer to the time, probably too busy getting their mojo working!

    Here’s their Facebook page, seems the best contact method, 12th December is their next jam session at the Owl Lodge, it’s a snip at six quid entry, and comes across as a wonderful evening’s entertainment.  


  • Thieves Break into Ambulance in Devizes

    Devizes-based event medical company, GWP reported their rapid response vehicle was broken into over the weekend, and approximately £1,000 worth of vital lifesaving equipment and uniform was stolen.

    We make a point of avoiding local news items, rather concentrate on feelgood magazine stories. Leave the hard work and nitty-gritty to Newsquest I say!

    But sometimes occurrences come along, such as this, which beggars belief at the audacity and sheer stupidity of some. So, if I am to report on a news item, I reserve my prerogative to cast an opinion, without justification, and today that is directed to the perpetrators of this crime; You. Stole. From. An. Ambulance, for crying out loud, I urge you to read that back to yourself and pray you never need the use of one yourself.

    GWP ask the public to please look out for anyone offering kit or uniform, and if anyone has CCTV footage of New Park Street Devizes, they would be very grateful if you could get in touch.

    Last weekend the company
    provided medical provisions for Midsomer Norton Town Council’s Christmas light switch on, followed by Bradford on Avon Town Council, and a dance event by Oxford County Council. They also start a month-long worth of provisions for Stourhead National Trust and Forest Green Rovers Football Club.

    GWP said “they’ve taken about £1000 worth of equipment, but more worryingly is the paramedic marked uniform.”

    At first I figured it was just for money, and hadn’t even contemplated the security issues of potentially posing as medical staff. GWP replied, “equipment like the defibrillator is worth money, but yes, posing as medical staff is a big security concern. Especially after last month, someone pretending to be a nurse from the local GP surgery, St James, was uncovered.”

    We hope the thieves can be found as soon as possible, and give our support and gratitude to the staff of GWP.

    Today though, staff are trying to focus on the positives, showing the new branding added to their ambulance, by local graphics company Kennet Sign & Display, ready to go to Forest Green Rovers Football Club; keep up the great work!

  • The Allergies Rock Da Muck & Dunder House

    Images by Chris Dunn of Inscope Design


    Got my groove thang on at the Muck & Dunder, Saturday, with help from The Allergies; yeah, I can still cut a rug, just!…….

    It was the standout track on Bath’s premiere funky groovers, Stardust Collective’s 2014 Shindig ‘Afterhours’ collection which alerted me to the wonders of Bristol DJ duo, The Allergies.

    Drenched with a classic Stax undercurrent, “As we do our Thing,” acts as a go-between, teasing unnoticeable changeovers from archaic soul, which is favoured by my Boot Boy Radio show audience, to modern breaks, which perhaps is not so favoured, but I love to josher. I’ve blended it in with everything from Harvey Scales & The Seven Sounds’ Get Down, to Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog, and out into Skint’s big beat anthems from Cut La Roc, or Wall of Sounds’ Wiseguys. It’s a tune which also turned Craig Charles’ head at the time; nuff said.

    Saturday night at Devizes’ one and only rum bar, the glitzy without being pretentious Muck and Dunder, and one half of the duo, Roy, aka, DJ Moneyshot had drawn the short straw, while Adam, or DJ Rackabeat, his partner in beats, browsed the exotic cocktails menu.

    Lumbered with me waffling this in his ear, and expanding it into an Uncle Albert moment, Roy didn’t seem to mind, least humoured, my “when I was in the rave,” ramblings, on the grounds we had a mutual associate in Stardust organiser Slim Goodgroove, who I’ve not seen since art college.

    If some in Devizes would shake negatively at a £15 ticket stub to watch two guys putting records on, when live music is the usual order of the day, they didn’t see what I and the punters of the Muck & Dunder saw. You know, here at Devizine we promote and celebrate live music, and I could go as far as suggesting for many in this area, DJ culture is somewhat alien. Yet hardly new-fangled, DJ Kool Herc delivered hip hop to NYC ghetto bloc parties the same year I was born, Grand-wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash and a handful of others turned mixing records into an art form.

    And it’s very much in this ethos and spirt which The Allergies base this show on. Their skills on the wheels of steel are as spellbinding as Miles Davis with a trumpet or Hendrix with a guitar. If it was an honour and privilege to witness this magic here in our humble town, it was nothing compared to the irresistible urge to shake our booties uncontrollably for an astounding two hours, of which these magical master-mixers shaped.

    After being smoothed in with RnB jams from Bath’s Graham the DJ, The Allergies went off on one, cutting and scratching with such proficiency they made it look child’s play. I’ve not got my groove thang on like that since the heady days of largin’ it with Norm, Brighton style.

    Though comparisons to Fatboy Slim perhaps too meek, if there’s a difference, the squidgy 808s have waned, and the Allergies favour blending seriously intoxicating 45s of classic funk and hip hop with contemporary reworks. The result was an off-the-scale funky jam, the like old Devizes has never seen before, as the duo swapped and changed positions, sometimes passively battling, other times complementing, weaving their enchanted sounds as they used two turntables as a musical instrument.

    If crowd-pleasers like Ini Kamoze’s Here Comes The Hotstepper raised the roof, brassy adaptations of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk captured the imagination, but the melting pot was vast, and wrapped in their unique funk revival ethos, ending on a peak with a mashup of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya to the beat of The Special’s cover of Message to you, Rudy; vinyl junkies would kill for a peek into their box of 45s.

    Backward caps off to the Muck & Dunder for an excellent booking and most memorable evening’s entertainment, the like we’d usually need to trek to a city of cultural influence for. Here’s a comfy and hospitable lounge striving way beyond ramming a tacky nightclub concept and driving dance music events to Devizes with the matured and sophistication it by now deserves.

    While it’s not so easy to review a DJ set as a band, I hope I captured the glorious moment. It needs mentioning, the Muck pulled off something I was interested to peruse the attraction of locally. It was adequately filled, and, as it was in the rave era, the crowd were there to party therefore left qualms and attitude at home. As it should be; dancing is about throwing ones cares aside for the moment, and if you witnessed me gyrating like Sonic the Hedgehog on a gyroscope, it’s because it was impossible not to!

    They didn’t mind a joker rearranging letters on their menu board to spell out titillating alternatives, and for every tip you give bar staff comes the promise of giving Boris Johnson a wedgie! A quality night with the tastiest menu of cocktails; it’s a tropical holiday experience in your hometown! Yet while DJ culture will continue at the Muck, there’s a variety of events coming up, including live music Sunday sessions, the first on 19th December, with the brilliant Ben Borrill. Long live the Muck & Dunder, and all those who sail in her.


  • Chatting With The Lost Trades

    Local newspapers ran with a yarn of snow blizzards, due Saturday, and illustrated the clickbait with scenes of worst weather of yore. The laughable reality was there was a blustery storm which bought five minutes of flurry.

    I don’t conscribe to sensationalising, neither need to interview for the emblematic promotion of a new product. The Lost Trades aren’t yet announcing a second album, neither have they memoirs published; there wasn’t a good reason to interview them. They didn’t whet appetites broadcasting a follow-up album when I asked them the standard “what’s next” question, rather spoke about strategies.

    I was eager to catch up with them though; haven’t seen them for ages, and they were happy to oblige, because they’re nice like that! They’d finished a soundcheck supporting Focus for a Long Street Blues Club gig at Devizes’ Corn Exchange, which Andy kindly reviewed.

    No matter how they’ve been gigging further afield and stamping a benchmark for folk harmony trios internationally with The Bird, The Book and the Barrel, their feet remain on the ground, and this is, after all, their original stomping ground. Two thirds from Devizes, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin, while Phil Cooper is from Trowbridge, the latter of whom casually asked prior to the interview what I could write about them which I haven’t already.

    Fair cop, since day dot Devizine followed all three, Tamsin crowdfunding her debut album, Gypsy Blood was our first article in 2017, a review of Phil’s Thoughts & Observations closely followed, and I met Jamie slightly later, at the Saddleback Festival’s Battle of the Bands in 2018.

    Tamsin and Jamie at Battle of the Bands, 2018, with George Wilding, Claire, Mike Barham, Jordan Whatley, Jack Moore and Sally Dobson. Image by Nick Padmore

    The three musicians closely associated themselves with each other, producing and recording, assisting with gigs and collaborating sporadically, until a natural bond had formed and it made sense to form a trio. The news of The Lost Trades we broke in December 2019, a year of lockdown followed their debut gig at Trowbridge’s Pump, but a period which has seen them improve tenfold, together, on their already high standard.

    Both the name the Lost Trades and the album name, The Bird, The Book and the Barrel derives from their surnames; Cooper is a barrel-maker, Hawkins the bird and Quins were counsels or scribes, hence the book. Figuring a blithe beginning, being my rare organisational skills surprised them with a typed sheet of questions, I thought I’d ask if Phil minded being referred to as a barrel! He said he didn’t, but do they call him it?

    Phil Cooper solo

    “From now on,” Jamie laughed while Tamsin christened it his new name. Phil retorted “that makes you Jamie ‘the bird’ Hawkins,” and I added I liked a bird with a beard, which isn’t exactly true but it broke the ice, if there was some to break, which there wasn’t, so I don’t know why I mentioned it!

    The Trades know me well, in this, I pointed out a milkman is a something of a lost trade, and wondered if they had space for me, perhaps in the corner, with a triangle! Jamie noted I could be a “bottle fourth member!” While they pondered if there were to be any sensible questions, I broadened it with, “or is three the magic number?” 

    Phil was first to confirm, the others agreed humbly. Tamsin expanded, “having three of us there’s no scope for two people going against two other people, you know? It’s always equal.”

    “Yeah, democratically it works really well,” Jamie added. “There’s always a mediator,” Tammy motioned, “it works well like that.” Phil enhanced, “from a harmony point of view, I mean, don’t tell any barbershop quartets this but three is the magic number!” To be honest, I’m all out of befriending barbershop quartets these days anyway.

    I offered it was great to see them back in Devizes, because it was, and I asked them where was the furthest so far, they’d played. Being, I’d imagine, the map-man of the trio, Phil called Eastbourne.

    But are they booked for many festivals this summer? “Yes,” Phil replied, but couldn’t spill the beans. The Lost Trades are getting a lot of bookings, which is understandable. The only characteristic variance I noted seemed to be Tamsin, who once conveyed a slightly anxious persona when performing but is now rightfully brewing with confidence. More importantly, all three seem so at ease with the Trades’ success, loving the moment, and they’re bonded even tighter.

    This is the point I slipped in the standard “what’s next,” and asked, “where do you take it from here?”

    “Well, we have a strategy, you see?” Tamsin whispered, “first was getting our name out to our fans, and building up this joint fanbase, which is what we’ve worked on. And now we’re trying to build our name up in the folk world. So, hitting the folk clubs.” And they’ve been getting blinding reviews from folk magazines. “And a lot of radio-play from specialist folk shows as well,” Phil added, “up in Cambridge,” he exampled. Nationally, or even internationally, I queried. “Yeah,” Phil answered proudly, “in Canada, and Italy.”

    I supposed lockdown live streaming helped in this exporting, despite lack of profit. Phil nodded, “it certainly tied us over, when we weren’t able to do anything, and kept us in people’s minds.” Tamsin assured, “at this stage in our career it’s not about making money, it’s more about getting our name known and reputation built up.”

    To prevent it getting too cosy, I had something more challenging up my sleeve. As individuals The Lost Trades are no strangers to diversifying genres and sounds. Phil in particular, who even delves into electronica with a side project called BCC. Yet the Lost Trades is narrow in ethos, like a corporate identity, being strictly a folk trio, even in design of covers and promotional material. Make no mistake, this works, and is a great formula, but I asked how they could future prevent criticism that it’s getting “samey.” In this I gave the example of the Adele single.

    “The fact there’s three songwriters in the band, all with different styes, will help keep us fresh,” Phil explained, “and like you say, we do all like to switch and try other things. I think it will happen, but obviously we’ve put this folk package together, and the music is very much modern folk, going to Americana.” I nodded, in theme too, content is modern. Tamsin added “Also that we’re playing multi-instruments too, which keeps us fresh.”

    Debut gig at the Pump, Trowbridge

    It was perhaps a tricky question, but you only need to listen to The Bird, The Book and the Barrel to note there is room for experimentation within the genre, and The Lost Trades wish to engage this. Phil expressed, “the folk thing is less about the music and more about how we present ourselves, as a brand, if you like.”

    On reflection of their earliest songs as the trio, and knowing them as individual performers, I sense each song in style and writing are pitched by one of them to the trio; I could pick out that one was very Jamie, or very Phil, but the lines are blurred on the newer songs, melded so much I cannot pick out who’s idea or who wrote any particular song; is this what they’re working towards, complete harmonising? It was the longest question with the shortest answer, they nodded throughout me asking it. “I guess so,” Jamie replied, “there’s lots of methods and approaches we’ve yet to try out; that’s another reason why I think we’ll stay fresh.”

    “One of the reasons the later stuff is harder to tell is,” Phil expanded, “the earlier stuff the other two were harmonising with whoever had the lead vocal, but the stuff we did towards the end of the album didn’t have a lead vocal, it was all about the three voices all the way through. We could get samey if we did just that, so we’ll keep the solo voice every now and then, just to keep it interesting.”

    Lost Trades at the Southgate, Devizes

    Tamsin added, “Also, as we’ve grown together musically, we’re writing songs specifically for the band. We write our own solo songs and ones which we think, oh, this one would sound better as a harmony; we tailor it to be a band song.”

    Sure, feels like a progression happening naturally, as they work closer together. “It already did,” Phil said when I suggested this, “when working on the album there was two or three songs which didn’t exist until a month before the recording. We put them together really quickly, and yes, they were very much that kinda organic feel.”

    Mentioning the impending lockdown as they first formed, I wondered if they felt there was positives which came from it. Phil called the album a massive positive, which if you’ve heard it, you can only agree. “There were songs on there written about what we were going through at the time….”

    Tamsin responded too, “lots of the songs we wrote when we were feeling down about having to cancel the tour, for example ‘Winning Days’ was where Jamie and I were feeling miserable, and Phil said ‘right I’m going to write a song to cheer us up.”

    “I think, perversely,” Phil added, “the fact we’d built up friends on our side, and to suddenly have it swept away, we got a massive outpouring of love towards us, and that has probably put us on a run up the ladder, that maybe we wouldn’t have got at that point.”    

    I beg to differ on this one, sensing this shadow of modesty in them, when really, this massive outpouring of love towards them would’ve been inevitable with or without the restrictions of lockdown, because this grouping just works; whether you are folk’s greatest devotee, or not.

    For the final question I returned blithe, as I sensed they were busting to get to the stage; “have you ever been interviewed before with questions as stupid as these ones, and did you expect anything less?!”

    The one who remained most silent during the interview, Jamie, made a funny noise of which I’m unsure if it was positive or negative, but it rolled out a belly laugh, Phil pleaded the fifth on it, and Tamsin voiced in the background she thought they were “lovely” questions, because that’s our Tammy, Devizes loves her, we love all three; Trowbridge and Devizes finest musical export; I give you The Lost Trades, who I lost; by the time I stopped the record button, they were gone, up on stage, to do what they love, and long may it be so!


  • REVIEW – Antonio Forcione @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 27th November 2021

    Italian Jazz Guitarist

    Andy Fawthrop

    This was the third Long Street Blues Club weekend gig on the bounce for me.  Following Gerry Jablonski Band two weeks ago, and the blow-away Focus gig at The Corn Exchange last week, it was back to the familiar surroundings of the Con Club in Long Street for (yet again) something completely different.….

    Support act for the evening was Eddie Witcomb, who started off with a lot of nervous chatter before getting stuck in.  He played mostly his own material but also hit a cover of Nina Simone’s “Because You’re Mine”.  His songs were gentle, thoughtful pieces, but definably in the downbeat and miserable categories.  Describing himself as a “one song a year man”, it was obvious that his songs were a labour of love.  Some of them had curious, trail-off endings, leaving the audience confused at times as to when he’d actually finished.  Overall his set was entertaining, but low key.  I think he needs a few more upbeat numbers to leaven the mix a little, but otherwise great stuff, much appreciated by a large and supportive audience.  Chatting afterwards over a pint, Eddie said that he had indeed been nervous, mostly caused by simple lack of gigs over the Lockdown period, but that he was looking forward to getting his various solo and group projects moving again – which I’m sure will happen for such a dedicated and talented bloke.

    Antonio Forcione, the main act of the evening, is an artist who has been hailed as one of the most charismatic, unconventional guitarists at large in the musical world today.  And with a host of international awards under his belt, this eclectic composer produced two fine sets that had the audience enthralled.  Starting on stage with just himself and his cellist, the very first number was spell-binding and mesmeric.  Then joined by bass and percussion players to fill out this international quartet, he proceeded to produce some truly stunning acoustic music.  It was a mark of the respect with which the audience held him that when he was playing you could hear a pin drop in a very crowded room – no background chatter, no noise from the bar, perfect listening conditions.

    The first set was slightly shortened when Antonio had to do some running repairs on his guitar, before coming out of the blocks in the second half with number after number of beautiful, nuanced playing.  Dropping back to occupying the stage solo “to give the band a rest”, he proved that he is an absolute master of his craft.  And then, as the band re-joined, with their sensitive and sympathetic accompaniments, adding layer upon layer of sound, much of it with a laid-back jazz sensibility, creating complex soundscapes, the magic simply continued.  We had a musical trip around the world, with influences from Spain, Italy, South Africa.  It was mesmerising, it was entrancing, and an absolute pleasure to listen to.

    Yet again, we were very lucky to be able to listen to an international artist of such standing and musical skill in our little town.  Another great booking by Ian Hopkins.  And another great night out at Long Street Blues Club.

    Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

    Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

    Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

    Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

    Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

    Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

    Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

    Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

    Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

    Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

    Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

    Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

    Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

    Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


  • Cracking DOCA Christmas Festival on Friday

    by T.B.D Rose

    Finally, after a missed year (best to write 2020 off the map) our Christmas festival was back on Friday and as illuminating as ever….

    With enchanting light displays, bombastic fireworks, specialist stalls (in the Marketplace, the Corn exchange and the Shambles), seasonal music performed with gusto, the spectacular parade beaming with all its glorious homemade creations and of course our signature local atmosphere, the festival had it all and showed our little town is getting back into the groove of doing what it does best: the kind of spirited events you’ll only find down in Devizes.

    On a funny note, much to the amusement of both me and the woman sitting opposite, we both got an accidental front row seat to the firework display, which was suitably loud!

    Once the parade, the fireworks and the music had faded into the night, I caught the beginning of an artistic shadow puppet show with beautifully built wooden Reindeer.

    Having all of this right on my doorstep has got me right into the Christmas spirit. After all, aren’t we lucky to live here in the most wonderful time of the year?

    Christmas is coming and Devizes is the place to be!


  • New Grey Whistle Test: Visual Radio Arts Arrives in Devizes

    Not just on the premise of tea and nibbles, I find myself at Bath Road Business Centre. The Wharf Theatre’s old prop store has been gloriously converted into a recording studio, of a sort, by a company which once set up base in Frome’s Old Fire Station, Visual Radio Arts.

    My initial reaction to the name was, hasn’t visual radio been done before, at the turn of the last century? They called it television! Over a bourbon biscuit, I’m gonna brave-up, come right out and ask founder Phil Moakes what defines visual radio as opposed to television or video, surrounded by his team, co-producer Maggie Gregory and presenters Patrick Moss, Carl Sutterby and Sara Vian, the latter of whom chuckled it was a good question; phew!

    The only absent presenter I didn’t get to meet was Chris Watson, who, sensibly, turned up after I had gone. Independently Chris runs the site Music Eye, which does what it says on the tin, particularly prompting his readership to emerging talent.

    “If I watch a television program there’s a relationship between what you see and what you hear,” Phil begun, “if you close or eyes and just listen to the audio, you’re missing the story because it’s partially being played out on video, and visa-versa. So, my argument is, visual radio should work on both mediums equally; if you close your eyes, you can still hear the band, you don’t need the pictures, but when you open them, the pictures are there, therefore, if you wanted, you could run the whole show on radio.”

    Patrick added, “which is how it started.” This visual experience with the ethos of radio started little over five years ago as a project through Frome FM. Visual Radio Arts has blossomed since with a plethora of upcoming bands and solo musicians, both signed and unsigned, queuing to feature on episodes. Browsing their website, where their back catalogue is freely available to view, it seems our paths have crossed several times, just not met until now. But as many artists I know and whom have been featured on Devizine in the past, acts like Malone-Sibun, The Lost Trades, Kevin Brown, Strange Folk, and more recently, Ålesund, there’s a multitude of ones new to me.

    Likewise, I’m hopeful the move to Devizes will encourage a partial shift of our local bands to jump on this most excellent opportunity, and I ran off some namedropping of my own. Fact is, being on the same wavelength, it’s a match made in heaven, oh, we could have talked all night! Though, as these programs are primarily a promotional tool, they’ve come from far and wide already, either headhunted by Visual Arts Radio or enquired.

    If this era of lockdown raised the appeal of online gigs through streaming, it’s been a scramble in the dark to both improve on the quality and earn from them. We discussed the worth of Facebook live streaming, how other sites followed suit, on ticketed events and the inevitably of bandwidths unable to handle the traffic. If the novelty of watching your favourite artists perform with a backdrop of their washing on a clothes horse is wearing thin, Visual Arts Radio is for you.

    It presents artists professionally with quality editing, and Phil was keen to point out the ethos of presenting an entire forty-plus minute, uninterrupted set, with a possible interview at the finale, rather than the unpredictability of a live stream, or this goldfish attention-span we’ve currently acquired scrolling through endless three-minute videos. It was at this point, I suggested they were “the New Grey Whistle Test,” to which they agreed, and in considering this ground-breaking show, perhaps Visual Arts Radio isn’t something entirely original, but right here and now, it most certainly is a unique venture that I, for one, am welcoming to Devizes with open arms.

    Phil seemed focused on music, “What I’d like to do is have a variety of styles and shapes, so we’ve got a mix of solos, acoustic, maybe doing folk, and rock bands,” he explained, though open to suggestions, I wondered how this opportunity might suit other arts. Comedy, for example, which by the nature of the beast, couldn’t surely be visual. Phil pointed out they’ve had poetry in the past, which would obviously work audio. This moved from comedy music acts like Corky, or Calne’s Real Cheesemakers, and onto any bands which used props, like the visual experience of a Boot Hill All Stars show, of whom Phil replied had been in the studio already.

    “I think we’ve moved on from where we first started,” Phil continued, “when we first started it was all about music, but I think five years later, we’ve kind of worked out what and how is our best game. And, so if something came along, and it was visual comedy, then we’d probably have a think, see how it would work, but we’d probably still do it, because I think the world has moved on, and more prone to want to see pictures.”

    The move to Devizes is easier on commuting for Phil and Maggie, and there’s hoping bands locally will find it more suitable, calling in acts producing original material, from Swindon and beyond who thought Frome might’ve been a trek. Visual Arts Radio certainly have a wonderful space, large enough to accommodate the brass section of a ska band, for instance, and the possibilities I anticipate will build a working relationship with Devizine in the future. I’m glad to be invited to view bands and musicians performing here, of which we can feature and link direct to their website, where you can enjoy a full set from them.

    Sure, is a groovy prospect, but for now, do browse their fantastic website, check the back catalogue of awesome performances and enjoy; more to follow shortly……  


Song of the Day 3: Harmony

Look, right, I’m not at the top yet, but it’s in clear sight. A round number, of the half century kind, awaits me atop the hill, and there’s no stopping the ride to get off.

I guess reaching these milestone ages causes you to analyse your life somewhat, and if there’s one thing I do know in all my years, it’s that I’ve told some colossal pork pies. Some real stinkers. I don’t know why, other than occupational hazard as a journalist, I’ve no excuses, not one which will wash with you clever lot.

Whether it be for the prestige, the glory, or, sometimes just for the sheer hell of it, just because the golden opportunity arose and I couldn’t stop myself, they just slipped out.

I’m not proud, just saying, you know, get it off my chest. Not compulsively, though, I’d go as far to say the majority of what I say is true.

Why do people say, “I’ll be honest with you…” ? Well duh, I sincerely hope you do anyway, it should go without saying. But the phrase immediately raises the alarm; I’m guessing a whopper is on its way. I never use that phrase on principle. The principle I don’t trust myself to keep to it.

See, what with the whopper, the real damaging kind of fib. I consider my track record on that quite good, I tend to lie to big myself up, but not to put others down. I tend to lie to make light of a situation, rather than darken the notion. I tend not to lie to anyone I trust not to lie to me, and I’ve seen too many of them backfire anyway, so, I’m done with lies, filled my quota but retain decency in not being overly destructive with them; quantity not quality!

And anyway, I don’t lie here, cos I trust you all, I really do. This isnt a tabloid, this is me. Clearly you get what you see, which might be a waffling clown but, hey.

So, Harmony, from Chippenham, on the subject of liars; she’s not singing about me, no sir, not when I say with all the honesty left in me, this young singer-songwriter I’ve discovered via Sheer music, has got something really special. And even if I was lying, which I’m not, I’ve shared the video, to prove it.

And that’s Song of the Day, for the third day. It’s become a popular feature, overnight, honest.

Should you choose to believe that!

Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….

Ain’t Nobody’s Business but Ruzz Guitar and Pete Gage’s

I’ve said it before, said lots of what I’m going to say before, in fact, but I reserve the right to say it again. And you can’t blame me, it’s this Groundhog Day thing, this exasperating lockdown. I perpetually revert my mind back to the last night of live music I attended, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue at Devizes Sports Club with Peter Gage, Jon Amor and Innes Sibun. How I suspected walls could come crashing down, but didn’t want accept it, neither at the time acknowledge it would be so soon. Still, optimistically, what a blinding night; least we went out with a bang.

I mean, I know and I’m eternally grateful to everyone who acted to do what they could immediately after the first lockdown, the afternoon sessions at the Southgate, and our own outing for Devizes;IndieDay, but as good as they were, as Ray Charles said, the night time is the right time. Ode to the gig, the gathering and the celebration, how we miss it so. Are you with me? You are, right?

Faced with the unwelcome likelihood of the first anniversary of the occasion coming around and still, no live music, I have to ponder how far to the light at the end of this gloomy tunnel. And to rub salt into the wound, Ruzz has released a new track, featuring the very same blues legend Peter Gage! But as far as salt goes, upon hearing this tune I’m like a halophile (a salt-loving organism; look it up, people) living on the back of a saltwater crocodile, basking at the shore of the Dead Sea.

A cover of Jimmy Witherspoon’s tune Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Ruzz explains, “we’ve taken the B.B. King and Freddie King versions, mashed them together and added an RGBR flavour into the mix! We’ve been working hard on this track since Christmas and we’re all very excited to release it.”

And so, they should be, it’s sublime, as ever. Habitually, I favour Ruzz and the Blues Revue when they work up a frenzy, but this is smooth, this is blues, the kind of blues you need contemplating the anniversary of the gig ban, and if you attended, it will remind you of it too. If not, it doesn’t matter, it just breezes over you, as all virtuous blues should.

I mean, right, the guy was from The Sloane Squares, headhunted by Shadows bassist Jet Harris upon them supporting Hendrix, and that’s just the beginning of his extensive profession. Pete’s proficient vocals, gives it that edge of aforementioned BB King influence, the arrangement and tightness of this collaboration are like the chimes of seamless bellringing, here’s the Blues Revue on top form, adding guests of calibre and concluding as perfection; quid well spent.


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