Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?
So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.
Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.
The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.
And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.
History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?
Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.
- Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 22nd – 28th March 2023
All the ickle birdies singing in the blossom, and it’s beginning to look at bit more like spring, which it should, being equinox, which basically means, take a raincoat to all the events we’ve found to do in Wiltshire this coming week!
As usual, more information and ticket links to everything I waffle on about here can be found on our event calendar. I know, like a stuck record I say this every week, but listen up; this article is put out on the Monday or Tuesday of each week, and is compiled from many sources, from individual venue’s websites, and various social media groups. Once published you can guarantee someone, somewhere, usually on a Facebook share, will inevitably say “oh, you forgot this!”
So, with this in mind, I do try to update the article, but be aware not always, so the best place to go and check for updates towards the end of the week is our calendar, as it will be updated there.
It’s never an easy task, to remember to check everywhere, it’s like data juggling, and often stuff gets missed, but never think it’s because we don’t like you, or something similar, it’s only that we missed it within the perpetual overload of information coming in! We love you all, please message us if you know of something we forgot and we’ll do our upmost to get your event out there.
Onwards, to Wednesday 22nd March 2023, when as ever there’s an acoustic jam at the Southgate in Devizes. Opening night for Made in Dagenham at the Neeld in Chippenham, and that’s running up to Saturday 25th.
Also running until Saturday, Sheelagh Stephenson’s dark comedy, The Memory of Water is presented by Rondo Theatre Company at The Rondo in Bath.
Afrobeat/funk at The Bell in Bath with Worm Discs Attack’s DunDunDun.
Argentine tango king and Strictly Come Dancing legend, Vincent Simone, brings his show Tango Passions to the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, with Paula Duarte as his leading lady.
Thursday 23rd and The History of Soul, a joyous, life-affirming celebration of soul music through the years performed by a truly exceptional 9-piece band can be found at Melksham Assembly Hall.
Jessie Phelps plays The Tuppenny in Swindon, with Trashed, Sweet Diego and Palps at The Vic. Endorsed by Rod’s own family, Some Guys Have All the Luck – The Rod Stewart Story comes the Wyvern Theatre.
The Sylvertones play The Bear in Bradford-on-Avon, Steve Knightley’s 2023 solo tour, Unlock Me & Other Lockdown is at Chapel Arts, Bath. Wildlife presenter Gordon Buchanan’s 30 Years in the Wild is at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Friday 24th Wilswood Buoys, Meg and Ed Dyke play the Pump in Trowbridge, The Lost Trades are at Chapel Arts in Bath.
Celebrated Irish singer songwriter Brigid Mae Power paints expansive songs that are effortless, hypnotic, and folk-oriented, at Pound Arts in Corsham.
Find Stanton PLC and Yur Mum at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. While The AKA Trio play the Wiltshire Music Centre. AKA Trio is the result of 12 years of friendship between three world-renowned virtuosos: Italian guitarist, Antonio Forcione; Senegalese kora player, Seckou Keita and Brazilian percussionist, Adriano Adewale.
Looks like the last time you’ll ever get to see punk legends Cockney Rejects, as they play a farewell tour at The Vic in Swindon, with Angry Itch and Street Outlaws in support. For a more relaxed evening in Swindon, find The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Wyvern Theatre.
Black Sabbath tribute, Sack Sabbath at the Tree House in Frome, while more dance tributes play The Cheese & Grain, Chemical Dance and Daft Punk Experience.
Right, now, starting off with a craft fair at Melksham Assembly Hall, Saturday 25th is humongous, so pay attention! I’m at least triple-booked with no idea which I want to do; might have to flip a coin!
Guest at the last Jon Amor’s monthly residency at the Southgate, Thomas Atlas brings his full band to Long Street Blues Club in Devizes, and that’ll be lovely. But folk artist John E Wright plays down The Cellar Bar, the incredible Plan of Action play The Three Crowns, Devizes Scooter Club presents legendary northern soul DJ Terry Hendrick at The Cavalier, and DJ Flash is at The Exchange.
Any of these will be great, but, one of our favourite-most, local dark country blues band, Concrete Prairie play The Southgate, Devizes, and this is unmissable, guys; that means don’t miss it(!!) and I’m sorry to everyone else, but I must, by law, make this Editor’s Pick of the Week!
Now, that’s not all, because there will be trippy sita playing at The Barge on Honey-Street when Omnivibes arrive in the evening, but before this, from around 3pm, our favourite Marlborough eighties new-wave/goth duo, Deadlight Dance will play a set, you may recall they came to my birthday party a few weeks gone. Personally, I’m having difficulties remembering much of that evening, with no explanation why.
Another damn fine choice, is to head to The Lamb in Marlborough, for if Pants were invited to play Vyv and Jackie’s farewell party as landlords there, the new owners have only gone and invited them back; utter madness, is precisely what you’ll find, and The Vooz are also playing.
Sheer Music presents indie favourites Arms & Hearts at the trusty Pump in Trowbridge, with Ed Poole in support (ignore the date on my poster, it’s changed.) The lovely Sour Apple play the Wiltshire Yeoman.
Tequila Slammers play at Melksham Rock n Roll Club, while Peaky Blinders Band do their thing at The Pilot in the Sham.
A whole host of amazing choirs from across Wiltshire descend on Calne’s Pocket Park for The Big Sing 2023: A song for Elton, a glittering finale to this year’s fabulous Calne Spring Sing, as they film a very special 76th birthday message for one of the best-selling artists of all time, Sir Elton John.
Iron Maiden tribute at Chippenham’s Consti Club, Ed Force One.
Find the wonderful Kirsty Clinch at Suave in Westbury.
Triple bill at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, with The Bolsheviks, The Setbacks & Split Dog. Dom Martin plays Chapel Arts, Bath.
Pearl Jam tribute, Earl Ham at the Vic in Swindon, and social media sensation and Chortle Award winner, Rosie Holt debuts an hour of comedy based on her smash-hit satirical videos at the Wyvern Theatre.
Thom Belk will be at Wilton Live at Michael Herbert Hall in Wilton.
Gaz Brookfield plays The Tree House in Frome, while King King play The Cheese & Grain, with Glenn Tilbrook.
Sunday 26th, Furlined at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon, Fly Yeti Fly at Schtumm, The Queens Head in Box, and there’s an album crowdfunding launch for this ever-hotter Blues & Rhythm ensemble, Kirris Riviere & The Delta du Bruit at The Bell, Bath.
Revolution Performing Arts School presents The Soaring Revolution at Swindon Arts Centre.
At the The Cheese & Grain, Frome Voices sing Mozart.
Monday 27th and it’s the opening night of hidden Shakespearean gem Measure for Measure at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, running until April 1st, when they have their open day. Directed by Liz Sharman, see preview here.
Ben Tunnicliffe’s Nowhere Ensemble bring synth bass, bass clarinet, drums and keys into the room marked jazz and don’t entirely behave as expected, at The Bell in Bath.
Tuesday 28th, Crazy Bird Comedy is back at The Piggy Bank in Calne, with Andrew Bird headlining, and Tuesday also sees Dreamcoat Stars at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon, and Ivo Graham’s My Future My Clutter at Swindon Arts Centre.
Ruth Blake plays The Bell in Bath.
And that’s your lot. If it’s not enough to be getting on with, you need to be thinking about buying tickets for Devizes Musical Theatre’s 9 to 5 at Dauntsey’s, which starts on Wednesday 29th. Have a great week, hope to see you around!
- See Behind the Scenes: Open Day at The Wharf Theatre
Saturday April 1st, between 10am and 2pm The Wharf Theatre in Devizes are holding their second ever open day, it’s free and open to all. Whether you’ve been in the theatre before, or not, everyone is welcome to come and see what goes on at the Theatre and what goes into putting on a show…..
There will be a collection of costumes, and guided theatre tours – even to darkest depths of the Wharf visitors don’t usually see, like the tech box and green room.
An entirely free event which will be offering refreshments. If you’re interested in joining the theatre groups, either on the stage or behind the scenes, people will be on hand to chat about the various roles, but even if you fancy popping in for a cuppa and a look around, they’re welcome.
Publicity director Karen said, “following the lockdowns, when it looked for a while that we might not survive, we were saved with the help of the lovely local people who donated to our Just Giving Page, we would like to think that we are the little theatre who the town took to its heart and helped to save.”
Next show at The Wharf is hidden Shakespearean gem, Measure for Measure, running from March 27th to the open day on April 1st. See our preview here.
- Danny, Champion of the Food Bank
Featured Image: Bob Naylor/WaterMarx Media
While The Trussell Trust created the first food banks in 2000, under Tony Blair, usage of them rose by a staggering 2,612% during David Cameron’s term as Prime Minister. It didn’t stop him barefacedly posing for a Tweet mucking in with Chipping Norton’s “Chippy Larder.”
Devizes MP Danny Kruger joined the food poverty hypocrisy voting against Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals over lockdown. Speaking in defence of ministers’ continuing refusal to U-turn the policy, he reasoned in the Gazette & Herald, “the problem is generous, unconditional, universal benefit entitlements trap people in dependency on the state and rightly enrage people who are working hard for themselves. That’s why I believe in a more flexible, community-led approach to welfare.”
To address local causes of financial hardship, community organiser at Devizes and District Foodbank, Alex Montegriffo, arranged a meeting with Danny Kruger last month, with members of Devizes community, and representatives from local charities; let’s see these “generous, unconditional, universal benefit entitlements,” panning out in the real world, shall we?
One hot topic was people living on houseboats, who’ve not had access to the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme since it began. Out of the estimated 550 people living in houseboats in Wiltshire, only houseboats with a permanent residential mooring are now able to access the fund, leaving regulations for those in non-residential moorings, like marinas, in the dark, literally.
Danny Kruger agreed to write to the Canal and River Trust about using their database of houseboat license fees to distribute the £400 payment, by taking it off license fees, and potentially using their offices as permanent addresses for those with continuous cruising licenses.
Another topic was the insufficiency and lack of flexibility of the social security system, with benefits like Universal Credit often leaving applicants below destitution level. A member of Devizes community spoke, “every day I see my husband come back from work exhausted. He counts all the bills and has said, if prices rise again, he doesn’t know what to do. He uses some of my disability benefit to pay his bills, and then pays me back when he gets paid. That shouldn’t be right in this day and age.”
If claimants get into debt, even more money is taken away from their Universal Credit allowance, leaving sometimes just £100 a month or less for food and electricity.
Long and complicated application processes, even for small amounts of money or basic support, causes barriers for those who need help but are unable to fill out forms, or feel stigmatised by the process. As a result, there’s £10 million of unclaimed Pension Credit in Wiltshire, a benefit which unlocks Cost of Living Payments. Attendees heard Wiltshire Council are currently in discussion with the community organiser of Devizes and District Foodbank to simplify the application process of one of their support schemes, the Local Welfare Provision, to alleviate this issue.
A couple from Devizes described their frustration at not being encouraged to work, and feeling judged as ‘lesser’ for not being able to work. Volunteering is not counted as work, despite the attendees contributing significantly to their community, spurring a discussion on the topic of the impact of part-time work versus full-time work versus volunteering on benefits, where the taper rate for Universal Credit discourages part-time work, and leaves some people better off not working if they cannot work full-time due to health conditions or disability.
Localising the social security system, so there’s more human contact and agency for recipients, as well as better advertising of support through local trusted individuals, was also discussed. Proposing how schemes such as The Homes and Money Hubs of Barking and Dagenham could be adapted to Devizes, as the Integrated Care Alliance already brings together some departments of Wiltshire Council with social prescribers.
If those with second homes have received their Energy Bills Support Scheme payments, but people living in houseboats are struggling, if people need more support than ever in the current cost-of-living crisis, if people feel they’ve no one to talk to, or are unable to get through on the phone for help with applications, clearly there’s lots of work to do; the food bank isn’t just about giving out tins of beans.
Suggestions were made of a community hub in Devizes, with support for applying for and receiving benefits, or developing the several organisations existing at the St James Centre further. Here’s a group conversing specific topics and looking for solutions to this cost-of-living crisis in Devizes. They meet again on Thursday 30th March, 2:30-3:30pm at the Cheese Hall in Devizes Town Hall to plan and implement a project in Devizes addressing issues raised, which might be adopted in the rest of Wiltshire; if you feel you can assist, please attend.
“It would be great to get more people there to plan a project, and also be consulted on uses of the Community Fridge in the Shambles,” Alex explained, “although Danny agreed to do one action, which I’m not sure has been done or not, we agreed that sometimes it was quicker to do things ourselves.”
Attendees agreed to act, as they can quicker than local authorities and government. Cameron’s defunct socio-political soundbite “big society,” in action during these trying times, I could scoff, but tip my hat to all involved with this, for their enthusiasm and dedication. Not only Alex, but Suzanne Wigmore of Citizens Advice Wiltshire, Richard Oliver of Devizes Opendoors, Graham Martin of Sustainable Devizes, Martin Elliott of Warm Spaces Devizes and Devizes Community Fridge, Kate Brooks, Sarah Cardy and Rachel Clarke of Age UK Wiltshire, and those active members of Devizes community, thank you.
Day-to-day, though, we can all help, supporting Devizes & District Food Bank. Currently supporting an average 220 people per month, over 1,980 meals per month are supplied, which wouldn’t happen without donations. You can download a BanktheFood app to keep up to date with their shortages while shopping, and drop off points for items can be found here.
- Song of the Week: Lucky Number Seven
Bristol’s purveyors of emotive post-grunge verging on etherealwave, Lucky Number Seven get our song of the week today, for their latest burst of harrowing energy, Marker Pen.
It’s neo-goth come post-punk, relished in Bauhaus lachrymose and passion, yet twisted with Foo Fighters’ fervidity, tumbling like iced water over rocks, it’s a rollercoaster four minutes full of masterful poignancy, apt for a Breakfast Club remake earring swap scene; enjoy but mind gnawing your fingernails….
- The First Ever Devizes Pride Announced
If establishing Pride events in our cities and larger towns is sooo last decade, darling, we’re both keen and overjoyed to join the newer trend of small towns, even villages hosting Prides, as Devizes LGBTQ+ announce the very first Pride in Devizes on Saturday July 1st….
It was an overexcited notion I put to Devizes LGBTQ+ group organiser, Oberon Christmas when they first started up a couple of years ago, and though taking it onboard as a future possibility I think they figured small acorns to begin with. Understandable, but now, with regular meets and events at The Exchange nightclub, it looks like the time is near to our own Pride here in Devizes.
Pewsey is also hosting a first Pride at the Cooper’s Field on 15th July. Melksham Pride is a couple of years strong now, that’s on 24th June at the Assembly Hall. Calne also pops its Pride cherry with a small event on Castlefields Park on the 4th June. Of course, Pride is well-established in Chippenham, and this year sees our favourites Concrete Prairie on stage at Island Park on 17th June.
Though our details are yet to be revealed, it is a wonderful thing to be able to announce that Devizes is too to travel over the rainbow and join this festive fun. One thing, I see a lot of town councils assisting to get these small town Prides off the ground, and I do hope Devizes Town Council will follow this trend.
- A Sneak Peek at Devizes Arts Festival 2023
I’m having a nose at Devizes Arts Festival website, as they’ve just published this year’s line-up, which you can find HERE. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know of this year, but that’s no bad thing, because I’m something of an uncultured swine!
This wonderful annual arts festival on our doorstep has cultured me; turned me from bonehead bozo to bohemian squire in just a few short years! I’ve discovered so much I never thought I’d like but I did, whereas before all this I was happy with a karaoke and a bag of chips!
Bearing in mind there might be a few things left to add, particularly the free fringe events, let’s see what’s in store we know about, shall we? Not to get you over-excited, it isn’t until 2nd June through to the 17th, and the box office opens on 28th April, unless you’re a “friend” booking for friends starts on 11th April, see here to become a member now and get ahead of the game. But you know us, let’s dip a toe in the ocean now. I’ll put pretty little stars next to ones I personally think are unmissable; favouritism, I know!
It opens with some tango, at the Assembly Room of the Town Hall on Friday 2nd June, with polar adventurer and motivational speaker Sue Stockdale at St Johns Church on the Saturday, and an evening with opera star Sir Willard White with the Kymaera Duo at Corn Exchange.
The Three Crowns plays host to the first fringe event we’ve got, at 2pm on the Sunday 4th, with banjo and guitar roots combo Texas Tick Fever, and one we gave a song of the week too a few months back, the amazing Ajay Srivastav is the second free fringe gig at the Cellar Bar from 7pm, this is a must for me! First star, two stars **!
Walks are a big part of Devizes Arts Festival, personally I’m fine walking from the Three Crowns to the Bear on a Sunday. But the Festival Walk takes you over civil war battlefield Roundway Down, which actually sounds kinda doable!
First full week sees micro-artist Graham Short at the Town Hall on Monday 5th June, and Onarole Theatre’s Jesus, My Boy at the Corn Exchange on Tuesday 6th.
Welsh, Polish, and Belgian influences fuse with the Aglica Trio at the Town Hall on Wednesday 7th, and see, that’s exactly what I meant earlier when I said about discovering new things; this year is an eye-opener, gets a star! *
And let’s not stop there, because the Town Hall plays host to cello and guitar duo Dieci Cordeon on the Thursday, and you don’t see this everyday in D-town! Also on Thursday, actor and singer, Lucy Stevens, and pianist Elizabeth Marcus meet for A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.
Comedy by the weekend, with someone I do know (!) BBC New Comedian Award winner at the Edinburgh Festival, Marcus Brigstocke, is at the Corn Exchange on Friday 9th June, oh yes, star! *
Tessa Dunlop’s Elizabeth & Philip – A Story of Young Love, Marriage, and Monarchy kicks off Saturday 10th, at the Town Hall. Rip-roaring alt-folk with Noble Jacks at the Corn Exchange, while fringe event is at 2pm in the Condado Lounge, Jukebox James.
It’s a hard stompin’, bluegrassy, old-timey start to Sunday with a free fringe event at the British Lion with The Sisters and the Brothers, (star *,) a walk along the Wansdyke, and back to the Corn Exchange for the furniture restorer from The Repair Shop, Will Kirk.
One not to miss, local blues legend, Elles Bailey Band, on Tuesday 13th June, 8pm at the Corn Exchange, this is cool, we’ve not seen Elles for an age, and it will be good to welcome her back to Devizes; star, deffo! *
Also on Tuesday, author Lois Pryce’s Revolutionary Ride – One Woman’s Solo Motorcycle Journey around Iran at The Bear, and Wednesday sees Clive Anderson, yes Clive Anderson, chatting about Macbeth; could be one of those where are they now moments, oh, they’re in Devizes, incredible!
I mistakenly read the next one, and thought fictional female equivalent to Dan Dare, Kitty Hawke was coming, rather St Andrews Church on Thursday 15th play host to folk duo Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow, while Chris Ingham Trio plays the Jazz of Dudley Moore at the Town Hall.
The festival draws a close with the unconventional and snappily attired boutique orchestra, Christian Garrick and the Budapest Café Orchestra at the Corn Exchange on Friday 16th June, traditional Balkan and Russian, I’m going to star this too! *
Saturday 17th June sees a poetry workshop with Carrie Etter at the Town Hall, and the grand finale is Devon’s reggae Latin funk powerhouse Malavita, which if you know be by now, they said Latin, they said reggae, I’m saving my last star for this – here it is *, and I’m there already.
The more I delve into this programme the more exciting it sounds, as ever, a refreshing break from the normal circuit, where variety knows no bounds. Well done Devizes Arts Festival, it all sounds irresistibly worthwhile looking forward to. In the meantime I’ve got to add all these to our event calendar; does it ever end?!!
- Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 15th- 21st March 2023
Windy but warm, no, not me, the weather, I mind my manners, I thank you! Here’s what’s going down this coming week across our green and (mostly) pleasant land……
You should know the score by now, adding links here, ain’t nobody got time fer dat! You can find all that, details, links for tickets and stuff over on our main event calendar, and you can use it to plan ahead, good huh?
Wednesday 15th Memory Cinema, wonderful idea, dementia friendly film screenings, at Swindon Arts Centre, this one is Dad’s Army.
New York’s musician and writer Franz Nicolay, member of cabaret-punk orchestra World/Inferno Friendship Society, the Hold Steady, Balkan-jazz quartet Guignol, and co-founder of Anti-Social Music, comes to the Pump, Trowbridge with Aimless Arrows in support.
Acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.
Original music at The Bell, Bath with world-folk into jazz artist Solana.
Thursday 16th is comedy night at Trowbridge’s Civic.
Dirty Sound Magnet at The Vic, Swindon, while the The Rosellys play The Tupenny.
Will Page plays Chapel Arts in Bath.
Friday 17th find Sour Apple at the Condado Lounge in Devizes, and The Truzzy Boys play The Bridge Inn, Horton.
Damn! at The Bear in Marlborough, with Al Jenkins at The Green Dragon.
Melksham Assembly Hall prepares for Giants of Rock.
Sound Affects play for St Patrick’s Day at The Talbot in Calne.
Junkyard Dogs at Old Road Tavern, Chippenham.
Upcoming local punk-based Foxymoron are at the Pump, Trowbridge; you need to see these guys rock, and they’re with The Easy Peelers and Lonely Daughter. Be Like Will play the West Wilts Conservative Club in Trowbridge.
Hacksaw & Hot Pink Sewage & Altermoderns at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, while Karport Collective are at The Boathouse, and Ineza Women’s Words, Sisters Stories is what’s in store at Wiltshire Music Centre.
House Above the Sun at Chapel Arts, Bath, and our Full Tone Orchestra are at Bath Abbey Churchyard with Karl Jenkins Adiemus.
The Unravelling Wilburys at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Come What May is the play at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon. The Pre-Fab Four Beatles tribute at the Vic.
Saturday 18th is the opportunity for families to see what the fabulous Calne River Warriors get up to, and join in raft making and a woodland hunt, see poster below. In the evening, Six O’clock Circus take over The Rec Club in Calne.
The Hoodoos are at The Southgate, Devizes, with Rev at The Three Crowns, Ben Borrill at The Moonrakers, and Southern Ruin at The Dolphin. Smackdown at The Corn Exchange with CSF Superstar Wrestling, and DJ Flash is in the mix at the Exchange.
Pink Floyd night at The Barge on Honey-Street.
Songwriter’s Circle at the Pump in Trowbridge provides us with Editor’s Pick of the Week; with Annie Dresser, Lucy Grubb, Dan Wilde, and Luke James Williams.
Find Custyard Pye at Stallards, also in Trowbridge.
Orange Skies Theatre offer some riotous, narrative cabaret with Wild Onion at Swindon Arts Centre, while the musical theatre concert tour of Beyond The Barricade is at the Wyvern Theatre.
The awesome Barrelhouse play the Queens Tap in Swindon, Chop Suey bring nu-metal vibes to the Vic.
Some Indian classical music with Pooja Angra’s new project Creative Unity, with vocalist Karan Rana, sitar player Baluji Shrivastav OBE, and tabla player Mitel Purohit, at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Ragged Union play The Three Horseshoes.
Jenny Colquitt plays Chapel Arts in Bath.
Blur tribute Blurd at The Tree House in Frome, with Hayseed Dixie at The Cheese & Grain, and Be Like Will at the Artisan Pub & Kitchen on Christchurch Street.
Sunday 19th sees Trowbridge Symphony Orchestra play Wiltshire Music Centre, in Bradford-on-Avon, and find Bob Bowles at The Three Horseshoes.
The FOS Brothers play The Bell in Bath.
Arch Garrison at The Vic, Swindon.
And a record fair at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Monday 20th and Sue Harding & Gabriel Moreno’s Troubadour Bandits play The Bell in Bath.
Tuesday 21st and the regular spoken-word open-mic Poetika is on at The Winchester Gate, Salisbury, every third Tuesday of the month. This session with guest poet, Claire H has a Through The Looking Glass theme.
That’s all folks, but remember do check ahead for those ticketed events, keep on scrollin’ our event calendar and watch out for updates. Have a fantastic weekend. Tell us if we missed anything, it’s free to list here, but you must send me some details, I’m not mystic Meg.
- An Amazing Devizes Concert for Opendoors
All images used with permission of Gail Foster
If of recent I’ve been critical about counterproductive steps taken to solve the rise in youth crime, favouring encouraging events designed for our youngest, it doesn’t mean any age demographic should miss out on live entertainment. Therefore, it was a blessing last night to see the Corn Exchange jam-packed, predominately with middle-aged and elders, enjoying a cracking musical variety concert in aid of Devizes Opendoors.…
A massive congratulations goes to the organisers, especially Dora Kan, who slaved to create an amazing rosta of entertainment and sizable raffle. Acts were tried and tested; Dora is an active member of the humongous PSG Choir, who shone for the finale with zest, ardour, and a selection of pop classics; my favourite? Well, no child of the eighties can argue with such a wonderful rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours, now, can they?
One personal particular highlight of the event was to witness PSG members’ bubbling smiles of enthusiasm as they lined the doors awaiting their turn to shine. At one point I was nearly encased within them, praying I wouldn’t be dragged in by the crowd and expected to sing too, for this could’ve been the disastrous consequence which spoiled an otherwise unspoiled evening!
The pop gospel choir is a local amateur community-driven choir, which doubles as social group, with Will Blake as the mentor and conductor. But if the concert acted as both showcase and advertisement for this open choir, prior to this, Will was given the opportunity to also showcase himself and his trio.
Covering an era-spanning range of sing-a-long pop classics merged into a non-stop medley, The Will Blake Trio enthuses any audience with a showy display of accomplished precision. Will himself takes to a grand piano, carrying off the act in true Jerry Lee Lewis standing position. He even has the tendency to kick the stool away. To begin with The Jungle Book’s King of the Swingers is bold, to infuse it with the Jackson’s I Want You Back is surely just showing off, isn’t it?!
It was the most amazing burst of energy to rouse the crowd after the interval, but if Will has class and style, and the choir can hold the audience in a certain awe, with the sheer number in the choir one could argue it’s not so tricky as doing this solo. This is where I came in, apologies to the amazing multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and music teacher Andrew Hurst, who I unfortunately missed.
I’d rushed home after a Devizes hockey 1sts away game in Portishead, and by the time dinner was finished I checked the listing on my own event guide to see it started ten minutes ago, an hour ealier than I’d imagined. Fancy that, I run the blasted event guide and still messed up! I heard a great response to Andrew’s set, knowing him, it’s hardly unexpected. Pre-lockdown Andrew was teaching my son piano, and his perfected work method engaged him throughly, and he’s no easy kid to engage. Dora is also tutored by Andrew. As I said, the entertainment has personal connections to Dora, which gave the evening this wonderful community ambience.
Anyway, I disgress, you don’t need to hear of my first jog up Dunkirk Hill since turning fifty, and how I suspect someone extends that hill a few extra yards everytime I scale the mountain, you need to hear, everyone needs to hear, what greeted me at the summit. As I say, a choir, yes, solo to hold a crowd spellbound, that’s another thing entirely.
Chloe Jordan was already on stage, perfectly accompanied by Susan Braunton on keys, but my inexperience in wording a critique on opera, on classical singing will show through here, in only being able to compare it to the very best of rock, blues, indie and folk singers of our usual haunts. However amazing they might be, this is way beyond. The pitch and note changes, the enriching power of this soprano holds you, encases you in the same awe as an entire orchestra.
It is, in a word, breathtaking. If the phrase using ones voice as a musical instrument is cliché, there’s no better way to describe Chloe Jordan in full flight. It’s something amazing, a something to summon angels down from the heavens to listen, I kid you not!
Though we’ve not touched base on the overall joy this evening will bring, as the sellout crowd donated to the local homeless charity Devizes Opendoors; such a worthy cause. We’ve heard a staggering sum has been gratefully received, and this is the cherry on top of a wonderful evening and a testament to what can be achieved.
Chole, though, with her entertaining covers of sing-a-long classics from musicals and films, my personal highlight of which being Doris Day’s Deadwood Stage, which wowzers, if I’ve not heard for an age, I’ve never heard it performed so absolutely sublimely, I thank you, you are staggeringly amazing!
- Chatting with Vanessa Tanner; Guardian Candidate for Devizes East
While it may’ve been a week of social media turmoil at Devizes Town Council, the type usually reserved for national politics, a few hours prior to the uproar, I put the phone down after the kind of conversation which left me feeling more like I’d been catching up with an old friend, rather than interviewing a candidate for a local election……
I got the notion before chatting to hopeful Guardian Town Councillor, Vanessa Tanner she feared I’d come over all Jeremy Paxman! It’s not fair play for me to interrogate a person any more than it’s the opposition in this by-election’s morals to post exaggerated and prejudicial statements about them, though they did.
It’s impossible to publish concentrated material, such as an interview, to match the velocity of which social media accelerates, therefore I intend to produce this interview as it was said before this whoha, hoping it will shed some light on the Guardian candidate’s character and personality. Then, it is up to residents of East Devizes to decide if it’s the kind of refractory group who would slanderously magnify a trivial error in hope of sabotaging the opposition which they want on their seat at the town council, or an active member of the community, too busy cleaning the streets, engaging in support groups, and with the public, to fuss over some bitterness on bias Facebook pages.
Though the appropriateness of sole Councillor-controlled social media groups was a subject I coincidently wanted to verbally jab Vanessa with, it was something she didn’t dwell on, and our chat begun with the reason why we have this by-election in the first place.
Town clerk, Simon Fisher said of Jane Burton, “She was fiercely knowledgeable about all things Devizes. In the Council Chamber, Jane was a formidable force unafraid to take on anyone to get her point over; however, whilst she would not always agree with a viewpoint others would over, she would always be respectful of differing opinions. She had many skills and attributes we all admired, but she had a special ability to connect with residents, to listen and advise.”
So, I opened said passive interrogation(!) suggesting Vanessa had some “big boots to fill!” But she extended this like birds of a feather, “it was actually Jane who asked me to join the Guardians,” continuing with a recollection of a quiz night, “and before I knew it I was a Guardian!”
Vanessa has been a volunteer of Devizes Clean Up Squad for four years, and we spoke of the fantastic work they do. Though Vanessa is so active in the community, we moved swiftly onto her involvement with the “Love Devizes” group. “Yes,” she explained, “it started off with Love Devizes during Covid, and I was delivering meals during that time, for the people who couldn’t get out, and then it changed to Love Ukraine, which I became heavily involved in, because we had the first Ukraine guests here.”
Meandering already, a heart-breaking tangent ensued about her guests. Vanessa revealed how they only stayed a couple of months; after Russian concentration lessened in her hometown of Kiev, they returned to help her family, and for concern to their children’s wellbeing. To encourage our conversation back to her as a candidate, as I felt her passion on the subject would’ve led her to talk on this subject forever, I offered all this was evidence enough that she is a people-person. But does Vanessa hope to get the time to carry-on groups like the CUDs if she was to become a councillor?
With a tone of upmost sincerity she replied, “I hope so,” expressing her job had come to an end and venturing she should have enough time. Being she had stated she only had half-hour to chat, and I’d already diverted it to Ukraine, she replied, “I’m quite good at time management!” Best rush through my questions, because I’m hopeless at it!
I wondered if there was any other charities or support groups Vanessa was actively engaged in, and that was precisely why we only had a half-hour window; she was off to work at the Dorothy House shop. “And Sustainable Devizes is a big thing for me,” Vanessa continued. Though a hot topic with the public, The Crammar isn’t part of East Devizes, her association with the environmental group is enough to convince me of her penchant for wildlife and environmental issues. The Guardians in general have been engaged with talking to the Friends of the Crammar campaign group, and so we switched to the lack of electric-car charging points in Devizes. Again, though Vanessa relayed the question to a personal anecdote; her son came to stay, who has an electric car, but there is nowhere in town which an accessible charging point. “So, I raised it with Wiltshire Council, and asked on Devizes Issues, where are these car charging points, and…. There aren’t any!”
Vanessa wrote to the supermarkets to ask them when they were likely to put them in, “and I worked out that Devizes is the biggest town in Wiltshire without any electric car charging points.” I sighed, as she sustained, “I think they’re coming, there was a debate in the council a couple of weeks ago, about when they should be putting them in.”
New builds, I turned the subject onto. Vanessa agreeing encouraging contractors to up the percentage of affordable housing on new builds was vital to maintaining an age demographic in town, otherwise younger residents are priced out of the market. Neatly bringing us around to the other hot topic, youth crime. I asked Vanessa if she agreed we needed to improve funding for youth groups and associations. “I think with any bad behaviour there’s always a reason which we have to get to the bottom of,” she replied, “what is motivating some to smash a window rather than play football, and if you can get to the bottom of the issue, it’s a lot easier to get these people engaged in society again, because at the moment they’re marginalised but everybody misbehaves for a reason.”
I reasoned it’s for the prestige, so to reduce several youths away from following the perpetrators, they’ve less of an audience reaction, lessening the thrill. “That’s never a bad thing,” Vanessa replied, “to have more facilities. If we can get those reopened, it would be great.”
I admit, I hoped Vanessa would bring the subject of subsidising youth initiatives and groups up of her own accord, but in agreeing with me they should was, to be honest, a good enough baseplate. Plus, she did continue to say, “I think by what Jonathan (Hunter-leader of the Guardians) was telling me, we’re already quite a way down the road to getting a youth engagement officer, so, that will get the ball rolling.”
The importance of selecting the right person for such a job was her resultant, “and that’s something a trained youth engagement officer will know how to do; we’re on the road to getting one of those, and hopefully we can get to the bottom of it. Nobody wants to get their window broken, or be frightened to go out at night, and you don’t want that in a town. As soon as this is dealt with the better, but I think I’m more of a carrot than a stick person!”
Unaware of this idiom, I laughed, proposing it could be our headline: Vanessa; Carrot or Stick?! “Nobody likes to be told what to do,” she explained, as I did bring my grievance about Wiltshire Council holding an open-event on the youth crime subject whereby youths themselves were unable to attend. “They like be involved with decision making. Discussion, compassion, and kindness is the way forward,” Vanessa stated. In this, we must ask ourselves, exactly what is a town councillor, and what do we want from them?
Do we need them to be academics of law and national politics, seemingly expert enough to spot a minuscule flaw in the opposition’s election leaflet and expand it to a full-blown attack only for the purpose of upstaging them in a race to the position, or do we need someone so obviously concerned for our amenities, our environment and public wellbeing, motivated and active towards changing it? For the subjects we covered which do appear on Vanessa’s promises, she was clearer and more adamant on; the green issues of car-charging, and cycle paths, and creating shared spaces, and keeping Devizes independently run.
Indeed, my question was one of statements inviting discussion, that national political parties should be kept out of local council, the very ethos of the Guardians. “Yes,” she explained, “so everyone in the Guardians have their own political views but they’re not bought to the table, because we are all about the town. We’re about what happens here, not about what the national parties have dictated to us.”
Ironically, other parties entering this election pledge a similar promise, though assigned to a national party for funding, they unyielding suggest they too are independently based, though I must ask, surely if someone is funding your campaign, they’ll demand you sway in their favour, at least tow the party line, and carry out the position with the shared philosophy. “I can’t answer for them!” Vanessa laughed it off, “I just know the Guardians are independent, and we will do what’s best for our town.”
And herein lies my concluding section, on councillor’s use of social media, of which you should note happened before the brash and vastly embellished statements of their breaking of election law, by the opposition’s Conservative campaigner Iain Wallis, on his self-run Facebook group. I put to Vanessa, “social media is another sour point with the public now, because while it’s an advantage for councillors to gage public opinion, and visa-versa, some feel those councillors active on social media aren’t really listening to them, rather brashly using it to blow their trumpets, and those who disagree are censored. Do you feel what we need is more attention to a create a united council social media output, so the majority, voice of a united council is the definite article?”
“Wouldn’t that be lovely?!” Vanessa responded with, “in an ideal world! You’ve got twenty-odd different characters, haven’t you? I think they came together for Covid, Ukraine, the bigger things, but they’re different adults from different backgrounds who are bound to disagree.”
But that’s what a council is, isn’t it; to discuss these things, nail out a definite agreeance, and then go onto social media, unitedly announcing the decision? “Social media is a tool, but also a dangerous place to air your grievances. We have got a social media policy, created by Wiltshire Council, and in the main work occasionally there’s a little bit of spat, but it settles down again. But that’s not the place to air your dirty laundry, in my opinion. I use social media to inform people of what’s going on, not to have an argument.” How sad that not hours after Vanessa told me this, she was victim to this precise kind of attack by the opposition, only to better their chances of winning the by-election on 30th March? It says more about them than her.
Vanessa would like to conclude, she is “a real-person, just because I do a lot of community work doesn’t mean I don’t find time to get out and enjoy the pubs and restaurants of Devizes.” She giggled throughout this bit, “I try to frequent all of them, but not all at once! There are twenty-two drinking establishments, you’d be a mess at the end of it, wouldn’t you?” I didn’t like to suggest, I’d given it my best shot, so our chat regressed back to local environmental issues, for it’s something Vanessa is obviously passionate about, but in this is precisely her character and charm, and it’s infectious, exactly what I believe we need in a town councillor.
- Bradford-on-Avon Raises £250,000 For New Skatepark
Communities, getting together, fundraising, and doing something good for their town’s youth. It might sound like the stuff of Terry Pratchett fantasy here in Devizes right now, but over in Bradford-on-Avon, it’s a reality…..
They’ve successfully raised their £250,000 target and invited the town to come and see their new skatepark designs earlier this afternoon at St Margaret’s Hall.
Maverick Skateparks have been busy perfecting their final plans and are presenting them to the full council, to vote on passing on to the construction phase. Campaigners intended to cram the council offices with supporters, we hear it went well.
This is what working with and listening to the public can achieve, Wiltshire Council, proactive engagement in providing facilities for youth, rather than condemning them in meetings, least so-called “drop-in” events deliberately arranged at such a time our younger generation would be unable to attend, much less air their views upon.
Well done, Bradford-on-Avon, for it’s more than a skatepark. It’s a testament to community spirit in an era that has seen so many youth enterprises and facilities cut back. If heaven is a halfpipe, you are the gods of the 180!